Your guest judge is Debbie Allen, and one can’t really have a truly negative opinion about Debbie Allen, so that’s good. Also, commercials for SYTYCD Canada! August 11, babeeee.
Top five girls: Bollywood. The judges worshipped this, but honestly it wasn’t that great. Randi was obviously sloppy. Melissa was frequently off the beat and also sloppy. Jeanine, Jeanette and Kayla were various degrees of solid; Jeanette was a little out of time but had the best vitality in her dance, while Jeanine and Kayla hit the moves dead-perfect (but weren’t as upbeat and “Bollywoodish” as Jeanette). Group routines tend to be more forgiving, though, so I don’t think it’ll hurt anybody.
Kayla and Short Evan Who Is Short: Viennese waltz. You know, I don’t think there’s a style that the judges are more forgiving on than Viennese waltz. It’s simply not a very difficult form of dance: it requires knowledge of the basic step pattern, the ability to rise and fall, and a little character. The hard parts are the lifts and free dance portions, and this is what inevitably happens on this show: those are the parts the untrained-in-ballroom dancers nail, and then they fuck up what’s actually the easy part. This was a case in point, because both Evan and Kayla had mediocre form (and Evan was stiff to boot) but their lifts were lovely. Given that this is Kayla’s second waltz I’m less inclined to be generous towards her mediocre performance in the basic portions of the dance. Evan’s limitations are showing up fast and furious now.
Kayla’s solo: Technically flawless but not very interesting: your standard Contemporary Assortment of Tricks, performed very competently. (What do you expect? She’s nineteen for crissake.)
Evan’s solo: Charming, clever, and well executed; he used his time very well and created not only a story but an appealing persona to win votes.
Jeanette and Ade: hip-hop. Jeanette was very definitely ahead of the beat on this dance, and it really showed towards the end when it looked like she was hitting some unison moves maybe a full quarter-second ahead of Ade. She also didn’t grind into the floor enough to really give it a proper hip-hop feel; it looked and felt cheerleader-ish to me. Ade was good, but not as good as I was expecting. I’m not sure whether that’s on him or on the Napoleon/Tabitha choreo, which I thought was average at best. Still, in a season of terrible hip-hop, this was much better than average.
Jeanette’s solo: At some point the producers will give up on this frankly stupid notion that ballroom dancers should do solos and let them do their “solos” with a partner; make the partner wear all black and a mask or something and the contestant wear sparkly clothes, hell, I don’t know. The point is that there’s really very little ballroomers can do in a one-person solo. Jeanette did about all of it, so what happens next time?
Ade’s solo: Rock solid.
Jeanine and Jason: contemporary. Well, everybody who was wondering if Caitlin was making Jason worse now has confirmation, because this routine was HOLY SHIT levels of amazing. (I am honestly amazed they haven’t let Travis choreograph until now; Benji was choreographing as early as season three.) A brilliant piece of choreo, danced near-perfectly by Jeanine and Jason. Simply a highlight of the season, pure and simple.
Jeanine’s solo: As excellent as always: what sets Jeanine apart from the other girl dancers is that her solos always have a point; they’re not just a series of contempo-tricks, but intended to establish a mood or tone.
Jason’s solo: Really good, abandoning the usual “I am desperate and here are tricks” solo we’ve come to expect from him for, again, a story within the solo.
Randi and Kupono: paso doble. See, one of the things that irked me about Kupono surviving and Philipchbeeb going is that Kupono is arguably more limited than the Chbeeb. He can do one thing well: contemporary where he is a quirky/weird character. If he’s asked to do anything else, Kupono just flops. For someone who’s supposed to be such a great ack-toah, paso should have been right in Kupono’s wheelhouse, but this was one of the great disasters in the show’s history: completely and utterly terrible with no redeeming factors. Oh, yes, Randi was terrible too. Paso should have fire and swagger and drama: this was limp and weak and slooooow and boring. How bad was it? When the judges said it was bad, nobody booed them. That’s how bad it was.
Randi’s solo: Sloppy and bad.
Kupono’s solo: Arguably the only contemporary dancer in the show who, when he gets desperate, does not do tricks, but instead does less.
Melissa and Brandon: Broadway. Tasty Oreo is BACK. This time he is
ripping off blatantly imitating inspired by Twyla Tharp. This was merely okay, which given Melissa and Brandon’s various successes so far is kind of a letdown; I want to see more A+ material, not B-grade stuff like this. Melissa really needs to dance something totally unrelated to her training already.
Melissa’s solo: Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.
Brandon’s solo: A whole lot of tricks, but Brandon’s really good at progressing his tricks to at least build momentum, which a lot of dancers don’t do.
Top five guys: African. Again, the “it’s hard for judges to critique a five-man dance well unless everybody really fucks up” rule comes into play as a lot of undeserved compliments were thrown at the guys. For me, there were two clear tiers of performance here. The first tier (Brandon, Jason and Ade) danced very competently but didn’t quite capture the fire and spirit I wanted to see in the genre. The second tier (Evan and Kupono) similarly lacked in fire and spirit but also danced poorly.
Should go home: Randi and Kupono.
Will go home: Randi and Kupono.