Ugh, how heartbroken am I that Alex Wong is injured and may have torn his Achilles tendon. If he’s out permanently I’m going to be so upset; he was the main reason I’m so into the show this season. I guess we’ll find out tonight…
I also can’t believe Nigel basically chastised audiences for putting Robert in the bottom three last week. I understand Nigel was only trying to tell people Robert’s not arrogant, as his internet research has led him to believe is why people aren’t voting for him. I’ve never thought he was arrogant but more that he just doesn’t have the expansiveness and breadth of other contemporary dancers. But people don’t like being told what to think and I think Nigel may have just made it more difficult for Robert.
Anyway, my favorite performance of the night was Lauren and Kent’s Travis Wall contemporary. This week everyone danced twice, once with a former star of the show, and once with another contestant. Lauren went first, dancing a Cha Cha with Pasha. I went to a dancesport competition over the weekend so maybe it’s just that my mind is on those dancers, but I disagree with the judges. I thought Pasha really stood out, even though Lauren looked good and sexed it up and had really decent Latin technique. Her legs were straight — too many people when dancing international-style Latin bend their knees too much, like in Salsa. It’s not right for international Latin. Her hip movement was good as well — she didn’t settle fully, as fully as he, into her hips, but she did enough that it looked like real Latin.
But I thought where she really excelled was in that contemporary routine with Kent. I like Kent but I thought she really outshone him. I really believed she was a young girl in love – she was very authentic, and her movement was superb. What gorgeous back arches! Everytime she arched her back, she went way back. But it wasn’t like, look what I can do, she used it to show how blown off her feet she was by this guy. Her lines throughout were just perfect. Such a sweet cradle lift and the splits jumps showed passion and excitement – so, again in character while showing superb lines. Kent was a good partner for her – he was good with the lifts, and his jumps were good, his technique solid. I just didn’t think he stood out as much as she did.
I really didn’t like either of Jose’s performances much this week, unfortunately, because I agree with the judges that he’s got a very endearing quality about him. In his contemporary routine with Lauren, his lines weren’t really as clear and finished as they should have been. He didn’t always point his toes. He was into the character, but you could tell he just wasn’t thinking about the shapes his body was making as much as she was. She’s more trained to do that, being a contemporary dancer of course, but she just really outshone him. He was a good partner for her, though, enabling her to do some hard lifts and really allowing her to look beautiful.
I thought Jose started out well in his African Jazz routine with Billy. He began really making me think he was a hunter and his movement had strength and power. I thought he somehow lost that about halfway through though. Probably tired out; that routine looked pretty athletic.
I thought Kent’s Hip Hop with Comfort was really good, way better than I thought it was going to be. I thought Comfort really looked gorgeous though – better than I’ve ever seen her look. She was strong, sexy, sharp. It was hard not to focus on her. But his body was so wavy, very rubbery, and very fluid but also very rhythmic. He had the funk and the groove and the musicality. He was really good – big kudos to him for pulling it off. As I said, I thought Lauren outshone him in their contemporary, but I still thought he did very well. It was a good night for him.
I like Adechike and the judges’ harsh words make me want to root for him. But I have to admit, he doesn’t stand out to me all that much; there seems to be something lacking, though he does seem to try very hard. Parts of both of his routines — his Jazz with Courtney and his Bollywood — were compelling, but only parts. I liked the smoothness and rhythm of the grapevines in the Jazz routine, he had a good kicking jump (forgot what those are called), and he had a difficult sequence of chaine turns while carrying her across the floor. He has good jazzy rhythm and can make fun fluid snaky movements. But overall, she still stood out more than he. And I agree with the judges about his Bollywood. Those continuous splits jumps at the end were absolutely stunning, but that was all really for me. His gestures were not all there, his hands and feet weren’t fully articulated, his shaping just wasn’t proper, and, as the judges said, those things are crucial for making a Bollywood routine Bollywood and not just fast movement combined with gymnastics.
I thought Billy did pretty well this week. His Macavity Broadway routine (with Katie Shean, replacing an injured Allison) was really enticing. Good fast turns, sneaky lightning-fast kicks and jumps. And he had a great ronde at the end with more fullness than hers done in tandem. He was a great sneaky feline burglar! And I thought he did pretty decently in his African routine with Jose. He was a cat again – a jaguar this time, and I thought he was really in character, not just acting-wise but movement-wise too. He’s so good at those deep deep plies in second position; he has looser hips than anyone I think I’ve ever seen. He was a little too ballet-like, and I agree with Adam that sometimes when you fully extend all of your lines, it just doesn’t fit within the meaning of the choreography and you have to be more attentive to meaning than lines. I think that’s what he said anyway…
I thought Ashley was pretty good this week, although not great. Her Hip Hop with Dominick started out good, she was very strong and precise – those hip grinds were really excellent! She seemed a little off musically though, like she was going a bit too fast. Maybe nerves since this was the first time she’s done a routine not in her style. Overall, she looked rubbery and rhythmic and gave a strong performance, especially for a contemporary dancer.
But I’m sorry, I thought her Quickstep with Robert was awful, for both of them. Again, it could just be that I’ve just returned from a pretty good ballroom comp – where the best in the world in ballroom competed – but this was just so not there, and the judges thought so too. I can’t put my finger on anything specific, it was more that it just lacked polish. They both looked nervous and not at all at ease, and Quickstep needs to look fun and flirty and exciting. Neither of them had the proper posture, neither was upright enough. His looked particularly wrong to me; it looked like his behind was sticking out way too much. He didn’t look properly connected to her. The pivot turns looked particularly awkward. They looked downright scared during those. Oh how I’d love to see Katusha Demidova and Arunas Bizokas on this show!
One thing that bothered me though: Nigel said to Robert that he had one thing over ballroom dancers, which was that he was trained in technique. I have to many problems with that. What technique? Technique is different for every dance. Ballroom dancers certainly have loads of training in ballroom technique, but even if by “technique” you mean specifically ballet technique, the vast majority of professional ballroom dancers have considerable training in that as well. But did he even mean ballet technique? Mia keeps telling Robert to take ballet because ballet will really help him. I agree with her. So what’s Nigel talking about?
I didn’t like Robert again this week. I thought Katherine really outshone him in their Jazz routine. They were supposed to be dolls come to life, and she was. He wasn’t. He made funny faces and all, but his movement didn’t wasn’t anywhere near staccato enough. He should watch the Nutcracker or Coppelia. And I repeat that he doesn’t have the anywhere near the range of movement other contemporary dancers have. When they were in the boxes, they did some movement in tandem, and her kick was just so much higher and more pronounced than his. His jumps were good, but not Billy’s or Alex’s. And I already talked about what I thought was wrong with his and Ashley’s Quickstep. I don’t mean to harp on him; he’s a really decent dancer. I just don’t understand why the judges seem so defensive, even protective, of him.