Bridget Whitman and Emilio Dosal Eliminated
The excitement had built for fans this week over the anticipated arrival of the All-Stars on So You Think You Can Dance. It usually means some memorable routines as contestants are coupled with talented and experienced dancers from previous seasons. But as the show went on, I was afraid this year was going to be a bust.
The pairings seemed to be the luck of the lottery instead of matches made in heaven. Case in point. Emilio and JASMINE? Gimme a break. He’s one of the shortest guys in the competition (though one of my favorites), and Jasmine Harper is a big, tall girl, though gorgeous and talented. I loved her as a runner-up on season 10 and she’s great in her new commercial. But as a partner for Emilio? They went together like a Clydesdale and a Shetland pony. And though I’m a fan of Tabitha and Napoleon, this NappyTabs king-and-snake hip-hop routine wasn’t a favorite.
It started out well with Emilio’s snaky hand movements as he sat on the throne, and I liked the ending where he jumped in the snake-charmer’s basket. Quite a risky move, as Mary Murphy noted. But the in-between? Mmmm . . . a few good moves, but Jasmine’s costume was distracting. It was meant to be sexy, I suppose, but it totally missed the love boat. The black material hung loosely down each side of her pelvic region, connected only by a narrow strip to the belt in front and a couple of vee straps in the back. The sides flapped and gaped alarmingly and seemed to stretch open farther as the dance continued. The judges praised the choreography and Jasmine and were impressed with Emilio’s progress. For me, the dance was a mess. The best All-Star partner for Emilio? Let’s try All-Star Comfort Fedoke of Season 10. Those two would have torn up that stage.
Another partnering that needed re-thinking was Valerie and All-Star Ade Obayomi of Season Four. The romantic contemporary routine choreographed by Tyce Diorio might have been good, but who could tell. Ade is so big as to be overwhelming, and any attempt at romantic overtures between this linebacker-looking Giant and Thumbelina came off as ridiculous. Ade is an excellent dancer in his own right, but with this tiny partner and this dainty dance he was totally out of his league. Marko Germar of Season Eight would have suited much better for Valerie in this routine. The judges were not impressed, either, and even though Nigel thought Valerie was “tight and self-conscious” I think Valerie did very well. Better than Ade.
Spicy attraction was the name of the game in the Cha-Cha routine by Louie Van Anstel of Dancing With The Stars. Though All-Star Jenna Johnson of Season 10 brought her A-game, my beloved Rudy mugged the camera more than he paid attention to his partner — which Nigel also noticed. Though Rudy seemed to dance every step correctly, there was nothing sexy about his performance, though Mary booked him on the hot tamale train, and Olympic Gold Medalist Tara Lipinski called him infectious. Can’t find a decent video for this routine.
The show opened with a new choreography recipe by Nakul Dev Mahajan tagged as a Bollywood Disco. I hope that recipe goes up in smoke because I’d hate to see another. Give me Bollywood or give me Disco. Not both together. It would be like curry in a cake mix. Yuk! It was performed by Bridget and All-Star Brandon Bryant of Season Nine. Bridget’s costume was well-suited, but a shirtless Brandon Bryant in tight white pants did not shout Bollywood OR Disco. It was a mish-mesh mess. However, if the dancers had been given something to work with they may have fared better. Mary gave their performance high marks for stamina, speed, skill, and spirit, and Nigel called it a happy dance and a tough routine which they danced with their whole heart. I think I might be able to read between the lines on the judges’s take on the choreography.
Mary Murphy raved that Ricky has “the skills that pay the bills”, but his skills didn’t overcome the awkwardness of some of Mandy Moore’s Rock-A-Billy Bassa Nova routine. The song and music of Bossa Nova Baby was fast and furious, but some of the moves didn’t match it and neither did the costumes. I couldn’t fault Ricky or All-Star Lauren Froderman of Season Seven. They definitely did their part, and, to me, Ricky was even better than the All-Star. They both would have stood out more with costumes that matched the party theme of the music. Mandy Moore is another of my favorite choreographers and is usually better than this.
The second routine of the evening was a really good Argentine Tango by Leonardo and Miriam with Tanisha and Season Six All-Star Ryan Di Lello, a gifted ballroom dancer. It’s amazing to me how Tanisha can be so sexy and centered on the dance floor. What movements! She is awesome, and so was her All-Star partner. The music actually fit the tango this time and Mary called it “Smokin’!” Tara praised Tanisha’s sexy opening and the “incredible partnership”. All of the judges were amazed by how Ryan briefly balanced Tanisha on his neck.
But I was out of my seat and hollering WOOO! when Casey and All-Star Kathryn McCormick came out in Spencer Liff’s awesome Broadway routine. Casey was old-world debonair, and eye-poppingly, rousingly GOOD, and Kathryn fit him like a glove. Mary praised his ronde, leap, pirouette, and “with the music crescendo,” she said, “I knew you could feel it with every pore of your body.” Nigel said they fit perfectly with the routine, and starry-eyed Tara insisted that Casey was, “So handsome. So alive. Such chemistry, and, such a gentleman.”
Travis Wall did it again. Where does he get this stuff! The contemporary Ballet Duet with Jacque and All-Star Chehon Wespi-Tschopp was wonderful and beautiful. The lighting, the play of shadows, the music, the emotion, and the incredible performance placed this routine right up there with his best. When it was over, it took a moment for Nigel to come out with a breathless WOW. Mary loved everything, calling it exquisite and “so tough, but so perfect.” Tara told Jacque she was flawless, and praised her extensions and flexibility. Chehon was the perfect partner and together they gave a performance of a lifetime. Wow, indeed.
The first and only standing ovation of the night came for Sonya Tayeh’s “Tribute To A Friend Who Passed Away”. And who can get over Zach, our tapper, and how he has embraced dance in all its forms, especially contemporary. His deep-seated and palpable emotion comes through in his face, his eyes, his fingertips, his feet, through every move of his body. Zach was paired with Amy Yakima of Season Ten, and together they held their audience in a breathless aura of empathy, grief, and intense feeling. Zach was exquisite. NIgel called the routine absolutely stunning. Tara said it was mythical, magical, and warm. “Wow, is an understatement,” she said. Mary named it a masterpiece. “And you made it real,” she told the couple. This was the second time that Zach had impressed Sonya, and that is truly amazing.
But the contestant that exceeded all expectations was Jessica, partnered with All-Star Twitch — who needs no introduction by the way, as Twitch is a world-renowned dancer from Season Four. This NappyTabs hip-hop routine was fun and exciting and, lo and behold, Jessica kept up with Twitch, who, in his defense, played the part of an old man trying to keep-up with a young girl. And he did it like a trained thespian as well as a dancer. In parts it was hilarious, and Jessica didn’t slow down or drop a stitch. The costumes were awesome, the music fit, and the dirty old man on the bench was a hoot. Judges went wild over it and it was Tara who first brought up that it exceeded all expectations. Mary called it “off the charts”. “You couldn’t have done it better,” she said. “You are a STAR!” A more subdued Nigel Lythgoe just said that Jessica lived up to her potential. Well, hey, I guess so. She danced her way all around the ever-awesome Twitch and had his eyes bugging out.
Four awesome routines, and one or two good ones, out of ten, seem to me to balance the odds in favor of a successful show, in spite of the early drawbacks. But it doesn’t rank the best in All-Star performances because of the awkward pairing. Even though the All-Stars are known by reputation to the dance contestants, some of the partners seemed like bad blind dates.
I hate that Emilio was voted off, and Bridget. But, as I discovered after almost losing them, I’m very glad Zach and Jacque stayed. Chao. I’m outta here. Thunderstorms this evening. Had to shut down, making me late. Catch ya next week.