Erica: Greetings, dance fans! Boy, it’s been a long time!
Kate: Over 2 years, to be exact. We boycotted last year’s stupid season, and this season started a bit later in the summer than usual.
Erica: We boycotted last season because we don’t believe in the exploitation of children. Nor did we want to hear what Nigel had to say about 13-year-old girls.
Erica: This season, I’ll confess, I was on the fence. We hadn’t done last season and I hate lack of continuity. Plus I have a baby and the baby makes it difficult to get anything done.
Kate: I didn’t even know it was starting again until a dear friend reminded me via text and confirmed they were done with the 13-year-old nonsense.
Erica: But then! Wonder of wonders, miracle of miracles! THEY BROUGHT MARY MURPHY BACK! So, decision made and here we are.
Kate: Yes, that was also a factor.
Erica: Now, it seems they’re changing some things up this season. It’s the top 10, not the top 20, dancers, for one. Plus, if I am not mistaken, something new happened with the selection of the top 10? Did the all-stars get to pick? I didn’t watch. I really should watch.
Kate: They only held auditions in New York and Los Angeles, and each audition episode was only one hour, then the top 100 dancers went to an “academy” to be whittled down to the top 10 by the all-stars, with whom each top 10 contestant will be dancing throughout the season. Fox is clearly a) about to cancel this show and b) trying to make it as close to Dancing with the Stars as possible. They also had a very similar setup to The Voice when they were going from 100 to 10 and the all-stars were picking people for their “teams”, but the “teams” didn’t last very long.
Erica: Okay, ready?
Kate: That first lighting/camera angle wasn’t great, but I love her no matter what! Dress is v Jessica Rabbit.
Erica: She came out gripping the skirt, indicating that she cannot walk in the dress. So it’s sexy and slinky and red, with the right amount of sparkle, but if you can’t walk in it, it looks stupid. Period the end.
Kate: I don’t think Jessica Rabbit had an easy time walking in it, either.
Erica: I’m digging the hair, I must say.
All-Star Group Routine: Contemporary, choreo by Mandy Moore
“Knocking on Heaven’s Door” by Raign
Erica: Alright so the all-stars for the season, minus Allison, who hurt her shoulder, come down from a platform. The girls are in purple swirly outfits and the boys are in just pants. The number is a very classic contemporary number. Lots of intense gazes and beautiful flailing and everyone looks fairly tragic. They sometimes couple up, sometimes dance individually, sometimes move into smaller groups. I want to provide you all with some description of the actual dancing this year, but hoo boy, I am not very good at it. Kate?
Kate: I love the beautiful flailing more than anything.
Ian: They are ruining a good song.
Erica: I agree with Ian. I thought the pros looked great, as they should. Very beautiful and professional number. It’s not going to reside in my memory or haunt my dreams, but it was pretty good.
Kate: Agree. Allison hurt her shoulder, like, that day, or the day before, which sucks, but she’s married to Twitch, which doesn’t suck.
Erica: It’s probably worth mentioning that they’ve got a new stage this year. It’s very nice. More open, like their early years. Less proscenium-esque.
Kate: Did not notice that AT ALL.
Erica: Oh, and apparently Nigel was ill! Oh, I’m so sorry, Nigel. This information will not be likely to make me be nice to you, though. It’s not my job. It’s not what we’re all here for. I’m sure you understand.
Fik-Shun (Season 12 Winner) & Dassy: Hip-Hop, choreo by Popin’ Pete
“Shake Your Pants” by Cameo
Erica: So they’re in zoot suits, which makes me feel extraordinarily positive right off the bat.
Kate: Don’t like it.
Erica: I think it’s terrific. Fun and poppy and jerky. Pretty much what you’d expect from Fik-Shun. I particularly liked a move when they were facing away from each other but their back feet hooked.
Kate: I wasn’t into this number — not the dancing, not the music, not the outfits — which sucks because I used to love Fik-Shun (I think).
Erica: You did. The judges seemed to like it. Nigel made a terrible pun. So terrible I think he’s not really feeling better yet.
Kate: Doesn’t he always make terrible puns, though?
Erica: This was even worse than usual. Also I feel it should be Poppin’ Pete, not Popin’ Pete, but obviously what do I know?
Audrey (Season 9/Allison’s replacement) & Logan: Contemporary, choreo by Tasty Oreo
“Protocol” by Leon Else
Erica: More purple flowy contemporary here. He seems pretty strong. And man, he leaps, like, really well.
Kate: She has great hair.
Erica: The routine was pretty intense. It was a couple fighting and making up (sort of) and then still fighting and it was really good and I’m feeling a bit broken and sad now. I usually am not impressed by Tasty’s contemporary choreo but this one really hit me.
Kate: I never understood why you don’t like Tyce. This was good, but other contemporaries of the night were better.
Erica: Nigel reveals to Allison that the dancer she didn’t choose is now Mr. Mistoffelees in Cats on Broadway. He says it like it’s a good thing, so good for you, unchosen dancer!
Kate: Except that my boss saw Cats last week and said it was absolutely dreadful.
Erica: Cats is, in general, pretty dreadful.
Jenna (Season 10) & Kiki: Cha-Cha, choreo by Dmitry Chaplain
“There’s Nothing Holdin’ Me Back” by Shawn Mendes
Kate: Every time I hear this song I envision myself doing some kind of fabulous dance routine. Kind of like this one.
Erica: She’s the one who drove us crazy, right? The one the judges would not send home no matter how many times she was in the bottom?
Kate: Yes, Ian pointed out that I hated her during her season, but I couldn’t stop watching her during this routine. She was fab.
Erica: Is it me or were her hips not nearly Cha-Cha enough?
Kate: It is you. I loved it.
Erica: It’s hard to talk about him because ballroom so often shows off the girl, and the guy does more subtle support work that is harder for the average viewer (like me) to see. So, as far as I can tell, he did well. But I thought the routine was not particularly special and did not allow either of them to really show off technically.
Kate: It didn’t highlight him at all, in my opinion.
Erica: Vanessa Hudgens is so far coming of as a giggly ditz.
Kate: Don’t EVEN get me started!
Cyrus (Season 9) & Kaylee: Contemporary, choreo by Tessandra Chavez
“Clown” by Emeli Sande
Erica: So this is twice now that a male all-star was between a male and a female partner and chose the female partner and I have to say I think it’s not a coincidence. Nigel doesn’t want to watch two dudes dancing together for the season.
Kate: Supposedly the judges didn’t have any control over that, though; it was all the all-stars’ choices.
Erica: Sure. Nigel is also Executive Producer. She’s got a ton of emotion. It’s an emotional piece, another couple fighting but less tragic, more angry. And she really sells the hell out of the story.
Kate: I was kind of surprised to see Cyrus in this style and then I remembered how great he was and how he almost won his season (right?).
Erica: I sort of remember that he was great at his thing but never really came up to scratch on other stuff. But the audience loved him.
Kate: Yes, so much so that they voted him into the finale or almost the finale, I think. This format is tough because, similar to Dancing with the Stars, I tend to watch the one who is more talented and forget about the one who’s supposed to be learning/competing.
Erica: All of the things Mary is saying make it sound like she didn’t think this was very good. She calls the choreographer “clever” and tells Cyrus he was “there for her”. None of the judges are really impressed.
Kate: They actually made some pretty harsh comments and then Cat had to be all “YAY YOU’RE GREAT” to make her feel better. Also, Mary Murphy is wearing several marshmallows sewn together.
Gaby (Season 12 Winner) & Lex: Tap, choreo by Anthony Morigerato
“More” by Bobby Darin
Erica: I hate her costume so much. I know that’s not her fault. I do think it’s possible that the same person dressed her and Mary tonight. Sorry, Mary! I’m still happy to see you even if you are wearing a hideous back-alley wedding dress from 1983!
Kate: I thought the same thing! It’s hard to make tap LOOK really good, but these two worked it out.
Erica: The two of them seem to have great chemistry and the dance is cute and fun. I feel like his movements could be a little freer but maybe that tux jacket is restrictive.
Kate: I want to see more than tap from him, for sure.
Erica: The audience goes nuts. I think tap is pretty crowd-pleasing. They’re going to spend the season harping on his “personality” and it’s going to irritate the crap out of me.
Kate: Yea, this got a standing ovation? It was good but not THAT good.
Erica: You know, I feel they should be more sparing with the Hot Tamale Train. I know it’s Mary’s “thing” but maybe save it for truly sexy numbers, not cute little tap dance routines where the girl is dressed like a fundamentalist Mormon bride (albeit with see-through legs).
Comfort (Season 4) & Mark: Hip-hop, choreo by Luther Brown
“Red Mercedes” by Amine
Erica: I love Comfort. I always forget that she’s so gorgeous. I kinda wish she’d chosen the girl.
Kate: She changes her look so frequently, I didn’t even recognize her on the “academy” episodes. But yes, I love watching her dance.
Erica: He was good but I thought he could have been sharper and more precise, especially next to Comfort.
Kate: Yes, and despite Vanessa’s obnoxious commentary, I agree with her that Mark looks like Rufio.
Marko (Season 8) & Koine: Contemporary, choreo by Stacey Tookey
“Memories” by Alex Sommers
Erica: This show is now at least 15% Hawaiian, right?
Kate: These 2 are my early favorites. When Marko (whom I LOVED in Season 8) was deciding between her and another girl at the “academy”, and the other girl was perfectly fine but then he danced the same exact routine with Koine, it was like WOW. If these 2 aren’t banging already, they need to be. AMAZING chemistry.
Erica: Happy contemporary flailing this time. Quite beautiful. Her dress really sells it. I f*cking hate the song, though. Like, maybe I want to plunge an awl into my ears.
Kate: Ouch. Best routine of the night by far.
Erica: Oh, it’s a beautiful happy routine but maybe it’s just her remembering her dead love? Aw, that’s sad. But also it utilizes some visuals that only make sense to the television audience, like that Polaroid that only we could possibly see. That annoys me.
Ian: I hate when they use props.
Erica: Nigel implies that Marko and Koine will get married. Then Cat calls him “Yentl,” which is incorrect, Cat. You mean “yenta”. I know, I know. Jewish is hard.
Paul (Season 10) & Sydney: Ballroom, choreo by Val Chmerkovskiy
“All Stars” by Martin Solveig feat. Alma
Erica: Now, he was the one partnered with that girl we liked (Makenzie?) who went home when we felt Jenna should have, if memory serves.
Kate: Oh, so that’s Paul, eh?
Erica: Did her back look a little stiff? Am I just looking for things to criticize? I don’t know.
Kate: She was good and he was good but they weren’t connecting, literally — they kept missing connections after turns and things so he was pulling on her wrist instead of holding her hand. V awkward, and I kind of blame him for that and not her. He is the All-Star, he should know better.
Robert (Season 7) & Taylor: Contemporary, choreographer by Travis Wall
“Change is Everything” by Son Lux
Erica: Robert dancing to a Travis Wall number? Kate, what could make you happier?
Kate: Literally, nothing. If you recall, that number he did with Allison to “Fix You” by Coldplay was a Travis Wall. Those 2 (Travis and Robert, not Robert and Allison) make an amazing pair. Let’s see THEM dance together, eh?!
Erica: Yeah I don’t think that’s going to happen (as amazing as it would be). The third male dancer (who I think is actually gay) who could choose between a female dancer and a male dancer chose the female dancer. I am dying of shock.
Kate: Robert had a hard time getting the dancers to be on his team, apparently, which I’ll never understand. I love watching him dance, and I think he makes a great partner for anyone he dances with. This song was hard to listen to, but they moved beautifully.
Erica: There’s this amazing…lift?…where she’s on one of his thighs and kind of falls off slowly, so tight and controlled and it’s pretty amazing. They are showing so much control in their lifts and flails. I think it’s spectacular. And you know, SYTYCD SHOULD be proud of themselves for helping Travis Wall have a career, but damn, don’t pull a muscle patting yourselves on the back, there.
Kate: I think these two are the best TECHNICALLY and Marko and Koine are the best CHEMISTRY-ALLY.
Jasmine (Season 10) & Robert: Hip-Hop, choreo by Chris Scott
“Perm” by Bruno Mars
Erica: I think he’s kind of adorable. Definite personality. Good chemistry with Jasmine and technically he looked pretty good, too, right?
Kate: Again, hard to stand out next to Jasmine, but they worked well together. Want to see them in other styles together.
Erica: Jasmine was on tour dancing for Beyoncé. That’s pretty good. (Also, as a note, I don’t know how to make the accent mark on anything, but Google Docs knows how to properly spell Beyoncé.)
Everyone Group Routine: Jazz, choreo by Wade & Amanda Robson and Tony Testa
“This Time” by Son Lux
Erica: So. I loved Wade Robson back when he did this show regularly. I like weird. And this was weird. But it was too hard to see. There were things that only work for the TV audience (the close-ups on fingers) and so many things that only work for the live audience. The camera work was frenetic but how could it be otherwise? It did not work for me.
Kate: Agree that was a distraction but it was a pretty cool routine. I like how the judges were going on and on about Jasmine and Robert and Jasmine was like GOTTA GO CHANGE FOR THE NEXT ROUTINE YOU FOOLS. Ah, the life of a dancer.
Erica: You know what did work for me? Sadie clapping when everyone else clapped. That was pretty good.
Erica: So, I’m glad we’re back, people, and I’ll enjoy watching this show with you! Predictions for loser this week? For me it’s Kaylee.
Kate: Oh, yea she stunk.
Erica: See you next week!