SYTYCD: Jenna Finally Eliminated, but Goes Out on a High Note with All-Star Mark

Cat Deeley and bottom four: Fik-Shun, Haley, Jenna, Tucker

At first I didn’t know If I had the right channel. There was this tall vampire or zombie with blacked-out eyes, slicked-back hair, dressed in an oily bilious-looking dress standing on stage with a microphone introducing the show. If I had to guess, I’d guess it was a zombie who had been tarred, but not yet feathered. And it was only the otherwise sweet and lovely Cat Deeley. Her wardrobe and make-up people ought to be fired. Summarily. That means forthwith and immediately with a boot to the rear. This was the absolute worst in a season of underwhelming looks for the beautiful Cat.

It was an emotional night with contestants telling about the people who inspired them. Their stories were of supportive parents or other family members, or strong childhood friends who never lived to adulthood. Hearing them, I understood how so many of these young artists could exude such deep emotion just from their movements and facial expressions.

I wasn’t crazy about the opening number by Mia Michaels. In fact, I didn’t even watch it all the way through. It started out looking like a weird rip-off of Paula Abdul’s “Cold-hearted Snake” routine. Then it went in some other direction, and somewhere around there, I lost interest.

Jenna Johnson finally got eliminated after being in the bottom about five or six times with repeated reprieves from the judges. Sounds like Nigel Lythgoe may have had his own Hitchcock moment straight out of  “The Birds” lately. Apparently he’s been nearly tweeted to death by irate voters. He tried to put a positive spin on it, but it sounded a little lame. I don’t think Jenna’s dancing was the issue so much as lack of personality and charisma off-stage. For some reason she didn’t hit it off with audiences, who lost favorites because of her repeated saves by the judges. Over the years, other judge favorites have been let go after being in the bottom more than twice in deference to the will of the voters.

Jenna and her weekly partner Tucker Knox were both eliminated. I really hate to see Tucker go, but each elimination this year seems to leave an empty hole in the tight-knit fabric of the family of contestants. Most of these kids are so good that I miss them when they are gone. That’s probably why the All-Stars are so popular. It’s like old friends have come back to shine, and we are proud of their successes. Tuesday night, for the first time, All-Stars choreographed their own routines. A couple of them were inspired and original. All of them were good.

Fik-Shun landed in the bottom for the first time, but took it well in stride. He has repeatedly amazed and astounded the viewers with his ability to adapt to anything thrown at him, even though he has none of the dance background of the other contestants. But it remains to be seen if his heartwarming personality and unselfconscious style will get him through the finals. Every time I mention how much I love Fik-Shun, my sister reminds me that everyone does — but look who would have to go if he stays. Aw, sheesh, I didn’t want to think about that. But remember, next week it is voter only. No last-minute reprieves from the judges and choreographers.

I’m still wowed by Aaron Turner’s big-body ability to move quickly with grace, style, assurance and expression, and there were many of these moments in his jive with the amazing Chelsie Hightower (now a regular on “Dancing With the Stars”). But the awkward moments were perceptible even to the uninitiated in dance or its lingo. I may not understand what an arabesque is, but I capisce a hip roll gone wrong and shoulders up not down. So the jive didn’t jive with the judges.

I love listening to Nigel and Mary Murphy’s shop talk about the dancers. Even the language of dance sounds beautiful and she and Nigel speak it with such panache it makes you think, hey, these dancers did really really good — or bad — as the case may be. Okay. So I’m a sucker for language, even when it’s as foreign to me as the language of dance.

Fik-Shun was up next with Twitch’s fiance, Allison Holker, an All-Star I don’t remember. There have been several seasons, after all. Allison chose racial bias as her theme. Darkness represented the blindness of bigotry as she and Fik-Shun held up lanterns to illuminate the way to acceptance and peace. Fik-Shun always shines right along with the All-Star, and he didn’t let us down this time. As the guest judge Jenna Elfman commented, he IS an All-Star now.

It came as a shocker when I learned that Courtney Galiano, whom I do definitely remember, has been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, a debilitating disease of the central nervous system causing loss of muscular and mental control. Symptoms can occur in isolated attacks, as in the one that left her blind in one eye for a month. The symptoms can go away between attacks, with periods of normalcy. But as the disease progresses, the problems become permanent. There is still no cure for multiple sclerosis, and Courtney’s courage and refusal to give in to self-pity were inspiring, especially with her beauty and obvious gift for dance.

She chose Romeo and Juliette, to the music of “Clarity”, as the theme of her jazz routine, going to new heights with her leaps and physicality. And Tucker Knox partnered her beautifully. She was especially affecting when she assured the audience that — “Sorry, Shakespeare. Nobody’s dying at the end of my dance.” She is truly unforgettable.

Paul Karmiryan, my favorite, pulled a hip-hop routine with hip-hop gal, Comfort, to the music of “Dum-Dum”. I was more than a little skeptical and nervous about this one. How would my classy, graceful, beautiful Paul handle such down-to-earthy movements, and hit them DOWN and fast and hard. Not to worry. He hit that one outta the park. Loved the routine. Loved him. He doesn’t just tackle a dance routine. He owns it.

Dmitry came in with his signature Mr. Sexy routine and wowed the women — Mary Murphy being already in his corner. Ain’t my type, by the way, nor a favorite All-Star. Nothing wrong with him, but if you’ve seen one of his shirtless or unbuttoned-shirt routines you’ve seen them all. Yawn. But I must say, this routine with Haley and it’s theme of jilted lover, was a grade above his usual move-it, move it, twist from the torso style. I leave it to Dmitry and Haley fans to go ga-ga over it, though.

What I did go ga-ga over was Lady Ga-Ga’s floor man, Mark Kanamura and his zaney, bizarre, and totally enjoyable jazz routine. It was, like, CRRAAZY, man. From the zigzagging patterns of the costumes, to the “room” with its pictures of two eyes hanging over the red lips-shaped sofa, to the rolling out of a red carpet from the center of the lips like a long tongue, and the crazy music “I Am the Best”, it was a show-stopper that left you exhilarated and not a little dizzy. Standing O. Standing O. And deservedly so. Loved it. It was fun, totally original, and absolutely entertaining. Jenna, his partner, worked that long braid of hers like a master and went out of the competition on a really really high note. Guys, you gotta see this dance to believe it.

Jasmine Harper and All-Star Twitch are, of course, a match made in heaven. They were LOOOOOKing Goooood in Twitch’s hip-hop routine to “The Power” by District 78. And, man, did they ever have the power. Jasmine not only kept up, she matched him hit for hit and move for move. As someone — think it was Nigel —  said, she nearly out-twitched Twitch. Nigel, who along with most of the males in America, (including one of my readers) was still grieving over the loss of Makenzie, now switched his allegiance, and his heart, to Jasmine. Fickle, fickle man.

Last, but not least, is the contemporary routine by the incomparable Travis Wall. He and Amy flowed and flew and twined to the strains of “Wicked Game”, about the games people play with each other in relationships. Like Nigel, I knew I was watching something different from the usual run of generic routines. And, like Mary Murphy, who was inspired to comment of Amy Yakima, “I don’t think anyone has gone to where you went tonight.” Watching this very original — yes — genius composition with moves that made me gasp out “Oh, my goodness!”, I knew I had seen something so beautifully new and different, that it was an experience not to be forgotten. This is a routine that will be on everyone’s top ten to watch over and over.


3 thoughts on “SYTYCD: Jenna Finally Eliminated, but Goes Out on a High Note with All-Star Mark

  1. I completely agree about Cat’s look this week. Didn’t like the makeup, pantsuit or the straight, stringy hair that looked like someone rubbed grease into it. She needs a new stylist. Mary Murphy, on the other hand, must be doing really well on her diet because she looks noticably thinner.

    I didn’t care AT ALL for the opening number, but it’s a Mia Michaels routine so I’m not surprised. It was such a mish-mash that I couldn’t even pick out any of the individual dancers. I liked the short interviews with each dancer about who had inspired them. Interesting. I didn’t know Courtney had MS. It may not affect her adversely for many years, but still, it’s lurking there in her future. Look how long Annette Funicello lasted with MS and it was only in her later years that she was actually incapacitated.

    I had no idea Jenna Elfman had such an extensive background in classical ballet. FYI, this is an arabesque.

    I think they got it right (finally!) in sending Jenna home. She may be a good dancer, but she’s the least charismatic dancer that has been on the show in years. Sorry to see Tucker go, but favorites are going to fall by the wayside from now on.

    ~Solos: Fik-shun, good; Haley, very nice; Jenna, meh; Tucker, very nice.

    ~Aaron & Chelsie – I thought their Jive was wonderful. Chelsie looks a little like Julianne Hough, don’t you think? Aaron sure can move for a big man. I was surprised when Nigel criticized how he did the Jive.

    ~Fik-shun & Allison – A beautiful routine and Fik-shun continues to amaze. I don’t remember Allison either from earlier. I guess she didn’t make much of an impression on me.

    ~Tucker & Courtney – Their Romeo and Juliet routine failed to move me. Don’t know why.

    ~Paul & Comfort – Paul, the Latin ballroom dancer, doing hip-hop? Amazing! I thought he was wonderful in this routine. He looked like a natural. It just proves that a truly capable dancer can do any style. Aaron and Fik-shun are other shining examples of this.

    ~Haley & Dimitry – I absolutely adored this routine. For the first time, I really “got” Haley. She was terrific. I liked their music, too, “Meant” by Elizaveta (yes, with a V.) However, it definitely wasn’t rhumba music and they barely did any rhumba steps. It seemed more like a contemporary routine to me.

    ~Jenna & Mark – I realize this Jazz routine was innovative and creative, but I didn’t care very much for it. Their costumes gave me a headache. The judges sure loved it though so who am I to criticize.

    ~Jasmine & Twitch – FINALLY!!! This is the pairing I’ve been waiting for. I would still like to see Jasmine do more contemporary routines. She is soooo graceful and expressive. I think she’s wasted during so many uptempo and hip-hop routines. But I did like her in this. As one of the judges said, she out-Twitched Twitch. LOL

    ~Amy & Travis – What a beautiful, interesting routine. Amy was gorgeous. Apparently Travis likes her, too, because he was happy to have her for a partner. What’s with all the tattoos on Travis? He has more of them every time I see him. Ugh!

    All in all, I thought the show was VERY good this week. I’m still riding the Aaron and Jasmine train and I hope they get enough votes to NOT go home next week.

    • Okay. Now I know what an arabesque is. Mind if I use that link next week? — Yes. I meant to mention Mary Murphy’s obvious weight loss. She looks very good. I’ve gained back 10 of the 15 lbs. I lost when I was going through so much pain. Pain and appetite don’t mix. How come food tastes better when you feel good, but makes you feel bad because it makes you fatter?

      Good point about Annette Funicello. I grew up in THE Mousketeer era, and I always wanted to BE her. She always had the sweetest expression, and always seemed so “at home” in her own body — even MS couldn’t beat her spirit.

      Romeo and Juliette started out a little “hum”, but got better when it kicked into some of the better moves. Those split leaps were good, and after hearing about her MS, I wondered how she could do it. But then I read about how the symptoms present themselves – comes and goes. Very odd.

      You know, I had said that this was one of Dmitry’s better routines, but earlier this evening as I was re-checking some stuff I started clicking on old favorites. Do you remember “Hip Hip Ching Ching” with Lacey and Danny? I didn’t realize, or didn’t remember, that Dmitry choreographed that one. I’m just not a big fan of Dmitry’s style of dance, though he has done some standout routines. The overt sexuality play turns me off, though he seems a nice enough guy. Yes. Haley was great.

      Sorry. Can’t help it. I love Mark and I’ve watched that routine several times. It makes me smile every time. And, yes, it does make you dizzy. But in a good way. Like a little “happy high”. As I was going back down memory lane I also clicked on several of Chelsie and Mark’s routines as contestants. I had forgotten they were partners. What a season THAT was!!!

      I KNEW you would love Jasmine and Twitch!! I could hardly wait for you to get that tape player cranked up so you could see it. Does Frank ever watch any of these with you? If not, get out a roll of duct tape and tie him to a chair. These dances love company.

      It’s funny you mentioned Travis’s tattoos because I noticed them, too. I’m not a big fan of this latest mode, but understand that it’s the latest cultural thing. But I do cringe when they go overboard, especially someone like Travis. You would think he gets all the attention he could possibly crave without resorting to permanently marring his body.

      You also made a good point about Jasmine. I would also love to see her in more routines that show her broad range and flexibility.

      I also thought it was a very good week. I often get put out with the choreography, which has been hit and miss. But these All-Stars brought their A-game and they gave their fans their money’s worth!!!!

  2. Sure, you can use that arabesque photo I gave you. I found it at Google Images.

    Sorry you’ve gained the weight back you lost when you were sick. That happens, unfortunately.

    I watched the Romeo and Juliet routine again and decided I like it now. I also watched Aaron and Jasmine’s “Bottom of the River” routine about five times in a row again. I think that may be my favorite routiine this season…at least so far. Love the music and Jasmine’s extensions.

    Yep, you guessed it. I loved Twitch and Jasmine’s routine. I knew with Twitch involved, it would be an interesting routine even if it was hip-hop.

    No, Frank never watches any of the competition shows I watch. In fact, he and I never watch TV together. The only shows we both like are documentaries, but we don’t watch them together. He watches TV in bed and I watch it in the kitchen or on my computer. We have a HUGE kitchen with a big TV, couch, a couple of chests/benches, table and chairs….VERY comfy. I almost never watch anything live because of the commercials (Frank either) so it’s best to watch in the kitchen where the DVR is. This way I can zip through the ads.

    I know what you mean about the hit-or-miss choreography. I thought the all-stars did an excellent job…better than a lot of the staff choreographers in many cases.


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