Wednesday, August 3, 2011

SYTYCD Top 6 Perform

After a delightful evening out with my colleagues, I have staggered home to do my duty by you, oh invisible readers. What did you do this evening...other than watch SYTYCD, of course?  We are down to our top six, and we're genuinely at the point where I don't want to see anyone else go home. (Um, actually I don't really care if Caitlynn goes home. Sorry, Caitlynn.) Once again, we get two dances per person, plus a solo, so no one is doing me any favors in the recapping department. Our guest judge tonight is Christina Applegate, whose claim to dance fame is winning a Tony for Sweet Charity.  We also welcome back Lil' C, which should make for some good verbatim reporting this evening.

Then there's a spiel about "National Dance Day," which I will mostly skip, except to say that the best submission was a video from CERN, the particle accelerator in Switzerland (Sweden)? Cat and Nigel express surprise that the nuclear physicists don't have anything better to do with their day.

And then on to our first dance of the night! It's Melanie, dancing a NappyTabs take on "Little Red Riding Hood." The Big Bad Wolf is played by Twitch, but in the end, he'll be afraid of her when she becomes buck. Melanie's use of the word "buck" is about as credible as mine. They're dancing to Nicky Minaj, and I think maybe Twitch is wearing light colored contacts? They jump right into the meat of the dance, and Melanie's hits are clean and crisp, but not as fierce as one might want.  However, her synchronization with Twitch is excellent.  The whole thing feels well done, but like they're just marking, a bit? Like the power's only up to 70%.  We'll see what the judges say.  (I will observe that Twitch is panting and gasping, and Melanie doesn't look like she's all that tired.)

Jidges? We start right off with Lil' C, and Cat says: "I need to know: buck? Or not buck?" He doesn't answer right away, but congratulates Melanie for "even getting through that routine." Hmm, that doesn't sound like he's going to say "buck." He then goes on a soliloquy about how the "quote unquote ghetto" origins of hip hop influence the style of movement, and thus you're not supposed to hold your shape, but move through the shapes. Wow, that is a thoughtful and cogent critique, C! Well played. The upshot is that he thinks she started out weak, but got better as she went along.  Christina's next, and begins by praising her in general for taking us on a journey every week. She also likes the part of the routine where she finally got to swagger (but frankly, this is sort of faint praise for Melanie). Also, Christina needs to brush her hair. Mary is a shade of orange I've never seen before...apparently she felt shown up by Rob Marshall last week, and added an extra coat of spray tan.  She loved it, and loved seeing a different side of Melanie, who's been a bit adorable up till now.  Nigel wraps up by addressing the critique that Melanie has only had to do styles she's good at...but maintains that this is because she's good at everything! Thought she was sensational, and says, "We'll see you in the finale." Don't jinx it, Nigel!

Sasha's next, and she appears to have forgotten her pants. She's dressed in a sheer long shirt, which reminds me of a beloved outfit from my highschool years in the 80s. (Please know that I wore pants--well, acid-wash jeans--with my big shirt.) Sasha will be dancing a Tyce contemporary with Kent, and I'll be interested to see how he's matured in the interim. In rehearsal, it appears that he's no longer afraid to kiss a girl, at least. Sasha cries in her rehearsal interview because she's so moved. For the actual dance, the big news is that her hair isn't spiked! It's been smoothed down and straightened and looks very feminine. The dance begins with her back against a prop wall, Kent pressed up against her nuzzling her neck. Tyce told us in the rehearsal footage whether this was the story of a couple coming together or tearing apart, but to be honest I can't remember what he says. Let's see if I can guess, shall we?  Right now, based on the way she's running away from Kent, my money's on "tearing apart." There is an amazing move where Kent lifts her up so she's doing a handstand on his shoulders with her legs in a split against the wall, and then slides down his back. Eep! She rips her shirt off at one point, and now they're both leaping up & off the wall. This is very athletic, and also feels very long, to be honest. The song ends, and Tyce is crying, moved at his own work. Still hate him.

Sasha is crying again, and fighting to pull herself together as Cat says goodbye to "my little boy from Wapakaneta." I am impressed that she remembers how to say that! We start with Christina, who takes a deep breath and says, "OK. I have to get my words in order for you." That sounds serious & not great, but surely it's just leading up to "you're the best ever," no? Yes! Basically, she says there have been amazing technicians on the show who haven't made her care no matter how complicated their tricks, but Sasha "puts her finger against a wall, and breaks my heart. That's dance." Awww. Mary agrees, and says it was "absolutely intoxicating." She's very somber, and like Christina, thanks her for sharing whatever it was that hurt her in her life. Nigel agrees as well, and shouts out Tyce "at his creative best" before praising Nigel for bringing all of them into the emotional heart of the routine. C looks like he's gearing up for a lot of nonsense words, but tells us he's trying not to cry. He's failing, FYI. The upshot is that he thinks she's phenomenal and moving. I hope they let her put some clothes back on now.

Marko's our first boy of the night, and he'll be doing a paso doble with Jeannette from Season...5? If she's who I'm thinking of, she was the salsa queen who was charming but went home too soon.  Marko's costume looks a little Yul Brynner, it must be said. Dmitry is our choreographer, and I always like seeing the alums come back in this capacity, but I'm not convinced by the (unnecessary) story he's applied to this paso. Marko is a matador, as is typical, but Jeannette is neither bull nor cape but instead, an animal activist. Seriously? Just dance the damn dance.  Their music is Spanish guitar, but it starts out a little thin...I could use a little more darkness in the beat.  The movement is very good throughout, but I confess this isn't as steamy or passionate as some have been on this show. Marko felt a little pose-y to me, and the dance ends somewhat abruptly.  I think there was too much slow work before it picked up.  I didn't love it :(.

Mary acknowledges that some people may "misunderstand" the slow passage at the beginning of the dance, and not realize that that's part of the paso as well. She says that he lost his footing from time to time, but overall he really impressed her, especially when he twirled Jeannette around his shoulders twice like a cape. Nigel goes next, and also loved that particular move, but says the whole thing left him a little cold. Eek! I'm agreeing with Nigel? Surely the seas are boiling over.  C (Cat doesn't say "Lil," so I don't have to either) loves Marko's performance quality, so that he's not just doing steps. He's always fully committed. Christina wraps up by saying that she's a huge fan of Marko's (so far she's a huge fan of everybody) and tells us she knows nothing about ballroom but what she's learned from the show.  However, she makes a good point by saying she felt like he was dancing a little light (there's a crotch joke based on the rehearsal footage that I won't bother to recap here) and could have dug in a bit more.

Now we get a message from Ricky's mom. Why? I don't know. We haven't had mom messages from anyone else. Oh! It's to introduce his solo, which will be danced to a song called "After Tonight" by Justin Nozuka. It seems strange to me that Ricky is doing his solo now when presumably he'll have to dance his first routine next? No rest time? Anyway, his solo is a Ricky special, all long limbs and musicality, though I don't think it was the best he's done. It didn't feel like "dancing for his life," but I bet he knows he's going home tomorrow unless Tadd kills a puppy onstage.

Tadd is our next to dance, and he's paired with Ellenore! Squeee! She is one of my very favorite dancers ever on this show--she had such a wonderful quirky movement quality, and tonight they're being choreographed by Sonya Tayeh, who's the perfect choice for her. Sonya tells us it's a period piece about a couple living in a very conservative society, who are overcome with lust at their first touch. There's lots of smooching of various parts, including Ellenore's feet. She regrets not having gotten a pedicure. When the lights come up onstage, she is seated in a chair as Tadd lurks upstage in the shadows. The music is "The Gulag Orkestar" by Beirut. I had a moment of "Wait, the 'Take My Breath Away' band? But no, that's Berlin. Whoops." Ellenore's in a gold corset with a sort of ballet version of an 18th-century skirt. Tadd is in a vest and...oh, swinging from a chandelier. Sure, why not? This music is Ter.Ri.Ble.  Seriously sounds like a death march, and makes it impossible for me to find any of this romantic.  And now it's over? WTF? I like Sonya, but this dance did no one any favors. I have to rewatch and figure out what I missed. Nope, there was hardly any dancing at all--it was mostly acrobatics. I think that was awful and did a disservice to Tadd this late in the game. Sorry, dude.

Cat is dying to have a swing on the chandelier herself, and I don't blame her--it did look fun. Nigel says, "I knew when we had Ellenore come back and work with Sonya that we would get an interesting routine," but he's stammering and grinning and clearly flabbergasted. He didn't get it either. And he says he wanted to see more dancing as such, and that it was too short. Yikes, I agree with Nigel again? It's opposite day here on the blog. Next is C, who gives Sonya props for making use of Tadd's b-boying skill (there were some killer handstands), but felt that they didn't really inhabit all the moments during the dance. Christina loved it and found it sexy, and then takes over the OMG-You're-a-BBoy speech from Nigel. Mary tells Tadd that his ability is extraordinary, and thinks he's still growing. She also says that Sonya's choreography was the most daring this season, because the chandelier was dangerous, and she did it because she had faith in Tadd.  Yeah, it still wasn't great. I'd say that would put him in the bottom 2 tomorrow, but I think he was going to be there anyway.

Caitlynn's solo is next, and her dad Skypes his message of love and support. I still don't care. But in case you were wondering, her parents love her. Think she can pull together a solo this time? Nope. Run, jump, flail; run, jump, flail. Hey, we can't all be choreographers.  I bet she knows she's gone tomorrow no matter what.

Now it's Ricky's turn, and he'll be dancing with Jaimie (who was supposed to be on last week and then was replaced with Allison, without explanation). They're dancing a Dee Kaspary routine about a couple in which the man thinks the woman is slipping away, so he's trying to control her with two sticks (like a puppet?).  The sticks are slender and only about a foot or so long, so they're getting pretty banged up in rehearsal. I'd be worried about losing an eye, if I were Jaimie. They're dancing to "Inside These Lines," by Trent Dabbs, which is a little pat, no? This is another pajama dance--all white, no shirt.  Jaimie is very strong and bendy, but she lacks Allison's star quality. She still depends a bit too much on hairography. Ricky's lines are as gorgeous as always, but to be honest, I don't really notice him in this dance. I don't think Dee gave him enough to do. He totes Jaimie around like a champ, but we didn't get any leaps or pirouettes or all that great stuff he can do. All in all, well-done, but I don't think it's going to pull in the votes.

Cat calls them over and makes a knitting joke. The audience is gracious, but not over the moon--I don't think they were crazy about it either. C starts us off, and congratulates Ricky on not only dancing with a prop, but doing so successfully even when the prop forces you to alter the way you do everything. Cat chimes in, "You're giving him props for the props?" I love her! Anyway, he loved it, and I'm too tired to type the actual line. Christina thinks he's a beautiful dancer, and loved his "Body Language" solo from a couple of weeks ago, but says that sometimes he doesn't dance "with the clearest intention. I want to see a push and a pull." Wow, I'm sorry I sneered, because all night Christina has been dropping the dance terms and terpsichorean science and has made some good comments! She's right, if he infused his movement with a little more tension, it would improve the emotionality of his dance. Mary praises his perseverance, thought it was beautiful, and thinks he's saved himself again this week. Nigel also thought he danced it very well, but reiterates his frequent complaint that Ricky is a "high" dancer, and could strengthen his base by getting lower.  Sure, I guess I can see that--he feels on his tiptoes a lot of the time, even when he's not. 

Time for Tadd's solo, which is done to a song called "We Speak No Americano" by Yolanda B. Cool & DCup. Heh. I've heard this song, but could never make out any words but "Pas Parl'Americano" in the chorus. And in the time it took me to type all that, Tadd's done. He was fun, flirty and bouncy as always. It was maybe a little less trick-laden than usual? He milks the one-handed handstand for way too long.

After a commercial break, it's Sasha's solo. You'll be shocked to hear that her parents love and support her, and think she's a beautiful dancer. She's dancing to "Teeth," by Lady Gaga, which all of you faithful readers know because it was the music to that Shark Week ad I talked about last time. It's a good choice for her. She's just whirling and flipping around the stage like a dervish. Not the most lyrical piece she's ever done, but still good.

Time for our last All-Star dance--Dmitry has choreographed a samba for Caitlynn and Pasha (yay!), and the theme is apparently "sexy." Caitlynn tells us in rehearsal that she's about to "lose the cheesy grin and be sexy." She says this with cheesy grin firmly in place. She's in a sassy little pink dress (well, part of a dress) and Pasha's in the requisite sheer shirt, and they're dancing to "Drop It Low" by Kat DeLuna. And drop it low she does! There is popping of chests and booties, there is rolling of hips and flipping of hair, and the grinning is kept to a minimum. I will say that Caitlynn does a great job of keeping attention on her, given Pasha's natural charisma. (It may help that Caitlynn is half-naked.) It wasn't the most extraordinary Latin number ever done here, but certainly a strong one for her.

Christina seems stunned and says, "I thought you well! And...your body, like...whatever...with your body." Heh. She hands it over to Mary because she doesn't know any of the right terms. Mary puts on her stern face, but is clearly faking. "When a contestant gets a second chance to do a number, we expect it to be better." I'm not fooled, Mary. You're about to shriek, "And it was!!!!!" Huh. I am partially surprised because she resists the shriek! But she does turn to Nigel and say, "By god, that was better, wasn't it?"  Mary says Caitlynn's bachacadas (sp?) were amazing. Nigel loved her samba rolls, but he and Mary both warn her against pulling sexy faces, and tells her she doesn't need to when she has a body that moves like that. Fair enough. C closes us out, and sadly, I must quote him punitively because he says he is "in agreeance" with his colleagues. He forfeits the right to be recapped any further.

After the break, it's time for our last three dances, when the contestants pair off with each other. But first, Marko's solo! Before that, we have to hear his mom talking about how great it was for him to dedicate the last show to her. She's crying. How can anyone not vote for him now? His solo opens with him leaping onstage from the wings, right into a somersault. He really seems like he's enjoying himself, almost like he's playing up there. Then there's more mom talk with Cat.

OK, now we're on to the next Oh, we're doing Melanie's solo now. Guess someone has some elaborate hair and makeup to do. Unsurprisingly, Melanie's mom is also proud of her. And I love her solo! This is the best of the night...she's dancing to some crazy robot music, and she's shimmying and kicking and twitching like it was a Sonya piece. Then Cat busts her and says Melanie just planned out her solo during the preceding commercial break. Damn savant.

NOW, at last, it is time for another pairs routine. This one is Sasha and Ricky, and they will be whacking. Wacking? Wakking? They are dressed in 50s-style clothing (well, except that you can see through Sasha's organza skirt), and I presume we will learn what whacking is (and hopefully how to spell it) next. Their choreographer is Kumari Suraj, who tells us that whacking comes from 1970s L.A. and "is about who you are right now in your life." I don't know what that means, but it seems to manifest itself by waving one's arms around one's head like helicopter blades. Do I remember correctly that Princess Lockeroo was a student of The Whack? Based on the rehearsal footage, the dance gets its name because of all the times you'll whack yourself in the face. Hee! This is fun--it sort of looks like disco arms with hip-hop legs. It's definitely an arm-heavy style, though--there were big chunks where they just stood side by side and waved in synch.

Mary's our first judge, and reminds us of Princess Lockeroo, who made her fall in love with whacking. She doesn't feel that Sasha and Ricky achieved Lockeroo levels of artistry, but she liked the various rhythms even though "the whacking was a little lacking." Nigel didn't think it was lacking--he enjoyed the fun, and just wants Ricky to relax a little because Sasha out-danced him. Lil' C thinks they're both amazing, but wished they looked like they were enjoying the funk a little more, because they seemed to be concentrating really hard on the steps. (Or on not hitting themselves in the face.) Christina enjoyed it as well, and liked seeing them in a more playful mode. "The only thing is that you could've--and this is gonna sound wrong--whacked it harder." Heh.

Who's next, who's next? Think they'll put Melanie & Marko back together? To be honest, that seems unfair. And indeed, Melanie will be paired with Tadd in a Broadway number. Since Tyce is here, I assume he choreographed it. Blech. But no! It's Spencer Liff! I like him. He tells us that the dance is a story of a choreographer and his star dancer, and the dancer falls in love with him, mistaking the passion of the dance for genuine emotion. So basically, it's A Chorus Line? There's a prop mirror at center stage, and a chair for Tadd, and Shirley Bassey singing "Where Do I Begin?"  I love the little scenes Liff has created here...the two are dancing apart as often as they are together, but they're still completely connected. Tadd's motion is strong and elegant, and Melanie seriously seems like she wants to jump him. It ends with him walking off, having gotten his dance, and her turning mournfully into the mirror. Really good job, I thought.

Nigel starts off, but asks Tadd to forgive him while he speaks to Melanie for a moment, and then tells her that her solo was one of the best he's seen in the series. He then shouts out her "beast"-ness, but also her acting ability--it's true; that's what makes her more compelling than so many of the technicians we've dumped. He tells Tadd that simply not sucking when next to Melanie would be a compliment, but he had many wonderful moments as well. C loves Melanie's artistry and "quiet fire," and tells her if Tadd doesn't want her now, there are hordes of people lined up to take his place. She is buck, and also her solo was "beefy." C tells Tadd he's growing by leaps and bounds.  Christina thirds the solo props, telling us they were all banging on the table during it. She also says that Melanie reminded her of Donna McKechnie in Chorus Line (woo! I win!), but so much better. She's also amazed by Tadd, and asks why he has a better port des bras than most ballet dancers. (I think we were all wondering that, no?) Mary says that America's fallen in love with both of them, and she feels privileged to witness it. Awww.

Last couple of the night! Caitlynn and Marko are doing a Sonya jazz routine, and I hope it'll be better than the last one. Marko is playing a controlling man from whom Caitlynn is trying to escape. Fortunately, Marko doesn't have a pair of sticks, so I like her chances. They're dancing to "Heavy in Your Arms" by Florence + the Machine, and start with Caitlynn in a headlock. All the movements are violent, flinging and tossing and straining against each other. There's a great move where she's on Marko's shoulder, and then rolls down him in two parts as though he's dropped her on the floor, but you can see he had her the whole time. This was a much better routine overall. I think it was lit too dark, though--you couldn't see their faces! Cut to the audience, and Allison Holker is nodding seriously. She thought it was good.

Lil C starts us off and says, "When I tweet, and I tweet very often...". Did we know this? Because I am nothing if not servicey, I immediately rushed to Twitter to give you all his handle...but I can't find it! Searching for "Lil C" calls up a zillion tweets all saying, "What's his Twitter name?" Also, this gem: "Yes, Lil C, you do tweet often. So often that I had to unfollow you after one day." Heh. Anyway, he's making a hashtag joke that is stupid and misuses the concept of the hashtag, so I'm skipping it--but the point is that he loved the routine. Christina's reduced to "Wow." She then tells Marko that he is a beast, and his aggression was palpable and beautiful. She says to Caitlynn, "Finally. That was your moment." Cat is trying to bring this whole thing home on time and asks, "Mary, what did you think." Mary futzes with an earring and says offhandedly, "You know, I didn't really care for it." But she's only fooling, people! "ARE YOU KIDDING ME COME ON, CAT!" She tells Caitlynn it was one of her best numbers in the whole series, primarily because she finally brought some emotion and grit to the dance. Caitlynn's about to cry with happiness and relief. She calls Marko fearless and says she loves him. Nigel tells Sonya that this routine more than made up for the chandelier routine and it was world class. He also tells Caitlynn that she "came of age" tonight, and tells Marko that he's amazing every time he's onstage. Well done, you two!

And that's it! I think Caitlynn and Ricky will be our last two to go home, just based on past weeks, but everyone did a great job, and next week is going to be an amazing finale!


Kat Sheridan said...

Excellent recap. And I think Lil C's tweet handle is something like @kingofkrump.

Abby said...

Thanks for reading! And for the Lil C tip.