Thursday, July 1, 2010

So You Think You Can Dance, Season 7 - Top 9

Photo courtesy of FOX

First off, my apologies for not reviewing the results show last week. I'm not too sorry since I was on my way to a much needed vacation, but I hope you accept my apology nonetheless. To quickly recap - I am seriously bummed we lost Cristina, even though she was ultimately never going to be a front runner. And wasn't it nice to see Robert humbled a bit and ditch those awful pageant queen faces? Yes, I thought so, too.

Let's not live in the past, though... there is much to discuss about last night! Overall, the night was MUCH improved and we were treated to several amazing performances. Of course, not everyone was phenomenal, so let's break it down...

First up was Adechike, who has been subject to a lot of criticism around these parts. Well, change is a comin' because he brought some serious bounce, swagger and *gasp* personality to his Dave Scott hip hop routine with Lauren. Like the name of the song they were performing to, the duo was hot-n-fun bringing a great flirty chemistry to the unique choreography. Dave Scott's ground work at the beginning of the routine was really interesting and I loved the theme of nerds getting down, especially when Lauren revealed that bustier that gave me some serious Selena flashbacks (to quote her father, "It's a bra!"). I was in total shock of the vivacity Adechike brought to the stage. That is, of course, until it was time for his solo, which demonstrated his incredible strength and power, but seriously lacked the passion he brought earlier in the night.

There is an angel in heaven watching over Ashley every week when she picks her style. Top 11 - Contemporary. Top 10 - Jazz. Top 9 - Contemporary. Hmmmm. This week, she was paired with Ade and rookie choreographer Dee Caspary dancing to "Cosmic Love" by Florence & The Machine. Though I didn't quite understand the concept of a girl who could not walk, the trust between Ashley and Ade was incredibly apparent. The lifts and partnering looked absolutely effortless throughout the entire routine. I will say that Ade stood out more to me than Ashley, which I think had a bit more to do with the choreography than the dancer. And I'm sorry, Shanks. I know you're my twin, but I'm going to seriously disagree with you that this was one of the best female contemporary performances in SYTYCD history. What about Katee in "Hometown Glory"? Kayla in "Gravity"? Kathryn in "At This Moment"? Allison in just about anything?! Needless to say, I was a little miffed by that ill-conceived statement, but I got over it as soon as Ashley performed that solo. Man, oh man, did she deliver or what? I hope that next week she can perform in a different style - if she can do other genres as well as she does contemporary, those boys might need to look out.

After a slightly disappointing Argentine Tango that brought on a humbling Thursday night, Robert was insanely lucky to be paired up with Courtney in a Sonya Tayeh jazz routine. This routine gave Robert the opportunity to bring out his weird personality without bugging the crap out of me - those T-rex claws and choking moments were fantastic in the routine, but make me crazy when he does it standing next to Cat. Even without those crazy pants, the routine was allllllll about the legs - the flexibility demonstrated by both dancers was incredible. Sonya's funky and dirty style worked really well for Robert and his performance was even a bit reminiscent of Mark at times. Speaking of which, there's a rumor floating around Twitter that Mark and Courtney might be performing "The Garden" on tonight's results show [jumping up and down with joy]. I agreed with Mia's critique that Robert needs to have a broader understanding of ballet technique, and the same weakness came out during his solo - despite the interesting choreography, Robert needs to be more grounded to the stage in order for it to reach the powerful emotional levels his competitors are reaching.

Ohhhhhhh, Melinda. You are just not meshing well in the SYTYCD universe, huh? It cannot be easy spending two weeks in the Bottom Three and hearing Nigel (you know, the Executive Producer) tell you in front of millions of people that he wanted to kick you off. Our resident hipster chick paired up with Pasha for the second time, and the duo took on a Fabian Sanchez salsa routine. Though it started off a bit bumpy (holy heel drama!), the routine was a lot of fun to watch. Sure, the lifts were a bit clumsy and I'm not quite sure why the costume department insists on putting a shirt on Pasha, but Melinda was bringing high energy performance to every single move. The judges, of course, were not so crazy about Melinda, and if she ends up in the Bottom Three again tonight (and you know she will), it's going to be time to say goodbye.

A paper boy sitting on a bench is passed by a glamorous 40s movie star who seduces him. Sure. Why not, Joey Dowling? Except last night's "Let Me Entertain You" with Lauren and Neil kind of felt a lot like last season's "Easy Street" with Mollee and Jakob, no? And just like it's Season 6 twin, this routine was fun and playful, and yet still felt a bit off. Loaded up with too much makeup and a disco ball dress, Lauren looked like a little girl playing dress-up instead of a seductress. She certainly handled the wardrobe malfunction well, and Neil can be my paper boy any time, but I wasn't really feeling this routine. But no matter how I felt about her duet, Lauren sure can deliver a solo, huh? I love that she uses older songs like "At Last" and last night's "Unchained Melody" but combines it with contemporary choreography to make it feel fresh and exciting. There's no doubt if she ends up in the Bottom Three she will save herself with one of those solos.

Poor Billy Bell just can't do anything right. Well, at least in the eyes of the judges. Personally, I loved his Stacey Tookey contemporary routine with Kathryn - that balance moment was breathtaking and both dancers performed with passion, though perhaps Kathryn brought a little bit more to the table. Still, I enjoyed it much more than the judges. And despite all the criticisms (and last week's Krumping), Billy Bell let me have it with that solo. Good lord! The confidence that has been missing for a while came back full force during his solo, and I was sad to see it end. There is a definite chance that Billy Bell could end up in the Bottom Three soon, in which case I look forward to seeing another amazing solo like last night's.

Everything the judges like and dislike about Billy Bell becomes the complete opposite with Jose, who is not a particularly skilled dancer but brings energy and gumption to just about everything he does. He took on a Dmitry Chaplin samba with Anya, who surprisingly didn't steal the show as much as she did with Kent and Robert in previous weeks. Perhaps it was the camera angles, perhaps she took it down a notch or perhaps I just couldn't keep my eyes off of Jose giving 110% with his adorable smile. His arm placements were sloppy and his shoulders were up to his ears, but you have to give him credit for those body rolls! What you don't have to give Jose any credit for is his solo, which was just about as uninspiring as hip hop solos can be. Sure, the head spin is impressive. The first time. But as everyone has been telling him since Day One, it is time to pull some new tricks out, Jose! And, while we're at it, lose those mock turtlenecks - they are killing me!

Can everyone else feel Kent starting to fade a bit? He had an unbelievable Vegas week, and his cuteness got him by the first few weeks, but the number of dancers is decreasing rapidly and it's time for Mr. Wapakoneta to show us what he's got. In the surprise of the century, he and Allison performed a Mandy Moore jazz routine that didn't use a song from the Billboard Top 100 circa 1988. There was a lot of great precision in this routine, and the fact that Kent could keep up with firecracker Allison is phenomenal. He still looks like a boy trying to be a man, but the growth is definitely there. The question is - can he grow fast enough? And the more important question is - what is going to happen when this poor boy has to dance hip hop?? Lord help us all. In better news, I loved Kent's solo, which probably had a lot to do with the slowed down acoustic version of "Down" that I immediately purchased after he was done performing. Beyond the music though, there were beautiful moments of tension and release, even if I could've done without the gymnastics routine in the middle.

Performing last, and certainly not least, was Alex. Forget "not least," Alex Wong was the best. Hands down. Best. In the words of Tabitha, it was so Wong it was right. In the twist of the night, Alex became part of the first "same sex pairing" in non-finale history on SYTYCD, taking on a Nappy Tabs hip hop routine with Twitch. Some of the best routines in the show's history have been when two girls or two guys pair up (Kayla/Jeanine, Twitch/Joshua, Danny/Neil), and this new All-Star format presents the perfect opportunity to allow it to happen more often. Of course, pairing a classically trained ballet dancer and a hip hop All-Star doesn't exactly sound like history in the making, but Alex definitely proved us all Wong (okay, okay, I'll stop). Seriously, is there anything Alex cannot do? This routine was so much fun from start to finish, and especially once the tempo started picking up towards the end. The concept of the therapist was great, and I loved that they incorporated Alex's ballet training without relying on it too heavily. And if you weren't convinced that Alex is the front-runner in this competition before, it should be pretty obvious now, right?

Trying to predict the Bottom Three is going to get harder and harder, especially after a night like last night. Melinda is pretty much a guarantee and I wouldn't be surprised if Lauren joined her, despite her amazing solo. Who will fill that third spot? Will the judges criticisms of Billy Bell take a toll on his votes? Did Robert do enough to get out of the Bottom Three this week? How long is that adorable smile going to work for Jose? And will any of that matter as long as Mark and Courtney perform "The Garden"? Sound off, fellow judgers!
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