Another week, another results show with a predetermined outcome. Billy got injured, Billy didn’t dance last night, Billy’s in the bottom three, Billy’s going home. Why do we have to go through this charade for a third straight week? I’d really like to know if the voting numbers have taken a nosedive during July, because why would you call in to save your favorite dancers when it’s clear they’re going to be saved because Terpsichore decided to snap somebody else’s tendon?
As you might expect when the competitive drive has been sucked out of the theater, there was a general malaise to both the dancing and the judging this week. Not that some dancers didn’t give it their all, but I found myself saying “eh” and “huh?” a lot more than “wow.” (Prompting the huh’s: the thinness of the choreographer and all-star pools. Seriously Dmitry, NapTab, and Sonya all choreograph two dances?) Here’s my take, healthy (for now) dancer by healthy (for now) dancer.
Lauren: Well, she’s clearly doomed. She’s the most appealing dancer left on the show by far, the brightest combination of talent, technique, sizzle, and smile. Oh, and midriff, legs, etc. Her samba made me wish she were contractually obligated to dress in one of those Latin ballroom costumes twelve hours a day. And the hip-hop was powerful. Sorry, Lauren, I hope your injury next week isn’t too painful.
Jose: The second-worst thing about Billy getting default-booted this week is that Jose will not be booted this week. You’d think he was the one who was injured, given that the choreographers have been giving him less and less dancing to do, until now he’s down to sitting on the edge of the stage performing the Sonya Flail. There was one close-up during the paso doble where he was striking what was supposed to be a strong, chest-out, matador pose, and he looked like he was waiting for the ice-cream truck.
Robert: I find predatory ripped-shirt seductive Robert disturbing. Undoubtedly energetic to watch, but disturbing. I think America agrees with me. And enough with the short pants during the solo, dude. It’s like he’s going clamming after every show.
Kent: My husband can’t stand Kent anymore, and I get where he’s coming from. I think he’s a very talented dancer, don’t get me wrong. But his youth has begun to grate on me. They advanced him to the top 10 too fast; another year or two of seasoning, and he might be more whiz and less gee. I felt about his step the way I felt about his Broadway last week -- like he had an apprentice/little brother vibe that made it hard for me to take his dancing seriously.
Adechike: How wonderful were all the contestants’ parents, by the way? Much more affecting than any of the dances this week. I was taken aback by Adechike’s raw emotion after the hip-hop number with Comfort, which was a really nice number and powerfully danced by both of them, but I didn’t peg it as a cryin’ thing. And then the judges all have to validate the emotion of the dancers by telling them, yes, you’re right, it was the greatest thing ever! When it was really good, but nothing like the best the show’s ever done. Still, Adechike (I’d like to call him Ade like his mom did, but we do risk confusing with All-Star Ade, don’t we?) has completely turned around the judge’s opinion of him, and deserves to be in the finals, I now think. Not a hint of “technically precise but cold, no connection, blah blah blah” anymore, is there?
And just when I’ve got my Season 7 in full decline theme working, the opening number pulls an A+ and blows the curve. What a fabulous piece of choreography by Kenny Ortega’s very good friend Kelly Abbey! And it was made special by the dancers popping the moves with gusto, notably Mark and Lauren. After a couple of weeks of lackluster group performances, it was a jolt of pure caffeinated energy.
As I predicted, Robert and Jose are the two able-bodied dancers in the bottom three, and their disappointment and fear seemed almost genuine. Jose’s solo was pretty unimpressive, by the way, aside from the long one-handed handstand at the end -- especially after his solo on the performance show to James Brown, which I thought showed personality and invention beyond the b-boy tricks for the first time in a while.
Nigel makes a valiant and ultimately frustrating attempt to inject some suspense into the verdict -- “we haven’t come to a decision,” he insists -- and then announces a solution dreamed up in the panicked producers meeting earlier this week. Nobody goes home this week, Billy gets scolded for gaming the system (sitting out by choice although the doctors cleared him in order to get a week of rest -- a decision validated by Nigel last night with the statement “he knows his body better than anyone”), and two people will be gone next week. It’s a transparently desperate attempt to save what’s turning into a disaster in reality show terms -- a tournament with a string of forfeits -- into something that can still surprise us. I don’t wish ill on any of the contestants, but it would serve the scrambling producers right if two people ended up unable to dance next week.
- I didn’t mind Kenny Ortega on the judging panel, largely because I was fascinated by his showbizzy way of spouting complimentary jargon without saying anything at all. I feel like I have a lot to learn from him.
- The pas de deux from Don Quixote, performed by dancers from the American Ballet Theater, was as lovely as could be. Nice job by the principals not getting rattled at the whoops from the audience in the middle of their dance; they can’t be used to that. Fun fact: I saw Nureyev in Don Quixote when I was a kid. My dad misread the tickets and we went right to the front, about six rows from the orchestra. When the people who had those seats showed up, the usher couldn’t straighten out the mixup, and we ended up staying right there for the whole performance.
- Cat went from somebody-forgot-to-sew-my-dress-on last night to tea-length shabby-chic tonight. Who are you?!
- I didn’t watch Neil and Lauren’s season (and boy, am I regretting that this season), so this is the first I’ve seen of that Wade Robson dance. A little manic and Burton-y for my taste, but they’re magnetic, those two.
- Nigel, you should not have asked the crowd whether they remembered the top male and female from Season 6. Crickets.
- Kinda like that song from Enrique, but he and the MC guy kept blocking my view of Dominic.
- What with the male ballet dancer’s tights and DJ Smart’s BVDs, it was Male Package Night on SYTYCD.