The cumbersome and busy routines on So You Think You Can Dance last night made for a tense evening where I feared for the dancers. None of the judges mentioned that Jenna briefly got her foot caught coming back through those wide red strands, and at the end had to make a second attempt to remove the one around her wrist. Choreographer Travis Wall did not look happy when the camera switched to him in the audience, but perked up when nobody noted anything amiss and instead praised him and the routine to the skies.
I wanted to concentrate on the dancers, especially Tucker, who was actually dancing instead of having to contend with props, although he was diverted by having to do constant lifting. The routine might have been beautiful if Jenna had been given time to become familiar with the contraption, but was only introduced to it just hours before the show. All in all, I think Tucker and Jenna did a very credible job with an awkward routine. I would love to see it done over again in a way that would not include biting my nails.
The nail-biting continued with the unwieldy, 15-ft tall ladder routine by Dee Caspery, featuring Curtis and Hayley, who, by the way, is afraid of heights. That piece was more about posing on the ladder than the movements of a dance. It was also awkward. Only Nigel and Mary would note Curtis’s shoulder alignment in something that graceless. But Curtis is obviously behind the pack in grace and form, and my home group was pulling for Blu-Print over him, though Blu-Print was next on our “to go” order.
The show started off with somewhat of a messy group routine for the remaining sixteen. The “New World” number by Stacey Tookey and Peter Chu, though it had some moments, was mostly indecipherable and busy and the costumes, though colorful, were clunky. It was hard to distinguish male from female.
The sour notes continued with the first couple-performance by Nico and Alexis in a jive routine choreographed by Tony Meredith and Melanie LaPatin. In a dance that, by definition, is fun, light, and airy, there were too many weighty and diverting movements. No wonder the dancers ran out of steam in the middle. Though Nico and Alexis, two great dancers, gave it their best shot, they couldn’t keep the flick-kick momentum going because they were hobbled by moves that actually impeded the purpose of the jive.
A frantic pace continued the cumbersome evening with Blu-Print and Mariah’s jazz routine by Brian Friedman. It was like watching a film on fast-forward, and the music and lighting did not help that impression. My nerves had already taken a licking when Friedman said if either dancer was one count off, their partner was screwed. Now isn’t that encouraging. And he said it with such diabolical glee I wanted to strangle him. These two were already in the bottom group and I at least wanted them to have a fighting chance.
Blu-Print may not be the best dancer on the show, but he has such presence on-stage he’s become like someone you see everyday and would miss if they were gone. As for Mariah, you can pick her out of the crowd during a group routine. Her face is so expressive. You could tell she was desperately trying to curb her emotions last night, but at the end just dissolved into tears. I’m going to miss that joyful energy and 1000-watt smile of hers. At least someone got their costumes right for their last routine and they looked wonderful.
Then came the hip/hop routine that added insult to my injuries. For two weeks I’ve looked forward to seeing this season’s airy little Tinker Bell, Malece, paired with Alan, whose personal performance was awesome, and who has been a stand-out in his partnered routines for his grace and strength. Then they give them this spaced-out hip/hop that was like someone deliberately sabotaged Alan by blowing out his artistic light and putting him in those god-awful pants. Yes, they did turn Malece into a steel magnolia on steroids, but I was so worried for Alan I could barely pay attention to her. I did, however, appreciate Nigel’s astute advice to Alan about putting on each routine like a cloak he wears and discards. That was excellent advice for all performers.
The first gleam in this otherwise murky evening came with Fik-Shun and Amy’s quirky hobo jazz routine by Tyce Diorio. Besides being original and lots of fun, my nails weren’t ravaged, and I was able to breathe a sigh of relaxed relief. I don’t think these two were in any danger of slipping on a garbage bag — the only “prop” in sight. —- Way ta go, Diorio!! And the judges’ comments keep the ball rolling.
Mary Murphy — “Don’t you think these hobos need some transportation?”
Nigel Lythgoe — “On the hot tomale train?”
Tyce’s routine seemed to unblock an invisible barrier to free the last two performances for the viewing pleasure of their fans. Now isn’t that a novel idea. Though hip/hop is not my particular favorite, it has it’s moments, and Paul and Mackensie’s routine by Dave Scott was very good and I left my nails alone. But the music was a poor choice that grated on the ear like nails on a blackboard. It detracted from an otherwise fun and up-beat piece. Paul again steals the focus from Mackensie even in all her costumed glory. I kept trying to give his camera-loving aura a name when sister Katie said, “He’s just got the IT factor”. Mackensie believes he’s a James Franko look-alike, and there is a slight argument for that conclusion. It’s just that Paul’s IT-factor makes him stand out more.
The quickstep with Aaron and Jasmine, choreographed by Toni and Melanie, was never so different as it was last night. It was like a choreography buffet. There was something on that dance line for everybody. And Aaron and Jasmine are never disappointing. They give everything that’s thrown at them 210% — that’s above and beyond in case you’re wondering. However, I like the old-fashioned elegance and grace of the quickstep and I’ve seen routines and performances that lifted the spirit while dazzling the eye. A traditional quickstep that captures the attention and holds it, is that illusive combination of music, choreography and performance that every artist strives for, and every viewer looks for — like a diamond in a coal mine or gold among the rocks. There are quicksteps that are not the kiss of death.