Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Dusting off the Ol' Blog...

For some more TV recaps! This time, it's my beloved "So You Think You Can Dance." I skipped the audition rounds, but we're finally ready to start the real thing with tonight's Top 20 show!

First off, may I observe that when you have 20 dancers, it takes FOREVER to introduce them.  Did it always take this long? I feel like I'm at a highschool graduation. But at Cat's "Here are the girls...and here are your boys," everyone does the little sashay-skip that has become tradition on the show, and I settle in for some comfort TV. Ahhhh....

Cat appears to be wearing a very shiny garbage bag, and her hair looks like she just got out of the shower.  I love you, Cat, but leave a little more time next week.  Also, because no one is safe from my rapier wit, including myself, I will confess to you that after eating a spring roll too vigorously, I found a carrot shred on my collarbone.  In my defense, I was really hungry.

Our guest judge tonight is...Megan Mullally?  Well, OK, I guess.  Turns out that she studied ballet at ABT and danced in a few musicals, so that's good enough for me.  Although as I glance at the screen tonight, I will be constantly thinking that she's Mary Murphy.  Hope they aren't seated next to one another.

Breaking! Cat gives me way too much credit when she says, "Some of you will have already noticed that we were short one dancer in our introductions...Mitchell is missing."  I don't remember who the heck Mitchell is.  I don't think he got a storyline in Vegas. But Mitchell hurt his elbow, and is sitting out the night, which means he's in the bottom three tomorrow.  Raw deal.

But no more sadness, because it's time to begin!  The pre-rehearsal shtick tonight is that they gave each dancer 8 seconds to tell us about them.  Jordan is our first up; it's her birthday today, so she's just turned 19, and she wants to be a Pussycat Doll "really bad." That is the saddest aspiration I have heard in some time.  She's been partnered with Tadd, a b-boy who didn't get a ton of attention in Vegas, but is a cutie! Looks like a tall cross between Hok and Dominic. He once played a dancing taco!  The two of them will be doing Afro-Jazz with Sean Cheesman.  He is sometimes awesome and sometimes cliched beyond measure.  Tonight's dance is inspired by the lava of a volcano.

They start with a techno-drummy soundtrack, and they're clad in loincloths and body paint, basically. They begin with Jordan hoisted on Tadd's shoulders, and then we're into a lot of side-by-side reaching and stomping. (Love a good reach & stomp!) Tadd handles one lift particularly well, as Jordan accidentally beans him in the head. I think they're doing well, but the audience seems quiet.  No cheering, no "money shot." And to be honest, this feels a little long. I think I'm in a showing of "Koyaanisqatsi." Did the judges like it?

Nigel sure did! He says that Jordan "exploded all over the stage," and then weirdly says "you didn't let yourself down tonight at all." He then does the old "pretend this b-boy has no training" when he tells Tadd that he'll be something to see "if he keeps picking up the styles like this." I refuse to believe Tadd is self-taught. [This will be embarrassing if I'm wrong.] Mary is also delighted, and while she gets a bit squealy & squeaky, she's not actively screaming. Megan also praises Tadd for his success outside of his genre, and loved Jordan's extensions. (OMG! A dance comment! A couple more of those, Megan, and I will give you a blogpology for my sneering earlier.)

This blog is going to be so long, y'all.  Sorry about that.  Sasha's up next, and she charmingly stumbles over her age so much that she only gets to tell us that she's 23 and forgets her age sometimes. She's partnered with Alexander, the saturnine contempo boy whose cheekbones could slice cheese. His 8 seconds are equally garbly, but we get out that he kind of speaks Spanish.  They are doing a Travis Wall contempo piece, about a bad breakup in which the guy is guilty and "his conscience" comes back to let the girl beat the crap out of him.  Sasha is definitely doing so, including one move when her back extension is so vigorous that she KICKS HIM IN THE HEAD. Alexander, make sure you're wearing a cup, buddy.

They're dancing to a Sarah McLachlan song and wearing shreds in blue and red.  There are lots of complicated holds and turns and some nice angles. They make a nice couple! They're the same height and have similar extensions, it seems, but she's more angular in her motion while he's a little more fluid.  The dance ends with a great move where Sasha grabs Alex from behind and then kicks his knee out from under him so he collapses.  I think other than that, he survived unscathed.

Mary starts us off and asks if Alex is holding up. He assures her that "I have insurance." She loved the choreography, and she adores Sasha's stage presence and how she fills up the stage.  She likes Alex, but says she "didn't quite feel the connection"? Seems a little off for the first night, but she does give him an out by suggesting it might have been the character he was playing. Megan agrees with Mary, though--she's clearer about saying it's his face: he's not acting enough. Nigel calls out a particular lift as excellent, and says that he's scared of Sasha because she's such a warrior princess. Nigel loves Alex's lines and legs, but wants more strength and passion.  Fair enough--he doesn't have the most expressive face, but I think his movements (and his cheekbones!) are lovely enough to keep him around.

Our next couple is Clarice (one of the "who?" contestants I don't remember at all from auditions). She is shy and her eyes sometimes change color. She's paired with Jess, the stone-faced Broadway kid. Uh-oh...could this bode ill for them? Jess got a fair bit of Vegas attention, but it was kind of negative, and I think he comes off as smug (though I suspect it's actually just nerdy awkwardness). And since Clarice is sort of a cypher, I'm not sure this couple will be able to pull votes. Jess's interview reveals that he's a Jersey kid, loves Broadway, and can make funny sound effects with his mouth. And then they draw...Broadway! OK, looks like the producers are throwing him a bone.

Poor kids have to do a Tyce Broadway, which means it'll feel old and stale. Clarice tells us that Jess has "been on Broadway 3 times!" Does he even need this? The dance is about a relationship, or something. Let's just say it involves a fedora, and Liza Minelli singing "Me and My Baby." Jess is all in black, complete with aforementioned fedora, and Clarice is wearing...I don't even know. It's basically a red high-waisted bikini inspired by Gaultier, but it has fringes like a faux tailcoat on the butt. There's also a bolero jacket. There is much smiling and leaping and kicking, and I suppose it's good, but I begin to suspect that isolated Broadway routines never look that good on this stage. It's all so arbitrary out of context. The audience is also silent here, and I think that they must be muting the crowd reactions for the home audience. They get cheers at the end, though. Jidges?

Megan starts, and says she loved everything about it! Requisite butt-kiss to Tyce, and then she starts in and says that Jess is a natural-born performer and dances with incredible joy. Ha! Take that, Nigel-in-Vegas. She says, "You might not know who this is, but you remind me of a young Jimmy Cagney." Jess looks like he very much DOES know who that is, because he has long knelt at the altar of American Musical Theatre. She tells Clarice that she has beuatiful legs and was sexy & sassy. That feels a little limp after Jess. Nigel starts with Clarice and says "You're a beautiful girl and a beautiful dancer, but you will have to work hard to keep up with Jess." Says that this style of dance shines out of every pore in Jess's body, and makes a specific reference to a missed hand-clap. He then tells the audience, who hasn't reacted at all, to "carry on booing," and they give a halfhearted boo. But they don't actually care. Cat gracefully tells Mary to move it along because the first two rambled. She calls Jess "perfection" and tells Clarice she doesn't think she'll be in any danger soon.

Golden Girl Ryan is next--she's my "I have an arbitrary dislike for you" contestant this year. I think it's her oily skin and giant teeth. She's a country girl who loves Mexican food. Ooh, they gave her Ricky...they want her to stay. Ricky loves "cheer music," which I don't know what that is. They have "lyrical hip hop," which usually comes with a NappyTabs death sentence, but today will be choreographed by Chris Scott of the Legion of Extraordinary Dancers. Yay! (He did the Matrix-style number for the 10 boys last week.) They are playing a couple who's in love, but Ryan has left Ricky, so he's just remembering their love? I dunno. I assume it'll make sense onstage.

They're dancing to "Aint No Sunshine," but one with a heavy drum track under it. Ricky is very crisp with his hits, Ryan less so. Also, she's a little competition-smiley for me, but their connection is pretty good. Ricky is selling it. Ryan's holding her own, but there's no hardness there. (Also, I think the costumer let her down...she's in a babydoll sundress that doesn't seem to have much stretch, so she can't widen her stance as much as Ricky.) Nigel starts out and is hunkering down for a long speech, but the summary is that the dancing was great, but their face acting was too smiley. (We're looking at you, Ryan.) Mary really liked Ricky's character and thinks he's one of the most talented guys on the show (me too!). She says she feels the same about Ryan, which is where Mary and I must part company. Then it turns into this "why were you smiling? why did you leave him?" and then there's some joke involving Cat that I missed. Megan is determined to talk specifically about the dance, bless her heart. Calls out Ryan on her smiling, tells Ricky his emotional through line was great. Megan is quickly becoming my favorite judge!

Caitlynn is my next "who?" contestant--she looks a bit Tiffani-Amber Thiessen-ish, but I don't really remember her from Vegas. She packs a lot into her 8 seconds, but none of it is interesting. Caitlynn has been paired with Mitchell...uh-oh. How are they going to do that? I guess she'll dance with an All-Star? Mitchell is allergic to onions and loves chocolate, FYI. They're doing a Sonya Tayeh jazz routine based on "what we can accomplish without fear." In rehearsal, there's a cool lift where she's lying on his shoulder like a figurehead on the prow of a ship. Mitchell praises Caitlynn's beauty, saying that "when you have a pretty partner, it's 10s across the board" in a (sucking up?) shout out to the music from Sonya's geisha piece last week. (I did like that song, though.) Also, we learn that Mitchell sweats a lot.

Ah...Caitlynn will be dancing tonight with Robert from last year's show. (Also from this year's auditions, where he partnered a blonde girl who came back late from the hospital. Ryan?) It starts out like every single Sonya routine--punch, punch, bent-legged lift. I like her, but she's becoming a bit recycled. Also, Robert has a surprising lack of presence considering he's an All-Star. His lines are still great, but there's no power there. Ugh--the camera gets some closeups of the bottom of Caitlynn's feet while she's kicking, and They. Are. Filthy. I don't think that performance had enough power, but I'm sure it's hard to switch partners that late in the game.

Mary starts, and loves Sonya's choreography, especially for Caitlynn. She has great extensions, and can do one of those splits that's so deep it actually crosses the 180-degree line. She says she was brilliant, and gives Robert a shout-out, saying "I hope we see him as an All-Star, that's all I have to say." Is that still secret? Do we not know who they are yet? Megan found Caitlynn very impressive in conveying her power and strength, and kindly tells Mitchell to get well soon. Very classy, Ms. Mullally--I officially blogpologize. Nigel tells Caitlynn, "In the words of your partner Mitchell--that was 10 across the board!" The judges are awfully kind tonight.

This blog is already so long that I'm not doing official Non-TV Interludes this evening, but I will share with you one dilemma: Mr. Popper's Penguins. Have you seen the ads for this movie? Jim Carrey and a bunch of penguins? It looks terrible. And many penguins! Being cute and penguiny! But...Jim Carrey! And not the interesting, Eternal-Sunshine Jim Carrey! I shouldn't go, right? I'll hate it and be angry? But...penguins...

Miranda's 8-second interview reveals that she loves her family (the hell you say!) and still sleeps with a light on. You know, I wish one of these contestants would use their 8 seconds to ride a bull. Wouldn't that be awesome? Of course, I suppose then poor Cat would have a bunch of speeches saying, "Dancer X is sitting out tonight because she was gored by a bull." [While we're on the subject, I would also like the Bachelorette to incorporate a Shark Week element.]  Miranda is paired with Robert ("Woo!") Taylor. Robert talks so fast that the video people practically run out of room on the screen, where they're listing all the "facts" we get. He likes cooking, videogames and dogs & cats. I find him exhausting. He and Miranda are dancing a Latin dance choreographed by Jason Gilkinson. OK, I'm confused...their tag said "Latin," but he's done a jive. Bwah? Does the jive count as Latin? Basically, their story (like everyone's) is "You two are in love." Well, in this case, she's the hot girl who's out of Robert's league, and he thinks he has a shot. With the jive? Sure, could be cute. And she's sassy in her curly hair and little skirt.  But if the rehearsal footage is indicative of how much goddamned "Woo!" we're getting this season, Robert and I are going to have a problem.

For the dance (to Bruno Mars' "Runaway Baby"), Miranda is dressed totally mod in a black & white colorblocked shift and silver gogo boots. Robert is dressed like Urkel, and his sweater vest matches her dress. He has silver sneaks.  OK, this is actually pretty cute, but I think Miranda dances a little heavy? She's very stompy on the kicks. Also, I keep thinking she's chewing gum. I can't tell if she's acting the gum, or if this is a weird smile thing. Robert was really good! (She said grudgingly.) He's springier than Miranda--she didn't quite keep up with him. But the crowd is going nuts--this is the most animated they've been all night. Do the judges agree?

Megan begins: "Sheer delight, as evidenced by the audience response." She likes Miranda's ??? quality? The sound cuts out and I can't tell if she said "goofy" or "bitchy." She declares Robert her SYTYCD crush, and says she loved it, even if they were a little out of sync during the pony.  Cat is baffled by the phrase "doing a pony" and looks appalled as she asks for clarification. Cat, you've never heard of the pony? Come on! But her expression is priceless--she really looks concerned that something obscene got by the censors. Nigel observes that Robert has the biggest personality of the cast, and it worked for him tonight, but be careful not to overdo it. Wow, that is actually good advice--also, he wants Robert to point his toes. He tells Miranda to be more confident, and that she'll have to do more to keep up with the "beasts" among the women this season. (Well, that should boost her confidence, huh?) Mary thought it was "fun, fun, fun," and loved Miranda's sharpness, while Robert stole the show. She admits that his toes weren't pointed, but he kept the jive rhythm going all the way through, "and I don't see that very often on this show." She's right! It's the kiss of death on this show, usually. Alas, she then asks Robert for a "Woo!" to exchange with her first shriek of the season. Sigh. I'd hoped we'd have longer.

Now it's time for Missy, who I also kind of dislike for no reason. She's the one who told us in Vegas that her distinction was being "the sexy contemporary" dancer. Plus she's got a little bitchface going on, which can't be helped but is working its bad magic nonetheless.  If she turns out to have a biting wit, all of this will be forgiven, of course. She likes lipstick, long walks over a bridge? or she likes bridge?, and she wants to marry an Australian. Her partner is b-boy Wadi, who might be one of my early favorites. He was born in Jamaica, raised in the U.S., and loves Japan. They're doing a Sean Cheesman jazz piece based on Pandora's box...but this box contains "the demon clones of yourself." Missy is losing me fast in rehearsal when she says, "A lot of people think, 'Oh, Missy can just dance sexy, but it's fun to have that evil side to it.'" What'd I tell you? Slutty bitchface. Wadi gets a little embarrassed when he misses a hold and accidentally cops a feel. It's OK, Wadi--she's the sexy dancer!

They're dancing to Lady Gaga's new song, "Judas," and they really do get a box onstage. Well, a "box." We can see through it. Costumes are red & black bondagey leather as expected. (Borrowed from Gaga, maybe? Nah, they're way too tame.) They're both trying hard, and there are a lot of complicated throws and holds, but this...doesn't seem that great. Somehow they're bland performers, or the connection's not there...something.  The crowd is definitely not as excited as the last dance, even though we're getting a terrific view of Wadi's AMAZING abs.

Nigel says this is the best work he's ever seen from Sean Cheesman. He is wrong. But whatever. He goes on to say that Missy is "one of the beasts" and has it all. He praises Wadi for picking up the dance even though he's a b-boy (are they all getting that story this year?), and reminds us that Wadi is a freerunner (parkour), which we got to see at the very end. (It's true, it was cool...he runs up one side of the box, flips onto the top, then does another flip off the other side.)  Mary thought it was phemnomenal, and Sean "opened up a whup-ass can of dancing" for us.  Sure, close enough. She adores Wadi and loves his partnering skills after only 6 hrs of training. Cat says, "Yeah. Megan? Finally?" She is working her ass off to bring this show in on time, isn't she? (Do you think she and Ryan Seacrest talk shop at the FOX Christmas party?) Anyway, Megan loved it too.

Ouch, I am seriously getting carpal tunnel here, and there are still three numbers to go! Ow ow ow. But it's time for Melanie, who's one of my early favorites. She has the cute little pixie cut, and her best facts are that she used to wear a helmet because she was narcoleptic, and she really wants to be on "Ellen." Hee! Take that, all you people who just "love your families." She's paired with Marko, who is also amazing, and which tells me that the show wants this couple to STAY.  This should be good. Marko is Guamanian and loves ketchup, and although he sounds scratchy and hoarse, he's not sick--that's just his voice. They'll be dancing a Travis Wall piece about two statues who come alive at night and dance, longing to become one statue. Marko has a sweet comment where he says Melanie "has such chemistry and intensity--she'll trust me and just fall, and she knows that I'm going to catch her. And I will." Aw, you guys! You're wamring my cold black heart. Especially when the very next clip shows him dropping her. Heh.

Ick, they're painted white, including their hair, and all I can think is "Dusty! Itchy!" Also, it's reminding me of a photo shoot from this past season of Top Model. Ooh, Melanie has monster control as Marko lifts her "in pose" and she doesn't move a muscle.  It's fascinating--they're almost never looking at each other for the first half, and yet there's more passion in their gazes than in half of the "lover" dances we've seen tonight. I haven't said much about Marko because Melanie's such a showpiece, but he is "a beast" as well.  He's basically just lifting and tossing Melanie every which way, and it looks effortless. Bravo, you two!

And Mary is on her feet! She has her "I'm terribly moved" face on. All three judges are giving a standing O, and Travis is in the audience cheering and jumping up and down. His gray striped suit is unpleasantly shiny. Oh, lord, Mary is already moved to tears. I agree that it was lovely, but save something for next week, lady! Heh--someone in the audience has a cardboard sign that just says, "Beast." I love when Mary is moved, though, because it means she doesn't scream. Megan says, "Chills...crying...yeah, it's one of the special ones." And then she quotes Oprah, which I will not. Nigel feels he has to top them, and says, "It's the first week, and this may be the first Emmy-nominated routine." He loved their chemistry, and remidns us that Marko still has a bullet in his shoulder! And says that Melanie is the Queen Beast, and the best girl they've ever had on the show. (All the former girl winners look up from their ballet barres and mutter, "Screw you, Nigel.")  But it's true, that was awesome. Love them.

Time for Ashley (also a bit of a "who?"), who tells us that she loves waffles, BBQ chips, peanut butter toast and orange soda--the chyron people first write "Eats Waffles" and then follow it with "Eats Anything." Heh. Her seconds end, leaving her disappointed because she ran out of time to say that she has swag. But now you know. Her partner is Chris the hip-hopper, who I can't remember if I liked in Vegas, but who stood out in a good way in last week's group number. Christopher Scott is doing their hip-hop routine, which is about a couple (shocker) who find out they've both been cheating on each other. OK, that could be funny.

They're dancing to "Forget You," by Cee-Lo, and between Glee, The Voice and the fact that this song is totally overplayed, I'm over it.  They come out in typical "street" wear, and Ashley's holding a bouquet--Chris is outraged and tosses it, only for Ashley to discover the bra in his back pocket.  (Bras are expensive, cheating ladies! Don't give them to your committed-elsewhere lovers!) Thus, the dance battle is on. They're fast and crisp, but Ashley is way too smiley. Tone it down, girlfriend. You just got cheated on; why is only Chris upset? (I just tped that as "Christ," who would also be upset by cheating.) Chris is outdancing Ashley, but she had pluck--just lost the synchronization by the end.

Nigel starts us off with some stupid stuff about the story, which I'm ignoring. He's hedging a bit, wondering if the public will go for the big routines or the "fun" ones. Basically, he's fishing for a reason to explain why this wasn't so great. He then tries to set Chris up as a savant, asking "How many times have you been choreographed with beats laid down for you?" Chris looks puzzled and says he's taken classes, but then catches his snap and says "I've never done anything like this." And Nigel reminds us that Ahsley is a ballerina and thus is out of her box. Mary loved Ashley's swagger, and praises Chris--"In your own style, loving it, you always dance with so much heart." Um, thanks? That feels a little faint-praisey. Megan lauds Chris Scott's economy with the choreography and effectiveness in telling the story, and tells the dancers they were both great. Also she loves the costumes, hair and makeup. She loves everything. She loves me. She loves you.

Last couple! Ooh, it's Iveta and Nick. (I wonder if they paired them because they're both so tall.) Oh, Iveta. She has chosen a truly horrible outfit for her "credit photo," the one they show before every intro? It's a gold lame catsuit with big slashing cutouts so it's almost a two-piece, and it's covered in jewels. I'm sure it's the height of competitive ballroom fashion, but it mostly says "mail-order bride" here. But she must love it, because she wore it in the intro tonight as well! Iveta wishes she had a monkey, but it's illegal in New York City. Thank heavens, because I find monkeys creepy. Nick would never want a monkey, right Nick? Heh. Nick plays for laughs, telling us slowly, "My name is Nick. Young. I have [pause pause pause]" Well played, sir. You had me at Nick period.  They are, of course, delighted to discover that they've drawn ballroom--in this case, a Jason Gilkinson quickstep.

Although Nick hasn't done any ballroom, tap is probably the best alternate genre to have to do this, right? At least we know he has quick feet. Iveta is planning a serious ballroom bootcamp pfor Nick, who is rightly terrified. Heh. I like these two together. They're dancing to "Ballroom Blitz," by Sweet. I like Iveta's costume better than her previous outfit...she's wearing what appears to be an entire ostrich. There's some business with the two of them sitting at a little cafe table, and they're perky, but this actually looks a little...slow.  Jason threw in a couple of cool tap slides for Nick to show off, but I don't think this will carry the night. But I could be wrong--the judges are all on their feet.

Nick looks like he's about to have a heart attack as Megan begins.  "Nick! Nick, you're a tap dancer! That's crazy!" She loves Iveta's elegance, but it's a little yeah-yeah-yeah before she returns to how amazed she is by Nick. Nigel acknowledges that Iveta must have been psyched, since she is the world champion quickstepper, but that Nick must have thought, "Oh, great, dance of death." But Nigel confirms that his quick-tapping feet were working just fine, and that Jason gave him good steps. He's still gibbering, but Cat moves on to Mary to keep things going. She says a bunch of things about "topline" and some other stuff that might have been relevant, but she's shouting at so high a pitch that only dogs can hear her. At the end of the screaming, though, she says that Nick rocked. Poor Iveta--she got stuck in the "you were supposed to be brilliant at this, so no big whoop" while her partner gets all the adulation.

And we're out! Thank goodness.. I have to go ice my fingers. I think, as with Idol, I won't do results show recaps, but will probably just add a little Bottom 3/Eliminated update. Who will it be tomorrow?  I think the bottom 3 couples were Clarice and Jess, Chris and Ashley, and maybe Caitlynn, because Mitchell has to be there? Not sure if they're picking as couples or individually.  I hope you come and visit! And comment!

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