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'So You Think You Can Dance': Season seven has finally arrived

_MG_6621_1 Remember how the last few weeks I’ve been complaining about how this season of “So You Think You Can Dance” doesn’t measure up to the others? Well, this is me shutting up.

Adechike and Lauren were the first to dance, a Dave Scott hip-hop routine about two dorky pencil-pushers who decide to let loose and have some fun.  I have to say I loved “Hot-n-Fun”: It was a fun, flirty and sometimes humorous routine. A lot of times I was looking more at Lauren than Adechike, probably because she tore open her shirt to reveal a sparkly purple bra, but overall it was an adorable performance, especially because I perceived a slight homage to “The Carlton.”  The judges loved it: I’m not sure that it merited Adam’s standing ovation, but it was definitely Adechike’s most enjoyable performance so far.

The show stayed on a high note with the next performance, a contemporary routine Ashley performed during a dance with Ade choreographed by newcomer Dee Caspary. The whole theme of the dance was going to be the two of them coming together, and while I cynically thought this was just the show trying to get me to see the chemistry more between the contestants and All-Stars, Ashley brought it.  Ade was a wonderful partner, there for her every move yet letting her shine. Mia’s comparing her to a “purple wind” was both risible and accurate.  Also, I have to note that Ashley’s hair was its own thing of beauty during the performance.

I was then prepared to lose a little bit of interest with the show’s first solo performer of the night, Billy, because a) I don’t love the solos that much and b) Billy’s not my favorite, but I was pleasantly surprised that he danced with a bit of bravado and attitude (I am not going to say “swag” or “swagger,” thank you very much), and not be such an earnest young man on the dance floor. I felt the same way about Alex’s solo, too: A little funk went a long way with me.  

I thought it was very cute that Sonya Tayeh choreographed a routine expressly to demonstrate Robert’s strong suits, but I have to say, while Robert has his charms, he just doesn’t command my attention for some reason. I also didn’t think Sonya’s routine was that amazing: Occasionally I think her choreography can be a bit halting and posey. However, what do I know? The judges disagreed with me and praised both Robert and the dance.

I think Melinda also suffers from Robert’s condition: She just lacks a certain compelling nature. Also, she referred to herself in the third person, which really turns Claire Zulkey off.  I thought I was being mean when I thought, as she salsa-ed with Pasha, “I miss Cristina,” but Mia said pretty much exactly the same thing. This makes me love Mia, that she can be harsh like that. Also, I loved her simile about Melinda dancing like she had bricks on her legs and was just trying to survive in the pool.  Melinda later pretty much completely lost me on her solo: I felt that her song choice, choreography and outfit clashed with each other.

Mia also gave Lauren some good advice, how she should try to get in touch more with her feminine, character-actor side, because while her burlesque-style dance with Neal was cute, it could have been a total bombshell. Also, can we discuss: a Debbi Gibson version of “Let Me Entertain You”?

Then in comparison with Robert and Melinda there was Jose. I wasn’t his biggest fan before tonight, but I totally saw how he sold his samba with Anya. It was clear that it wasn’t his genre, but he had a certain swagger (Oh, shoot! That word is unavoidable) and glint in his eye that made the whole thing work. He even pulled off the usually-cheesy ballroom outfit and I even think his cornrows added to the whole look.  The judges praised his charisma, if not his skills.

I was glad the judges took Kent down a peg tonight. He’s been borderline-annoying to me so far this season, with a personality that’s big but borders on ridiculous.  The judges felt that in his allegedly romantic/sexy dance with Allison, he was too busy playing to the audience to actually connect with his partner. That is to say, he needs to mature and take things a little more seriously.  America will only vote for a Muppet for so long.

The episode started strong and ended strong. I was excited for a guy/guy hip-hop routine: This is a side of the All-Star pairings that I can get with. I love it when same-sex dances occur on the show.  At first I thought Alex’s NappyTabs routine with tWitch was going to be corny, as the All-Star played the ballet dancer’s shrink, but the whole thing picked up really fast, as the two danced to the repeated phrase “Get outta your mind!” with the doctor leading the patient on some sort of awesome primal-therapy hip-hop experiment.  I especially loved tWitch playing with Alex’s ballet moves and Alex pulling off the crotch thrusts.  The whole thing came together, and I think I want to download that song now.  I was really happy with Tabitha and Napoleon, who seem to be doing a good job this season playing up the contrasts between the All-Stars and contestants (and who aren’t being overused, which I think has been a problem in previous seasons). Nigel loved it and told the choreographers it was the best routine they’ve ever done on the show, and the other judges agreed and gave the dance a standing ovation.  What a strong way to end a stronger than usual episode. Oh, and I even especially liked Cat’s dress tonight.

Tomorrow, I predict it’s Melinda’s last night on the show, with Robert also in the bottom three.

-- Claire Zulkey (follow me on Twitter at @Zulkey !)

Photo: Adechike Torbert, right, performs a hip-hop routine with All-Star partner Lauren Gottlieb. Credit: Kelsey McNeal / Fox

 
Comments () | Archives (6)

Couldn't agree with you more! Melinda needs to go, she's been floundering since the beginning.

For some reason, I couldn't connect with Billy's performance at all, in fact I found myself watching his partner more than him. And Melinda is a complete waste, as I thought last week when she wasn't eliminated and Christina was..

With regard to Melinda -- the show has demonstrated time and again that it's no place for a tapper. Why we keep taking tap specialists and putting them into a show that doesn't value their skills is beyond me.

And what makes Claire like Mia makes me despise Mia. Mia may miss Cristina (and why the f$* she didn't vote for Melinda to go last week is beyond me) but I miss Mary Murphy more each week. The judges are too similar in their comments, and we have no sense of love for the dancers as people that we got from Mary.

I value the comments of both Mia and Adam. There's an understanding now, with the demise of Mary Murphy, that the judging will be more specific and, yes, judgmental. That's the way the contestants improve. More pointed judging is especially good with the new format. It's obvious from the great leap forward made this week by the majority of competitors that it's sinking in--you have to get better to win!

This post completely reflected my thoughts as well. I thought the judges' comments this week, particularly Nigel's, were spot on, deliberate, critical and helpful. I love having Mia as a judge so much more than Mary and I'm so relieved not to have to listen to Mary's "hot tamale train" scream that the dancers have to pretend to love.

I happily had my first fast forwarding experience with the show last night. No judges blabbering on about how bad choreography is the fault of the dancer or how the excellent dancing was solely because of the choreographers or Mia's abstract criticisms (which I don't really mind but I don't understand them either) of needing more "ssssssssssss" or less "mmmmmmm" etc. I'm not saying the judges don't give meaningful advise, but so much of the time they spend talking is pretty useless and I can't stick around for the 1/5 where it's not. Also, there was less screaming and "we'll take a commercial break" stuff taking up time and it actually made the episode last an acceptable amount of time! I'm never going back.

Anyway, I liked the Alex and Adechike (didn't really enjoy him before) performances in particular. I don't think any of them will win, but if Melinda goes home and maybe that anonymous girl too, I will officially like all the remaining dancers... which I'm not sure is good or bad as a viewer. Either way, good show, much better than last week I thought.


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