Erica: Zoe was watching with me for the first few dances and watching me take notes. She insisted I write the following in my notebook: “Zoe, Ricki’s daughter, loves her mommy. I love you, Mom. Love, Zoe.”
Kate: What about Aunt Kate?!
Erica: I will keep you posted on other things she had to say.
Opening Number – Contemporary: “The Gravel” from The Village soundtrack; choreo by Christopher Scott
Erica: I thought the concept and choreography were very cool – they’re all in rocking chairs; sometimes their bodies are moving with the rocking motions. There’s a kind of stark, ’30s Dust Bowl feel to the thing. But it felt like it need a few more hours of rehearsal. The dancers weren’t finishing movements, weren’t sharp enough, weren’t in tune with each other enough, I thought.
Kate: The rocking chairs were very distracting. I find it hard to grasp that Christopher Scott choreographs contemporary and hip-hop.
Erica: Also, they featured Jenna pretty heavily, in a further effort to prove to me that she’s a good dancer. Which she is. But I still liked Malece better and when a dancer spends WEEKS on the bottom and you keep SAYING this isn’t a search for America’s BEST dancer, it’s a search for America’s FAVORITE dancer, and use that as an excuse to keep your pet b-boys around so that you can patronize them for weeks . . . I may have lost the thread of this sentence. But my point remains – WHY HASN’T JENNA GONE HOME YET?!
Kate: I don’t know, she really bothers me.
Zoe: And there was pretty music.
Erica: I thought she looked fine.
Kate: In certain lighting she looked AWFUL.
Erica: I do still love her personality. She’s like what a super-intelligent computer would spit out if you asked for the perfect competitive reality show host.
Kate: I mean, I much prefer her to the likes of Ryan Seacrest.
Erica: And I’m happy to see Debbie Allen. I would like for Debbie Allen to be my…life coach? Therapist? Aunt? I don’t know. Something.
Kate: Ditto, but, um, WHERE IS ADAM SHANKMANN!?
Erica: I’d actually rather have Adam Shankmann choreographing than judging. So this is the week the All-Stars start. Nigel wants to pretend that we’re not seeing the Bottom Four (Nico, Tucker, Jenna, and Makenzie) perform their solos because we’ve seen these solos, but a) have we seen Nico’s?, b) We haven’t seen Jenna’s in weeks because YOU KEEP SAVING HER FOR SOME REASON, and c) we all know it’s because you’re back up to ten duets after dropping down to six last week so let’s not play.
Kate: I’m pretty sure we’ve seen Nico’s, and I am thrilled to not have to look at solos.
Amy & Season 5’s Brandon – Disco: “I Will Always Love You” by Whitney Houston; choreo by Doriana Sanchez
Erica: Doriana Sanchez promised us “everything you would expect” from a disco routine. Because she’s been choreographing the same thing since 1973.
Kate: I had a huge problem with the remix of this song, it made for VERY awkward dancing.
Zoe: These guys are great. These boy and girl are great.
Erica: I have to say, I was more impressed than I expected to be. There were some seriously insane lifts in there. Though you’re right about the mix of the song. Awful.
Kate: Yes, insane lifts, but I thought they missed a LOT of connections and that Brandon looked a little shaky and out of practice. But didn’t he do an awesome disco in his season?
Erica: Yes, but he was also amazing in other things. And, if you’re interested, has shown up on “Glee” at least once, as a dancer in the “Let’s Get Physical” number. Amy has major cheer face. Nigel compared her to Melanie but Amy is mostly good at performance as long as performance means “Smile and be super-duper bouncy and excited.” Melanie is an actress.
Kate: Also, Brandon is COVERED in glitter, and also also, Amy has Mel B. hair.
Aaron & Season 6’s Kathryn – Contemporary: “Kissing You” by Des’ree; choreo by Stacey Tookey
Erica: I just need a minute to discuss how adorable Stacey Tookey is. Because she is adorable with her hair and her make-up and just so cute.
Kate: Er! This song! I only know this song because of you! I love this song!
Erica: Jason didn’t remember this song but it was pretty popular when we were in high school. It was in Romeo + Juliet. I loved it, too.
Kate: Did you know they are remaking that A-GAIN? But what did you think about the dancing? I think Kathryn has gotten better and better since her season (and also sort of different looking?), but I think she stole the show here. Aaron didn’t do much dancing at all, just tossed her about.
Zoe: They were good at dancing with pretty music.
Erica: I don’t know, I thought he was good. I mean, she’s spectacular, and yes, his main job was throwing her around. But he did that well, right? And Kathryn <3ed him so hard so I’m going to go with, Aaron is amazing in ways I have not appreciated yet.
Fik-Shun & Season 8 Winner Melanie – Jazz: “Feeling Good” by Jennifer Hudson; choreo by Mandy Moore
Kate: If this wasn’t a Hot Tamale Train qualifier, I don’t know what is. Man I thought they were great together! She really brought out the best in him.
Erica: So I promised myself that I would pay attention to Fik-Shun because after all he is the competitor here but my eyes couldn’t leave Melanie. She’s just everything a performer ought to be. So the second time I paid attention to him and he’s…not bad. He really isn’t. But they spend so much time talking about his journey and his challenges and whatnot and here is the thing – they have too many different buy-ins on this show. You can EITHER have a show in which hella talented, rigorously trained young dancers come on to hone their craft and get exposure, or you can have a show in which relatively untrained but amazingly talented dancers come on to learn the craft and go on a journey. But you cannot have those two groups competing against each other. I mean, Fik-Shun has a made-for-reality-TV personality, and he’s a very talented dancer, but I don’t want to here about his journey while watching gorgeous dancers like Malece get kicked off.
Kate: Well, he’s never been in the bottom this season, so there is something to him. I hate how Nigel patronizes him, and he is not the best dancer I’ve ever seen, but, honestly, the guys aren’t that great this season, and he stands out to me.
Erica: Cyrus was never in the bottom, either. And Fik-Shun is way better than Cyrus. But still. I mean, did you hear Mandy Moore in the rehearsal footage? “Melanie was the Season 8 WINNER. Fik-Shun has to meet her half-way”? That’s not encouraging. And yet he’s popular so he stays. Whereas Jenna has been in the bottom EVERY F*CKING WEEK FOR THE LAST MILLION WEEKS. Because even if she’s technically great, no one likes her. And you can’t have those two things being at the crux of the same damn competition. God.
Zoe: I AM NOT SLEEPY! I AM NEVER GOING SLEEPIES! *Snore*
Paul & Season 9’s Witney – Cha-Cha: “Live It Up” by Jennifer Lopez; choreo by Jean-Marc Genereux
Erica: So Witney has a movie coming out? It’s East Side Story and it’s got a ton of SYTYCD alumni – Comfort, Brandon, Jordan, Russell, Witney, and Chehon all appear. It looks seriously low-rent, though. And, hey, Witney, Chehon – IMDB needs your photo, dudes. What’s up with that? Pay a publicist. God.
Kate: Wait, I don’t like what the name is leading me to believe it might be, but I’d love to see those dancers together (says the girl who loves the second third and fourth Step Up and Bring It On movies).
Erica: I did not connect with this. I don’t know if it’s that I think the cha-cha is something that it’s not, or if this wasn’t choreographed well, or if it wasn’t danced well, or if the song sucked, or what, but I just didn’t like it. And I like Paul and I’ve always been a fan of Witney’s dancing so I don’t know what the deal is.
Kate: Well their size difference wasn’t ideal, but I thought they actually connected well and cha-chaed their little hearts out. I feel like I’ve said this before, but, Paul is GREAT at body rolls.
Erica: Paul is still growing, right? Because I think he’s a great dancer, but he’s so…adorable. As opposed to sexy. Is it because I’m getting old?
Kate: No, he weighs less than I do. That can’t be sexy in a guy.
Hayley & Season 4’s Twitch – Hip-Hop: “Locked Out of Heaven (District 78 Remix)” by Bruno Mars; choreo by Christopher Scott
Erica: Are you going to say something about Bruno Mars?
Kate: I’m excited that District 78 blocked out most of his stupid voice.
Erica: I kind of want to talk to Hayley about eyebrow and eye make-up choices. She’s seriously cute but her decisions in those arena are diminishing, rather than enhancing, her cuteness.
Kate: What makes you think those are her choices at this point?
Erica: Because I’m talking about how she looks in rehearsal footage, how she looked at auditions, etc. Her eye makeup and eyebrows looked better on stage.
Erica: This was really very cute and fun. Twitch is the ultimate SYTYCD dancer/performer and Hayley clearly lit up dancing with him.
Kate: Yes, I felt this dance focused too much on Hayley and not enough on Twitch. She was OK at hip-hop, but not as good as she has been at everything else, and I just would have preferred to watch him. AND ALEX WONG!
Jenna & Season 3’s Neil – Contemporary: “I Can’t Make You Love Me” by Mark Masri
Erica: Boy, he sure filled out.
Kate: He is the Calling You bench dance guy, right?
Erica: The thing is, Jenna is not a bad dancer. She’s a good dancer. And she can give basically whatever the choreographers want her to give. I mean, obviously, she doesn’t suck – she made it onto this show and she’s not a b-boy. But there’s nothing interesting or unique about her dancing, either. She’s a blank canvas for choreographers. She was good here, she really was. But I’d still rather have been watching Malece.
Kate: Ditto! The all-stars are really bringing out the best in the dancers this week, but I don’t think that’s fair because they should have been dancing like this all along.
Erica: As a former stage manager/producer, I was sort of rolling my eyes at the set. All those candles. That is some irritating work to set up and break down right there.
Kate: As our mother’s daughter, I thought that was fraught with peril.
Jasmine & Season 8’s Marko – Jazz: “Blurred Lines” by Robin Thicke feat. Pharrell; choreography by Ray Leeper
Erica: I was wondering when we were going to get this song!
Kate: I, like, JUST heard this song for the first time. And still have not seen the video.
Erica: I am somewhat embarrassed but I kind of love this song. And have failed to be at all offended by the video (which I’m not linking, because it’s NSFW, and I am all about protecting you, my readers). I am terribly pleased and proud that Nigel managed not to say anything lewd about Jasmine and the costumes of the girls in the video.
Kate: I didn’t love Jasmine in this. I felt like she was trying way too hard to have jazz swagger, whereas Marko seemed to come by it very naturally. And, talk about awkward size difference – Nigel thought he was watching two all-stars at times? I thought Jasmine was the guy and Marko was the girl, at times.
Erica: I thought it was cute and fun and they were both very good but they did not look like the same person.
Makenzie & Season 6’s Jakob – Broadway: “Too Darn Hot (RAC mix)” by Ella Fitzgerald, choreo by Spencer Liff
Erica: I don’t remember this guy at all. Where’s Pasha?
Kate: I think he was ballroom, no?
Erica: I really, really hate the arrangement of this song. And I LOVE this song and I LOVE Ella and I don’t know who RAC is but I am not a fan of them right now.
Kate: But I thought they were great in this together! Very into the characters/theme, very in sync, very connected; I felt like this was right up Makenzie’s alley.
Erica: So on the one hand, I’m like, oh, great, another number in which Makenzie is a sexpot. And then I’m like, damn, Makenzie is so good at being a sexpot. I mean, she was phenomenal in this number. Supernova. And it was tough because this number wasn’t great. The choreography was not particularly original or exciting. But Makenzie made it sing. See, choreographers, this is who you should want to work with. Not Jenna, who can do exactly what you tell her to do, but Makenzie, who can make any shit you throw at them SING.
Kate: She’s so pretty it’s not fair.
Erica: Also, her hair and make-up were TO DIE FOR. I mean, she’s a pretty girl; it’s not like it’s hard to make her look good. But this look on her was A-MAZ-ING.
Kate: Not fair.
Erica: And then Nigel is all, “To borrow from Marc Antony, I suppose I should bury you and not praise you,” and, a) true confession time – at first I thought he was talking about the singer and it took me way longer than it should have to realize he was quoting Shakespeare, b) I’m not really sure it was an appropriate quote from Shakespeare because interpreting it in the context of Julius Caesar, one would conclude that what he meant was this was her last show, to the extent that interpreting it in the context of Julius Caesar gave it any meaning at all, and c) I think what he meant was, “Maybe I should say nasty things about you instead of praising you all the time so the voters will have sympathy for you and vote to save you from my evilness,” but . . . that doesn’t really have anything to do with the quote. It’s okay, Nigel. You have a British accent. We Americans already assume you’re smarter than we are. You don’t have to pull out the Shakespeare.
Kate: I had NO IDEA what he was referring to there. Thanks for clearing up.
Nico & Season 2’s Comfort – Hip-Hop: “Get Ur Freak On (Amended LP version)” by Missy Elliott; choreo by NappyTabs
Erica: You know that scene in Mean Girls when the song comes on and Damien goes, “I love this song,” and Janice Ian goes, “I hate this song,” and Cady goes, “I know this song!” all pleased with herself? That’s how I felt when this song started up.
Kate: I ADORE this song, ESPECIALLY for awesome hip-hop routine dancing. I thought it was an excellent combination of forces – NappyTabs + Comfort + Missy.
Erica: So, NappyTabs, reptiles are precise and deliberate and explosive? I…all right. If you say so.
Kate: I loved this. I mean, this might have been one of my favorites of the season so far, it’s so me. I think Nico did an awesome job getting into this character and having hip-hop swag and matching Comfort’s level. I kind of knew it was too little too late for him, but I always knew he had this in him.
Erica: I thought it was very good and I thought that Nico was much better than I was expecting him to be. Also, Mary Murphy, no one in the known universe believes you when you try a fake-out. No one.
Tucker & Season 6’s Robert – Contemporary: “Medicine” by Daughter; choreo by Travis Wall
Erica: I didn’t know Robert was in an accident. That sucks.
Kate: I’m in lerve with him. He is muh fave boy dancer from this show, after Twitch.
Erica: So they were spectacular and I’m even going to give a pass on the sentimentality because it’s not an “issue” and also I was kind of thinking about my dad and uncle and how much they help each other out so, you know. I liked it.
Kate: I like when they pair boys together on this show, like the Kent and Neil baseball routine from season 7, and these two were a perfect match.
Erica: Hey, where is Kent? He was great. Looking up all these videos is reminding me of all the past performers I’d love to see as All-Stars.
Kate: He and season 7 winner Lauren never participate in anything. Makes me wonder…
Erica: Kind of unfair giving Tucker contemporary, though, right? When Nico, who he’s up against, is also a contemporary dancer, and did hip-hop? And wasn’t in a life-threatening accident?
Kate: But Nico killed it in the hip-hop, and don’t they, like, pick out of a hat for their styles that week? Or is that a lie and I’m very, very naïve?
Erica: Very naïve. I mean, seriously, the two dancers who were in a tragic accidents are paired for a contemporary routine with Travis Wall by sheer coincidence? No.
Erica: WHAT IS JENNA DOING? IS SHE MAKING THEM CUPCAKES? IS THAT IT? IS THAT WHY MARY MURPHY IS ON A DIET? BECAUSE SHE’S BEEN MAKING THEM CUPCAKES?!
Kate: I can’t even.
Erica: Whatever. I’m going to miss you, Makenzie. You’re gorgeous and it’s not your fault that straight guys don’t vote.
Kate: I hope she becomes the highest-paid dancer in the history of everything and stars in an insanely successful Broadway show and just stomps all over this stupid, STUPID country.
Erica: As far as the boys, I think Nico had a better week than Tucker this week, by some small margin, but I think they are both fairly fantastic and, you know, it’s fine.
Kate: Yeah, I am not emotionally invested in either of them. Now, what’s this about something special going on next week?
Kate: Cat said something special was happening next week. Guess we’ll have to wait and see!