So You Think You Can Dance is down to the top 8 dancers, and this is only the second time I have blogged about it. I hang my head in shame. But, better late than never, I say, so let’s jump in!
First let me say, it is very distracting having the Canadian version running concurrently with the American version. Usually they don’t start the Canadian one until the American one is winding down, and that’s a good thing – even I only have time for so much dance show. I’ve been storing up the Canadian ones but the few that I have seen – I’m up to the point where they choose the top (SPOILER) 22 dancers – make me unhappy. I think Canada has some amazing dancers, especially in ballroom and hip hop, but having the two shows on at the same time only highlights the flaws of the Canadian version, namely: the judges suck. Just had to get that off my chest.
And speaking of judging, what do you think of the guest judges on Dance! Show! America! this year? Kristen Chenowith, Neil Patrick Harris, and Jesse Ferguson are basically my dream dinner guests (along with, of course, Ken Jennings), but it’s hard to take either their positive or negative critiques seriously. I usually fast forward through Nigel’s comments (please, please, give up on the terrible puns, dude, FOR THE LOVE), and also Mary’s screeching (although truthfully, she has toned it down this season – I am not missing the HOT TAMALE TRAIN at all). So normally I would only pay attention to the third judge, and when that third judge is Lil C or Travis (wasn’t he so good?) or Mia, then AWESOME, but when it’s some random celebrity, then I don’t know what.
I say that, but still being the third judge is my dream job and you can BET I would expect people to take me seriously, so, um, guess I should maybe just chill. Neil, Jesse, Kristin – love you, call me!
(Carmen Miranda, I invite you to follow me on Twitter. That is all.)
And before we get to the nitty gritty, just wanted to invite y’all to comment on the state of the choreographers this season. There are so many new faces, I can’t even keep them all straight. Most, I think, have not distinguished themselves as unique or original or interesting – this week’s group number was terrible, I thought, and had me wailing for Mia (has she done some Canadian group numbers? Don’t tell me! Or tell me! Either way! I’m excited!). There’s this one hip-hop guy, the one who did Jess and Clarice’s number from last week that I think is good, and there was this one contemporary guy, also with Clarice and Jess who instead of doing the flowing look-away-far thing did a sharper small movement thing, know that guy? That was cool. The others are meh.
So! On to the dancing! I’m sure it comes as no surprise that I’m heartbroken that Clarice went home last week, but at least she did it with all the grace and cheer I’ve come to expect. She totally got screwed with the Bollywood, BTW – has there been a half-decent Bollywood number since the original Katee/Joshua one way back in, what was that, season 4? I would rather have DISCO on the show again, for Pete’s sake.
As for Mitchell, he is a sweetheart but I did feel he was the weakest of the remaining men (not that that’s an insult, everyone left is great), so I was okay with that one. Although I will mention that again, Broadway is the kiss-of-death style – SO hard to get right. Almost impossible, really, unless your name is Jess.
On to the remaining dancers…let’s rank!
1. Melanie. Everyone loves her. I love her too. She gets the biggest cheers and is the front runner. But her number this week with Pasha was very subtle – it was only Mary’s comments on what made the quality of dancing so good that made me appreciate it, but I still didn’t have an emotional response. I thought Pasha had more of a connection with Caitlynn (nature of the choreography and type of dance, really). So Melanie showed this week that she has no problem pulling in the votes with a so-so dance, and yet, I think if she wants to win she will have to really wow us with something special, and soon. She needs to show that even without Marko, she has the stuff. (Also, personal message to Mel: do not, repeat, DO NOT, break into “funky moves” after your serious 30 second solo is complete. NO.)
2. Marko. I thought his was basically invisible in his number with Chelsea Hightower. Man, do I EVER love Chelsea, and my eyes never left her once. Was there even a guy on stage with her? I watched this number THREE TIMES, and every single time I just could not force myself to look at Marko. Like Melanie, he easily got through based on his overall popularity, but I hope he gets contemporary next week so we can really see him shine. (Also, please give Chelsea her own show.)
3. Sasha. 100% converted to Sasha fan this week. Well, maybe 90%. 85%. Whatever – she was amazing with Twitch, FINALLY given a partner who was her equal in terms of power and strength. This was one of the few numbers where I watched the all-star and competitor evenly – they seemed like they’d been dancing together for years. The number had great, great choreography, was danced just SO well. One of my favourites from this season so far.
4. Jess. Seriously? Seriously. Jess has worked hard to overhaul his image. I still think of him as a little brat, but there is no denying that his solos are magical, and he seems to have won over the American public. His number this week with Kathryn was, frankly, terrible – so awkward, no connection, and Kathryn outshone him all over the freakin’ place. And yet, he beat Ricky, RICKY, in the votes. I do not support or agree with this ranking but at this point, I think it’s quite likely that Jess will pull through to the final four. SERIOUSLY.
5. Caitlynn. I really, realy like Caitlynn. Am I the only one? I totally did not get the judges’ comments this week about how she has “danced young” in the past – do they not remember that chairs number by Stacey Tookey, in which she showed great emotional depth? The Janis Joplin number by Travis in which she conveyed Super Sexy just by walking around? In any case, her number with Pasha was passionate and powerful, and I’m so glad it translated into votes for her. (Aside: Did you know that Melanie LaPatin has a column over on Entertainment Weekly’s website? Her column from last week picked Caitlynn and Pasha’s tango as the top number of the week. It’s well worth the read for her critiques – what an amazing guest judge she would be – and also for a fascinating insider look at what the choreographers do all week.) Anyway, I’d love to see Caitlynn make the top 4 but I don’t think she can beat Melanie and Sasha in either votes or with sympathy from the judges (who, I’d like to point out, are still handling the eliminations – don’t they usually go with straight up America Votes at this time? WTF?).
6. Ricky. I think Ricky should be higher. He has really blossomed these past few weeks and shown growth, which few of the other dancers can claim. He danced with Allison this week and I love her, I think she is just magnetic on the stage, and although it’s true I watched her more than him, I felt his dark presence on the stage and thought he did an excellent job with his character. Now if anyone “dances young,” I’d say it’s Ricky, so I hope he gets something even meatier next week to sink his teeth into. I’d love to see him make top 4, I think he is more versatile than Jess and HOLY MOLEY, his solos are DA BOMB.
7. Tadd. I am so torn about Tadd. I think his solos are pretty crappy and he tends to get votes based more on his personality, his mugging, and his abs than his actual dancing. But his number with Comfort last week? Truly amazing. I re-watched that one more than any other and the detail involved, the sheer number and complexity of the movement, is mind boggling. Not only did Tadd totally hit it, he was bang on with the music, not just going through the motions but actually bringing the swagger. It’s an impressive feat and I’m sure no other male dancer could have done it this season. But still…those solos. And I don’t know, the mugging. I just don’t know. I will say this: I would be very surprised if he makes the top 4. And yet, he seems really popular. Why, hello fence, mind if I just sit here a little while?
8. Jordan. This week I finally understood for the first time all season why the judges think she is a good dancer. Her number with Brandon (BRANDON!!! SO AMAZING!!!) was actually pretty good. I didn’t feel the connection between the two one little bit, but I will say that Jordan’s technique was impressive and she was completely committed. And yet…I don’t know, there is some sort of spark missing when I watch her dance, I don’t get the same emotional pull that I do from the others. And her solos feel generic and repetitive. Given that she was in the bottom two this week even though she danced well and in her own style, I’m guessing she will be in trouble again next week.
Join me next week when we start to talk winner. Also, I will endeavor to actually learn the names of all the new choreographers and chat about them. Choreographers, you’ve been WARNED.