I was at NYCBallet last night and then absolutely needed to go out to O’Neals afterward with my friend to discuss Tiler Peck’s brilliant performance in Mercurial Manouevres (and yes, Ashley Bouder in Lifecasting, whom my friend has an enormous crush on — we got kicked out of O’Neals at 12:15 a.m. – -ridiculous that they close that early; that’s why ballet isn’t attracting young audiences — there are no bars open late in the Lincoln Ctr area…argh!) Anyway, I’m watching the recording this morning. Here’s my recap:
First on, popper Phillip and contemporary dancer Jeanine dancing to a Tabitha and Napolean hip hop routine. The first dance of the season. It was pretty good. I thought she did really well, especially for a contemporary dancer. I think she even kind of outdanced him! It wasn’t tremendously memorable to me, but was good.
Next, Asuka and Vitolio, in a Tyce DiOrio Broadway routine. She has ballet training and he grew up in an orphanage, so interesting combo. Cute. His opening jump didn’t have much height but other than that everything went well — great solo, side-by-side movement, good lifts — she has great lines. And he had a good multiple pirouette in there. I really enjoyed Vitolio — I thought he stood out much more than she. Mary’s nuts. They didn’t just “do their steps, do the right thing.” They gave it a lot of umph. I think the character was totally there. Nigel’s critical too — what are the judges on?
Third, Karla and Jonathan’s Cha Cha choreographed by Tony Meredith. So, Karla has danced on Broadway, toured with Wicked, and Jonathan’s a Salsa dancer who started dancing after seeing this show. (I like how we’re learning a bit about these couples now). Eh. It was okay. But her legs were too bent, she didn’t straighten enough, and it looked like it was lacking in precision and leg lines. He was pretty good. It didn’t look anything like a professional Latin routine though. She looked like a Broadway dancer doing Latin. Judges are all going wild though. Judges sure like sexy.
Fourth is Randi and Evan’s Tyce DiOrio Broadway routine. Randi’s from a small town and big family and not used to flash. Evan’s the Broadway dancer, from Michigan, who most stood out to me during auditions. He kind of reminds me of Craig Salstein — which means, I really really like him! So, she says she’s married and doesn’t like doing sexy, romantic things with Evan — because dance is real of course, it’s not an act. It took them a bit to get into the mood of it, but when they did, Wow! That really blew me away — so passionate. He did a very nice tour jete in the middle, she had very lovely leg lines, beautiful lifts, and some excellent staccato movement (are they called isolations in contemporary?) in the middle, emphasizing every body part, and, as Nigel says, exhibiting excellent control. Really fabulous movement. I’m so glad the judges like them. If they didn’t I was going to be beyond annoyed.
Fifth, Paris, a contemporary dancer, was in a car accident and has no sensation below her knee on one leg. Wow. She’s paired with Tony, a hip hop dancer. He chose dance over sports in high school. Good for him They’re dancing to a Tabitha and Napolean hip hop routine. Oh, I remember him from auditions — the comical guy who kept flashing the photos of Nigel during his routines. I liked him, personality-wise, though I didn’t think his dancing was anything to write home about. Well, I thought the choreography here was a little bland, but I do think they did as well as they could. Or, maybe it’s as Adam says, that they didn’t have enough attack. They were fine, but there needs to be more. They were a little too soft and bouncy.
Sixth are contemporary dancers Caitlin and Jason. She has a gymnastic background (I remember liking her in audition; I was really rooting for her, when it seemed her sister’d be the one to make it). They’re doing a Bollywood routine by Nicole (I didn’t get the choreographer’s exact name). Whoa, that was excellent! My favorite dance so far! Everything was so excellent — he is just oozing with charisma, and a really natural dance ability. And she has gorgeous lines. Beautiful lift up front, loved the low-to-the-ground deep knee bounces, excellent plastique — beautiful lines with the wrists and hands and feet. Whoa. He’s my favorite so far. Nice to go with the Slumdog Millionaire song as well.
Janette and Brandon. She’s a Latin dancer from a Cuban family and learned to dance at home. Brandon is that contemporary dancer who during auditions some of the judges wanted to die for and two couldn’t at all understand the fuss. It was something that annoyed me during auditions, because we didn’t get to see a whole lot of him and so couldn’t take a side and participate in the debate. So, now we’ll see. They’re doing a Foxtrot. Wow, that was really pretty, ended up being a nice Foxtrot once they got into it — it did take them a little bit though, but once they loosened up and swayed their upper bodies, it had some real spice. Not at all one of those stiff Standard dances you sometimes see when both partners are too nervous. That ending lift sequence was gorgeous. He did have charisma but I’m still with Mia — he’s okay but I’m still waiting to see what Mary and Nigel were going on so about during auditions.
Ashley and Kupono are doing a Jazz routine by Wade Robson. So they’re crash test dummies. Wade Robson is so weird! I thought it was more rubbery than robotic, but I guess that’s right — right? Crash test dummies are rubber so they can bounce all about. It was good. I thought he outshone her. I like how he made those nervous little flutters ripple throughout his body. That looked hard and he did it well. She was a little too fluid, which normally would be proper for contemporary dance, but here it wasn’t quite right. Mary likes her though.
Melissa, the ballet dancer (“I’m strictly a ballerina, also called a buff ballerina and naughty ballerina”) is partnered with contemporary dancer Ade. They’re doing contemporary with Mandy Moore. Whoa, tied with the Bollywood for my favorite of the night! She was gorgeous — like a bird, she just flew! Adam Shankman is crying! She’s 29, the oldest dancer on the show, and he tells her she’s living proof that we get better with age. He says her power is profound. He’s right! Mary screams! She keeps saying the quality of the movement, the quality of the movement, you can’t deny training, you can’t deny training. Yes, you can see all the ballet training — she lifted herself in those lifts. And did you see how high she danced on releve! Oh, for all the people who aren’t watching because of Alex Wong, she is so worth watching the show for this season! Poor Ade — I didn’t even notice him — though I did notice one jete where he made a perfect split, which was marvelous. And he’s a good, strong partner.
Finally, Kayla and Max are doing a WOO HOO, Louis van Amstel samba! Welcome to SYTYCD, Louis Max is Russian, a ballroom dancer. Kayla’s contemporary, from a single-headed household; it was a struggle for her to take dance lessons as a child, but they managed. Aw, Louis’s being so nice — telling her he can’t believe she hasn’t done ballroom before But, you know, I was disappointed. The music totally outshone them. He didn’t do much for me, unfortunately. He didn’t have the flash I’ve seen in most male Latin dancers. His hips weren’t that fluid and his movement range wasn’t that wide, and his rhythmic sensibilities just didn’t seem to be all there. Maybe he was nervous. Maybe he’ll get better. She was very good, although she didn’t looke like a proper Latin dancer. But how could she be expected to be at this point — she’s contemporary. That back kick was stunning. The judges are going nuts, though, and Mary did her crazed hot tamale train screams. I don’t know, I didn’t see what they did.
My favorites of the night: the lyrical Mandy Moore routine and the Bollywood number, and dancers Melissa, Jason, Evan, and Kupono. I can’t believe someone is going home already tonight.