PROKOFIEV AND CLASSICAL BALLET ON SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE!

Photo of Pina Bausch’s Orfeo ed Euridice by Ursula Kaufman from NYTimes.

Well, I am sad and surprised that Nigel Lythgoe did not give any kind of tribute to Pina Bausch last night, the way he did Michael Jackson, Farrah Fawcett and Ed McMahon last week. Pina Bausch is a legend in the dance world; how can you have a serious show about dance and not mention something as huge as her passing?

I did of course love that the show had its first ever classical ballet routine– performed by ballerina Melissa and her partner Ade to Prokofiev’s Romeo and Juliet, a version of the famous balcony scene choreographed by Thordal Christensen. It was more Peter Martins than Kenneth MacMillan, but I mean, come on! Am I complaining :) I keep forgetting what Ade’s dance style is, which is perhaps a testament to how well he excels at everything. But I do know it’s not classical ballet! She was beautiful it goes without saying. Those overhead lifts were difficult-looking and perfectly executed, the slide (that NYCB’s Robert Fairchild and Sterling Hyltin admitted they could never get down and so took it out when they performed ;) ) was likewise perfect, beautiful continuous super-charged chaine turns for her, really gorgeous lines and pointe work. She was really lovely. And Ade did quite well too. I mean, I don’t think he landed the jumps in perfect position and he wasn’t turned out, but come on, he’s not a ballet dancer and I don’t know if he even has any ballet training. He did miraculously well with all of those jetes and twisty turning jumps. And he was the perfect partner with those lifts. As Mia Michaels pronounced, “GORGEOIS!”

I also of course love the newly-established Dizzy Feet Foundation scholarship for dance training for underprivileged kids. Can’t wait to see Katie Holmes dance on July 23rd. Love how Judith Jamison appeared in an interview to talk about the scholarship. Just like her to be involved in something like this!

Okay, the other couples:

Janette and Brandon’s Cha Cha choreographed by Jean Marc and France Genereux was excellent, I thought. Particularly Janette. That one can do anything. Like Mary said, she’s a salsa dancer and, though people may not realize it, salsa technique is far different from cha cha. Salsa’s much more bent-kneed and free-form, less stylized. Cha Cha has to have the straight knees and the super quick leg action, the quick hip shifting. She did so well with it; I really thought she was a competitive ballroom dancer. I actually didn’t like Brandon as well as I liked her or as well as the judges did. He looked a bit robotic, he didn’t have enough hip action. It looked to me more like a hip hop version of cha cha.

Kayla and Kupono’s contemporary Sonya Tayeh routine: so, they said up front she’s supposed to be trying to escape death and he’s trying to draw her to it? Wouldn’t it work better the other way? Like she’s attracted to the dark and he’s trying to help her out? Anyway, I thought it was so so. I thought she had very good lines and very good form. I don’t like Kupono though; I just don’t. I thought his lines in his jumps were clumsy, his form wasn’t good — especially compared to hers. They partnered well though, seemed comfortable together. And good in sync dancing.

I actually really liked Randi and Evan’s Broadway routine, choreographed by Joey Dowling. They danced to Rich Man’s Frug from Sweet Charity, which I love. I thought they did really well getting the character down, both of them. I thought the bent wrists were sufficiently pronounced; I thought the lines were all there; the character, the sexiness, the attitude, the sharpness — it was great fun. I don’t know what the judges were on about. Then again, I don’t see a lot of Broadway. Oh, my favorite part was when he lifted himself out of the chair. How did he do that like that? It looked like he used no leg muscles at all to get up! Like he raised himself straight from his center. Amazing!

I wasn’t into Jason and Caitlin’s Brian Friedman jazz routine. She was supposed to be an alien who’d blown up earth and destroyed all of humanity and was coming back to use him, the last remaining man alive, to impregnate her? Sounds fun! She was sufficiently robotic, great isolations for the both of them. I love when she was smacking him about, and his face reacted to her imaginary slaps of the hand. He had a good jump and she an astounding gymnastic flip. Not sure what the flip was doing there though. Like the judges, I wasn’t so into the choreography — sounded a lot more fun than it was. But the dancing was good.

Phillip and Jeanine’s hip hop routine choreographed by Tabitha and Napoleon. So, they’re supposed to be chained together by the ankles and said chain is to show how on the show you’re locked into a partnership — for better or for worse. I thought they had some great isolations — especially with the shoulders and chests, which I think the judges pointed out. I thought the chain could have been used to better effect, actually. It was so long, they really didn’t seem chained together. I just remember a ballroom routine — I think it was performed by Max Kozhevnikov and Yulia Zagoruychenko way back when and they were connected by their costumes, which wrapped around each other. They could unwrap themselves to an extent, but the fabric was connected, so they could only unwrap so far. It was mesmerizing watching how they worked that fabric, doing lifts even, connected the way they were. This was just not at that level, in terms of the prop.

And Karla and Vitolio’s Quickstep, choreographed by Jean Marc and France. I agree with the judges on this — one of Jean Marc and France’s best pieces on the show ever. Wow! That had everything — a couple of balletic jumps performed side-by-side with the batting of the feet (one of my favorite jumps in ballet), beautiful lifts, traditional Quickstep with all its fast, super-charged footwork with some fun social Charleston thrown in, excellent concept of him being a statue at a museum, she bringing him to life, and he placing her on the pedestal at the end. And of course excellent costume trick with one dress changing into another with the simple pull of a spaghetti strap. I thought they did very well with it too.

Except for the lack of a Pina Bausch tribute, I really enjoyed the show this week.

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