Thursday, July 8, 2010

So You Think You Can Dance, Season 7 - Top 8

Photo courtesy of FOX

With six boys and two girls represented in our Top 8, it was beginning to look a little bleak for the ladies of Season 7. But not so fast, America, because apparently last night was Ladies Night and the feeling was right. Oh, yes, it was Ladies Night.... oh what a night!

Of course, any emotion felt during last night's show was amped up due to my rage/dysphoria following the announcement of front-runner Alex Wong's injury. I mean, seriously, I went through all five Kübler-Ross stages of grief in the span of 30 seconds... well, with the exception of Acceptance. We all need to wish against wish and hope against hope that Alex's Achilles tendon makes a miraculous recovery so he can continue on to rightfully claim the Season 7 crown. Because even though we have some incredible dancers this season, a race without Alex just isn't as exciting.

Wow, all this talk about Alex's injury has sent me back into Denial and Isolation. Let's move on to last night's dancing before I attack a tub of Ben & Jerry's....

Starting the night strong with a Jean-Marc Généreux and France Mousseau cha-cha were Lauren and Pasha. After last week's Broadway routine left her looking immature and childish, Lauren attacked this routine with sparkle, sexuality and, most importantly, maturity. Dancing alongside Pasha cannot be an easy task but she was certainly up to the challenge, executing a plethora of dips, lifts and twists to (a slightly amateurishly cropped version of) Lady Gaga and Beyonce's "Telephone" (aka my ringtone). After three girls in a row have been sent packing, this was exactly the kind of performance Lauren needed to prove why the girls are still a force in Season 7.

Okay, Mandy Moore. I would call it the "elephant in the room," but not only does everyone know it, but we've all talked about it. The 80s music. We love it, we really do. But I promise that music was indeed recorded in the last 20 years. Good music. Music you can dance to! Every once in a while you surprise us with a more current song, but can't you do that more often?? Instead, we watched Jose and Lauren dance to INXS' "Never Tear Us Apart." Fine. As I've mentioned before, Jose has really grown on me these last few weeks. He is just too darn cute to really critique - and there was certainly some technique to critique in there. Despite the shortcomings, I really enjoyed the fusion of hip hop into contemporary, and the two dancers shared a great connection. I'm just wondering when the judges are going to snap and decide that Jose's heart is not enough to keep him in the competition.

These white boys just can't catch a break, huh? Juuuuuust as the memory of Billy Bell's horrendous Krump started to fade into the distance, Kent goes and picks hip hop. But wait! What's going on? It wasn't terrible! Sure, compared to Alex Wong's hip hop routine with Twitch, it was like listening to the Kidz Bop version of a heavy metal song. But Dave Scott gave Kent and Comfort a routine that didn't require Kent to be overly rough and hard-hitting. There was a bounce and funk and groove to the routine that really benefited the corn-fed jazz dancer. Plus, the over-the-top performance faces were mostly gone, bringing an honesty to Kent that has definitely been lacking. Not a terribly memorable routine (minus that ridiculously ill-fitting hat Kent was wearing), but enough to keep Kent out of the bottom, for sure.

Someone who probably will end up in the bottom is Adechike. What a bumpy ride it's been with him, huh? After fumbling around for a few weeks, he delivered a high-energy hip hop routine last week that put him in good graces. And then, without notice, BAM! Back on the D-List, thanks to a Mandy Moore jazz routine with Courtney. There wasn't much that worked well in this routine - the tacky gold prom dress, the cumbersome bar, the "movement" (aka walking around acting sexy) that took up about 70% of the choreography. In the hands of a better dancer, this could've been a dark and sexy scene. Instead, it was just a dud. Thank goodness Mia decided to speak up and bring a much-needed reality check to Adechike... not that it helped his next routine much, but more on that later.

I don't remember much about Billy Bell's Broadway routine for several reasons: gorgeous choreographer Spencer Liff who pretty much renders me speechless, the stunning return of my Season 4 favorite Katee Shean, and last but certainly not even close to least... "Macavity." They were dancing to "Macavity: The Mystery Cat." I still can't get over that. So, yes, Billy Bell certainly danced it well (much better than he Krumped), but I was too distracted by Andrew Lloyd Webber to care.

A dance I will certainly remember was a Nappy Tabs hip hop routine from Dominic and Ashley, who finally pulled something other than contemporary and, in doing so, emerged as not only the top female in the competition (of two...) but also a legitimate contender for the title. Sporting a sweet pair of parachute pants and executing some serious booty bouncing, Ashley and Dominic's portrayal of ninjas most likely offended an entire continent's culture, but it was damn entertaining to watch.

Fun, quirky, playful... what was not to love about Robert and Kathryn's Sean Cheesman "Barbie doll" jazz routine? Okay, except for the part where Robert definitely broke Kathryn's tailbone in a botched flip. But besides that, this routine let Robert show off his excellent technical skills and goofy personality. One of the best moments of the season has to be "Bob" and "Kathy" smashing their faces into the plastic of their doll boxes - hilarious! As the judges said, it's unclear how Robert keeps ending up in the Bottom Three, but hopefully this will put an end to that streak.

In addition to dancing with an All-Star this week, the dancers were paired together to take on a second routine.

Mia summed up the Bollywood routine performed by Adechike and Nakul Dev Mahajan's assistant Marla best: "I miss Alex." Indeed, there's no question that this routine would've been made infinitely better with a dose of Alex Wong. Instead, we were subjected to the flailing of bumbling Adechike. I'm pretty sure he gave the Indian equivalent of the middle finger in there somewhere, but it was too hard to tell for certain. This was hands down the worst attempt at Bollywood dance in SYTYCD history, and it will more than likely slam Adechike into the Bottom Three. As for Cat standing up to the judges... though it was an interesting argument, comparing Jose and Adechike just isn't fair. Jose gets away with his lack of technique because he is a b-boy, he has an incredible amount of heart and innocence, and we just plain like him better. Adechike, on the other hand, is supposed to be a trained technician, a contemporary male powerhouse. That wasn't evident at all in either of his routines last night, and it'll probably be the end of his journey very soon because of it.

After being scolded by the judges for choreographing contemporary instead of jazz, Travis Wall returned to remind us why we love him so much anyways, giving Lauren and Kent a lovely "prom night" contemporary routine to an acoustic version of Howie Day's "Collide." This was definitely the best of the second pairings - the two dancers had beautiful chemistry in addition to stunning technique. In the olden days of dancers being paired for weeks at a time, this Lauren/Kent duo would've been a definite force to be reckoned with, and I'm hoping to see them together again in the weeks to come.

Poor Robert and Ashley - what a great duo of dancers with quirky personalities and incredible talent. And then they had to go and pick the Quickstep. The dance of death. The Achilles tendon of any SYTYCD performer (sorry, Alex... too soon?). Jean-Marc and France gave them a storyline that I'm glad did not get a chance to play out more - because I'm pretty sure Ashley was supposed to be a hooker. Awkwarrrrrd. Once they got to the actual quickstepping, it wasn't much better. Robert's butt stuck out about 3 feet behind him and, even though Ashley held herself together a little better, the pair bounced around the stage holding on for dear life. But through it all they slapped a smile on their faces and made it to the end, which is just about all we can ask when it comes to this incredibly difficult style. After that incredible hip hop routine, it shouldn't really affect Ashley's safety, but it might bring Robert unjustly back into the Bottom Three.

Concluding the evening was hands down the biggest headscratcher of a pairing: Billy Bell and Jose. I couldn't really tell if Billy Bell was kidding or not, but he did not look excited at all to be paired with the b-boy. Either way, the pair took on a Sean Cheesman African jazz routine about a panther and a hunter that was... well... confusing? And by confusing, I think I really mean homoerotic. There was a lot of suggestive choreography in there, and Billy Bell's phallic loin cloth was not helping anything. And while we're on the subject of Billy Bell's wardrobe, I just couldn't take my eyes off those horrific swooped bang extensions that were stapled to his scalp that made him look like an Ecstasy-popping raver. This routine was a big fumble for both dancers, certainly Jose's weakest moment, and a weird way to end the night.

So not a great night for the gentlemen, while the ladies really brought their A-game. With the new rules being what they are, Alex will automatically be in the Bottom Three and we will find out the results of his latest doctor visit. Hopefully he gets an "A-OK" from the hospital, in which case there is no way the judges will eliminate him, leaving two other dancers in danger. I wouldn't be surprised to see Billy Bell or Robert back in the Bottom Three (though I don't think Robert deserves to be there) and if Adechike ends up in the Bottom Three, I'm betting Mia Michaels will do everything in her power to give him the boot. So in order to make sure all is right in the world of SYTYCD, before you tune in for tonight's results, make sure you say a little prayer for Alex's Achilles... we cannot lose him!
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