So You Think You Can Dance: Meet the Couples!
|Written by Lauren Cheal|
|Sunday, 15 July 2012 12:01|
So You Think You Can Dance: Meet the Couples!
The first show of the (real) season is here, and it promises to hold some very exciting dances, as well as the very real threat that a great dancer will go home this week because America doesn't know who he or she is. Let's dive in together and find out all the details about how this re-formatted season is going to work. We start off we a really cool opening number for the top 20 (choreographed by Christopher Scott), which is sort of Mad Men-themed, and I think Kenny Cosgrove is actually one of the dancers. The dance has dudes at desks interacting with their secretaries. Cyrus stands out because the camera keeps stopping on him, and Alexa (who I just very nearly called Ryan, ouch!) stands out for her ridiculous pouffy hair. Eliana and Amelia are also featured players. So many vowelly ladies this year! Our top 20 dancers are introduced right after this, and it is clear that the top 20 routine we just saw was pre-taped because everyone is changed and they all have vastly different hair. I don't recall the opening numbers being pre-taped before, but perhaps I was just oblivious. Having Cat do the individual introductions really brings a smile to my heart. We are really back!
Standard judges are here as always: Mary Murphy and Nigel Lythgoe. They are joined this week by Kenny Ortega, who is a real industry pro (film director, producer, and choreographer), and who is knowledgable about dance. Nigel informs us that the voting this season will start out with voting for individuals, not for couples as in years past. Also, next week, we will lose two girls AND two guys, which is a pretty harsh cut right off the top. I guess they had to make up for that damned 4th of July hiatus. I think that next week will only be a results show (although I am really not sure), which threatens to really kill the momentum of this show. We'll see if that is true, and how all of this shakes out.
This week, the dancers were paired up according to producer whims, I think, and then the pair picked a dance style after a random-draw.
Witney and Chehon
The first couple up are ballroom dancer Whitney (the cuter ballroomer, sorry Lindsay), and Chehon, one of the two ballet gods. They are dancing a Samba by Louis Van Amstel of Dancing with the Stars. His dances usually underwhelm me on that show, but he has done ok on SYTYCD. Given that this is Whitney's home-style, you have to think she will have no problem with it. We'll see if Chehon is able to keep up (my guess is yes). With my (limited) knowledge of ballroom, it does seem like he hold up to the style well. The real issue with ballroom is that it just isn't as exciting to me as a lot of the other styles. Judges thoughts? Nigel calls Witney a firecracker, and tells Chehon he was slightly bowlegged and that he should relax into it a little more. Mary points to the same technical problems that Nigel saw, but thinks he has a bunch of potential, and throws Witney on the hot tamale train. Kenny loved Witney too, and wants Chehon to trust the choreography.
Tiffany and George
Tiffany is someone I know nothing about (maybe she is one of the jazz twins?), and I think George (Lawrence II) is a contemporary dancer. These two got a great choreographer in Sonya Tayeh, and it could be a real boon to their time here. Sonya usually does jazz, but this appears to be more of a contemporary piece. Both of the dancers are strong, but George stands out to me more. He has an intensity about him that suits the Tayeh choreography. Mary is breathless after the routine, and thinks they both surrendered to it. Kenny sings the praises of Ms. Tayeh, and says the routine brought him back to his youth (good lord, that is a little over the top). Nigel thinks Sonya's attempt at a romantic style went over so well that he thinks she might be in love.
Janaya and Brandon
I don't think we know much about either of these two (Brandon is the stepper we only met briefly at the end of the top 20 show), and they have been saddled with a Tabitha and Napoleon hip hop routine (mostly memorable for how white and non-hip hoppy they tend to be). Tabitha is hella pregnant, so congrats to NappyTabs on that. Brandon certainly has a pretty good grasp of the hip hop, and Janaya does enough to hold her own too (which isn't always the case with the girls). I don't think either of these fools have enough star power to make me care about them, but this is also the first week we have really seen either of them. Kenny says he believed every word of this story. Nigel thinks Napoleon and Tabitha were kind to these two, and choreographed around their weaknesses. Mary liked Brandon's character, but didn't think Janaya was gritty enough.
Alexa and Daniel
Yikes, these two could be a really huge threat in the competition. Definitely two of the strongest people that we have seen. They are doing a contemporary routine by Sean Cheesman, who I do not like for personal reasons (those reasons being that his staff was a dick to me and my coworkers when I worked in the hospitality industry). I said it last year and I will say it again, Sean, you need to know how your people are behaving! The costumes for this routine are really unattractive…they are like shiny red pleather suits (a man's suit for Daniel and a cocktail waitress vest and pants for Alexa). The suits are so ugly I haven't really watched any of the dance, but it seems underwhelming. Alexa busted open one of her buttons (near her belly), and it looks funny afterwards. Nigel kind of slams the choreography and says there was too much going on for us to appreciate how hard the moves were. Mary agrees, and was glad to see Daniel loosening up. Kenny echoes the "it was demanding" sentiment, but also thinks it lacked a connection to the audience.
Amber and Nick
Amber is the person who has a thinly-veiled bitchface, and Nick is the ballroom guy who cried/begged at the top 20 panel. First impressions matter, people! They get to try out a Jason Gilkinson Viennese waltz, which is one of my favourite ballroom dances. Nick struggles in rehearsal, and Jason doesn't pull any punches with him. Nick's face is super distracting as we start out—he has this super sincere, pained look on his face that I can't look at. Amber does very well considering this isn't her style, and Nick really just does ok. It is like he is just pretending to dance it instead of dancing it from a place of honesty (yeesh, one season of recapping and I am saying crap like this). Mary says that Amber looked somewhat awkward in her heels, and loved Nick. Kenny compliments the choreography and the camera work (which is a nice nod). I thought Nigel made an honest, off-the-cuff remark about Abby Lee Miller from Dance Moms, but she is in the audience, so it is all scripted. Lame! Nigel does also mention Nick's terrible face, and points out that the camera is especially harsh on it (compared to just a live performance, which is a good point).
Amelia and Will
These two have a NappyTabs routine as well, and their horrifying costumes are making me very nervous. Amelia is in a god-awful leopard body suit with leather accents, and Will is in a similar leopard and leather outfit (though not the same leopard, which, if you are going to go for that, just go all the way, no?). Amelia will be playing a cat. Oh god, help us. The routine is pretty horrifying, but major points to Amelia and Will for selling the hell out of it. They almost convinced me it wasn't that bad, but the routine is just such a turd, I don't know what to say. I am offended by it. The audience freaking loves it, so perhaps I am fully alone on this one. I think at least Lil 'C is on my side, wherever he is. Kenny makes some gross kitty references, and praises the choreographers. Nigel thinks this partnership is a really good one (and I agree so far), and hilariously says that people might not like the routine and that it wasn't hip hop. Tabitha and Napolean—it is time to check yourselves. Grampy Nigel just schoooooled you on hip hop. Come. ON. Mary liked it a lot as well, and calls Amelia a quirky little vixen.
Dareian and Janelle
This is our smallest guy (he of the bad feet) and the Belly Dancer, Janelle, who the judges freaking love. Sean Cheesman is choreographing an African jazz routine for these suckers. African jazz does not usually play well with the crowd. The routine is pretty boring, and the crowd doesn't seem all that into it, as suspected. It just isn't a style that is easy to connect with, and the choreography doesn't sell us on it. Nigel thinks the choreography was pretty intense, and is surprised that Janelle is even standing on the stage because she is so clumsy and keeps getting injured (that head bang against the doorframe last episode needed 5 stitches!). Mary thought it was very exciting, like Janelle's movement, and thought Dareian had a lot of power. Kenny loved the choreography, thought it took him all around the world.
Eliana and Cyrus
Another interesting partnership here, with the super strong ballet dancer (slash Cirque du Soleil performer) Eliana, and the Cyrus, the much-exposed animator. They are in a bit of a tricky genre, with a Broadway routine by Tyce Diorio. Tyce says the routine is from Hairspray, which seems a bit weird because that is a fully-realized musical (a few thousand times over). The song is "Run and Tell That", which is the scene where Seaweed meets Penny. Cyrus does really well with the choreography (which was really slanted toward his strengths), and with the whole attitude of the dance. Eliana doesn't shine as brightly, but I think she will be fine. Mary praises Tyce, and also says that people are going to Google the crap out of this (which I really don't think will happen). Kenny does his usual choreographer sucking up, and doesn't offer much more. Nigel thinks Cyrus isn't yet a great dancer, but that he immerses himself so much in the dances that it doesn't matter. Nigel thinks the dance didn't do Eliana justice, but calls her the benchmark for all the girls.
Audrey and Matthew
These poor people that we don't know! Audrey we did see a little bit during the audition rounds (she is the memorable jazz twin), but I don't know who Matthew is, except that I think he was Ken Cosgrove in the opening Mad Men number. The only thing that is working to their advantage tonight is that they landed a contemporary routine by Travis Wall. Because Travis is amazing, I have high hopes. He is doing a Titanic (the movie, not the human disaster, although, one and the same, amirite film people?) themed routine, and has strangely chosen to pair it with "Unchained Melody" by the Righteous Brothers. If anyone can combine the "love story" of Titanic with the pottery scene from Ghost, it is Travis Wall. As suspected, the routine is really amazing. This one, I will watch on YouTube. It includes a lot of slow, controlled moves, along with some really great lifts and leaps. This dance certainly put these two on the map, and people in the audience are full-out crying. The judges award a standing O. Kenny thought it was exquisite all around. Nigel thinks it is the best of the night (I agree). Mary loved both dancers and thinks Travis did a great job as well. I feel like these comments aren't conveying how good the dance was, but it was that good.
Lindsay and Cole
Lindsay is the other ballroomer, and Cole is the martial arts guy. They are given a Jason Gilkinson Paso Doble, which is Lindsay's specialty and plays to Cole's strengths in its hardness. I can tell from the start that this is going to be a great routine. It starts with Lindsay slung around Cole's back, and it is just extremely strong throughout. The styling is cool, the movements are intense, and it is the right kind of memorable. Cole has enough character and Lindsay is able to shine in her home-genre. Kenny says it was a second great routine of the night. Mary thought it was Gilkinson's very best paso, and loved it. Nigel says that was the best paso he has ever seen a dude do on this show (high praise, and deserved). He also says that Lindsay has the magic we weren't sure she did have.
Gems from the Peanut Gallery
PG: "I think Kenny Ortega got his orange levels adjusted"
LC: "Yes, a professional levels adjustment."
PG: (deadly serious) "Of course, you don't adjust your orange levels yourself."