Eclaire Fare

Enjoying Pop Culture, One Bite at a Time

SYTYCD Season 7: Thoughts on the First Few Weeks July 2, 2010

For the past four seasons of So You Think You Can Dance, I have enthusiastically blogged about the show. But after what I saw as poor treatment of season six and its contestants by the producers (a rushed finale, no tour, etc.), I was questioning whether or not I would even tune in for future seasons. Then came the news that they were mixing up the format, by pairing up new contestants with beloved SYTYCD all-stars every week. My interest was piqued. And then I was totally sold on the idea when I heard that Russian ballroom dancer Pasha would be one of the all-stars. Pasha is just one of those people who I must watch if he shows up on tv.

I’ve heard mixed opinions of this new format since the top 11 performance show. Yes, I miss watching chemistry develop between some of the dance partners, and rooting for pairs. Yes, some of the performances are awkward because, for example, you have someone who has never danced ballroom trying to keep up with the sensational Anya. And yes, the first week I was so excited about seeing my favorite former contestants that I didn’t pay a bit of attention to the new folks, who this season is supposed to be all about.

The producers must have listened to internet chatter or held some focus groups, because during the Top 10 and Top 9 weeks, they have made some changes to improve the show. The best change is that they started having the all-star stand with his/her new contestant partner during the judges’ comments. It was just wrong and awkward that first week when the all-stars were shuffled off stage immediately after finishing their performance. This new format of all-star/new contestant pairs works best when the choreographers play to the new dancers’ strengths. Alex Wong has been the best example of this so far, in his contemporary routine during the top 11 week, and during his sensational hip hop duet with Twitch this week. This week in particular, Tabitha and Napoleon threw in some creative ballet touches that somehow added humor and strength to the routine. Other times the new format fails miserably, as when Kent was paired with Anya for ballroom, or when Billy Bell cheesed his way through a krump routine with Comfort.

It is definitely taking me longer to pick clear favorites, because I still find myself drawn more to the all-stars during the performances. Let’s take a look at the Top Nine dancers:

  • Adechike Torbert – I am always partial to strong, masculine male dancers, so I love Adechike. I love watching him dance because he combines strength and gracefulness in an almost magical way. He has so much control, yet sometimes it seems like he’s floating through the air. His serious demeanor doesn’t both me – I loved his contemporary dance with Allison last week even though the judges complained that he wasn’t dancing with his heart. But still, it was nice to see him loosen up this week during his hip hop with Lauren.
  • Alex Wong – The judges are getting a bit annoying with their treatment of Alex as a dance god. I thought they were way over the top with their praise of his routine with Allison, but that their raving about his hip hop routine was pretty accurate. (Although, Tabitha and Napoleon should receive a lot of credit for coming up with the fantastic choreography.) There’s no denying that Alex is already a highly trained professional, but it is clear that he is very passionate about branching out into areas outside of ballet, making himself a more versatile dancer, and proving that he deserves to be on the show. He’s in a similar position to season three’s Danny, in that he is so much more talented than the other contestants. But somehow he hasn’t been pegged by the judges as arrogant like Danny was.
  • Ashley Galvan – Ashley was barely a blip on my radar until she blew me away this week with her beautiful contemporary routine with Ade. Granted, Ade was a big part of why the performance was so impressive, but it was obvious that Ashley was fully invested in the dance, and that she gave it all she had. Her technique was flawless, and her stage presence was moving. She’s not my favorite contestant personality wise, but if she keeps dancing like that, she may become a favorite.
  • Billy Bell – All the hype about how a-MAY-zing Billy Bell is got annoying to me as far back as last season, when he had to drop out due to illness. So I haven’t really jumped on the Billy Bell bandwagon this season. Sure, he’s a great dancer, but he seems to have trouble connecting with the audience. I don’t see him being a fan favorite.
  • Jose Ruiz – I am still a little confused about why Jose ended up in the top ten. He’s not as talented a b-boy as some in the past (anyone would have trouble following Legacy), and he seems really goofy to me. Last week’s bollywood and this week’s ballroom were pretty awful, but the judges have an inexplicable soft spot for him. Rather than critique how wrong some of his performances are, they praise him for being entertaining. They aren’t holding him to the same standards as the other contestants. I wouldn’t be disappointed to see him go home soon.
  • Kent Boyd – Before the competition began, Kent was my favorite of the guys. But since then, the producers’ portrayal of him as a naive small town farm boy, a country boy come to the big city, has been driven into the ground so much that I am over him for the moment. He really does have a “deer caught in the headlights” look about him (as Mia pointed out) that is distracting during his performances. He’s a cute, likable guy, but I am ready to see him invest more in his performances, and show some more genuine personality during his dancing. At the moment, he’s kind of a male version of former contestant Molly, and she was never one of my favorites.
  • Lauren Froderman – Lauren was my favorite female contestant coming into the top 11 performance show. She hasn’t quite lived up to my expectations, based on her great solo during the final round of Vegas week. I loved her personality and interesting choreography! Hopefully she’ll be around long enough to show more of her strengths.
  • Melinda Sullivan – Much like Channing was last season, Melinda has been a disappointment. I love her look and personality, but she seems very disconnected and/or uncomfortable during her performances. The judges praised her last week for her mother nature performance with Ade, but I didn’t think she had to do very much, or that she did it very well. And she seemed very unsure of herself dancing with Pasha this week. I am watching the results show as I write this, and I’m not surprised that the judges sent her home. I think it was a mistake for her to reveal that she has already done modeling and acting, since that makes her come across more as someone looking for fame, rather than someone focusing on her passion for dance.
  • Robert Roldan – Maybe if the show had introduced us to Robert during the audition and Vegas rounds I would feel some connection to him, but maybe not. I haven’t been particularly impressed by any of his performances.

Alexie and Cristina, the first two dancers sent home, hadn’t made an impression on me, so I had no positive or negative reactions to their eliminations. At this point, I guess my favorites are Adechike, Alex, and Lauren, but they are still being overshadowed by the all-stars.

The All-Stars – Here’s a run-down of the former contestants who are entertaining us again this season

  • Ade – Season 5 – Melissa and Ade were probably my favorite couple during Season 5, so I’ve loved seeing him on stage again. He’s been a great partner for all the newbies.
  • Allison – Season 2 – I didn’t start watching the show until season 3, so I knew nothing of Allison before this season. She’s fantastic! I don’t know how good any of the other early season contestants were, but I am glad she accepted the invitation to return.
  • Anya – Season 3 – Anya never quite clicked in other styles when she was a season 3 competitor, but she burns up the stage doing ballroom. It’s so fun to watch her at work.
  • Comfort – Season 4 – Comfort wasn’t my favorite during season 4, but it’s nice to have a female hip hopper among the all stars.
  • Courtney – Season 4 – Courtney is at her best when she’s dancing a Sonya Tayeh routine. Their styles and personality somehow mesh well.
  • Dominic – Season 3 – I feel like we haven’t seen much of him yet, but it’s nice to have yet another season 3 contestant return, since that was my favorite season.
  • Kathryn – Season 6 – Kathryn was overshadowed by fellow season six finalists Russell and Jakob, but she deserves her due as a great and beautiful dancer, so I’m glad she is on the show this season.
  • Lauren – Season 3 – Still a bit cheesy, but still nice to see her.
  • Mark – Season 4 – Always nice to see quirky Mark, and it looks like he’s been working out! 😉
  • Neil – Season 3 – Neil was the king of cheese during season 3, and he still has it, although toned down a bit.
  • Pasha – Season 3 – My favorite contestant ever! So glad to see him again.
  • Twitch – Season 4 – Always a fun personality and stage presence

My Favorite Performances So Far

  • Group Hip Hop (Jose, Twitch, Comfort, Dominic) – This funky number from the “Meet the Top 11” episode reminded me how talented some of the former hip hop contestants are. Jose held his own pretty well, but the other guys were special to watch.
  • Group Ballroom (Pasha, Anya, Cristina) – This “Meet the Top 11” performance was all about Pasha, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. It was so nice to see Pasha and Anya together on stage again. Cristina was barely noticeable, I’m sad to say.
  • Adechike and Allison’s Contemporary – I totally disagreed with the judges on this Top 10 Week performance. All they did was complained about Adechike’s lack of heart and his robotic movements. I thought it was a beautiful dance by both partners, and helped put Adechike at the top of my list of favorites.
  • Pasha and Cristina’s Paso Doble – This Top 10 Week performance apparently didn’t impress very many people, since it only succeeded in sending Cristina home. But for me it was another chance to see Pasha in his element, and I thought Cristina did a decent job, too. In fact, I picked up the phone and voted for her!
  • Mark and Ashley’s Contemporary – This Top 10 Week performance to an Annie Lennox song was very well done, but at the time I mostly paid attention to Mark, with little regard for Ashley. In watching it again now, I see that she also did a great job.
  • Ade and Ashley’s Contemporary – I loved this Top 11 performance, with Ade taking on the role of Ashley’s backbone. She was perfect in her role, too, and for the first time I really noticed her.
  • Twitch and Alex’s Hip Hop – I think Nigel is right that Tabitha and Napoleon will be nominated for a an Emmy for this psychiatrist/patient routine, which perfectly meshed Alex and Twitch’s strengths, and also really brought out Alex’s personality. I have watched it 4 or 5 times now, and it is still really that entertaining. I hope we’ll see more guy partner routines, since there are only two girls left now.

So there you have it. I fell behind on my reviews of this season’s episodes, but now I’m all caught up. What have you thought of this season so far? Who are your favorites?

Advertisements
 

SYTYCD Season 6: The Winner is Revealed December 17, 2009

And so the season screeched to a halt this week, just in time for everyone to go home for the holidays. The finale didn’t have as much filler as I had expected, although I could have done without one or two of the musical guests. By the end of the night, we had seen performances of some of the season’s best routines, and the remaining contestants were eliminated one by one, until only the winner was left standing.

Joining Nigel Lythgoe, Mary Murphy and Adam Shankman on the panel were Lil’ C, Tyce Diorio and Debbie Allen. They all chose at least one dance that they’d like to see again, but I think the producers do more of the selecting so that the finale ends up with a variety of styles and performers. It was strange that so many performances were chosen from the “Meet the Top 20” episode. As much as I hope they do such a preview episode in coming seasons, it seemed weird not to highlight more dances from the actual competition episodes. If I read back through my posts I’m sure I could come up with a handful that would have been very worthy of an encore in the finale.

Opening Number:

  • Top 20 (Hip-Hop) – “Scared of Me (Radio Edit),” Fredde le Grand feat. Mitch Crow – I didn’t remember seeing this one before, but apparently it was in the Top 20 episode.

Judges’ Picks

  • Lil’ C – Russell, Kevin & Legacy (Hip-Hop) – “Beggin’ (District 78 mix),” Madcon – I enjoyed seeing the three hip hoppers dance together again.
  • Adam – Ellenore & Jakob (Contemporary) – “Tore My Heart,” OONA and Dave TweedsThis Sonya Tayeh routine was one of my favorites of the whole season.
  • Nigel – Phillip, Bianca & Peter (Tap) – “Take the ‘A’ Train,” Ella Fitzgerald – I admit that I fast forwarded through this one. I was never a huge fan of the tap dancers.
  • Mary (new piece) – Ashleigh & Ryan (Jive) – “Straight to… Number One (Duck’s Radio Mix),” Touch & Go – It was fun to see them dance together in their own style, to a piece that they choreographed. They have a bright future ahead of them in the world of ballroom! I wouldn’t be surprised to see one or both of them on Dancing with the Stars at some point.
  • Nigel – Kathryn & Jakob (Contemporary) – “At This Moment,” Michael Buble – The best performance from last night got this deserved encore. And this should have been the dance that won it all for Jakob.
  • Tyce – Mollee & Nathan (Bollywood) – “Azeem O Shaan Shahenshah,” Jodhaa Akbar – It was fun to see this bollywood number again.
  • Adam – Ellenore & Legacy (Contemporary) – “Machine Gun,” Portishead – If they wanted to showcase a Travis Wall routine, there were plenty others more impressive than this one. I was surprised when Adam said it is strong enough to be nominated for an Emmy. We shall see…
  • Lil’ C – Channing, Ariana, Jakob & Nathan (Contemporary) – “Crying,” k.d. lang – I was impressed by this group of contemporary dancers when they first performed this, and I enjoyed it again this time.

Around this point in the show, a series of chaotic events occurred. Cat’s mic wasn’t working, then only 3 of the final 6 contestants came out on stage, and then suddenly a tearful Russell was hobbling out, supported by Ryan. It was a tense and confusing moment for everyone, and I felt so bad for Russell that what should have been a wonderful experience was marred by injury. But, the show went on, and the next time he came out on stage they gave him a stool to sit on. Unfortunately, Russell’s injury meant that they had to show replays of the judges’ picks that involved him. This was especially disappointing for Noelle, who missed out on her chance to have another moment in the spotlight.

  • Debbie – Noelle & Russell (African Jazz) – “Frog Dance,” Mickey Hart & Planet Drum
  • Mary – Kathryn & Russell (Hip-Hop) – “I Can Transform Ya,” Chris Brown ft. Lil Wayne & Swizz Beats
  • Nigel – Top 20 (Jazz) – “Comanche,” The Revels – I am guessing they had already planned to just replay this performance, since Billy and Brandon wouldn’t be there to perform it (since they are eligible for next season’s auditions…). It was fun to see it again, as it was a great opening to the season.

Musical Guests

  • “I See You (Avatar theme),” Leona Lewis – I only made it through the first minute or so of this song before I fast forwarded. It was boring, and the images on the big screen behind her of the creepy blue people were just too much. I’m not sure I can handle going to see Avatar.
  • “Whataya Want From Me,” Adam Lambert – I had trouble concentrating on his singing because of the giant tarantula blob on his shoulder, but from what I could tell, the song was mediocre, like most of the “hit singles” released by Idol contestants (Carrie Underwood and Kelly Clarkson being the exceptions).
  • “I Am,” Mary J. Blige – I was amused that it was my husband who wanted to watch this whole performance. I do like Mary J., but this song wasn’t my favorite. (Maybe on a dance competition they should have more dance guests and fewer singers!)
  • “Louboutins,” Jennifer Lopez – Well, she certainly knows how to make an entrance. Even after having twins, J.Lo is still diva through and through. I wondered if she lugs that big shoe around the country with her for all her performances. The song was pretty weak, except for the catchy chorus, but I started to like it more when the chorus line of former SYTYCD contestants joined her on stage. I spotted Katee and Kayla for sure, and I think Courtney as well. Jennifer Lopez seemed very nice at the end, when she walked over to talk to Cat and declared herself a fan of the show, and mentioned that she had hand-picked some of her favorite contestants to perform with her. Maybe I shouldn’t give her such a hard time…

Countdown to the Winner

  • Ryan
  • Ashleigh
  • Ellenore
  • Kathryn
  • Jakob – runner up
  • Russell – winner

Well, I was spot on in my prediction of what order the contestants would be eliminated in, and unfortunately my worry that Russell would steal Jakob’s crown came to pass. When Russell’s name was announced as the winner, I simply said in a disappointed voice, “Oh no…” It was a let down, to see Jakob lose, when I feel like he deserved to win so much more than anyone else. Who but Jakob was consistently excellent and in tune with his performances and the audience? Who else wowed the crowd every time he stepped on stage? That being said, I am thrilled for Russell, and his reaction to the news of winning was a joy to see. He was so overwhelmed with excitement, and he certainly worked hard all season. There’s no arguing that he grew from the beginning of the season to the end, but it wasn’t necessarily always forward progress. I love that his parents seem so supportive, too.

So yes, I was bummed that Jakob didn’t win, because I thought maybe this was finally going to be the season that the best dancer was also America’s favorite dancer. But, I actually loved everyone in this final six, and Russell may benefit more from winning than Jakob would have. (Like Nigel said, Jakob needs to join a dance company pronto and become even more amazing.) I should also mention that I was proud of Kathryn for coming in third. She was a solid contestant all season, but somehow stayed under the radar. I think she was very deserving of that third place. I am considering going to see these guys perform on tour, so if I do, I’ll be sure to post about it.

So that’s it for my season 6 SYTYCD coverage. I’ll be back with more recaps, reviews, and rants in June, when season 7 kicks off. Hopefully my tv viewing schedule will be less cluttered then so that I’ll have more energy and enthusiasm about the show. How did you feel about the final results?

Related Posts

 

SYTYCD Season 6: The Top 6 Perform December 16, 2009

I wish the producers could have figured out a way to fit one more week of episodes in, so that we could have had the traditional final four performance show. Instead, we got a top six, with nine performances, no explanatory intros, no group dances, no guy/guy or girl/girl dances, and only one hour of dancing. It seems wrong that the contestants didn’t have a chance to dance their solos before the final votes were cast. I hope we’ll see some additional new performances on the final results show, but who knows if there will be time, with all the musical guests that will be appearing. I’m looking forward to Adam Lambert, but do we really need to be subjected to Jennifer Lopez? So, yes, I guess I’m a little bitter about how the show has been tossed around amidst the busy fall schedule this season. Let this be a lesson to them to stay put where they belong – in the summer!

Thankfully (for you), I won’t be Debbie Downer about the actual performances from last night, which aside from the weird post-mod one that Ryan and Ellenore did, were worthy of a grand finale. Here we go.

Round One – Russell was the winner of this round by a landslide, after his memorable lyrical jazz performance

  • Kathryn & Ryan (Samba) – “Magalenha,” Sergio Mendes – This may have been the first time all season that I was more impressed with Ryan than with his partner. He needed a strong performance to prove he deserved to be in the finale, and I think this was it. Kathryn also did very well. They were both very jungle-esque and sharp with their movements. 
  • Ellenore & Jakob (Broadway) – “I Gotcha,” Fosse – I liked this performance – no surprise, really, since it involved Jakob. But Ellenore was the main focal point. She looked great, was almost completely in character, and danced her heart out. She and Jakob make a great pair, and they looked like they were fresh off of Broadway.
  • Ashleigh & Russell (Lyrical Jazz) – “Angel Standing By,” Jewel – The moment this performance began, Russell became the star of the night, and leaped ahead of the competition. He was simply amazing and beautiful to watch. I was so moved that tears came to my eyes. I agree with Nigel and others that Ashleigh was simply a background dancer to Russell, so I don’t have much to say about her, except that the two had great chemistry and trust.

Round Two – Again, the winner is Russell, for his memorable Paso Doble. Ellenore would be tied with him for this round if the jazz hadn’t canceled out her paso doble.

  • Ellenore & Ryan (Jazz) – “Kontakt Me,” Boyz Noise – I think they did a great job with this emotionless robot number, but haven’t the choreographers learned by now that the contestants receive more votes, especially during the finale week, when they emotionally connect with the audience? I’m afraid this dance may have moved Ellenore to the bottom of the pack, where Ryan was already going to be. (I’ll be shocked if he’s not the first person asked to leave the stage…)
  • Ashleigh & Jakob (Foxtrot) – “Let the Good Times Roll,” Chuck Brown & Eva Cassidy – This was pretty, and it was nice to see this power couple back together, but I agree with Nigel that the choreography was too easy for this point in the competition. Why even throw a Foxtrot into the finale. No one votes for Foxtrots! It’s like the producers were trying to slow down Jakob’s momentum to give the other contestants a chance to beat him.
  • Ellenore & Russell (Paso Doble) – “Village Attack,” Blood Diamond – Ellenore made up some ground for her previous dance by starting off strong on this one. Her silhouetted figure was perfect, from her dress to her hand movement. But then, out stormed Russell, sliding into view on his knees, and took away her glory. I’m telling you, it really seems like the producers were doing everything they could to make this Russell’s night. But despite any conspiracy on their part, Russell consistently delivered the goods. He was excellent in this piece, and just kept his momentum going. Ellenore kept up with him and looked beautiful in the process, but he was the star.

Round Three – Jakob returned to his pedestal in this round, and at least for the moment, is at the top of the pack. His contemporary performance showcased his technique, his natural talent, and his showmanship.

  • Kathryn & Jakob (Contemporary) – “At This Moment,” Michael Buble – I highly anticipated the Desmond Richardson/Dwight Rhoden routine from the minute I spotted them in the studio audience. They are the dance legends who choreographed Will and Katee’s memorable pas de deux during season four. This dance lived up to my expectations. It was breathtaking, and chock full of emotion. (Sigh…) Kathryn and Jakob had great chemistry, but this was Jakob’s ultimate moment of the season, in my opinion. He had the opportunity to showcase his seemingly limitless talent, from the intricate movements to his full investment in the character. I was completely sold at the end when he pounded his fists (and his body) against the floor and then curled up into a ball. He is just so good. This performance, along with everything else he has done this season, is proof enough for me that he deserves to be this season’s winner.
  • Ashleigh & Ryan (Contemporary) – “I’m There Too,” Michelle Featherstone – What a special moment for this married couple. Not only did they finally get to dance together on the show, but it was choreographed by Travis Wall, the master of emotional storytelling through dance. He gave them a chance to share tender moments on the stage, and it was so tender that I almost felt like we shouldn’t be watching this intimate moment between them (even though it was completely G-rated). Obviously they were moved as well, since they were both crying by the end. All that being said, the performance didn’t blow me away. It was too intimate for me to really connect with the performance. They were totally in tune with each other, but not at all with the audience. Still, this will be a popular (and rightly so) dance on the tour, unless the producers opt to let them dance ballroom together instead. It would have given them an unfair advantage to let them dance their own style during the finale.
  • Kathryn & Russell (Hip-Hop) – “I Can Transform Ya,” Chris Brown (f. Lil Wayne & Swiss Beats) – After a couple of lackluster numbers late in the season, Tabitha and Napoleon redeemed themselves with this entertaining and hard hitting hip hop routine. Russell was totally on, and obviously comfortable in his element. (Again, the producers were giving him every opportunity to shine. I mean, not only did he get hip hop, but he got to close the show with it, so that the judges’ praise of him was fresh on the audience’s mind when they picked up the phone to vote.) Kathryn held her own, but Russell was on a different level all night.

My Favorite Performances

  • Jakob and Kathryn’s Contemporary – In fact, this may be my favorite performance of the season.
  • Ashleigh and Russell’s Lyrical Jazz – This was my second favorite of the night. It was outstanding, but mostly on Russell’s end, whereas Jakob and Kathryn were more equally matched choreography and performance wise in their contemporary piece.

Who Will Win?

If the winner were based solely on tonight’s performances, on a round by round basis, it would be Russell, since he beat Jakob two rounds to one. But, we all know that most people base their votes on everything that the contestants have done during the season – as they should! Russell was one of my early favorites, but until recently I had found many of his performances lackluster. Maybe Noelle is to blame, since she was a lackluster partner. Once the couples were split up, we saw him excel in many different styles. Jakob, on the other hand, has consistently wowed me from start to finish of the season. Kathryn has been a solid performer, but she has always been missing some of the personality that the others have. Ashleigh was one of my favorites in the first half of the season, but once she and Jakob were split up, she fell off my radar a bit. Ellenore had a string of bad luck in the early weeks as she was shuffled from partner to partner, but she was excellent these past few weeks, when it really matters. However, she didn’t stand out as much during this finale. And that leaves Ryan, who seems the only contestant out of place in this group. He probably should have gone home a couple of weeks ago, but I’ve actually enjoyed watching his performances since then, so he’s made the most of his extra time.

Here’s how I think the countdown should go on the final results:

  • Ryan
  • Ashleigh
  • Ellenore
  • Kathryn
  • Russell
  • Jakob – Winner! (fingers crossed…)

Of course I think Jakob should win, but I’m a little nervous that Russell may steal his crown! I had decided to vote for both of them last night, but to call in more times for Jakob. Well, the line was busy some of the times I called for Jakob. But here’s the thing: I was never able to get through for Russell! And I tried from time to time over the course of an hour. I’ll be shocked if Jakob and Russell aren’t the last two standing. I guess I’d be happy with any of these contestants winning, since I love all of them, but I really think the title of America’s Favorite Dancer should go to Jakob. What do you think?

Related Posts

 

SYTYCD Season 6: The Top 8 Results Show December 9, 2009

Oh. My. Goodness. We finally had a shake-up, after weeks of mostly predictable results. After last night’s performance show, I guessed that Ellenore, Ryan, Russell, and Kathryn would be the bottom four. I was right about Ellenore and Ryan, but wrong about the other two, who happened to be the ones sent home!

The Bottom Four

  • Ellenore
  • Mollee – sent home
  • Ryan
  • Legacy – sent home

I am thrilled that Mollee is no longer on the show. Every season there is at least one dancer who I simply don’t like. Dancers from seasons past who come to mind include Lacey and Lauren and Neil. Were they all season three?! I really think that Mollee survived this long because of her cutesy personality more than on the strength of her dancing. Sure, she has some impressive strength and balance, but she seems more suited for gymnastics than some of the dance styles she has performed. And I never thought too much about Legacy this season. I suppose I was impressed that he grew so much as a dancer in the various styles, and of course I noticed all those times that he performed shirtless. But he was never one of my favorites. So while I was definitely shocked when he was announced as the guy who was going home, I wasn’t sad.

I wonder if the results would have been different if Ashleigh had performed last night, and if Ryan hadn’t sweetly encouraged the audience to vote for her (instead of him). I really do think he would have gone home instead of Legacy, but perhaps Mollee would still have been eliminated. All this time I had thought that she and Nathan were so popular, but I guess they really weren’t. I was thrilled for Russell that he found out quickly that he had made it into the finals. And I am sure Ashleigh was relieved to have one more chance to prove she should be there. I am assuming that her doctor cleared her to dance again. I didn’t notice whether or not she danced the opening group number.

Our Finalists

  • Jakob
  • Ashleigh
  • Kathryn
  • Ellenore
  • Russell
  • Ryan

So, the finals should be quite a fun, exciting event. I’m assuming we’ll see Ryan and Ashleigh dance together, since traditionally all the finalists dance with each other. Although, since there are six dancers instead of four this time, they may have to chance up some of the usual way of doing things. I most look forward to Ashleigh/Ryan, Jakob/Kathryn, which are two pairings we haven’t seen this season. And, I am hoping that in the end, Jakob will be named the season six winner!

 

SYTYCD Season 6: The Top 8 Perform

I’m still trying to figure out how we’re only a week away from the finale, but meanwhile, Ashleigh’s dislocated shoulder created all sorts of drama on this week’s top 8 performance show.

Kathryn & Ryan Disco (Doriana Sanchez) – I’m just not that into disco. It’s cheesy, and I don’t like it. That being said, Ryan was a good partner for disco, since he can easily lift just about anyone or anything.

Mollee & Jakob Viennese Waltz (Jason Gilkison) – When they first came out on stage, I didn’t understand Mollee’s butter yellow skirt. Usually a girl wears a beautiful flowing dress for a waltz. But I ended up really liking the performance, and the costumes gave it a more modern feel – well, more like a 1940s or 50s collegiate feel. The idea of a young couple in love, dancing on air together, was very sweet. That assisted hip lift (think that’s what they called it) was amazing. As usual, Jakob brought his partner up to his level. I’ve no doubt they will both be in the finale.

Ashleigh Solo – Poor Ashleigh, so anxious to dance, but forced to just stand there dressed in black, with her arm in a sling. 😦

Ellenore & Legacy Contemporary (Travis Wall) – This wasn’t my favorite Travis routine. I seem to recall another Mr. and Mrs. Smith themed dance on this show in a previous season. Does anyone else remember that? This dance seemed more character driven than dance driven, and while they did a good job, I wasn’t blown away.

Jakob Solo – Oh, how I love Jakob. I’ve considered going to see this season’s dancers on tour just because he will be there. The only other season I went to see the Dance tour was season three, when my beloved Pasha was dancing, along with Danny, Sabra, Lacey, Neil, etc. But anyway, back to Jakob. He really is an amazing dancer, and I thought he put a lot more energy and passion into this solo than the one he did last week.

Ashleigh & RussellHip-Hop (Shane Sparks) – Russell had to dance with Shane’s assistant, Rachel, who wasn’t nearly as pleasant to watch as Ashleigh would have been. There’s no way the routine could have been a smashing success with this last minute substitute, but Russell still looked like he had fun.

Mollee Solo – All I could think while I watched her solo was, “Am I watching a gymnastics routine?” All that was missing was the floor pads and a unitard. She was doing flips, cartwheels, balance moves, etc. That’s great if you’re competing in floor exercise, but this is a dance competition. I so wish Mollee would go home this week, but I don’t see it happening.

Kathryn & RyanCha Cha (Jason Gilkison) – This was a fun and surprising routine. These two really did have some great chemistry, and made the difficult routine look fun and mostly effortless. The closing flip that left Kathryn hanging upside down was eye opening. Sadly, I don’t know that this will be enough to keep Kathryn in the competition.

Legacy Solo – This seemed like a half-hearted effort to me. Perhaps this is a trend, though. Nigel said that at this point people aren’t “supposed” to vote on technique, but on who entertains them the most. Apparently, Legacy and Russell thought that silly props would charm viewers into picking up the phone. I would rather have seen Legacy do more of his crazy b-boy moves than chatting away on the huge 1990s cordless phone. This didn’t feel like “dancing for your life” to me. (Sorry, Leah…)

EllenoreSolo – I still enjoyed her solo, but it wasn’t as good as last week’s, and neither were her partner performances. She was riding high last week after her jazz routine with Jakob, but she may have trouble making it into the finals.

Russell Solo – This one started off well enough. It’s Christmas time, so a Santa outfit is appropriate enough. However, I wish he would have ditched the coat and bag and gotten down to krumping business, but instead he stayed in playful mode and spent the last 10 seconds taking his shoe off and on and pulling a stuffed animal out of his bag. This solo paled in comparison to the one that brought the audience to their feet last week.

Mollee & Jakob Broadway (Joey Dowling) – I’m writing this review after the fact, and I had to think really hard to even remember what this dance looked like. Then I remembered the overcoats that gave way to green, money-inspired costumes. This was just a so-so routine for me. At least Jakob (I mean, they) had an excellent opening performance.

KathrynSolo – This was a very pretty solo, and had me thinking that she’s the most technically excellent dancer left. Based on technique, and her ability to adapt to pretty much every style she’s been thrown, I just think she deserves to stay longer than Mollee.

Ellenore & LegacyHip-Hop (NappyTabs) – Um, not so much. I think I’ve mentioned before my discomfort with anything involving masks, so the beginning of this routine had me a little nervous. I don’t think it was a good idea to highlight Ellenore’s weirdness (particularly her “alien” language) in the week leading into the finals. America can’t identify with alien, mask-wearing Ellenore as well as quirky, theatrical Ellenore. This routine goes in the same category as the crash test dummies one from last season (Kupono and some girl who left early, maybe Ashley?) – “too weird and doesn’t translate well on stage.”

Ryan Solo – Lots of chest pumping and such.

Ashleigh & Russell Bollywood (Nakul Dev Mahajan) – Ashleigh would have been very pretty and convincing as a Bollywood dancer. Russell’s fill-in partner was actually pretty good, but I was just sad that he didn’t have his real partner to dance with.

My Favorite Performances

  • Jakob and Mollee’s Viennese Waltz
  • Kathryn and Ryan’s Cha Cha

Predicting the Bottom Four

  • Ellenore
  • Kathryn
  • Ryan
  • Russell

With Ashleigh’s injury and subsequent pleas for votes, who knows how the voting will go? I voted for Ashleigh, Jakob, and Ellenore. If I had my way, I’d send Mollee and Ryan home, but it may end up being Kathryn and Russell. I think Russell may have been forgotten in the midst of his partner’s last minute injury.

Here’s how I rank the top 8, from my favorite to least favorite:

  • Jakob
  • Ashleigh
  • Ellenore
  • Kathryn
  • Russell
  • Legacy
  • Ryan
  • Mollee

So how does my list compare to yours? Who do you want to win?

 

SYTYCD Season 6: The Top 10 Perform December 2, 2009

This week’s episode was a vast improvement on last week’s sub par performances and choreography. With all the “so so” dancers out of the way, we were treated to a high level of excellence, and I was also quite pleased with most of the new pairings. In my opinion, Ellenore had her best week yet, and was the star of the night, between her solo and her amazing performance of Sonya Tayeh’s jazz piece. I was also impressed by Russell’s solo, and actually much preferred him paired with Mollee than with Noelle. Ellenore and Jakob were the standout couple of the night, whereas Noelle and Ryan were the most lackluster. They may need to start packing their suitcases for the trip home…

I enjoyed the glimpses into the contestants’ lives outside the show that we saw before their solos. I wish we’d get more of that, since it helps us understand more about who they are. It is clear that most of these dancers’ parents have been very supportive in their children’s desires to have a career in dance. Russell’s mom and dad were so sweet and proud of him, and it was nice to see Legacy’s dad “dancing” in the audience, supporting his son. It’s kind of crazy that Ellenore’s parents moved to New York for her, but it does seem like they made the right decision. All these segments just go to show how important family support is in pursuing a challenging goal. (Wiping away tears now…) Let’s get on with the show.

The Couples’ Performances

  • Noelle & Ryan
    • “Give It to Me Right,” Melanie Fiona (Hip-Hop w/ Tabitha & Napoleon D’umo) – The desk motif reminded me of Sabra and Neil’s fantastic Mandy Moore jazz routine from season three, but Ryan and Noelle didn’t live up to that standard. 
    • “Jeux D’eau,” Cirque du Soleil (Smooth Waltz w/ JT Thomas & Tomas Mielnicki) – They did a good job, but I agreed with Nigel that Noelle’s neck and shoulders were too stiff. She looked uncomfortable.
  • Ashleigh & Legacy
    • “Poison,” The Prodigy (Contemporary w/ Garry Stewart) – I was surprised when Nigel raved about the choreography, because I was very bored by it! Maybe it was an intense workout for them, but it’s not very exciting to watch a bunch of rolling around on the floor. I didn’t “get” what it was supposed to be about. (I really missed the explanatory intros that we usually get to each performance.)
    • “Slow Down,” Bobby Valentino (Hip-Hop w/ Dave Scott) – Um, no. I could have done without the old school vampire cape, and the fru fru costume that Ashleigh was wearing. Last week Dave Scott gave us Alexander Graham Bell inventing the telephone, and this week he gave us a dancing Bella Lugosi. He needs to step up his game and stop depending on weak gimmicks in his routines, or he won’t be invited to the show anymore. The judges tried to tip toe around it, but they basically told Dave that this wasn’t good enough for a top ten performance show. So, it’s not really Legacy and Ashleigh’s fault, but nevertheless this performance was forgettable.
  • Kathryn & Nathan
    • “Choreography,” Danny Kaye (Broadway w/ Spencer Liff) – Aw, these two were really cute together. This performance was, in my opinion, one of the best Broadway pieces ever on the show, and they sold it perfectly. It was nice to see Nathan look like he was actually having fun, rather than the fake smile that we’ve seen in most of his performances.
    • “Walk on By,” Aretha Franklin (Rumba w/ Tony Meredith & Melanie LaPatin) – I enjoyed this one, too. I disagree with the judges about the chemistry. I thought they had a good vibe between each other, although I will say that there were moments when Nathan slipped out of character and looked nervous that he was going to forget his next steps. Did you notice the evil look on Melanie’s face when Nigel criticized her and Tony for not making this “ballroom” enough? She certainly wasn’t happy about it!
  • Ellenore & Jakob
    • “Four Brothers,” Manhattan Transfer (Quickstep w/ Tony Meredith & Melanie LaPatin) – Yay! I was so glad to see Ellenore and Jakob together. They worked really well as dance partners! This quick step was so much better than Peter and Pauline’s painful to watch attempt earlier this season, and I’d say it’s one of the best ever on the show. They kept their composure, moved their feet a mile a minute, and still managed to look like they were enjoying themselves.
    • “Tore My Heart,” OONA and Dave Tweedle (Contemporary w/ Sonya Tayeh) – What an angry song, and what an emotionally charged performance! I wholeheartedly agree with everything the judges said: that this was an amazing performance, that it showcased Ellenore’s weirdness and Jakob’s showmanship and technique, and that it was one of Sonya’s best. I loved when Ellenore was “stuck on the wall,” all the times that Jakob tossed her across the stage, and when she went into convulsions. All so weird and wonderful. This couple hit the jackpot, and will certainly be safe tonight.
  • Mollee & Russell

    • “It Must Have Been Love,” Roxette (Lyrical Jazz w/ Mandy Moore) – I love this song, and thought it was a sweet routine. Russell and Mollee worked well together (and somehow Mollee didn’t seem as doll-like and cutesy partnered with him. It wasn’t perfect – some of the strength moved seemed labored – but overall I thought they did a good job.
    • “Land of 1000 Dances,” Jimmy Barnes (Jive w/ Anya Garnis & Pasha Kovalev) – This was really fun! Of course, I’m biased since it was choreographed by my favorites, Anya and Pasha. I was surprised to see them in charge of a jive, but as long as we get to see them, I don’t care what the style is. This was a super charged, fun routine, and Russell and Mollee’s enthusiasm was contagious.

The Solos

  • Mollee Gray (“Rock the Beat,” LMFAO) – Bleh.
  • Russell Ferguson (“Outros,” Black Milk) – Loved it! Russell was one of my early favorites, but his performances had been lackluster for awhile now, until this week. He stormed out of the gates with this solo! So much intensity, matched with star power and technique. You can tell the studio audience felt his competitive energy, and I certainly felt it at home. I picked up the phone and voted for him based on this solo, which to me was the best individual performance of the night.
  • Noelle Marsh (“Every Time It Rains,” Charlotte Martin) – I don’t have anything to say about this. Noelle just doesn’t seem to be at the same level as these other dancers. Why is she still here?
  • Ryan Di Lello (“Rock You Like a Hurricane,” The Scorpions) – Ballroom solos are always difficult, but he certainly gave it his all and made it entertaining.
  • Kathryn McCormick (“Beautiful,” Bethany Dillon) – So pretty. I really do love Kathryn, so I feel bad that I thought so little of her when the season started, when all I had to go on was her silly high pitched crying. She is a beautiful girl who is so graceful and fully invested in her performances. I hope she goes a long way this season.
  • Nathan Trasoras (“Golden Train,” Justin Nozuka) – I actually liked his solo from last week better, but this one was interesting, and he was very into it. I’m thinking he had some real life issues upsetting him this week, because he cried an awful lot and looked very upset during all of the judges’ comments on his and Kathryn’s performances. Maybe he is homesick, or maybe the stress of the competition is getting to him. Poor guy. I hope that whatever it is can be resolved soon!
  • Ellenore Scott (“Beatbox Harmonica,” Yuri Lane) – Ellenore had the best female solo, and the second best overall, with only Russell ahead of her. I am loving her more every week.
  • Legacy Perez (“No Air,” Jordin Sparks & Chris Brown) – Nicely done, b-boy, nicely done. He managed to seamlessly weave his tricks in with a story that matched the song.
  • Ashleigh Di Lello (“Batucada Por Favor,” Bob Azzam) – Her solo had a lot of pizzazz. She didn’t have a great night, though. I think that she was hurt more by losing her partnership with Jakob, whereas he was able to still shine this week with Ellenore.
  • Jakob Karr (“Always Midnight,” Pat Monahan) – I was expecting more from his solo, and while it was technically excellent, I don’t think he tried very hard. He’s probably betting that his and Ellenore’s contemporary routine will be enough to get people to pick up the phone and vote for him, and he’s probably right.

Top Performances

  • Jakob and Ellenore’s Contemporary
  • Kathryn and Nathan’s Broadway
  • Mollee and Russell’s Jive

Who’s in Danger? – I can’t remember how the elimination show will work tonight. Will there be four dancers in the bottom, or six? Based on last night’s individual performances, I think the following dancers are in trouble:

  • Noelle
  • Ryan
  • Ashleigh
  • Nathan

I think it’s time for Noelle and Ryan to go home. We’ll find out what happens soon enough.

 

Fall 2009 TV: What I’m Still Watching December 1, 2009

A couple of months ago, I gave an overview of what tv shows I would be watching this fall. Some of them were my returning favorites, while others were newbies that I wasn’t sure about. Now that the fall season is well underway, and most of these shows are about to go into holiday hibernation, I thought I’d give an update on what I’m still watching, and which shows have lost my interest.

Didn’t Make It Past the First Round

At the beginning of the fall season, I watched a handful of pilots out of curiosity, and had a reaction of either immediate disinterest or horror.

  • Cougar Town – So bad that it was painful to watch. Poor Courtney Cox – Monica Geller would be embarrassed by her character.
  • The Middle – Hidy ho, neighbor! This show was too “hunky dory” for my taste. It came across as a slightly desperate attempt to reach out to middle America. The result was a sometimes funny, but mostly contrived comedy that was a wannabe hybrid of Everybody Loves Raymond and Malcolm in the Middle.
  • Eastwick – I may have liked this show if it had a darker, supernatural element to it. Instead, it was mostly soap opera fluff with a dash of magic thrown in. I also found all three main characters unlikable, particularly the married one. I felt little sympathy for her when her husband threatened to seek full custody of their kids when they decided to get divorced. Who could blame him? She struck him with lightning! I wrote this show off by the end of the pilot, and it looks like the network has done the same, since I read they haven’t ordered the back nine episodes.

Still Sitting on the Sidelines

Some shows that I considered watching haven’t even seen any playing time. These are all shows I have watched off and on in past seasons, but so far this season the episodes are just piling up on my Tivo.

  • Bones – Actually, I only recorded the first episode of the season, and really only because Cyndi Lauper was guest starring. It’s still sitting unwatched on my Now Playing list. (I lost interest in this show about the time that Angela and Hodgins broke up. That was such a forced story.)
  • The Mentalist – I like the characters on this sophomore hit (and I love Simon Baker!), and I’m intrigued by the ongoing Red John investigation, but I just haven’t found the time to watch any episodes this season. I may catch up some in the next couple of months.
  • CSI – Ever since Warrick’s tragic departure, and then Grissom’s move to South America (or where ever he went to live in the jungle with Sara), this show has been a little depressing. I’m not a huge fan of some of the newer characters, although I like Laurence Fishburne just fine.  At this point in this veteran show’s run, I only watch the episodes that sound interesting to me. So far this season nothing has sounded too good.
  • How I Met Your Mother – I still haven’t finished last season’s episodes, much less gotten into this season’s. I guess this just isn’t Must See TV for me. It really never has been. I’ll probably do what I’ve always done, which is to catch up during summer reruns.

I finally started acting my age and stopped watching Vampire Diaries.

Cut from the Lineup

  • FlashForward – I really wanted to be excited about this show. Yet every week something was missing. I didn’t find any of the characters compelling, and wasn’t sure why it really mattered what they saw in the future and what they would do about it now. And it took them forever to introduce Charlie – I mean Dominic Monaghan’s character! In every preview, they would show him, but he didn’t actually have much screen time until several episodes in. By that time, I had already decided to bail. Perhaps this show was trying to do too much with too many characters. What worked for Lost doesn’t seem to be working for it. I have a feeling this one won’t make it past season one.
  • Vampire Diaries – All along, I felt too old to be watching this show. I rolled my eyes at all the exaggerations of teen angst, and the absence of authority figures. It seems like most of the grown ups were only introduced so they could be killed off (such as the football coach and the reporter). I was intrigued enough by the family dynamics between Stefan and Damon, and Damon really is a fun character. However, the final nail in the coffin was all the mumbo jumbo about crystals and such, and the secret society who vowed to protect the town from vampires. It was all a little hokey. Why not just stick to the formula of a teen who falls in love with a brooding but good-hearted vampire, who happens to have an evil, trouble-making vampire brother? The show seems to be a hit for the CW, and I am sure many fans will continue to enjoy it. I, however, am relieved that I now have one less show to watch on Thursday nights.

"Modern Family" is one of my favorite shows this season

Second Team

These are shows that I’m still watching regularly, but sometimes weeks after they air. In other words, they aren’t “must see.”

  • 30 Rock – Still funny, but I’m not compelled to watch it immediately
  • The Office – Continues to be hit or miss. I don’t like the direction the show has taken Jim’s character lately, portraying him as a fish out of water in his co-manager position.
  • Community – Community seems to be getting better with each episode. We just watched the Green Week episode, which was hilarious, particularly the montage sequence that had Senor Chang salsa dancing at the “Greene Daye” concert, while Shirley gave an inspiring speech about brownies, and Abed and Troy sang “Somewhere Out There” to coax their lab mouse out of hiding. Comic genius.
  • Modern Family – Modern Family also gets better with each episode. I love how it balances quirky and deadpan humor with characters that are actually lovable. I like all the characters on the show, which is very rare on today’s brand of sitcom. On the latest episode that I watched, which had to do with a “stolen” bicycle, toddler time, and the installation of a ceiling fan, I was really touched by the ending. Jay (Ed O’Neill) and Gloria’s wine country getaway plans are spoiled when Manny’s father cancels his plan to take him to Disneyland. Rather than tell Manny the truth about his deadbeat dad, Jay sacrifices his and Gloria’s kid-free weekend, telling Manny that his dad wanted them to take him to Disney World, and that he had sent a limo to take them there. That was really sweet. And like Jay said, the most important part of being a dad is just showing up. Sniff, sniff. This show really deserves a post all its own, so I won’t praise it anymore right now.

Glee remains a joy to watch

My Must-See TV

  • SYTYCD – I’m still enjoying this show, although this season’s choreography and performances have been underwhelming, except for a handul of my favorite couples. I’m used to investing more time into this show during its summer runs, but since it’s up against so many fall shows, I’ve devoted much less time to blogging about it. I vote that they return to a summer-only format.
  • Glee – I am in love with this show. While some episodes are better than others, and some of the humor is just plain silly, there is plenty to make up for those small complaints. The musical numbers are always fun, Sue Sylvester is the funniest character on tv, and every episode ends on an uplifting note that has me either cheering for the characters or celebrating life itself. Can one little tv show achieve all that? Apparently so.
  • V – ABC, why must you be so cruel? Four episodes? That’s it? And now we have to wait until March?! I am disappointed to learn that the ratings have plummeted, and I hope that someone will generate enough buzz to get this show back on America’s radar. It is certainly worth it! I was fascinated by the first four episodes. It was very different from the 1980s miniseries, but that wasn’t a bad thing. I like both versions. In this new version, the acting is top notch, the cinematography and special effects are impressive, and the story is compelling and very applicable to our society’s current concerns (healthcare, vaccinations, terrorism, etc.). Perhaps they should have just made this into another miniseries, because it will be very disappointing if the show gets canceled before we know how it ends!
  • Fringe – How strange that this is the only one hour drama that I am currently watching (now that V is on a long hiatus). It used to be that I only watched a couple of comedies, and several one hour shows. Maybe I just don’t have the time anymore, or maybe there are more good comedies than dramas right now). With Lost and 24 scheduled to kick off in the next couple of months, my tv lineup will be more balanced. But for now, I remain fascinated by this scifi/thriller/mystery/drama. Olivia, Peter, and Walter are all characters that I care about, and the mysteries are a satisfying blend of disturbing and riveting. I got really antsy waiting for this show to return during Fox’s baseball playoffs coverage. I’m glad that at least one good new show from last season has continued to be successful.

So there you have it. I now have three must-see shows, plus another four comedies that I enjoy watching. That’s all that remains from an original batch of 15 shows that I was considering watching. Have you lost interest in any of this season’s shows? Which ones are you still loving?

Related Post: