Most Unusual Dance
The most unusual and eye-popping routine last night on So You Think You Can Dance was Sean Cheesman’s African jazz, performed by Jacque LeWerne (ballerina), and Zack Everhart (tapper). Talk about out-of-their-comfort zone! But these two put everything into it and we, their viewers, got more than our money’s worth out of it. Startling from the get-go, the two colorfully costumed and painted figures seemed to step out of the splash-painted wall, like color come to life. The essence of the story, said Cheesman in that awesome voice, are “warriors come to life from ancient art. It’s not meant to be pretty.” Cheesman instructed the dancers to be “fierce and animalistic”. Though Jacque was commended by the judges for charging fiercely out of her “technical ballerina box” (Nigel), Zack was “so in it, he was a beast” (Mary), and there was nothing left to say but . . . WOOO! WOOO! — Mary Murphy’s signature, Richter scale tipping cheer.
The Two Best Dancers
Last night’s two best dancers were not even partners. There’s no disguising the fact that their artistry flows from every pore, making each one an individual presence no matter who they partner.
(1) Ricky Ubeda’s unforgettable performance last week, with partner Jessica Richens, brought judges and audience to their feet. Last night, Ricky danced a Travis Wall contemporary with Valerie Rockey to “Oh, Darling” by Gossling. Nigel and Mary praised the couple’s artistry, athleticism, and chemistry. But guest judge Misty Copeland zeroed in on Ricky, saying, “I can’t get enough of you. Energy comes from every part of your being, and your partner can learn so much from you.” I agreed. Like Misty, my eyes were constantly drawn to Ricky. P.S. I really, really like Misty as a guest judge. She is serious and astute, which is more than I can say for some guest judges. Oh, don’t get me wrong. I LOVE the FUN and astute judges. That keeps the sparkle in the show, which Mary and Nigel do very well.
(2) Teddy Coffey, whose vibrant personality, charisma, and grace, even in hip-hop, makes him a stand-out. In last week’s Chris Scott number with partner, Emelio Dosal, the two were equally hard-hitting and entertaining. Last night, dancing to a Dave Scott hip-hop routine with Ed Sheeran’s “Don’t”, he blazed across the stage with his partner, Emily James, who was a pale comparison. Granted, hip-hop is not Emily’s forte. Mary called the routine entertaining. Nigel said they needed to get their chemistry together. Misty thought Teddy was awesome. Teddy is the one who reminds me of a young David Bowie. And he was definitely awesome.
Choreographer Sonya Tayeh comes in with the weirdest number, danced to “You Need” by the Bengsons, performed powerfully by Tanisha Belnap and Rudy Abreu. Every step was fierce and aggressive and . . . weird. Mary advised Rudy to watch his shoulders. Misty thought Tanisha was fierce and Rudy was supportive. Nigel said Tanisha was strong and brought out the best in Rudy, who was better than last week. Even though Tanya’s routine was off the wall, it was unusually mesmerizing — like snake eyes.
The Two Worst Routines
The two worst choreographies last night hobbled the dancers and probably cost them votes, if not the competition. It’s a lot to lay on a routine, but it’s the truth.
(1) As much as I love our first season winner Benji Schwimmer, his West Coast Swing number was busy and cumbersome. It made me feel sorry for Jessica Richens and Nick Garcia as they valiantly tried to surmount this obstacle course.. And it wasn’t just the movements themselves that crippled this choreography. The music was wrong, wrong, wrong. It crawled at the beginning while the dancers attacked it at breakneck speed. It was supposed to be some kind of rendition of Aretha’s “Respect”, and, though it powered up eventually, it didn’t match the moves. Nigel said that, though Benji could ace that routine, it was asking a great deal of someone who was not familiar with the hard-paced West Coast Swing. Mary said, “Benji didn’t take it easy on you guys when it was outside your style. Those lifts and drops were tough.”
(2) Though Malene Ostergaard and Stanley Glover did a great job with what they were given — a telephone and long cord to dance around — Nigel said boy did they get the wrong number. That “number” was a Broadway piece from Spencer Liff. Mary loved the first 20 seconds, then was soon bored with the telephone concept. She would have liked to see the performers without the encumbrance of the cord and given the freedom to reveal their artistic skills. Nigel said the style didn’t fit either of them, and the dance was disappointing. Misty said they were beautiful as individual dancers, but felt no connection between the two as a couple. All agreed that Malene was sexy, and she did look “FABulous DAHling”. I dearly love Stanley’s long, lithe leaps and extensions. He just seems to go on forever. He is so watchable.
I agree with Nigel — Emelio Dosal’s tunic was too long and “made him look like a short Hobbit.” Nigel’s words, not mine. But it did make him look cut off at the knees and we didn’t get the full benefit of his sharp, confident, and thoroughly entertaining moves in this hip-hop routine by Luther Brown. Bridget Whitman worked that ponytail and Misty said she “owned it”, calling her fierce, strong, and sexy. Nigel pronounced they had the chemistry together, which, hopefully, will see them through another round.
I like Serge Onik and hated to see him in the bottom six last night. I thought there was more to him than the judges gave him credit for, and (how I love saying this), I was right. He and Carly Blaney performed a contemporary routine by Sonya Tayeh to “Latch” by Sam Smith. Misty said, “Wow,” and said she felt his overall energy and tenderness, even though he was dancing a style that was outside his comfort zone. “You shocked me,” Nigel said. “For the first time I felt emotion.” Mary praised Carly for being “fluid, and liquid”, but declared that she was proud of Serge for doing an “amazing job”, even though it had been a rough road for him.
Two Routines Vie for Best Story
Jourdan Epstein swapped her sweet ballerina persona last night for that of a tough, no-nonsense interrogator browbeating Marcquet Hill in a film noir, thriller setting. The creator/choreographer was Sean Cheesman who kept it edgy with “Work, Work” by Britney Spears. Misty said Jourdan was fierce and kept connected, though Nigel said that at times she smiled and lost the character of the plot. Nigel thought Marcquet was “tremendous”, while Misty said that at times his face was too serious. Mary thought Marcquet did good partnering and praised Jourdan for her great use of “those beautiful ballet legs.” The other great dance story was the African Jazz routine already described above, along with the video.
Best Transformation with Superb Conchas
Okay. So I don’t know what the hey conchas are, but apparently Casey Askew’s got ’em, at least according to Nigel. I’ll take his word for it. And Mary observed, along with the rest of us, that Brooklyn Fullmer transformed from this cute baby to a woman who “melted on his shoulder” in this steamy Argentine Tango by Miriam Larici and Leonardo Barrionuevo. It was Nigel’s turn to say “Wow”, and that the intensity maintained was magnificent, and added that the conchas were superb. (I don’t even know how to spell it and can’t find it on Google). Mary was moved to exclaim, “Casey. Who ARE you? You have so many partnering skills, and even though this was outside your style, you nailed it. Misty, however, would have liked to see more assertiveness from Casey, and I agreed, though his posture and movements were perfect. Also, Casey reminds me a little of Billy Zane. What do you think?
.Bottom six last night were Brooklyn, Casey, Jourdan, Nick, Malene, and Serge. Unfortunately, it was the last night for Malene Ostergaard and Nick Garcia. With so many great dancers this year, it’s going to be crying time every week.