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!!

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