Sunday, July 12, 2009

SYTYCD: State of the Dancefloor

The So You Think You Can Dance blogging around these parts has been limited to be performance episodes only, mainly for logistical reasons (it's hard enough getting those posts up one day a week). But this week, after the field was culled to the Top 10 -- and in somewhat controversial fashion -- I have a handful of observations to make/things to discuss before we hit next week and the home stretch of the season.

1. Phillip Deserved To Be Eliminated
Look, I liked him, too, and his effort at picking up the other dance styles was evident, but it just wasn't happening for him. And as has been evident with Jeanine, the girl he partners with suffers for having a partner who can't keep up. Truthfully, Jason has been bland enough in all styles that he would have been an equally justifiable cut. But with the eliminations getting turned over solely to audience next week, the judges were faced with the real possibility of Phillip's fans keeping him around for a long time, him dragging down his partners the whole way. (And I maintain that his non-solo hip-hop performances have not being so mind-blowingly amazing as to make up for everything else.) It sucks that he was the only hip-hopper who was worth a damn this season. But based on the dancers in play, he had to go.

2. Thursday's Group Number Was the Best Napoleon/Tabitha Routine This Season
So good, in fact, that nobody I know guessed it was them (does everybody else play that guessing game during the group numbers? I was certain this was a Shane Sparks routine). For whatever reason, NapTab (yeah, I'm back to being too embarrassed to type "NappyTabs" without scare quotes; they're the "Moons Over My Hammy" of choreographers) have been really off their game this year. Last season, they were more inconsistent than we gave them credit for at the time, mostly because their high's (Katee/Joshua's "No Air"; Mark/Chelsie's "Bleeding Love") were so high that the lows were forgotten. This season, no such highs, and in fact the lows just seem to be reheated versions of last year's routines. But this group dance (to the White Stripes!) was hard and crisp and exciting. Like the Rhythm Nation not an extra shot in their morning coffee.

3. In a Season Full of Good, We Finally Got Some Great
I'm never going to not love this show, but count me among those who have yet to find a whole lot to get really jazzed about this season. At the very least, it's paled in comparison to the last two summers, and the area it's most suffered in has been high points. I think these are talented dancers, but whether it's the pairings of the choreography or the lack of diverse styles or what, but there hadn't been any WOW numbers. Until this week, when both Kayla and Kupono AND Brandon and Jeanette delivered eye-popping, memorable routines, the kind of big-choreography, impeccably danced numbers I'll be looking up on YouTube for months and months (until they're yanked, then put up again, then yanked, please don't get me started). Let's hope these are just the first dominos to fall and we're in for a late bloomer of a season.

4. In Order of Preference, My Favorite Dancers in the Top 10 Are...
I put this question up to my usual Dance panel as well, but as way of setting up the rest of the season, I figure I'll offer a Power Rankings list, of sorts, for the Top 10. Not in terms of likelihood to win, of course, just my personal preference:

1. Melissa (preternaturally graceful, long-limbed, and melds her ballet training to every style seamlessly)
2. Ade (would probably have dropped from this perch if not for his blazing solo on Thursday)
3. Kayla (I don't have much of an emotional connection to her, but she's yet to display a weakness)
4. Kupono (haters be damned, I LOVE him, neck-centric fashion sense and all)
5. Janette (she announced her presence in a major way on Thursday; she's been good all along, but she tipped the scales this week)
6. Janine (I have every confidence in her potential to crack the top 5, but she's yet to have a partner good enough to knock me out yet)
7. Brandon (without flaws -- and believe me, I've been looking for 'em -- but it seems like too few people really LOVE him)
8. Evan (I adore the guy, but the judges have ripped him for weeks, and I have to agree he needs to knock one out of the park; preferably more than one)
9. Randi (she's probably gone as far as she can go -- by far the weakest of the remaining women)
10. Jason (he's yet to impress me more than in fleeting glances; bright side: his desperation has reached a point that he may never wear a shirt again)

Vance's Top 5:
1. Kayla
2. Janette
3. Melissa
4. Evan
5. Jeanine

Lauren's Top 5:
1. Janette
2. Ade
3. Jeanine
4. Kayla
5. Brandon

And in the absence of Anna Beth's votes, a Composite Top 5
1. Janette
2. Kayla
3. Melissa
4. Ade
5. Jeanine

And now that I've properly nerded y'all out, please discuss and offer your own lists!


Danny said...

"So good, in fact, that nobody I know guessed it was them (does everybody else play that guessing game during the group numbers? I was certain this was a Shane Sparks routine)"

Haha, we totally play this game too! And we both guessed it was a Wade routine.

Steph K said...

I am so underwhelmed this season, it makes me kind of sad. I'm really hoping for some amazing routines now that we're down to the Top 10.

I don't even have the energy to pick a top 5, but I do have a soft spot for Melissa. I feel compelled to cheer for her because she's older than the rest and I do think she's an incredible dancer.

Saia Smith said...

I'm convinced that this season has a weaker crop in part because there is a fall season planned. They picked the weaker sibling when they picked Kaitlin and Evan. Natalie was left behind. The guy from Miami had his contract issue. I would be surprised if all of these didn't show up at auditions for s6.

When they did the Philip elimination my cousin was freaking out b/c she knew he was gone. I turned to her and said, "there is no way Philip won't be on the tour. They need him to put butts in seats. Phillip has to be top 10 or that tour will have a personality void of epic proportions." So naturally the producers gamed the show where Phillip can get out before his shortcomings become glaring, and they sell their tickets. All this to say, I think the producers are steering this, and will likely have something planned for a much higher profile fall season.

Top 5:
1. Kupono (He has really grown on me since auditions. I don't think he's the best dancer left, but I like him most.)
2. Kayla
3. Jeanine
4. Ade
5. Jannette

Jenn said...

See, I think there are a ton of terrific dancers this season, but we keep forgetting about the good ones because we're seeing the same weaker ones in the bottom three over and over. Or maybe the routines just aren't as interesting. If we had Mia, Wade, and Sonya routines every week, things would be more exciting.

Saia Smith, I agree about Caitlin and Evan's siblings being better dancers. We barely saw Caitlin's sister Megan but I thought she was much better than Caitlin. I hope she, Ryan, and Natalie all make the top 20 this fall.

Brenda said...

I feel the same -- I'm never not going to love this show, but there haven't been as many "wow" moments. There's also -- and I realize this kind of a weird thing to say as a complaint, because I don't think dance has to be about romantic couples -- not as much sexuality as you'd think. The chemistry between the best couples this year seems more friendly and playful than romantic. The dancing itself has been pretty solid, but with the exception of Melissa and Ade, I've never really felt like any of the dancers (in the context of the performances!) want to bone each other.

My top 5 in order of preference

1. Brandon
2. Janette
3. Ade
4. Jeanine
5. Kayla

(I really have a tough time putting Kayla in there above Evan, but she really convinced me in the Mia piece, and while he's for sure my number 3 dude, there's at least 3 women between him and Ade on my list).

Page said...

Chiming in re: the general sense of let-down this year. For me, it just seems like the choreography has been sub-par (with the obvious exceptions of Mia and Wade). (And other than Ade, there aren't any dancers I just LOVE, whereas last year I adored Twitch AND Josh AND Chelsie AND Mark.

AMEN to your Philip remarks. He seems like a really nice guy and his popping is very cool, but he just did not do well in any other styles.

Re: Kupono -- I don't know if it's just because he strikes me as Mark 2.0, but he doesn't do much for me. I thought he was very good last week in the Mia piece, but other than that I've not been impressed. On the other hand, I think it would be a lot of fun to hang out with him!

And while I started out just loving Evan, I think he has proven to be pretty limited. Clearly either he or Randi has a huge fan base, because I would have put them in the bottom three not only last week but the week before. I like Randi a lot but agree that she is the weakest of the remaining women.

My top 10:

1. Ade. I was already a huge fan and his solo last week was just icing on the cake.

2. Brandon. He is just consistently so good.

3. Melissa. OK, maybe I love her too. But she's got to quit the coy tongue-sticking-out crap.

4. Janette.

5. Jeanine.

6. Kayla. I know, she is technically brilliant, but with the exception of the addiction piece, she has just left me cold.

7. Randi.

8. Evan.

9. Kupono.

10. Jason. He's clearly talented, but he just bores me. And he looks 12.

DuchessKitty said...

SYTYCD is like Jane Austen for me - anything is better than nothing! So I've kind of let this blind, unconditional love for the show mask this season's shortcomings. I think the choreography has been hit and miss because so many of the choreographers are also involved in the selection process and are too busy doing the S6 audition stuff to throw together more than just an "ok" routine.
I'm with Jenn, I think the dancing(ers) this season seem a little blah because the same people populated the bottom and we haven't had everyone showcased. I'm also with Brenda that with the exception of Melissa/Ade, none of the original couples really seem to connect together for me.
I truly believe that now that the top 10 is upon us and we'll have solos and new couples that will allow these folks to shine.
My top 5 folks: Ade, Kayla, Janette, Melissa, Brandon