Thursday, August 30, 2012

SYTYCD Recap: I'm Shaking and I Need a Cocktail...

Hot Cat returned last night. Seriously, the hair, the dress, everything was spot on. And the show continued to plod its predictable path, with some fabulousness thrown in along the way.

Two weeks until the finale. Why do I feel so ambivalent? Is it because any show that Nigel Lythgoe gets his hands on ultimately frustrates me with his manipulation? (Yeah, maybe.)

The show opened with an awesome group number to Run Boy Run by Woodkid. Each of the male dancers stepped out into a spotlight, and the female dancers held fans. There was a lot of acrobatic movement going on here (although not much dancing from Cyrus, as usual) and it was good to see a group routine that was so cohesive. Will, Cole, and Chehon looked spectacular. The women all looked terrific, too, I just couldn't tell them apart. And it turns out this was choreographed by a newbie, Peter Chu! Well done, sir...

Modern Family's Jesse Tyler Ferguson returned to the judges panel, after being part of some of the auditions. He's such a fan of the show and speaks of it so reverently, but sometimes I feel like he has shtick to do, you know? It's kind of like Ellen DeGeneres as a judge—comment, joke, joke, comment, more joke, now what do you think about me? It's funny but cloying.

Last night, in an effort to fill two hours now that National Dance Day has passed to demonstrate all of the dancers' skills a little better, each of the top 8 performed a routine with an all-star and then a solo. Tiffany's solo, performed to the Glee cast's rendition of Beyonce's I Was Here was pretty fantastic. Some of her best dancing this season. Plus, we saw footage of cute little Tiffany dancing as a young girl. (It was cute until I saw the footage was dated from 1996.)

The first pairing of the evening was Witney and tWitch, dancing a hiphop routine choreographed by newcomer Luther Brown, who seriously is P. Diddy's (or whatever his name is now) doppelganger. (New to this show, but he's a regular choreographer on SYTYCD Canada.) There wasn't any story to this routine, mercifully, but the number, to My Homies Still by Lil Wayne with Big Sean, was fun and challenging and Witney more than held her own against tWitch. (Her own what?) Seriously, for a ballroom dancer, she looked quite good, had some great moves and lots of sexy vamping, and, to use a Christina Applegate-ism, was soupy. (There was a lot of talk about "ratcheting," but seeing as I'm a Jewish kid from Jersey and not one of the Beastie Boys, I don't know from this.) I wasn't able to separate Witney's dancing from her shaking her moneymaker, but it is what it is.

All three judges (especially Nigel) brandished hiphop-appropriate hand gestures, to which Cat said, "You're not trying to be street, are you? It's like a drunk uncle at a wedding." (God bless our Cat.) Nigel asked Witney, "Do all 18-year-old Mormon girls from Utah dance like this?" He called the routine and her performance "excellent" and said he was glad the judges have been able to save her so far, so they could see performances like this. Mary said, "If I had a hat, I'd take it off for you," and praised the musicality of the routine, which allowed Witney to "live in it." (She also made sure to tell Witney she was "buck.") Jesse (whose bow tie threatened to swallow his face) praised Witney's beauty and amazing sensuality, but was more amazed that "you did what you did while wearing diaper pants." (The costumes for this routine included MC Hammer pants. You know, from this video.)

In Will's intro to his solo, he talked about how he had a tough time in school as a child and that dance really helped him break out of his shell. In the first of the emotional moments of the evening, his mother choked up as she explained Will once told her, "Dance saved my life." His solo, to James Morrison's Better Man, wasn't particularly strong, but he's so darned likeable and has really surprised me with his talent. And his family wears "Will Power" tshirts. How awesome? Even Cat wants one.

Cole, paired with Season 2's Allison, took on a contemporary routine choreographed by Sonya to Possibly Maybe by Bjork. The routine was about a soulless, sadistic man (Cole) and the desperate woman vying for his heart. It truly was vintage Sonya, herky-jerky movements (some which reminded me of her fantastic routine with Ellenore and Jakob from Season 6), incredible lifts (including one in which Cole held Allison upside down), more demonic acting from Cole, and a fantastic performance from Allison. I thought it deserved a standing ovation, but I guess it was not part of the script too early in the night. Sonya appeared knocked out by their performances. And Cat said to Cole, "Thank goodness I know you're really such a nice guy, because you'll be in my nightmares."

Jesse told Sonya, "You're sporting a softer look, with a side braid, but you aren't fooling me. You're insane!" He called Allison "one of the greatest actresses" the show has seen and referred to the routine as "an American Horror Story promo." (Does Ryan Murphy pay them to hype all of his shows? What next, references to The New Normal?) The number was so unsettling, he said, "I'm shaking and I need a cocktail." Mary said that Allison gave her best performance ever on the show, and then said to Cole, "The song you danced to was called Possibly Maybe. Possibly you'll be in the finale. Maybe you'll be in the finale. But if you keep dancing like this, probably you'll be in the finale." (Not quite the ringing endorsement he deserved, but...) Nigel said that the number was quirky and scary, and Cole brought his uniqueness to the routine. He said, "There's no reason you won't make the finale." He explained that he thought it would be difficult to watch anyone but Allison in the routine, but in talking with Sonya earlier in the day, she said that of all of the dancers that could partner Allison, Cole was the strongest. I just wish their feedback was a little stronger about Cole's actual dancing, because isn't this a dance competition? Oh, wait.

Lindsay's solo, to Señorita by Bond, was hot. Seriously. Legs for days.

Taking on "the dreaded quickstep" were Eliana and Season 6's Ryan (a seriously underrated dancer). The routine, choreographed by DWTS' Jonathan Roberts (no Anna TreBUHNskaya?), was about a bored housewife who wants her husband's attention when he comes home after a long day. I happen to love the quickstep (check out Sabrina Bryan and Mark Ballas' quickstep from DWTS) but think people just don't get how hard it is. Danced to Caro Emerald's That Man, I thought the performance was fantastic. Eliana and Ryan paired really well together, and there was some fantastic choreography, full of lifts and twists and turns, and I worried that Carrie-Ann or Len would get mad about the lifts. (Oh, wait. Wrong show.) There was this amazing sequence (which Mary later referred to as a waterfall to a back layover) that was breathtaking. Eliana is really fantastic; it's amazing how she's blossomed once she got away from her partnership with Cyrus.

Mary called the performance spectacular and said that Eliana's "frame was good for the most part," but cautioned her about locking her frame. She said that there's nothing Eliana can't do. Exclaiming "Holy Smokies! Lord have Murphy!", Jesse explained that he saw Eliana in her audition, and he is amazed by her transformation from gawky pole dancer to elegant performer. He praised her range of emotion, which most dancers and actors don't have, and said that she had "a very innate accessibility," which makes him feel like he knows her. "Although I don't know you. I know that's weird, but I'm not a stalker." Nigel was shocked by the technicality of the number and called Eliana's top line "the best of any non-ballroom girl." (That's what she said.) He told her that this show was created for her, because she keeps turning in amazing performances no matter what is thrown at her.

Chehon explained that he left home at age 14 to dance with a ballet company in Europe, so he doesn't see his parents that often. Dancing to On the Nature of Daylight by Max Richter, his solo was sheer brilliance. As good as he was in his solo last week, he leaped higher, spun faster, and put all of his emotion into the number. And Mary and Jesse (and a late-standing Nigel) gave him a standing ovation. When the cameras cut to his mother in the audience (one of the most adorable moms since Elliott Yamin's mom on American Idol), Chehon started to cry, and Cat cautioned, "If you go, then I'll go."

Pairing with Alex Freaking Wong, Lindsay took on a Sonya-choreographed jazz routine to the ubiquitous Somebody That I Used to Know by Gotye (with Kimbra). The routine didn't have a real story, although it was about the tension between two people, mostly sexual tension. I'll admit I wondered how much sexual tension would be generated by an 18-year-old Mormon girl and a gay man, but I was open to see what would happen. While there was some great dancing, there wasn't any real excitement to the number. I really didn't feel any connection between the two of them, but I thought they performed well.

The lack of sexual tension between the two was the first thing Nigel commented on. He praised their brilliant technique, but suggested that Lindsay look at Allison's performance earlier in the night. He told her she had the ability to reach that level, but hadn't yet. Mary called it "a no in the chemistry department" but said there was some really great dancing. She praised Lindsay's "clarity of movement" but said the routine needed that extra element, the connection between her and Alex. Jesse called Lindsay "ding dong 'dorable," and commented that there must be no one in Utah between Lindsay and Witney's families. He said the routine had "70 percent chemistry and 100 percent technique" but agreed it lacked emotional connection.

Will and Season 3's Lauren paired up for a Christopher Scott hiphop number in which Will played a man with a lot of problems who dances his pain away, and Lauren played the little piece of his mind that helped him through. Danced to Dance My Pain Away by Wye Oak, it was great to see Will's ability to rein in his personality and make us concentrate solely on the dancing. It was a really good routine, and because Lauren was a piece of Will's mind, the two never actually danced together, they never actually touched, although at times their movements mirrored one another.

Mary loved the feel of the routine, calling it articulate, precise, perfect, and really tight. She told Will (stealing the phrase from his family's tshirts) that he "has the power to stay in this competition, you just need to believe in yourself." Jesse called Will "ridiculously adorable, like a gigantic puppy covered in puppy stickers that say 'I'm an Adorable Puppy.'" He said it was good to see Will serious and stripped down (no, that's not what he meant, dirty minds) and, of Will's comment that dance saved his life, Jesse said, "You're an example of why arts in school programs works." Nigel acknowledged that it was tough to dance technically without a partner, but Will did a great job, and thought his more serious performance really worked. Ever the creepy lech, however, Nigel mentioned that it must be good that Lauren comes out when Will is feeling down, and he said, "Lauren, I'm going to feel down tonight." (Gross.)

Witney danced a strong solo to Where Have You Been by Rihanna. Then Cole danced his solo, to Arise by E.S. Posthumus. It was an amazing combination of raw power with his martial arts/dance moves and quiet passion.

Cyrus teamed up with last season's champion, Melanie, for a Mandy Moore-choreographed jazz routine to Badder Badder Schwing by Freddy Fresh with Fatboy Slim. The routine was about two cool people strutting their way through town, and Cyrus had on some seriously loud checkered pants. I thought the routine was awful. There were some cutesy moves, but Cyrus was so weak he made Melanie look bad. (This is what happens when you have a weak partner.) There was no real dancing, just a lot of mugging. To be this weak this far in the season is really a tragedy, and I honestly hoped the judges would call Cyrus on it.

Yeah, right. Jesse said that Cyrus' charisma and spirit made Jesse watch him, and that "even though you might not win the competition, you'll still be synonymous with the show," like tWitch, Legacy, Neil, and Mark. Nigel mentioned that Cyrus hasn't been in the bottom three yet because "America must love you," and said that he's not going to be the best dancer, but the show is about finding the judges'America's favorite dancer, and "you're right there." Mary mentioned that every week Cyrus dances outside his own style (doesn't nearly everyone?) and that no one can do what he does in animation. While "nothing was perfect," his spirit and energy are so memorable, she said.

I can understand if the best dancer doesn't win. Shouldn't a good dancer win? Cyrus is not a good dancer. He is a good animator. That is it. He has gotten by because the judges give him a pass week after week and the choreographers don't push him, which also isn't fair to his partners. (Obviously it doesn't matter to the all-stars, but it wasn't fair to Eliana.) And why is it that they tear every other dancer to shreds for technique and chemistry when Cyrus has neither? If he wins, I don't think I'm going to watch anymore unless they change the format of the show.

Quick question after seeing a commercial for Sam Raimi's upcoming movie, The Possession. Does the world really need another exorcism film?

Eliana's solo to Max Richter's Infra 8 (Max Richter the choice of ballerinas and ballerinos everywhere, as Chehon chose his music for his solo as well) was amazing. She really is a dance goddess.

Chehon and hot tamale Anya paired up for an Argentine tango, choreographed by Miriam Larici and Leonardo Barrionuevo, to Jesse Cook's Breathing Below Surface. I wanted it to be faster (even if it wasn't supposed to be) but I thought their performance was excellent and the pair had terrific chemistry.

The judges gave the routine a standing ovation. Mary called it her favorite routine of the night and put Chehon on the hot tamale train. (He looked a little dazed, and I wondered if he understood what she was doing.) Jesse started getting wacky at this point, referring to the legwork known as "ganchos" as "nachos," and put Chehon on his "hot jalapeño bus." Nigel praised the routine and said that Chehon was in his element, as the tango required the port de bras (or arm movements) Chehon uses in ballet. He praised the pair's amazing connection, that they just looked in each other's eyes and smiled at one point, and that it was incredible for Chehon to give such a performance in front of his mother.

Cat introduced Cyrus' solo by saying, "Before he reminds us how great he is in his own style..." Et tu, Cat? Honestly, I thought his solo, to Existence by Excision and Downlink, was good, but not as strong as some of his other animation performances previously.

The final routine of the night paired Tiffany with Season 5's Ade for a Mandy Moore routine to Celine Dion's Power of Love. (Also sung by Jennifer Rush, Laura Branigan, and Air Supply, but I'm a treasure trove of useless knowledge.) Lord have Murphy, this routine was awesome! Incredible lifts and throws, great dancing, and the bombast of the music really worked for the performance.

The judges rightly gave the routine a standing ovation. Mary said it was Tiffany's best performance of the season and called her extraordinary. Nigel called it fantastic and said that Tiffany is "a beautiful technician and a beautiful performer." Quoting One Direction (seconds after Cat said the exact same thing), he told Tiffany, "you don't know you're beautiful" and called her "a credit to this program."

And then it was results time. Cat revealed that the bottom two girls were Lindsay and Witney and the bottom two guys were Will and Cole. Boy, did that make me grumpy.

Unsurprisingly, the judges chose to save Witney and Cole, sending Lindsay and Will home. While I wasn't too upset about Lindsay, I'm irritated that Will is going home over Cyrus. Will is certainly stronger than him, and in my mind, even has a better personality and energy in everything he does than Cyrus. Sigh.

This was apparently the last week the judges will decide who stays and who goes. I'm really hoping that people wise up and vote Cyrus off next week. If you consider that the remaining male dancers are Cole, Chehon, and Cyrus, there really isn't a contest.

Will Larry have something new to rage about? I guess we'll see. Ah, television. So entertaining, so infuriating.

No comments:

Post a Comment