I know this will come as a surprise to everyone (not!), but I really agree with Mary when she commended Evan for having introduced young audiences to a dance style that was in danger of dying: good old fashion Broadway / classic MGM — Fred Astaire, Gene Kelly and all that. To me that has been the highlight of the season. To me, none of the dancers really had the sort of overall star power that Danny Tidwell, for example, had a couple of seasons ago, but Evan shone for what he excelled at. And I really believe audiences went for that — not for his cute face, as Nigel put it, or his good guy-ness, but for the way he brought that classic Broadway / Hollywood style of the ’40s and ’50s charmingly to life with character and intelligence — and with very good technique.
I don’t understand why all the judges kept harping on him. I actually thought he outshone Brandon in the Laurieann Gibson routine (at the beginning, they both jumped and his was sky high, with better lines than Brandon’s). I thought both he and Brandon did well at the more hip hop-y parts, but Evan outshone Brandon with the jumps and turns. But people will probably disagree with me on that…
And I thought he was technically better than Kayla in Tony and Melanie’s Jive. I thought her arms were way too busy. In jive your arms aren’t supposed to be swinging about wildly; your legs and mid-section are supposed to be doing the work. I feel that if you use your arms too much, it’s like your center and legs are weak — it’s like using your arms to haul your body up during sit ups or something. Outwardly you’re doing the movement pattern, but you’re not using the proper muscles. Anyway, I thought his legs were fantastic — those jive kicks had so much strength. And the lifts were spectacular — I love how they slowed them down mid-air to keep in time with the music. They almost looked like they were in slow motion. Difficult! I honestly thought that jive — and Evan’s performance in particular — was one of the best I’ve seen on the show. And how much do I love the audience chanting for him when the judges were being harsh 😀
I do think overall, though, my favorite dance of the night was Jeanine and Brandon’s Paso Doble. What a triumph for Louis van Amstel — holy cow! Normally I don’t like non-traditional Paso music, but this (from The Matrix) worked well — can you say intense?! Great razor sharp movement for both of them, he had some gorgeous turning jumps, and what a beautiful jete into an assisted slide for her. I totally agree with Adam Shankman’s comment that the reason this worked so well is because they focused on the transitions — the movement between the tricks — and not only the flashy things. As my former teacher, Luis, always used to say to me, the actual dancing takes place between the tricks. Nowhere was that better demonstrated than with this Paso. Kudos to everyone involved.
My other favorite moment of the night was Jeanine’s solo — by far the best of the night, I thought. That modern-y tango was so original — part Latin, part American Modern with the staccato, angular movement, the sharp stops, the isolations. And, contrary to Adam, I loved the rose stem held between her teeth. I thought it gave the dance character, and was a bit humorous to boot. And those pirouettes — totally agree with Adam there — WTF! Those were incredible! She began with a group of fouettes to give herself speed, then wound down into a combination of pirouettes that she somehow slowed to a perfect stop at the end, holding her balance after the last one ended, in perfect form. Astonishing — that was like something you’d see from Gillian Murphy and it made me think she’s been holding back all season…
But then … when she danced the Mia Michaels routine side-by-side with Kayla, I thought Kayla outshone her. I thought Kayla had greater height on her kicks and jumps, and overall more precision in her body. I think Kayla has the best modern dance technique of anyone on the show, and it really shows in the way she is able to dance with so much expansiveness, so much breadth, yet still keep such a tight form. In the group routine I found her to be the most expressive, to have the greatest range of movement in her head, neck and torso. And she’s got such stunning leg extensions. That Tyce DiOrio routine she did with Brandon — she really blew me away when she swung her right leg up, held it nearly to her ear, and then he threw her over his head in a split.
I wasn’t as in love with Brandon’s solo this week as I was last (and as the judges were), but I did love how he ended in that sudden straddle split. That is kind of his thing — making these sudden and intense lines. And his solo last week was to die for — so he’s definitely had his moments on the show.
Again, I have no idea who will win tonight. I feel that everyone has something: Kayla’s a great mover, Brandon has strength and intensity and can really blow you away at times, Jeanine excels with original solos and really brought it on this week and did something astounding, and Evan I love for bringing back Gene Kelly. Maybe Evan’s popularity on the show will lead to increased appreciation of Jerome Robbins?… Okay, I can dream