Thursday, June 18, 2009

So You Think You Can Blog (Blog, Blog...): Top 18 Performances

Hey, sorry, gone for a week, blame the houseguests. Anyhoo, the panel and I are back for another week of The Dance. This week, Lauren is unavailable so the ever fantastic Brian of Stinkylulu fame will be filling in. He joins Dance stalwarts AB Chao, and Vance from Tapeworthy.

This week, in the interests of clarity and flow, I'm going to break up the convo by performance, and as always, out picks for the best and worst of the night are at the bottom. Let's go!

VANCE: So apparently this season may be a great season but none of them can really do Hip Hop justice. On the other hand, it wasnt even near the worst hip-hops we've seen on this show. Or maybe I was just being nice this week because It thought overall people did alright.

Caitlin and Jason could have done better. Philip and Jeanine could have done better. Kupono and Ashley could have done better. Vitolio and Asuka could have done better, but for 2nd week it wasn't all that bad IMHO.

That being said, one of those groups (or Kayla and Max only because of their hideous costumes apparently to match Brian's usual wardrobe) are going home (though I'm guessing Philip is safe just cause he's Philip and either Kupono or Jason will save their teams from bottom 3).

Now the biggest thing I want to talk about? Jonathan and Karla's redemption. Did I not say last week that Karla had SOMETHING and I liked her for SOME reason? Plus now I feel justified in my cougar crush on Jonathan. (Plus, CDN Stacey Tookey as choreographer!!! WHADDUP! EH!?) Oh, and Melissa and Ade totally rocked it again!

JOE: Okay, let's take this couple by couple, shall we? Let's start by answering some questions. Like did you think Evan would have been a better fit than he was for the jive (or do you think he WAS a great fit)? And doesn't Randi look like Kellie Pickler's slightly smarter cousin?

Randi and Evan
Jive (Louis van Amstel)

BRIAN: Hmmm. I wouldn't be at all surprised if Randi had a relative or two in the big house. But she mostly reminds me of that one really bossy cheerleader, the one who got pregnant or busted or something so she had to quit the squad before the end of junior year. I loves me my little munchkin Evan. And I get it that he wasn't perfect on the jive, but methinks they raked him a little too hard (though it probably got his fanbase riled to call like crazy).

JOE: This one one of a few routines tonight where I couldn't help but think of a routine last season that was much better (in this case, Chelsie and Gev's jive). I think the judges were pretty much right in their criticism, but Evan did impress me with some of those high kicks he threw in there.

AB CHAO: Eh. They were ok. I think I am feeling like this about the whole season thus far. It doesn't seem like these people have any charisma, or something. Also, the lack of hip-hop skills is REALLY getting to me. I'm so depressed.

Melissa and Ade
Jazz (Sonya Tayeh)

BRIAN: Still can't get excited about Melissa. Something too too labored about every gesture, like the choreography is a very heavy sweater or something. And that costume. Good-NESS. She was all shocking pink and pasty white, which made Ade's darker berryness disappear a little. Ade seems to be really good, though I just feel this is the least apt pairing of the season.

JOE: I have to disagree on these two, who are fast becoming my favorite pair (give or take a Kupono/Ashley). There's a danger with Sonya's choreography that you're gonna get swallowed up by the weirdness (Kourtni/Matt did last season, Courtney/Mark did not), but these two really made their mark. And Ade may be the rare Dance guy who can go shirtless without making it seem show-offy or desperate.

AB Chao: I should say no one has charisma EXCEPT Ade. He has charisma, and is hot. The routine itself was pretty good, and I do like crazy Sonya. They did it justice; I didn't love it.

Caitlin and Jason
Hip-Hop (Shane Sparks)

BRIAN: I like Caitlin. I love Jason. I could care less about Shane. What I admired so much about Caitlin and Jason last week was how astutely they learned -- because of Nakul's thorough guidance -- the style and the choreography of Bollywood dance. I sometimes wonder if choreographers for certain styles (hiphop and contemporary, especially) just can't be bothered to babystep the dancers into their style (like almost all the ballroom and novelty folk do). Not all choreographers are good teachers and, this week, it seems Shane's limits as a mentor were really exposed.

JOE: Weak sauce all around, from Caitlin, Jason, and even Shane, who put together something that felt like one of Napoleon/Tabitha's more watery routines. I worry that it's been two weeks now and I still don't have much of a handle on Jason. At least Caitlin can hold on to her fragile emotionality (that she kept admirably under control this week).

AB CHAO: I think these two are really in danger of going home. The whole thing was sort of awful, and I was trying to like it REALLY BAD. Because, as you know, Shane is my boyfriend. But yeah, I thought he did soft-pedal the choreography, and it felt like poor man's Tabitha & Napoleon.

Janette and Brandon
Disco (Doriana Sanchez)

VANCE: I still think Brandon looks slightly uncomfortable in his partnership but overall is was excellent and while I always forget who Janette is, I find myself mesmerized be her on the dancefloor.

BRIAN: Yes, the lifts were impressive and, yes, it was very, very fast...but I honestly didn't think Brandon was all that good in this one. He maintained the kinetic energy of the ridiculously difficult choreography but lost the disco smoothness along the way. This routine, though, stirred my first bit of real enthusiasm for Janette.

AB CHAO: I'm just going to put it out on front street, here: I hate Brandon. I'm sorry, but I do. Does that make me a Mia? I think it might. I do not care. I do not like him. Fail, etc. Jeanette is ok, but I can't see past Brandon to like her. Maybe when she gets a different partner, eventually? Man, I feel bad about my attitude. Whatever: HATE!

JOE: Yeah, I'm with Anna Beth in really not caring for Brandon at all, but this routine was, I thought, phenomenal. Hard, fast, show-offy disco, and the both of them pretty much bowled me over with energy. Did it turn me around on Brandon going forward? Maybe not. But this week he's def on my good side.

Asuka and Vitolio
Waltz (Louis van Amstel)

VANCE: I think they sold it with their efforts more than their steps but again, it wasn't that bad, but in the end, might have been one of the worst of the night and I think these two might be in danger tonight.

BRIAN: First off, it's only fair that I confess: I. LOVE. VITOLIO. I don't exactly have a crush, but I do think he's terribly underrated thus far and that he's one of the most quirkily telegenic of anyone this season (even without the backstory). I basically feel about Vitolio the way I felt about Mark and Gev at this point last season -- worried that his distinctiveness won't be appreciated by the callers. It's really too bad, then, that he's been paired with probably the least "likable" dancer of the season in Asuka. That said, Asuka gave an effective, accessible performance tonight and Vitolio was good (even though that costume looked like one of Bea Arthur's "Maude" pantsuits).

AB CHAO: These two cuties were one of my favorite couples last night, but that is probably because I love to cry. And they did make me cry, because, you know, HE'S AN ORPHAN. And I felt that in The Dance. Technically, yeah, it was just all right, but y'all know I went on that emotional journey with them. Also, Vitolio is totally one of my favorites, but I am scared no one else likes him as much. Probably, they just don't understand him like I do.

JOE: These two just bore the hell out of me, and I couldn't even get it up for Vitolio's waltzed depiction of personal pain. This was the second routine of the night that paled in comparison with a season 4 number (Twitch and Kherington's fancy-pants waltz), and I would not at all be surprised to see them in the Bottom 3 again (though after the personal story and Mary's tears I sincerely doubt Vitolio's going anywhere).

Kayla and Max
Pop-Jazz (Brian Friedman)

VANCE: I couldn't really concentrate on the dancing here because I was so horrified by the outfits.

BRIAN: The Russian ballroom boys always squick me out a little bit and Max is no exception. (And I really wish Nigel hadn't made the Kevin Spacey connection. I now can't help but see Max as the Muppet Babies version of La Spacey.) But, even with his hairless pits and those girlicious harem pants, I thought Max was really good in this routine -- the routine I think I liked best of the night. Kayla, too, was really strong and somehow made that feather fart of an outfit work. But she was nowhere near as astonishing as she was last week, and the wild overpraising by the judges is setting her up for a backlash sooner rather than later.

AB CHAO: I don't even remember this routine. I do remember their scary, scary outfits. Max does look like Kevin Spacey, though I'm not sure I would be taking that as a compliment.

JOE: I thought it was a super-fun rendition of a bizarre dance, but I'm with Brian that the constant over-praise is ultimately not going to do Kayla any favors.

Jonathan and Karla
Contemporary (Stacy Tookey)

VANCE: My fave of the night and the big surprise of the night. Plus give it up to Stacey Tookey! AND Mary Murphy for knowing "Falling Slowly" was an Academy Award winning song and not some "obscure" song no one knows (shakes head at Kara). (Granted, I'm sure someone fed this to Mary or Mary did her research beforehand but at least someone did that.)

AB CHAO: I agree with everything Vance said about this, down to being happy Mary knew what the song was. Last week I was mad that Karla didn't go home, and now she is one of my favorites. I'm so glad I finally like a girl. I was beginning to think it would never happen. Jonathan is a cute little thing, isn't he? He was awesome too.

JOE: After seeing the judges fall all over themselves praising this, I actually rewound back and watched it again. For whatever reason, I was unimpressed with it the first time, but now I definitely see it as a strong routine. Jonathan moves very naturally for contemporary.

BRIAN: Utterly blah. I found myself looking past the dancers to enjoy Stacey Tookey's excellent choreography. Jonathan seems sweet in a simple-ish way, kinda like David Archuleta in shiny pants, but I remain overwhelmingly underwhelmed by both his dance skills ad his stage presence. Karla appears to be entirely capable though I can still barely remember her.

Phillip and Jeanine
Tango (Tony Meredith)

VANCE: Not as hot of a mess as it could have been but it still felt like two kids learning the steps and doing their darndest to perform it.

AB CHAO: Man. Poor Philip. He was trying so hard, and it was really kind of painful to watch. I thought Jeanine did a great job of buoying him, though, and without her it probably would have been a lot worse.

BRIAN: Not good. Not awful. But just not good.

JOE: Not good, though I'm glad Jeanine was spared. I really hope that while Philip gets a pass for sucking at ballroom, the contemporary dancers get a pass for not doing as well as they could on hip-hop. Which brings me to...

Ashley and Kupono
Hip-Hop (Shane Sparks)

VANCE: Love them more than their dancing this week.

AB CHAO: I love these two. I think they are great partners. Kupono is also my boyfriend. However, this sucked. I actually felt kind of sorry for Shane because both of his routines got panned so hard. He looked so despondent when they cut to him that second time. Buck up, Sparks! There is always next time, until they fire you!

JOE: Okay, it seems I'm the only one, but I rather liked this routine. I thought they both hit it reasonably hard, the energy was up, I thought it was miles better than Caitlin and Jason's routine. If they end up in the bottom three with, say, Asuka/Vitolio and Philip/Jeanine, I will be very interested to see which guy they send home. And by "interested," I mean "dismayed," because it will obviously be Kupono. At this point, I think I have to pull for Jason's ouster.

BRIAN: For someone I hadn't even noticed before the Top20 were announced, Ashley's becoming more and more impressive each time I see her. And, while Lil C's critique of Kupono seemed spot on, I don't see their performance as the insulting disaster that the judges accused it of being. And perhaps I'm feeling a little defensive regarding Kupono (because me loves him me do), but I'm already weary of the panel accusing him of being not manly enough.
- - - - - - -

JOE: Finally, most importantly, thoughts on guest judge Lil' C? And all the choreographers, really. Like, for example, how I'm already completely in love with Brian Friedman's face?

BRIAN: I miss Friedman's crazy curly hair.

VANCE: Lil C? Love him. Love his critical speak.

BRIAN: I almost like Lil C. He seems fairly smart and has a good eye. But his smartyparty word shtick grates. Especially when he uses those big fancy words incorrectly. And I'm not sure what to think of Mary's growing irritation with him. All for show? Or something else?

JOE: I had noticed that -- Mary has a real grudge against him, doesn't she? You'll remember she never really flipped out in Vegas re: Brandon until Lil C co-signed Mia. What's her deal there? If her Botoxed face were more expressive, maybe I could get some context clues, but alas.

AB CHAO: Lil' C is probably my favorite judge. I think it's because I, too, have given birth to progress, and my progress baby helps me create clarity from chaos. When he uses all those big words incorrectly, it merely aids me in my journey to becoming a dominant submissive. Also, that I am quite buck.

JOE: I think Lil C -- along with Mia -- might be my favorite judge too! He IS the beginning of my progression. Every day.

AB CHAO: It makes me happy to see that you feel the same way about Lil' C. I say we get together and make a loquacious, adjectastic progression baby.

AB Chao: Karla/Jonathan; Asuka/Vitolio; Melissa/Ade

Brian: Max/Kayla; Asuka/Vitolio; Brandon/Jeanette

Vance: Karla/Jonathan; Melissa/Ade; Brandon/Jeanette

Joe: Melissa/Ade; Brandon/Jeanette; Max/Kayla

AB Chao: Caitlin/Jason

Brian: Melissa/Ade

Vance: Phillip/Jeanine (or Asuka/Vitolio)

Joe: Caitlin/Jason


momo said...

I love eavesdropping on your conversations about The Dance. Can't wait to see your reactions to the elimnations.

Kirk said...

Love it, guys! I agree with a ton of this - particularly the underwhelmingosity of Shane Sparks. I thought he was supposed to be good? Maybe not... or he confused me by wearing his hat sideways or something. I can't remember any good routines he's done in the past, so, yeah.

I also really like Lil' C - I actually wrote about him today, myself. I really want to see Rize, too. It is time, however, to say goodnight to "buck."

I hadn't noticed that Mary seems to hate him in particular, but that's an interesting observation... hmm. Maybe she has a problem with krumping in general?

Also, sorta unrelated, but did any of y'all see this post lamenting the shoddy camera work in the American SYTYCD (versus the Canadian version, apparently) in open Salon a few weeks back? I thought it was damn interesting.

As for the results: girl, kinda surprising, guy, not such a shock.

Joe Reid said...

Oh, Shane Sparks is usually fantastic. Two of my favorite performances on this show EVER were Shane routines (this one and the Matrix-inspired group routine from season 3 that's tragically been removed from YouTube).

I just don't think he's got any good hip-hoppers to work with this season. Which makes it doubly too bad he had to sit out last season. Between Twitch, Josh, Gev, and Comfort, he really could have done something awesome.

jessica said...

I don't know that I'm a huge fan of Shane, but perhaps, as was mentioned, it has more to do with his teaching abilities. I've never really cared for Louis van Amstel on Dancing with the Stars, but as a choreographer on SYTYCD he shines. His fox trot and samba last week, and his waltz this week were really good. I'm thinking it must be because he's used to teaching celebrities with no dance backgrounds and here he has legitimate dancers who will no doubt be able to pick up his instructions quicker. Perhaps Shane should hang out more with Carrie Ann Inaba.

Pillow Fighting Fanatic said...

Re: Shane, who put together something that felt like one of Napoleon/Tabitha's more watery routines.

Joe, seriously. What's funny about this is that last season I was all 'Taboleon's no Shane sparks' and both his routines this week felt like he was becoming a poor man's taboleon. Shane's at his best when he's doing something off the wall. The Crazy Transformer'esque routine with Lauren way back when, anyone? Like AB, Shane is totally my boyfriend for reasons I don't understand so I was happy to see him on the show but sad to see the fruits of his labor be so mediocre.

Did that last sentence almost sound like something Lil' C would say? Damn it...

Kirk said...

Oh yeah - he did that Lauren and Pasha routine! How could I forget that? Amazing.

I hope that it's not just that there are no good hip-hoppers this year... maybe someone'll surprise everyone and step to? Or maybe Phillip?

Nicole T said...

...kinda like David Archuleta in shiny pants...


DuchessKitty said...

Loved reading your comments as usual and agree with a lot of your points (especially Brian for calling out Vitolio's "Then there's Maude" pantsuit!).
Ade and Melissa have pulled ahead as my #1 couple, but that may change again next week because I'm fickle like that.

As far as the results show I'd like to make a few comments:
1)The Mia Michaels opening number was AWESOME. Just awesome.
2)I agree with Nigel when he said that Jason's solo might've been the best male solo ever done on the show.
3)I'm probably more excited than I should be about the idea of a Kupono/Kayla partnership.