For the first time this year I actually got excited about more than one performance last night on SYTYCD. The All-Stars worked their magic, bringing out latent skills, energy, and, yeah, pizzaz in the remaining contestants. The cell phones were sizzling between sister Katie and me during commercial breaks.
I couldn’t get over Fik-Shun. He’s like the Energizer Bunny. Just keeps going and going and going, and all with that kid-in-the-candy-store wide-eyed sparkle. When they announced he would be paired with our all-time favorite Melanie Moore, though, Katie and I were a little disappointed. After all, Melanie IS dance. She embodies dance like it’s an essential piece of flesh and bone equipment.. I’ve never seen anything like her. Poor little Fik-Shun, we thought.— NOT!! — FiK-Shun not only kept up, he partnered Melanie smoothly, and kept the tempo and razzle-dazzle at maximum warp. Those moves were aMAYzing. Everything melded, blended, exploded in this exceptional choreography by Mandy Moore — the music (Jennifer Hudson singing Feeling Good), the costumes, lighting, and the execution of those awesome moves. Melanie oozed, snapped, kicked, jumped, and all in perfect sync with FiK-Shun — who absorbed every electrifying ion from his partner, judges, and audience, and gave it back in spades. Even with a rotten headache (sinus infection), I was yelling and, virtually, on my feet and stomping. Melanie hasn’t lost an iota of her gift for knocking your socks off, and paired with Fik-Shun . . . MAN! — it’s a wonder I even have a pair of shoes left. (If you want technical dance jargon you’ll have to read some other blog; I just call ’em as I feel ’em).
My second favorite was Makenzie and All-Star Jacob Carr. Ella Fitzgerald’s “Too Darn Hot” was the fuel that set the stage on fire when combined with Makenzie’s bright red against Jacob’s background-gray. It was like color on canvass in this Spencer Liff broadway routine. And those red shoes pointed at the end of that long leg – yes — as a couple of judges noted, Cyd Charisse comes quickly to mind. Makenzie was also compared to Rita Hayworth in looks. And again the judge — Nigel, I think — got it right. But then again, I couldn’t agree with the result that sent Makenzie — this beautiful red ruby — home. How many times does it make — four or five — that the judges have saved Jenna over ones I liked better? And, though Jenna is a great dancer, if she doesn’t click with the audience — she doesn’t click. The judges have sent dancers home for just this reason before. The favoritism and flapping by the official voting panel just may backfire — unless they intend to shove her through for the win. I’m still not over Malece getting the boot because of Jenna. Can you tell? And we’ll never know whether the viewers actually voted for Malece (or some of the other bottom row dancers) over the judges’ picks.
That said, I will go on to give Jenna her props in a Mandy Moore contemporary with another favorite All-Star, Neill Haskell. The lifts were a refreshing fusion of symmetry and grace. Beautiful and effortless, they flowed along with the song, “I Can’t Make You Love Me” by Mark Masri.
The cutest routine of the night was the Tabitha and Napoleon reptile hip-hop number. I know it won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, but it was funny and cute, and Nico was right there in the running with All-Star Comfort. (Comfort even showed a tad of personality). These two really “Got Their Freak On” and gave a memorably bizarre performance. Nico’s darting head and motions were so entertainingly creepy I nearly got my own freak on. I hated to see either Nico or Tucker go. To me, they always gave a good performance, were lithe, agile, and committed. But, of course, someone has to go home. It’s just a bad year for that because there are so many good dancers this year
The worst routine was the disco with Amy and All-Star Brandon. This number by Doriana Sanchez had all the bells and whistles, and our couple gave it lots of energy. But it wasn’t disco by a long shot. I give a big thumbs up to Mary Murphy who pointed out that the music was all wrong. You’d think disco music carried an airborne disease the way they shy away from it on this show. The music and the dancing may not be the creme de la creme of song and dance, but it was fun in the seventies and it’s still fun (to watch) when it’s done right. You’d think this choreographer had never heard of a disco ball, John Travolta, and the BeeGees. Here’s a great example. I don’t recommend Saturday Night Fever as a movie — it gets a little too graphic for my taste, and it needed some deep-down editing — but the music and dancing does what it’s supposed to. It makes you wanna move.
There were instances where the All-Star out-shone the contestant. Twitch, for example, just so totally outperformed the luckless Hayley, that it was hard to NOT watch him. And Twitch doesn’t seem to be the kind of guy to upstage anyone. He just always gives 100% because he can’t help himself. Not that Hayley didn’t perform adequately, but . . . you catch my drift.
I also did not take a shine to Jasmine in her channeling-Michael Jackson-number with All-Star Marko. She looked like a man and never really measured up to Marko’s glittering performance. And yet, the judges essentially insulted Marko by over-praising Jasmine and almost totally ignoring him. Except there was a remark or two about HIM not keeping up with her. I don’t know what planet the judges were on, but they missed that mark by a mile. All of the wonderful things that make up Jasmine’s popularity with the public were just gone. Packed away somewhere in that awkward, awful outfit, and under that too-closely pleated hair.
Then there were those couples who just did not look right together. Paul was awesome as usual, and I could have loved the routine if he had not been paired with All-Star Witney (who is now a regular on Dancing With The Stars). Separately they both turned in outstanding performances for their cha-cha. Together they looked like Mutt and Jeff, dark and light, poles apart. In this instance, the Mutt and Jeff refers not to height, but weight. Witney made two of Paul. Some of these girl dancers are hefty. But Paul never let it deter him a bit. They just looked odd together.
Then we have beauty and the beast with Aaron and All-Star Kathryn. It was a beautiful Stacy Tookey contemporary, and I had been looking forward to seeing Kathryn, who is my runner-up favorite. But this pairing was all wrong. Yes, Aaron is a great dancer. Yes, he gives all the emotion and gentleness required. But he’s a great big beast of a fellow, and that works with Jasmine. With Jasmine his sheer physical presence doesn’t loom like it did with the fairy-like Kathryn. She was perfection in every inch, floating and wafting through each movement, as if she were made of a wind-swept, puffy pink cloud.. Aaron did a fine job of bringing the emotional content, and following through with the lifts..How could he not. It’s a wonder he didn’t over-compensate and send her crashing into the ceiling. They did not look right together in spite of all the hooplah by the panel.
And last, but not least, was the very emotional brother routine with Tucker and All-Star Robert, based on actual events in the lives of both the dancers and the choreogrpher Travis Wall. Both Tucker and Robert had been in car accidents which almost ended their lives and makes them dancing miracles at the moment. Travis Wall’s brother, Danny Tidwell, was runner-up one year on SYTYCD.
Danny and the Wall family’s paths crossed at a dance studio run by Travis’s mother. They noticed the little boy who hung around and often invited him home. After discovering that the child sometimes walked ten miles home afterward, and had very little adult supervision, Travis’s mother Denise sought and got full custody of the boy at the age of twelve. Danny is now very successful in the field of dance.The routine last night was about brother rescuing brother from hitting rock bottom. It was about getting a second chance at life. This routine resounded with all three young men, as well as their audience.
Now here is the sad conclusion to this delightful evening.