Thursday, July 7, 2011

SYTYCD Season 8 Top 14 Recap/Review

            Throughout So You Think You Can Dance’s history, great performance episodes always are followed by lackluster episodes. With last week’s fantastic episode, both dance and entertainment wise, I was ready for a little bit of a letdown this week. Sadly, that is exactly what I got. Now, there were no horrible train wrecks, and no Ashley and Chris’ samba was not that bad, but there was not that much spark either. Which is actually how I would describe this season. I think that was for a couple reasons. One the show is not forcing dancers out of their comfort zone. These kids are quite talented, but when you constantly see them do well in only their or related styles, the levels of the performances tend to plateau. Since this cast is so lacking in diversity dance wise (How many had Jazz or Contemporary backgrounds, 14?), its inevitable that people will be dancing in their own styles now and again. I just think the frequency that we have seen already this season, only four episodes into the Top 20, is way too much. I want to see these contestants grow as dancers, not just bee great performers. Hell, pretty much EVERY winner has done that, which illustrates how important it really is to the audience.
            My other problem with this episode was that the guest judging spot is finally running its course. There are only so many variations on the phrases:
            -I loved it!
            -This is not my type of dance, but you really executed it.
            -I really saw the emotion in your dance.
-Dance is the embodiment of the soul/ourselves/love/me getting paid for a guest appearance.
-<insert crazy talk or action here>
            I am not saying they have all been terrible, actually I am saying that about Carmen Thesaurus, I mean Electra, but the guest spot has simply run its course this season already. Truly, they are just taking up my time, and that is not something I believe anybody responds well to.
            One thing I will say that SYTYCD absolutely got right tonight was having Travis Wall as a judge. I was super impressed with comments, both the praise he gave and his constructive criticism. He was concise and clear, but also clearly having a great time. It is ironic he was a judge to, because he just did an interview with where he said he does not think he could ever be judge. Oh Travis, how very wrong you were. By the way, the entire interview is fantastic and total worth the read.
            Well enough about the tonight’s episode in general, let’s get to the performances! The first couple dance of the night was Marko and Melanie dancing a Jazz routine by Ray Leeper. Can I just say that Marko made a beautiful drag queen? Bitch really brought the charisma uniqueness, nerve and talent. I really want to know his drag name. And how many people were probably cursing the gods when Melanie revealed she had a boyfriend. I am sure pillows were rendered in anguish all over America. As for their dance, which was clearly supposed to be a West Side Story rip-off, I just did not feel it. For one, did anybody see two star-crossed lovers who ran off from their unapproving families? I definitely did not. The choreography felt to sporadic and unnatural, but not in a good way. I will say Melanie has amazing legs, and Marko is really strong in his movement and presence. I love the way they both attacked it, but it felt like if Adele sang “Friday.” There is only so much amazing skill and execution can do with a crappy foundation to work off and be inspired by. Still, M&M are my favorite couple since Katee and Joshua, and I practically worshiped at the alter of Katee and Joshua. Let’s never talk about how Katee took third to Twitch’s second, it will only induce hysterics from me.
            Next up were Sasha and Alexander dancing Hip-Hop. Once again, they get a routine where, for part of it at least, they are not supposed to connect emotionally in a happy way. Maybe there is something to the rumors about their relationship being somewhat icy. Which, I can kind of see since Alex was a little much tonight in his interview and rehearsal package. Alex, do not turn into Jess. The show is already having a hard enough time trying to spin his personality for the audience; they do not have time for you too! The routine was looking to hit somewhere between fluid and staccato, which I am sure what all the groove and swag comments were about, but never really took off. Also, what was with the random tree, which got used for like a second? The whole thing just felt so amateur, which is sad because I think they both have some great talent. In fact, I would say Sasha is fantastic, and sort of cannot wait for her to be partnered with somebody else. Remember what she did back in Vegas with Professor Lock during the Contemporary round? The girl can definitely work a routine. Regardless, I felt like she was definitely grooving in parts, while Alex just seem to be going through the motions.
            Next up was Jordan and Tadd, AND OH MY GOD WHAT IS SHE WEARING?!?! This is the third bad female outfit in a row tonight, and this was is just heinous. Clearly the costume and set department received furloughs to pay for the new stage this season. Anyways, they danced a Waltz (the American kind this time) by Toni Redpath, who was nice to see back choreographing on the main stage since like Season 2 I believe. Though, girl could have used a throat lozenge or something; her voice was rough. Tadd is truly one of the surprises this season. He is funny and great in his style, and really brings it in other styles. See Nigel, this is what America wants! His lifts were nice and controlled and I was impressed with his carriage and upper body. Jordan, on the other hand, felt a little stiff and unstable. I think her balance may have been off, probably because of the truly terrible outfit she was wearing. She was just a mess standing. There routine was good, but their last Waltz was better in my opinion. You could tell Mary was looking for something to say when she rambled on about the history of the Waltz and how women used to be considered whores for merely existing, or something like that. It was also at this point that I began to love Travis for his comments. Kid brought it early and often tonight.
            Following them was Jess and Clarice, with their interview and rehearsal package representing an example in effective and ineffective reality show manipulation. First we have Clarice, who is a bright and sweet young lady who works hard while helping out her family. Then we have Jess, whose own father said he had to be introduced to come out and meet people as a kid. Just like that, all the warm fuzzies we were feeling for Clarice go out the window. I actually laughed out loud at that point, because I mean come on! Is that best, least grating thing Jess’ parents said about him? If it was, I want to see the rest of that interview clip. Anyways, they dance a Contemporary routine by Justin Jiles. It is all about a relationship ending, and was actually quite nice. Jess and Clarice have some nice chemistry, and dance beautifully. It is just a shame you know, about his lack of filter and overall sense of self, because the kid could actually go far if he just shut up and stopped hamming everything but his dancing up. Travis continues to solidify my love for him, while Carmen makes me believe that one day I too can be a guest judge on SYTYCD. At least she has that going for her!
            As a quick sidebar, is everybody short this season? Cat just seems to tower over them more than usual. Also, I thought she looked fab tonight, but I rarely think she does not. Still looking for that blasted Emmy nomination people!
            Ashley and Chris were next, and I have to admit from the forefront, I am biased. Chris is adorable, like take me home adorable. I cannot be responsible for my words in the following paragraph. They danced a Samba by Liz Lira, and I have decided this is Marko’s drag name if he does not already have one. Anyways, I felt bad for them because they are the only couple that ever seems to dance out of their comfort zones. What the hell show? Stop picking on my pretend boyfriend. Though he does look even more adorable when he is nervous. Just like a puppy! They really committed to the performance, and their partnering and lifts were decent and better than I expected. The solo and synchronized work, however, was them simply flailing about at best. I am pretty sure Chris does not have hips, because they never really moved, ever. Oh show, why are you doing this to me? I should be praising my pretend boyfriend, but instead I am dreading his exit tomorrow night. Finally, when the audience booed Travis, it reconfirmed my hate for all studio audiences. People, stop waving your damn hands and shut up!
            In the penultimate spot were the most controversial pair of the season Ryan and Ricky, dancing a Jazz piece by some man named Chuky. As a quick comment to Ryan, who I know will scour the Internet for my opinion, talking about you connection with Mia in place of talking about your family will not win people over. Seriously, these kids do not know how to present themselves in front of the camera. I am not saying lie or try to manipulate people, but also do not outright confirm everybody’s worst suspicions and opinions about you. Sheesh. So Chucky decided to give them routine about being a cult of fashion or something but all I heard was “GAGA GAGA GAGA I LOVE GAGA.” Clearly we know who inspires his routines, but sadly I was not inspired by his work. Look, I am fine with weird and/or different movement. Dance that is just weird for the sake of being weird, though, is just stupid in my opinion. There was nothing to this dance for the audience to connect to, outside of Ryan and Ricky doing a good job of executing it well. In fact, I would say this was their strongest technical dance. I was pretty “meh” about the whole thing until Nigel compared it to Season 2’s Ramalama routine, and just no. That routine was weird and interesting, but in all the right ways. Those movements were thought out and intricate, not slapped together herky-jerky power moves Nigel. Now we will never see Wade again after that insult, Nigel. I hope you are happy with yourself.
            The final routine of the night was a Contemporary routine for Caitlynn and Mitchell, but this time by veteran choreographer Mandy Moore. Thank God for Mandy Moore, who showed those other choreographers (all new tonight besides her, by the way) how shit is done on SYTYCD. I believe the exact phrase I yelled at my television after the routine was done was, “You show those fuckers Mandy!” The routine was truly the best of the night, with no competition. If Tadd is the male surprise of the season, Caitlynn might be the female one. She is deceptively good, and knows how to soldier through. I mean, she got punched in the nose mid routine and kept going. That, along with her nice personality makes her one to watch. As for Mitchell, finally, he did not make me roll my eyes constantly. Tonight we were presented with a much calmer and more subdued Mitchell, which I am truly grateful for. The dance itself was fantastic; tons of beautiful fluidity, trusting partnering, chemistry, and outstanding skill. This is why I watch SYTYCD, two watch two unknown dancers grow and excel. Yes it was in their own style, but you know what they say about beggars and choosers. Regardless I was all about this final routine. Though, I did just want to grab Mitchell during the critique and just go, “Shhhhh, do not ruin what you just did with your interview and dancing.”
            As for the group routines, they left me feeling “eh” like they normally do. The boys was supposed to be about the seven? stages of grief, which I really did not see. What I did see was Chris really out of sync in the middle, making me feel like he was the biggest loser on the night. Damn you television gods, damn you! I also noticed that Justin Jiles probably wants to punch some woman somewhere, since both his routines tonight pretty much about women sucking. Thank god he did not do the women’s routine.
            On second thought, maybe he should have since Ray Leeper’s routine was supposed to be about female empowerment, but really just seemed like an excuse to put the Top 7 ladies in fetish wear and lift their legs, a lot. Ray, leave the womanpower dances to Sonya, she has it handled do not worry. Also, I am tired of the group routines featuring the same people over and over again, even those people I like. Share the love producers/choreographers!
            My predictions for the tomorrow’s bottom three are a little fluid. Chris and Ashley, sadly, will both be there. There spot though, double sadly, is deserved. I think Tadd and Jordan will be joining them, along with Sasha and Alex, but would not be surprised if Ryan and Ricky and/or Jess and Clarice were there. So basically I think Melanie and Marko are safe, along with Caitlynn and Mitchell. Regardless, I think we will be saying goodbye to Ashley and Chris. Hopefully those tweens saw that shirtless photo of Chris, which I barely registered of course, and are voting their little prepubescent hearts out!

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