SYTYCD: Lackluster Year So Far — Who or What’s to Blame?

Best of last night’s performances on SYTYCD. Gaby and Neptune perform Stacey Tookey’s “Humanity” to “Take My Hand Precious Lord”.

Last year, So You Think You Can Dance began with so many awesome dancers and choreographic wonders I was blown away. This year, there are so few dancers with real fire and spirit, I find myself checking out Facebook during particularly bland performances.

Now we are down to the much touted Top Ten. Of my own home front judges — the two families of Smith and Brown (sisters and husbands) — we are down by half. Mr. Brown (Randy), checked out completely. Mr. Smith (Mike) is enduring, but mostly reading. He glances up occasionally. That’s not a good indicator of a promising year, boys and girls.

I’ll begin with the worst. The dreadful Fish Dance with Alexia and Areana. With that indescribably horrific choreography by Misha Gabriel, those poor girls didn’t have a chance. Cute costumes. That was it. But what I want to know is . . . why can’t the judges just go ahead and say what everybody else is thinking. Which is — that it ranks right up there with the worst choreography ever composed. It stunk like day-old fish.

I knew it was bad when Travis Wall had to sell it to the worried young dancer. That showed she had some sense as well as innate talent. That being said, put the blame on the choreographer, not the dancers who are still trying to find their way. I would like to challenge any two of the best of the All-Stars to do that disaster justice. Maybe we should be able to vote off choreographers and give the dancers a break.

The best by far was the performance by Gaby and Neptune, a piece that choreographer Stacey Tookey called “Humanity”, to the haunting music and lyrics of “Take My Hand Precious Lord”, sung by Ledisi. I got chills from the first note and movement. Gaby was fluidity and perfection, poetry wafting across the floor.

Neptune, a street dancer with no experience in contemporary, gave a soul performance that proved he was the right partner in this piece. Neptune says he’s been on the receiving end of prejudice, and knows the pain it causes.I’m so glad he made it into the Top Ten. He deserves that chance to grow.

Thank you, Stacey Tookey, for a choreography that speaks to “humanity” about opening our arms to the human race, and lending a hand to help each other up when we fall under life’s griefs.

Another shining moment among the low-wattage are Yorelis and Jim’s contemporary routine by the incomparable Sonya Tayeh. If I’m understanding it right, the piece was supposed to depict the electricity between two lovers that maybe weren’t good for each other. It had rather a dark undertone. But the electricity is definitely there. Jim is always great. No surprises there. What was surprising was Yorelis, who seemed to come out of left field. Who knew she could be this starkly beautiful with moves sharp as a razor’s edge. She was awesome. Unfortunately, she was in the bottom and wasn’t saved. What a stinkin’ WASTE, people. Nigel told Yorelis he didn’t think she had ever had an opportunity to shine [as she definitely did last night].

Megz and Derek Hip-Hop

What can I say about Derek and Megz? Okay, so it may not have been the most “get down” for Derek, and Megz may not have channeled Marilyn Monroe. But, hey. Guess what. They were entertaining. I liked them. Megz kind of turned me off when I first saw her in the lineup, but, ya know what? Ya gotta love her. When she talks, she makes you feel like you’ve known her for years. She’s open and sweet and personable, not to mention she’s one hard-hitting dancer who can interpret the moves with vivacity and heart.

Derek is just one fine dancer. A joy to watch. I’m so glad he made it into the Top Ten. He deserved it. A good choreography by Dave Scott, by the way.

Tyce Dorio’s “Cellophane” by Sia sent Virgil and Hailee to the dark side. Though this was a decided deviation for the upbeat Virgil, he held his own, in spite of what Nigel called his lack of technique. I’m looking forward to seeing more of Virgil, because technique can be taught. What Virgil has naturally cannot.

Some are comparing Virgil and Hailee to Fik-shun and Amy, I’ve compared Virgil to Fik-shun from the beginning. But Hailee is too tall for him. I’m sorry, but couples where the male is so much shorter than the female just looks off balance. To be able to pull off this dance with as much dark beauty as they did says a lot for the talent of each performer. Both Virgil and Hailee are favorites, especially Virgil.

Brian Friedman’s “Pin-Up Sailor” routine was just what the judges said. Too cutesy. Too much. Like eating too much cotton candy in the hot sun. Neither was the performance that good. Though the girls, J. J. and Kate, put a lot of energy into the routine, it wasn’t particularly sexy. Also, I thought Kate had a little more going than J.J. on this one.

Though JaJa is one of my favorites this year, this Hip-Hop routine by (again) Misha Gabriel, was not up to standard. It was not a good routine, the theme being flirty runway models dressed like Elvis impersonators in the gold jackets. JaJa and partner, Edson, simply did not seem to know what the dance required, though both are great dancers in their own genres.

As for the team dances, in my opinion Team Stage ran away with that top performance with the choreography by Sonya Tayeh. Though I didn’t like the “headless” opening, the routine continued into some heart-stopping lifts and moves. The carvival piece by Pharside and Phoenix and performed by Team Street, made me dizzy. I couldn’t focus on anything in particular.

I thought Neptune and Derek were good saves, and of the four eliminated — Ariana, Yorelis, Alexia, and Kate — Yorelis still had the most to contribute if she had continued showing that sharpness and heart she exhibited in last night’s performance. Sad that it came too late.

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One thought on “SYTYCD: Lackluster Year So Far — Who or What’s to Blame?

  1. “The dreadful Fish Dance with Alexia and Areana. With that indescribably horrific choreography by Misha Gabriel, those poor girls didn’t have a chance.”

    That was one of the worst pieces of choreography I have EVER seen on this show.

    “Maybe we should be able to vote off choreographers and give the dancers a break.”

    Amen to that. Remember the name Misha Gabriel because this is probably, hopefully, the first and last time he’ll be doing choreography for SYTYCD.

    “Brian Friedman’s “Pin-Up Sailor” routine was just what the judges said. Too cutesy.”

    What an understatement. I thought this was almost as bad as the fish routine. It was funny how they had to explain to JaJa what a pin-up is. *rolls eyes*

    I liked Team Stage’s group number, too, and completely agree with your comments about Team Street’s routine.

    I wasn’t overly fond of the routines you liked, but with some of the choreography exhibited in this episode, they definitely rose to the top.

    I genuinely despair for this once-great show. I think they made a serious mistake making it Stage vs. Street. And they should send some of these choreographers back to the flat rocks they found them under. I still think it’s wrong to force dancers to perform in genres they don’t like and haven’t trained for. You wouldn’t expect a violinist to be a good guitarist even though they’re both musicians. It’s like trying to force square blocks into round holes. Sheesh!

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