'So You Think You Can Dance': Cat's big red dress the most noteworthy part of the episode?
It's still early in the season, but I have yet to find the dancers on "So You Think You Can Dance" who I look forward to seeing each week. I remember last season eagerly anticipating what Joshua Allen, Katee Shean and Mark Kanemura would do onstage each episode, but I'm not seeing anyone who's getting near that breakout stage -- yet.
Randi Evans and Evan Kasprzak kicked things off with a Louis van Amstel-choreographed jive. I think the jive is a very, um, entertaining dance (I'm avoiding using the word "fun," which got overplayed purposefully and not that amusingly), and though I enjoyed the jumps and lifts between Randi and Evan, I yearned for a few more "kicks and flicks," as they say. Plus Randi especially seemed to be mugging an awful lot. The judges also liked it, but didn't love it.
There is something kind of weird about Melissa Sandvig's sister being married to her husband's brother, but I can't put my finger on it. She and Ade Obayomi performed a jazz dance choreographed by the (to me) strikingly beautiful Sonya Tayeh, who wanted them to get "dirty dirty" as they portrayed a high-maintenance woman and a man who hates to lose. I thought it was a cool-looking dance, but I didn't see either the "dirt" or the characters or story that Sonya put forth. Maybe I would have enjoyed it more if I weren't looking for that tale. The judges, however, loved it, and Mary Murphy did that thing that I hate where she pretends she's going to say something bad and doesn't and yells. Oh boy.
Caitlin Kinney revealed that her partner, Jason Glover, had a Michael Jackson obsession when he was a kid, which was cute until we saw the footage of him as a toddler performing pelvis thrusts. Shane Sparks directed the two of them in a hip-hop dance that was supposed to be full of longing. However, it looked like a cute, happy hip-hop dance to me, which might be why Lil C found it "corny." Mary articulated it further and described the two as dancing like Michael Jackson and Britney Spears, which is a little corny for "SYTYCD."
I was nervous for Janette Manrana and Brandon Bryant, who were going to perform a Doriana Sanchez disco number. Disco always sounds easy and fun for the dancers. but more often than not proves to be a nightmare. This proved to be no exception: The two freaked out when they heard how ridiculously fast the music was, and Janette started crying at one point, becoming overwhelmed. "You're a Latina, you're strong, YOU'RE STRONG!" Doriana reassured her -- and I would like to use that mantra during tough times myself, even if I am not a Latina. The dance was ridiculously fast, and the two had good chemistry, looking as if they were having a great time. Janette technically stumbled right at the end but recovered, and the judges were forgiving. Guest judge Lil C made a somewhat inscrutable comment about labor being induced so progression could be born, but she meant it as a good thing. Mary apparently just learned about "Wayne's World" and made some negative comments about Janette and Brandon, each followed by "NOT!!" Nigel also liked the dance, but in a normal, unconfusing, unannoying way.
Asuka Kondoh and Vitolio Jeune needed to redeem themselves after last week's unpopular performance, and in order to elicit a little extra emotion from their waltz, choreographer Louis van Amstel decided to draw inspiration from Vitolio's rough upbringing. Vitolio's sentiment was definitely present in the performance, and Asuka danced elegantly. It was a lovely piece, one that drew tears from Mary and lots of praise from the judges, so it looks as if Asuka and Vitolio may have pulled themselves out of danger this week.
I didn't watch "SYTYCD" when Brian Friedman choreographed for the show, but I see that he has an impressive resume, and I really enjoyed the dance he put together for Kayla Radomski and Max Kapitannikov. Max played a dancer performing for Kayla, a princess, then stealing her throne. The whole pop/vibe number had a dark, quirky feel to it. I'm not 100% sure how I feel about Max, but I really want to like him, and at certain parts of his performance he really commanded the stage -- but never mind me, because this show is obviously all about Kayla. Or that's what you'd think after listening to the judges. I like Kayla, don't get me wrong, but I have yet to see what drives the judges so wild about her to the point where they practically tell Max he'd be nothing without her. Nigel, by the way compared Max to Kevin Spacey in "The Usual Suspects." To me, he's reminiscent of Richard E. Grant in "Withnail and I."
Karla Garcia and Jonathan Platero also needed to redeem themselves after a lackluster week and did more than that with their contemporary dance choreographed by Stacey Tookey of "SYTYCD Canada." The dance was about two strangers falling in love, and I wonder how much of what made it good was that it was set to the Frames' "Falling Slowly," which makes everything better (See: Kris Allen, "American Idol"). They worked well and looked good as a couple, and Mary thought that Jonathan performed this contemporary dance better than he performed in his own genre (Latin ballroom). Nigel expressed wonder that the two were nearly eliminated last week, and he pretty much proclaimed them back in the game.
Jeanine Mason and Phillip Chbeeb were assigned a Tony Meredith tango, and hopes for the two were not high as they (or rather, Phillip) struggled during practice. You could see how tense Phillip was from the beginning of the dance. It obviously wasn't his thing, and the dance seemed a little trifling for a Meredith tango, but overall Phillip was on the right track, attitude-wise, and Jeanine looked sexy. The judges were obviously rooting for the pair but couldn't overlook Phillip's shortcomings. Nigel noted that Phillip's face showed the strain of lifting Jeanine, which is something I also scold my husband for when I make him pick me up -- although in his case he's not allowed to blurt, "Ugh! My back!"
I actually was looking forward to Ashley Valerio and Kupono Aweau's dance, because their performance last week was my favorite. I had high hopes for their Shane Sparks hip-hop dance as the conceit -- Ashley dancing on the floor as Kupono's shadow -- seemed pretty cool. However, the performance lacked a little luster, or rather, Kupono was only OK (though I'm thinking Ashley is my favorite female dancer). The judges, almost opposite to how they reacted to Karla and Jonathan, seemed to undo last week's praise and declared the couple's performance underwhelming.
When someone asked me which of tonight's performances was my favorite, I had to struggle to come up with one off the top of my head; it was that kind of night. I'm going to hold off comparing this season to last, but so far I'm ready to feel some "SYTYCD" magic, and it's not quite yet there.
-- Claire Zulkey