Thursday, August 06, 2009

So You Think You Can Blog (Blog, Blog...): Top 4 Performances

One last time, the gang's all here: the lovely and talented AB Chao, the equally lovely and talented Lauren S, and the even more equally lovely and talented Vance from Tapeworthy. Final performance show of the season, y'all. Let's do it.


Kayla, Evan, Jeanine, Brandon
Pop-Jazz (Wade Robson)

Joe: Love Wade, love the dancers, but the whole thing never exactly popped the way I think it was supposed to. So allow me to use this space for a peremptory assertion that I don't hate Evan. Truly, I don't. Through the first 3-4 weeks, he was one of my favorites. But he's stayed stagnant while everyone else has grown, and as the weeks went by and the talent got more and more concentrated ... he's just not strong enough. Kayla's a better technician, Jeanine's got a more magnetic personality, and Brandon's hotter. That's the holy trinity right there, and Evan's outclassed in each category. And if he wins, I don't know how I'm not gonna hold it against Ryan next season. My apologies in advance.

Vance I guess I represent all tweens and grandmamas out there that still love Evan despite the fact that I know he's the weakest link here. That being said, I don't think Evan should win, and I think if he DOES win, it WILL hurt Ryan's chances next season and I thought Ryan was the stronger dancer. So yeah, I'm not blind to that fact.

Really enjoyed the routine but I agree, it wasn't the wowser like SexyBack was (but then again, has anything been since?) but it was still fun even though there was more acting than dancing.

Lauren: Yeah, this wasn't Wade's best work by any stretch. It was fine, but I was definitely left wanting more.

AB I am really disappointed with this because of my deep and abiding Wade love, but it kind of did nothing for me. Regardless, all of the dancers, even Evan, were great at...cheering. I give this a big sad frownie. YES I DO!

Click below for our take on the rest of the show!


Jeanine and Evan
Jazz (Sonya Tayeh)

Joe: All that being said about Evan previously, he did reasonably well keeping up with Jeanine here. As with his previous Sonya collaborations, he danced it well if not spectacularly. You can really tell how much Jeanine and Evan honestly enjoy each other, and I liked how that came across, both in the video package and the routine.

Vance Yah, these two pair up quite well and again, Jeanine's totally awesome and here's proof Evan's still pretty good. The backlash now makes Evan seem like he can't dance at all but he's still far better than the most of us. But Jeanine!!!

Lauren: I agree that clearly Evan is a great dancer, charismatic, and seems super nice. But the judges are exactly right to point out that he hasn't grown like the others, and he was outclassed so often tonight that I started to really feel bad for him. He did well here, but Jeanine was fabulous as always and was the draw of the whole routine.

AB Don't feel too bad for Evan. He and his little puppy dog cheeks will be just fine on that tour. But it did start to seem like he was getting nothing but a bunch of sunshine blown at him, all, "Well, that wasn't very good, Evan. But to make up for it, we will once again tell you how cute and nice you are." It felt a little condescending, even though Evan was obviously eating it up. Anyway, the routine. I love Sonya so I liked this a lot. Evan did really well, but Jeanine was fantastic. Obviously. I am officially on her train.



Brandon and Kayla
Broadway (Tyce Diorio)

Joe: Really liked this one! Tyce's broadway routines are never going to completely blow me away (or hadn't you heard?) but this one was weird-in-a-good-way and gave Kayla and Brandon plenty of chances to show off. Particularly Kayla and Her Insane Legs. Holy eff.


Vance I KNOW! Another Tyce routine I didn't completely hate! That's growth! Though this seemed more pop jazz than Broadway for two contemporary dancers but whose counting?

Lauren: Seriously, though my dream wish was "No Tyce" this actually wasn't bad and I enjoyed it! And seriously, Kayla's legs are ridiculous.

AB I liked this one so much it made me mad! Because Tyce was involved. Brandon and Kayla are a pretty good team, although I do wish Kayla would show more of ANY emotion. Sometimes I wish I could poke her and see what would happen. Also, I think even if I practiced every day for a year, I still couldn't make my legs do that. Maybe I will try it, and let Joe Reid blog about it. Watch this space.


Brandon and Evan
Pop-Jazz (Laurie Ann Gibson)

Joe: Okay, first thing's first: I still love Laurie Ann and hope she's around a bunch in Season 6. But this routine annoyed the hell out of me. I'm already irked by the Nigelian assertion that boy/boy routines need to be as much about fighting as possible so nobody in the universe anywhere gets the impression that dancers might in any way consider sticking it in another dude. Ahem. But somewhere between the leather jackets, the literal shadowboxing, and not-intentionally ironic use of Janet Jackson's "Nasty," this whole thing became officially too butch. At least when Danny and Neil did their dance-fighting routine there was the conceit of the two fey princes. Anyway. So this was annoying to me. But Brandon clearly mopped the floor with Evan. And I don't buy that Evan's inherent sweetness and innocence was just too strong to be overcome, because Brandon is a teensy ray of sunshine himself, and yet he's been able to fully embody rough/mean/hard characters time and again. That being said, my very favorite moment of the whole night (not involving Jeanine) was when everyone was waiting for Evan to answer Mary's "What's the nastiest thing you've ever done" question, and Brandon squeaked "I'm excited!" And that's when I finally fell for Brandon for reals.

Vance Actually, that whole segment when Mary asked Evan and his answer was pretty great. His dancing, not as much, but again, while Brandon was FAR STRONGER, everyone's making out like Evan just sat there or something. But yes, considering Brandon squeaks when he talks and looks like Carlton Banks, he did pull off the "nasty butch" thing rather fairly well while Puppydog eye Evan didn't, though again, I just think Evan's built a different way in a competition that leans heavily towards Contemp.

Lauren: I actually really liked this routine, even with it being too literal and everything, but the one hard part for me to watch was (yet again, and I promise I'll let up on this from here on out) Evan not keeping up with Brandon. I think even Evan knows that by now but by the 2nd hour of this episode I felt bad for him that this week was when the judges finally started being harshly honest with him. That now out of the way... I thought Brandon was freaking amazing. And ditto everything about the question at the end -- that was ridiculously cute on all sides.

AB The main thing I kept thinking (and saying out loud, repeatedly) was how much more awesome this routine would have been with Brandon and Ade. Can you imagine? They both would have made the whole thing so much more dirty (and also buck). That said, Evan did a passable job with it, but those parts where he couldn't keep up made me have to look away. Brandon, however, was awesome, and I agree that it's not a good excuse about being too sweet to be dirty. Carlton does it. So can you. Ugh, he's so cute and I hated him so much at first. "I'm excited!" killed me.



Jeanine and Kayla
Contemporary (Mia Michaels)


Joe: Deceptively kind of brilliant. You're so busy looking for when they're going to shed all those excess ruffles that it's easy to miss the strong contemporary work. Less of a capital-C "Concept" that often defines my favorite Mia routines, and there's still a part of me that wanted to see Jeanine and Kayla go off and do something totally weird and funky, but this was great.

Vance My favorite of the night. Mia is BACK! I don't even know if it was deceptively brilliant. It was just brilliant. It required so much technique all within that artistry (oh god, am I starting to sound like Kara now?) and backed up by two strong girls that could pull off dancing Mia's vision. Jeanine though did look a bit like the stronger of the two and as Adam pointed out tonight, it's because Jeanine knows how to fill in the gaps in between the "moments" both in her solos and in these choreographed routines. She never lets up and is always fully enraptured in the dance.

Lauren: I definitely wanted to like this more than I did. But while the choreography wasn't my favorite and I thought the wardrobe stuff was a bit gimmicky (and then when various parts got caught a couple of times I got so worried for the girls) there's no denying the amazing talent of these two girls.

AB Mia [Middle Name] Michaels! What is your puh-roblem, girl? You do not need PROPS. Jeez. I was really aggravated with Mia for perpetrating this, because Jeanine's wardrobe malfunctions kept pulling me out of the routine, which could have been AWESOME, but because of the skirt craziness, was merely ok. And is now making me have run-on sentences. The girls were both great; Kayla is clearly stronger technically, but Jeanine is just all-around awesome, so she gets a slight advantage here.



Kayla and Evan
Jive (Tony & Melanie)
Joe: Look, I love the jive pretty much all the time, so I definitely enjoyed watching this. But I was also glad to see Adam Shankman be the rare judge to criticize the choreography (and was annoyed that Mary decided to take another step in the Paula direction by pre-emptively shooting him down -- and let's not even discuss that rumor about Paula coming to SYTYCD next season). For whatever reason, that thing that Evan does well really works in a jive. But unfortunately, it kind of served to drag Kayla down rather than elevate the pair of them.


Vance: I actually liked this a lot and while it was constructed pretty simply, it worked for me. Or maybe it was just the honky tonk music. I'm not sure. I think I'm a country boy at heart (or I just WANT a country boy for my heart). Did Evan and Kayla do a perfect job? No, but they did a fairly similar job.

Lauren: Hee, this is actually one of my favorite totally guilty pleasure songs, so that made me happy. There were parts of this I really liked, but I was able to pinpoint my problem with the routine after the Paso Doble...

AB This was really weird to me, because neither of these two has a country bone in his/her body, but Kayla looked really cute in her cowboy boots. I think the one weakness she has is that sometimes she tends to look a little klutzy during ballroom-type transition moves. I can't figure out why, maybe because those great lines of hers are TOO good? I don't know. Anyway, it was cute. Not great, but cute.



Brandon and Jeanine
Paso Doble (Louis Van Amstel)
Joe DUDE! I so wanted to suggest a paso doble in last week's post, but I didn't think either of the boys were tall enough (and thus forgetting that my favorite paso doble of all time was Heidi and wee little Travis). But Brandon danced this plenty tall enough, and he and Jeanine blew this one right off the stage. Perfect way to end the show (well, not so perfect for Kayla and Evan but alas). Also? How great was Jeanine's reaction to that cape-flourish trick she and Brandon pulled at the end of the video package? Love.

Vance My other fave of the night, with the pairing of the two (debatably) strongest dancers of the night in a whiz bang performance on a set that seemed built for this one dance. But now to get to the nitpicky. By pairing up Brandon and Jeanine, it brings out why I'm pulling for Jeanine. While Brandon may be the better technical dancer with that strong muscular body, Jeanine seems to enrapture the whole dance with body and mind, and there's just some inner sparkle or passion that gives her a glow that I rarely see from Brandon. Not to say Brandon doesn't dance with passion but he's such a good technical dancer that I think his concentration overtakes him and he doesn't seem to be having as much fun as Jeanine. (Does that make sense?)

Lauren: I think it was Adam who pointed out that what makes a dance great are the transitions, so that it's not just going from one move to another. The jive felt like that to me -- it was kind of jerky and went from one cool move, to setup to another cool move (or steps, but you know). This Paso, on the other hand, really just flowed awesomely from beginning to end and I was thrilled that these two were the ones to dance it. I love Louis Van Amstel and I hope they keep him on this fall!

AB By process of elimination, this was my favorite of the night. I guess I am just now realizing that none of these final dances really blew me away, but this one was a ton of fun to watch. It also showed that Jeanine and Brandon are obviously the strongest dancers, individually and as couples. And I LOVED Jeanine in this one. Jeanine FTW! (I voted for her, twice. Once to cancel out my husband's vote for...Kayla. WHAT?)



SOLOS + FINAL THOUGHTS:

Brandon Bryant

Joe Can he honestly be this unsure of himself, or is he just working overtime to counter the past perceptions of him as an egotist. Either way, it was another typically strong Brandon solo. For someone I was very resistant to at Top 20, Brandon grew on me steadily (it's not like I could deny his ability), and if not for Jeanine (who at this point is second only to Travis in my all-time Dance favorites), I would be totally rooting for him to win.

Vance Not as good as his last week's solo, but far better than the ones previous to that. Again, maybe my fun comment has something to do with being unsure of himself and probably focussing on getting things so technically perfect (which they seem to be). His solo's still seem to be more of a series of tricks rather than a whole DANCE PIECE but that perfectly timed ending was fantastic.

Lauren: Yeah, there sometimes is a bit of a spark missing for me in his solos but I think that is definitely because he's so technical about them -- and that said, holy crap is he technically magnificent. I'm happy Adam called him out on the board shorts, though. I am constantly amused to see what the dancers pick for themselves when they do their solos, and I get the impression that in the dance world, a) matching and b) matching the type of clothes to the routine is frowned upon.

AB I wish his solos from last night and last week had been switched around, because while this one was technically fabulous, last week's was astoundingly good. Our joke last night was that he'd come out and do it naked, because after last week's Speedo, where else could he go? So the board shorts were quite a disappointment.



Jeanine Mason
Joe What else can I possibly say about her? Except that I said this at Top 16: "I like Phillip a lot. He's sweet and eager and mucho talented in his own realm. But I sit here hoping (in vain, I'm sure) that he'll get voted off, because I L-O-V-E love Jeanine, and I just want to see her paired up with someone who can keep up with her in these other styles." So, yes, I'm patting myself on the back for being an early adopter of Jeanine. She DID get partners who could keep up with her and she DID shine brighter and brighter. I could not get enough of Adam Shankman's bubbling-over love for her after that (AH-MAZING) solo; he might be the one person who loves her as much as I do.

Vance Best solo of the night. Again.

Lauren: Absolutely, totally, freaking unbelievably fantastic. Love the dance! Love her!

AB This was awesome. Her best ever! She should win just for this. In addition to learning Kayla's splits, I will also be attempting to learn Jeanine's crazy slow-motion pirouettes. Blog it, Joe.


Evan Kasprzak
Joe Oh, Evan. I hope you do not win. But this was probably your best solo yet. So good job.

Vance Actually, I still think his solo for a few weeks back was his best but this one was still pretty good. He sure knows how to pull it out of the bag on his solos which it seems like this year, has won or killed many a dancers (Melissa would still be here if she had figured out how to do better solo's, and I think if Ade had learned to switch up his solo's, he too would still be here).

Lauren: I didn't like this solo as much as I have liked some others but I thanked goodness he didn't end it with a shrug. I really enjoy watching Evan's solos every time. But he's not the person that should be America's Favorite Dancer. (Look at me, dictating what America should think!)

AB I do not think this was Evan's best solo (the one from a few weeks ago was), but it did remind me why I liked him in the first place, before all the shoulder-shrugging and dirt-kicking happened. Still love you, Evan! Please lose.



Kayla Radomski
Joe Oh, Kayla. We all kind of figured Brandon would be the Travis/Danny/Will of this season because of the physical/personality similarities (he's teeny and gay like Travis; insanely buff like Will; and aloof like Danny). But now it's looking like Kayla is destined to be the technically brilliant, endlessly adaptable (Adam nailed it when he said there's nothing she can't do) freak of movement who ends up being maybe a bit too otherworldly to win the whole thing. We'll always have that addiction routine, girl.

Vance I actually thought this was Kayla's best solo as well (boy, everyone is on their game tonight). Kayla, like Brandon, usually does a series of tricks and contemporary movements but here, there was a more fluid flow to it all. But I agree, I think she missed her chance to grab the title (I did peg her at the top at one point during the run of the show) by being too "otherworldly". Joe, what a perfect word to describe it.

Lauren: Kayla is one of the people who always reminds me that this is definitely not So You Think You Can Choreograph but her technical skill can't be denied. I agree that Joe nailed it up top, but at the same time, if she were to win I think she's perfectly deserving. I think that she's probably the least likely, though, just because her personality doesn't bubble through like it does for the others.

I think I'll be happy if anyone but Evan wins, because they are all fantastic dancers who have excelled at everything that's been thrown at them this season. But if I have to pick one, my heart lies with Jeanine because she's just 100% the total awesome package.

AB I thought this was really good. I think Kayla should not win because she is a robot, but I do love her dancing.

5 comments:

Rachel said...

The thing that disappoints me most about Ade being kicked off last week (besides the fact that I love him to pieces and think he should have won) is that we didn't get to see a Brandon/Ade number. Woe! I feel that would have been so awesome that the stage might have actually melted.

jessica said...

What a great show, and a near-perfect ending (if only it had been Brandon and Ade at the end, it would've been perfect)! Thanks so much for blogging this, you guys.

Kate said...

Really really enjoyed your blogging throughout the season. Thank you very much!

Jon said...

See, this post makes me sad because I think it should totally be Kayla to win it all.

Watch group dances: she follows the moves through, which the others typically don't.

Jeanine I hate. Why? She's the kind of girl who can't dance without touching her hair as often as she can get away with it. She's the sort of dancer who's always, obviously, thinking EMOTE. Dancers are also ACTORS! We must EMOTE.

The face she makes is like orgasm meets constipation. It's off-putting.

Kirk said...

Whoo-hoo!

:)