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'So You Think You Can Dance': Giddy-up

_MG_5791 All right, this is getting old. Another week, another injury on “So You Think You Can Dance.” Is it just bad luck, or are the dancers perhaps being pushed too hard this season?  This time it was Billy Bell, who hurt his knee during rehearsals. Nigel Lythgoe gave the impression that Billy’s injury is not serious and that he should be able to bounce back by next week, but we’ll see.  Perhaps Cat Deeley could have lent him the Ace bandage material that made up the bottom layer of her dress? I’m just looking for an opportunity to mention how much I disliked her dress Wednesday. Usually I love Cat’s sartorial flights of fancy, but this one looked like a big red garbage bag on top of an unattractive flesh-colored slip. 

Lauren and Twitch kicked off the episode with a Nappytabs Wild West-themed hip-hop routine.  I thought Lauren really held her own through the dance: The choreography was impressive, and she hit her moves hard (and I loved her costume, which reminded me of a hip-hop version of what Madonna wore in her “Don’t Tell Me” music video. Props to the show’s costume designer, Soyon An, for her recent Emmy win. You can read an interview I conducted with her last year, "The Fanciful Creations of Costume Designer Soyon An.")  The judges loved the dance, and that included guest judge Kenny Ortega, who seems like a nice enough person, but I didn’t think he really added much, and I suspect that he was just brought on to help fill in the two hours of the episode. 

Jose and Allison  performed a Sonya Tayeh contemporary routine that took place on the edge of the stage. It was sweet and rather understated for Sonya, which Mia Michaels interpreted as “pedestrian,” meaning that the dance utilized gestures more than technical ability. I happened to be watching “SYTYCD” on Wednesday with a group of friends (which is the most fun way to watch it), and one of my cohorts opined at this point that Mia just talks to hear herself talk. However, Nigel agreed with her, saying that, although the dance was fine and Jose was endearing, Sonya helped cover up his weaknesses. 

I wonder how Lauren feels about the male dancers all objectifying her booty this season? It happened again as Robert performed a sexy Tyce Diorio jazz routine with her. I wouldn’t have guessed it was a Tyce routine, especially with Robert licking Lauren’s leg, but it was a strong and sensual dance, which one of my friends described as reminiscent of the movie “9½  Weeks.”  The judges loved it, as did my own peanut gallery.

The next dance is where I strayed from the judges’ feedback: Kathryn and Kent performed a fun and energetic Sonya Tayeh jazz routine to the funky Janelle Monae song “Tightrope.” I thought it was an enjoyable routine (although, to discuss clothing again, I had issues with Kent’s rather dorky costume), but Mia said she was distracted by Kent’s lack of sincerity. While I agree that Kent can be cheesy at times, it wasn’t a problem for me this time.  On the other hand, Nigel claimed that Kent was outdancing some of the All-Stars, a sentiment with which I strongly disagree. Sorry, Kent. 

The judges were also a little more enthusiastic about the next dance than I was. Adechike and Comfort performed a Napoleon and Tabitha D'umo routine about a couple on the rocks. I enjoyed the dance, especially Comfort getting entwined in Adechike’s legs, and I thought he did a better job than usual of inhabiting the character. In general I think Tabitha and Napoleon have really stepped up their choreography this season. However, I thought Comfort pretty much stole the routine, and I thought it was a bit much when Mia called Adechike “unbelievable.”  It was good, don’t get me wrong, but I didn’t think it was bordering on legendary. One of my friends also was suspicious of the sincerity of Adechike’s tears, but I am of course never that cynical.

Each of the dancers also performed a solo, prefaced by a very sweet video of their parents cheering them on.  I haven’t been too excited about the contemporary dancers’ solos of late, which seem to lack a little substance, but I did like Jose’s performance: He put a little more personality than usual in his dance. Also, if for some reason Kent gets sent home Thursday, I wonder if he’ll regret dancing to “End of the Road.”   

Next Robert and Lauren performed a Dmitry Chaplin samba routine. I thought Robert filled up the space more than usual and danced with sex appeal and authority, but I agreed with the judges that Lauren could still use, as Mia put it, a little more “tssss.” 

I do like how this season has featured a lot more same-sex dancing, and I was excited to see Adechike and Jose’s guy-guy pasodoble: although (A), too bad there couldn’t be more girl-girl dances, and (B), funny how most of the guy dances have been about fighting.  However, the dance never really took off for me, starting with what seemed like an eternity of cape twirling. I had a problem with the camerawork during the dance, as you could rarely see both guys onstage, but overall the dance felt very heavy: The judges also weren’t in love with the dance, and, as Nigel put it, there’s more to the dance than just pulling faces.  

As someone whose high school featured a step team, I was psyched to see the first competitive step routine on the show (featuring the music of Chicago gal Kid Sister). Kent danced with Twitch, although I would have loved to have seen him with his original partner, Billy.  I enjoyed it, but I thought Kent looked a little lost, especially next to Twitch, but the judges disagreed, claiming that Kent killed it. I guess the judges just liked Kent more than I did.

Based on overall judge feedback, I’d guess that Jose would be the one to go home Thursday night, but we’ll see: Maybe it will be yet another injury-induced elimination and the winner of the season will simply be the last dancer standing.   

— Claire Zulkey

Photo: Jose Ruiz, left, Adechike Torbert, Lauren Froderman, Robert Roldan, Billy Bell and Kent Boyd. Photo credit: Mathieu Young / Fox.

Comments () | Archives (10)

Observations this week:

Judges, as you so aptly remind us each week, JOSE HAS NO FORMAL TRAINING. Instead of pounding this dead horse each week, I think the focus should be on how well he has done with the talent he obviously has instead of his lack of formal dance training. Why did you pick him to be in the top 11 if you were only then going to hound him each week on what he doesn't know? At least Adam did offer him some key things to work on last week . I am tired of the PEDESTRIAN comments from Mia that leave me shaking my head. To say that Sonya Tayeh's choreography was pedestrian and done to hide his lack of talent is not only a slap to Sonya but to Jose as well. His emotion was real, his movements precise and clean.

As I watched last week and again last night I have seen a shift in the quality of the performances. The dancers seem more confident, more at ease with each other and with the allstars. Nigel, I think that starting out with only 11 dancers takes out that adjustment period they need to get to the level of dancing we are now seeing.

It will be hard to watch tonight, to see who gets sent home. I like them all - each one brings a different strength. I get enjoyment from watching them grow and take on new challenges each week. I don't want anyone to go!

Isn't it really bad that Nigel is only thinking of bringing someone in to help with warm up NOW? Three injuries in a row into it? I honestly thought they had a whole team of experts helping them with that, everything from medical or physio and especially something as basic as warm up. Lord knows Fox can afford it. I hope that situation works out, but three extremely capable and experienced dancers into it? I'm not so sure.

In theory anyway, it would have made much more sense if an injury had happened to Jose. He's the one without the formal training, and so his body should be the least accustomed to contemporary etc., but... he hardly even moved during his jazz routine! I don't know what to say, the choreographers are playing into his lack of skill instead of pushing him and exposing his weaknesses. And just to make it worse the judges aren't willing to let go of their pre-planned narrative of this season's token b-boy(?) growing every week and improving -- even when that fails to transpire.

Lastly, the added "guest judge" was... not really anything other than filler and self-congratulatory on the show's behalf. I've been someone who has been wanting a fourth judge to break the monotony, but if so, I would have preferred someone who could ADD something to what the pre-existing judges already have, like expertise in Tahitian (not really) or ballroom dancing or something. Then again, this is SYTYCD and Fox and I realize there would be little to no incentive to add some "unknown" Bollywood expert. You just have to take the show for what it is.

OK, seeing my comment now it seemed like I somehow wanted Jose to get injured! Definitely not my intention. I like all the remaining contestants, but I think if Jose really wants to make a name for himself in the dance world (the world I know the least about?), he'll want to be remembered for something other then what's currently going on. I think tonight will be tough, because personally I have taken a shine to all the remaining people.

I thought Kent DID outdance Neal last week, and probably Katherine this week as well. He's got a natural liquidity (fluid movements) that most other dancers just can't match. IMO, he's still the one to beat, and the one I'm hoping wins.

Lauren (2nd I'm hoping)killed that hip hop routine, I think she hits harder than Comfort, lol. Also Agreed that Nappy Taps, have REALLY stepped it up. They are starting to turn into some of my favorite choreographers.

To the comments about injuries, I don't know why they would need warm up coaching. All of these people are super atheletic, and have been doing this for years, even if in a non formal setting. Probably the most likely cause is just harder crazy a** routines IMO.

And yes Jose pieces was done to hide his technique, a good idea IMO. Let's him shine a bit better. I really liked his solo though, I felt like it was probably his best one. Felt a bit more like he was dancing (maybe carry over from working with Nappy Taps last week?)

I, too, have had it with the booty talk. Lauren is much more than that and does not deserve such objectification. I do think the choreography Jose has been handed most weeks has not demand as much from him as it might, but I think the hip hop choreography is sometimes toned down for dancers from other schools. It's just that last week's "Mr. Cellophane" was too protective of Jose, and now it's "pile on Jose time."
Kent is going to win, but he is not as mature a dancer as Kathryn or Neil, so I cannot understand Nigel's effusiveness. He'll do fine in the future, and will make a deserving champ, but dance is a physical event and his physique and his control of that physique are no where near perfection yet. Adechike was ill-served by the choreographers last night. One of the advantages of pairing with the non-competing dancers should be that the dance can be built around the competitor. The hip hop routine Adechike danced last night was built around Comfort. Even the description presented before the dance made it clear that the dance was about the woman reject the advances of the cheating man. About her. That's not right.
I have finally come to like Robert, and was pleased with the samba last night. However, I'm pretty sure all the solos last night were repeats of the audition dances. Sort of a letdown.
Billy will go home tonight, though I think Jose would have reached the end of the line by now if the two injuries hadn't happened.

I agree that the dancers are being pushed too hard - ergo, risking injuries. Rather than Mia making snotty comments, she could very easily re-phrase her thoughts with tact. We're at a tough spot on the eliminations now. Unless Billy's knee problem is no big deal (which is scary), he sould bite the bullet and back away. Looks like the finalists will be Lauren and Kent. BTW, where did that kid learn to dance in the cornfields of Ohio.

Honestly, I couldn't stand to watch Kent do the step routine. I have no idea whether he did well or not. His face is so distracting, and he can only show 2 emotions: silly and happy. He's a fantastic dancer, but I really can't stand his performance, not to mention how arrogant he is.

When Nigel sits down and evaluates this season's show, I hope he realizes that it is a composite of events that have caused this season to result in so many injuries. First, it is true that the dances have been more demanding, but choosing to go with only ten dancers didn't allow them enough time for them to develop and most important to develop with other dancers that are on the same level. Time is needed to grow and the twenty dancers from previous years seems the best way to go. And the program developers are responsible for the injuries because they misjudged the negative effects of this new approach; the judges are experienced dancers and choreographers who so far have been unwilling to own up to what could seem as self-serving and a rush to glory.

Ask anyone who knows me .. I have been in love with Neil Haskell and his dancing since the first time I set eyes on him. He is delicious .. perfection .. and Kent TOTALLY OUTDANCED HIM last week. Watch the dance again if you disagree .. watch Neil's lines and watch Kent's .. the space Kent with which every one of his movements is beyond exquisite .. and his technique is unfailingly flawless. I was turned off by his Gomer Pyle-ness for the first 2 weeks and have found him grounded and professional every week since. My favorite thing about his dance with flawless Kathryn is that someone finally matched her!! It was just SO fulfilling to behold.

And, for the record, Kent, while well able to absorb all his adoration (it takes some true self-confidence to be able to do this), is one of the most humble dancers we've seen thus far.

So how many anorexic female ballet dancers need to be celebrated? When are we going to embrace a female with normal contours who dances the ballet? The stereotype of a given dance form should be abolished and the actual dance talent should be embraced. At what point is this reached for ballet?


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