Eclaire Fare

Enjoying Pop Culture, One Bite at a Time

SYTYCD Season 6: Meet the Top 20 October 27, 2009

I must say, I thoroughly enjoyed last night’s special episode of SYTYCD, in which the viewing audience was treated to performances by the top 20 in their respective styles. Why have the show runners never done this before? Probably because it was hard enough to cram a full season into the short summer season. So now we have an added benefit of a fall season: time to do more showcasing of the contestants’ individual talent. Read on to see who danced what, who choreographed them, and how they did. I’ve listed the performances from my most to least favorite.

  • Nathan, Ariana, Jakob, and Channing – Contemporary – Choreographed by Tyce Diorio – “Crying” by K.D. Lang – I absolutely loved this routine! It helps that two of my early favorites were in it (Nathan and Channing), and they didn’t disappoint. I loved the costumes, the choreography (I so prefer Tyce’s contemporary stuff to his Broadway), and the dancers’ complete investment in their charge to “convey sadness.” All these guys are so light on their feet, have impressive leaping abilities, and were basically a joy to watch. They reminded me why I love this show so much. 🙂  Ariana mostly caught my eye when she was leaping into someone’s arms, and I was impressed by Jakob’s strong movement. Channing manages to dance gracefully while also taking advantage of her strength, and I still maintain that she’s very elegant despite her tomboyishness off stage. And I continue to love everything that Nathan does.
  • Top 20 Group Routine – “Comanche” by The Revels – Choreographed by Wade Robson – The setting of this routine is a smoky 1930s bar, and “the four slickest gangs in the city have showed up, and a turf war ensues.” This was a great way to kick off the night, and it’s my second favorite performance of the night. All 20 dancers were stylin’ in their 1930s-era clothing – I loved the guys in their suits, and the girls in their luxurious, shimmery, colorful dresses (especially the red and green). Everyone exuded personality and seemed spot on with the choregraphy. It was super cool and fun. It seems like this is a top 20 to be reckoned with!
  • Legacy, Kevin, and Russell – Hip Hop – Choreographed by Tabitha and Napoleon – “Beggin’ (District 78 Remix)” by Madcon – No doubt about it, these guys are a talented trio. I’ve discovered that although Russell is one of my favorites, I prefer serious Russell over smiley Russell. He has more intensity when he’s not grinning. I’m curious to see him in a contemporary or ballroom routine, but not so much Broadway. Knowing Kevin’s backstory, of how he’s worked hard for three years to be on the show, makes me like him more. Otherwise, I wouldn’t pay much attention to him – not with Russell and Legacy in the room. That Legacy sure is a scene stealer! He had the most impressive moves during this performance. Overall, though, all of them did a great job.
  • Karen, Ryan, and Ashley – Latin Ballroom (Samba) Choregraphed by Jason Gilkison – “Everything I Can’t Have” by Robin Thicke – This was a fun, spicy routine, although not as effective as a traditional one on one partnered samba. Ryan was certainly working his suit, and Karen stood out to me more than Ashley. Mary called Karen “animalistic” – she definitely had a grittier stage presence than the more pageanty Ashley. These guys may be pretty good ballroom dancers, but they have nothing on Pasha and Anya, my all-time favorite ballroom couple on the show. Oh, how I miss them. I really hope they will choreograph some routines this season!
  • Billy, Victor, Kathryn, and Noelle – Contemporary – Choreographed by Mandy Moore – “Viva La Vida” by Coldplay – Oh, I love this song! And I also found the beautiful autumn backdrop inspiring. Unfortunately, those were my favorite things about this routine. The dancing itself was so-so, which is more to blame on the choreography than the dancers – I think Mandy Moore is saving her best stuff for the actual competition. I didn’t particularly care for Noelle’s “Dorothy” skirt, but everyone else’s clothing seemed appropriate. Honestly, when I try to remember the difference between Kathryn and Noelle, they kind of morph into one person in my mind. Neither of them is high on my list of female contestants. Billy and Victor both did a good job, but didn’t wow me. During the partnering, the two couples were out of synch at times – it could have been much tighter and sharper. Overall, I was underwhelmed by this performance, especially compared to the outstanding Tyce Diorio routine from earlier in the show.
  • Mollee, Pauline, and Ellenore – Jazz – Choreographed by Sonya Tayeh – “On a Cloud” by PPP – Adam said it best when he called this routine “cute as a button.” This was supposed to be a sexy, flirtatious dance, but the tu-tus made it seem more juvenline than the “grown up” women Sonya kept talking up. Ellenore is my favorite of these three girls, but she didn’t seem fully invested. While the other two girls were bouncing around and all smiles, Ellenore seemed unsure of her steps and afraid that her top was going to fall down. It’s true that the costume did not suit her at all. She seems more mature and refined than someone who would be jumping and bouncing around in a tu-tu. So, yes, this dance was more suited for the younger-seeming (they are actually all about the same age) and more playful Mollee and Pauline, who were actually quite good here. But as we know, the contestants who fail to show America their personality and ability to adapt to even the most awkward dance styles (remember how fantastic Joshua was doing the Bollywood dance in season four?). I fear that unless Ellenore does a great job in the first performance show, she is in danger of being the first girl sent home.
  • Peter, Phillip, and Bianca – Tap – Choreographed by Derick K. Grant – “Take the ‘A’ Train” by Ella Fitzgerald – This routine was charming and pleasant, but didn’t blow me away. I’ve said before that I’m just not a huge fan of tap. It lacks the excitement of other forms of dance. However, I’m glad these guys had a chance to show off their talent in their style, since – as Nigel said – they won’t be including tap in the rotation of dance styles this season, because it would take too long to teach it to the other contestants. (I’m not sure I buy that. If they make people figure out various ball room styles, surely they could manage with tap, too.) In this performance, I was most drawn to Phillip, who had the most understated stage presence. I was able to appreciate his tapping without being distracted by over the top grinning.

So did this special episode change my opinion of any of the dancers? Well, I still love Nathan and Channing, think Russell is pretty cool, and think Ellenore may be in trouble. The dancer who I didn’t know much about beforehand that stood out to me was Jakob. He is pretty fantastic and fun to watch, and I can’t quite place it, but he reminds me of some actor. Who does he look like to you?

Who impressed you the most in this episode?


SYTYCD Season 5: The Top 20 Perform June 10, 2009

I had been eagerly anticipating this episode of SYTYCD, the one where we find out who is paired with who, and what kind of start each couple will have as a result of their pairing and the style of dance they draw. Unfortunately, a massive storm hit the entire DFW area during the time the show airs, and as a result, the first hour was preempted by continuous weather coverage. Apparently, the news stations around here don’t understand the concept of weather updates in the bottom corner of the screen, which would allow the show to continue relatively uninterrupted. Oh, well. The storm passed, and I was able to see the final four performances. Check back tomorrow for my thoughts on the performances I missed, after I’ve watched the rest of the episode online. [I’ve now updated the post to include my thoughts on the other routines. See below.] Meanwhile, here’s what I thought of the final four performances:

  • Brandon and Janette – Foxtrot – “Come Fly with Me” by Michael Buble – They did a nice job, looked great, and made an often boring dance look like fun. I am rooting for Brandon, especially since Mia and Lil’ C gave him such a hard time. I hope he proves them wrong! The lifting and spinning at the end of this routine were a good start to that. The judges seemed to like their performance.
  • Ashley and Kupono – Jazz (Wade Robson) – “Felt Mountain” by Goldfrapp – According to Wade, the idea of this choreography is two crash test dummies “living life like you’ve never been hurt.” I couldn’t get past the costumes, though. I found them disturbing – first of all because they were very unattractive, and second of all because it dehumanized Ashley and Kupono. I realize that that’s kind of the point, since they were supposed to be crash test dummies, but I think that during a week when we’re being introduced to the Top 20 for the first time, hiding under spandex and white face paint isn’t the best idea. I suppose they did well with what they were given, but I didn’t get anything out of it except a “yikes.” As Adam Shankman said, “Wade, you are one sick puppy.” On the other hand, Mary said she was there and bought it 100%. Nigel skirted the issue of whether it was good or bad by rambling on about how it will get people talking about dance.
  • Melissa and Ade – Contemporary (Mandy Moore) – “Right Here Waiting” by Richard Marx – A routine about the moment when you first fall in love. I really enjoyed their dancing. It was light, flowing, and beautiful. The way Ade lifted Melissa in the air and swung her around, she looked weightless. Adam called it “so special.” I give Melissa props for coming on the show at 29 (then again, I’m in trouble if 29 is old!) and think Adam may be right that you can get better at dancing with age, at least in terms of the emotion and presence you bring to it. Mary called Ade a “gentle giant… quiet, powerful.” I agree with Nigel that it’s wonderful to have a ballerina on the show this season. Easily my favorite routine (of the ones I’ve seen) so far tonight!
  • Kayla and Max – Samba (Louie ?) – “Jum Bah Day” by House of Gypsies – Kayla looked great in all that fuschia fringe. Samba requires a LOT of energy! I got tired just watching it. It was a lot of fun to watch, even though Max isn’t my favorite contestant. Adam: “That was SO GOOD!” And he added, “Only God could have created this girl. (It’s like you were born in a ballroom.)” Mary put them on the hot tamale train. Nigel said it had “everything we could ever wish for.” He also said Kayla has consistently been one of the judges’ favorites. Mine, too! I appreciating Nigel pointing out that Max isn’t as sharp as Pasha and Dmitri – how could he be? That’s a tough standard to measure up to.

The performances I had to track down online (Fox really needs to post full episodes on its website!):

  • Jeanine and Phillip – Hip Hop (Tabitha and Napoleon) – Tabitha and Napoleon are my favorite hip hop choreographers. I love that they bring so much emotion and story to their routines. And this one was so interesting – it had me captivated from beginning to end. Jeanine kind of reminds me of Kristin Stewart (aka Bella), except she has a lot more personality.  And Phillip brings such interesting movements to any performance, plus he seems to do well with anything that’s thrown at him – I think the choreographers will love to work with him. Adam: “That was unfreakin’ real.” Mary: “You taught us a chemistry lesson.” Nigel pointed out that Phillip already has a following, but that Jeanine has made a mark for herself with this performance.
  • Asuka and Vitolio – Broadway (Tyce Diorio) – “Hot Honey Rag” from Chicago – Their performance seemed very wooden to me, very “going through the motions.” The video I tracked down didn’t include the practice session intro or the judges’ comments, but I can’t imagine the judges were wowed by this.
  • Karla and Jonathan – Cha Cha (Tony Meredith) – “Poker Face” by Lada GaGa – The guy is out to get the girl in this routine. They did an okay job, but I wasn’t feeling any chemistry between them. Adam praised them for their technique and lines and told Jonathan “you’re dancing less like a boy and more like a man.” Mary: “That was a whole lotta rockin’, a whole lotta fun.” Nigel disagrees with me about the chemistry, saying they exploded onto the stage with it.
  • Randi and Evan – Jazz (Tyce Diorio) – “I Only Have Eyes for You” by Jamie Cullum – Very steamy performance! These two had great chemistry, and they both seemed fully invested in the routine. I loved the contrast of the flowing and jerky movements. Adam: “You both danced like you were 8 feet tall… Evan, no one saw you coming – you are a beautiful, beautiful dancer.” (I saw him coming!) And I agree with Adam that this was one of Tyce’s best routines. Mary called it “smoldering, fluid, beautiful, and absolutely believeable.” Nigel: “I think you have just become a couple that people will recognize and talk about.” Yay! I certainly like them.
  • Paris and Tony – Hip Hop (Tabitha and Napoleon) – “Let the Beat Rock” by The Black Eyed Peas – I was surprised this was a Tabitha and Napoleon routine. It wasn’t as memorable as most of theirs are. This one seemed kind of gimmicky to me, with the headphones and whatnot. I agree with Adam that the costumes were distracting – kind of Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome. Mary didn’t think it will be memorable. I agree. Nigel told Tony that he has room to grow, and that they were “just doing steps.” Yup. Paris and Tony seemed out of sync a few times, and for me, Tony’s lack of training was noticeable.
  • Caitlin and Jason – Bollywood – “Jai Ho” from Slumdog Millionaire – I didn’t even recognize Caitlin behind her elaborate costume. I liked her better than Jason in this performance, but they both did a good job with the fun choreography. I didn’t catch all of the judges’ comments (the continuous weather coverage ended and the show cut in right during their comments), but they seemed to like it.

So, now that I’ve managed to track down and watch the six performances I missed last night, I can give my overall assessment.

Favorite Performances:

  • Melissa and Ade’s Contemporary – Absolutely beautiful!
  • Randi and Evan’s Jazz – Great chemistry, captivating routine
  • Jeanine and Phillip’s Hip Hop – Interesting choreography, well executed by this in sync couple

Least Favorite Performances:

  • Asuka and Vitolio’s Broadway – I was bored, and they seemed to be, too.
  • Paris and Tony’s Hip Hop – I was unimpressed.
  • Ashley and Kupono – I was too disturbed to enjoy it.

I think that Asuka, Vitolio, Paris, and Tony are most in danger of going home tonight, and I’d even add Karla and Jonathan to that list. Ashley and Kupono’s performance, while far from my favorite, is memorable enough that I think they will be safe.

My favorite couples so far are Melissa and Ade, and Evan and Randi. Who are your early favorites?


So You Think You Can Dance: The Winner is Revealed August 7, 2008

Welcome to the grand finale! It’s hard to believe it’s already time for it. Wasting no time, the show quickly reintroduced us to the original Top 20. My husband asked, “Who’s that guy in the front?” when they did their group dance. It was Jamie, of course, but it’s always hard to remember the first few dancers to be eliminated. So it was nice that Jamie, Rayven, Susie, and Marquis got to have a few more moments in the spotlight.

I figured the best way to assess the finale was by dividing it into segments. So, below you will find the various highlights, the judges’ favorite dances, and the slow reveal of the winner.

  • The Top 20 performed a Shane Sparks hip hop routine.
  • We witnessed a face off between Robert Moraine and Philip Chbeeb, the “best poppers the show has ever seen.” I agree with most of the judges that Robert was the best.
  • Mary and Dmitri danced together – She still has the legs and the moves!
  • The top five guys performed the Nigel-choreographed “Five Guys Named Moe” (Joshua, Twitch, Mark, Will, and Gev)
  • The cast of Criss Angel “Believe” performed a Wade Robson dance that was an “Homage to all the rabbits who died in the hands of incompetent magicians.” The song was “Homage to the Rabbits” by Eric Serra – I was reminded of Donnie Darko when all the creepy rabbits came out on stage. Leave it to Wade Robson to make dancing rabbits seem scary and weird.
  • Some of the oldest and youngest performers from Debbie Allen’s Dance Academy performed. Nigel joined in the fun.
  • The Jonas Brothers made pre-teen girls all across America squeal with joy when they performed a song from their new album. I just don’t get what the big deal is. Maybe you have to be younger than 15 to “get it”?
  • Some of the best performers from the past seasons of the show performed to “Please Don’t Stop the Music” by Rihanna, after they gave some updates about what they are up to. Notably missing were Sabra and Danny. We did see Hok, Dominic, Jesus, Sara, Lacey, and Anya from last season. It’s nice to know that they are having success in the world of dance.

Judges’ Favorites

  • Nigel – Joshua and Katee’s Bollywood routine; Katee and Joshua’s “No Air” hip hop routine. These were two of my favorites this season as well.
  • Mary – Courtney and Gev’s Rumba; Katee and Twitch’s Mia Michael-choreographed contemporary routine with the door.
  • Adam – Comfort and Twitch’s “Futuristic Studio 54” Hip Hop; Courtney and Mark’s Jazz routine to Mirah’s “The Garden”
  • Lil’ C – Mark and Chelsie’s “Bleeding Love” hip hop routine
  • Mia – Will and Katee’s Pas de Deux – This was amazing to see again!
  • Debbie – Twitch and Kherington’s smooth waltz (the one dedicated to Jean-Marc’s daughter)

Countdown to the Champion

  • Courtney is the first to learn she isn’t the winner – This comes as no surprise to me, or probably to any one else either. She was very gracious, though, and sweet.
  • Katee was the second to learn she wasn’t “America’s favorite dancer.” When I heard her name called, my response was “Awwww.” I really liked Katee and think she was the best female dancer in the Top 20. But, I am rather confident now that Joshua will win, which makes me excited! But wait, she gets a prize as the top girl: $50,000. Not bad for second runner up.
  • The Big Reveal: As Twitch and Joshua stand side by side, Cat lets us know that the winner is…. JOSHUA! I was very excited and happy when his name was called. And unlike last season, they gave the winner a chance to take in the moment and say a few words.

Closing Thoughts: This season was really fun to watch, and I couldn’t be happier with the result. Joshua was my favorite from the early auditions until now. He totally deserves the win. I just hope that, unlike Sabra, we will see more of him on upcoming seasons. I don’t know how I will get my dance fix now until next summer. I don’t know if I can stomach Dancing with the Stars. Any suggestions?

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