Wednesday, August 6

SYTYCD 4 - Top 4 (8/6/08)

Not really in a recapping mood but won't have much time the next few days, so here goes! I'm still mourning Mark's exit (uber-classy though it was!) and am also sad that the season is ending. Oh well, at least there's the tour!

Guest judge is Mandy Moore. Pre-solo video packages have Cat interviewing the dancers, & the judges comment after each solo as well.

Courtney & Twitch: Hip-Hop, T&N ("Church," T-Pain) - Courtney is the crazy girlfriend mad that her guy is out clubbing, so there's lots of fake Courtney-hitting-Twitch, though in practice some of it isn't so fake. Cute routine, lots of nifty details, with the downside of them not always being in sync. Judges loved as they do most of the show tonight.

Courtney Solo: Her favorite routine is the Sonya Jazz w/Mark; talked about her boyfriend & there was cute footage of her & Gev talking about how they don't flirt (while flirting); she said she knows she's not the best dancer on the show, but she doesn't really think the show is about that (insightful, this one!). Mandy encourages her to train more; Nigel is "delighted" she's in the F4 and didn't expect it (nor did Court). Mary said she's grown which made Courtney cry and then laugh at herself for crying. Aww.

Katee & Josh: Lyrical by Wade! Yay! (John Mayer's "Slow Dancing in a Burning Room") - My favorite routine of the night by far. The 'story' is that love is hard work, but worth it - the couple is working through a rough spot. As the camera focuses on Katee before the music starts she is standing still but almost shaking with emotion; sets the tone for a very emotional, powerful piece. I especially love the last move where they kind-of fall into hugging each other after the 'fight' of the routine. Judges loved it, though Nigel goes a bit overboard: he says Josh has "no training" (which is a flat-out lie and many viewers know it), and he says that between the two of them they're the best dancers the show has ever had. Not IMO, though Katee is up there and Josh is versatile, but I'd list a handful I consider better dancers overall. Well, one good thing about the season closing, we won't have to listen to Nigel plugging his "untrained" hip-hop guys as the best dancers evah.

Katee & Courtney: Tyce Broadway ("The Trolley Song," Rufus Wainwright version) - Cute, light, entertaining number and they were in unison. Used parasols & the frilly costumes were reminiscent of early Hollywood.

Twitch Solo: His fave routine was the Viennese Waltz by Jean-Marc; he got his nickname from trying to dance in inappropriate places (so he'd just 'twitch' here & there when he couldn't full-out dance). Used another Wade song; was very emotional after he finished (as was Mary). Nigel said he's a great "entertainer."

Josh & Twitch: Russian Trepak ("The Nutcracker") - 2nd best routine of the night. This was a 'battle' between the guys, with lots of leaps for Josh (amazing height on multiple split leaps) & more floor/knee moves for Twitch. It was a very tough routine & they were both completely wiped out by the end. *Note* for those who haven't heard, both the guys were hospitalized for dehydration on Saturday after at least one of them collapsed during rehearsal! (And Sunday's rehearsals were canceled as well.) Seeing this routine, I understand why! They kept up the 'battle' even afterward and after Cat warned them to calm down, Josh said "We're both gonna pass out backstage, don't worry!" Hah. Whole audience gave them a standing ovation. Mary was thrilled 2 hip-hop dancers are in the finals (really? we couldn't tell all season that's what you & Nigel wanted!). Nigel called it "Russian street dancing."

Katee Solo: They replayed her audition 'drama' w/the roommate; her fave routine was No Air (mainly because she hadn't done the 'emote/tell a story w/a partner' thing before. Danced to Imogene Heap. The judges praised the variety of dances she's done over the season (um, yeah, contemp. & Broadway pretty much covers it plus a samba).

Katee & Twitch: Foxtrot, Tony & Melanie ("Feeling Good," Michael Buble) - Ok, now she's also done a foxtrot. ;-) And yay, she finally gets the guy at the end! It was decent, light & pretty and she did a beautiful cartwheel in her floor-length dress! Their last hold wobbled a bit though. Cat & Nigel said Twitch looked like James Bond in his suit & Nigel made him 'audition' saying the "Bond, James Bond" line. Moving on... Mary said his growth blew her away. Nigel mentioned the many "characters" Katee has played over the course of the season, and then proceeded straight off the deep end in saying that this season's dancers have "spoiled" the choreographers; specifically, that noone would be able to ever do a pressage (overhead lift) like Twitch did w/Katee and also set her down so smoothly & gently. Um... how about the actual Ballroom dancers we've had on the show? I don't know if any of them did this move specifically, but I do know that Pasha, Benji, Dmitri, and Artem all did amazing and smooth lifts. And yeah, Nigel wants us to think Twitch is better at their specialty than they were?

Josh Solo: Fave routine was the Samba w/Katee; Cat teased him for crying during the auditions which was cute! He was grateful to be in the finals and said "everything here is a blessing." He went out to the judges' platform for the majority of his solo (to Funkadelic). High praise from all, of course.

Courtney & Josh: Jive, Jason ("Dirty Boogie," Brian Setzer Orch.) - The jive is very energetic and fast-paced to begin with, and Jason threw in some tricks as well, prompting him to say it's probably "one of the most intense" he's ever choreographed! Wow, was he right! Josh can barely stand up by the end. It was decent; I think Gev did better w/the footwork but then he's lighter and didn't have quite as many other routines the same week, nor did he miss over a day of practice. Nigel said he was disappointed in the routine because they didn't have time to perfect it or to learn where to "breathe" in it, but he said tough routines (& critiques) make dancers grow. Still, he said they looked like "exhausted, superb dancers." Mary agreed that the routine was very tough, especially w/the lift/tricks at the very end.

Lastly the whole Top 4 get a Mia routine! She describes it as celebratory and high-energy. They're dressed all in tartan (the guys shirtless) and dance to "Hallelujah." It was ok, though I'm mainly sad that this is the last competitive number of the season. It seemed so short! Mary said Twitch stood out and Katee was "flawless." Nigel again called both guys "untrained" (grr) and said they were inspirational. He did say that some other contestants - then he specifically named Will and also Mark (!) - were admittedly better dancers, but these 2 brought "something different" to the competition and he said they both deserved to be there. He also alluded to the health struggles but said audiences pay to see shows and it doesn't matter how bad a week you've had, they want their money's worth... and no one would have been disappointed in this routine.

And that's that! I'm not voting; I think Josh or Katee will win and am fine w/either one. But I'm too frustrated w/Nigel's forcing them (& Twitch) on us by manipulating and downright lying to support his agenda. I think all 4 were happy to've made the finals and I don't think any of them feel entitled.

Tomorrow's show promises a lot of great things! Fave numbers from this season, past seasons' contestants, judges dancing (!), guest performers, etc. And the last time I'll get to see Mark on my teevee. (And Matt! and Gev! Yay!)

Thursday, July 31

SYTYCD - Top 6 (7/30/08)

Guest judge: Adam, yay! Let's jump right in, we only have an hour and theshowisabitrushedandscrunchedtogether....

Courtney & Mark: Viennese Waltz, Jason Gilkison (new to our show but has done SYTYCD Australia) - music is David Cook's "Time Of My Life"! Very nice, and they get the fancy ballroom 'star-filled sky' lighting. Very pretty, nice rise & fall, and in sync. Adam says he's glad the judges don't vote this week because all of the Top 6 are very strong. He thought it was good and said they (or Mark?) did the rise & fall the best of anyone this season. Mary said the choreo was great but they brought it to life (Mark is making small surprised faces w/lifted eyebrows at every compliment!), and she said Mark has been growing every week. Nigel says it was romantic and mentioned that the song was from Idol, saying "I hope you're having the time of your lives" to Mark & Courtney.

Chelsie solo (her norm)

Twitch solo - to "Midas Touch," complete with gold grill, which Cat actually borrowed to 'try on' after he finished!! She's a riot.

Katee & Joshua: Contemporary, Tyce (Celine's cover of "All By Myself") - they are to portray a Romeo-Juliet type of undying love relationship. There are some really cool leaps and overall it's well done. Adam thinks it's Tyce's best piece all season (and also gives us the info that he & Tyce met when they both danced in the 1990 Oscars, choreographed by Paula Abdul, who happens to be in the audience tonight!). He also says they're "two of the most exciting dancers to have ever graced this stage." Mary similarly says it's one of the most beautiful pieces she's seen (hmm, it really didn't do much for me!). She also said both are headed for the finale. Nigel praised them and said he keeps forgetting that Joshua has "no classical training"... well, could that be because it's not true that Josh has no classical training?! Yes, we know, Nigel, you want it to appear that an untrained street dancer can learn enough on your show to become a great all-around dancer and if Joshua wins it validates that, *if* people forget about his training. Smooth. (notsomuch)

Chelsie & Twitch: Mambo, Tony & Melanie - the counting was challenging for Twitch in practice. This routine has a lot of *fast* footwork! Twitch almost kept up w/Chelsie, though at times it was hard to tell since the camera wasn't showing his feet! grr. The tricks looked mostly good though I think there was at least one missed hold. Adam said Chelsie was on fire & he has yet to see something she can't do; he said Twitch was a good partner. Mary said doing the mambo on 2 is tough but they did it right. Nigel said the choreographers made Twitch look good and that Chelsie always looks good but especially when she's in her element (Latin ballroom).

Katee solo (Maroon 5's "Can't Stop") - a bit quirkier than usual, good

Josh solo ("Like That") - his usual fantastic popping with some great leaps thrown in. Very, very good.

Courtney & Mark: Jazz by Sonya! ("The Garden," Mirah) This piece is described as old French burlesque with a battle of the sexes, and "raw." Courtney says it's one of her favorite routines. It's cool! Very different, quirky (a great fit for Mark!). Sonya is giving them a standing ovation & yelling when they're done; she's very pleased! Adam loved it as well, saying it's "sick!" and that he loves them individually but together they're just awesome. Mary said it was raw & crazy & she loved it. (Again, Mark w/the surprised looks - poor guy!) Nigel said the piece suited Mark, that Sonya is great (and her stuff is very recognizable), and that Courtney can make anything work. He said this routine is one of the highlights of the night.

Katee & Josh: Paso Doble, Jason. Ok, I admit that I *love* this dance when it's done well (and has stomping. Must. have. stomping!). And this one is done well! Jason says Katee's the cape (which is normal in Paso; who knows why Twitchington though Kher. was a 'matadoress') but she's "an angry cape"! Her outfit/dress is gorgeous, and Josh is shirtless (as promised!). The music is very dramatic and attention-keeping, and the choreo is great. Josh seems to have the posture down and both had the attitude going. When finished he dragged her over to the judging spot. ;-) Adam referred again to Josh's alleged lack of training, saying he was making him believe in the impossible (because Josh "shouldn't be able to do that"). *rolleyes* He said Katee will be very proud of herself when she watches it on tv. Mary calls J & K together "true magic" but makes no comments on the dance itself; Nigel praised Jason's choreo and J & K's footwork.

Courtney solo (Elisa "Rock Your Soul") - nice, pretty much her norm.

Mark solo (Robyn "Bum Like You") - Fun! His shirt had low sides & he pulled his arms out so it was just hanging around his neck for part of the routine, & he also used it as a prop a bit. Very good and a bit different. "Danced" his arms & hands again as Cat went through voting info & that's getting a bit old... but I still lurve him!

Chelsie & Twitch: Hip-hop, Napolitha - In this piece they are battling conductors, and whoever has the "stick" (baton) "has control," we're told in practice. The outfits are the best part of the routine: tux upper half with long black shorts & striped-top tube socks! It's very quirky music and there's a music stand on stage. It's ok, cute concept I guess, but underwhelming. More style than substance perhaps. Adam praised Napolitha and said Twitch & Chelsie were very entertaining; Mary said in his element ("and most other numbers this season") Twitch is outstanding, and that Chelsie kept up w/him. Nigel said little about this piece but said any of these 6 could be in the top 4 and would be deserving.

I wish the dance-out had been shown, as I heard from someone who attending the taping on Monday that Mark & Twitch did some quickstep!! Oh well.

I voted quite a bit for Mark, I definitely think he deserves to stay over Twitch. It's kind-of up for grabs between Chelsie & Courtney for the 4th spot though (I think Josh & Katee are givens).

Wednesday, July 23

SYTYCD - Top 8 (7/23/08)

Sorry this is a bit late, I was worn out from the other recap earlier this week!

This week's third judge is Toni Basil. Apparently she's a big dancer & choreographer now. And the video clips are back - before each solo we'll learn how each contestant started dancing.

Courtney & Will: Samba, Jean-Marc (Che'Nelle "I Fell in Love w/the DJ") - Decent, though weird music for a samba. Nigel liked their technique and chemistry; Mary mentioned a couple of issues w/Will but overall loved it; Toni enjoyed it ("so much that [she] didn't take notes!").

Comfort solo: She attended a performing arts high school! And said she always got in trouble in ballet class. Her solo was good, there were a couple of new moves and it was timed *perfectly*!

Katee & Twitch: Contemporary, Mia ("Mercy" by Duffy) - Turns out these two were friends before the show, so they have good rapport. The dance is about a couple arguing; she is upset (and codependent) but he's cool & unaffected. And there is a door on stage! It's actually kind-of cool, he tries to throw her out but she keeps trying to get back in, and there's one really fun leap where he holds onto the edge of the door to jump over her. Great routine! (This year's "table"? I enjoyed it much better than the "bed" one, anyway!!) Nigel said the performance was fantastic but it was hard to judge the actual dancing. Toni mentioned that Twitch was "lucky" that the music was funk and fit his style so well (yes, I'm sure that was puuuurely luck). She loved it.

Will solo: He was inspired to dance after seeing Patrick Swayze's coolness in Dirty Dancing! (Hee.) His solo is awesome: he's wearing a suit and wig and the whole thing is a James Brown tribute/impersonation using "Get Up Offa That Thing"! Much fun!! SO's by all the judges.

Comfort & Mark: Hip-hop, Napoleon and Tabitha ("Party People" by Nelly and Fergie) - They'll be portraying kids stuck in detention when the teacher leaves. They start out in school desks and after a bell rings they get up and dance... fantastically!! Definitely one of the show's best hip-hop routines ever, and Mark totally holds his own w/Comfort, which is not surprising to those of us who've seen his YouTube work, but very surprising to the judges, apparently. Oh and there's a really cool move where he flips her over his back. After they're done he shows Cat their "detention assignment" which is a piece of paper on which he's written "I will not be in the bottom... I will not be in the bottom.... Nigel said Comfort does better w/choreo than in her solos. He & Mary both express surprise that Mark did so well. Toni praises their musicality (yes!).

Katee solo: She started lessons at 4, focused on tap for a while... not that exciting. Danced to Celine's "Taking Chances" and timed it well to end with the countdown.

Chelsie & Joshua: Argentine Tango by Season 2's Dmitri! (Music is from Forever Tango) - It's set in the 20's and they are meeting and flirting in a club. The setting is made bistro-complete with a table & chair on the stage. She was great, of course, and he was ok. There was one really cool lift. Nigel said it's the "most technical" routine so far, they have good chemistry, & he enjoyed it. Mary said Chelsie was much sexier than in her other Argentine Tango & had better chemistry. One of them said that it felt spontaneous and torrid (which was good).

Mark solo: He became interested in musical theater (& thus dancing) after seeing Phantom and was the only boy in his performing arts school/program. That plus his natural weirdness made him always feel "different." He danced some hip-hop/funk (to "Creator" by Santogold) with some new moves (big floppy body rolls that matched the music) and as usual the ending was timed perfectly (he slid off the edge of the stage).

Round 2 for couples dances...

Courtney & Will: Hip-hop, Napoleon and Tabitha (Alicia Keys' "Like You'll Never See Me Again") - This is another "Slow hip-hop" or "Lyrical hip-hop," where the girl has a chance to turn back time and have one more moment with her loved one who has passed away, so Will is kind-of a ghost and Courtney keeps straining for one last touch/grasp. She has props like an hourglass and photos, and the routine is very good. Will especially (Courtney was hitting harder instead of being smooth), but they were definitely in sync. Nigel said this is the 1st season he's been emotionally affected by hip-hop routines (actually I think last season was, but this is "Plug hip-hop!" year) and he almost felt like he was intruding on their private moment. Mary said (or rather, screamed) that it exceeded her expectations.

Chelsie solo: She started dancing when she was 9 to help get over her shyness & meet friends, and got serious when she was 14. She dances to Danity Kane's "Damaged," starting on the stairs and timed very well. We also find out today is her 19th birthday! (I'm assuming that was "today" when it was taped Monday, as opposed to when it aired Wednesday, but it doesn't really matter, does it?)

Katee & Twitch: Broadway, Tyce ("Sweet Georgia Brown," Bubbling Brown Sugar Cast Recording) - Again we have Katee wanting a man who doesn't want her in return. They also talk in the rehearsal clip about how Tyce incorporates some of each of their strengths/tricks into the routine. It's good overall, though similar to Tyce's other Broadway pieces. One move is really awkward but it looks like the choreo, not the dancers' fault; the last move/flip that Twitch does is really cool. Nigel loved it; he said Twitch is the "least trained" dancer there (less than Comfort?) but that could have come right off of Broadway; Mary also loved it. Toni said that as a street dancer Twitch brings more "reality" to the piece than most Broadway dancers do (I think that was a compliment?), but she would've liked Katee to match the deep vocal of the song/character better with her movements.

Joshua solo: He got kicked out of his 3rd grade class for dancing one day, so his teacher had him audition and it went from there. He danced to Lil Mama's "Shawty Get Loose" and did his usual but it was good. Then he tried to do the cute hand-dance while Cat read his numbers like Mark has been doing.

Courtney solo: She started dancing young, the usual. Danced her usual (though good) as well, to "Where I Stood," Missy Higgins.

Twitch solo: He says he has "always" danced, but got serious about it a senior in high school and then became the 1st guy on their dance team. We also learn he lived in South Korea for 9 months working on music videos. He wears the Super-T shirt again and dances to Kay L's "Go to Work," interacting w/the crowd around the edge of the stage.

Comfort & Mark: Foxtrot, Jean-Marc ("Lady Luck" by the Brian Selzer Orch.) - Jean-Marc says it's "jazzy and sassy" (which, he explains, is unusual for a Foxtrot). Mark portrays a man who's "down on his luck" and Comfort portrays "Lady Luck." Um, I like Mark's outfit? Seriously, the dancing is not good. Nigel says there wasn't any chemistry because they were too focused on the steps and called it "amateurish." Mary said the transitions were rough and it was one of the worst closed holds they've ever had on the show. Toni said when such "accomplished" dancers as these can't pull off a dance, you know the ballroom dancers are making it look easier than it really is.

Chelsie & Joshua: Disco, Dorianna ("Everlasting Love" by Gloria Estefan) - This routine has lots of lifts, including one Dorianna says she's been trying to get on the show for 4 years. It was fun, but Joshua did not do well; he fell out of an early turn and looked clunky next to Chelsie. They were in sync musically but not stylistically. Nigel praised the lifts & Josh's strength. Mary agree; she said perhaps Dorianna included so many difficult lifts was because she trusted Josh. Toni said there was spiritthere and implied that Josh doesn't know technique/line while Chelsie does.

I predict Comfort, Courtney, Mark and Twitch for the Bottom 4, with Comfort and Twitch leaving (as it should be IMO).

Tuesday, July 22

IDOLS LIVE - AI7 Tour Recap

I attended the Indianapolis show Tuesday, July 22nd, at Conseco Fieldhouse. For those who haven't gone (or heard about it), the format was quite a bit different this year. Instead of a lot of duets and mixed numbers, each performer is given a 3-song set (more for the Davids) as a solo artist. There were only 2 group numbers, one closing the first half and one to close the show.

I will say that everyone besides Ramiele was very capable of holding the stage by themselves, though a few should just sing and not try to chat with the audience (Archuleta & Rami were the worst, and even Carly was worse than Jason, who was ok). I really wish there were more group numbers though; a gospel song with Chikieze & Syesha would have rocked, for instance. Or some soft duet with Brooke & Archie. Alas, most sounded very good live, and I don't think I cringed once!

Pre-show music was the usual: Carrie, Daughtry, and Jordin with a little Blake and the Davids' Guitar Hero commercials thrown in. Oh and SYTYCD ads (yay)! Carrie's actual video was shown but the others mostly had blank screens (or some advertising) while the audio played.

The show was supposed to start at 7:00. Around 5 after we heard a voice, looked around and saw a guy standing in the audience with a spotlight on him and a giant Pop-Tart walking toward him (hey, it wouldn't be an Idol concert without the giant Pop-Tart!) who introduced himself as Corey (as in Corey the Idol audience warm-up guy!)! Cool! Kind-of. He had a few people come up & dance w/the Pop-Tart and then the show started.

Most sets were fast song - slow song - fast song. Oh, also the stage had walkways extending out to each side, further than I've ever seen, so that the performer could actually touch a couple of people in the audience in the 'pie slice' seating area right at the corner of the stage! I was actually in the front row of the first full side section down from that, so I had pretty good seats.

Each singer had stage lights showing their finishing spot as audio announced their name...

#10 - Chikieze

Audience response:
Some noise, though everybody was just excited it was starting!
Look: As expected, casual w/a bit of bling (and still not thin, but dude has some moves!)
Set list: I Believe to My Soul, Caught Up, So High (John Legend)
Comments: Great start to the show! He had a blast, connected well w/the audience, and sounded great (as usual). He said that Luke Menard (semifinalist from nearby Crawfordsville, Indiana) was in the audience.

#9 - Ramiele Malubay

Audience response: Minimal
Look: sparkly (tight tank top & pants)
Set list: I Want You Back; Love Will Lead You Back; If I Never See Your Face Again (Maroon 5/Rihanna)
Comments: Miss 'I don't like to move while I sing' actually danced w/the backup singers and moved around the stage quite well! Was not confident when not singing though and overall was definitely out of her element. (I wish David Hernandez could've had her spot instead!!) Vocals were decent I guess but overall my least favorite set.

#8 - Michael Johns

Audience response: on their feet & loud! Couple of signs.
Look: scarf instead of ascot (yay), jeans
Set list: We Will Rock You/We Are the Champions; It's All Wrong, But It's Alright; Dream On (dedicated to Luke Menard)
Comments: Sounds good live; handles the stage like a rock star (in a good way). Goofball during the group numbers - did some funky dance moves with one of the guitarists and later joked around with David Cook.

#7 - Kristy Lee Cook

Audience response: Minimal
Look: Sparkly! Dressed in all white, & hair was straight.
Set list: Squeezin' the Love Outta You; God Bless the USA; Cowgirls
Comments: I was really hoping she'd do "Anyway," but God Bless the USA is a good song to do live (I'll admit even I got a little teary; it wasn't cheesy at all like the group version of it a few years ago) so I understand why she didn't. At one point asked for house lights & commented at how big the arena is, hee. Overall sounded good and if Kellie Pickler can get a contract & radio play, I don't see why Kristy Lee can't!

#6 - Carly Smithson

Audience response:
Loud & up (but no signs).
Look: One of those tops that could be a maternity top but isn't, lowcut. Fortunately stage lights wash out most of the arm tattoo!
Set list: Bring Me to Life (complete with top-of-stage rockstar pose and windblown hair!); Crazy on You (1st verse soft, rest rockin'); Drove All Night
Comments: Hmm. She kind-of seemed like she's taking this chance to do everything she's always wanted to on stage, playing the big Rocker with lots of big, yelly vocals. They came off ok (better than on the show) but weren't necessarily enjoyable (for me, anyway). I respect her talent but she's no Amy Lee (or Heart). 2nd least fave set.

#5 - Brooke White

Audience response: Medium
Look: Bohemian Brooke! still barefoot.
Set list: Let It Be (on Grand Piano which rose from below the floor as she started playing); 1 2 3 4 (Feist); Yellow (Coldplay)
Comments: Great set! 1 2 3 4 really fits her bouncy, carefree personality (and she had the audience snap along), and Yellow was a surprisingly awesome fit. Complete with almost-cheesy yellow lighting, probably one of my favorites of the night.

After her set Brooke gave a short Idol Gives Back plug and everyone who'd performed so far sang Pride (In the Name of Love) while IGB footage played on the screen. Most had one-line solos but Michael's was a bit longer and the audio announced his name before he started, which was weird (because he was the only one who got that). He & Carly dueted for a bit & then the rest joined in.

Intermission - more Corey in the audience and a Guitar Hero contest on stage (2 local guys; it was mildly entertaining).

#4 - Jason Castro

Audience response: They love him!
Look: Dreads were back, and he was wearing bright red ('ruby,' get it?) shoes!! Fun.
Set list: Somewhere over the Rainbow (that one line that doesn't rhyme always throws me, but I know that's how the original was!); Crazy (heh, I typed "Craxy" 3 times before I could make my fingers hit the right keys!!); What a Day for a Daydream
Comments: Sounded great on Daydream. Introduced it by saying he wanted to leave us "with a thought and a challenge" - which segued into the song with a 'Follow your dreams' type line.

#3 - Syesha Mercado

Audience response: Medium to loud
Look: Hmm... very tall hair and a very... Haley-esce dress (definitely highlighted her cleavage)
Set list: Umbrella; If I Ain't Got You; Listen
Comments: Diva wannabe to Carly's rawker wannabe - she takes on Rihanna, Alicia, and Beyonce!! And pretty much pulled it off - the house was definitely enraptured by the end of Listen. Good for her (like Carly, she may know she needs to enjoy it while she has the chance!).

#2 - David Archuleta

Audience response: Deafening, as expected! (signs, homemade t-shirts, etc.)
Look: Grey suit with bling around the edges, and red & white casual shoes (umm, I'm old, they don't call them tennis shoes anymore, but you know what I mean, right?)
Set list: Angels (on piano, rising like for Brooke but David got dry ice too); Apologize (I *LOVE* this song!!); Stand By Me/Beautiful Girl; When You Say You Love Me
Comments: Okay, boy. can. sang!! He sounds really, really good live. Apologize was fantastic. Plenty of stage presence & confidence while singing, but back to his giggling, uncertain self when not. Granted he got *lots* of crowd appreciation, but some of the others did too & just walked off at the end of their sets whereas he paused to (awkwardly) thank the crowd 2 or 3 times. He also seemed out of breath after his songs (understandable but perhaps a sign he's oversinging?). If his stage dad doesn't get in the way he could have a very long and successful career.

And the main attraction, "Your American Idol" - David Cook!!

Audience response: Crazy loud, signs, etc.
Look: Rocker (no faux about it); scarf hanging from waist & jeans laced up sides of his leg - and came unlaced, prompting him to take a break at one point to sit & re-tie them (after instructing us to "talk among yourselves"!)
Set list: Hello (rose from below stage playing elec. guitar, w/ dry ice); Time of My Life; Don't Wanna Miss a Thing; My Hero (which he dedicated to his brother Adam)
Comments: Worth the wait, but makes me want a whole concert of just him! He has such a great voice, really enjoyable no matter what style he's singing (normally during screamy rock songs I don't find myself thinking, "He really does have a great voice!"), and a wonderful stage presence (confident but not cocky, casual interaction w/crowd, but can get them going too). He talked a lot about his family since several of them live in Indiana - his Dad & some others were in the audience. He said his Dad bought him the white guitar (with big AC) around 5 years ago at a store here in Indy. He had one bit where he got out a camcorder & said he's been doing this at each show, asking the crowd to scream ("Reggie Miller loud," after saying he used to watch Pacers games during Reggie's era) and he walked across the stage taping the crowd, so he can have it to remind him "10 years down the road when nobody believes I got to do this"! He also thanked us (as several others did), saying he appreciated our "letting 10 strangers come to our town & play for us" and how bizarre it still seems that they get to do this all because we voted. He has such the great (appreciative & humble but not annoyingly so) attitude.

David Cook doing Billie Jean, which was probably my favorite of his and the one where I was marveling his vocals. I liked it ok on the show but I really, really enjoyed it live!

Then the whole group came out and did Please Don't Stop the Music to wrap it up.

I have photos (& a couple vids with audio) that I'll try to post in the next few days. If you get a chance to see the show, it's worth it! I still hope they bring back more group & combo numbers next year, but I really did enjoy the solo sets that they did with this group. Everyone sounds great live and they're having a blast! Which is always a joy to watch.

Thanks for reading! Please leave comments and check back for the photos.

(edited to remove implication that Jason flubbed his words! and to add this disclaimer that there are a few inside jokes; if you don't get it, sorry, just ignore it!)

Wednesday, July 16

SYTYCD - Top 10 (7/16/08)

3rd judge is Lil'C.

Jessica broke three ribs and had to drop out of the competition (though she hopes to be well by tour time). Comfort is back in!

Courtney & Joshua: Hip Hop, Dave Scott (Mario "Skippin'") - Josh is psyched to have Dave! Courtney is nervous about popping. The routine is Frankenstein with Courtney as the monster. The end was cute w/them kissing & he gets 'shocked'. It was very good, especially Josh of course! The judges all loved him and a couple complimented Courtney as well.

Kherington & Mark
: Two-step, Ronnie DeBenedetta & Brandi Tobias (Ty England "Kick Back") - New genre! And it's tough - a lot of turning and direction changes, we learn in rehearsal. I don't think Kherington has had to do a fast partner dance yet, has she? It shows - she misses a lot of the connections and it seems to be mostly her fault. Mark does his best (and I love the outfit!) but it's not great. Lil 'C (who is surprisingly coherent, dance-terminology educated and constructive) says it was fun but had problems, such as letting the audience see their mistakes (i.e. reacting to them instead of covering). He compliments some of the tricks and their character. Mary says it was a tough routine and Kher's lack of arm technique made it harder on Mark. Nigel said it didn't seem she trusted him but liked their persistence despite the struggles (they never gave up - perhaps referencing the end of her krump?).

Comfort & Twitch: Smooth Waltz, Hunter (Journey's "Open Arms") - this is supposed to be romantic, but Twitch & Comfort definitely have more of a brother-sister vibe so they struggle a bit w/that. It's also supposed to rise and fall, and it mainly falls. Lil 'C says they weren't floating; Mary said it lacked power and the technique was "clunky," and Nigel said the end lift was good, but otherwise it wasn't a strong enough performance for the Top 10 (and I agree).

Katee & Will: Broadway, Tyce ("Sit Down, You're Rocking the Boat" by Sam Harris, from Guys & Dolls) - They use an actual boat on stage and the routine is danced in and around the boat. Will is a conservative guy (which on SYTYCD translates into wearing a button-down shirt and nerdy glasses)and Katee is a promiscuous temptress he's trying to calm (but he gives in at the end & rips his shirt open). It was decent; it was Tyce Broadway. ;-) The judges loved it and Nigel said they're the "most technical" dancers on the show.

Chelsie & Gev: Contemporary, Sonya Tayeh ("These Arms of Mine," Otis Redding) - strange song choice for the choreo IMO, they didn't seem to mesh. The story is of a couple in love who are apart & yearning for each other. In practice Courtney complimented Gev's leaps (saying it looked like he'd had years of ballet training) and Mary praised them in the routine. Lil 'C said he loves the emotion of the contemporary style because it calls for dancers to "commit" to the piece and the choreo, which they did; he also praised Gev for not being "choppy" like he expected from his background. Mary also liked their chemistry.

Round 2!

Courtney & Joshua: Rhumba, Jean Marc (Enrique Iglesias' "Hero") - I love this song! Josh is supposed to Courtney's hero in the routine and it requires chemistry and passion, we're told. They succeed! That smouldered a bit in parts and overall was very good, though some of the lifts were shaky. Lil 'C agreed re: the passion and said "I might need my asthma pump!" Hee. All the judges loved it & praised their technique. Strangely, Nigel actually said that Josh danced too "butch" in this one. He also mentioned his open shirt and Josh joked that Twitch & Will get to be shirtless a lot so he needed to catch up w/them!

Kherington & Mark
: Jazz, Tyce ("Canned Heat," Jamiroquai) - No story or characters this time, it's just supposed to showcase style and technique. It was decent; they moved in unison, though she seemed smoother, more like contemporary than jazz IMO. The judges said it was decent technique but didn't excite them at all.

Comfort & Twitch
: Hip Hop, Dave Scott (Chris Brown's "Forever") - Cool!! Obviously they were both in their element, and Twitch was especially good; it was just a pleasure to watch. Lil 'C called it buck (and defined that as "when internal artistry meets physical expression"), as did Mary (!). Nigel gave what he called a great compliment to the choreographer (and dancers) when he said it looked as if it wasn't choreographed at all.

Katee & Will
: Pas de deux, Dwight Rhoden & Desmond Richardson ("Imagine" by David Archuleta! [the horror!]) - Another new genre; described by some as contemporary ballet. It was good, though there seemed to be some missed connections and she hit her head trying to under his arm once (which the judges mentioned as well). The music (besides being annoying in itself) also had a really weird cut/edit which distracted a bit from the dance. But I loved the last pose, Will holding Katee with one leg of hers in front of his, her back to the camera/audience, to the lyrics "will be as one"... that was very nice! The judges raved, Nigel especially about how wonderful it was to have such caliber choreographers on the show. He also said it was the best performance of this season and one of the best ever on the show (I don't know if I'd go that far, but I haven't rewatched it yet).

Chelsie & Gev: Jive, Jean Marc (Brian Selzer) - Jean-Marc says this is a very high-energy dance/piece, and he's not kidding! Definitely one of the hardest jives I've seen a non-ballroom dancer get, and Gev. was. Amazing!! He was channeling Benji again (he really reminds me of him in some of his movements/posture and gestures, like the pointing and his facial expressions). They missed one connection & had a couple other close calls, but overall I thought it was really, really good. Of course Chelsie was brilliant since she finally got something in her specialty! The judges were very complimentary of her but really hard on Gev, especially Lil 'C. Oh well; still a good note to end on!

Solos were interspersed between the couples' performances. Most were pretty much what you'd expect and most were good to very good.

Chelsie (Rihanna) - her 1st solo ever! Typical solo ballroom girl stuff.
Gev (Lupe Fiasco) - awesome! At one point he took his shirt off in the midst of breakdancing.
Courtney (Celine) - need I say more? She had some nice/tough jumps and such though.
Mark (more BoRhap!) - this was very "Mark"! Funky. Afterward he was playing around w/different hand movements to go along w/Cat giving the voting numbers, and Cat totally burst out laughing & gave him a big hug!
Comfort - pretty much her norm.
Twitch (Wade?) - an expansion on last week's Superman solo.
Katee (Maxwell) - good
Will (Luther's "Dance w/my Father") - very good, with an awesome leap!
Kherington (Rihanna) - just ok; definitely the weakest solo of the night.
Josh (Michael Jackson) - awesome! Great at his stuff and added a few moves from his cross-training, great leap!

I think it's a toss-up between Comfort and Kherington for the girl eliminated, but the guys are a very tough call. I'm guessing Mark or Twitch since they seemed the least well-rounded tonight, though they both had great solos (all the guys did!). Wish we didn't have to lose any!!

Wednesday, July 9

SYTYCD - Top 12 (7/9/08)

Guest judge is Mia. Great week!!

Chelsie & Mark: Salsa, Alex Da Silva ("Fuego," Joe Bataan) - Love the costumes! Hated my tv reception, but the routine was fun! They seemed to do well technically and were in unison, as usual. Mary & Nigel both praised her & said he was a bit stiff, but Mary also complimented his partnering skills.

Comfort & Thayne: Hip Hop, Napoleon & Tabitha ("Can We Chill" by Ne-Yo) - in rehearsal they were trying to get Thayne to not be so smiley. ;-) The routine was just ok; he was too smooth. Judges were meh as well, mainly criticizing the lack of chemistry.

Jessica & Will: Contemporary, Tyce Diorio ("Silence" from Unfaithful soundtrack) - There was no story to this, per Tyce, just an "essence" of the Garden of Eden. Costuming was very skimpy and the music had very little rhythm in many parts, so it was very hard to analyze, at least for me. It was good I guess. The judges loved it, the choreo, both of them, and their chemistry. Mia called it "moving body art."

Courtney & Gev: Cha Cha, Anya and Pasha! (Rihanna's "Please Don't Stop the Music") - Woo-hoo, Pasha!! (and Anya!) Rehearsal clip was awesome - first you have the 3 Russians (and Gev's accent got stronger!), you have Pasha & Anya dancing, and you have the "give her the message" move (or crotch bump, as Courtney called it). Good times!! Courtney said that Gev picks up ballroom choreo quickly, and the routine was awesome! Everything in Gev that reminds me of Benji (in a good way, as I was a huge fan) was out in full force (I would *love* to see Gev dance a Benji-choreographed West Coast Swing! Though it might just be too surreal!). The judges loved it as well, mentioning that Gev lacked some technique but that it really didn't matter because the performance & presentation were so good. Cat also made Gev admit to shaving (actually "trimming") his chest.

Twitchington: Krump, Lil C ("2 Buck 4 TV") - Forget about eliminating the quickstep from the competition; I vote we eliminate krumping! Especially this watered-down style. It was just ok. The judges were very impressed w/Kherington for most of the routine, until she got tired & lost steam toward the end, but then 2 of them specifically said they were going to ignore that part so they could still give the routine praise overall! (Wow, chosen ones, much?) Mia said that Twitch "served gangsta on a platter."

Katee & Joshua: Viennese Waltz, Jean-Marc ("Iris", Goo-Goo Dolls) - This routine cast Josh as a "ghost character" that Katee couldn't see, and there were several moves where it looked like they were just 'missing' each other (neat concept). There were a lot of lifts/tricks but very little other dancing in hold, at least until toward the end. It was nice, but not very memorable IMO. The judges said Joshua was too bouncy (instead of flowing), but Katee was beautiful (as she was!). Mary complimented the lifts but only that part. Mia said Katee is "meant to dance" and "a gift to dance."

Round 2

Chelsie & Mark
: Broadway, Tyce ("I'm A Woman" from Smokey Joe's Cafe)- Tyce says this will be a "sultry, sexy, bluesy" piece and Mark says it's a cat & mouse chase. I love it - probably my favorite Tyce Broadway number! Mark was in a white wife-beater & black suspenders, one of which kept falling down (I was afraid he or Chelsie would get caught in it during a lift at the end, but they didn't). Both were fantastic in their characters and it was kind-of full circle, now she got to 'reject' him! Nigel & Mary loved it (Nigel especially went on about Chelsie's legs), but Mia said it showed Mark's lack of technique training.

Comfort & Thayne: Contemporary, Mandy Moore ("A Different Corner" by George Michael) - Comfort said in practice that some of the moves were testing her shoulder injury (he pulled her by her arm), but she didn't want that to be an issue in the performance. It was pretty good; he was better, of course, since it's his strength. The judges were hard on them, especially Comfort. Nigel said he'd have liked to have seen a different couple perform this choreo; Mary said it wasn't believable and both women cited technique problems for Comfort. Mia did say that she thought Thayne was "brilliant."

Jessica & Will: Quickstep, Jean-Marc ("Bandstand Boogie" by Barry Manilow!) - I thought the routine (its execution) was mostly weak, though I enjoyed the fun ending. Mary critiqued Will's jacket because it bunched up in the back & affected his frame. Nigel & Mary both said their technique was poor. Mia said Jessica was stiff & disconnected & said Will looked "tired of carrying her."

Courtney & Gev: Jazz, Mandy Moore ("Standing There," The Creatures) - This one is the story of 2 people lost in a jungle and there is a map prop. The outfits are safari khakis. The choreo is interesting, different... I like the parts without the map better, but the whole thing was good. Nigel said it was fun though like cotton candy w/little (dance/technical) substance. Mary disagreed; she loved it & complimented their technique and strength.

Twitchington : Smooth Tango, Tony Meredith and Melanie LaPatin ("Assassin's Tango" from Mr. & Mrs. Smith soundtrack) - Tony says the tango is about passion and jealousy, and the characters for this piece are like Mr. & Mrs. Smith (trying to kill each other). I thought it was just ok - to echo Nigel's earlier comment, I'd have loved to see a different couple perform it! There was a really neat lift toward the end but I thought the story/characters were weakly portrayed. Nigel said Twitch didn't seem comfortable or "honest" in the performance and Kherington lacked passion. Mary also critiqued their technique and Mia said they seemed "noncommitted."

Katee & Joshua: Bollywood, Nakul and Marla - Nigel said he's been trying to get this genre on the show for 3 years. This particular piece has a girl playing hard-to-get. They mention in rehearsals that if some of the hand gestures/positions are off they become very offensive to people of certain cultures! I loved this routine - the style was different but very fun, and interesting to watch (entertaining but also looks difficult). Also, Katee can. dance. any. thing!!!! I already thought she was awesome but this pretty much cemented her as the best overall female IMO. The judges loved it too (Mary put them on the train).

And that's, as Chelsie might say, a warp, I mean wrap! ;-) (I just love her to pieces, really!) My favorite routines were not what I'd have picked just looking at the list: both of Chelsie & Mark's (Salsa & Broadway), Courtney & Gev's Cha Cha, and the Bollywood!

I predict Thayne & Comfort, Twitch & Kherington, and probably Will & Jessica for the Bottom 3, with Thayne and Comfort (or maybe Jessica, but I doubt it) leaving.

Tuesday, July 1

SYTYCD - Top 14

Guest judges are Napoleon and Tabitha. 2 new choreographers: Andy Blankenbuehler just won a Tony Award for choreographing In the Heights! And Edward Simon does some ballroom.

Jessica & Will: Jive, Tony & Melanie ("Choo Choo Ch'Boogie" from Five Guys Named Moe) - This had more tricks and fewer kicking moves than most jives I've seen, but I thought it was decent. Mary said there were a lot of missed connections and both Mary & Nigel criticized Jessica (as usual).

Comfort & Thayne: Broadway, Andy Blankenbuehler ("Cool" from West Side Story) - I liked this! It was very different than Tyce's (predictable) stuff, in a good way. :-) Tabitha said they had good chemistry, but Nigel said the passion he wanted to see wasn't there.

Kourtni & Matt: Hip Hop, Cicily & Olisa ("How Do I Breathe," Mario) - Well, Matt looked very nice in his white suit, but it made some of the movements a bit harder to see. Overall it was good (for 2 non-hh dancers) but the movements definitely weren't sharp or hard-hitting, and the judges criticized them for that (though one of Napolitha said Matt did better than they expected him to).

Chelsie & Mark: Jazz, Mandy Moore ("Kiss Kiss", Holly Vance) - Loved this!! They're really on a roll; moving in unison, continuing to have great chemistry (there was lots of flirting and fake air-kisses, very cute); and different types of movement - Mark was especially good (and as nice as he looks in the suits, this tighter outfit shows off his movement very well). The judges enjoyed it as well - Napolitha said they can "tell any story they're given" and complimented their chemistry and teamwork.

Kherington & Twitch: Paso Doble, Tony & Melanie ("Malaguena", Brian Setzer: '68 Comeback Special) - Both started out w/capes... she finally wore heels! and he danced pretty well. Not a great paso overall though. Napolitha said he didn't "embrace the character" until part-way through the routine; Mary said it was passionate but the technique was just so-so.

Katee & Joshua: Contemporary, Mia Michaels ("Hometown Glory," Adele) - the story (because it's Mia!) is two people and their journey as they're "focused selfishly on their own lives." They're both in black and it starts out slowly, but then gets good and there are a lot of unique (Mia) moves. It looked very difficult and they did a good job. Cat asked Josh why he looked so serious afterward and he said that with Mia "it's so much more than dance." Napolitha loved their movement and that they 'got' the feel of it; Mary & Nigel loved it. Nigel complimented the partnership and the trust (from her) and strength (from him) required for some of the moves.

Courtney & Gev: Hip Hop, Cicily & Olisa ("Lights, Camera, Action") - Gev says in the intro that he's not used to "East Coast style," and New Yorker Courtney does indeed seem to dance this much better than he does! The judges concur and are disappointed w/Gev. Nigel says it's more "funk" than hip-hop though.

Take a breath... and now, Round 2!

Jessica & Will: Lyrical Jazz, Mandy Moore (Heart's "Alone") - LOVE this! They used a shirt as a prop, and Will was not wearing one at all (to the stated pleasure of Cat and the female judges). The dance was very sexy, they had great chemistry and portrayed the message of the song. Napolean said Jessica was weaker but overall the judges loved it. Mary said they're both on the train and Nigel asked the audience "Who wants to dance with Will?" (at which everyone's hands were in the air, including Jessica!)

Comfort & Thayne: Smooth Waltz, Edward Simon (New Age Armenia) - The story is of a long-lost love (Comfort says she's never had one) and they get the special Twitchington dance-for-the-disabled-girl lighting. I liked it, they had a good connection and appropriate emoting. The last pose where they ran past each other and then looked around - like a "oh no, I just missed him/her" - was very cool, and the long lift/spin was very pretty. Mary loved it, and Nigel complimented some specific moves/technique.

Kourtni & Matt: Mambo, Alex DiSilva - In rehearsal they said the routine was "very difficult," and after watching I agree. They did fairly well, though I didn't see much hip action where it looked like there should have been some. All the judges were disappointed because it wasn't sultry/"down" enough & lacked chemistry as well as technique. Oh yes and Nigel went on again about Matt not dancing "macho" enough (grr).

Chelsie & Mark: Foxtrot, Tony & Melanie ("It's My Life", Paul Anka) - Chelsie looks like one big blue feather! And Mark is back in a suit (has he set a record yet?). I thought they did very well - he seemed to get the 'feel' of the dance as well as some of the details (hand positions, etc.). Napolean said he liked watching them because they look like they just love to dance! (Mark & Chelsie nodded.) Mary said there were some difficult moves but they pulled them off. Nigel was less sure, saying Mark looked uncomfortable and that there were mistakes in the technique.

Kherington & Twitch: Contemporary, Mia Michaels ("Dreaming with a Broken Heart", John Mayer) - This was a break-up 'story' and used a mattress as a prop(tilted up so they could jump onto it & bounce off). Twitch was shirtless and the heartbroken one, while Kher. (complete with bedhead) was behind the bed several times throwing rose petals up onto it. It was kind-of cool, but didn't have much "dancing" IMO. Kher. did better than Twitch, not surprisingly. All the judges really loved it and went on and on about both Mia and the routine.

Katee & Joshua: West Coast Swing, Benji Schwimmer! ("Shake It", Brother Yusef) - Sigh, Benji guest choreographs (with Lacey's help) and we only get a tiny rehearsal clip because of time constraints. The routine was... meh. Partly because the song was slow, though I'm not sure Josh & Katee could have handled faster choreo anyway. Joshua just seemed to stand there in between moves. The judges loved it (or at least them - as usual). Napolitha liked Katee and the "stops"; Mary said the lifts were tough; and Nigel mentioned that it's not their style, in other words it's ok they weren't nearly as good as Benji/Heidi/Pasha/Lacey/etc. Evs, Nigel, we get that they're one of your "chosen" couples.

Courtney & Gev: Broadway, Andy Blankenbuehler ("New York, New York" from On the Town, as opposed to the other, more familiar "New York, New York") - They're supposed to be tourists in NYC, awed and looking around at all the wonders of the city. Courtney complains in rehearsal that not only is she from NY, she hates tourists. But she plays one on TV anyway and does ok; Gev does great. Cute routine, let's keep Andy, please? Napolitha said it was believable and complimented Gev. Mary & Nigel liked it and Nigel picked on a couple of things but also complimented them.

Whew! That was a lot of dancing! I think the quality was better last week, but then they only had one routine to learn in 4 days (Thursday evening - Monday evening), not two like this week.

My favorites were definitely Mandy's jazz pieces, with Mia's for Josh & Katee 3rd (Mia's bed routine is my least favorite, though!).

I predict Matt & Kourtni will go; Thayne & Comfort will probably also be in the Bottom 3 and the 3rd couple could be almost anyone but it won't matter. *Sniff* - goodbye, my beautiful tall ballet dancer of the season! (No, he's not as good as Danny, but I seem to like that 'type'!)

Tuesday, June 24


Tonight's 3rd judge is Adam Shankman. The good: he has lots of useful comments. The bad: he has lots of comments!

AWESOME show tonight!!

Kherington & Twitch: Hip Hop, Napoleon & Tabitha ("Dont Touch Me Now" by Busta Rhymes) In tonight's video clips we're going to hear something new about each partner (from the other one). K. says Twitch laughs like a bear, and he says she has a shopping problem! The story behind this routine is a prison break. Napolitha also says that the music is fast and parts require the dancers to be "staccato and smooth at the same time." Alrighty then. Twitch is awesome, as expected. Kherington is her usual smiley self and does ok. The choreo has a lot of humorous tricks that go with the story & lyrics, like running to the edge of the stage and wobbling like they might fall off, and Twitch using circles on the bottom of K's shoes (yes, she's finally wearing some!) like binoculars as she does a handstand behind him. Judges loved it.

Courtney & Gev: Rumba, Tony Meredith and Melanie ("Wishing on a Star," Rose Royce) Due to his long, curly hair, Courtney says Gev looked like a little girl when he was a child. Gev tells us Courtney is studying to be a special ed teacher (aww). In this routine both participants are embarrassed to learn that part of the choreography is for Gev to grab Courtney's butt and lift her up with it. This is a good routine - very smooth and sexy (good chemistry, which we saw last week). They both look great as well - she's borrowing one of Edyta's dresses (there's no right side), and he's wearing a dress shirt and vest. Nigel said that Gev reminds him of Dominic (yes, we know, seeing as how you've given them the same first 3 dance styles Dom & Sabra had last year!) and he liked the routine. Mary complimented some of their technique; and Adam had a lot of constructive things to say, which prompted Nigel to tell him to hurry up, since they didn't have "blankets and soup" for the audience!

Comfort & Chris: (African) Jazz, Tyce Diorio (Marilyn Manson's "Beautiful People") Chris mooches food off people, and Comfort has done beauty pageants. The routine is to be "raw" and earthy, and we see them practicing with brown sheets that are to represent mud. Except the sheets are just used briefly in the routine toward the end. Their costumes are shredded black fabric, and I'll admit it's hard for me to judge the routine objectively because I really, really, don't like the music. It was ok I guess. Nigel and Mary were disappointed, the execution wasn't hard or "animalistic" enough. Adam said they were inconsistent in their performance as far as portraying the characters.

Jessica & Will: Disco, Doriana Sanchez ("Heaven Must Have Sent You," Bonnie Pointer) Jessica's nickname is Ariel (which Will finds humorous) and Will is an "absolute gentleman." Doriana says in practice that Jessica "hasn't been given a chance yet to shine," but then after working with her a bit says that Jessica isn't getting it very well and isn't working hard enough. Their outfits are all white, and Will looks very sharp in his white suit (most of the guys look really good tonight! ...except for Chris in his shreds and Twitch in his orange prison suit). He also dances the best disco routine I've seen in years and is just all-around fun to watch. Jessica doesn't really keep up but most of their tricks together are good. Except for the last one, where I think he had too much momentum going from his tumbling run and almost fell forward holding her in the last pose. He had to put a hand down in front of her & a moment later she thought to put hers down too so it looked like they were supposed to be that way, but it was a bit too late to not look like a mistake. The judges were mixed, observing several mistakes but also crediting them for difficult choreography executed well. Adam also said he wished Jessica knew how good of a dancer she is.

Kourtni & Matt: Contemporary, Sonya Tayeh ("Wrestlers," Hot Chip) Kourtni has a tattoo on her neck (a quote about dance), and Matt has a ninja mask that he likes to wear (in his dry humor he describes it as an "accessory," just like scarves that K. will wear). He also mentions that he slipped and fell a bit in last week's routine, and though the judges didn't say anything, his mother (who's tougher than Nigel) did! This week's routine is about 2 comic characters chasing and flirting with each other, with lots of poses or freezes (like frames of a comic strip). If it looks anything like the new choreographer does, it will be very strange and quirky. And it is! They do a lot using his tie as a prop, pulling on it in various ways. Really cool routine - and the audience loves it!! Nigel liked it as well and said it allowed both of them (finally) to show off their technique, though he still said Matt is a bit stiff. Mary praised their extensions and synchronized leaps; and she told Matt the "broom" is gone, which was nice of her! Adam praised their control and said it was fantastic (though he thought Matt's ninja mask from the intro clip was weird).

Chelsea & Thayne: Quickstep, Heather Smith ("You Can't Hurry Love," Phil Collins) Thayne enjoys fashion (advising Chelsea on outfits, making his own shirts), and Chelsea is a flower thief (gardens, restaurants, whatever!). Heather used a hula hoop to help teach them the proper frame for the dance. I thought Chelsea's dress was too long and actually interfered w/her dancing a bit, but overall the routine was pretty good and fun. Nigel said their personalities didn't show (had plastered smiles, probably because they were focusing on the fast technique), but it was better than he'd expected. He still recommended that they prepare their solos. Mary said it was difficult choreo and they did "Ok, which is pretty good" in context. She also said they pale in comparison to previous season's quicksteps, and that Chelsea let her partner down and was off the hot tamale train. Adam said they didn't look comfortable (and that no matter how you feel at the time, you should look like you're loving whatever you're performing).

Chelsie & Mark: Hip Hop, Napoleon & Tabitha ("Bleeding Love," Leona Lewis) Mark has crooked pinkies and Chelsie is a tomboy off stage. This routine is described as "hip hop with emotion" and the story is of a workaholic man leaving his beloved. They say that every word of the song has meaning and there is a lot of detail in the choreography to represent that. Ok, on to the performance... LOVE!!!!!!!!! I love the song anyway, and knew that Mark would rock hip hop (there are lots of YouTube vids of his hip hop choreo), but wow. The whole thing was awesome, and I now have a favorite routine of the season. I especially enjoyed when she kicked his briefcase away, when he made the gestures of moving her around toward the end, and just her angst in general - they both did fantastic jobs w/the acting. The crowd and judges agreed. Adam called it "lyrical hip-hop" and said they're "the couple to beat"!

Katee & Joshua: Samba, Tony Meredith ("Baila, Baila," Angela Via) Joshua is a softie and Katee "screams like a boy" (low, not high-pitched; Tony calls it "grunting" in practice). They're told the samba is a very rhythmic, hot & sexy dance. Despite Katee's comment in rehearsal about not thinking of herself as pretty or sexy at all (at least off the dance floor), she "brought it" in a big way during the performance!! Oh, and she found the other half of Chelsea's dress. ;-) The dance was great - they had good chemistry and seemed to execute their choreo very well. Nigel said that Joshua has a "natural samba rhythm" but then started talking about his tight pants and made his father stand up in the audience to see if the booty was inherited (it is, but TMI!). He called it one of 4 "outstanding" routines tonight. Mary loaded them onto the train. Adam gave them a S.O. and said "That was competing!" He also told Katee that she's "smokin'" and doesn't ever want her to think of herself as not pretty or sexy in the future.

Great show!!!! My bottom 3 predictions: Comfort & Chris and Chelsea & Thayne for sure. I'll say Kourtni & Matt (while hoping my votes help prevent it) though the 3rd spot could go several ways. I'll pick Chris (please?) and Kourtni to leave (unless Will & Jessica hit the bottom, in which case she will be the one to go).



Group number: I missed what the music was, but Mia choreographed it and it's a bit Alice in Wonderland-ish, featuring Mark the most (and Comfort). My least favorite of the season so far.

Guest performers:
Jordin Sparks ("One Step at a Time")
"Quest," a breakdancing group with 8 members including Dominic, Hok, and Ryan

Bottom 3:
Comfort & Chris (his solo was better than in the past)
Chelsea & Thayne
Kourtni (better solo than in the past) & Matt (solo to Jason Mraz & very good)

Nigel apologized to Matt for some past treatment and said tonight's solo was "brilliant," and announced that Matt was safe. There was no '1st safe' girl. Chelsea and Chris were eliminated and no reasons were given for either one. So, Thayne and Comfort will be paired next week.

Wednesday, June 18

SYTYCD4 - Top 18

Tonight's 3rd judge is Mia. In the video clips dancers will be telling us the best & worst things about their partners (now that they've been together 2 whole weeks and know each other sooo well!). And Mary's outfit is horrid - either the hair (curly), necklace (huuuuuge beads) or shirt (animal print) would've been a nice accent on their own, but combined it's way OTT and unattractive.

Chelsea & Thayne: Jazz, Mandy Moore. (The Veronicas' "Untouched") Does anyone really care what they like about each other at this point? The only semi-interesting thing these 2 said was that Thayne is superstitious (which C. does not like). This routine's story is of a king and his forbidden love. The funky music and costumes made more of an impression on me than the dance itself, but it was good. Mia said the execution was poor and Mary & Nigel didn't "believe" it and said the chemistry wasn't there.

Chelsie & Mark
: Argentine Tango, Alex DeSilva. Mark is quirky (good) but quiet (bad), and Chelsie's hair smells good. Despite being a ballroom dancer Chelsie hasn't done Argentine Tango before (just regular tango). They say their relationship is very brother-sister and the dance is supposed to be sexy, and we see Mark goofing around in practice. Once they get on stage, though, it's a different story. This is very, very good - has the right feel and technique looks very good. The judges loved it, except Nigel wanted Chelsie to be a bit "sleazier" to fit his idea of the dance.

Jessica & Will: Hip-hop, Cicily & Olisa. ("Whatever U Like") Will is focused (good) but sometimes too serious; Jessica has a great personality. The routine has chairs and is very "soft" hip-hop IMO. They dance it fairly well including the unison parts, but overall Will is better. Mia loved the choreo and called it "dirty" and "raw" (really?); she loved Will but said Jessica paled next to him, and Mary agreed. Nigel liked both.

Kourtni & Matt: Foxtrot, Jean-Marc Genereux. ("A Foggy Day," Michael Buble) Matt likes Kourtni's eyes and she likes that he's always complimenting her. She doesn't like his singing, and he doesn't like that she doesn't like his singing. ;) (He has a great, dry sense of humor; his singing in the clip is obviously humorous but he says with a very straight face that she "doesn't have an ear for good singing.") They struggled w/the lifts in practice but were better on stage. Wow, this choreography fits Matt perfectly! It's very old-style, Fred Astaire type stuff, and Matt's suit helps convey that feel. But his dancing is just beautiful, light, right on... riveting. I will say the routine doesn't stay in hold as much as most Foxtrots IIRC. Mia loves Matt (yay!). Mary loved the choreo was mixed on execution (the holds should've been tighter, etc.). Nigel didn't like Matt's arms or their seemingly false grins, but enjoyed it overall.

Courtney & Gev
: Contemporary, Mandy Moore ("Lost" by Anouk) Gev is strong and hard-working, but short (hee), and Courtney is pretty but has a boyfriend (ha!). The routine is a love story and has lots of partnering, which Gev says that he's struggling with. You can't tell later, though. And they do have great chemistry! Cat said she got chills. Mia loves the choreo; said Courtney "jazzified" it (bad) but said Gev did well at partnering and she "believed" his movement/emotions. Mary loved it and said "the breaker boy's gonna break some hearts." Nigel disagreed and said the emotion wasn't believable.

Katee & Joshua: Broadway, Tyce Diorio ("All for the Best," Godspell) Joshua is a very "caring" partner but nitpicks; Katee has a contagious smile but a dorky 'lighten up' dance. Tyce says the key to this routine is moving around the stage as fast as possible. Now, I must preface my comments by saying that I *LOVE* Godspell, have seen it multiple times, was in the band for a college-age production, and can sing along to most of the soundtrack. A Godspell snob, if you will. Ok. I HATED it. Just horrible. Totally killed the song... mostly Tyce's fault for choosing the choreography (now I get why so many people hate his B'Way choreo; I'm often not as familiar w/the original numbers to realize how much they're changed). The music edit was even cut so the lines didn't rhyme... just a travesty all around, lol! As for the execution... He was better than she was, but both were decent for what they were given. The crowd and judges loved it! Nigel said it was "great entertainment" vaudeville-style (I agree with that part I guess, but in this case that's not a good thing!). Mia said "amazing" and thought they had a great connection and that their "spirit" was "loud." Maybe, but Tyce should stick to contemporary, and everyone should go see a live production of Godspell next spring to see how this number is supposed to be done!

Susie & Marquis
: Salsa, Alex deSilva. Susie is energetic but her hair hits him a lot; Marquis is goofy (good) but always eating (which makes his breath bad). Alex says the routine is Cuban/Puerto Rican as are the dancers (respectively), so it should be a good fit! But then he says Susie isn't really a Salsa dancer, she's a "Street Salsa" dancer. Which she overhears and upsets her. I get his point though, as she's not all that great in the routine. Marquis is so much lighter - which later some of the judges say is a bad thing - but I can tell from this for the first time that he's a really, really good dancer! I hope he gets to stick around and do contemporary!! Mia loved the choreo but not the performance, and all of the judges seem disappointed. Mary said they lacked chemistry and Nigel said it wasn't fiery and some of the turns were labored, as well as some other technical criticisms. I kind-of think they wanted Susie & Marquis in the bottom 3 last week so they could boot them, and are trying extra-hard to sink them this week. I certainly wouldn't mind seeing her go but I know we haven't seen his full potential yet.

Kherington & Twitch: Viennese Waltz, Jean-Marc & France. ("A New Day Has Come," Celine Dion) Kher. always has a pleasant outlook but has strong legs and her kicks hurt (hee); Twitch is strong but sometimes wears 'fake' (no lens) glasses. Evs. This routine is very personal for Jean-Marc and France. Their daughter has Rett Syndrome and has basically no motor function, but reacts positively to seeing movement of others. So this routine is for her and inspired by her. The costuming is all white and flowy and there is cool lighting on the stage. Some of the lifts seem heavy and several sections appear more contemporary than ballroom to me, as in lacking technique (I'll always remember Donyelle talking about how hard this dance is!). Mia of course appreciates the personal choreo, though she didn't like Kher's constant smile, wanting more "reality" (Nigel rudely interrupted to defend it, saying it was uplifting). Mia and Mary both complimented Twitch. Nigel agreed w/my thought that it wasn't pure Viennese Waltz but said it was beautiful.

Comfort & Chris
: Krump, Lil C. (Timbaland something - and almost every other word was edited out so it sounded really strange!) Chris is humble & has a "good spirit," but sweats a lot; Comfort is a versatile, solid partner but talks too fast (hee). Lil C says Krumping combines pop/locking with b-boy and African moves. They also use the phrase "that's buck" a lot but never explain it. Compared to the krumping I've seen before (which is something like 3 routines ever), this is very sloooooow, almost like slo-mo krumping! And not quite as hard-hitting as I'd expect. Just ok overall. Mia said Chris "pulled it off," but Mary disagreed and said Comfort blew him away (though agreed she could have hit harder). Nigel actually criticized both of them but was very mean to Chris (worse than to Matt last week), saying his "granny's more gangsta" than Chris! He also said he didn't dance "macho" enough, specifically pointing out that Chris didn't do the crotch grab right and actually demonstrating (!) how it should be done while saying what Chris did was like a (have to go) "peepee dance" and that as a man he should especially "own that area" (of his body). Poor Chris!! Chris replied and said he didn't want to grab his crotch. Good for him, standing up for himself (I know it's a popular move in hip-hop and related styles, but this is also supposed to be a family show and I don't think it's appropriate, let alone necessary).

Overall I'd pick Susie/Marquis, Chelsea/Thayne, and Jessica/Will for the bottom 3, with Susie & Marquis being sent home. It's a hard call though since Jess/Will were B3 last week; fans will vote more this week so we could see Kourtni/Matt (hope not!) or maybe Comfort/Chris there instead.



Group number: Hip-hop by Shane ("Elevator"). It was fun, though hard to recognize people since they were dressed the same & wearing hats. Marquis was featured in the beginning, and at the end Gev did a headstand in the center and held it for a long time, until Cat came on & everyone else was leaving the stage.

Whew, Matt (& Kourtni) are safe! All 3 of my favorites managed to escape the bottom 3 this week. The bottom 6 are as follows:

Chelsea - good solo, 1st girl safe.
Susie - just ok solo; Nigel said she didn't use the stage enough.
Comfort - very good.

Susie is out.

Thayne (Gavin DeGraw "Belief") - good use of stage, good solo; Nigel said he has a lot of potential.

Marquis (OneRepublic "Stop and Stare" - eee!) - Awesome!! We finally get to see him dance contemporary, and he is as good as I'd heard. Unfortunately Nigel decided his solo was "all tricks" and "not dance." (And Neil did what in his solos last year, exactly?)

Chris (John Legend "Again") - meh. Easy choice here, Chris needs to go home. However... Nigel said he danced with passion and has been bringing the "personality" Nigel asked of him, so he will be safe!

And Marquis is out. I call foul, because I really think Nigel just didn't want to pair Comfort (or Chelsea) with Marquis. They rarely put 2 black contestants together, as that doesn't fit his ideal (perceived) viewer demographic, I guess. So we have a paired couple leaving for the 2nd week in a row (a first, I believe).

Wednesday, June 11

SYTYCD 4 - Top 20

First performance show! I'm so excited. Guest judge is Dan Karaty, yay! We get the normal intro solos and then a montage of short clips from auditions, and we're off!

Rayven & Jamie: Hip-Hop, Napoleon & Tabitha. ("American Boy") Both auditioned in LA (which we didn't know before since they haven't had any screen time yet), Jamie auditioning w/his current partner who's also his girlfriend (so, no Schwimmer). The routine was ok; I'm not impressed w/T & N based on this (they had R pull Jamie's pants down and he did a few moves in his undies - um, why? That's *not* the way to make up for little screen time, really!). Rayven has awesome potential though. Judges were meh.

Susie & Marquis: Waltz, Hunter Johnson. ("Dark Waltz"- pretty!) We learn that Susie's parents were both born in Cuba, and Marquis (who auditioned in DC) wasn't allowed to dance much growing as his mom pulled him out of it because of "personal family issues." The lift was not good, but the rest was ok, nothing great. The judges like it though & Nigel said the choreo was very difficult.

Kourtni & Matt
: Jazz, Mandy Moore. ("Tainted Love", eee!) At 5'9" and 6'3", K & M say they're 12 feet of dancer! Which is a lot. I thought some of their movements were hidden by the black leather outfits, but I guess it was sort-of a spy theme, with him holding a diamond on & off & then having it 'magically' disappear at the end into glitter. I don't think the routine showed them off very well either, but they did pretty well with what they had IMO. Nigel said he wanted more personality from "uptight" Matt (?! Besides being gorgeous, I thought he showed plenty of personality!), Mary liked it except for the "heavy" lift, and Dan thought they played it too safe & should've attacked it harder. Threw them a few votes just in case.

Chelsea T & Thayne
: Cha Cha, Tony Meredith & Melanie. While he still annoys me when he's not dancing, Thayne sure cleans up nice and is an extremely attractive dancer. Chelsea, another from the Dallas tryouts, has Jamaican parents and a very strong personality (as do most of the girls!). Definitely the best routine of the 4 so far, and the judges loved it. Mary said he partnered well and Dan said they owned the stage.

Chelsie H & Mark: Contemporary, Mia Michaels. ("Beautiful") The first stand-out routine of the season! Mia choreographed "what Tim Burton's wedding would be like," i.e. 2 quirky people finding each other. Mark definitely fits the role, calling himself "left of center" (and we finally see a bit of his LA audition). Despite being in his strength he struggled w/the routine and Mia said "I thought he'd be better than he is." She approved of the performance, though. Chelsie's flouncy dress hid her body too much but contributed to the effect of the routine. The judges loved it and Mary complimented Mark on the lifts (of which there were a lot!).

Kherington & Twitch: Broadway, Tyce Diorio. ("Too Darn Hot") What's not to like? Twitch even called them "Twitchington" in the intro. Fun routine, nothing spectacular, but very enjoyable. Judges loved as well & said that Kher. lights up the stage.

Comfort & Chris: Jive, Tony & Melanie. ("Boom Boom") Comfort is going to be comic relief for us this season, she has the most fun personality! (And attitude!) Chris also auditioned in Dallas and said he was distracted in practice by her miniskirt and "tush." Heh. In his defense, later everyone commented on how (surprisingly, they implied) sexy she was, including Cat! The traditional Latin outfit (open, lowcut shirt) was not flattering to Chris at. all. Besides that the routine was pretty good; I agree w/Nigel that Chris had the 'feel' of it better (more grounded). Apparently Comfort dislocated her shoulder in practice the day before but they "click clicked" it back into place and here she is! (They did modify at least one move though.) Dan said that they each performed well but need to develop more chemistry w/each other.

Katee & Joshua: Hip Hop, Napoleon & Tabitha. ("No Air") We see Joshua admit that he has had some ballet training, clearing the air as to whether he was 'hiding' anything from the judges as Debbie implied in the auditions. Ok, anything N&T lacked on the first routine they made up for in this one! 2nd standout routine of the season and the first causing sniffles across the audience. The story is of a young couple the day before the man leaves for war: at the beginning they're happy & cuddly until he hands her a letter, then she's upset and angsty and such. Obviously since this is Joshua's specialty he's a lot better than she is, but she "keeps up", as the judges say, and their side-by-side moves are very much in unison. The very last move - he grabs her arm, she pulls away pulling his jacket off of him and, as she turns, on to herself, and then holds the end of it - amazing, and just the right emotional ending to the story of the routine. This is just one of those numbers that perfectly merges choreography with lyrics and music, and even though the execution wasn't perfect, it made an impact. The judges (at least Nigel & Mary) were somewhat emotional and they all loved it.

Jessica & William
: Tango, Hunter. Jessica auditioned in Charleston and it turns out she was the one who misspelled "Vegas"! Will auditioned in LA and says he moved from TN at age 16 in order to work w/Debbie Allen. The tango is good; they both show potential, but I think he could be absolutely amazing. Everything was sharp ("professional", Nigel said), and even the end lift was smooth. She did slide & wobble a bit throughout the routine, but overall the judges loved them. Mary even called them the "couple to beat" (wow, in ballroom? you can tell we're missing the hot Russians this year, lol!).

Courtney G & Gev: Disco, Doriana Sanchez. ("Boogie Wonderland," of course!) We get a few short clips of Gev in Vegas doing Broadway (hee!) and ballroom. They both say in the practice session that disco is harder than expected but they enjoy working together - I think they're one of the better matched couples. Aside from their unfortunate yellow outfits and the freakily-overdone disco lighting during the routine, it's pretty good! The lifts were fairly smooth (considering he's not a partner dancer & not that much bigger than she is), though they were both very out of breath at the end. She was a bit better & smoother than he was (expectedly), but overall it was decent. Nigel rained on the parade because he didn't like the "feel" of it, but Mary loved it and commented that it was a difficult routine. Dan enjoyed it as well and called it "pretty good." I think they're safe but I still voted!!

I'm so glad this show is back! Ok, favorite routines: Chelsie & Mark's Mia contemp. and Katee & Josh's hip-hop/pop. Favorite dancers: still Gev and Matt, plus Will!

Predictions for Bottom 3 couples: Rayven & Jamie, Susie & Marquis, and Comfort & Chris, with Susie and Marquis going home. (I think Marquis is better than Chris, but if Chris leaves that would put Comfort w/Marquis & I'm not sure they'd want to do that.) There's not that much 'cannon fodder' this year, especially among the guys, and Jamie's the only male ballroom(ish) guy so he's almost a lock for Top 10.

And just an observation, those who got dances in their own styles tonight: Mark, Joshua (I think the only one who really, really benefited from it), and in a close style, Susie. Also someone said Pasha & Anya were assisting Mia in the studio but I missed it so I'll have to go back & rewatch!

Who did you love? Who did you hate? Who's going home? Leave a comment & let me know...

And we get a Wade group routine tomorrow!!!!!!!



Figured I might as well combine the posts since this will be short.

Opening group number: "Cobrastyle" by Wade (and his wife Amanda). Nigel gets kidnapped by the dancers. And we learn that Mark ROCKS Wade's choreo!!

Bottom 3 couples:
Kourtni & Matt
Rayven & Jamie
Jessica & Will

Guest performances: Poppin' Pete and Shonnie; Pussycat Dolls.

None of the girls impressed on solos. Kourtni is 1st safe; Rayven is out (judges were unanimous). Will's solo was amazing and he was 1st safe. Matt's was beautiful because it's Matt, but nothing extraordinary (he's not Danny). Jamie's paled next to former ballroom guys. Thus Jamie is out, despite Nigel's preference for his "personality" over Matt's. Nigel says "this week - and this week only" the judges (unanimous again) are choosing technique (i.e. Matt) over personality. Doesn't bode well for the rest of the season (technique-wise), though perhaps it shows they realize repeatedly keeping Cedric last year over better dancers was a mistake. One can only hope. I am surprised that they got rid of the only ballet dancer and the only male ballroom guy, but they're definitely going for well-rounded this year so we'll see what happens!

Saturday, June 7

SYTYCD4 - Vegas / Top 20 Chosen

Yay, it's Vegas week! In 2 more hours we'll know who's in and who's not, and inevitably wonder where a few people went as they looked promising but are never heard of again. And we'll probably hear a few being encouraged to "come back next year and try again." I'm really glad they do that a lot in this show (as opposed to Idol). I'm sure Twitch is, too!!

We start off with 204 dancers. And 6 judges: Napolean & Tabitha, Mia, Debbie Allen, Mary and Nigel.

Again I will bold the names of the eventual Top 20.

Round 1 is Hip-Hop, taught by N & T.

Dancers have 1 hour to learn the routine, then they go up on stage in small groups (lines, actually) to perform. Those who don't make the grade are cut!

Robert Muraine the popper is struggling, as he's never done choreography before at all. He is concerned that he'll hurt a partner's chances and contemplates dropping out before they go on. Word reaches Nigel who calls him up on stage and asks him to perform his solo for the judges who haven't seen it yet. They all encourage him not to quit, but he does anyway.

1 down, 183 to go!

The first group includes Rebecca Hart and Courtney Galiano. Courtney survives, Rebecca does not. We see Evan in a brown hoodie; he gets through. As do Twitch, Philip Courter (Yessie's friend), Kourtni Lind, Matt Dorame, and (twin) Anthony Hart. Plus a Michael, but he's not shown so I don't know if it's breaker Michael Kim or someone else. Others cut are Ryann Race (strip club DJ), Ricky Sun (my favorite ballroom guy), and Claire Calloway.

In total 74 were cut on Day 1 leaving 129 as we start Day 2!

Round 2 is Broadway with Tyce.

This should be fun!! Everyone is partnered, though we have more girls than guys so we have a few pairs of girls. We start out with Erica Gee (her 3rd time in Vegas, she's confident this is "her year!") and a black gal named Britney Parks. The judges tell her she's doing her part better than most of the guys! She advances, but Erica is cut and makes a tearful call home.

We see Thayne Jasperson with Chelsie Hightower way in the back, complaining that they can't see. Matt is also in the back but says, "I'm good, I'm 7 feet tall! I can see everything!" Hee.

We get to see a montage with short clips of Evan (awesome, of course, as this is his genre), Matt doing some cute snappy things with his hands, possibly William, Kourtni, and Thayne and Chelsie.

Shown advancing are Susie Garcia (Miami high school teacher), Anthony, pageant Paige, Twitch, and a random Asian guy. Antwain Hart and Philip are cut. (Philip vows to return next year, or as long as it takes until he's either told not to return or he wins! That's the spirit!)

We're down to 94 at the end of the morning.

Round 3 (afternoon of Day 2) is Ballroom - Jean-Marc and France Genereaux teaching Foxtrot!

Hip hop dancer Joshua Allen is struggling, as is his partner and pal Comfort Fedoke. It turns out Comfort is the gal we saw in Dallas whom Nigel dubbed "the best female hip-hop dancer we've had on the show!" And we finally get to see her initial audition, yay! They do ok with the foxtrot; they make mistakes, but the judges are still impressed since they have no training and they both advance. They break into tears of relief and joy, both very thankful to still be here! They both seem really nice and I'm glad they have each other for support during this process.

Devin Oshiro, the Asian gal I liked who was the first audition of the season, is cut after this round. Still in are ballroom dancer Aliona (I would certainly hope so!), Chelsie, BFF's Michelle and Kortney, William, and Twitch. Paige is paired with Will Adams, a black hip-hop dancer from Indiana (yay!). They don't do very well... Will has to come back later to do a solo, and Paige will return with a different partner to try the Foxtrot again. She returns with Leo Rotenberg, a ballroom dancer who's already advanced. She declares her newfound love for ballroom dancing now that she has a partner who knows what he's doing (and can tell her what to do)! She's better, but not good enough, and is cut. Packing up her things we see her going through her pageant mantra: "... and you don't get cut. But if you do get cut, you keep smiling and you don't cry. And if you do cry, you do it in your room by yourself." Heh.

Back to the "Dance for your Life" solos. First up is Jeremiah Hughes, contemporary dancer (and push-up guy) from Charleston. He does his thing very well and gets to stay (for now). Will is also very good but he is cut. 3 others are also cut, and I believe we're down to 72!

It's the end of a long day, but it will get even longer...

It's time for the Group round!

Everyone left is assigned to groups and will come pick up a CD (the main song we see later is "Every Breath You Take"). They then have to choreograph their own group routine to perform the next day (starting at 10 am). The theater will be open as long as people need it, and some need it until 4:30 am!

Here's how things work for this round; it's a little like Survivor or Big Brother! The judges each decide who they're keeping and have anyone else take one step back. Anyone who finishes 2 steps back has to dance a solo later to remain, and anyone with at least 3 steps back is out! Interesting!!

The first group to perform on Day 3 was also the last up practicing, as they couldn't agree on choreography. We have Twitch, tapper Bianca, contemporary dancer Jason Glover, Aliona, and another blond named Randi. The judges all call it a mess. Jason will be dancing "for his life" (and cries like it) later and everyone else is safe. Twitch is very upset and feels responsible, since he's been this far before and thinks he's supposed to be able to help his group advance. Fortunately for both Twitch and Jason, Jason's solo gets the 4 votes required to stay and all is well, for now.

The other group we get to see perform has a name, "Angels and Demons," and is comprised of contemporary dancer Jessica King (another redhead), Derek Spears (also contemp.?), Comfort, and a white guy in a green shirt with dark hair in a mohawk. Derek admits to being the demon, as he didn't like Jessica's choreography the night before and ended up leaving to go to bed while the rest of the group stayed up practicing. Apparently everything "came together" right before they went on, and the judges said it was good and showcased everyone well. No steps were given so they were all safe, though Nigel did hold up a sign for Derek that said "Hush".

We don't get to see much dancing from anyone else, but we get comments from a few and see some of the groupings, which I still find interesting (though I'd love to see all of the performance footage!). Jeremiah and Natalie Reid (one of the roomies) are in the same group (guys wearing white shirts & suspenders, girls in green). Kourtni and Susie are together; Thayne and ballroom dancer Janette (w/stripey hair) are together; and Gev, Courtney G, and I think Brandon Bryant are together. We also see Matt and maybe William in a group of 6 who are all in black & white and all safe.

Only 4 were cut during the group round, including BFF and single mom Kortney Pearson (good, we're full up on Kortney/Courtney/Kourtni's already!). So we're down to 68 and ready for the last class...

Mia's Contemporary!

As if this wouldn't be hard enough on its own, it's the afternoon of Day 3 and most contestants have had only a few hours of sleep. Tapper Lizz Plott is especially struggling but refuses to give up, though her legs are trying to convince her otherwise. Long story short, she made it through the performance and I think the judges would have kept her, but she talked back (trying to explain to Nigel that she wasn't stressed in the way he thought she was) and the attitude got her cut! Nevertheless she wants to come back and try again next year.

Another dancer who is struggling is Jeremiah. Yes, this is his genre, and he says he mentally gets it, he just can't make his body do it (I can definitely understand feeling that way about Mia's choreo!). He messed up during his performance and walked off stage, he was so mad at himself. That really upset the judges who called him unprofessional and complained that if a choreographer is "trusting" a dancer with a piece they can't let them down like that. He was cut, and later very apologetic. He's only 19 and says he'll come back... though I think I heard that he was trying out for the new Canadian version, so we'll see. I'd love to see more of him.

Also cut during this round are Jason and Brandi. I saw one guy who was really good, wearing a dark red tee, brown jacket, & jeans, that may have been Thayne.

Cat says we're down to 47 (so 21 were cut so far, though Cat said 22, so one of her numbers is off), and 9 of those have to Dance for Their Life. Contemporary dancer Dominic Pearson injurs his leg and he's out. We see a montage of several others, including Jazz dancer Sheila Kaiser (whose dad didn't approve), who is cut. Contemporary dancer Mark Kanemura (green shirt & white shorts, I saw him briefly a couple other times) does a fun little routine to "Bohemian Rhapsody" and instantly intrigues many viewers! He stays. Twitch is awesome and he stays. A black gal named Charlotte stays, as does Leonidas (whom they're now also calling Leo, making him practically indistinguishable from Leo Rotenberg, another ballroom guy!). 4 others are cut including a familiar cute blond but who knows which one she was.

42 left!! Now everyone does solos that we don't get to see, except for one montage of short clips (but only 27 of the 42 are even shown in that - and the 3 breaker 'favorites,' Twitch, Joshua, and Gev, are shown twice each - yes, I wore out my Pause button, why do you ask?!). They get no immediate feedback from the judges but come out later one by one to find out whether or not they've made the Top 20 (SYTYCD's equivalent of "The Chair" from Idol). New this year, in the hallway on the way to the stage they see both their first and last auditions playing on video screens along the wall!

I'll list the no's first so I can list all the Finalists together at the end. I know Leonidas, Cooper, and Michael Kim got cut but unfortunately I have no idea how far into Vegas they made it. But the ones I know for sure made it to the end and then got cut are as follows:

Kelli Baker (contemporary, daughter of famous choreographer)
Aliona (ballroom)
Janette (ballroom)
Bianca (tap)
Asuka (ballroom)
and Natalie (contemp, one of the roomies)

Anthony (hip-hop)
Evan (Gene Kelly-esque; bummer! But he's also young, maybe he'll come back?)
Leonidas (Leo) P. (ballroom)
Markus (hip-hopper with deceased Mom' pic on his shirt)
Derek Spears
and Brandon

Your Top 20!

Courtney Galiano (19, NY/auditioned in Charleston, brunette) - contemporary

Chelsie Hightower (18, UT/SLC, blond) - ballroom/Latin

Susie Garcia (24, FL/Milwaukee, mostly blond high school teacher) - Latin

Chelsea Traille (23, TX, audition not shown, pretty black gal w/short hair) - contemp/jazz

Kourtni Lind (18, CA/Charleston, short blond hair) - contemp

Kherington Payne (18, CA/Los Angeles, short blond hair) - contemp/jazz

Rayven Armijo (28, CA, audition not shown/zero screentime thus far, brunette) - ballet/contemp
Comfort Fedoke (20, TX/Dallas though is Nigerian) - hip-hop

Jessica King (23, SC, audition not shown but featured in group round, redhead) - contemp

Katee Shean (20, CA/Los Angeles, redhead) - contemp

Joshua Allen (18, TX/auditioned in Dallas) - hip-hop

Twitch Boss (25, orig. AL, now CA/Los Angeles) - freestyle/breaking

Matt Dorame (22, UT/SLC, really tall) - ballet/contemp

Thayne Jasperson (27, UT/SLC) - contemp

Marquis Cunningham (18, FL?, audition not shown/zero screentime, thin black guy) - contemp

Mark Kanemura (24, HI, audition not shown/only screentime was BoRhap solo) - contemp

Jaime Bayard (22, CA, audition not shown/zero screentime) - West Coast Swing (note: was Lacey Schwimmer's competition partner)

Chris Jerosz (21, TX, audition not shown, tall thin white guy) - contemp

William Wingfield (21, TN/LA) - contemp (note: protege of Debbie Allen)

Gev Manoukian (21, UT/SLC but orig. from Kazakhstan) - hip-hop/breaking

Resources: Fox official site (scroll mouse over pictures to get links to bio pages); another page with photos and short bios