So, I don’t usually start blogging about Dance! Show! until we hit the top 10…well, maybe the top 12. Or top 14. Whatever.
This season is throwing me off though, so I have to talk it out. First of all, All Stars: good or bad? Discuss.
My own feeling so far is extremely mixed. On one hand, I squealed with excitment to see the likes of Mark and Kathryn back on the stage. On the other hand, don’t you think the thrill of seeing our old favourites is taking away from excitement and investment in the new dancers?
And on one hand, I think having an “expert” at each style in each number will create higher caliber performances, especially in the early weeks (did you SEE Comfort snapping it out? She was so awesome!). On the other hand, I will really miss seeing the chemistry bloom between certain couples that are given the chance to dance together week after week. I used to get so invested in the relationships between the couples — you could just see who had “it’ and who didn’t — and now, with a new partner every week, I think it will be very hit-or-miss as to who is good on any given week. It’ll just be so much harder for the new dancers to showcase their growth and development, and I fear they will constantly live in the shadow of the All Stars.
Anyway, this week was our first chance to see it all in action, and it did seem to me that for a first week, the dancing was much better than average, so that’s a plus. Here’s how I’d rank the competing dancers.
1. Alex. Whenever I have an early favourite, one of two things is going to happen: they’re going to get voted off in the first two weeks, or they’re going to win. Since Alex is still around, I’m going to call him for the win. He’s SUCH an amazing dancer, and his number this week with Allison was just incredible. Plus, he seems to have genuinue modesty, charm, and a great back story. He’s the whole package. Can’t wait to see him hip hop – will it be good for a laugh, good for a thrill, or both?
2. Richard. Although he received no coverage at all during Vegas week (when Shankman was telling him he’d made the top 10, I was all, “Who the hell is that guy standing with Billy?”), Richard is a textbook example of how to make your mark on America super fast. He cracked some jokes in his 10-second first week interview that established his persona as “the wacky guy.” He found a touching story for this week so we could identify with his fondness for his father and his childhood dreams coming true. He showed plenty of personality when working with his choreographer (THE CHEESEMAN, LOVE LOVE LOVE), and I think he was the only new dancer who actually out-danced his All Star partner. He’ll go far.
3. Jose. America loves a B-Boy. America loves an untrained dancer who can grow every week, and continue to surprise and impress us. But America only loves a breaker so far. Jose is so cute and talented, but I predict he’ll follow in the footsteps of Legacy, Gev, and Dominic, and only last until the just before the top four. I still put him at number 3, though. I guess I deserved that “C” I got in Grade 4 Math.
4. Adechike. I thought the judges were unfairly harsh on Adechicke this week. His number with Kathryn was great — and some might say that was mostly due to Kathryn, who kind of stole the show. But Adechike was still impressive, and I think he will suprise us in the weeks to come. He seems so fragile, and hurt by the judges’ comments, that I think the voting public will rush to his side and protect him. Could he ride the mothering/sympathy wave all the way to the final? Russell did it last year, so…possibly yes.
5. Lauren. It’s a man’s world this season, and really, all the boys are much better than the girls. I think Lauren is the only one who shows potential, but MAN, does she ever need to learn to dance without a smile plastered on her face. Even an upbeat, happy number should show some range of emotion. I think she’s young, and she needs to grow up very, very fast if she’s going to dance with the big boys this season. Having the likes of Allison and Kathryn on the show is not doing her any favours, either.
6. Kent. I feel like the producers are trying to shove Kent down my throat, and I’m gagging. If we have to hear about his rural town ONE MORE TIME, NIGEL, I’m starting an I-hate-Ohio website. (It is Ohio, isn’t it? Whatever.) Kent himself is cute but so, so young, and his dancing this week with Anya was just awful – I felt kind of ashamed and dirty watching it. I feel like he’s got the goods in his own style, but if he doesn’t pick it up in the other styles, and, like Lauren, grow up really fast, he’s in trouble.
7. Cristina. I quite like Cristina. For some reason, I feel like her personality does not translate well to television – she seems a little ditzy but I don’t think that is really true. She’s got the moves, that’s for sure; she really wants this; and she’s worked really hard to be here. I’m worried about her landing in the bottom three this week – hers was a weaker number, but I didn’t think it was one of the worst three, really. I hope she can really wow us next week and stick around a while.
8. Billy. When Billy did his solo during Vegas week, I thought no one would be able to touch him. And yet, on the show so far I have been completely unimpressed. He is really, really young looking, which works against him — he suffers from Leonardo Di Caprio syndrome. I know I’m going to find it hard to buy him in a heavily dramatic piece – can you imagine him in one of Mia’s numbers, or doing what Alex did this week with his Sonya piece? I’m sure I’m not alone when I say, NO. Billy is a lovely dancer but I’m really not sure if there is anything he can do to succeed on this show — he is who he is, and trying to totally transform himself in just a couple of weeks is going to feel false. He’d really have to dazzle me next week to get any kind of support (and we all know it’s MY word that makes or breaks a dancer on this show!).
9. Melinda. Unlike the other girls, Melinda has the maturity and showmanship to rock it. What she is lacking is the technical skills, and this week, it really showed. Pasha is a strong (and HUNKY) partner, but she just did not have the snap or energy to keep up with him. I agree with the judges that she needs to show more warmth, and she needs to work on connecting with her partner – I’m sure she is more used to alternating tap solos than trying to work directly with another dancer. And, she needs to practice the hell out of every number so she doesn’t look as though she’s thinking so hard.
10. Ashley. I am not a fan of Ashley. We saw nothing of her during Vegas week, and given a very, very small window in which to introduce herself she gives us…funny robot voice. Holy cow, woman. Have you no dreams? No inspirational family? No life goals? No interesting hobbies? No past illnesses to milk? Give us SOMETHING. I see Ashley as being a mere clone of Lauren, only with even less personality. I did not like her number with Neil this week — I thought it was generic, forgettable, and I felt nothing at all from her — and why she did not end up eliminated (not even in the bottom three!) I do not understand.
Also, just let me add how sad I am that Alexie was eliminated. She actually managed to surprise me — she looks so small and slight, but when she dances, she PUNCHES IT. She’s got the snap, I thought she rocked it with Twitch, and I think she could have been great. Plus, more clips of Shankman on Star Search would make me a very, very, very happy woman. Oh my goodness, wasn’t his Blue Steel SO FABULOUS? Shankman, darling, call me!