One of those times when I agree with Mia.
But before I get to the first Vegas episode -- which was compelling! -- Salt Lake City -- which was unexpectedly great! "Unexpectedly" might not be right, since SLC is a Midwest desert dancing mecca, particularly in the ballroom division, which is where Iveta Lukosiute comes in.
Iveta... or should I say, SNOW? (First season SYTYCD will
As far as pro ballroom goes, I think Iveta is something of a ringer on this show, being the current Latin + Standard champ along with her partner Gherman Mustuc (who was partnering her in her SLC audition, but I figure that, since she is 29 herself, he probably is too old for SYTYCD). Like, she even has a Flash-based (sigh) web page and everything.
Interesting note -- she has some pics on there where she's in ballet shoes doing pointe work, so one would expect her to be able to handle the scads of classical styles that the choreographers are going to throw at her. Whatever the case, to get a little ahead of myself, if she can continue to help dudes like krumper Russell look good enough to be considered top 20 material, I will refrain from the "ZOMG SHE LOOKS OLD LOL" jokes coming from the peanut gallery. (And I will blame it partly on her haircut, and partly on her ballroom tan.)
Also? She sounds like a James Bond femme fatale.
The other notable ballroom dancer was Leigh Asay, but I think she's more notable for losing her toenail (when I'd rather she would have lost that silly headband instead). The way the show kept on hyping her injury, plus my squeamishness with that kind of trauma, got me so paranoid that I couldn't bring myself to watch her footwork during her audition for fear of glimpsing something gross.
We didn't just get ballroom experts (or contemporary dancers, none of whom made much of an impression on me), but of all things a b-boy -- Bryan Boyer -- was what really made SLC stand out. That insane suicide coin drop out on the sidewalk? His audition didn't break (hah) new ground or anything, but he seemed to transition better than most other guys we've seen, not to mention he had excellent connection with the audience.
This guy needs a shout out.
This girl needs to be sent back home just for the Uggs.
Before I go onto Vegas, let me complain about an AV Club recap again, in which Donna Bowman worries that SYTYCD might be exhausting a finite supply of talented dancers.
Exactly how many qualified individuals are there in America with the appropriate training and still waiting to be discovered? I'm willing to believe that there are enough natural singing talents in the country to support the show well into the twenty-second century. But how often can a dance competition -- one where you cannot advance without the ability to learn choreography and adapt quickly to diverse styles -- go to the well? Isn't the pool getting a bit shallow here in season 6?She's being overly nuanced here, finding idiosyncrasies where there are none, seemingly assuming that the under-18 set aren't dancing anymore and thus failing to replenish the reserves of contestants for the competition. You know, Nathan Trasoras and Brandon Bryant just popped out of Nigel's forehead, ready to try out of the show. What's more, like we saw with Nawlins Bouncing Skip, there are still dancers who aren't familiar with SYTYCD ready to have friends/family push them into auditions.
On the topic of Master Trasoras, Vegas. His biggest impression on me was that he got rid of those bangs he had when he was still 17, which made him look even younger. However he danced, though, he brings up SYTYCD's new commonplace about Nigel banking dancers for subsequent seasons and the possibly unfair advantages that come with appearing across multiple seasons -- a legitimate issue.
But this season with Ryan Kasprzak (and last season with Natalie Reid), we've also seen the show being very unsentimental with its cuts. Despite Ryan's struggles, he could easily have performed well with voters since siblings have generally done well in the competition (maybe not poor, forgotten Stanislav Savich) (though I guess Faina didn't do terribly well, either), so one ought to be impressed that they made a potentially unpopular decision. (Ryan fans shouldn't be too distraught, since the program gave him a tremendous platform for renown, if not as a dancer then certainly as a choreographer.)
Some people remarked on the oddity that the same-sex ballroom couple "soloed" as a couple -- actually, I saw another mixed-gender ballroom couple "solo" as well, so I think that if both halves of a couple made it to Vegas, then they could partner with each other in their opening performance.
Regarding Thomas Hamilton, the guy who came from a dire neighborhood: I saw The Next Great American Band -- you automatically lose if you climb onto the scaffolding.
A lot of the b-boys we've seen this Fall haven't had the strongest transitions -- Legacy and Justin Kenney among them, and even if they can pull out some head-stomping power moves or gorgeous windmills, they don't connect like Ryan C. or Hok or Gev did. Still, given that we had zero b-boys or b-girls for season 5, and the overall weakness of hip hop represented either among the dancers or the choreography, I hope that hip hop doesn't get shafted again this season, which is why I'm investing emotion in Legacy, who is being treated as the Great Street Hope so far. Plus, he did this, so he's not a purely one-dimensional top-rock, ground-work, power-move, pose b-boy:
And I suppose I feel bad that Legacy was put through an emotional wringer, but when he was stalking about in a miserable funk, he was totally channeling McNulty, like you could imagine him getting ready to subvert the chain of command.
Canadian Tara-Jean taking time from Canadanc to put in an appearance on the US version.
So I don't know why I enjoyed this Vegas episode -- and we've got one more left, so I still have time to revise my opinion -- whereas last season we
The Vegas callbacks are when the show can start to flesh out the personalities of its contestants (although just as often it doesn't do so), Legacy being a current example (e.g. we found out he's got Latin roots, though no Latin ballroom skills). But where season five foregrounded unremitting failure (Natalie's surprise elimination, Silky's group shooting itself in the foot, and nobody seeming to excel), we've seen moderate success so far (Russell's cha cha is the kind of surprise that makes SYTYCD's genre salad so potentially captivating, and Billy Bell overcoming that nasty elbow was a nice counterpoint to the usual litany of bodies falling to the wayside due to injury), though like I said, there's still one more episode in which the previews are apparently promising tears and beaten breasts. In the long run, though, I suppose all that doesn't matter, since the mood is completely different once the competition-proper begins.
Indie rating: The Pipettes – "The Burning Ambition of The Early Diuretics"