Quite a nice start to the show, overall. The judges are excellent – even the previously kind of iffy Luther was good, and Tre, Jean-Marc and Blake all offered excellent, detailed critiques of every piece.
On the downside, Leah Miller is absolutely horrible – I mean, it’s not just that she isn’t Cat Deeley, it’s that she isn’t anything. She is terrible. Absolutely terrible. She is worse than Ben Mulroney on Canadian Idol, and that is hard to do. Furthermore, the editing on the show is awkward at best; not for the numbers, but the editing of the judges’ comments is very blatant and visible, which is exactly what editing is not supposed to be.
Arrasay and Nico: salsa. (I see the former Nicolas has chopped off part of his name. Such is life.) This was a very strong salsa routine, far more street salsa than performance salsa (I approve heartily of that choice) with a couple of quite difficult tricks which the two of them pulled off quite nicely. Nico needed to stiffen up his upper frame a bit, but that’s a very minor criticism of an otherwise excellent performance. Arrasay was predictably fantastic. This looks to be a strong partnership.
Natalli and Kevin: hip-hop. This was moderately eh. (And what the hell: “The Way I Are?” Come on, it’s not a year and a half ago.) Natalli was off and Kevin was severely whiteboy, especially in the second half. The judges tried to play nice by pointing out that Kevin was on time and Natalli had charisma, but it fell apart halfway through and was not very good. The first half was actually decent, but the second was ugly. I think they’ll squeak by this week, but they need to shape up. That having been said, I think they’ve got the capacity to do that.
Bre and Francis: smooth waltz. (Didn’t Bre spell it “Bree” in tryouts? Well, whatever.) This was not very good, and that’s mostly on Bre – Francis clearly knew what he was doing and did his best to cover up her problems, but her footwork was bad – not just weak but actively at points unsteady, I mean, you can actually pick out where she was correcting herself through the piece – and it’s clear the choreographer was trying to cover for it by giving her those contemporary-ish short running bits that, you know, really shouldn’t be in a smooth waltz. Smooth waltzes that are not smooth just irritate the shit out of me, because I sit in front of my TV yelling “BE DREAMLIKE YOU FUCKERS” and I do not need that kind of stress.
Allie and young Hugh Jackman – no, wait, Danny: jive. The judges gave this one a bit of a tonguebath, and I’m not saying it was undeserved because the routine was fun and they’ve got good chemistry together. That having been said, the extension on the kicks was occasionally lacking (particularly on Allie’s part, which should not be unexpected because good extension on jive kicks is tricky for a relative newcomer) and that big lift did get bobbled a bit (but not unforgiveably so). But on the whole this was good dancing, and worked out quite well.
Kaitlyn and Izaak: “theater” (which means “Broadway” outside of the United States). This was perfectly okay, as Broadway – excuse me, “theater” – numbers go, and the judges went to town on it, mostly because I think Izaak was playing his part more for laughs than anything else, mugging his way through his highlight parts of the routine. Kaitlyn was perfectly decent if not remarkable. Very middle-of-the-road, which for a first performance is all right.
Lisa and Vincent: contemporary. (Vincent-Olivier has also caught the name-contraction bug, I see. By week six, he will simply be “V.”) This was crazy good. Not much of a story beyond your standard contemporary boy-and-girl-dancing-through-pain-and-love thing, sure, but my god, the extreme difficulty of this piece was obvious and the two of them just fucking nailed every single moment of it. I’m not kidding – this was intensely fantastic. Seek it out on Youtube or wherever if you missed it – it was that good. This was the best routine of the entire night; nothing else even came close.
Lara and Miles: disco. Well, more of a contemporary-ish disco-themed piece as opposed to a standard disco, but whatever, I’m just going to be thankful that I didn’t have to sit through yet another Doriana Sanchez “let’s have seven thousand lifts” disco. I think the much-ballyhooed kiss was designed by the pair of them for a cheap audience pop, but the thing is that they really did dance better afterwards, so maybe the pop gave them some confidence? Anyway, technique not quite there entirely, but the charisma was and it was fun enough for me to give it a thumbs up.
Romina and Daario: hip-hop. Firstly: obligatory Can-con music geekout! Kardinal Offishal! Awesome. (Although if this show sets a piece to a Barney Bentall song, I will not be pleased.) Secondly: the judges all told Daario he wasn’t dancing at Romina’s level, which is true, but Romina was seriously off the hook tonight and Daario was merely quite good, which normally is no great sin but when Romina kills it like that, etc. The routine was great fun, not showy with big tricks but very tight on the floor. I liked this.
Tamina and Joey: tango. Oh god was this bad. Joey was a bit better than Tamina, this was bad on multiple levels. Absolutely zero chemistry between the two of them, for starters (they don’t even seem to like each other all that much). No sense of pacing in the steps, no build to the big dramatic moments that makes a good tango. No real technique, and although I don’t expect a hip-hop dancer and a contemporary dancer to have perfect tango technique, I do expect at least a rudimentary display of it, and there wasn’t even that. Worst routine of the night by a mile and a half.
Caroline and Jesse: jazz. Ersatz comedy piece with giant Afros = fail. Not on the part of Caroline and Jesse, who danced the routine acceptably well if not superbly, and at least got to show off their individual tricks – but damn, this was a stupid routine, pure and simple. Clowning took up much of the time that should have been spent dancing. The double flip was really nice, and the two of them covered up their mistakes (and there were more than a couple) well enough that they should get by. But, yeah – stupid routine.
I’m voting for: Lisa and Vincent; Arrasay and Nico; Allie and Danny.
Bottom three predictions: Tamina and Joey, Bre and Francis, Natalli and Kevin.
Going home: Tamina and Joey.