Wednesday, June 28

SYTYCD- Top 16 (6/28/06)

The intros are fun tonight, several 80's style outfits and most of the girls have their hair up. Looks like it's going to be an interesting night!

Judges are Nigel, Mary, and Cicely & Olisa (ok as choreographers last week; somewhat annoying as judges this week). We get a few bad audition clips and some behind-the-scenes footage from this past week; nothing too interesting. Then a guest performance by 6 people called "Hip, Swing, and a Jump" who had a couple of neat tricks but really don't do anything our contestants haven't already shown us, & then some. So on to them!

Ben/Ashlee - Hip-Hop (she's thrilled, though has a cold & no voice), choreographed by Todd Sams to Usher's "Caught Up." Ashlee was great, but Ben wasn't snappy enough. The choreography seemed slow to me too and their routine just looked like obvious choreography, not 2 people (just) dancing. Nigel reamed Ben, saying it was "not so much street as Rodeo Drive", though Mary called his effort "respectable."

Ryan/Heidi - Cuban Rumba (Alex DiSilva). Heidi thought this would be the same as American Rumba, but it's very different: a mix of African & Latin dance. This routine has a story of flirtation & resistance. Ryan said he's having to learn a lot of acrobatics and also mentions that their connection/chemistry will be very important. The dance is very entertaining, very African percussion-filled. I thought Ryan was better with the movements and expression than Heidi (she was too smiley), and they weren't together at times, but overall it was good. The crowd & judges loved it.

Dmitri/Aleksandra - Waltz (choreographer Heather Smith) to a Kenny Rogers song. The dance is explained as being about the connection between the two dancers, even when they're not touching, but even as a new team they seem to develop this fairly well (and seem to enjoy working together). However, she doesn't get the technique and I think her arms are too straight; Mary mentions this as well. Nigel calls Dmitri "special" and "passionate," while he asks Aleks if she's seen "A Corpse Bride" and likens her to the title character (ouch!). Cicely & Olisa compliment her though, saying she "stepped up" (from last week) & was good.

Ivan/Allison - Argentine Tango (Alex), described as passionate and nicknamed "the war of the feet." Allison was great, doing most of the work, but making the couple look good as well, as did their smokin' costumes (hers was red, sultry & skimpy; he was in a suave suit & hat). Nigel called the choreography "incredible" and said Ivan was showing much improvement; Mary was very impressed and Ivan was ecstatic to receive a "Mary scream" (jumping around showing his age & immaturity, in contrast to his performance).

Benji/Donyelle - Pop/Jazz by B-Free! (finally!) Brian apparently always choreographs to a story, or at least he does tonight. This number is about a diva supermodel "taking control" of a cool, suave DJ. Benji annoyed Brian a bit w/his goofiness, but also admitted he needed to "tone down the geek & bring out the sheik" (hee). He was also talking about his background in fun, happy dance styles and said that portraying sexual attraction is out of his comfort zone, but said that Donyelle makes it easy for him... and, blushing a bit, was for once speechless! The routine was a lot of fun. The crowd of course loved it (they screamed at the introduction!), and Cat "dared" Nigel to say somthing bad... which he did, kind-of. He mentioned how Brian had encouraged Benji to portray a "strong masculine" character & then puts him in eye make-up! (He had eyeliner & a mohawk.)

Musa/Natalie - Quickstep. Musa of course struggled; choreographer Heather had him wear a "ballroom training bar" for a while to keep his arms up so he could learn the posture but concentrate on footwork. It was an entertaining routine - they were together & decent, but obviously new to the style. Nigel called them "great performers" and mentioned the hard work (& time) Musa put into practicing. Mary agreed though said they couldn't see Natalie's full potential because of Musa's limitations.

Jaymz/Jessie - Contemporary, again by Brian. This one's a love story, with the woman trying to break down the man's walls, and the focus on the repeated lyric mentioning joy in the breakdown. Brian was very tough, said he was disappointed to have this couple & criticized them both (Jaymz for having a lot of "competition kid" bad habits), but said he wanted them to perform well enough to show everyone they're in contention! He said he thought they could but would have to work for it. J&J admitted it was a lot harder than they'd expected. The routine was awesome, and Jaymz was fantastic! They started up on the platform and used the stairs, then the whole lower stage... (Nigel complimented Brian on that part of the choreography). Cicely & Olisa also complimented B, for both numbers, and he was shown (yay!) smiling contentedly in the audience.

Travis/Martha closed the night with Hip-Hop from Todd Sams to a Chris Brown song. Travis told Todd they'd been "kicking each other" away in previous weeks & asked if they could have a romantic relationship this time! Which they did. I thought the routine was great, and while Travis was much snappier than Martha, their close moves were very nice and convincing (i.e. hot!). Nigel and others criticized Travis for not being as smooth as Martha, and Nigel said they really need to work next week as several other couples have "passed them up." Travis humbly agreed that the competition had heated up and they/he needed to improve, but he was also defensive (after the 2nd negative comment) and said he thought "America" was "forgetting" that he's a contemporary dancer & hip-hop is new for him. I do think the krumping may have hurt him because he concentrated so hard on that sharpness, and this week's choreographer may not have emphasized the difference & smoothness of what they were supposed to do this week (whereas Martha knew because it's her specialty; perhaps she should've helped him more, but on the other hand maybe she saw a chance to finally outshine him & took it!).

I agree with Nigel that "America" has a tough choice tonight. I threw in 5 votes each for Benji/Donyelle, Jaymz/Jessica, and Travis/Martha.

I predict the bottom 3 will be Dmitri/Aleks, Ben/Ashlee, and Travis/Martha, with Ben (unfortunately) and Aleks leaving. Musa/Natalie could replace Travis/Martha (or Ben/Ashlee, as they seem to have a strong voting fanbase) though; I think it'll be close between those three.

Friday, June 23

Top 18 - Results (6/22)

This week's opening group number was choreographed by Dan and seems shorter and not quite as interesting as last week's. But still fun. Then we get the normal recap of last night's performances, plus a little behind-the-scenes footage: one scene of everyone complaining about having to be up so early, & one of Dmitri & Joy in a practice room right before performing. There has been much discussion of this online, and I'll recap what I saw...

They were practicing, she was messing up, he was frustrated with her and snapped at her. He made some comment about "someone" not wanting to practice more earlier. Then they noticed the camera in the room and he gruffly asked them not to film them right then. Now, several people thought he was being all mean & unsupportive of his partner. But if it's true he wanted to practice more & she didn't, then he certainly had a right to be frustrated w/her for not knowing the routine. As he was after the performance (I believe he said something like they had some problems with practicing, but worked it out? I may go rewatch to be sure... but Nigel said it was a smart, politically correct way to answer) I think he was being tactful and protective, not wanting to publicly criticize or blame his partner.

Then the results - with something I hadn't noticed before, short performance clips on the big overhead screen while each couple's judges' comments are reviewed. Anyway they're brought up 3 at a time this week:

Jaymz/Jessica - safe
Ben/Ashley - safe
Dmitri/Joy - bottom 3

Musa/Natalie - all 3 safe!

Jason/Aleks - bottom 3
Ryan/Heidi - bottom 3
Ivan/Allison - safe

So, now we get solos. Oh, couple quick comments on people who aren't doing solos. Or at least on their hair. I despise Natalie's 'do tonight. And is it just me, or is Benji's hair darker??

Well, all the solos are fairly good. I'd label them but I don't know dance styles well enough to distinguish correctly, so I'd better not. Dmitri wore a cape over his regular pants that made him looked like he was wearing gauchos. And Aleks wore a long-sleeved dark shirt w/very short shorts you couldn't really see... you know, like she was walking around in her boyfriend's shirt. Different. She was incredibly nervous and almost looked like she gave up part-way through. Heidi's was pretty good for someone who's a pairs dancer. Ryan (who is surprisingly short!) was very creative in his, and Jason had some impressively fast hip-hop moves and a great routine. Also a fun attitude that spawned some goofy comments when Cat talked to him afterward.

This week's guest artist Rihanna performed "S.O.S." and her dancers were decent, but really not shown that much. What's the point of the show again?

The girls get their results first. Heidi is brought forward first, complimented, and told that she's safe. Joy is told that she is a "jack of all trades, and master of none." Aleks is told her solo was "pitiful" but she has time to work on it as she's safe... so Joy is sent home. She's not surprised.

Of the guys, Dmitri is brought forward, told his dancing was "superb" both nights and that he answered well regarding his partner's weakness last night - and he is safe! Nigel tells Ryan that while the judges wouldn't have put him in the bottom 3, the audience did, and he thinks it's because there's a 'wall' of sorts between Ryan and the audience. But he'll get time to work on that, as Jason is told that he didn't show "personality" tonight (sigh, the same thing Stas got, and I think they both have great personalities and did show them!!) and is going home.

So, wow, all my predictions were correct! I would've changed them after the solos as I loved Jason's & Dmitri's wasn't that interesting, but they're really emphasizing the "personalities" this year so the more charismatic people get the advantage. Which I'd already been considering regarding Travis & Benji, but hadn't really applied to anyone else yet. Oh and Dmitri and Aleksandra are now paired together since their partners have been eliminated. Until next week....

Wednesday, June 21

SYTYCD - Top 18 (6/21/06)

Everyone gets short little intro dances again; Travis spins again (beautifully, but I hope he doesn't get in a rut), and Jessica & Joy are here again, why? They just both seemed to do simple, boring stuff. They & Ivan are definitely my least favorite at this point, but we'll see....

For tonight's fluff, the judges (Shane, Mia, & Nigel - no Brian, again! boo!) are asked about standout auditioners from certain cities. But then Cat has a short interview w/Hawk & we see a video montage (um, some of those clips weren't him!). Then we get a performance by the other 4 Sickstep Crew members!! That was quite fun. All 3 judges loved them, not that they're being judged. On to the competition!

Couple #1: Travis & Martha doing Krump! Oh my. Travis was *very* excited to hear their assignment. The choreographer is one of the "co-creators" of the style and describes it as very energetic & aggressive. Travis mentions the high expectations they have after last week's ("too many") nice comments. However, he lived up to it: he was just awesome at the beginning! Lost a bit of energy & sharpness toward the end but was still good, & Martha did well. Shane was amazed at Travis, asked the audience to give him another round of applause & said he could be a krunk dancer today if he wanted! Mia, who prefaced her comments with "I really feel dorky critiquing this in flowers" (referring to her flouncy shirt), loved them, and Nigel mostly agreed (though he noted they didn't come close to approaching the speed of Lil C's routine, and, he, um, "demonstrated" a bit!).

#2: Jaymz (were they showing it as "Jamyz" tonight?) & Jessica - Foxtrot. With Mary and Artem, and speaking of Mary and Artem, WHA?!??!! Are they a couple??!?! Maybe she's not as old as she acts & he's older than he looks, but wow, I did *not* see that coming! Um, ok, back to the dancing... they were good, smooth. Shane said "perfect"; Mia said "mature," "slick," and in honor of Nigel, "bloody beautiful;" Nigel said it was good but wasn't sure it was good enough to prevent a repeat showing in the bottom 3.

#3: Ivan & Allison - Hip-Hop. They built Allison up a lot from the practice & said we'd be surprised at how good she was, but she really wasn't. The crowd seemed to like it, as did Shane & Nigel, but Mia didn't; she said yes, they "did the steps," but that it was still lacking, and I agree.

#4: Dmitry & Joy - Samba (with Mark Weiss; I don't remember seeing him before, but I like him), which was described as a dance that "travels a lot" and requires "heavy" but "quick" footwork. Dmitry was great and Joy struggled, both as expected. The judges pretty much agreed (Mia called Joy "dreadful").

#5: Musa & Natalie - Contemporary. It was very good, though I didn't personally care for the routine very much; it didn't 'do' anything for me. The judges liked them. And said that the chemistry and balance they showed (of skill & style) is exactly what they were going for as they paired up contestants.

#6: Ryan & Heidi - Pop. They danced to Kelly Clarkson's "Walk Away," which I really like, and to me the 80's outfits and somewhat simple choreography were disappointing. They did do a good job though. Shane absolutely loved it and said for him they'd just become "the group to beat." (To which Mia replied, "really?!" hee!) Mia & Nigel thought they were just ok.

#7: Ben & Ashley - American Jive, a very fast, high-energy dance. In practice they showed a slight collision as Ben attempted the leapfrog-style jump over Ashley's head (while she was standing straight up), and he said "I now know why we're dancing to 'Great Balls of Fire'; that hurt!" - bwah!). I loved their performance! No, it wasn't perfect, but it was very entertaining and I still think he's a very good dancer (had great footwork on the fast kicks). Shane didn't like it; Mia enjoyed & was especially impressed w/Ashley, given her background (popper w/very little formal training); Nigel enjoyed their energy & said they improved "beyond belief" since last week. I tossed them a few votes just in case.

#8: Jason & Aleksandra - Hip-hop ("old school"). He was awesome; she was good. Shane & Nigel both loved him, but didn't like her; Mia liked both. Nigel said if that was supposed to be about "flavor," she was tofu.

Once again they saved the best for last! #9: Benji & Donyelle - Cha Cha. Of course something Benji should be great at, and he certainly was, but so was Donyelle. The crowd loved them & just went nuts, and Shane gave them an S.O.! He said they were definitely the best of the night. Mia said they'd be in the yearbook as "most unlikely couple," but they were fabulous; Nigel referred to last week when he declared Travis & Martha the "couple to beat" and said to Benji & Donyelle, "You've just beaten them." He also addressed Donyelle's weight issue, saying that he knows she's struggled with it (and been rejected because of it) but that she looks "comfortable" with it and is one of the sexiest gals on the stage, and that because of that she is an inspiration to many girls (who aren't comfortable w/their weight). Well put.

IMO the race is definitely on between Travis (the best dancer) and Benji (the best entertainer) for the title. Overall I'm very impressed with the skill level and am enjoying the season very much.

My predictions for bottom 3: Dmitry & Joy, Jason & Alex, and Ryan & Heidi, with Joy and Jason leaving. But I think it's a hard call.

For anyone interested, I ran across a nice interview with Benji about his mission trip. It also mentions/explains the "donut drop" move that he & Heidi did during the group dance-out at the end of tonight's show (very cool!).

Friday, June 16

Top 20 Results (6/15)

I have 3 wishes after watching this episode:

#1. I wish I had taped the group number that opened the show! That rocked. Except that Ivan was featured a lot and Benji was hardly visible, and they didn't even show Brian's face after Cat complimented his choreography. Which rocked, I say!!

#2. I wish Ivan were eliminated instead of Stanislav. Self-explanatory.

#3. I wish they'd shown Mary's reaction when Stas was eliminated instead of Ivan.

On to the quasi-recap! As I said, opening number was really, really good, and longer than I was expecting (which was a good thing).

After a short review of last night's performances we have the couples take center stage two at a time (by genre of performance, interestingly), and we're looking for the 3 with the lowest votes.

Hip-hop pairs Benji/Donyelle and Dmitry/Joy are both safe.

Ballroom pair Ryan/Heidi is safe, but Stanislav/Erin are in the bottom 3. Really? She wasn't anything to write home about but he was fantastic, and last year Artem was incredibly popular, and isn't Stas the Artem of this year? Mary is confused too, she says they were in her top 3!

Contemporary couples Travis/Martha and Jason/Aleksandra are both safe. Travis was sooo worried & then sooo relieved! Not that he should be worried, but I guess it's nice he's not taking anything for granted.

Mamba/salsa pair Musa/Natalie is safe, but Ivan/Allison are in the bottom, as I predicted.

Lastly the disco pairs: Ben/Ashley are, surprisingly (to them too), safe! I was looking forward to seeing Ben's solo but glad he has no chance of being eliminated tonight. Which leaves Jaymz/Jessica as the last of the bottom 3.

Solos: Erin is ok; Stanislav is amazing (the crowd agrees, they love him!); Allison is pretty good, does some creative stuff (and later says it was all improv.); Ivan is really good at hip-hop, I'll admit, though he was a little flippant at the end for someone who's 'dancing for his life'; Jessica was pretty good, very powerful; Jaymz was good but he has yet to wow me, and for some reason I keep expecting him to. Maybe next week.

Nelly Furtado and Timberland (?) perform a song called "Promiscuous." I flip around to see what's on the other stations.

And it's time for eliminations. Girls are up first - Allison is asked to step forward, complimented, and told she's safe. Of the two left I think Erin should go... and she does. She gets a little goodbye montage.

Now the guys - I expect Stas to be called forward and sent to safety, but instead it is Jaymz. Nigel says they think he's one of the "most versatile" dancers they have (-which is a good thing *if* he's good at everything & not just passable, which I've yet to see). He's safe. So, ok, no-brainer & Ivan is gone, right? Not quite... each of them are called forward for a moment and pretty much reamed by Nigel - both are too one-dimensional and *if* they remain must work really hard to improve (in Ivan's case, so that he doesn't bring his partner down, again). Unfortunately, though it was fabulous, Stanislav's all-ballroom solo combined with yesterday's Paso Doble comfort-zone performance work to his disadvantage and because of his lack of versatility Stas is sent packing, while Ivan is safe. I just have to wonder what Nigel was thinking here?! I mean, Ivan is cute & all, but do we really need another Kevin Covais? I don't know, maybe he thought there's an overload of ballroom guys and Stas was the least versatile of the 3. I'm surprised, Stas is surprised, and I'll bet Mary was very disappointed (and outvoted). Ah, well, this is a Fox "reality" show after all, and disappointing surprises make for good ratings.

Ok, fine, I still have my favorites. :-) But I'm sad, and feel bad for Stas. And Ivan better kick some booty next week to show he deserves another chance.

Wednesday, June 14

SYTYCD - Top 20

It's the first week of the Finals, the first time viewers can vote and the first *real* look we have at our finalists! So after the mini-intro solos, some looks back at high/low-lights from auditions (thankfully they only did 3 and 2 were good) and a guest performance by last year's winner Nick, game is on!

This year they haven't left the partner pairings up to chance; everyone is assigned a partner with whom you'll stay until one gets voted off! I can see the value of this, because they can pair people they think have similar talents levels (see, first and next-to-last couples, definitely the two to beat!), and for the most part avoid pairings where both dancers have the same specialty.

First up are Benji & Donyelle, doing hip-hop (her specialty). Benji is sooo charismatic and always fun to watch, on stage or off; and he was much better at hip-hop than I'd expected!! Especially with the fast footwork; wow! (Hope he gets to do the quickstep!) Donyelle made it look easy. Judges loved it.

Ivan & Allison did a "Club Salsa", with which hip-hop specialist Ivan struggled. Allison was good; girl can move!! All the judges reamed him but complimented her; I predict they'll be in the bottom 3.

Jason & Aleksandra did a "Contemporary" (I don't remember that as a style from last year?) to "Unwritten" (yay!). She struggled in practice and, I thought, also in the performance. This routine needed 'oomph' (power & emotion) at which Jason excelled, but she was quite lacking. The judges liked them both though.

Jaymz (contemporary specialist) & Jessica (ballet) get "70's Disco," which makes me wonder, 'Is there any other kind?' To which the answer apparently is yes, as we'll find out later! Anyway, she struggled a bit in practice but the routine was good. Nothing wow; I'm anxious to see him do a different style, as I think he has potential. The judges liked it overall.

Stanislav is paired with Erin (jazz specialist) and they do a Paso Doble! Wow, so *that's* how the guy's part is supposed to look!! ;-) (Aww, I miss Drew!) So, yeah, Stanislav was awesome as expected, and Erin was ok.

Dmitry & Joy did Hip-Hop. As a ballroom dancer, Dmitry struggles because all the moves are new, but he works hard and it pays off. I thought he did really, really well! Unfortunately I missed the judges' comments (looked like there were several, with laughter & replies from him) because of an Amber Alert. (I understand the importance, but couldn't it have waited until commercial? I mean, we're sitting at home watching tv; I doubt the kidnapper is going to parade through our living room!)

Ryan was the first (and only) guy to be disappointed w/his partner when he saw it was Heidi and not Natalie. But he got over it eventually. ;-) His specialty is ballet and hers Latin & swing, so they did well with their Viennese Waltz, especially w/the posture and spins. The judges weren't overly impressed but were content.

Ben (contemporary) and Ashley (a girl popper!) get... "80's Disco"! Which is apparently "freer" and "more jazzy" than 70's Disco. Alrighty then. Ben hasn't the best build for lifts and there are quite a few in this "Flashdance" routine, but he does alright. Other than that I thought he was awesome; much better than in the only other clip I've seen of him. I was really impressed, so I hope Nigel was wrong in predicting they'll be doing solos tomorrow (to which Ben quickly replied, "I like my solo!" Hee.) Mary really panned the lifts and Dan said the routine was "flat-out bad," though at least he blamed Ashley and not Ben.

Finally we see Travis (a favorite who wasn't shown much at all last week) with Martha, both contemporary specialists. They get to do Broadway, and Travis comments that he worked on Broadway for 2 years so this is kind-of his "thing"! Both express a *lot* of confidence in themselves and their pairing as a team, Travis a bit too much. The choreography actually advises him to "hold back" with his performance & not overly try to impress! (I've heard this guy has a lot of experience & talent & is well-known in the industry... and if he's already done Broadway I'm not sure why he'd want to do Celine in Vegas, but whatever... I'll certainly watch!) They get classic/vaudeville-style choreography to "Steam Heat" and are predictably fantastic, or at least Travis was, I had to keep reminding myself to pay some attention to Martha too but it didn't work very well! She's got a great body and danced well but Travis is just riveting, in his dancing skill and he was very much "in character." The judges outright said they're the couple to beat! I see why they were one of the last to perform; that'll be a hard act to follow.

The ones to follow are Musa and jazz specialist Natalie, doing a Mambo. Of course Musa has had no real training (which really made the choreographer nervous), and Natalie has a tendency to just go without waiting for a partner's lead. However, they were great! Granted Musa largely stood still and let Natalie twirl around him, but when they moved apart he was fantastic. Nigel said that "if you operate on teh premise that all the guys are watching Natalie's hips and not Musa's feet," it was great! The other judges agreed his technique was lacking but that they had great chemistry and were very entertaining & enjoyable to watch.

So... my favorites of the night were Benji, Jason, Travis, and Musa, and if I must pick some girls :-), Joy and Donyelle (nothing wowed me but it was a solid performance & I appreciate that she's there on talent, not looks).

I predict the bottom 3 couples will be Ivan & Allison, Jaymz & Jessica, and Ben & Ashley, with Ivan and Jessica leaving.

Overall great show, I'm excited about the season! I didn't hate anyone and really enjoyed all of the guys except Ivan. Yay!!

Thursday, June 8

SYTYCD Semifinals

Tonight the remaining 42 dancers will face the judges one at a time on stage to find out whether they are eliminated or in the Top 20. They've each done 1-minute solos, though we only see a few short clips throughout the episode.

The first 5 to go are eliminated; they were all contestants who haven't been shown much. Next up is Dejanee Riley (18, auditioned in NYC): Nigel loves her & championed her, but she's out. Then Allison Holker (18, Vegas) is the first to make it through.

Next is Henry Graham, the versatile dancer with a nice adoption story from LA; alas, he is cut. He has an upbeat, appreciative attitude as he leaves.

Then we have best friends Joy and Heather who auditioned in Chicago, and they're both through. We have several 'couples' this year, and since last year 2 friends & roommates finished 1 & 2, that could be a good sign. So will Ben and Heather both make it? No, just Ben (though Heather's was a very close 3-2 vote). What about Julia and Stanislav? First we finally found out what happened to Julia yesterday - she started having vision problems, apparently caused by stress & dehydration. She's back & they let her perform, but she doesn't advance. Stanislav does, however; will he be this year's Artem?

Last couple is swing cousins Heidi & Benji... Heidi is up first and advances. Then Benji, whom the judges talk to rather emotionally and string along before finally telling him that he's through!! Whereupon he collapses in tears, then explains a moment later: A few years ago he went on a 2-year mission for his church and didn't dance during that time. A girl was supposed to be "waiting for him," but instead he received a wedding invitation a few weeks before his return... from her! Ouch. After that he became depressed & hadn't found anything to motivate him out of it until a friend showed him a tape of the show with Nick, last year's winner. Since then his goal was to be on the show. He was very grateful to the judges and everyone for putting on the show, he said even if he'd left then it had just been a huge factor in his life. Given the glimpses of attitude I'd seen from him before, it was nice to see this side of him. (And nice that the producers didn't make a big deal of his story earlier, though bringing it out right before the voting starts could also be strategic!).

7 dancers are shown *very* briefly advancing - amongst them Travis, yay! I just wish we'd gotten to see him dance more.

Musa is next and also advances. Apparently he (and Hawk, who's up next & is the only other 'street dancer' left, which they keep emphasizing) auditioned last year too. Nigel loves him but warned him that he's really got to improve in partner dancing so that he doesn't hinder anyone else. Hawk gets a short clip of doing ballroom and is much better than I'd expect - which is basically what all the judges keep telling him. Then we find out that unfortunately he is not an American citizen and only has a student Visa, thus is disqualified from the competition. Bet that's part of the "I shouldn't be here" emotional saga from yesterday then!! That he didn't expect to get far enough for it to matter. (Oh, and to correct my last post's spelling, their dance group is "Sicksteppers"!)

8 more cuts, no one I can name, but they're all really supportive of each other.

Next is Donyelle James, who advances - yay!

The last 2 women are Aleksandra and Mallory, neither of whom I remember much. Aleksandra makes it. And the last 2 guys are Mike and Ryan. They each get clips, and they both look good, Mike surprisingly well (as Shane emphasizes the "surprising" part), and Ryan looks great! Ryan advances and Mike is encouraged to try again next year (he's just 19). He has a good attitude about it and agrees that Ryan deserves the spot. Gee do you think they mirrored Idol on that one, having the last 2 guys be a black guy and a young white kid w/dark curly hair?! ;-)

So here's the lineup (I don't know much about the last 4 in each category):

Top 10 Women: Allison, Erin, Joy, Heidi, Donyelle, Aleksandra, Ashlee, Jessica, Natalie, and Martha.

Top 10 Men: Ben, Stanislav, Benji, Travis, Musa, Ryan, Dmitry, Ivan, Jaymz, and Jason.

Hopefully they'll update the website soon with bios!!

So I Think A Few of Them Can Dance

Ok, I'm officially hooked on Season 2 of Fox's "So You Think You Can Dance?" Tonight's episode was the Vegas semifinals - 116 contestants from the 4 audition cities (NYC, Charleston, Chicago, & LA) were narrowed down to 42. Last week they said 121 made it through; I wonder what happened to the other 5??

For each of the 1st two days, the contestants were taught a routine by one of the choreographers, then after an hour of group practice took the stage in small groups to perform. Some would advance, some would be cut, & borderline dancers would come back to do a solo later. For each round, each of the 5 judges would each score the contestants on a scale from 0 (horrible) to 3 (awesome), IIRC - the total possible score then was 15.

First up was Shane. They brought 34 people up on stage who'd scored between 1 and 6. But let them all continue since it was only the 1st round.

Second (the afternoon of the 1st day) was Mary with a Ballroom class - and Season 1's Artem was there as her partner!! Loved him, glad she's "working" with him!! Ok, after the samba 35 were cut. Some they listed as being through: Allison, Stanislav, Donyelle, Claire (whose ankle is injured), Crystal, and Travis (my favorite so far, a spiky-haired guy from Week 1, and I think they said he got a perfect score!!). Lynn Rae and Ryan (and his attitude) did solos and were both eliminated. 81 move on to Day 2....

After a maximum of 6 hours of sleep, Mia teaches the group a lyrical dance (yay!). They focus first on the 3 "street dancers" left: Chris, my favorite of the 6 Steppers, forgot his choreography & is cut; Musa goes to solo round & then gets through; and Hawk (other 6 Step guy) gets through. We also see Benji do a "solo" (a fun swing dance w/his cousin as his partner) and advance. Claire's foot is worse and after a trip to the hospital returns to withdraw from the competition. I wasn't that impressed w/her dancing but she has the best attitude (really pushed through the pain as much as she could) and seems like the sweetest thing ever. Nigel has an emotional chat w/her and exhorts her to take care of the foot, then keep training/practicing, and return next season, when they will let her pick up where she left off (skipping the initial audition rounds & advancing directly to the semifinals). Everyone says a teary good-bye but then we must move on...

To Brian (yay! except the clips of *him* dancing/teaching were way too short) and an intricate hip-hop/jazz fusion routine. Ballet Mark from NY is cut but that's about all they showed. Good (enough) and advancing are Mike (young tapper warned by Nigel re: making any more mistakes), James, Travis (yay!),
Ben (I guess he was sick; Nigel chewed him out for complaining), Hawk (who humbly and emotionally claimed he shouldn't be advancing because he'd had no training & others were better), the couple Julia (who 'collapsed' and went to the hospital but returned ok, and they never said what was wrong) & Stanislav, and lots of girls, including Donyelle, I think, and a great Asian gal whose name they didn't show.

That's it for tonight; tomorrow we see Day 3, where the remaining 42 do solos, receive no immediate feedback, and are narrowed down to the top 10 each male and female finalists. The preview showed Benji falling to the floor in tears & made it look like he gets cut, but you never can tell. As long as Travis makes it (and I think he's a shoo-in) I'm happy.

Quote of the night goes to Nigel: "I'm not a human being, I'm a television producer!"

In other news, I heard The Lovehammers' "Trees" on our local high school's radio station today! mmmMarty, wheeee!!