With extra notes as I actually attended the taping this week, as you are well aware.
Allie and Miles: samba and Afro-jazz. (What happened to calling it “African jazz”? Is dance the last place where using “Afro-” as a prefix can still be acceptable?)
Anyway, the samba was both hot and good. The tricks were definitely on the “holy shit” level of difficulty, seeing as how the crowd repeatedly gasped out “holy shit” for several of them, and the dancing outside of the tricks was very solid (although they did give Allie a bit of help by having the samba be barefoot rather than in heels – not that she hasn’t danced ballroom in heels quite decently already, but this was a whole new level of difficulty). Allie and Miles have good chemistry, too, which doesn’t hurt. They only juuuuuust landed a couple of the tricks, but landed them they did and neither is a ballroom dancer, and those really were top-tier tricks, so I mark this one down as a huge success.
The A-jazz (hah! I will shorten the prefix even further!) was excellent. It was relaxed and joyful, and served as a welcome counterbalance to the intense routines that preceeded it, and the two of them danced it really, really well, with that combination of abandon and control you only get when the dancers are really in the groove. Excellent performance.
Arassay and Izaak: Lindy hop and smooth tango. Benji Schwimmer continues his one-man crusade to modernize ballroom dance by setting routines to whatever song he had on repeat on his iPod this week continues as he sets a Lindy hop to, of all things, “Welcome To The Black Parade” by My Chemical Romance, tossing in a few pirouettes and so forth for variety’s sake. It actually more or less worked. Because it was Benji’s piece you knew in advance the tricks were going to be insane (and they were). Because Izaak was dancing you knew in advance the judges were going to, at best, dismiss him with faint praise (and they did).
The tango was the worst dance of the night, and it was only average at worst. Arassay was fantastic – Izaak was tolerable. Really, Izaak’s problem isn’t that he’s a bad dancer – he isn’t – but he’s far behind just about everybody else remaining (and for that matter, most of the last two weeks’ eliminees) in terms of skill. He’s trying to get by on raw talent and a young fanbase and can’t quite manage it when everybody else is raising the level for this show on an international level. Much like Daario, I get the feeling he came to this show too young and unseasoned.
Vincent and Natalli: krump and contemporary. Natalli is disgustingly lucky that she forgot the steps halfway through the krump routine, because krump, more than any other form of dance on this show, plays to Natalli’s strengths (passion and charismatic dance). If you weren’t watching carefully you would have missed the part where she just stood for half a second in panic before she started improvising herself back into the routine. (I speak from experience, because watching live I didn’t realize she’d fucked up until the judges mentioned it.) She covered brilliantly – but if it hadn’t been krump, where hitting hard is more important than hitting right, she’d be dead in the water. Vincent was fine, in his nonchalant good-at-everything way.
The contemporary was fantastic and there’s nothing more to say there.
Lisa and Nico: “jazz/funk” and hip-hop. The “jazz/funk” (what?) was just a polite excuse for Blake McGrath to do his dirtiest routine possible, and believe me when I say the audience was fine with it and the audio team must have gone overboard trying to de-intensify the girls screaming in the audience – I literally couldn’t hear myself think. (I could hear Colin Mochrie complaining about the screaming.) Anyway, the dance itself was excellent.
The hip-hop was a little more muted in terms of screaming, mostly because the routine itself was kind of bad – the bits with the suitcases were overwrought and clumsy and detracted from the flow of the thing. That having been said Nico and Lisa danced the actual dancing parts of it near-perfectly, as you would expect, and with an interesting kind of restraint given the form. I liked it despite the choreo, I guess. (And then, when they were done, oh my god the screaming.)
Should go home: Natalli and Izaak.
Will go home: Natalli and Izaak.