(Man, that is an acronym right there. Anyway.)
I have much higher hopes for the Canadian top 20 this year than I did for America’s season 5 top 20. Partially this is because I am biased and Canada is awesome sauce. But more importantly, it’s because this Canadian top 20 is much more balanced in representation of styles as opposed to the contempo-fest that was US season 5, and I like to see the clash of styles in the competition episodes. And this season we get a krumper, a B-boy, a tapper, two more insane ballroom boys and a pretty promising ballroom girl, a bunch of hip-hop dancers and a ballerina in addition to the usual band of classically trained types.
Actually, it’s not entirely fair to slam the American show for being a contempo-fest when the first Canadian season featured two pure hip-hop dancers (Miles and Tamina), a B-boy (Jesse), two ballroom boys (Francis and Danny) and everybody else had a great deal of contemporary or classical training; the difference is that the Canadian contemporary dancers were almost uniformly cross-trained in other styles and the American contemporary dancers weren’t.
I think that the final selection of dancers is influenced heavily by the shaping of the elimination process: the American show this past season started its Vegas week with a softcore Napoleon/Tabitha hip-hop and followed up with a relatively light waltz, both of which were relatively generous to contemporary dancers, before proceeding to a trio of jazz and contemporary rounds (plus the group dance round). In comparison, the Canadian show this year kicked off elimination week with Luther Brown’s much harder hip-hop, then an urban jazz, then a ridiculously hard (and super awesome) samba; that’s not unfair to contemporary dancers, but it means basic skills, like sitting back in the beat for a hip-hop dance or holding proper form for a ballroom number, become more important and can’t be glossed over, which they clearly were for season 5 of the American show.
Anyhow. Specific thoughts:
– I called Melanie Mah, Cody, Vincent, Kim and Tatiana from the beginning; I thought Austin and Emanuel Sandhu were both very likely as well. All are good (yes, even Emanuel, who has clearly pushed his game as hard as he can, despite now having a haircut that makes me think of Guile from Street Fighter). All should be very strong – especially Melanie, who reminds me of nothing so much as a female Brandon Bryant – viciously powerful contemporary dancing combined with the ability to do other styles almost effortlessly.
– I didn’t think Nicolas the B-boy was the best B-boy to make the elimination rounds, but he was apparently the one adapting the best to other styles. I’ll be curious to see how far he can go.
– Everett the tapper actually wasn’t one of my picks: I was hoping that Justin Jackson – who had probably the best tap solo I’ve ever seen on an SYTYCD ever last year – would sneak in. But Justin got blanked at the final picks, so maybe he’ll make it in next year. Everett is fine, though.
– Natalie the krumper I felt was likely to make top 20 just based on novelty value; my guess is that she’ll stumble outside of urban styles given that she danced for her life two or three times during the elimination process.
– Dancers I would have preferred to not make top 20 this year: Corynne the ballerina (she just feels very generic to me), Tara-Jean the contemporary dancer (not a fan) and Taylor the contemporary dancer (I’m not getting the personality from him). Would have preferred to see more ballroom girls and either Jeff the contemporary dancer or that Celtic dancer. That having been said, the judges did have the good sense not to put Gessuri through; he seemed to be a lock to become this year’s Dario (namely, a beautiful, original dancer with no head for following choreography or dancing outside of his style).