Tag Archives: Mandy Moore

SYTYCD: Top 10 Perform, 2 Eliminated

The Top 10 went into full swing tonight, as all ten dancers took the stage with some of the best All Stars in the history of the show to show off the ways they have improved throughout the season and to attempt to measure up to their more accomplished and (sometimes) more talented partners. This also marks the first week the judges don’t have any power to save a dancer, so Nigel and Mary were joined by…Tara Lipinski? Uh, sure. She was OK during the auditions and acquits herself well enough tonight, but doesn’t add any critiques that were especially insightful or original. One of the other major things I noticed tonight was the possibility for some routines to be longer as necessary due to the lack of any solos or group dances besides the opening routine.

As usual, we are joined by the wonderful Elena Rivera.

Elena: Cat Deeley Outfit Watch: This week Cat is wearing a very flower child 70’s outfit, a glittery off-white tunic with large bell sleeves. It’s from Matthew Williamson’s Pre-Fall 2014 collection. It’s less structured than her other dresses, so it hangs a bit baggy, but the color and the shine are delightful. Her hair game is so point, this is probably my comment every week, and she’s wearing dainty white earrings to match with her outfit.

Top 10 Routine (choreographed by Jamal Sims), Bang Bang” by Jessie J, Ariana Grande, and Nicki Minaj

Whitney: Only recently released, but “Bang Bang” is destined to be that sneaky song of the summer that turns out to be the most memorable despite being released during the last of the beach months. It worked very well here and I’m glad the show bothered to use it even with such quick turnaround time. Not a fan of the cowboy costume motif as it didn’t really make sense for the song, although I could see the stretch from ‘bang bang’ to a cowboy’s gun, but the use of neon colors was a fun twist to the concept. Not really any parts that incorporated the entire group, but that falls on Jamal to accomplish not the talent. Could have been sharper from most dancers, I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt because of the obvious rehearsal time constraints. A fun start to the show.

Elena: As someone who loves colors, this day-glo dance saloon costuming and props made me so happy (and “Bang Bang” is so catchy I was waiting for So You Think You Can Dance to choreograph to it). Would you consider this hip-hop? I’m going to call it that, even as it had a tap breakdown and some jazz movements for the women. Everyone seemed to hit hard and genuinely looked like they were having a good time wearing cowboy hats and carrying around parasols. Ricky and Jessica took front and center for the men and women, as they have for many of the group routines, and Jessica’s face was exactly as expressive as it needed to be, something I’ve been critical of her before.

Bridget and Brandon – Bollywood Disco (choreographed by Niquel?), “Disco Khisko” by Dil Bole Hadippa

Whitney: Don’t think the first Top 10 episode is the time to experiment with routines as strange as this. More of a creative endeavor than a legitimate genre to assign to a couple and expect them to perfect. It screams of the show pulling ideas for originality out of nowhere at the behest of the network. However, it was energetic and well executed. Bridget’s smile did her right here and she maintained her energy level from top to bottom, showing off how improved her stamina is as the season has gone on. Brandon and Bridget have some of the best lines in the history of the show, and they worked well together. It’s a shame she went home in a week where she had some of the best energy and looked the happiest all season. It may not have mattered though, since I’m unsure how willing America would have been to vote for a Bollywood Disco routine no matter how impressive it was. Also, did they choose the music just because it had a Bollywood feel and the word disco in it? It didn’t really work for me as far as representing this seemingly made up genre.

Elena: Brandon is such a strong dancer, and he’s always been called on for great Disco elements, but Bollywood Disco is definitely a first. Bridget needs to remember her face: although the dance was relentlessly fast, the smile on her face would disappear for a second or two when she was breathing more heavily. I liked the different lifts they did in the routine. Traditional Bollywood doesn’t have a ton of lifts, and Brandon was always praised for his strong partnering. It wasn’t necessarily bad, but it also wasn’t very memorable to me.

Tanisha and Ryan – Argentine Tango (choreographed by Leonardo & Miriam), “The Gaucho’s Pain” by Tango Jointz

Whitney: Tanisha’s appeal eludes me. Even after speaking with multiple people who say she is their favorite at this point, I don’t see it. She is not personable on camera at all and her skills are technically incredible but not overwhelming entertainment wise. The strength exhibited in the routine was crazy to see, specifically the many holds and lift splits. Her flicks and kicks very sharp (as was Ryan’s footwork but that you could have guessed before he set foot on stage). I agree wholeheartedly with the judges about the lift that ended with Tanisha ending up on Ryan’s neck. But even as I was nodding along with them about her skill, I wasn’t really entertained. Realistically speaking, how was she safe? Not understanding America’s infatuation with her persona when there are more exciting and engaging dancers left in the competition.

Elena: I had to look up who Ryan was because I didn’t remember him, turns out he was on Season 6 as a Latin Ballroom dancer, but even in the interview package he looked like such a powerful dancer and seemed so much older than Tanisha, who looked like a tiny baby bird. The routine itself was fantastic: sexy and sultry and full of insane lifts that ended in kicks through Ryan’s legs. This is the gold standard for Argentine Tango, Leonardo Barrionuevo and Miriam Larici choreographed a routine that made me remember how good Tango can be on the show. It helped that both Ryan and Tanisha were Ballroom dancers, but Tanisha’s never danced better. This is why I love the All-Stars, they raise everyone’s game (or prove who really deserves to go home).

Jasmine and Emilio – Hip-Hop (choreographed by NappyTabs), Get Low” by Dillon Grancis and DJ Snake

Whitney: Emilio’s concern over his last hip-hop performance going over poorly with the audience was one of the most important things we’ve seen in the prepackaged clip this season. Unfortunately, it turns out it was included for a reason, as his worry that he would go home tonight turned out to be accurate, even if it wasn’t in direct connection to the performance he put out. This was my most anticipated All-Star couple, and my anticipation was rewarded handily. The only major distraction or problem was the height difference slightly, but both dancers brought it at such a level that was out of my mind almost as soon as I noticed. The music was a nice option for the intensity of the routine, if not all that creative. Every movement was precise but powerful at the same time. NappyTabs choreographed to both dancers’ strengths and it showed in the result.

Elena: Jasmine was my favorite last season, and Jasmine plus NappyTabs equals all my dreams come true. The idea for the routine is a little bit Aladdin, a little bit bananas, and Jasmine’s wearing a princess Leia-inspired outfit (that also has pants). There are baskets, there are gold thrones, and like only NappyTabs can, there’s such a sense of fun to the Hip-Hop routine. Jasmine rocks the hell out of the routine, but Emilio keeps up the pace with her. I was just distracted by how hard Jasmine hit, and it reminded me there are a ton of women who are beautiful dancers this season, but not a lot of powerful ones. This is the problem when so many of the Top Twenty women are Contemporary dancers, it’s not always a style that lends itself to showing off strength.

Valerie and Ade – Jazz (choreographed by Tyce Diorio), “Hearts a Mess” by Gotye

Whitney: What a shock, as soon as Valerie and Ricky were broken up she turns into a semi-mess and her true skill level is revealed. Her hands were floppy and terrible, nothing was crisp and none of the lifts were transitioned into or out of properly. The one lovely part was Valerie posing on Ade’s back just so he could show off how strong he is (fans self). Bottom line is she had no stage presence besides being a cute dancer flitting around with someone twice as talented. Also, it’s about 2 years too late to be using Gotye for anything. I’m taking away all of the points from House Music for that digression. Both Tanisha and Valerie being safe from America’s vote makes me think there is someone hacking into the official count and taking all their votes from Jacque and Bridget. No way they should both be in the top 40% of this season in favor of one of the two girls at risk.

Elena: Tyce Diorio channeled some funky Jazz choreography this week with Valerie and Ade. The choice of “Hearts A Mess” by Gotye, which I’ve never heard before but was a really interesting piece of music, gave the piece the exact right vibe. I know we talked about this last week, but song choice is so essential in the show, and choreographers who know how to pick songs (Travis Wall) always seem to create captivating moments on the stage that transcend instead of take up space in the program. Valerie’s intensity was what was lacking for me: all the extensions and breadth of Ade couldn’t compensate for Valerie’s lackluster showing, although she seemed more comfortable than before. What we predicted was right, Whitney, separated from Ricky, Valerie isn’t all that good.

Jenna and Rudy – Cha Cha (choreographed by Louis Van Amstel), “Maps” by Maroon 5

Van Amstel making a reference to the Rudy/Jacque love story was everything I never knew I wanted from a SYTYCD choreographer. Personally, I didn’t buy in to Jenna’s sexiness last year and certainly don’t buy it this year in a one-off performance. She does too much mugging for the cameras and face-making when she should be focusing on her partner, and it was a detriment to Rudy inasmuch as his performance could be brought down. Rudy didn’t have as much strength in his upper body as he needed to make every piece of this work, but he was brimming with confidence that more than made up for any tiny slips in his technique. Overall, it was as sexy a performance as a Cha Cha set to a Maroon 5 song can be (Rudy being shirtless under that vest notwithstanding). Most importantly, Jacque avoided elimination and he was safe so their infatuation can continue, although this is probably the last week that will be the case.

Elena: This Cha-Cha by Louis Van Amstel was all based on chemistry, which is good because Rudy’s not always been the strongest partner in Ballroom. Jenna I could watch for ages, though, and this seems a good enough time to bring up the Mark Kanemura routine she was in last season, which remains one of my all-time favorite dances on SYTYCD. I thought that the dance seemingly complemented Rudy’s strengths, but after such a strong Argentine Tango from Tanisha earlier, it was a slight letdown. I hope Rudy gets to show off his strength as a dancer soon and doesn’t just coast on his personality. His bubbly demeanor does remind me a lot of Fik-Shun, though, a contestant I also thought coasted on his personality for a good long while.

Jacque and Chehon –  Contemporary Ballet (choreographed by Travis Wall), “Adagio for TRON” by Daft Punk

Whitney: After a drought of ballet routines due partly to the talent available and partly due to the willingness of the show to take the chance it would translate on television properly, we finally got a ballet duet! Choreographed by the ever-amazing Travis, the routine used a combination of back lighting, music choice, and stunning skill to put forth one of the best routines of the night. There seemed to be a problem with the spotlight at one point, as instead of getting a mixture of light and shadow we got only darkness. The song choice and costuming were both creative ways to tie the classical side of the style together with the contemporary aspect of the routine. Travis made a smart choice by allowing them some moments of movement without forcing them to reach every part of the stage, instead focusing on the technical aspects of the dance. Points for House Choreography for having Travis exist. This was the first good critique Tara had all night with her remarks about Jacque’s fabulous extensions. Most shocking was the magical chemistry between two people who have never danced together before, something Travis is always able to bring out in his subjects.

Elena: Travis Wall choreographed a Ballet Contemporary duet for Chehon and Jacque, set to a Daft Punk song from Tron: Legacy? Sure, why not. The dance wasn’t as fluid as it should have been, there were a lot of sticky moments when Jacque wasn’t turning fast enough in her pointe shoes, and I couldn’t figure out if it was because Travis didn’t know how to adapt Contemporary to pointe shoes or because Jacque didn’t dance to the level of the choreography. Around the middle of the dance it truly became something special, but those technical issues in the beginning made me less rapturous.

Lauren and Ricky – Jazz (choreographed by Mandy Moore), “Bossa Nova Baby” by Elvis Presley

Whitney: So happy to have Lauren back on the show. The leap from Ricky where his legs were perpendicular to the stage was so enjoyable. In the first slip up Ricky has had this season, he looked like he was getting just a tad tired as the routine went on, he was a little behind Lauren on some connections but only slightly. Mandy definitely let them down here as far as giving them material to show off their skills. The dancers carried a routine filled with cliche moves and elements that didn’t flow together nearly well enough. Elvis was a cliche to use for a jive, even if it was a remixed version of a classic. Deduction of points from House Music for trying to pass off fake ingenuity for the real thing.

Elena: Mandy Moore, oh she of questionable song choice and slightly supbar Contemporary routines, turned out a pretty fun Jazz routine with Ricky and Lauren (sidenote: Lauren has been adorably dating Dominic Sandoval for a while, and them dancing together is my jam). While I appreciated a Jazz routine that moved quickly, I wanted more style and less choreography, if that makes any sense. Quick routines aren’t always better than slow ones, and I find that for Jazz to make the biggest impact there have to be staccato holds to accentuate the movements. Ricky and Lauren were zippy and snazzy, though I wish we got to see a routine that really challenged Ricky instead of just being another standard Jazz routine.

Casey and Kathryn – Broadway (choreographed by Spencer Liff), “Maybe This Time” by Liza Minelli

Whitney: The music choice for this was perfect timing as far as my personal connection to the song goes, seeing as last week I was just at a performance the Cabaret revival watching this song live while two ladies behind me were ruining Michelle Williams for themselves because they had the gall to compare her to Liza. Focusing on the dancing, this was by far the best stage presence and partnership Casey has shown all season. Kathryn brought whatever grit there was inside of him out, similar to what Emilio did for Bridget in the first half of the summer. His leaps held all of the emotion of the song and he responded in kind to everything Kathryn threw at him. Good for him for being safe. I may not have called that earlier tonight but he deserves it after the performance he gave here.

Elena: Spencer Liff clearly has seen Casey dance before, because in his Broadway routine he gave him so many impressive turns to do. Casey faltered on the final lift in the routine, but other than that I finally understood his appeal. While he wasn’t on his acting game as much as Kathryn, there was something so long and lean about the way he danced that number. I still think he’s too boyish, lacks a depth, but I’m warming to him. I’m still waiting for him to wow me, though, and I hope he continues to grow.

Jessica and tWitch Hip-Hop (choreographed by NappyTabs), “U Got Me Up” by Cajmere feat. Dajae

Whitney: Not many notes for this one besides WOW. No one can keep up with tWitch when he’s in his element but Jessica did her darndest to come as close as humanly possible. Jessica and Casey have progressed in similar ways in regards to their energy on stage. Her face was great (can I get “Things I Never Thought I’d Say for $800 Alex?) and she bought into the of the routine story 110%. Her hair was very Sailor Moon-esque and the music was so upbeat and enjoyable it would have taken something atrocious for the audience to come out of this routine in a bad mood. I wouldn’t be surprised if this did wonders for her popularity with the audience, mostly because it was the first instance she didn’t look like Contemporary Dance Barbie. Nigel smartly acknowledges that this is the first time she has lived up to her potential so America realizes before they vote heading into the Top 8.

Elena: If SYTYCD has a king, it’d be Twitch. He’s the most winning combo of talent and personality, and manages to elevate every dancer he is partnered with. He’s also found a really fantastic career after his season of the show, so it’s always nice to have him back and performing a NappyTabs choreography, even! I loved this routine, from the weird concept of an old man creeping on a younger pinup woman while waiting for the bus to the image of Twitch dancing full-out with a pillow under his shirt, everything just worked. I wanted Jessica to get lower, but she kept pace with Twitch, though, and continuing from the opening number her face was exactly as expressive and silly and fun as it needed to be for the choreography. Khaleesi of Dance, for the second week you’re rocking it. She’s becoming my favorite woman on the show, and not just because I keep forgetting everyone else’s names.

Amy and Zack – Contemporary (choreographed by Sonya Tayeh), “Europe, After the Rain” by Max Richter

Whitney: If you weren’t prepared to cry enough tears to fill a reservoir during a Sonya Tayeh routine about sudden loss, you can’t blame anyone but yourself. Everything here was beautiful and moving as expected, but I’m not sure how much of a connection I saw between the two dancers in a routine that was built on so much emotion. It’s very difficult not to have chemistry with Amy so I’m inclined to blame Zack for that at least partially. The cutaway of the music for the last 20 seconds, representing the sadness and pain that comes with an abrupt loss of a friend, was one of the most powerful things I’ve seen on the SYTYCD stage. Choosing a song with rain in the title and that uses storm sound effects could come off as too obvious if deployed by any other choreographer, but Sonya can usually do no wrong this being one of those times.

Elena: Sonya Tayeh, just come and choreograph my whole life with your pieces, please. Her choreography is like art in motion, and this Contemporary routine, about her friend who passed away all too soon, was so thick with longing and sadness. The choice of music was haunting and at the same time serene: classical music mixed in with the sound of a rainstorm. Zack’s not really made an impression on me, but he was just so inside of the routine, so in touch with Amy and the emotions of the piece that it would be impossible to forget him now.

Whitney: Adding a dance element to Christina Perri’s performance is smart as she doesn’t have a ton of fans that might cheer for her and build a good atmosphere in the theater. The producers probably should have let her know that was happening beforehand however so she could just stand and sing with some hand motions to accent her presence on the stand, and let Kheon and Kathryn show off their skills without the distraction of her constantly turning to sing at them. One of the better musical performances of the season, and unlike A Great Big World she chose smartly as far as her song choice.

Elena: And, Emilio and Bridget are sent home. I’m not sure if I feel sad or not about them leaving, but as partners they had some really wonderful moments. I thought Bridget was more deserving of staying than Jacque or Valerie, but so much of this season has been week-to-week performance judging whether people are sticking around or not. Last season there were some clearer, stronger dancers, this season I still feel as if it’s Ricky and then everyone else. But what’s clear is the All-Stars upped everyone’s game, and brought some much-needed gravitas and talent to a pretty uneven group of dancers.

Whitney: Neither of the dancers tonight deserved to go home, and America needs to get itself together before they make any more mistakes with the bottom two. It’s a strong crop of dancers left for the most part, so every week someone’s favorite will be going home. At this point that is the nature of the beast, but if one more dancer goes home before Valerie is even in the bottom two it may force the judges to rethink their inability to save dancers once the Top 10 begins.

Next week – Jacque and tWitch! Ricky and Jamie! Jessica and Will! So many good pairs to look forward to. But wait, what’s that I heard? A Michael Jackson tribute episode is upon us? The bad news is they still haven’t learned how terribly tribute episodes always go, the good news is that the chances I’ll get to see someone slay a contemporary routine set to “Man in the Mirror” are high and that I am excited for. Somewhat of a concern the fact that a choreographer they work with fairly often has leveled quite a few accusations against the Michael Jackson Estate in regards to alleged behavior in the 90’s, a fact that at best makes next week seem awkward and at worst seem incredibly insensitive especially when new reports about the situation has been released as recently as today.

Regardless of any awkwardness that may occur based on ongoing events, the most important thing that needs to happen is for the panel to have a third judge who can critique more specifically and intelligently than Tara Lipinski, especially if they’re being tasked with a tribute episode.

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SYTYCD: Top 16, 2 Eliminated

images-1The good news is it is very unlikely this week’s episode will have a larger percentage of underwhelming dances than last week’s did. The bad news is that the dancers and choreographers alike really need to step it up or my interest and connection with this season will fade fast. Cat introduced the cast as “the incredible Top 16” and I immediately thought “eh”. Can you name all 16 dancers off the top of your head? I definitely can’t, and there is absolutely some dead weight remaining in the cast that if there is any justice in the world America will have put in the bottom three tonight to make it easy for the judges to snip them from contention. The guest judge tonight is…Misty Copeland? Oh, ok. Listen, I love Misty. She has been one of the best judges the show has ever seen whether guests or permanent fixtures on the panel. However. Her multiple appearances in this “3 Week Tour” on the panel has done nothing but reaffirm the shakiness of SYTYCD on Fox’s schedule going forward. The lack of pull for other celebrity guests to appear speaks to a severe budget cut this season and a lack of commitment from Fox to put any level of effort into the quality of the show. On the other hand, budget cuts mean less reason for Fox to cut it from the summer schedule, and gives me another reason to post one (or more) Misty Copeland picture for everyone’s benefit.

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Cat Deeley Outfit Watch: This week Cat Deeley’s rocking a sparkly silver turtleneck dress from Walk of Shame, which when typing this sentence out sounds ridiculous, but looks amazing on her tall British self. She’s also wearing some black jewelry, including one stunning black statement ring, from XIV Karats, which she’s favoring lately as she wore their jewelry last week.

Top 16 Group Dance (choreographed by Mandy Moore), Take Me to the River” by Annie Lennox

Whitney: Well, starting things off with a group dance set to an Annie Lennox classic is a sure way to get me to perk up and be excited for this episode. The Top 16 did the best of any group performance up to this point in the season in regards to connection as an entire group and pure entertainment levels. The outfits were very “moody 90’s interpretative dance” but in a fun way, and I liked that there was only one point where they broke from synchronicity in favor of individual set pieces, as that has been a favorite motif of choreographers this season. I was shocked that this was a Mandy Moore routine, and in retrospect you can definitely pick out facets of her work in the more questionable parts of the routine that weren’t as strong, but overall it was a start to the show that instilled confidence as to what was to come later in the night.

Elena: Maybe it was the Annie Lennox song, or the female dancers’ slicked-back wet-looking hair, but this whole routine reminded me of the 80’s. It felt more pose-filled than an opening routine usually should, and like last week’s, it existed, I saw it, but it didn’t really make me feel anything. I’m not surprised that it was a Mandy Moore jazz production, because as a choreographer she usually doesn’t make a strong impression on me, but I’m still wishing this first number didn’t feel like filler every week.

Valerie and Ricky – Bollywood (by Nakul Dev Mahajan)Diliwaali Girlfriend” by Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani

Whitney: That was certainly not the way for Valerie to prove herself on the stage after weeks of shaky performances back to back. It wasn’t blatantly bad, but similar to last week Ricky stole the show and relegated her to second in the audience’s eyes. She was at least more energetic than previous efforts, probably because her background as a tapper gives her the confidence to be in character mode in her dancing excellently. One of the most important facets of Bollywood (as we’ve heard over and over again on the show) is the specificity and sharpness of the hand motions, neither of which Valerie achieved. That lack of sharpness overcame the rest of her movements as well, including the ease of her transitions and steadiness of her spins, directly working against the confidence that was so apparent in her face throughout the routine. Ricky, once again, was great. I just noticed tonight how much he looks like Fleur Delacour when she drinks Polyjuice potion and morphs into Harry Potter, but in kind of a cute way? If someone could screen shot this comparison for me I would be forever grateful, because I swear it makes sense. This was probably his weakest routine of the season only because of the choreography he was tasked with, but that distinction should be taken with an entire bowl of salt as his “weakest” routine was still better than 95% of the others we’ve seen this season. I am not incredibly familiar with Bollywood-style music outside of a few viewings of the studio’s movies and this show, but the beat of the music matched up well with the choreography and contributed heavily to the fun both dancers were having throughout the routine.

Elena: The first Bollywood routine of the season, choreographed by Nakul Dev Mahajan, was sparkly and smiley and fast and fun, as all Bollywood routines usually are. Valerie started off shakier than Ricky: it seemed that in the beginning of the dance the quick succession of so many moves was overwhelming her. Ricky was precise in his movements where Valerie’s face showed plainly that she was concerned with hitting every move. As the dance continued Valerie seemed to get more comfortable, and while both of their smiles never wavered this was the first time I’ve ever seen Ricky look tired during a routine. Like we said last week, Whitney, I’m still not convinced that Valerie can come up to Ricky’s level of dance fast enough to make this partnership work. Chemistry they have in spades, but Ricky is so beyond Valerie in both technique and performance it’s hard not to focus on their discrepancies in their dances together.

Bridget and Emilio – Contemporary (choreographed by Travis Wall), The Leaving Song” by Chris Garneau

Whitney: If there is one thing that I thought would make Bridget am 100% lock to stay this week after unfairly finding herself in the bottom three it was a Travis Wall contemporary routine, so I was pleased to see that’s exactly what she and Emilio were granted. It has already been established how strong this partnership is, and Bridget’s talent really shines when given material that is slow and steady as we have seen from her early auditions on through to this stage of the game. This is the first week she hasn’t cracked a smile (other girls pay attention please) and the entire performance was so measured and emotional I was happy to see her show off what she can do after a few shaky weeks. The lyric-less opening worked to highlight the elite levels of skill present on stage, especially with the stage shrouded in darkness as it was, and after that point they never looked back, giving their all every inch of the way. Nigel made a good point as far as the growth of Emilio, which is what the men’s side needs at this point. Growth has been few and far between with the guys but this is mostly because of how strong most of them are already. It will come down to which of the boys has it in them to work on the little pieces of their dancing and outshine the others instead of resting on their laurels. Except you Ricky, you stay gold.

Elena: Every time that Travis Wall describes his contemporary routines, it always makes me think he’s got a lot of things in his past he’s channeling through his dance. This week on Travis Wall’s Therapy Dance, Emilio and Bridget are doing a piece about leaving your past behind you. There’s an empty bed frame as a prop (Travis Wall does love his props), and Emilio and Bridget artfully dance in and out of it throughout the routine. What I’m struck with in the end is how incredibly strong they both looked: there were multiple times where Emilio lifted Bridget with fluidity and grace, and Bridget’s legs were pointed and perfect. The routine played with dynamics: up and down, falling and being caught, being held and letting go. It was moving, evocative, and probably my favorite routine of the night. Although this showing by Emilio and Bridget just points out the fact that there isn’t one couple who’s been consistently good so far. Usually by the Top 16 there are clear stand-out partnerships, but for right now it really depends on weekly performance (and the luck of the draw on what dance styles they all get).

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Tanisha and Rudy – Hip-Hop (choreographed by Dave Scott), Good Kisser” by Usher

Whitney: There’s one way this routine would have been a hit, and that’s if it was performed by Usher and Ciara on a concert stage. Tanisha doesn’t have the “leather jumpsuit with strategic cutouts” sexiness aspect to her dancing that would be expected from a dancer with a background of ballroom dance and extensive partner work. Some of her illusions looked cool, but then all I could think of was how that is what Catwoman would look like if she started taking Gotham Dance Academy classes between her burglaries. The few transitions the routine included had some shakiness, but the confidence of the partnership saved them from looking too unsure of the moves. That confidence didn’t completely save the performance though. All I could think about was the scene in Save the Last Dance when Derek and Sara are on the dance floor together for the first time and he has to show her how to loosen up her hips, and then I just really wanted to watch Save the Last Dance instead of the rest of these routines. Oops. Rudy is absolutely playing things right as far as soliciting votes go, because at this point I’ll vote for him just to keep his romance with Jacque alive.

Elena: Tanisha and Rudy did a comic book-inspired Dave Scott hip-hop routine, a smooth piece to Usher that had a lot of Tanisha showing off her flexibility and Rudy being impressed while wearing a fedora. It seemed a lot more like a jazz routine to me, maybe because of the addition of so many flips and splits, but overall I was underwhelmed with the way they both danced it. Tanisha’s face was blank, and she, like Valerie before her, looked too concentrated on doing the moves correctly instead of just dancing and feeling the piece. Rudy looked adorable, but didn’t have a lot to do in the routine (and was he supposed to look adorable?). I have a feeling the judges were just mesmerized with Tanisha’s leathery black cut-out Catwoman-chic bodysuit and missed the so-so dancing. The way Tanisha and Rudy performed their hip-hop was the equivalent of someone drunkenly mumbling the words to a karaoke song. I expected more from these two after their Broadway routine last week.

Jessica and Marcquet – Foxtrot (choreographed by Dmitry Chaplin), I Put a Spell on You” by Nina Simone

Whitney: The two musicians the choreographers seem to be obsessed with this season are Sam Smith and Nina Simone, and I for one could not be happier. The musical choices are half the battle when winning the audience over, and perpetuating the use of great artists regardless of how many times they have been included in the season all ready is a great idea. Unfortunately, the song is where the standout aspects of this routine both begin and end. Jessica and Marcquet were classically beautiful, technically precise, and at some points they seemed to be floating ever so slightly, but those characteristics do not an entertaining routine make especially when one of the dancers is perilously close to being sent home. Jessica has been the black widow of partners so far this season, and that will continue to be the case unless the other men in the bottom three absolutely fall apart. She deserves one chance to dance with a strong partner and see if that makes a difference in her charisma on stage. Somehow I don’t think it will matter one iota and she’ll end up becoming the pretty-yet-bland face of the season, but she at least deserves the opportunity in the hopes that I’m proven wrong. Marcquet should have been sent home in place of Stanley last week and if the judges have any concept of justice, he won’t be saved another week. He has shown zero growth over the first three performance episodes and doesn’t have the charisma to make up for his lack of talent in styles outside his own.

Elena: Jessica and Marcquet get a Dmitry Chaplin foxtrot, where Marcquet is a businessman and Jessica is…a beautiful woman who works for him? There’s a reason both of these dancers’ partners have left, and they’re probably close behind them in leaving the show. While the routine had some beautiful lifts, their foxtrot frame wasn’t tight enough, and there was no chemistry whatsoever. Unlike Tanisha, Jessica had the opposite face problem: she was pulling doofy grins and over-performing her “sexy face” to the point where it was uncomfortable for me to watch. Marcquet was pulling his face a bit as well, but he mostly fell flat for the fourth time in a row for me. Better dancers could have saved this routine, but these two couldn’t.

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Carly and Serge – Contemporary (choreographed by Mandy Moore), Foolish Games” by Jewel 

Whitney: Sometimes, Mandy Moore tries to be Mia Michaels. She has her own artistic talents and points of view but at least once every season she puts out a routine where you can just tell how hard she is trying to be taken seriously. Her best work is with cheesy, 80’s style romantic choreography. The Nancy Meyers of dance, if you will. This routine seemed too earnest to be fun and too cheesy to be taken seriously. The whole thing would have worked better as a whole if Moore had committed to the Mia-lite aesthetic she was trying for instead of succumbing to her instincts and using a Jewel song with this choreography. The only explanation for this song being used besides “my name is Mandy Moore” is that it came up next on shuffle on the 1995 Pandora station Mandy was listening to while she curated these routines. Something slightly darker or heavier may have allowed the routine to truly speak to the audience, but that was not to be. Carly and Serge have markedly improved over the last two weeks, and it was sad this week that they couldn’t have continued to receive solid material with which to work. Fortunately, it should at least keep them out of the bottom three and allow them to be confident in their next routine should it be a choreography far outside of their comfort zones.

Elena: As so-so as Mandy Moore’s opening number was, her contemporary for Carly and Serge was a welcome reminder that she can create some wonderful routines when paired with the right couple. I know Serge is a ballroom dancer, but his movements for contemporary are just so right I want him to switch styles. He and Carly found success in their last contemporary routine, and I think it’s because out of all the couples they have some really mature chemistry. If I can borrow last season’s power couples, Valerie and Ricky are like the Amy and Fik-Shun of this season, where Carly and Serge are Jasmine and Aaron. When Carly and Serge get a contemporary routine, there’s something breathtakingly raw that goes on between them. There’s an intentionality to their movements, both when they’re partnering each other and when they’re dancing alone: their focus is always fully inside the emotion and the beauty of the dance. While I thought Travis Wall’s contemporary choreography was stronger for Emilio and Bridget, Carly and Serge have exactly the right weight and honesty to pull off a contemporary routine. Now if only they’d channel that into other styles! They’re my favorite couple right now, I just hope they find out how to get into hip-hop more the next time they dance it.

Teddy and Emily – Salsa (choreographed by Oksana Dmytrenko & Jonathan Platero) Bruk it Down – Soca Remix” Mr. Vegas feat. Alison Hinds

Whitney: Poor Emily. Between her previous injuries this season and today’s dislocated shoulder, she is turning into the Derek Rose of Season 11. Refrains of “She would be great, if she were healthy” or  “That move would have been gorgeous, if she could move like I know she can” kept repeating over and over in my head throughout this routine. She broke one of the cardinal rules of ballroom, that of the requirement (with few exceptions) to always keep your knees together unless in a lift or split. Her feet were shuffling instead of snapping into place and her hips were dropping when her posture should have been pulling towards the ceiling. Where Emily was merely lacking in execution, her partner was nowhere to be found as Teddy faded into the background completely here. Most of the problems were most likely produced by the sheer pace of the music, leaving both dancers unable to keep up with the footwork they were asked to accomplish. The precision was way off what a professional performance of this routine would have been and both dancers seemed consistently a half second behind. The one true positive I pulled from this performance was the fact that Emily was smiling her trademark grin when she was actually supposed to do so. A happy routine requires the pearly whites, an intense routine requires giving face. Pin it to your dressing room mirrors, ladies.

Elena: While salsa is neither Teddy nor Emily’s style, and Emily was working with a dislocated shoulder, I was disappointed in how amateurish this routine looked. While Emily did recover nicely from her slip, it’s unfortunate she slipped at all because after that it was hard for me to focus on anything else. There were a lot of issues with Teddy and Emily preparing to do lifts or tricks and forgetting to dance in-between the tricks. Misty Copeland keeps bringing up how the dancers are performing in their face, but it’s an essential tool that dancers continually misuse. Too much face pulling or a blank face can ruin otherwise impressive technique or partnering. Emily’s pained face was probably due to her dislocated shoulder, but it looked like she was unhappy throughout the whole dance, whereas Teddy looked like a natural. Ballroom so far has been a dud of a style to pull, and I can’t tell if the bad couples keep getting it or if the choreographers aren’t giving them dynamic enough routines.

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Jacque and Zack – Jazz (choreographed by Sonya Tayeh),Back to Black” by Beyonce feat. Andre 3000

Whitney: I am going to write one sentence about the costumes in this routine and then we are going to forget they ever graced the stage. Costuming department: I love you, you are great so much of the time and especially when complementing Sonya’s vision…but my God if you ever try to make “Little Bo Peep joins the cast of Penny Dreadful” happen again I’m going to have to take some points away from House Wardrobe. Wiping my mind of that pink ruffled catastrophe, I was disappointed in a few moments of this routine but overall both Zack and Jacque showed tremendous growth as individual dancers and in their partnership. Jacque didn’t really take Sonya’s advice to bring some fire to her performance and unless she learns how to bring some intensity to her dancing I fear she is not long for this competition. For Rudy’s sake she should really try to stick around, because I fear without her there that poor boy will be like a swan who loses his mate and turn into a depressed mess. Save yourself with some game face before it’s too late! The music choice made it hard to decide how intense this routine was actually supposed to be, as the mood of the music was hard but the pace of the song and of the choreography didn’t allow them to really dig in to the movements with any gusto the way it seemed they should have. A muddle of a routine, but a decent performance. If that makes sense. You make sense of it, I’ll be over here ‘shipping Jacque and Rudy.

Elena: Sonya Tayeh’s routines, even the middling ones, are so much better than everyone else’s. She and Travis Wall really are So You Think You Can Dance’s secret weapons. Sonya’s jazz specialities are creating unique body shapes that are effortlessly weird and beautiful, lifts and holds that are captivating in their almost animalistic natures. There’s a controlled wildness to her choreography that makes the dancers push and stretch beyond their previous capabilities. I thought Zack embodied that fully in the routine: he was all deep desire and extended arms and was a very strong partner. In the beginning, I thought Jacque was acting a bit too much, but even she got taken over by the ferocity of the dance. Jacque and Zack aren’t my favorites, but Zack really impressed me with the way he got lost in Sonya’s choreography.

Brooklyn and Casey – Hip-Hop (choreographed by Wildebeest), Hustle Hard Remix” by Ace Hood feat. Lil Wayne and Rick Ross

Whitney: Well, this is a low point of the season. It looks like Brooklyn and Casey fell victim to a trend that is slowly but surely taking over most of the season, that being the inability of most of these competitors to dig in to any hip-hop routines with intensity or legitimacy. I understand there is a glaring lack of hip-hoppers or animators this season, but at some point the show may have to scale back the inclusion of this style of dance unless one couple or another start to step up and prove they can execute what is asked of them by someone with the hip-hop talents of Wildebeest. Both dancers were very light on their feet and looked more upbeat than the routine required. I agree with Misty that Brooklyn looked the most confident out of any routine she’s done this season, but I differ in regards to that aspect of the routine bringing anything to the performance. Someone backstage needs to do whatever the opposite of the vaseline-on-teeth trick that they use for beauty pageants might be, because if these girls don’t stop smiling when they don’t need to be I’m going to throw something (that sounds like an overreaction but it really isn’t that difficult to look aggressive at the same time as you’re acting aggressive on stage). Casey tried so hard to look like this was anywhere close to his style and I admire the effort but it really didn’t pan out for him at all. Brooklyn is absolutely going home after this showing, so we’ll have to see what Casey can do with a more energetic and intense partner next week.

Elena: Will Adams’ hip-hop was about dirtying up Casey and Brooklyn, and even though hip-hop isn’t either of their styles I was hoping they’d pull out some hard-hitting moves. Unfortunately, like everyone else who has done hip-hop so far, neither of them got low enough. They danced too much from their shoulders and forgot about their hips and the rest of their body. The choreography provided Casey and Brooklyn with a lot of moments to shine, and Brooklyn went in and out of doing well, but Casey was really out of his element. They also weren’t in sync for some of the dance, which looked awful when they were dancing side by side. Memo to everyone who gets hip-hop: get low. Get low, and use your whole body.

Group Dance #1 (choreographed by Sonya Tayeh), So Broken” by Bjork

Whitney: I got very happy about a bonus Sonya routine, so of course she named it the most depressing thing I’ve ever heard a dance routine be named. I can’t recall the particular wording, but it might have well been called “Murder Party Murder Party Let’s All Die” for the mood it set. Then she went and set it to Bjork which made the entire thing dour beyond belief.  This all sounds as if I hated what she produced, but in reality it was one of the best things to grace the stage this season. Every piece of the performance cohered into one mood, one focus, and most importantly one level of talent. The only major complaint I have (and it’s nitpicky) is that the costuming was very “Logan’s Run 2: The SYTYCD Routine”. More demerits for House Wardrobe, they now trail House Judging and it looks like they won’t be able to come back to win the House Cup at this point int he season. House Makeup is putting up a fight for second, but House Choreography may be too far ahead to reach already. This piece was heartbreakingly beautiful from to to bottom, due largely in part to the dancers chosen to participate. Considering the amount of time they usually have to rehearse the group routines in comparison with the duets, this should have come out terribly and instead I’m keeping my eyes peeled for the first YouTube upload so I can watch it again and again.

Elena: A Bonus Sonya Tayeh Group Routine!: I want to let Sonya Tayeh just choreograph everything. Every So You Think You Can Dance routine, and then extend that to everything in my life. Cat Deeley said that it was a beautifully ugly routine, and I completely agree. It was full of flailing limbs and an unsettling urgency, with the dancers’ make-up pale and full of disease-ridden blemishes. It was exactly what I imagine a zombie jazz dance movie looking like if Sonya choreographed it. Tanisha, who got a spotlight moment, was impressive: her face was pained and horrified and searching, exactly what the dance needed. It’s the best I think Tanisha’s danced on the show, and I hope more group routines have a sense of place and purpose like this one in the future.

Group Dance #2 (choreographed by Travis Wall), Love Runs Out” by OneRepublic 

Whitney: My first thought: Oh, OneRepublic sings this song? Second (and infinitely more relevant) thought: This was the best dance of the night, period. This will be one of the performances that is recreated in the final episode of the season to be enjoyed live once more, and if Travis Wall doesn’t win another Emmy for the way he transformed these dancers tonight the world will make no sense. This routine had the most electric energy, most creative choreography, sexiest vibes, and was flat out the most entertaining thing the season has given to us so far. Why can’t any these dancers bring this intensity and aggression to their partnerships?  I would give all of my votes to every dancer on stage with this routine if it meant it could replace their paired routines. I was getting a lot of Colin O’Donoghue feelings from Ricky here, which is so appreciated now that I have stopped watching OUaT for good. House Makeup, I will let you leave grounds after hours if you keep Ricky endlessly supplied with guyliner for the rest of the season. Poor Lucy Hale for having to follow that routine.

Elena: A Bonus Travis Wall Group Routine!: Urgency seems to be the magical spice in tonight’s best routines that gives these dancers fire and purpose. Travis Wall choreographed a fast and furious routine heavy on jumps, and one complex lift with Carly that was backwards and forwards and so high in the air. The only little snafu was that when Carly was coming down from the routine her foot got caught in Teddy’s jacket, but it was almost imperceptible. Ricky, as always, was insanely watchable and captured my attention for the whole routine, a dance chameleon and a choreographer’s dream. I’m waiting for the Top 10 when he gets to dance with the all-stars, because the boy’s gonna shine.

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Whitney: I guess it would have been “Poor Lucy Hale” for having to follow any routine, because yowzers that appearance was not good. I haven’t seen Lucy Hale perform any of her wannabe country pop live before, and I was initially impressed with her stage presence until her voice cracked three times in the first two lines and the entire facade of singing talent fell away. Girl needs to pull a Lizzy McGuire and up the auto tuning during live performances if she’s really serious about giving music a shot. I give her a lot of credit for trying hard and bringing some energy to the song, especially because she has repeatedly stated in interviews that singing is her true passion over acting, but in the end I was more impressed with the guitarist’s moves than her own. Thanks for coming, grab a party favor on your way out.

Elena: Lucy Hale sang, and it was a thing that happened. I wish they’d cut these music moments and replace them with letting the bottom 6 do their solos again. A lot of people impressed when they danced for their lives, and I’m not sure if it’s a budget thing or a timing thing, but I want the solos to come back. While I thought that Brooklyn and Marcquet deserved to go home this week, it would have been nice to see them (and everyone) dance in their style again before shuttling them off the show.

Whitney: I don’t have much to say about the eliminations tonight, other than America got it right and the judges were correct in following suit. Keep it up, and maybe by the Top 10 we can get through an entire episode without an atrocious routine (it’s late, I’m snippy, dance better).

Elena: Next week, four people are getting voted off? It’s going to get so Red Wedding-y up in So You Think You Can Dance.

Apologies for the extra long post this week, next time we promise it will only be emojis from Elena and one word commentary from Whitney (although we’ll both be otherwise detained during the live show so that may be what you get regardless).

 

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SYTYCD: Week 4 Auditions

As previewed last week, Atlanta will be the last stop for audition rounds this season and I am (as always) intrigued by what the Southeastern US will bring. Any auditions in Atlanta/Miami/New Orleans etc. tend to bring out such a wide variety of dancers and styles due to how far people are willing to drive in the region in order to prove themselves in front of the judges. A strong hunch tells me there will be a majority of Hip-Hop/R&B routines closely followed by ballroom, with at least one stunning classically trained ballerina (probably male) that blows everyone away and stands out all that much more because it’s an Atlanta audition. As with the first few installments, I will be skipping over the intentionally awful auditions as well as anyone who has no chance from the start. Here we go Atlanta!

 

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First thought: I would like Cat to say “The ATL” much more often. In context, out of context, whatever. Make it happen universe.

Mariah Reives: There has been a trend in recent seasons of starting out every audition day’s tape with one of the strongest dancers, so it wasn’t a shock when Mariah walked out and proved herself in style. I, like most of America, do not seek out jazz willingly for the most part but she put on a performance from top to bottom here that made me enjoy the song she chose (“I’m A Woman” by Maimouna Youssef). Lyrically, it matches up to her aesthetic and lines, and the mood it set worked well with the laid back style she employs even with her more difficult moves. Mariah may be the first person this year to have what I like to call a “holy shit split” and she shows it off here almost half a dozen times to great effect each time. Her mom also has a serious case of StageMomitis but thankfully that won’t be much of a problem during hell week and after if she makes it that far.

Erik “Silky” Moore: “I wanted to take some time off and study the show and who got through and why” is the So You Think You Can Dance version of “Will Smith picks apart blockbusters to optimize box office results”. It’s actually a very smart strategy and I’m surprised no one has admitted to doing it outright before. Another rarity is Nigel stopping the music during a routine that doesn’t look terrible, but I’m glad he did because he brought up the same thing that was on my mind in regards to Erik’s music not matching his freestyle movements in the least bit. After all of the talk about using his family’s experiences in an insane asylum I expected something much darker, instead he went with the guitar-laden “Ants” by Edit. The two together work better than anticipated, and the five years between auditions for Erik clearly improved his skills immensely. I think his

Kelly MacCoy: Another jazz dancer, thanks Atlanta. Kelly had the “drag queen styling” corner of the competition locked down before the music even started and then RuPaul of all people comes through the speakers and I was almost out on Kelly before her first step. Her routine had the artistic appeal of an exercise tape porn spoof with the skill of a 14 year old gymnast who’s parents think she can still make it to the Olympics someday. She’s a skilled dancer, but combine her jerky transitions between every move, the campy faces, and her sway back the odds are against her to make it much farther than the Broadway round of choreography. She’s one of the few 18 year olds who has auditioned so far who doesn’t seem to have much potential for growth past the skill she possesses right now. I can’t fault her for working “Looking Good, Feeling Gorgeous” to the fullest extent though.

Christopher “Mr. Strange” Griffin: Can Dragon House make it a dynasty of dancers making it to the Top 20? I’m torn between “Yes” and “Hell Yes” but you never know what can come of the tough choreography rounds. Christopher maintains the legacy of his housemates by being endlessly entertaining while on stage and an overall charming persona period. Animating to “Going Back to Cali” while wearing a Cosby sweater is a pretty baller move and really made me feel like the 90’s were back. I’m not going to delve too deeply into a later audition that occurs that manages to prove the opposite, but I’m happy Mr. Strange was able to show up and prove that Dragon House still spits out talent regularly. Hopefully people will remember this performance instead of the embarrassment a few auditions down the road that the entire house has to flat out apologize for, but with the way reality television works that may not end up being the case.

Conrad Dechabert: Conrad chooses the Main Title Theme from Planet of the Apes and pardon me if I never expected a Danny Elfman score to look so good on an audition stage, but he definitely proved himself to be able to dance in a more masculine style with that theme as his soundtrack. Some part of me was upset last year when the main reason Nigel and Mary decided against moving him to the next round was because of his feminine dancing, because as long as you have talent you should be able to show it off no matter if the gendering is skewed. On further thought though, it does make sense as far as partnering in the later rounds goes to make sure everyone can support a partner and bring the heat when needed. Also, Conrad should stop letting his friend use him as a practice board for tattoo work.

Taveaus “Dynamic” Woods: I’m sorry if I butchered the spelling of his name, but for the longer and more complicated names/nicknames the producers really should leave the chyrons up on screen longer. I’m speaking as an army of one here but it needs to happen. Dynamic is a protege of Fikshun’s and comes across as one in both good and bad ways. The good side of things is that he has the same level of talent as his mentor, yet on the flip side he will have to traverse the same difficult path that Fikshun did in order to get a sniff of the Top 20. Fikshun was the exception to the rule, and I don’t see Dynamic making it deep into the competition even if he is able to prove himself in choreography. (Note: I was right, as his choreography is a huge letdown). 

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How DARE YOU bring Jenna Dewan Tatum out here as a judge without Channing in tow. Absolutely unacceptable, judging panel. I understand Mrs. Tatum has a drastically different schedule than her hubby but don’t try to tell me a certain host couldn’t have pulled some strings in her circle of friends to get those abs in the house.

Ricky Ubeda: By far my favorite dancer of the night, Ricky manages to be one of the few people on the planet besides Shonda Rhimes who can transform a random Coldplay track into an emotional set piece worthy of his talent. Don’t get me wrong, “Us Against the World” is actually my favorite song off of Mylo Xyloto but I wouldn’t recommend it for a performance in the least. Ricky also proves me right in my prediction that there would be one stand out (probably male) ballerina amidst all of the animators and hip hoppers tonight. Nigel says what everyone is thinking when he tells Ricky that he’s already a favorite to make it all the way, and my only worry with him is that he won’t have enough upper body strength to properly partner during some of the lifts and swings that will undoubtably pop up later in the year. A minor quibble, but keep it in the back of your minds when Mandy Moore asks him to lift someone over his head and we get a “this practice is so tough” montage during a live show.

Marissa Milele: There has been a much higher proportion of dancers who are friends of previous competitors or returning dancers being shown this year during auditions. I’m not sure whether it is a product of having too many solid dancers in one year therefore making it necessary to pick the already known dancers out of the fray to highlight, or whether there is a lull of talent this year requiring some fudging of the talent displayed by using previously seen dancers. The first reason makes more sense logically, but the latter has me a little worried as we move forward. I’m glad they kept Marissa’s cut short and sweet as even though I enjoyed her performances last year, it doesn’t look like she has grown much in the past year. She has too much muscle without the actual strength to get any height on her lifts, and relies on her gymnastic elements slightly more than necessary. Her music – “Black Blade” by Thomas Bergersen & Two Steps From Hell – is right along the lines of something Sonya will presumably choreograph to this year so if Marissa makes it past the Green Mile this season we know she will be able to step into Ms. Tayeh’s rehearsal room with confidence. The judges giving her a ticket so quickly seemed like the easiest way for them to shuffle her off to the next round without a promise that she will make it any farther than last season.

Elaine Kimble: The first audition all night where I didn’t take any notes, Elaine absolutely captivated everyone watching in our living room. She doesn’t have the strengths that some dancers have, but her arm control and lines are classically pretty. Her performance is the human embodiment of “All of Me”, which I originally expected to appear with the same frequency as Sam Smith’s music this year but that hasn’t been the case. No matter, I’m sure Mandy Moore will put together a “classic love story” at some point around the fifth week of the live shows built around the concept of John Legend and Chrissy Teigen. Elaine was also the first tearjerker video package of the night, and one that is actually legitimate in its sadness instead of ratcheted up to make it seem more life and death than it was. I would have liked to see her get her ticket immediately instead of an arbitrary choreography round, and the reasoning behind the judges’ decision to keep her there for a final tryout didn’t match up with their rationale for other performers, but hopefully she glides right through and can prove that she has fierceness inside of her during hell week.

Angelina Granitz: Shyness is one of the biggest turn offs for an audience when a dancer comes on stage and it initially turned me off in a big way before she even began her performance. Angelina has the demeanor of a much younger and timid woman when speaking to the judges, but when she has the opportunity to dance that shyness melts away and leaves behind a bold and controlled dancer who has more confidence in a move that lasts 3 seconds that she does in the entirety of her clip reel. Dancing to the elegant “Quartet N. 2” by Dustin O’Halloran contributes heavily to her simplicity and extreme steadiness, but I wish there were a few “dancier” moves to her performance to break things up. If she gets to the live shows her demeanor isn’t going to help garner her any votes from viewers.

Christina Moya-Palacios:  Out of all four weeks of auditions, Christina may be the best pure dancer out of anyone. She is one of the few who could make it in a company right this minute and has the legs to match the skill. She reminds me of Alex Wong in a big way, and the show would be stupid to not bring him back as a guest later in the season if they need someone to fill in as an All Star partner for her. The second person to dance to a movie soundtrack (weird trend alert) she performs to a song from the Perfect Sense score. I love me some Eva Green and Ewan McGregor dark romantic comedies, so that was a welcome surprise. Christina is one of those dancers who I don’t really have much to say about until we see some variation in style from her, but until then it is clear she is as experienced a ballerina as almost any other dancer in the competition is at their genre. Placing her on my Mia Michaels wish list immediately.

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