Sunday, July 27, 2014

So You Think You Can Dance - 11x09 "The Top 16 Perform, 2 Eliminated"

Remember when I was literally sick and tired last week? As it turns out, I've been suffering fro pneumonia, but strangely enough, I have more to say than last week, even based solely on first impressions.

Tanisha & Rudy - Hip Hop
Rudy is this year's Kent, isn't he?

Emilio & Footman - Contemporary
This was diverting, though if I'm in the mood for random cross-season comparisons pulled out of thin air, Bridget has been reminding me of Jordan Casanova -- technically capable, but not an expressive performer.

Ultimately, though, this routine is most memorable, for the Rube Goldbergesque contortions required to get Emilio in a penché.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

So You Think You Can Dance - 11x08 "The Top 18 Perform, 2 Eliminated"

I've literally been sick and tired this past week, so I'll just say that I'm shocked -- shocked -- that the oldest remaining female contestant was eliminated. To paraphrase some movie, I get older, SYTYCD contestants stay the same age.

PS Teddy is our new dance god. 

Sunday, July 13, 2014

So You Think You Can Dance - 11x07 "The Top 20 Perform, 2 Eliminated"

When the judges talk to Serge, they usually mention how he's a hard worker, which at the time struck me as oddly conspicuous. Later I remembered that that's the same faint praise that they give to Maks/Max from season 5, who of course lasted all of two weeks. Since he landed in the bottom already, and considering his advanced age, I wouldn't be surprised if Serge doesn't last much longer.
Something else: Nigel dings Marlene for not being sufficiently flexible, but aims no such criticism at Serge, who also seems to not have the bendy parts of, say, Ricky. 

Teddy is phenomenal in his routine -- he's all brilliant elasticity and sharp, stuttering angles -- and Emily does better with her hip hop than does Footman, who flashes some of the power and confidence needed in hip hop only in between moves and is self-consciously floating the rest of the time.
Something I noticed last week but couldn't be bothered to remember till now is Teddy's resemblance to a certain glam rocker.

Tuesday, July 08, 2014

So You Think You Can Dance - 11x06 "The Top 20 Perform"

With the exception of one routine, the showcase extinguished the hope I'd built up during the auditions. Make room for me, Anthony Morigerato and your polite golf clap.
  • Ricky and Jessica's routine is by far the only positively noteworthy routine, though what I think of as the elemental division of roles -- Ricky as air, and Jessica as earth -- spotlights Ricky to a large degree. I don't want to minimize Jessica in this routine, since her part in it -- the lifts, both as the one being lifted and the one lifting -- gives Ricky all that room to shine.
  • A tap routine involving stairs invites this unfair comparison.
  • Christopher Scott continues to bother me every time he sets a routine to another song that's not hip hop, or when he choreographs a prop-heavy piece, or both, all of which works to pull the idea of "hip hop" away from its core style. Nonetheless, I like this routine in spite of the choreography -- Emilio and Teddy both perform admirably.

Tuesday, July 01, 2014

So You Think You Can Dance - 11x05 "L.A. Callbacks / Top 20 Chosen"

Hope springs eternal, even after an initial bout of disillusionment: I'm cautiously optimistic about the coming season (ballet!), even though I'm disappointed, first, that certain dancers didn't make the top 20, and second, that this cast has a few warnings flags.

With 157 dancers to dispense with in a space of 80+ minutes and instructions to build up arcs for specific dancers, a significant number of them will get short shrift. (To put the time-crunch in perspective, if every dancer got the same amount of screentime, that'd amount to about 2 minutes per person, so every additional minute devoted to Jessica Richens' or Steven Kador's travails drains the pool of available screen time quickly.) All the same, seeing Justine Lutz buried in the episode -- well, not seeing is a more apt phrase -- makes her sudden cut an especially acute one; Amir Sanders isn't even mentioned (though we see her unmistakable 'fro at the beginning), and if Cristina Moya-Palacios got any screentime, then I must've blinked. We see Shafeek Westbrook struggling in the jazz round and then giving a much more gracious sendoff than last time; Erik "Silky" Moore is perhaps a spectral presence only until he becomes the last Green Mile cut. I don't think I've had this many would-be favorites heading into a callback before, and seeing so many of them fall by the wayside is dispiriting.

The warning flags of the cast come down to the racial composition on the girls' side: an initial glance suggests that they're all white. Racial diversity has rarely been a problem on the guys' side, and every prior season has featured at least one woman of color (though the ethnic diversity doesn't measure to the guys' side). But this development might not be all that surprising if we take stylistic representation as a proxy among the women. When women are overwhelmingly labeled as contemporary/jazz -- even when they have hip-hop backgrounds (e.g. Donyelle, Karla Garcia, and Jasmine Harper), contemporary/jazz trumps -- I don't think that the leap to an all-white cast is that far behind. I've mentioned before about such skewed representation: they give young girls a very limited scope of acceptable femininity is, certainly as far as dance goes (contemporary or gtfo).

Another warning flag is the average age of the cast, though believe it or not, the boys this year are younger, with an average of 19.9 against the girls' 20.4. Some of the boy choices are particularly glaring in this regard, especially with selecting the baby-faced Nick Garcia as a ballroom guy over a much more physically mature Armen Way. (Serge does have a more prototypical ballroom physique, though Marcquet is a lot more lean and I chalk up his inclusion because of what I hear is his facility with hip hop, also, African-American ballroom dancer.) If we assume all other dance qualities being equal, why pick Nick over Armen? The way that castings go nowadays, I doubt that Pasha -- the go-to male ballroom All-Star -- would make the cut.

On a related note, this cast does feature more Latin dancers this year than they've ever had, I think -- perhaps a belated response to DWTS encroaching on SYTYCD's territory by having non-ballroom styles on the show (particularly contemporary)?

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

So You Think You Can Dance - 11x04 "Auditions #4"

From the first episode -- where I was readying on obituary for my relationship with this show -- to now, I've changed my opinion on the upcoming season nearly a full 180. The two middle episodes are spectacularly exciting, and while this last audition isn't as rich with beautiful dancing, it's still elevated by the auditioners who go beyond the over-played competition style. For instance, though I wasn't moved by the aesthetic elements of their solos, we see a couple of fantastically athletic dancers in Kelly MacCoy (who is, considering her spotlight-loving parents, hilariously monosyllabic) and Marissa Milele (whose solo sputters out at the end but after those superheroics, I'm not surprised).

And yet, even if neither of them had auditioned, this audition would've been something to remember. Erik "Silky" Moore for starters kicks out a scintillating audition that is so tight that the music seems to be spun out of his body. And then there's Cristina Moya-Palacios -- nuff said.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

So You Think You Can Dance - 11x03 "Auditions #3"

Maybe I should voice my disillusionment more often because for the second week in a row, the show has attracted and/or shown a caliber of dancer that gives me cautious hope for the competition. And as far as my current hobbyhorse goes, the last two auditions seems to have complicated my belief that SYTYCD's focus on the under 20 crowd solely serves Nigel's commercial purposes rather than any higher artistic aspirations (for the sake of brevity, I'm being reductive here), since more than a handful of my favorite auditions so far have been from teenagers.