what happens when a contemporary dancer goes hip hop

Well, it was nice to finally meet all of the top 20 last night on the first real episode of So You Think You Can Dance. I've read a few recaps here and there and it seems there was some disappointment overall. There was a range, certainly, but I think it's a pretty tight group. Every season the top 20 seems to get stronger. That said, I limited my voting to my favorite three couples, only one of which I didn't particularly care for as a couple but voted for because I think one-half of the team has a lot of potential. And I made three calls to my most favorite, two calls for second place, and just one call for the runner up. But before I get into who I just loved, here's my take on all the dancers.

I liked the routine Tabitha and Napoleon came up with for Jamie and Rayven (seriously, who named these kids?). I thought their performance was just "a'ight", to borrow from another talent competition reality television show, preferring Rayven's dancing over Jamie's, but feeling like after all that talk about "pulling faces," Rayven was actually the one guilty of this in the end. No votes for you!

Susie and Marquis danced what has to be my least favorite genre - the smooth waltz. The only time this works for me is when the dress is nice and flowy (which it was) and the song is somewhat contemporary (like the show's use of Enya last season...or was that the season before?). I don't think they should get bonus points for it being "difficult choreography" - the dancers should be and I think are challenged regardless of whether they get something super technical like ballroom or something less traditional like hip hop. As for Nigel's comments, I don't know much about the smooth waltz but even I knew they messed up that lift. Who's to say the disco routine at the end was technically any easier than this one? But more about that later. And not to be petty, but the discrepancy between the color of Susie's hair and eyebrows bugs me.

Ah, 12 feet of dancing talent! I loved Mandy Moore's work last season so I was super excited to see Kourtni and Matt dance her first piece of the season. I think Kourtni has the look for Moore's 80s-infused (at least as far as song choice goes) choreography (according to the many names the judges threw at her, she looks like any famous blond chick), but Matt was just a bit too goofy throughout. I thought it was pretty good, but not great. Definitely room for improvement here and this is one of several couples who might take a couple of weeks to get beyond awkward. But I'll be keeping my eye on Kourtni.

Chelsea T. (two Chelsea's and two Courtney's, albeit different spellings, in one season...again, strange baby naming trends for the late 80s and early 90s, no?) and Thayne (see what I mean?) did a salsa routine that I had to watch twice to make a decision as to whether or not to vote for them. Their performance continues to grow on me, and in the end, I was convinced that Chelsea is hot enough for the both of them, and Thayne did a decent job himself (by the way, skip ahead about two minutes in the clip above to see actual dancing, or 3 minutes for the really hot stuff).

Chelsea H. and Mark did a Mia Michaels routine that has kind of done the reverse for me as the routine above. What's the opposite of "to grow on"? I've watched it again and the more I think about it, the more I wonder if not all of Mia's routines quite live up to her Emmy-winning reputation. My main complaint last night, however, was Chelsea's poofy wedding tutu. Every time Mark had to lift Chelsea or drop her down in the always graceful jackknife position, the dress completely obscured about 90% of her body. I'm not a dancer, so what do I know, but that would seem problematic to me.

And how funny is it that my early favorites were paired together? Initially I was apprehensive to hear that Kherington and Twitch were doing a Tyce Diorio routine (not a big fan of Broadway), but they are definitely one of the few couples with a lot of chemistry early on and I thought they both did a great job. A lot of fun to watch. Two calls for couple number 6 (again, you'll have to watch about two minutes of introductory material in the clip above before you get to the routine itself).

I really can't wait to see what Comfort can do (and yes, she is the dancer Nigel claimed to be perhaps the best female hip hop dancer they've had on the show but have shown only snippets of her audition and Vegas performances) but I wasn't terribly impressed with the jive she and Chris danced. Why are so many of the guys so goofy this season? I'm sure he has more personality than a tree but I haven't seen much to get too excited about just yet.

Three calls for couple number 8. For me, this - a second Tabitha & Napoleon routine danced by Katee and Joshua - was by far the best performance of the night. I too have a loved one in Iraq and I'm just a little pregnant right now, so maybe I'm biased, but I even teared up a little at the end (and had chills right from the start). Katee reminds me a bit of Sabra from season 3 - something about the way they both, being contemporary dancers by trade, do hip hop. There's a flexed foot here and there and a general lightness that worked for Sabra and I think will work for Katee as well, especially paired with Joshua, who definitely lucked out with hip hop on the first night. Not that I don't think he's capable of other stuff ("I've had ballet training a little bit"...uh huh) - he definitely has a lot of potential - but the routine benefited from his particular talents as much as it did from Katee's performance and T&N's choreography.

I barely remember Jessica and Will's tango. All I have written down (yeah, I take notes, so what?) is that the judges were too generous with them.

On the other hand, even though I didn't love Courtney G. and Gev's disco, I thought Nigel, at least, was too hard on them. Like the smooth waltz, there's just not much that's contemporary about the disco routines we see on this show, from the choreography, to the music, to the wardrobe. I enjoy watching it, but it's been mocked one too many times. That said, I thought Courtney definitely had the look and worked it out, but as a couple, they've got some work to do. I wouldn't be surprised to see them in the bottom three tonight.

1 comment:

Jolina said...

Read Freakanomics. It's a cool book in general, but there's a section in it all about names, trends, etc. I was hesitant to read it (book club choice) because it kind of reads like a text book. And I was so not reading any more text books at the time! But in the end, I loved it.

I haven't ever really analyzed SYTYCD like you do, but I definitely know what I do and don't like! After all these seasons, I'm starting to really see when the foot work is wrong, or like that horrible lift - you know they've screwed up.

I thought the comments unfair as well. You can't judge those guys on the style of dance. Nigel is biased towards the traditional.