SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE SEASON FIVE, TOP TEN

Sorry I’m late with my SYTYCD post today. I’m having a little (well, a big, a huge) problem with my extremely noisy upstairs neighbor, aka Godzilla, and am hardly sleeping.

Anyway, so last night is the first night of this season where, now that we have the top five couples (top ten dancers) we switch to a different format. We now see each dancer perform a group dance, a solo, and duet with a partner chosen randomly from a hat. And now the voting is all up to audiences, no more judge votes.

The two group numbers were the Bollywood routine for the girls, and the African dance for the guys. Okay, I loved the African dance, but, honestly, if you’ve ever really seen true African dance, you know just how bad it really was :) And not just Evan (who was rather cute I thought, making fun of himself for being the only white guy up there, sticking his stomach out and kind of making a joke of his dorky looks. This is the kind of thing that endears me to him). I mean, the movement wasn’t really there for any of them — it looked like a lot of flailing about. But it doesn’t really matter — it just matters that they tried and they (almost!) kept up with the stamina, and they had fun and gave it their best shot. And we got to see African dance. It goes to show how much technique that kind of dance requires, how much training is involved, to make it right. Anyway, thank you to new-to-the-show choreographer Jeffery Page for creating that.

I liked the dancing in the Bollywood routine better.

The girls had the expressiveness more down, the flexed feet, the wrists, the belly-dance-like hips, the rhythm. They also have had more practice, though, since we’ve seen a couple of Bollywood routines on the show.

My favorite solo was Evan’s kind of Charlie Chaplinesque routine albeit one with lots of high jumps. He created such a character, and those lines and that height on those jumps and barrel turns were absolutely stunning. I think it was guest judge Debbie Allen at the beginning who said it’s about being America’s favorite dancer, not necessarily the best dancer, but the one who’s most memorable to you, who stays in your mind the longest. Evan fit that category for me last night.

I also really liked Evan and Kayla’s Viennese Waltz. Nigel seemed critical of Tony Meredith and Melanie LaPatin for making it too slow (and hence into a Waltz sans the Viennese) but I don’t know, waltzes are far slower. I thought this was Viennese. It was to popular music instead of traditional, but I figure that’s to be expected on this show. And he didn’t like that there weren’t enough swirls and closed-hand-hold positioning. But I thought the choreographers weren’t supposed to make it Standard; I thought they were supposed to play around with the style to make it more interesting and less ballroom-competition-like. I dunno, I thought the choreography was nice. And I thought it was well executed too. Evan was very polished and gentlemanly and he lifted Kayla very well – -those lifts were stunning. And she, as always, has such gorgeous leg lines. I thought it was feathery, had a lovely rise and fall, and was romantic. I liked it.

I really liked Kayla’s solo as well. She’s got such beautiful lines, her legs are never-ending. Very beautiful lyrical dance, and the type I really would have expected from Melissa. But Melissa’s solo didn’t really deliver to me last night. I kind of think the toe shoes may be prohibiting her from doing more, oddly. I feel like she’s capable of what Kayla did, but was held back by something. Her solo, I thought, was rather bland.

But then I thought Melissa and Brandon’s Hair duet (choreographed by Tyce DiOrio) was a lot of fun, and very well danced. Brandon is so cute, with the facial expressions he makes. I love how excited he gets when someone gives him a compliment. The dance was very wave-like, very hippy, very flowery, in a flower children kind of way, just like it should have been. I thought the Hip Hop worm was out of place choreographically, but Brandon did it well. I loved his ending somersault over her, into a splits that he then pulled himself up from through his leg muscles alone.

Brandon’s solo though — eh. It didn’t really do that much for me, I hate to say. Though it was rhythmic in places (movement was choreographed to hit a beat) it still looked kind of formless, just aimless moving about this way and that with no real overall structure to the routine.

Kupono stood out to me for the first time last night. His solo had a bit of African flavor to it, like an African funk, no? I liked his lines — flexed feet and hands here and there, and his rhythm and how he’d accent different beats in the music. I found it compelling and original; it stood out to me for those reasons.

And, unlike the judges, I actually liked Kupono’s Paso Doble with Randi. He was really mesmerizing to me for some reason, and I could hardly take my eyes off of him and look at her. He wasn’t a traditional Paso man, and it was interesting that way to me. One judge — Nigel maybe — said he was too airy, too light. But I liked that! He still had the proper frame with the pelvis shifting forward and he had proper shaping with the arms. I liked his version of paso manliness :) I do think they had some problem coming out of the lifts. Some of the tricks – the death spiral in particular — to me looked sloppy. It looked like she was a bit nervous and stiff in places, which likely made the tricks difficult.

I thought Randi’s contemporary solo was pretty — pretty song, pretty blue dress, pretty dancing, nice pirouettes. Still, nothing tremendously memorable to me.

Janette and Ade’s hip hop routine (by Tabitha and Napoleon) was the best hip hop I’ve seen on this show. Ever, I think! That was so good — they both really had the funk thing down! What rhythm from him — I feel like we haven’t really seen him dance his style yet. He did so well with the contemporary partnering Melissa that I kind of thought contemporary was his style. Wow, he can really move. And I liked Janette, though she was of course a lot different than Ade. Her funk was more sassy and sexy and there was a bit of the salsa in it, which I liked. She made it her own. I think that’s the mark of a great dancer, actually, who can hide their flaws and accentuate their strengths and still deliver the choreography like that. Oh and she really looked like she was being hypnotized, right?! She’s a very good actor.

I wasn’t in love with Ade’s solo. He danced to Unchained Melody, which is one of my favorites. It’s a song with a lot of potential, but I kind of felt like his movement was all over the place. He wasn’t really dancing to the music. He did have some very impressive gymnastics though.

I liked Janettes’s solo, a lot of fun. She really played up the sexy salsa Miami chick and those super-fast tight little swivels were to die for!

I liked Jeanine and Jason’s contemporary duet choreographed by Travis Wall, but I think the judges went too nuts with commendation and I have to say all that waxing made me like it less. I mean, this is his first time choreographing and you could kind of tell. It’s a love story where the two are friends and one is trying to take it a step further, the other a bit more reticent. Lots of climbing on and crawling over each other (which can be fun), lots of angst and drama. It was sweet, especially for a first effort, and they danced it very well and with loads of passion, and she has very beautiful leg lines, both on the floor and in the air. But Mary Murphy’s over-emotional crying over how far Travis has come on this show, and then Debbie Allen’s saying, “This show is evangelizing dance in a way that nothing, nothing, nothing else really has” because she remembers Travis when he was young dancing around her studio and now he’s choreographed for this show?… I mean, come on.

I liked Jeanine’s solo. It was different, in a very memorable way. It had a tango, jazz, and even somewhat Middle-Eastern feel to it, very sexy but smart too. Great jumps and turns. She’s definitely growing on me.

And Jason’s solo was sweet. Very bluesy and it was choreographed to complement the music. I liked how he did those swift flicks of the leg to the plucks of the guitar. I liked how it was toned down in places, then he’d do a stellar jump with legs in perfect straddle splits. Very charming dance, and very charming guy.

6 Comments

  1. It's really difficult for me to watch the dancers do solos, actually. In general, some of them are just not good choreographers –and that's not their fault! I also don't like when they pick what should be slow, sensual music (ahem, Ade) and then choreograph a routine that doesn't actually take the mood of the music into account. That happens a lot on this show and it always irks me.

  2. It was a really fun show for me. It seemed as if the whole gang was enjoying themselves, celebrating dancing together. Maybe it was me, feeling good after a day of watching nasty political theater with the Senate hearings, but I got the warm fuzzies for just about everybody.

  3. Overall I enjoyed the Top 10 performance show and I prefer this year's top 10 cast over last year's.

    I also prefer the girls' Bollywood piece than the guys' African piece. In group pieces where the dancers are performing the same choreography side-by-side, there is a certain expectation that all the angles and movements are uniform. On top of the guys' range of physique, I imagine that it is also challenging to do the 'choreographed raw' movement in the African dance. (I don't agree that the girls had more practice just because they have seen a couple Bollywood pieces. Learning by osmosis? ;-))

    I enjoyed all the partner dances except for Kupono/Randi's Paso Doble. It came across under rehearsed and sloppy at times. Randi for some reason seemed uncomfortable and it was hard to be into a dancer's performance when the dancer is not really feeling it. The solos at this point are only 'useful' if the dancers haven't danced in his/her genre. I still like the solos but I feel it is more about the choreography than dance ability at this point.

    Tonya, not sure if you mis-interpreted, but this was the first time Travis choreographed for a SYTYCD performance show . He has been choreographing since before his run on S2. Here is a piece of his from 2007: With or Without You. Another piece recently won “The Joyce Choreography Award” and Travis is currently a finalist for the Capezio A.C.E Award – “Award for Choreographic Excellence”.

    I hope all the tags work.

  4. SwanLakeSambaGirl

    Oh thanks for all those links EM. Wow, I didn't know he had won all of that. I thought, from the way they were acting on the show, that it was his first time choreographing period, not just on the show.

    I agree about the solos, Elizabeth!

    So, figures that now that I started to like Kupono, he gets kicked off. Oh well. At least he'll be on the tour. I guess at this point it's not a huge deal since everyone from this point on is on tour. I really liked his solo again tonight. I was happily surprised, but surprised nonetheless, that Evan wasn't in the bottom 2. I really liked him Wednesday night, and it appears others did too!

    I'm glad Melissa's still on for another week, but I have a feeling if she doesn't amp up her solo, next week is going to be her last. I like the way they used her in the group piece — kind of fun how she tip-toed over the guys back on pointe. It was nice having a ballerina amidst the contemporary dancers. It gave it an interesting look.

    Anyway, thanks for all the comments you guys!

  5. Hi Tonya,
    I love reading your reviews about all types of dance. I can really see that you have a passion for it. I have a very small favor to ask. There is a girl, we are only facebook freinds, but she is studying at the Vaganova Ballet Academy (I'm sure you know, but Veronika Part and Diana Vishneva trained there) as a foreign student and in order to help pay for the many expenses she has entered into a competition to win some free plain tickets from Briton Airways. I was wondering if you and any other person would just follow the link and vote for her. It's really easy because you can connect through Facebook instead of making and account. Sorry to intrude on a blog post, but I really want to help out in some way!
    Hers is the link:
    http://www.greatbritons.ba.com/users/14548
    Jena

  6. Hi Tonya,
    I love reading your reviews about all types of dance. I can really see that you have a passion for it. I have a very small favor to ask. There is a girl, we are only facebook freinds, but she is studying at the Vaganova Ballet Academy (I'm sure you know, but Veronika Part and Diana Vishneva trained there) as a foreign student and in order to help pay for the many expenses she has entered into a competition to win some free plain tickets from Briton Airways. I was wondering if you and any other person would just follow the link and vote for her. It's really easy because you can connect through Facebook instead of making and account. Sorry to intrude on a blog post, but I really want to help out in some way!
    Hers is the link:
    http://www.greatbritons.ba.com/users/14548
    Jena

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