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'!)