Monday, July 05, 2010

So You Think You Can Dance - Top Nine (7x10, 7x11)

Hip hop hasn't fared well in the last several seasons of SYTYCD to the point that you can mount an argument that hip hoppers have been effectively discouraged from even auditioning for the program. But this week, the style came back strong and had its in years, and I'd say that its resurgence did wonders for the fortunes of SYTYCD as well.

The style kicked off the week with an appropriately hot and fun number with Adechike and Misha Chan. Hot wasn't a problem for Adechike, nor Misha from certain angles, but the breakthrough came in the form of the fun as Dave Scott performed nothing short of a miracle to get Adechike to loosen up. Well done, Dave Scott.

I also have to hand it to Misha -- she's gotten a lot better at hip hop since she last performed it on the show -- but loathe as I am to credit her with anything, I'm going to chalk this one up to Adechike. Great groove, strong popping. And anything that gets Cat in glasses earns instant love.

Adechike's solo was magnificent, too -- tremendous power and control without extravagance or showiness. I don't think we see too much of that on the show anymore.

And then there's the other hip-hop routine. It was genuinely funny -- especially the bit where Twitch tried, unsuccessfully, to get the ballet out of Alex -- on top of being unexpectedly sick. (Like, aside from their parents, who knew that NappyTabs still had such quality in them?) My one complaint: I wish the number had way more housing in it, because Alex (and Twitch!) were destroying it like they were popping a subprime mortgage bubble.

And Alex's solo?
Boy can fly.

Those two routines were head and shoulders above the rest, though the injection of new choreographer blood also brought the fresh to the week's proceedings, Dee Caspray in particular. His dance for Who? and Ade was effortless and athletic and graceful and ethereal, enough so that I'm shrugging my shoulders (along with the rest of the SYTYCD institutional ideological apparatus) at Ashley's third straight contemporary routine (also the second week in a row with a Florence and the Machines tune).

Two further points of note on the routine: 1) this number was the first time I've ever liked Ade without reservation; 2) believe me, doing a one-legged Downward Facing Dog takes plenty of backbone.

Taking a moment from the dance to focus on the show's internal discourse, Nigel told Ashley that she was a whole new dancer this week -- but doesn't the quality of her performance also depend on the quality of the choreography? When she's dealt saccharine dross from Tasty Oreo one week, and then mediocre fluff from Travis the next, she's going to be limited by her material in most cases. Obviously, success on the show has always depended on, among many other things, the choreography, but this dependence has usually remained implicit, lurking beneath the acknowledged discourse. In its place, the judges reduce the elements of success to a handful of things that tend to promote the myth of individualism, that you fully control your own destiny as long as you want it hard enough and work it hard enough. This concept of individual self-determination is fine and dandy as long as you ignore all the contingent, temperamental, stylistic, and even physiological criteria that factor into dance. (Funny, of course, that a Brit is in charge of pushing this "individual ├╝ber alles" line.)

For example, the judges kept asking Melinda to show a vulnerable side, particular in her, um, tap solos, a style that conventionally doesn't express itself that way. In fact, tap may have skewed Melinda's own perceptions, because apparently, when the judges said to show more vulnerability, she thought they meant to show more tongue:

But getting back to the point at hand, which was about the ideological effects of...

Anyway, the above-mentioned routines being a solid three, I'd say this was the best week of SYTYCD in a good while, even if all the others bored me.

As someone else put much more succinctly about the matter of the judges admitting that they may have erred in keeping Melinda over Cristina, the judges shouldn't have treated Melinda so shabbily for their mistake.

As to the other point, that neither Melinda nor Cristina were going to be contenders to win, maybe so, but you'd think that they'd appreciate a fair and honest shake, much like England or the US would've appreciated in the recent World Cup brouhahas. (Insert additional rhetoric about "that's why we play the game.")

I could've sworn that at one point in the Broadway number that I saw Neil snap apart Lauren's shoulder strap on purpose.

Billy B. Whack returned this week, but, you know, in a completely different sense.

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He got Cat to do it, too.

And that wasn't the winning double-entendre of the evening, believe it or not (and continues a theme from last week). No, the winner was Cat searching for ways to praise Jose in the Samba: "I think it only helped having [Anya] around his waist." Cat's sudden randiness is probably due to Dominic's return, I bet.

Getting my mind out of the gutter/above the waist, I shall return to Billy's solo. We all knew that he is well capable of airy, beautiful elegance (which I'm sure by now he can fart out in his sleep), but who knew he could do funky? Not only funky, but I smelled a distinct superhero swagger off of his solo.

As much guff as Jose has been getting for all of his performances -- up to including a lot of his b-boying, in which he needs to improve his toprock, his transitions between power moves, and his power moves -- he hits some rather stunning freezes, which look like he borrowed from yoga:

I think it's fair to say that he might be better at yoga than b-boying, but all that said, out of all the b-boys/b-girls to have competed on SYTYCD, he is the one I'm least interested in defending.

The audience member who said she loved Robert needs better taste.

More yoga-spotting.

That looks like that one pose out of downward dog where you kick one leg to the sky and then flip over. As amazing as Robert's technique there looks, I'm not sure his alignment is correct.

Cat's making the move towards serious theatre:

Makeup department did Lauren no favors this week.

Anyone else think that when the lighting is just so, the stage looks like the inside of a Dalek?

The camera work hasn't been helpful this season (shape up, Nikki Parsons!), so we didn't get a shot of Adam's Hungry Jazz Face. Fortunately, he demonstrated it last season, and coupled with his warning to Kent:


momo said...

If they don't send Not Legacy home next week I will plotz.s

Emmaloo said...

Think we can get Wade to do a Dr. Who inspired dance to go with the stage? That would be the ultimate. Who would play the scarf? And thank you for the HJF from Adam!

Leee said...

I like the way you think. I'm not so keen on the scarf (though I figure Ashley could manage it), as I'd rather see a bow-tie, or perhaps a fez. Fezes are cool.