Sunday, December 13, 2009

So You Think You Can Dance - Top 8 (6x21, 6x22)

The Lord giveth...

... and the Lord taketh away.

The show's going to miss his charisma, his humor ("It's America" being the lol of the year), his surprising versatility, the emotional commitment he always brings to his performances, and the utter insanity of some of the moves he pulls off.

At this point last season, my favorite dancer was eliminated in the now-proverbial Top 8 Shocker, but as much as I'd like to apply this sorta-truism to what happened to Legacy, this outcome wasn't terribly surprising, and not because of a deficit in his skills. Instead, in the last two weeks, he performed one fierce routine (so fierce in fact they're wearing Tyra out), another routine that got mixed reviews, and two poorly received hip-hop numbers, so you could see why he went home even if you don't agree with it.

(I guess the Top 8 Shock applies to Ashleigh staying over Mollee, though, but I'm too gleefully celebrating her departure to care.)

Ryan's plea to the audience to vote for his wife instead of him makes for a splashy reason why he stayed over Legacy, but we should keep in mind that Ryan had a solid week of dancing, which probably was what drew most people to vote for him (however, since his solo was completely unmemorable -- not even all that cheesy! -- we can infer that his highlights were all aided by the season's most versatile female dancer -- which is how I know that, despite my fevered hopes, Kathryn and Legacy aren't in love, because if they were, she would have somehow sabotaged Ryan, instead of basically dooming the b-boy). Put simply, I doubt that the plea for Ashleigh was the difference between Legacy and Ryan, but maybe that's wishful thinking on my part.

SYTYCD Canada may have been the first to use Portishead -- at least as far as Anglophone editions of SYTYCD situated in North America go -- but it went for the most obvious track possible. A slinky number to "Glory Box"? How novel! So USA wins once again, because it used the most mercilessly pummeling track (and second-best overall) from Third (which I sadly didn't find to my tastes, i.e. I waited more than a decade for this?).

Anyway, while I agree with MGK that Travis is hit or miss (though up till now, he's been all miss for me), this is the first choreography of Travis' that I unambiguously enjoyed, I'm sure in no small part to the song (rather than another sentimental acoustic ballad), and because it put his brand of physicality to a purpose that I can get behind: domestic violence a reinterpretation of Mr. and Mrs. Smith (sorry Cat, that's the only film reference that the kids watching this show are going to get -- War of the Whoses more like), certainly one of the most cinematic pieces to have been performed on the show, and probably the first where Ellenore really broke out of her self-imposed box of movements. She was all kinds of dangerous sexy and struck some wonderful lines, all with a torn rotator cuff, no less.

(Incidentally, it must be nice to be Travis, the only (semi-)regular choreographer who gets constructive feedback from the judges.)

Alas, the duo didn't receive any favors when they pulled the NappyTabs routine, the problems of which Nigel described as the choreography and the concept overriding the dancing. His description might've been true if NappyTabs actually had put any effort into the routine; as it was, the only they gave Ellenore and Legacy to do was to pull faces (and hoodies, too) (and at least Dave Scott's number last week at least offered a chance for Legacy to smolder). To appreciate the full extent of their laziness, NappyTabs didn't even go with Samantha Ronson to remix the track they used, they went with District 78, who are something like the in-house music producers on ABDC.

Ever wondered how to make a Legacy sandwich? It's very easy:

On the question of Legacy being coddled by choreographers who throw in b-boy moves for his sake, well, it's not much of an issue with me because choreographers have been throwing in jetes and other decadent French maneuvers into ballroom routines with only an occasional peep of dissent. This aspect isn't what interests me most, however; rather, it's how the choreographers seem to just tack on a b-boy move almost in isolation from the rest of the dance, with no immediate interaction with the partner. Take, as a contrast, Wade's "Hummingbird and Flower," in which Hok's breaking seems much more integrated into the piece, and not merely incidental garnish. I guess what I'm saying is, I wish Wade could've gotten his hands on Legacy at some point.

Kathryn and Ryan's Cha-cha makes me realize that I cannot follow any fast Latin dances -- if it's not mid-tempo or slower (e.g. Argentine tango, rumba), it's simply going to fly over my head. They just don't hit me at the gut level, and I'm not using "gut" as a euphemism or anything. (Going through my archives, it turns out that I liked Brandon and Janette's Cha-cha. Then again, that one was choreographed to a bangin' Pussycat Dolls tune.)

I do find it cute, however, that Kathryn was wearing purple socks without shoes during the Cha-cha rehearsals.

I probably can't put off the question of the women's elimination any longer without losing credibility, so.

Since I've felt that Mollee has been nothing short of a blight, I am mostly content with the way things shook out on this half of the program, and thinking about the fairness of her elimination is at most an intellectual exercise, but what the hell.

Ways I might try to rationalize Ashleigh staying over Mollee:
  • We saw the voters basically self-correcting for Mollee's presence. She and Nathan graced the bottom for two consecutive weeks (and for all we know each time they received the fewest votes), but each time being saved by the judges, who would've then been thwarting the will of the voters. Only until the the voters became directly responsible for elimination decisions was she finally sifted out of the competition (how she outpaced Kathryn during the week of the top 10 is the weakest part of this argument).
  • She was sufficiently unpopular with voters that she was beaten out by an injured dancer (Ashleigh) and a chronically vote-challenged contestant (Ellenore). Thus, in a competition whose main/erstwhile goal is to find America's favorite dancer, you can't say she actually deserves to stay.
  • After she was eliminated, the look of abject devastation on Mollee's face indicated that she wasn't emotionally mature enough to handle the intensity of a show like SYTYCD.

To be sure, if any other dancer were eliminated in these circumstances, I'd probably be seething, but, you know:

You may have noticed that I used the bottom two/three to gauge the popularity of certain dancers, which is normally a tricky proposition because of the week-to-week fickleness of voters and the complex effects of partners and styles on the results. However, as we head into the final week, we're going to have a harder time getting a sense of where a given dancer stands because the top 6 finale effectively "steals" one week of results that we could've used -- not that I'd necessarily come up with terribly useful analysis, though keeping with the theme of this post, what the hell.

In the last two weeks of individual voting, we've had a total of four different women and three different men in the bottom two, so aside from saying that Ryan is probably struggling with his popularity, the week-to-week vicissitudes (as opposed to week-to-week-to-week if the show had kept the Top Four finale), we can't say much with certainty and are left with a buttload of questions we can't answer. For instance, with only two weeks of data, what can we conclude about Ellenore? She danced arguably the routine of the season last week and was safe, then this week she danced a fierce number but fell to the bottom two.

Or or have the voting habits been constituting a referendum on the choreography this year? Do people have extra motivation to pick up the phone on behalf of well-executed quicksteps, or to put them down for dismal NappyTabs routines?

And don't get her started on the Jews!

Note to Ellenore -- if you're dancing to James Brown, please bring, like, a lot more funk.

I've seen around the internets that most people were disappointed with Jakob's subdued solo this week, which was the first solo of his that I liked (dating back to auditions) because it seemed more soulful, something that inhabited the music more, not just another exhibition of leaps and turns.

Shane threw the glove straight in NappyTabs' faces by saying with his "this is not a lyrical routine," which in itself should be cause to dig it, but if you have a hard time enjoying it, my advice is to not watch Shane's assistant -- harder than you'd imagine because she kind of commands a lot of attention for many wrong reasons. (Judging by the brief rehearsal footage we saw, Ashleigh would've been a tenfold improvement.) Russell, though, is the truth in this one; that wasn't sweat you saw dripping from his forehead afterward -- it was fun.

Russell's Bollywood had the benefit of a substitute dancer who looked a little more prepared. While Nakhul claimed that the routine didn't have a storyline, he can't fool big-brained me -- it was about mermaids.

Cat must be attracted to Russel on some level, because she's always making him look at her, asking if she smells nice, etc.


What was the deal with Legacy being the only person to get a gag gift? Seriously, Ellenore needs to work on her empathy (see also: bankrupting her family by making them move to NYC).

I stand by what I've previously written about the Audience Hottie Quotient being off the charts for Season 6.

Indie rating: Smoosh - "I Got My Own Problems to Fix"


Ana said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ana said...

Oops, posted before I finished writing the whole thing. Yeah, my friend and I also said that Legacy needed something consistently great, and fast - an impressive solo (his solos weren't bad, far from it, but he could've done so much more - I expected something along the lines of the Black & Gold one).

Last season Janette... "Oh, well, it's okay as long as Brandon wins." Yeah, right.

Were it not Mollee who was eliminated... it would've been the worst episode ever.

I even shed a tear or two at the end :| .

Margot said...

"Cat must be attracted to Russel on some level, because she's always making him look at her, asking if she smells nice, etc."
Who wouldn't be??? :D Lucky Russell... Don't forget demanding diamonds from him! Let's hope we get more Cat n Krump love tonight - I'll miss them on my TV :)