And they’re off! Finally the So You Think You Can Dance Season 9 “real” competition has begun. Thought it was starting last week too, eh? Alas ’twas Fourth of July, which I celebrated with Indian food and sushi and Veep.
Kate: Must start with Cat’s ensemble. Cute dress, very Jennifer Aniston and gold is SO in right now (I mean, when is it not?), but not her best. Not Top 20-worthy, know what I’m saying? And that belt is way too 90s for my taste.
Erica: Hey, did y’all know about this? I haven’t watched yet, but, um, cool.
K: Yea, she’s just great. But I also think she looks a little too tan, like she was already naturally tan and then they put too much make-up on her.
E: Her make-up reminded me of a story, because I am in fact 90 years old and will bore you all with my anecdotes. See, when I was at sleepaway camp, I was in a production of Aladdin, and the drama director that year had a thing for make-up. He was giving the girls huge bright powder blue cream powder all over their eyes, lash to brow, and big red spots of blush, like, in perfect circles, and bright, hot pink lipstick. But me, I was playing a boy, the Grand Vizier’s son–who, if you only know the Disney version of Aladdin, the Jafar character actually wants his son, and not himself, to marry the princess–so I just got a sheet of “brown face” to look more Arab, I guess, and eyeliner. I was glad at the time to just have a monochromatic, not wholly embarrassing look. But that same look is not really doing Cat any favors. Still gorgeous! Still great hair! Still great legs! Just saying.
K: And obviously the shoes are phenomenal.
E: Wow, they really can’t get over that Neil and Sabra number on this show, can they?
K: Um, that was cool. But I’ve seen them dance in groups enough, I want to see them in pairs dangit!
E: I liked the number. And I’m glad we’re preserving the concept of the group number, even without the results show.
The New Format
E: I’m really not sure about this new format. So next week will be treated as both the results show and the next show, and you’ll use America’s votes from this week to pick a bottom three, and then their dances from next week to determine which four dancers go home? And then no one votes on next week and the following show, people vote again? It’s too weird for me.
K: I don’t get it either, but I haven’t been paying as much attention as you and I never actually vote so I just want to watch the pretty people prance around.
Whitney & Chehon: Samba to “Jump” by The Cube Guys and Luciana; choreography by Louis Van Amstel
E: First of all, I do not “get to know the dancers better” by seeing them flub through ridiculous 9 second nonsense.
K: Yea, I don’t need to know them either. Um, isn’t she supposed to be the ballroom dancer? He is completely outdoing her in this.
E: I thought she was perfect, but, like, pageant-perfect, you know?
K: YEA, she was being all cheerleader smiley; this is supposed to be a sultry dance, no?
E: She seemed like she knew how to perform “hot” without really feeling “hot”.
K: Also, he is probably one of the technically best dancers I have ever seen. AB-solute perfection.
E: I thought he was a very supportive partner, which, honestly, is to be expected of him, but he didn’t seem exactly hot.
K: Oh, you’re wrong. ALSO, are you noticing those Dirty Dancing-inspired outfits?! His is SO Johnny and hers is SO Penny.
E: I confess, I didn’t notice.
K: But now do you see it?!
Tiffany & George: Contemporary to “Turning Page” by Sleeping at Last; choreography by Sonya Tayeh
E: Well, I said last week that I wouldn’t remember who Tiffany was, but I guess if she’s going to be paired with my man George, I’ll have to try.
K: Oh my god, yes. Beautiful. Stunning. Very “melty,” which is what Sonya said she wanted, and why, yes, she IS looking rather soft and feminine and tan and loving, Nigel. Weird.
E: It was really lovely. Sonya really uses flexed feet well. I don’t know what I mean by that, really. I just know that contemporary uses flexed feet, but when I see her flexed feet, they’re usually sharper and stronger, and used in moments where I find them surprising and maybe meaningful. I’m sure if I knew more about dance I’d be able to express that better.
K: Flexed feet are so the new pointed feet.
E: Kenny Ortega told them they “spilled it.” I wonder if I will have to, in the coming weeks, tell Nigel and Mary to stop trying to make “spill it” happen.
K: What is spilling it? Do they mean killing it?
Janaya & Brandon: Hip-Hop to “Take Care” by Drake & Rihanna; choreography by NappyTabs
E: So NappyTabs wanted to do a number about an alcoholic who has to choose between his love of the bottle and his love of his woman. Yeah, this is totally how alcoholism works. Way to handle a big “issue” with all the sensitivity and subtlety I expected of you, NappyTabs!
K: You stop that talk. Once again NappyTabs makes me wonder why I am not pursuing a career in professional dance, with them as my personal choreographers for every day life. Their routines are so perfect and their moves are so simple yet powerful. I just sort of want to be them as well as be their student and child and best friend.
E: I obviously disagree with your sentiment, although their dance routines are usually pretty much fun.
K: But Janaya looked a liiiiiitle bit awkward doing hip-hop but I am guessing this was her first time and she put in a valeant effort, but he is obviously better in this genre. NO NOT BECAUSE HE’S BLACK, BECAUSE HE’S A HIP-HOP POPPER LOCKER CRUMPER GUY. Right?
E: He’s a stepper.
K: That’s what I said.
E: I thought she was over the top with the characterization, which made him seem underwhelming. Which is not to say he was underwhelming; I thought he was quite good. They just weren’t, you know, in sync. That part where she jumped up into his arms was awesome, though. Like, she jumped up with her legs split, parallel to the floor, and he caught her under her thighs and lifted her. Damn. I also love how Kenny Ortega, the guest judge, was all, “It’s amazing how hip-hop is changing into this thing that can tell a story”. It’s Season f-ing 9, Kenny. They’ve been doing this forever. And “making hip-hop tell a (really obvious, often cliche) story” is kind of NappyTabs’s thing.
K: Yeah, DUH Kenny. I don’t like him as a guest judge.
Alexa & Daniel: Jazz to “Hey Hey” by Dennis Ferrer; choreography by Sean Cheesman
E: So we have the Type A personality with the asshole. And both very, very pale. He used his whole nine seconds to tick off stereotypes about Australians that he’s apparently annoyed Americans think about him.
K: I don’t like that she made the Top 20 still.
E: Sean Cheesman’s scary, scary pecs are in hiding this year.
E: There was a weird scaffold on stage which they played around with, but mostly they were rushing around trying to hit each step. This number was fast. Nigel pointed out that there’s no real breathing room in a Sean Cheesman number, and he doesn’t say so, because he’s Nigel and the people employed by this show can do no wrong, but I know he agrees with me that this is a problem in this particular number, and it’s the fault of the choreography, not of the dancers. Also, their costumes are really, really stupid. Especially hers.
E: That said, she’s really, incredibly gorgeous.
Amber & Nick: Viennese Waltz to “Nights in White Satin” by Tina Arena; choreography by Jason Gilkison
K: Emmmmm . . . This is kind of boring? They are both, you know, good, but you have to be REALLY good to make a waltz interesting. And they don’t have much chemistry. Not impressed, bottom 3! Or bottom whatever it is now.
E: You know, for all that they show Jason yelling at Nick, he looks totally confident and in charge on stage. I’m not his biggest fan, and this dance is right in his very well-practiced wheelhouse, but he really stands up here. And her legs are just fluid perfection throughout the whole thing. But, yeah, waltzes are kind of boring.
Amelia & Will: “Character” P/Hop to “The Lovecats” by The Cure; choreography by NappyTabs
E: So she’s a sophisticated house cat (who they for some reason dress like a mid-priced hooker in 1983) and he’s a “back alley cat daddy”. And then they have the nerve to complain that Will isn’t taking his character seriously. Um . . . “back alley cat daddy”?
K: AMAZING. Amazing that I like a routine with her in it, amazing that NappyTabs is now doing some kind of hip-hop jazz mashup, amazing all around. I have officially changed my mind about her.
E: Oh, good, because I liked her in this but then wondered if that was because I’m plebeian and bourgeois. I liked both of them, really, and the number as a whole. I mean, they prowl around pretending to be cats wanting to get it on with each other (in a garbage thing! Ew!) and there’s nothing super-difficult about it, but they really brought it to life.
K: And then Nigel makes the creepy comment about him wanting her to be his cat, or something. Ugh.
E: I must complain, however, about the CAMERA WORK! I know I go on about this every year, but seriously, people, STOP SWOOPING! I CAN’T SEE!
K: Yea guys, she can’t see. Gosh.
Janelle & Dareian: African Jazz to “Jungle” by Hilight Tribe; choreography by Sean Cheesman
K: I love when they announce Sean Cheesman as the choreographer. I always think it’s a joke, but it’s not. That’s actually his name.
E: I continue to have liberal white guilt attacks whenever they do African jazz. “It’s just like regular jazz only with more exotic animal-ness!” I mean, I know Sean Cheesman is himself black, so maybe I shouldn’t give a crap but . . . I don’t know. I’ll try to stop.
K: I love African jazz. This was a super cool dance, but they looked so DOOFY! I mean, RIGHT? I feel like you have to have somewhat serious faces on when doing that kind of routine in those kinds of outfits, but they are all WEEEEEE LOOK AT US IN THE TOP 20!
E: She’s flexible like crazy. Her legs can do things that most legs attached to human bodies cannot do. This dance was also a no-room-to-breathe Sean Cheesman number, but I thought it worked better than the Alexa/Daniel one. But wait, now, I go back to my thing about the format. Because are there still going to be solos? I don’t necessarily want Janelle gone, but I would like to see a solo.
Eliana & Cyrus: Broadway to “Run & Tell That” from Hairspray; choreography by Tasty Oreo
E: Yeah, if we’re going to call them Nappy Tabs, I’m going to call him Tasty Oreo. Which should in no way indicate that I like him as much as I like tasty Oreos. So this is where the “You don’t even KNOW about dancing and look at how fabulous you are!” narrative comes in, only this time it seems legitimate. I mean, I know it’s the editing, but as far as I can tell from what he’s said about himself, Cyrus really hasn’t had any formal training, so when they say, “for an ‘animator’ [which is a whole new term to me], that was amazing!” it’s a little less annoying than it usually is. It still IS annoying, though, because Nigel goes, “You’re not a GREAT dancer yet,” and that guy who didn’t make the top 20 when Cyrus did is probably at home going, “Well I fucking AM, so why is he there and not me?!”That said, you know, for a guy whose experience with choreography and styles of dance other than his own is limited to his week in Vegas with these cats, he pretty much rocked it. Although not nearly as hard as Eliana rocked it. She’s my number one girl, and by such a long shot I can’t really see anyone else catching up. I mean, a lot of these girls, they’re flexible, they have beautiful lines, blah blah blah. But technically, Eliana is better than them, and performance-wise, she’s seriously awesome.
K: But it wasn’t that good of a dance. I don’t like this almost as much as I didn’t like the waltz. I usually love Tyce but this is surprisingly boring and unoriginal.
E: I don’t know, I had fun. But it’s not like they could have choreographed something to “Run and Tell That” that would have displeased me, though.
Audrey & Matthew: Contemporary to “Unchained Melody” by The Righteous Brothers; choreography by Travis Wall
E: This is so confusing to me. I love Travis Wall. But he is inspired, for this dance, by the movie Titanic, which he calls the greatest love story ever told. I hate that movie so incredibly much. (Also? Ask me some time about why I hate the ending so much. You know. If you want to hear it.) But then he uses “Unchained Melody” which may be my favorite song in the world. It’s certainly in the top five. So how do I deal with all of this?
K: Ah, the Righteous Brothers routine. Pretty random song choice to go with a Titanic theme (and I agree that was a lame thing for Travvytrav to say), but it goes with the dance itself, so I wish he just hadn’t said anything about that big stupid boat. This was something else though; lots of great lifts and good chemistry between them. Looking forward to seeing these two grow. I feel like he’s the type that would throw in a kiss at the end of another routine like that. Or so I’m hoping.
E: Also? He seriously looks like Ryan Gosling.
K: I stand by my last statement.
Lindsay & Cole: Paso Doble to “Unstoppable” by E.S. Posthumus; choreography by Jason Gilkison
K: I really just want to spell it possadoblay, but I know that’s wrong.
E: My spellcheck hates “doble” and keeps changing it to “double” no matter how much I change it back.
K: Anyway, I hate this. I can’t believe Mary Murphy is loving this so much. They are saying it’s the best possadoblay ever on the show, but I am like, um, are you bitches blind or somethin’? (Name that movie!)
E: Too easy.
K: I was really hoping for great things from the other Miss Ballroom but alas I am disappointed. Cole is pretty talented, though.
E: I knew Nigel was going to love this. Cole, who I know I was hard on last time, was extremely masculine and strong and with very precise, sharp movements and beautiful hands. And we know how Nigel loves his macho paso doble guys. But, you know, the paso doble is the guy’s dance. So she didn’t shine, and I already don’t think she’s as good as Whitney, but I wasn’t looking for her to shine in this, just as I’m not looking for the guy to shine in other ballroom dances. And this was one of the better pasos for this show.
K: Yes, you’re right, Cole was very good. He scares me just a wee bit.
E: But wait a second . . . All three ballroom dancers got to dance ballroom?! I call shenanigans.
K: Didn’t even notice that! Cheaters.
E: Also, did you notice how every dance they did was the best dance this show has ever seen? I can’t fault them here, since I also think that was the best paso doble I’ve seen, and it’s certainly the one Nigel has responded the most strongly to, and he loves the paso doble, but still, guys, calm down. You need an arc, you know what I’m saying? With highs and lows?
K: YES I did notice that, like COME on you know that’s not true! Kenny said a lot, stupid Kenny. That was not the best possadoblay I’ve ever seen, but I am pretty biased against the dance as a whole. It’s not like fun to watch, it’s just a random genre they wanted to throw into the show to represent “diversity” along with African jazz and Bollywood. Speaking of which, I can’t wait for the first Bollywood of this season.