Thursday, July 02, 2009

hi, my sentiments exactly

If you want more “easy entertaining” entries, please direct yourself right on over to my brand-spankin’-new blog, “Someone’s in the kitchen with me” at inthekitchenwithme.com. Because I didn’t have nearly enough going on—why not run two blogs?? And with that, we now return you to your regularly scheduled So You Think You Can Dance recap.

Tonight’s episode kicks off with the totally-overused-this-season O’ Fortuna from Carmina Burana, because evidently that song is simply code for High! Drama! Cat’s hot pink black-belted party frock, on the other hand, is code for totally hot and also adorable. I would so wear that dress. The belt has rock star silver studs on it? And the dress has pockets?!? COVET.

1. Janette & Brandon, Cha Cha – Jean Marc & France Generaux choreographing to a Pussycat Dolls song. The dancing is sensational, but from time to time I find myself distracted by how often the two of them pull faces or maybe even lip sync along, which I understand is a big no no in dancing. Brandon does it the most, and his movements, while extremely strong, are also a little stiff. Janette is flawless, and while we expect that because of her salsa background, I’m also impressed with how much fun she seems to be having. I mean, how fun is it to watch someone dance when she or he clearly really super loves dancing, right? Overall, I thought it was great, but maybe not as A.MAZ.ING as the judges did.

2. Kayla & Kupono, Contemporary – With Sonya, who’s channeling Twilight with a vampire-y routine set to “Eyes on Fire” by Blue Foundation. It’s riveting. The choreography is as weird as you’d expect from Sonya, but the two of them render it with so much precision, commitment, and emotion, and they’re so into each other with this story, that the result is just this spellbinding performance. Kupono is totally in his element, and Kayla shines with the same technique and performance I’ve really come to enjoy from her. I really love what Nigel said about the two of them reaching their true potential with this routine, because it’s spot on. Amazing growth from both dancers, and a really fabulous job with this routine.

3. Randi & Evan, Broadway – With new-to-the-show choreographer Joey Dowling, set to a Sweet Charity number, which is one of my favorite musicals. And I don’t know where Joey Dowling came from, but these steps aren’t doin’ a damn thing for me. I often say that, when it comes to TV or film, good writing can save bad acting, but the reverse is rarely true. I also happen to think that good choreography can save mediocre dancing, but the reverse is rarely true. What I’m seeing here is a couple working hard to add some personality, character, and chemistry to some otherwise bland Fosse rip-off (or "Fosse-inspired," if you'd rather--I wouldn't). Of course, the judges aren’t going to rip the choreography, so they nitpick the dancers a little.

4. Caitlin & Jason, Jazz – Or “Jazz,” with Brian Friedman, set to “Creator” by Santogold/Santigold. Caitlin’s alien costume is RIDICULOUS. But it suits the totally crazy, way over-the-top choreography. The dancers commit to the whole… weird thing Brian set up here, and I love that Nigel was all, “When it’s this weird you better COMMIT” because, hi, my sentiments exactly, as I was typing them. Which is good & all, but in the end I’m left wondering, how much of that routine was crazy-ass costumes & choreography, and how much was really the dancers? And I figure, if you have to ask, that ain’t great, right?

5. Jeanine & Phillip, Hip Hop – With Tabitha & Napoleon and “Love Lockdown” by Kanye West. I’m so freaking bored with this couple’s choreography. I’m sure they are delightful people and if I ever met them I’d be all “Eee NappyTabs!” like a fan or whatever, but seriously, we have seen. These steps. Before. Just because they chained the couple together (and, p.s. WTF?) doesn’t make it new. It’s reasonably well-danced—not enough awesome popping from Phillip, which is a missed opportunity, a decent effort at “toughness” from Jeanine, and a slight overuse of that frowny face non-hip-hoppers seem to think is somehow “gangsta,” or whatever. But it’s fine.

Not as FINE as Cat’s studded shoes, though, honey. They match her studded belt in just the best possible way. Seriously, I want the whole damn outfit. And her hair, please.

6. Melissa & Ade, Pas de Deux – Thordal Christiansen choreographs Prokofiev’s “Romeo and Juliet” for the two and Melissa is on point!! Exciting! So is the chemistry for these two right off the bat. The dancing is so sublime and gorgeous I get teared up within 30 seconds. I can’t believe this show is selling its young American audience on traditional ballet, but I sure hope they’re buying because this number, and the two of them, are so beautiful. I’m actually all welled up and crying by the end. I can’t believe it.

Before the last couple, they introduce Nigel’s new Dizzy Feet Foundation, which sounds lovely. Anything that brings the arts to kids who may not otherwise be exposed to it because of their environment or budget cuts or whatever, is good in my book. Well done, Nigel.

7. Karla & Vitolio, Quickstep – New partnership and the “dreaded” quickstep, on one hand, but on the other: Jean Marc and France Generaux, who are fabulous. It’s also Rufus Wainwright’s version of “Puttin’ on the Ritz,” and a really fun, creative “night at the museum” type concept. And it is delightful! Granted, the dress change in the middle was CRAZY awesome and maybe a wee gimmicky, but just like the museum statues in this costume, I feel like these two really came alive with this number! Vitolio in particular really shone through in this, all debonair and charming. I feel like he's really working hard to get better and stay in the competition, and it really makes me root for him a lot more.

As for predictions, it's really hard this week because there was some weird choreography, some weak choreography, some dancers that got to hide behind their choreography, and some real growth and improvement, which is just so nice to see. There was also some flat-out gorgeous brilliance. With all that in mind, I’m going to predict,

Safe: Melissa & Ade, Janette & Brandon, Jeanine & Phillip and, I hope, actually, Karla & Vitolio

Not Safe and my reasons Why: Kayla & Kupono, because as much as I really loved their routine, I don’t know how memorable Sonya’s choreography will be for voters in the end (If I could arrange my own bottom three I'd swap these two out for Jeanine & Phillip, but I have a feeling thousands of tweenage voters disagree with me). Caitlin & Jason, because America has maybe had enough weird, and they didn't rise above it enough. And Randi and Evan, because they faltered a bit this week, and also had a less splashy routine. Out of those six the ONLY dancers I’d be okay with losing would be Caitlin and Jason. As likeable and adorable as they are, they’re just not fighting as hard to be here as I think some of the other dancers are, and with a group this strong, you better fight.

We’ll see who comes out swingin’ tomorrow, huh? What are your thoughts?

6 comments:

Ideas Man, Ph.D. said...

The thing for me about Kayla and Kupono (and Sonya in general) is that the weirdness aside, I think the piece is all about the isolation of specific movements --- making one motion and holding it for an irregular length to accentuate its own rhythm apart from its context --- And I thought they did that very well. But America seems to have mixed feelings about Sonya.

My problem with Caitlin and Jason's number was that it was too theatrical at the expense of actually being dancy. I felt it was more a pantomime than telling a story through dance. If they're in the bottom, I agree that they should probably be the ones to go home.

And Randi and Evan's number was kind of boring. I think Randi is actually a better dancer than Evan, who is likable but could be in trouble if he's in the bottom, depending on who else is in the mix.

The big question will be is how the public reacts to the classical ballet number. The vocabulary is so very different from other forms of dance (notice, for example, that Ade didn't dance on point, probably because he couldn't --- and shouldn't be expected to -- pick it up so quickly). And although I agree with the judges and you that it was really excellent, and lord knows the judges told the fans how excellent and WHAT AN EVENT it was, will that translate into votes? I dunno.

To me, this fits in with a bigger problem about the inability of classical and pop culture to share the same stage, even though there are in fact all sorts of connections which artists and critics recognize on both sides, but which both sets of audiences often miss.

Dinah said...

I think all your points here are spot-on. I think Melissa and Ade will be safe. I think they probably got votes because of a built-in base of fans, like me, that really want them in the final four. I think some people would have thought it was pretty even if they didn't get it. And, as Mia pointed out, the fact that it was a black/white Romeo and Juliet was really cool and gave the piece a more modern edge as well, and I think voters will respond positively to that.

Anonymous said...

Hi Dinah! Watching this show under your tutelage it's not surprising that I totally agree with you!

Jeanette & Brandon - I was wondering about the faces and lip syncing in the first dance - maybe the judges just couldn't see it from their vantage point. They are really growing on me though - they seem like such fans - which is more endearing now than it was at first.

Kayla & Kupono - I get that Kayla is a beautiful dancer but for some reason she is not connecting with the audience. Is is because she's so professional? Is it because she has weak partners? Because Kupono is no Mark.

Randi & Evan - I'm kind of meh on these two right now. I thought you were right last week when you said that they did Mia's routine too cute. And they may be a little one note cute for me.

Caitlin & Jason - Jason's so cute but his dancing doesn't stand out for me. Caitlin is so physically present and strong that I really like this number for her. I think they want to keep her in the competition just so she can bring that strength. Plus that jiggle in latex - I can't believe Nigel wasn't more into that rig!

Melissa & Ade - My favorite couple by far! I thought this was so pretty and classic and lovely. Melissa was lovely and Ade did what he had to. love love love.

Karla & Vitolio - They did a good job! But I'm still not connecting with them tho you are spot on about Vitolio's improvement. Because of this they might send Jason home first. I'd love to see Karla do a hip hop with a better partner but she's still kind of a blank for me.

Philip & Jeannine - Who's carrying who at this point! Jeannine has really camouflaged Philip's shortcomings. Again, they seem to want to keep him around for the group numbers. Jeannine has done well but I'd like to see her do contemporary or something flowy at this point.

The dancer's I'd miss the least at this point are Randi & Evan - I'm kind of been there, done that about them.

Thanks for blogging the SYTYCD! When are you visiting?
xo
Amy

Christopher said...

Yep. We're on the same page-ish, as usual, but for all different reasons. :)

I really doubt Caitlin and Jason are going. I wouldn't be -shocked- (since this week, almost everyone is in danger, as it was one of the worst choreography weeks in a long time), but I just don't have that vibe right now.

If Karla and Vitolio sink into the bottom 3 tonight, Karla is gone for sure. Vitolio might suffer from something that maybe I'm the only one who picks up on, which is "too many black people" syndrome.

I sort of copped out this week and predicted who would be safe rather than who would be going home, but I'm sticking with Karla and Vitolio for now. But I have to say this: I will not be surprised at all if it's Kupono who goes home. I'm pretty much totally over him.

Alison said...

Even though I thought the dancing was very strong overall, I didn't enjoy the show last night as much as usual. First of all, there was WAY TOO MUCH filler. Just cut it down to an hour already, because it was painful to watch all that extra yammering and re-hashing. Also, having the judges heap far too much praise on Brandon and Janette's admittedly enjoyable cha-cha left a bad taste in my mouth, and I couldn't shake it. I spent the rest of the episode reading ulterior production motives into everything.

At this point, I would like to see both Kupono and Vitolio go home before Jason, but I doubt it's being set up that way. I have no idea who will be in the bottom three, but am really curious to find out how the voting went!

Ideas Man, Ph.D. said...

I have to say that I think that the classical routine tonight by Patricia and Desmond was more to my taste than the Romeo and Juliet routine last night. But that could be because of my taste for a Balanchine/post-Balanchine style.