Wednesday, September 02, 2009

So You Thought The Dance (and The Lists) Were Finished?

It's back, you guys! So You Think You Can Dance returns on Wednesday for their first-ever fall season, and they're kicking it off with a special highlighting the greatest routines from the first five seasons. And since I spent the last season assembling an ever growing cabal of Dance fanatics -- and since I'm something of a list-making dork (or haven't you heard?), I figured I'd put the call out to my peeps -- in this case, Kirk, Jeff, Lauren, and Vance -- and find out what OUR favorite routines are. I asked for 25, because that's how nuts I am over this show. Let's see what we all came up with:

*Note: Due to a tie, we actually get 26. Even better/crazier!

26. Katee and Joshua -- Bollywood
(Nakul Dev Majakan, Season 4)
Maybe the strongest initial pairing in all five seasons, Katee and Josh were the recipient of the very first Bollywood routine on the show. Predictably, they knocked it out.

25. Travis, Heidi, Benji, Donyelle -- "Sexyback"
(Wade Robson, Season 2)
Couldn't find a good video! Sorry, guys. But it's Wade Robson teaming with Travis, Heidi, and Donyelle! (And, okay fine, Benji.) You can probably draw your own conclusions.

24. Sara and Pasha -- West Coast Swing
(Benji Schwimmer, Season 3)
The three runners-up and next-highest vote-getters in our survey all featured Sara (jazz with Jesus, jazz with Pasha, disco with Neil). Seriously, how could you not love Sara, the b-girl who turned out to be amazingly adaptable at pretty much any genre?

23. Lacey and Danny -- Samba
(Dmitry Chaplin, Season 3)
Hip-hip, chin-chin, and the hottest samba EVAH.

22. Nick and Melody -- Paso Doble
(Mary Murphy, Season 1)
This routine is enough to make me want to seek out Season 1.

21. Heidi and Travis -- Paso Doble
(Mary Murphy, Season 2)
How two such tiny people could pull off a routine this towering is a mystery only if you've never seen Heidi and Travis in action. Also, dig Mary Murphy as choreographer!

Click below for #s 20-1!

20. Courtney and Gev -- Contemporary
(Mandy Moore, Season 4)
It's not a flawless routine, but those ragged hems end up adding to the sweet, youthful romance of the dance. [Kirk's #1 selection.]

19. Season 2 Top 6 -- "Hide and Seek"
(Mia Michaels, Season 2)
Mia's group routines can lose the intimacy of her duos, but this one fused six bodies into one undulating, united form. [Vance's #1 selection.]

18. Travis and Benji -- Hip-Hop
(Shane Sparks, Season 2)
Nerd funk! The answer to the question: How do you get a sissy and a spazz to look plausibly hardcore?

17. Ivan and Allison -- Contemporary
(Tyce Diorio, Season 2)
Watch this routine and try not to adopt Ivan before it's over. Just try.

16. Brandon and Janette -- Jazz
(Wade Robson, Season 5)
I watched this with the sound off while I compiled this post and I think I liked it even better. Bounless energy, ethusiasm, creativity, and some wickedly quick movement.

15. Brandon and Janette -- Argentine Tango
(Miriam Larici and Leonardo Barrionuevo, Season 5)
It's the highest-ranking ballroom routine on this list for a reason.

14. Jeanine and Brandon -- Pop-Jazz
(LaurieAnn Gibson, Season 5)
Okay, all at once this routine gave us LaurieAnn Gibson for the first time, shot a rocket up Jordin Sparks's "Battlefield," paired up Season 5's eventual top two for the first time, and wrapped it all up in the hardest pop jazz you'll ever see.

13. Kayla and Kupono -- Contemporary
(Mia Michaels, Season 5)
Breathtaking in its emotional commitment -- Kayla and Kupono go some places in this one -- yet possessing of the lightest touch of any routine on this list. For my money, this was the signature routine of Season 5, and the best thing Mia Michaels has done on this show not involving a bench or a leap.

12. Lauren and Neil --Jazz
(Wade Robson, Season 3)
The routine that pretty much saved these two and propelled them into the Top 6; Wade's angel-devil dance (set to Roisin Murphy, natch) lets Neil and Lauren act as much as they dance; their big personalities shine.

11. Courtney and Mark -- Jazz
(Sonya Tayeh, Season 4)
Oh SONYA! With your crazy weirdness. The fact that her avant garde gothic brothel aesthetic fit Mark like a glove was no surprise. It was seeing sweet (but repeatedly and remarkably game) Courtney take to it so energetically that sold the routine.

10. Season 2 Top 10 -- "Ramalama (Bang Bang)"
(Wade Robson, Season 2)
If I didn't know so much about how much the guy adored Michael Jackson, I'd comment on the balls on a guy stepping up on national TV and choreographing a zombie dance -- any zombie dance, really, but a group zombie dance to boot. "Thriller" isn't budging from its position in the American cultural pantheon, but Wade delivered something every bit its equal. [Lauren's #1 selection.]

9. Lacey and Kameron -- Contemporary
(Mia Michaels, Season 3)
As I've said before, this was the very first routine I ever saw on So You Think You Can Dance, and it's still the one that sticks with me the most. Simple, sure, but watching Lacey throw herself into Mia's choreography, literally, is breathtaking. Even more impressive is how she glides around the stage like she's weightless. Plus whatever those Son of Harem Pants things Kam was wearing really add to the otherworldliness. [Joe's #1 selection]

8. Jamie and Hok -- Jazz
(Wade Robson, Season 3)
Ahh, the Hummingbird and the Flower. Wherein Wade Robson very literally recreates the dance between a hummingbird and a flower. IT'S ABOUT SEX, PEOPLE. Hok was easily a Top 5 most lovable contestant ever -- how one season managed to contain both him and Sara without floating away on little cartoon hearts I'll never know.

7. Jeanine and Jason -- Contemporary
(Travis Wall, Season 2)
The immense waves of pride and joy that (deservedly) crashed upon Travis after this routine might lead one to believe the raves this got were sentimental. Don't get it twisted. The exhilaration of watching Jason finally dance with someone with whom he connected -- and for Jeanine to get a partner who could keep up with her -- spills over in every step. To borrow a Debbie Allen quote (she was actually the judge on this episode but the quote comes from a season prior): call the fire department, honey, that was HOT.

6. Lauren and Pasha -- Hip-Hop
(Shane Sparks, Season 3)
Aw. You guys, look at Pasha up there being all hard and adorable. If you look closely at the routine you can see Lauren is carrying the pair, true, but Pasha was more than game to follow her lead, and they both really let Shane Sparks's creativity shine through.

5. Katee and Joshua -- Hip-Hop
(Napoleon and Tabitha, Season 4)
This was a heck of a debut routine from Napoleon and Tabitha right here, fusing the big concepts and bigger emotions of contemporary to creep into something that still moved like hip-hop. Josh immediately jumped to the head of the pack (and never really faltered), while Katee made the most remarkable one-week turnaround ever, from the last, weepy rung on the ladder (her Vegas histrionics won her few fans) to instant front-runner.

4. Katee and Twitch -- Contemporary
(Mia Michaels, Season 4)
Katee again! See what I mean. This was the big Mia highlight from what was kind of a lackluster Season 4 for her. But it's a hell of a highlight -- funny and athletic and combative at once.

3. Heidi and Travis -- Contemporary
(Mia Michaels, Season 2)
Better known as the Park Bench routine, this nabbed Mia an Emmy and instantly (for me at least) made Travis and Heidi the two best dancers in season 2. It really capitalizes on Travis's aloof charisma -- does anyone really believe they could hold onto this guy for a second? -- and brings this amazingly desperate side out of Heidi. It even manages to elevate a decidedly lesser Celine song!

2. Sabra and Neil -- Jazz
(Mandy Moore, Season 3)
Mandy Moore's crowing achievement, and in a just universe it would've won her an Emmy besides. To take a concept that shockingly LITERAL from "Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)" and make it feel fresh simply by virtue of the dancing is incredible. Neil's all over the stage in this one, using his gymnastics to his utmost advantage, while Sabra shows the adaptability to any genre that won her Season 3.

1. Chelsie and Mark -- Hip-Hop
(Napoleon and Tabitha, Season 4)
Okay, NOBODY on this panel didn't love this routine, easily the signature dance of Season 4, the one that opened our eyes and made Mark and Chelsie instant contenders, the one that made us reluctantly reconsider that Leona Lewis song even if for a minute, the one that brought suburban angst into the heartbeat-heavy hip-hop context. Let's see Season 6 try to top this one! ...No, really, I want to see it. [Jeff's #1 selection]


Vance said...

My #1 pick Hide and Seek only made 19th spot? RECOUNT! Okay true, there were SOOO many to pick from and just seeing this list, I realized I still had so many others I would have considered still (though what would I have knocked off the list? Oh the pain!)

Erica said...

Thank you so much for this list. I'd forgotten just how many dances (and dancers) gave me chills. It felt like a reunion to watch them all - Lacey and Danny and Neil and Travis! Shmooop!!

I know I'm beating a dead horse with this, but the personalities in the earlier seasons seemed to shine so much brighter than those of the dancers in season 5. They just knew how to sell it back then. Mia and Wade and Sonia, in particular, really need dancers who'll throw themselves into the movements, and I'm so grateful for the dancers whose skills go way, way beyond having nice lines or quick feet.

pamie said...

Joe, that contemporary is also the first dance I ever saw on this show, and still gives me chills. We're SYTYCD twins!!

That being said, I don't think I'm ready to start the life commitment that is another season of this show so soon after the last one.

Joe Reid said...

Pam, you could always take a break and come to New York when Jeff returns home and has to catch up on a whole season that he's missed.

momo said...

I love lists! I love SYTYCD! This makes me very happy!
I would have included more Mark and at least some Danny, but great choices.

DuchessKitty said...

You are certainly a man after my own heart. I too made a list of my fave SYTYCD routines last night -

The list focuses on the duo dances only because I already gushed about my favorite group routines a few weeks ago.
One BIG notable miss from your list:
Season 3's Top 10 group dance choreographed by Mia Michaels to "The Moment I Said It"; highlighting the insane ability of of Danny in particular but showcasing Neil, Sabra, Pasha, Lauren, Sara and Lacey as well. It's probably my ultimate #1 routine. I get very emotional watching it.

Joe Reid said...

We have at least one Danny routine, momo. I admit I wasn't a huge Danny fan, but I also threw votes to his contemporary routines with Neil and Lauren.

Also, I should note that 10 of the 15 best routines on tonight's clip show were reflected in our list.

Kaitlyn said...

Even though I love Melissa and Ade, I couldn't BELIEVE that they showed the Cancer dance. My fiance predicted they would, but I was like, "No, they avoided some of the more manipulative/overpraised/personal dances (like Mia's dead father dance), once they get some distance, they see that they weren't that great," without REALIZING that there was still time for another dance. (Caveat: I still think the Cancer dance was the best of the m/o/p dances, but I think I'm still bitter about how it couldn't be properly critiqued because all the judges were sobbing)

eliza said...

I just want to say how much I've enjoyed your SYTYCD posts. I didn't discover them until season 5, but they totally added to my enjoyment of the show and I'm excited to keep following along during season 6. This list is great; I thought for sure Twitch and Katee's Mercy door dance would make it onto last night's show, but alas. Poor Twitch. Other than that, I was pretty pleased. I cannot even believe next season starts in a week. It's almost too good to be true. More Kasprzaking aside, I can't wait.

Joe Reid said...

Kaitlyn, watching that routine again last night, I thought of how the intense focus on the personal-interest side of that routine has really overshadowed what a strong piece of dancing it was. Which is a shame, because that was some of the best stuff Melissa and Ade did. They can't win -- either the cancer stuff was so powerful that it's all anyone will talk about or the cancer stuff was so manipulative it's all anyone will talk about.

DuchessKitty said...

I personally love the "Cancer Dance". As a piece movement art and dance technique. Emotional manipulation and posturing from Nigel & Co. aside, the routine itself is pretty gorgeous. I mean some of the lifts that Ade does are so spectacular, and the flow of the dance is very well executed.
I just think it's a shame that the produders etc have kind of ruined it by all their "it's the greatest" googaw nonsense.

Anyhoo, Joe and Co. you guys should be proud of yourselves that picked a good number of the routines that were featured last night. Keep up the good work!

Kirk said...

I can't believe I have yet to comment - and that, due to the craziness of last week, I missed wednesday's best-of show! Fail!

Anyhow - this is a damn good list. The top five routines are... pretty much the top five routines.

I'm stoked for this season; considering how S5 started out a little weak and then caught steam, I have a good feeling about Season 6. Here's hoping, anyway.

Thanks again for having me, Joe!

buffmetube said...

C'mon you guys, is this list for real? It's obvious some of you only started watching the later seasons first because there are many routines from the earlier seasons which were overlooked. I suggest all the reviewers go back and watch EVERY SINGLE ROUTINE from every season and not just what you caught on YouTube or whatever. It's the only fair way to do this list.

Joe Reid said...

You guys, this douche is right -- we should all be ashamed of ourselves.

Seriously, though, I probably should have made clear that not all of us had seen every season and that the list naturally weighted heavier towards the latter seasons. I just figured people would understand that's kind of the nature of these subjective lists and not, you know, flip out on a blog like a crazy asshole.

Kirk said...

Joe, in the interest of fairness, I'm afraid I'm going to have to resubmit my list after I go back and watch EVERY SINGLE ROUTINE from every season.

Which, at 45 weeks over five seasons averaging three hours per week, means I'll see you guys in a little under six days.

Of uninterrupted viewing.

Of my Imaginary Complete DVD Collection of So You Think You Can Dance.

Wish me luck.

Kirk said...

You know actually, I think I'm letting my love of sarcasm get in the way of the more interesting question.

Issues of fairness aside, Buffmetube - since you have seen all of the episodes, what are your favorite routines?

In other words, which ones did we overlook?