Zach Surprise of the Season and Ricky Dominates on SYTYCD

Cha-Cha on the Choo-Choo. The Hot Tamale Train is On Track with Anya and Ricky. He dominates on the dance floor and in the competition.

I was looking forward to some eye-popping, Standing O routines on this crucial night before the last two shows. But, though there were some really good numbers, and Anya and Ricky sent temperatures into orbit, there were none that merited leaping out of your seat. The problem was not in the dancers. It was in the choreography, which wasn’t as edgy as on previous shows.

All season we have had consistently great routines from the likes of Travis Wall, Sonya Tayeh, Tabitha and Napoleon (NappyTabs), and Mandy Moore. Where were they last night, a really critical night for the contestants? I was happy to see Stacey Tookey, who also consistently brings her A-game, contribute a beautiful contemporary routine.

Surprisingly, one number that really popped for me was the hip hop routine by first-time guest choreographer and season five contestant, Phillip “Pacman” Chbeeb. When he described what he was shooting for in this routine — something reminiscent of the Rorschach test — for Zach and Fik-Shun, I thought, good grief. How is that going to work? Well, so much for what I know. It worked. And I couldn’t take my eyes off Zach. I was amazed at his grasp of the routine and his dexterity. Mary Murphy called Zach “the biggest surprise of the season”. And this unstoppable tapper surely is. This was not the most “beautiful” routine by any means. Just the most entertaining, and certainly the most original and complicated. I give kudos to this first-time SYTYCD choreographer.

The first couple out of the chute was the undisputed leader of this season’s pack — Ricky — and his season partner Valerie. This Spencer Liff routine had its moments — Ricky jumping through the rope swing (twice) and never missing a beat, watching Ricky’s always breathtaking emotion in motion, and the flashback of Valerie’s pastel cloud of skirts getting hung on the swing. The rest of it was sweet and forgettable. I can only assume that Spencer Liff was playing to Valerie’s strengths, but still putting the stronger partner through his paces. This routine was not one for the ages like many I could mention. It’s not that I’m just looking for adrenaline highs. I love the pieces that pull at your emotions and encourage thought on a deeper and more vital level. I also love Broadway routines. It’s just that this piece fell somewhere in the soft middle. Nice to watch. Sweet, as Mary Murphy pointed out. Not bad. Not great.

Judges’ Comments:

Christina Applegate has shown herself to be quite witty now that she is editing the foul mouth she has exhibited in other seasons. I can now enjoy her as a judge who contributes not only humor, but expertise in her comments. In Ricky and Valerie’s number, she hoped Valerie was “wearing knickers” when her skirt got caught in the swing during rehearsal. “Otherwise,” she said, “Ricky got quite a vision.” Nigel thought they captured that “warm, romantic mood”, while Mary Murphy told Spencer he must have sprinkled sugar on it because it was so light and airy and sweet. Ricky and Valerie “looked like they didn’t have a care in the world,” she said.

“I’m still dizzy.” Mary Murphy said it for everyone in her comments on the disco dance routine with Casey and Jessica, choreographed by Doriana Sanchez. You could put that one in a circus and bill it as a death-defying act. That opening, endless spin with Jessica locked onto Casey was one for the records. That’s one I will watch several times. Mary told Jessica her legs were so crisp and so beautiful they looked like Samurai swords. I thought her outfit was gorgeous and she was gorgeous in it. But the real star of that act was Casey, so strong and confident, and his equilibrium must be amazing. I hated to see him go. But, being so close to the brass ring, he can’t help but get caught up in its orbit. He’ll definitely be on his way to bigger and better things, not to mention the chance to come back as a SYTYCD All-Star.

Zach and Jacque were no Fred and Ginger by a long shot. And I don’t think any amount of practice could get them there until they’ve matured a few years. Jean-Marc Devereaxs’ Time Machine was driven by the Babes in Toyland and couldn’t make it to 1950. For the judges, it was all thumbs down. I love Zach. I think he’s awesome. But I’ve said before that he looks like a little boy in the romantic or sexy routines no matter how he puts his feet. It’s a good thing Zach had the hip hop with Fik-Shun. He shone in that one. Jacque is one gorgeous girl, and she’s had some good routines. But she’s not top of the line among the contestants. The only girl this year who could keep up with the guys in absolute top performance was Tanisha. I totally agree with guest judge Misty Copeland. The guys have it this year.

The hip hop wedding by Wildebeast was odd without being particularly noteworthy or entertaining. Even Twitch couldn’t get me interested in it, though the judges praised the routine. Thought All-Star Twitch has led his amateur partners well this season, he couldn’t save the rather clunky choreography with Valerie. There were no smooth transitions and the costumes seemed encumbering and uncomfortable. The routine might have gone better with a female partner with longer legs, like Tanisha. Even after the distracting skirt was ripped off, Valerie looked hard-pressed to keep up with Twitch, even though this number was by far not his best. I blame half the failure on his uncomfortable costume and half on the choreography. At the end, a little of the seam in the front of his pants was ripped.

I don’t like routines with props as a rule. But in this one, Jacque and All-Star Will managed to not only pull it off, but made it look good. Mostly props are distracting. At worst they are disastrous. Thank goodness the exercise ball in this Sean Cheesman piece was used only briefly and to good effect. It was a lovely dance and Jacque and All-Star Will were absolutely beautiful together. They looked like long-time partners, complementing each other and flowing seamlessly together. I would like to see these two partner in other dances, though I know it’s not likely. The judges really didn’t have much in the way of comments worth quoting, but I liked it very much.

I think Ray Leeper just got weird on his jazzy hip hop routine with Jessica and All-Star Ade. Jessica looked like a female Alley Oop, an old Sunday comic strip featuring a cave man — wearing furs, of course. However, this female of the species (whatever species these two were supposed to be) must have gotten into a patch of hallucinogens. The costumes hark back to those boring 1960s movies playing screechy, high-decibel sitars while spiraling psycho colors are geared to make you crazy — or sick. This number didn’t get a high rating from the judges, either.

WOOOOO-WOOOO! This was the best Cha-Cha I’ve seen on the show. All-Star Anya was so hot, her partner Ricky was compelled to note, while still catching his breath, “She is SOME woman!” Nigel Lithgoe agreed. “We noticed that years ago,” he said. But the best line of the night was Christina. “I want to be Anya when I grow up,” she said. She called it “SIN-sational”. All the judges admitted that Ricky “controlled the beast”, and so he did. He was magnificent. But Anya. Wow. That one little movement where she brushed her hair out of her face, right on a particularly good beat by the way, brought that hot tamale train roaring down the track. I must agree with Christina. I want to be Anya when I grow up. Actually, at my age, it would have to be in my dreams.

By far the most emotional routine of the evening was the beautiful Stacey Tookey contemporary with Casey and All-Star Makenzie. Both contestant and star were remarkable. “I love me some Tookey,” said Christina Applegate. And I knew what she meant. Stacey Tookey seldom lets us down in her contemporary stories told in music and movement. This story was about — what if you knew you only had one day left with the one you loved. Mary Murphy said they made a beautiful couple together, and I so agree. “I didn’t notice when one step ended and another started,” she said. “It just melted and blending and just smoldering there.” Mary also pointed out the leverage backbend, and said she would always remember that. “I think you had a performance of a lifetime tonight,” she told Casey. Unfortunately, it was Casey’s last night.


20 thoughts on “Zach Surprise of the Season and Ricky Dominates on SYTYCD

  1. Gosh! Am I the only person who comments on your SYTYCD entries or don’t the other comments show?

    I watched three weeks of SYTYCD dance today — six hours minus the commericials — so my thoughts are truly random. I thought Travis Wall’s all-male “Wave” routine was brilliant, as was Mandy Moore’s routine about women supporting each other witth the dancers all in various shades of purple. They were both stunning.

    Loved Travis Wall’s “Smile” routine with Ricky and all-star Jamie. Cat pointed out that Ricky was crying before the number and that he saves “everything” for his journal. So sweet. I loved it when Ricky said, “Sappy, I know.” His personality is winning lots of hearts, including mine.

    Casey (I think) and Jessica’s routine with the kiss was a gorgeous routine.

    I loved Casey and Jessica’s disco routine, but I could have done with Christina Applegate’s “spinning snot” remark. It was kind of disgusting. She came out with some other distasteful comments. I really don’t like her. Tara Lipinski, Misty Copeland and Jenna Dewan-Tatum are MUCH better guest judges.

    I loved ALL the solos, but Ricky’s was absolutely breathtaking. I’ll have to see if it’s on YouTube because I want to download and save it. I’m wondering if I’ve missed my calling and should have been a talent scout. I remember telling you back at the beginning of the season that there was a man who auditioned named Ricky something who was fabulous and I could see him winning the whole shootin’ match. I stand by that early comment…this competition is his to lose.

    I liked Valeries’s tap solo, too, and her hip-hop wedding dance routine with Twitch was terrific. Valerie’s versatility has been my biggest surprise. The girl can handle anything that’s thrown at her.

    Loved when Ricky was asked how it felt to be dancing in heels (after the cha-cha) and he said, “It feels like home.” 🙂 He’s so quick with retorts.

    It was nice to see Fik-shun back and next week’s all-stars will include Kathryn and Robert. I like both of them a lot. I’m happy with Ricky, Zach, Valerie and Jessica as the finalists. Not particularly sad to see Jacque leave, but I liked Casey.

    I got your email and the reason I’ve been absent it that my time has been consumed by all things “Outlander” for the past month. Starz is filming the eight-book series by Diana Gabaldon and the first book (16 episodes) is airing now. I’ve been living at the “Outlander” web sites, Facebook, Twitter, Live Journal and Word Press communities…anything that pertains to “Outlander.” I’ve read all eight books and they are my favorites of all time. I even have Frank watching it which is practically unheard of in this house. We NEVER watch the same things on TV. It’s historical fiction that takes place mostly in 18th Century Scotland and he likes that. The production is totally awesome, everything from the costumes, production and casting to locations and script. It’s filmed in Scotland and the book’s author is VERY involved in keeping the film accuate. One of the main characters is a Scottish actor named Sam Heughan and he’s the man every person who’s read the books pictured as the character Jamie Fraser. The most perfect casting I’ve seen in a long time.

    • That’s what I want to know. Hardly anybody comments, and none consistently. I complained to my cousin Cindy once that I got hardly any feedback. She thought I meant getting compliments or people saying how much they liked the blog or post. She didn’t understand that I want DIALOGUE, not just someone stroking my ego. One of the reasons I wanted a blog is so I could have discussions with people about MY interests. In my blog, I get to initiate the conversation. I get to set what I want to talk about. I would say the majority of real life conversation is not a conversation at all. I hear monologues on subjects I have no interest in whatsoever, but I listen politely and make appropriate responses (when they stop long enough to breathe). Then, when I start talking about something that interests me, they interrupt with something totally off my subject, start talking to someone else, or they suddenly have to go. It’s a BIG pet peeve of mine. I even have acquaintances who tell the same stuff, or the same problems over and over and over. But I listen again and again. But, if I dare repeat anything they’ve heard before, they immediately go, yeah, yeah, I know, you’ve said that before, with such accompanying irritation I don’t dare continue. I know very few people I want to have long conversations with. The ones I do are usually long distance or I hardly ever see them. Okay. I’ve gotten off on a tangent here. Let me do a separate comment and get back to the subject at hand. See. Now I’m doing it.:)

      • “Then, when I start talking about something that interests me…”

        I hear you. I have that problem with my husband when I talk about anything related to popular culture or social media. He’s just not interested, but those things are tremendously important to me. His eyes glaze over and he suddenly seems to be a million miles away. As a consequence, I just don’t talk to him very much about such things. However, he can drone on endlessly about subjects that interest him, but me, not so much. I just try to look alert and make appropriate sounds of acknowledgement in appropriate places. But I never resort to being rude. That’s just not who I am.

        But back to SYTYCD, I am astounded that with 13,128 visitors between November 2013 and July 2014. no one else comments on your SYTYCD posts.

      • Within the next couple of weeks I will be hitting the 50,000 reader mark since the very beginning when I started the blog. Some of my heaviest traffic comes in from American Idol and SYTYCD. I can’t remember getting any other comments on those except once, and that was from a girl who had auditioned, if I remember correctly, for Idol. Because she had pitched such a fit, I made the comment that she needed to grow up or something to that effect. She commented back because it had hurt her feelings. My reply to her was that she essentially threw away her big chance for her career by her inappropriate actions and immaturety.

        But the most hits I get, believe it or not, are on my poetry discussions. I don’t get a lot of comments, or even likes, but I do get a lot of traffic and I have people reblogging or sending them on to Twitter. Other comments I get are on movie reviews or personal stories. I’ve also had comments and reblogging from authors when I’ve reviewed their book. But I really don’t know why I get the traffic for Idol and SYTYCD, but nobody bothers to comment or even hit like. It’s a mystery to me. I like the give and take that you and I have, and would love other views.

      • “….nobody bothers to comment or even hit like.”

        How do you do that at a Word Press blog? It’s easy to “like” something at Facebook, but I’ve never seen that option here.

      • Nope. The only things at the bottom of the page are your visitors’ map, “The Twenty Eleven Theme” and “Blog at” No reblog either. At the top of the page, I don’t see Archives or your picture, only your header and the words, “Previous” and “Next.”. Maybe this is all because I click on links in email alerts to get here. I don’t think I’ve ever gone to your blog any other way…like typing the URL in the address line. Oh wait, at the very top of the page is one narrow line with the Word Press veritification logo, “The Villiage Smith,” “Following” and “Reblog.” After I post this comment, I’ll click on “The Village Smith” and see where that takes me. .

      • This is what is at the bottom:

        SHARE THIS:
        Press ThisTwitter1PrintPrint & PDFMore
        underneath that is:
        you hit like and it should show.

        Mike has done a couple of experiments coming onto my blog from his laptop. Some interesting things. But we need to know what browser you are using.?????

      • I use the AOL browser since I click on links that are in my email alerts….which come via AOL. I also have Firefox on my computer and I’ll try that. It’s just easier to use AOL since it’s already open for reading my email. LOTS of web sites do not play nicely with AOL. Word Press may be one of them.

      • Thanks, Jo Ann, we’ll check it out and see. Mike found a problem with another browser, too. He’s stepped out for a minute. We’re still in the camper due to AC problems, but Mike thinks he’s found the trouble. Hope so, anyway.

        My visit with the allergist went well today. He is very approachable and thorough, listens well, and gives good feedback. I have eyelid dermatitis on top of my sinus problems, so he’s treating that first. I haven’t been able to wear makeup in quite a while. My eyelids stay inflamed and itching. I’ve been going to a dermatologist for it, but he has sent me on to the allergist. None of his treatments worked. The allergist is doing the patch test for it, so my back now looks like I’ve got some secret society tattoos.:) I get them taken off Wed, then go back Friday for them to check the tests. I also have to do some testing of my own with cosmetic/cream/etc products I use. He has changed my hands oap to Cepacal or something. I bought two hand pump jars today. He says there is a residue left by most hand soaps and it could affect the eyelid when I touch it. I rub my eyes because they stay tired and itchy. Will know more Friday.

      • OK, when I clicked on “The Village Smith,” a whole bunch of things appeared on the right side of the page, including your picture. Still don’t see “Like,” but it may be at the top of the page in that narrow line I mentioned. There’s a star (asterisk) beside a letter L…. Maybe that stands for Like.

      • I’m sending this twice to make sure you see it.

        This is what is at the bottom:

        SHARE THIS:
        Press ThisTwitter1PrintPrint & PDFMore
        underneath that is:
        you hit like and it should show.

        Mike has done a couple of experiments coming onto my blog from his laptop. Some interesting things. But we need to know what browser you are using.?????

    • I agreed with all of the above on SYTYCD except the wedding routine. Didn’t like it for all the reasons given. Three weeks of catching up. Wow! I watched very little of the auditions this year, but you and Katie hit on Ricky at the very beginning. Once the show started nobody could touch him. His solos were awesome and he stood out in all those opening group routines. I read a few other blogs and I don’t know anyone who doesn’t think he’ll win barring him suddenly getting a REALLY crummy routine or something else unforeseeable.

      Haven’t seen Outlander, but looks interesting and so does the guy. But. truth to tell, I’ve tried reading Diana Gabaldon several times and she isn’t my cup of tea. The reason I’ve tried more than once is that her books look so interesting and the blurbs always sound great. But I lose interest before I can get through one chapter. And her subject matter is usually what I like to read. Since I haven’t tried her in a long time, I can’t say exactly what it is I don’t like about her writing, but it’s got to be her style, or voice, or how she puts it together. I can’t remember. But I know others like her very much and she has a big following. So it’s just me. I started trying to read her books, initially, because I worked with, and became friends with, a young woman whose last name was Gabaldon, a surname I had never heard before. So it peaked my interest. But will give the TV series a try.

      It’s good to hear from you again. I begin to get concerned if the silences are of too long a duration. Without you, I’d just be sitting here talking to myself for the most part.

      • “It’s good to hear from you again. I begin to get concerned if the silences are of too long a duration. Without you, I’d just be sitting here talking to myself for the most part.”

        I know you get concerned and I’m extremely grateful that you care so much that you miss me. *hugs*

        I thought perhaps you didn’t like Diana’s writing because, while not being overly graphic, there is quite a bit of sex in her books. But that is by no means the main emphasis. I love how whe weaves historical events and people into her historical fiction. Her research is truly amazing, but she has been a professor and has a PhD, so I’d expect nothing less. I love her writing style and she gives her characters wonderful dialog, much of which is wonderfully witty.

        I know several people who started “Outlander” and were bored with everything that happens before Claire is hurled back to the 1743 Scottish Highlands. But once they tried again, they were hooked and have eagerly read all eight books. Once in Scotland, the story really takes off.

        Frank hasn’t read the books, but he’s enjoying the TV series. He watches it with the captions on because the Scots Gaelic accents are pretty strong. You said you’ll give the TV series a try. Do you subscribe to the Starz channel? That’s where it’s airing. This Saturday will be episode 4, but Starz made the first episode available for free. You can see it here, if you’re interested.

    • Don’t worry about the typos. I just hope mine get overlooked. I do have edit capabilities for other peoples’ comments, but I don’t do that unless there’s something inappropriate. I have had people ask me to edit their boo-boos, but I never take that initiative myself. They have to ask me to.


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