Wednesday, September 5, 2012


Wow, we're getting down to the end! And for real this week, I have to make this a quickie, because I'm leaving town in the morning and still have to clean the house and pack. You all get Abby Lite tonight, sorry!

We open with a Sonya-looking piece--girls in black tutus, boys in cargo pants, everyone in masks. (Do I think everything looks like a Sonya piece? I feel like I say that a lot.) They're dancing to Kelis, and the movement is very balletic (favoring Eliana?) for the first half--but then the disco lights start flashing and the funky galloping strides start up. It's sort of poor man's Gaga, but appealing enough. Everyone feels a little low-energy tonight, even on the intros--Cat, are you feeling OK? (Cat is wearing a dress in shades of orange and gold that looks like 60's wallpaper. She also confirms that the group number was, in fact, choreographed by Sonya. I am vindicated.)

Oof, each of our six dancers are performing THREE times tonight--with each other, with an all-star, and a solo. I think I'll have to skimp on descriptions tonight. We meet our judges, including returning guest star Christina Applegate! I hope she toughens up from last time--I like her as a judge when she gets specific. Let's get into it!

We start off with Tiffany, who's drawn Jean-Marc Genereux as her choreographer for a jive number with Benji. He was so much fun in his season--it's nice to see him back! I cannot, however, get behind his sideways baseball cap in rehearsal. For the actual performance, he's dressed as a soda jerk behind a counter while Tiffany's in a magenta bodysuit with frilly miniskirt. They're dancing to the Lillix cover of "What I Like About You." Hrrrrm. Wow--Benji can still move his feet. We'll actually see what a jive is supposed to look like, a rarity on this show. (Lillix can bite me, however. This cover is terrible.) Tiffany's doing OK, I think, but there are a lot of spots where she appears to just stand there while Benji dances around her. They manage a triple cartwheel, though!

And all three judges are on their feet. Standing ovations already, people? You've all gotten soft. Come on. Nigel loved the energy (cut to Jean-Marc in the audience, dressed like your eighth-grade science teacher) and praises Benji as the best swing dancer the show has ever had. He loves that Tiffany kept up with him, loved her flick kicks (?), and generally thought it was the bee's knees. Mary also loved the kicks and the bounce and thinks Tiffany could be a swing champion tomorrow if she wanted. Christina tells us that she and Benji take dance class together! There's a little tongue-bath and flirtiness, but Christina also agrees that Tiffany's flicks were fabulous, and she managed not to be eclipsed by him. Good job, Tiff!

The video packages this week are video messages from the dancers' families. In the interests of time, I'm not going to recap them unless someone says something awesome. Until then, assume that everyone's family loves them and is very proud of them.

Witney's solo is next, to a Spanish guitar piece--it's a paso doble, which is pose-y and flashy but has little footwork. Lots of sex appeal, though. The judges applaud soberly.

Our next pairing is Cole and Melanie, dancing a Sonya jazz number. Cole observes that he's played nothing but dark, evil characters, but today Sonya wants him to show a softer, more uplifting side. He's seeking freedom from a relationship, but Melanie doesn't want to let him go. He is shirtless and wearing leather pants, FYI, and they're dancing to that "Too Close" song that's in the Microsoft commercial. Interestingly, because Melanie's a rather sturdy dancer, they can do some transitions where she supports Cole and lets him push off her. However, without a really clear character to play, he's not bringing the intensity as fiercely as he has in the past. (There were also a couple of moves that seemed like he might have dropped Melanie? But could have been deliberate.)

Mary starts, and loved the choreography (especially when Melanie was lifting Cole). She felt that Cole drew her eye and he commanded attention. Christina gives Melanie a little worship, but moves quickly to Cole and praises his characterization as "beautifully androgynous." She does tell him that his foot was terrible in a pirouette, but she doesn't give a [really long bleep]. Heh. She says we'll see him next week. Nigel also "loves the fact that Sonya breaks the gender rules of dance." Nigel, what are you talking about--you are the most gender-invested person within 50 miles of this show. He loved Cole's vulnerability and his adaptability. I didn't think it was all that, but he was still good.

I think the show is pulling for Chehon now, because they give us a glimpse of his reunion with his mom backstage last week. Edith Tschopp is Chehon's secret weapon. (And they replay part of his amazing solo while his mom speaks in German--this feels like stacking the deck a little, TBH, but I like Chehon so I'll ignore it.) His solo this week is to "Way Back Home" by District 78 (a group I think we've heard before on this show?) and he's dressed sort of Mad Max-y. Another beautiful strong solo--he's the best choreographer of the bunch--but it didn't have quite the poignancy of last week.

Eliana's turn for her all-star dance--she and Twitch will be dancing a Christopher Scott hip-hop that he describes as "the most true-life routine I've ever created." It's about a hot ballet dancer with a love letter for a hot postman. There's a mailbox onstage, and they're dancing to the District 78 remix of the Marvellette's "Please Mr. Postman." Eliana's in super-tight red pants and a sheer white blouse, kind of "West Side Story," and Twitch is in a postal uniform, right down to the hat. It starts out not even looking like hip hop, which is sort of fun, and then there's a unison section that looks pretty great. Also, I think Eliana's butt might have earned its own line in the show's ending credits. The routine was very playful and charming, but I wish there had been a bigger "moment" to showcase her.

Christina gives the now-requisite praise to the all-star, but quickly turns to Eliana. She says, "Would Jay-Z hire you to be next to him in the video? Probably not, but who cares." She searches for the dance equivalent of "I'd listen to her sing the phone book" and settles for "dancing YMCA for hours." Also praises her leap in 2nd position that practically goes inverted. So basically, it wasn't particularly great hip hop, but it was great dancing. Nigel reiterates that Eliana's still his favorite girl, but felt that the routine depended overmuch on the story and the comedy, and lacked dance substance. I am forced to agree--and Nigel reminds everyone that the last time she did a "fun" routine (also a Christopher Scott number, yes? I get the feeling he's just not right for this show) they had to save her from the bottom. Mary thought it was a fun number, and entertaining, and showed the viewers that she's a chameleon, and memorable no matter what style she dances.

Coming up is Tiffany's solo (gold bikini) and Chehon's all-star dance (with Kathryn, styled to look like a cancer patient). Tiffany dances to a cover of Bruno Mars' "Just The Way You Are." Really? That's getting covered already? Her solo's a little flaily and boob-grabby for my taste, but it's fine. She's never a great soloist.

Chehon and Kathryn are dancing a Tyce piece. (It seems strange to me that we've seen both Tiffany and Chehon twice now, and no Cyrus yet.) Sure enough, this is about "tragic events"--he doesn't specify, but it seems to be about refugees? Basically, all their stuff is in a suitcase. Feels a little exploitative. They begin on a blue stage, with Chehon's hand over his mouth in shock--he's practically crying already. (The song is "Eli, Eli" by Sophie Millman, and sounds kind of Old World Pogrom.) The dance is super-flaily, and I think Chehon's overacting in the face. There's one weird moment where Chehon bends over so Kathryn can stand on his back, and another where she picks the suitcase up with her feet while he lifts her. They're both terrific, but I hate this piece. It's weird and awkward and feels insincere to me--just like Tyce!

The judges, however, are on their feet again. Kathryn looks genuinely ill (I guess because they didn't let her wear makeup for this one). Nigel pats the show on the head for doing something so relevant and emotional, but at least then goes on to praise the technique and the emotion. (And Chehon's "pressage." Which is not like Romney's dressage.) Mary sounds choked up and loves that Chehon is still "moved by his own movement." She felt it was magical and powerful. Oy, she's crying. Says it was "an honor." Christina says she likes Tyce's Broadway, but feels he's masterful in this kind of lyrical choreography. Especially liked Kathryn's leap off the suitcase. She loves Chehon's growth from a technician to a viscerally emotional dancer. My cold black heart will just shuffle offstage, I guess.

Cole's solo is next; he's dancing to something called "Night of the Wolf" by Nox Arcana. He's in black shirt, tights and sarong, but he keeps it butch. Lots of his usual martial arts posing, but he does have one cool moment where he sinks to the floor and then seems to just float back to his feet.

Now Witney is going to do a Ray Leeper lyrical jazz routine all-star I don't recognize. Who is that? Oh, it's Marko! He shaved his head and now looks like a completely different person. Also 10 years older. They're playing a couple on their wedding day, but the bride is having cold feet. They've done a cute stained-glass effect on the back wall, and Witney's costume is pink and wedding-dress-esque. (Reminds me of Nora's wedding dress from the first season of Project Runway!) Tons of lifts and flips and "go away/come here." It manages to stay on the right side of rapey, but mostly because she does end up leaving him at the end.

Mary loved it, thought they were beautiful and elegant. (I got distracted trying to find an image of Nora's wedding dress with the roses, so I stopped paying attention to Mary. You get the idea.) Christina blows the lid off the whole premise of the show by saying "We know you're not just a ballroom dancer. No ballroom dancer does a double pirouette attitude turn [something something, errors are mine--AZ]. You're just a dancer-dancer." Aha! Cross-training exists! She thought she was beautiful, but points out that Witney sometimes gets a little too dependent on the hairography, which obscures her face. Nigel reminds us that they've saved Witney several times, but it's easy to do because all the judges think she's a star. He thought she was beautiful. It'll be interesting to see how Witney fares now that Lindsay isn't there to split the vote.

Time for Eliana's solo, danced to Death Cab for Cutie. She's dancing barefoot tonight, but can still do some astounding...arabesques?...where she just stands in perfect stillness on one toe. She's adorable. Give her the prize already!

Oh, Cyrus! Are you still on this show? Indeed he is, and he got the wheelhouse of all wheelhouses: dancing a Christopher Scott dubstep routine with Comfort. I didn't realize that dubstep is Cyrus's particular favorite, but his t-shirts have been trying to tell me for weeks. This week's is particularly amusing: "How much dub could dubstep step if dubstep could step dub?"

They're dancing to a Skrillex remix of something called "Cinema," and the strobe lights make it look like Comfort's actually up on screen at first. I'm not clear if Cyrus is the director or viewer, but they look cool, anyway. There's an awesome flip into a tutting sequence, and Comfort is rocking white elbow-length gloves. It winds up with Cyrus "onscreen" doing his animations while Comfort sits back and eats popcorn. I don't know how to describe it all, but it was cool.

Sure enough, all the judges are on their feet. On the one hand, it's fair--he was excellent. On the other, they love Cyrus no matter how he dances, so this feels a little cheapened. Christina can't even talk over the audience's screaming, but makes gentle fun of herself for not exactly being a dubstep connoisseur. Praise for Chris Scott, and we cut to him--where we can see Mia Michaels behind him looking absolutely chock-full of facial fillers! Honestly, it's like she had a bad reaction to shellfish. Anyway, she loved it, and notes that it was tailor-made for Cyrus. Nigel finds the whole style astounding and loved all the little angles and details. He also responds to the detractors (like me) who've grumbled about keeping Cyrus by pointing out that he's never been in the bottom, so obviously America loves him. Mary picks up the torch and reiterates that Cyrus just connects magically with viewers, and was a perfect match with Comfort tonight.

After the break, we're back with our first competitor-on-competitor dance. First up is Witney with Chehon, dancing a Jean-Marc cha cha. If Chehon can find his hips, it'll be great--but I can see there's another "stare at the butt" move in rehearsal. It's been done, Jean-Marc! Chehon observes that Witney's in her comfort zone and he'll have to fight not to be erased by her. They're dancing to Rihanna's "Where Have You Been." Witney's in sparkly silver, Chehon's in a black tank top. He's smiling, at least! But he messes up the first two lifts in a big way, and comes to a complete halt. They power through it, though, and get back in the groove. He's too stiff through his core, but it still looks fun.

Mary starts, and you can tell that it wasn't great. She says that it was a big improvement over Chehon's samba, but the Latin dances still don't suit him. It's sort of cute; she says "you're so cute and we so want you to get this!" She then points out the bad lift and says that the problems meant that Witney couldn't show herself off to best advantage. (She also screws up and calls her Lindsay, but Chehon corrects her.) Christina praises the sexiness of their first plie and says it was so great she can't remember anything after that. Wimp! Nigel calls her out, but genially. Basically, we all know it was a wreck, so why belabor it. He calls out the lift, but praises his strength in not just dropping her. However, in general he found it disappointing. Sorry, kids.

Cyrus gets his solo next, and he's dancing to "Harem," by Sarah Brightman (Andrew Lloyd Webber's ex-wife). That's hilarious! I love that after all the "Yay, dubstep!" he's choosing this. His solo, as always, is musical and tells a story. I also like that he always puts a clear ending on his dances, so they seem polished. Appeals to my sense of order.

Eliana and Cole are dancing the next routine, a Mia Michaels contemporary. She looks much less collagen-ed in the rehearsal footage. Mia tells us the piece is about "hatred," and that she was inspired by the way rams fight. (At first I thought she said "crabs," which would have been a very different experience.) Eliana's worried about one amazing leap where she just flings herself at Cole and has to hope that he catches her. (Essentially, it's the Melanie leap from last season's dance with...Marko? Neil? Can't remember.) They're dancing to "Adagio for Strings," and dressed in all black as the dance begins. There's a lot of head-butting, literally. Eliana survives the leap, you'll be happy to know.  She's such a beautiful dancer, but I'm impressed at how well Cole is partnering her, actually. The dance ends with a silent scream in each other's faces, which I find a little over the top, but they commit to it. I actually really liked this piece.

The judges are once again on their feet, but this time feels more deserved. Nigel begins with a joke, claiming that in fact, the routine was about his relationship with Mia. He loved it, and felt it was a much better showcase for Eliana's dancing. He also thought Cole was brilliant. The whole routine was captivating. Mary also found it "mesmerizing" and loved the strength and power that they each displayed, as well as the way they used the whole stage. Christina says, "Mia, whatever, I can't, there's no words for her." Heh. She adores Eliana and calls her a perfect dancer with "light coming out of her feet." She calls out a certain moment when Eliana points her feet and then curls her toes--she dances all the way through. Cole gets a pat on the head as well, but this was really Eliana's to lose.

Cyrus and Tiffany are the only pair left, and they're doing a Broadway routine with Spencer Liff. Love his choreography, but it'll be interesting to see if Cyrus's characterization can gloss over some of his training deficits. It's basically about a teenage couple making out on the couch. Lots of grabbing and groping. The song is something called "Treat Me Rough (Girl Crazy)" by Debbie Gravitte, but it doesn't tell me what musical it's from. They're dressed in 50's clothes. Bye Bye Birdie? Hairspray? OK, I looked it up--it's a Gershwin standard currently in "Nice Work If You Can Get It." Tiffany is really selling the sexpot, and Cyrus keeps up well. He's mostly a forklift, but it's a fun routine.

Cat calls them over and tells them they're both grounded. Christina calls them "dirty little birds" and loved the personality and sass. She praises Cyrus for keeping up with Tiffany, who is "one of the best." She also wants to toss pens through Cyrus's ear holes. Nigel thought it was a terrific routine, but is thankful he has two sons, because he would never let a daughter on this show. He loved Tiffany and says that watching the video of her dancing with her older sister last week makes him think he should do a Junior SYTYCD. No, Nigel, you're too skeevy. He says Cyrus was good too. Mary is screeching, loved it, thinks Tiffany's adorable and Cyrus is a dream. Yay everybody, I guess.

Our guest dancers are from Oakland Axis Dance Company, and one of the dancers (both men) is in a wheelchair! They start out side-by side, with the mobile dancer seated in a regular chair, and there's this fantastic slow-mo shove where Wheelchair Dancer pushes him over. They synchronizations are astounding, and the wheeled dancer can "hop" his chair so that it matches the traditional dancer's leaps. I love all the plays on chairs, and then there's a moment where Foot Dancer lifts Wheel Dancer in his chair, and then does a leap over his back while they're rolling! There was clearly a story here, involving some papers, or a note, or something. Is it the stock market? I didn't get whatever the story was, but it was stunning regardless. I can't find a video of this particular dance, but check out their channel here.

All our dancers have left it on the stage, and it's time for judging. Who'll make it to the finale? We start with a review of the women, and Cat tells us that the first girl safe is...Tiffany. (Really? I would have thought Eliana. Was last week's quickstep too stuffy to overcome?) The judges no longer choose, so it's just votes...and indeed, the second girl is Eliana. Whew! Witney is gracious as we get the recap--she had a good run.

How about our men? The first guy into the finale is...Chehon. Yay! Good for him. The crowd goes absolutely nuts, and the judges are on their feet as well. Cole looks tense and sad, presumably because he figures he's going home. Is he right? Yes, he is--Cyrus goes through, and Cole goes home. He puts a brave face on it as well, and of course, he's still on the tour.

I'm pulling for Eliana and Chehon as the overall winners, but can anything stop the Cyrus juggernaut? Tune in next Tuesday (Tuesday!) to find out.


Anonymous said...

WTF is keeping Cyrus in this contest while great dancers are being eliminated...Cole a brilliant dancer out while overhyped cyrus is still in...Now dont you be starting out that this post is out of hate or anything else..Cyrus neverf had to dance what cheon or cole has had to do...dude just lifts and does the steps he is good at...Comfortz is another mediocre just kept as pro for her hiphop and she is not that great in it either...I am disappointed in judges favoring cyrus for who he is and not the dancer ...

Abby said...

I agree that Cyrus has gotten an easy trip through this whole series--they definitely graded him on a curve! But he's raking in the votes nonetheless, and I do love his solos.

Carole said...

I'm sorry, but Mia looks frightful. Is that what "fillers" do to you? Definitely looked like she'd had an allergic reaction to SOMETHING.
I agree -- that immigrant/refuge number left me puzzled and un-moved also.
What's with the silent screaming? Didn't I count 4 of them last night?
Wheelchair/foot guys were phenomenal.
And if it indeed is America's FAVORITE dancer, I think Cyrus has a very good chance of pulling it off among the men.