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'So You Think You Can Dance': Ring that Bell

_2PM5109 Last Thursday I complained that Billy Bell should have been sent home, but this Wednesday he made the judges look smart for keeping him in the competition.  While the judges heaped praise and predicted that Lauren and Kent would make up the top two, I’m now a Billy believer: I hope he makes it to the finale.

The night got off to a sexy start: Is it me, or is there a surplus of kissing this season? That was the theme of Kent’s cha-cha with Anya. It was funny seeing Kent portray a “bad boy” who’s hot for teacher (who wouldn’t be, if your teacher looked like Anya) but as he got into the dance it sort of worked.  However, when Kent was actually supposed to cha-cha and not just play a character, his moves looked a little stiff to me.  Mia and guest judge Toni Redpath felt similarly, saying they wished Kent had a little bit more flow and manliness onstage.  Mia also chided Kent for getting too Kent-y with his face.  While I’ve found Kent’s idiosyncrasies annoying before, I don’t think it was issue with this performance, and Kent actually stood up to Mia this time for making comments about his facial expressions.

Next, Robert danced a contemporary routine with Kathryn choreographed by Stacey Tookey about a soldier going off to war. It was funny because as I watched the dance I admired Kathryn’s extension and the character she poured into her performance but thought, “I’m not really getting ‘Soldier heading off to battle’ from Robert here,’” and then, boo-ya, Stacey got me. Robert wasn’t the soldier in the piece; Kathryn was.  I loved that, and it further solidified my admiration for Kathryn’s work in the piece. The dance had a lot of wonderful little details, like an especially desperate hand-grasp, but I think Kathryn hands-down was the star of the performance. The judges praised Robert’s partnering skills but I think that’s a little bit of faint praise.

Adechike then danced a Tyce Diorio jazz routine with Courtney that looked and felt very old-school jazz, a happy, dynamic routine to Dizzy Gillespie’s “Manteca.” Adam called it “just balls-out dancing” and then giggled about his live TV faux pas but that pretty much summed up the routine. While Adechike looked happy and comfortable onstage, the judges wished they could have gotten just a little more style and spring from him, saying, as they’ve said to everyone now it seems, to forget it’s a competition and JUST DANCE!

I, like the judges, loved the choreography in Marty Kudelka and Dana Wilson’s hip hop routine for Jose (both in hats, the choreographers seemed to be giving Nappytabs a run for their money) to perform with Comfort.  I expected bigger, heavier moves than we got and I loved the quiet, sly steps the dance employed and enjoyed seeing Comfort in a gentler, more seductive role. Even though I found Jose charming in his role he didn’t do anything groundbreaking in his performance, and the judges by and large criticized him for not tackling the dance in a darker, sleeker manner. Nigel called his performance “flappy” which actually made sense in the replay.  I think this may signal the end for Jose, although Nigel explained why he hasn’t been present in the group numbers to date: Jose was nursing a groin injury.

Finally we got a girl-girl dance this season, as Lauren and Allison danced a Tyce Diorio Broadway routine. There wasn’t much of a story to it, but I liked that the dance for once didn’t focus on fighting or sexuality.  The routine was cute and sassy and I thought Lauren looked as much like an All-Star as Allison did. The judges praised Lauren for her skill and even though they noted that the dance wasn’t terribly memorable, she was likely to appear in the finale.  I actually thought Lauren’s solo was her best performance of the night, as it reminded me why we liked her so much in the first place when she originally auditioned. Nigel obviously had that other show on his mind as he addressed Lauren and referred to “SYTYCD” as “American Idol” but Lauren helped him smooth over his slip by saying that her singing during the package must have made him say that.

The next dance was not only Billy’s best but one of the strongest of the whole season, perhaps only second to Alex’s hip hop routine.  Billy played a homeless man in a contemporary routine by Stacey Tookey, as Ade played a well-to-do gentleman who encounters him on the street.  The setup sounded a little trite to me before I saw the dance but it was just amazing. Stacey’s contrast of two styles, Ade’s precision and Billy’s total abandon was gorgeous (and nice blocking too, with Billy up front and Ade behind him).  Then, when they started dancing in tandem, swirling like leaves on the sidewalk, I got goosebumps.  It made the decision to keep Billy for another week look incredibly wise and I think Nigel was happy about that.  I was a little surprised that none of the judges complimented Ade, who, while not the star of the performance, played a key part and did it beautifully.

Things got less serious with the next performance as Jose and Kent portrayed a couple of movers checking out dames in a Spencer Liff Broadway number.  It was prototypical old-school Broadway dancing with big moves and lots of mugging.  I thought it was entertaining but not really anything that we haven’t seen before.  The judges took this opportunity to give Jose his props before he’s (possibly) sent home, and tell Kent that he’s likely to make it to the finale with Lauren.  I have a hard time feeling as passionate about Kent’s performances as the judges do. There’s nothing technically wrong with his dancing but I’ve never been able to see him perform and not think, “That’s Kent!” the whole way through. Other great dancers in the show (Katee Shean, for instance) were able to disappear into characters and that’s something I miss in Kent.

Lauren and Adechike paired up next for a sultry Fox Trot. She looked sexy in her black sequined dress and the two of them appeared to be having a good time performing together.  The dance was a little hypnotic (which isn’t always a good thing) although I noticed what a great and present partner Adechike was being. Nigel commented on the sultriness and connectivity of the dancers but felt that otherwise it wasn’t an outstanding performance, and I have to agree with him.

We closed with quite a grand finale as Robert and Billy battled it out in a Bollywood dance. The two of them both strutted like peacocks in the beginning of the performance, and since the dance was about a competition, I couldn’t help but pit them against each other. I thought Billy outdanced Robert in the first half of the dance, but then I perceived a bit of fatigue from Mr. Bell, and thought Robert picked up his slack.  I’ll proclaim Billy the winner just because I liked his solo better than Robert’s. The judges loved the routine but expressed concern for Billy’s knee, which seemed to be in pain after the performance. But Billy, you can’t be hurt because I’ve decided you and Lauren should appear in the bottom two. What’s this now? Lauren’s being treated by the medic? What is it with this season?! (This was all the information that was provided on Lauren as of the Wednesday night airing: if we learn more before Thursday we’ll update.)

Thursday night I am going to be traveling and won’t be able to cover the results show, but my more than capable colleague Todd VanderWerff will be filling in for me. I predict Robert and Jose will make their exit: how about you?

--Claire Zulkey


Cr: Phil McCarten/FOX    

Comments () | Archives (11)

I believe its the end for Robert and Jose as well. I hope Lauren is good cuz she has to be in the finale. Adechike must have a mega deep fan base. The judges dis him week after week and he has never been in the bottom, which I agree with. Billy and Ade....Magnificent!!!!

I agree that tonight was one of Billy's best ever, but it still doesn't seem right for him to be there....the doctor's said he could dance last week and he chose not to...while everyone else especially Robert and Jose were put through the wringer while prince billy just sat and watched and for what??? nothing...billy also drew his genre tonight and that didn't hurt him either....he has always been a great dancer, but the audience doesn't particularly like him...he just seems FAKE!!!!! And normally doesn't dance very masculine...I would not want to be his partner....I want it to be Billy and Jose that go home....

The bottom three: Adechike, Robert and Jose. Based on the Wednesday performances, Adechike should be with Jose to go home. Big question that might solve this problem: did Billy re-injur his knee? The mention of Lauren's injury has me puzzled. I noticed her ankle wrapped...but don't recall any mention about it. Did I miss something?

Lauren looked miserable during her final critique, and they were completely in awe of her, so I thought something must be wrong. If an injury takes Lauren, as it did Alex, two of the official contenders and most athletic talents will have been taken away from us because the choreographers couldn't help it and make over the top routines. There should be some responsiblity delegated here, instead of praising the fact that there were no injuries for the first time in three weeks, because that just makes them look foolish - particularly in light of the fact that Jose, Billy and also Lauren were all suffering from injuries! Though they didn't take them completely out of the competition, they were still there.

As for Billy, well, I really like him and was just grateful I could see him for one more week, but after his performance this week, I'm slightly hopeful that he'll stick around for another week. I don't know if that's realistic or not given his tenure in the bottom three, and if not that, his injury? Also, the overwhelming popularity of Kent etc.

I enjoyed Nigel's freudian slip about American Idol, but if he ends up workin both shows it's going to be a little distracting for me. This season it has become clear that Nigel is a businessman first, and it's all about selling the show, the format of the show, the legacy of the show, and the watchability of the show. A little more so that than the dancers themselves. Also, if he's going to be having all these duties he'll be bringing in even more money than he currently is, and I find the "250 000" prize for SYTYCD to be pathetic. Anyway, sorry about the random tangent, I just meant to say I liked the slip up.

Also, as an afterthought, did anybody else find it extremely disingenous when Nigel kept saying how much Robert has grown when that was his comment to Robert last week in the bottom three "you're not growing"? I actually believe he meant it tonight as opposed to last week where he just said something just for the sake of saying something, but still. Try to keep it honest even if it's inconsistent.

The expression is "feint praise," not "faint praise," "feint" being (an outmoded spelling of) the past participle "feigned". "To damn with feigned praise" would be the translation of the original expression from Shakespear.

Robert will NOT be going home.

Did anyone notice that thankfully the chidlish, annoying and, most importantly, distracting final 10-second count-down during the solos was finally dropped? Good riddance! I thought that Lauren's solo was excellent - especially the part where she did a forward roll and came out balanced onto one pointed foot. That took an incredible amount of control. I will be really upset if she had an injury that prevents her for continuing in the competition because I think she could/should be the winner. Billy's performance with Ade was beautiful and uninhibited. Time for Jose to go home, along with Adechike.

Overall, I find this season the least interesting so far and dislike the new 10 (oops, 11) competitors with "All Stars" format.

Is there a typo? Didn't you mean to say that you hope to see Lauren and Billy in the final two? (You said the bottom two).

Yes, Robert will NOT be going home! (I hope). Billy is good at what he does, but not anything else. His lack of effort showed when he decided to p*ssy out of dancing last week. Either the shows scheduling has been much more hectic with only 11 finalist, or the choreagraphers have been over the top and should be reprimanded/checked.

I love him, but I say Jose and Billy go home. Adecheke has gotten pummeled by the judges and always keeps a smile. Good guy.

Robert is the best dancer, better than Kent, but Kent has the little girls going gaga for him, so they prob vote like 100 times every thursday.

you idiot people who say Billy tried to get out of dancing because he elected not to dance, how can you judge something you know nothing about, how stupid can you be. If he danced on it he might have done further damage, maybe permanent, he had injured it before too. I can't stand know it alls who assume things. You can only project what is in you so this must be the way these morons deal with things and attribute that behavior to others. Billy is the best dancer there. He has never gotten to do a contemp piece like all the other contemp dancers, he always seemed to pull the high schooly fluff pieces. And if you were listening to the comments of the other dancers you idiots who diss Billy, they are all how genuine he is, how he is always the first one to help them out. Billy for the win. Jose and Adichike must go home


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