Competition begins! Your judges are Jean-Marc, Tre, and Blake and Luther before Blake and Luther go off to be choreographers rather than judges. Tre says this is the best top 20 ever, which considering this is second season is not that big a deal; then Jean-Marc ups the ante by saying this is the best top 20 of any SYTYCD anywhere, which leads me to mentally respond “really… better than US season 3 and Australia season 2?” So we shall see.
Tara-Jean and Everett: jive. This was… pretty mediocre. The judges gave it a tonguebath, but they can’t not give the very first routine of the season anything but, especially after boasting immediately before about how great this top 20 was. The routine itself was jumbled and confused, which probably has something to do with the fact that Melissa Williams is a contemporary and pop choreographer who dabbles in ballroom rather than the other way around. Tara-Jean and Everett danced it capably but lacked energy; their kicks didn’t have enough snap and once or twice they looked lost.
Amy and Vincent: samba. The judges all talked about how Amy blew the lift (when her foot slipped on Vincent’s knee while stepping up into it), but she and Vincent recovered very well from it so I don’t really care about that. A little more bothersome is that Amy’s footwork was at times clumsy, and that I feel her personality in the dance was more “bubbly” than “sultry,” and I think the samba and most Latin dance generally should tend towards the latter. Vincent, on the other hand, absolutely nailed it in every way possible. This was quite good for top 20 week.
Melanie M. and Cody: contemporary. Stacey Tookey is more or less Canada’s version of Mia Michaels (minus the self-importance that Mia found somewhere during season two of the American show) and delivered an excellent routine here; Cody and Melanie M. have crazy chemistry together and danced this very well. A couple of times, Cody was definitely not quite in the moment – most notably for the huge lift he had to do, where the camera pulled out but you could still see him struggling a bit to do that massive lift. Then again, Cody is not built like Superman, so I think that’s entirely forgivable, and for the most part he was up to Melanie’s absurdly high level of excellence. I thought these two were locks for top 20; now I think they’re locks for top 10 and Melanie is already a threat for the finals.
Kim and Emanuel: hip-hop. Let me preface by giving love to Sho-Tyme for giving us 90s-style hip-hop set to MC Hammer, of all things. As to the dancing itself: Kim nailed it. She was in the beat the entire time and hit every single move cleanly, and even tried to compensate her own moves to match time with Emanuel’s mistakes. Emanuel clearly was not even close to the beat and looked completely out of his element in that regard: he tried to make up for it by exuding the right attitude for the piece, but all the attitude in the world wouldn’t make up for the steps he was blowing. This could have been massively entertaining (like Sho-Tyme’s house routine from last year), but there’s no way to call it anything but a failure.
Corynne and Anthony: Viennese waltz. Apart from a couple of bobbles by Corynne at the beginning this was technically very sound and artistically solid, but I echo Blake’s “it didn’t do much for me” because Corynne and Anthony danced it very well as two individuals; there’s no chemistry between these two as partners; it’s nearly as bad as the passionless void between Caitlyn and Jason in US season 5. Hopefully they can find some.
Natalie and Danny: hip-hop. Natalie was a HOUSAFIRE tonight; she killed that routine in every way possible it is to kill a hip-hop routine. Danny was actually pretty good; there was a moment right near the end where he kind of got lost a little bit, but for the most part he was solidly in the groove throughout and complemented Natalie’s hardcore work very nicely. This was damn solid.
Jayme-Rae and Daniel: Afro-jazz. This was an absolutely killer routine – maybe a little more “jazz” than “Afro-” to be sure, but just great, great choreography by Sean Cheeseman. That bit where Daniel walked Jayme-Rae across the wall? KILLER. Everything about this was absolutely great.
Jenna-Lynn and Nicolas: disco. I love that Tre had the presence of mind to amend it and call it a “contemporary disco, sort of,” because the only parts of that routine that were disco were a couple of hip shimmies and a quick hand ripple; welcome to Melissa Williams’ world, where a routine is whatever she wants it to be. This was some weird hybrid of West Coast swing and partnered jazz, not disco. (And let us be honest: there was nothing about this routine that was noteworthy. It was kind of boring.) That having been said, Jenna-Lynn and Nicolas danced what they were given quite well indeed; it was just the suggestion that this thingie was a disco routine that made the whole thing slightly jarring.
Tatiana and Austin: capoiera. First off, when they announced they were doing capoiera I was all “FUCK YES” and then it turned out that it was actually a sort of Latin-dance modified capoeira, but after ten seconds I was still all “FUCK YES” because this routine was totally goddamned awesome, and Tatiana and Austin killed it. Easily my favorite routine of the night.
Melanie B. and
Brüno Taylor: tango. Melanie B. actually impressed me a bit less than Taylor in this, which given that this is supposed to be her specialty is notso hotso; she tripped over her own feet at least twice – only slightly, maybe, not enough to really affect the routine, but visibly. I honestly wasn’t expecting anything out of Taylor for this and was actually quite surprised: not just because he danced the entire routine through a bloody mouth but because he really danced in a manly, aggressive way that a lot of contempo dancers have trouble doing.
So: is this the best top 20 ever? No; at best it’s on par with US season 3, and definitely not as good as Australia season 2 (still the benchmark). But it’s a very strong top 20 outing, and last year SYTYCD Canada started off a bit slow and only really started picking up steam in the second and third performance episodes.
Probably bottom three: Kim and Emanuel, Tara-Jean and Everett, Mel B. and Taylor.
Should go home: Mel B. and Emanuel.
Will go home: Tara-Jean and Everett.