You think that the spate of season-ending injuries is karmic retribution for carrying 11 dancers instead of the much-touted 10 going into the competition phase of the show?
But wouldn't you know it? The second I start to question the season, it comes back hard with some hot quality.
I initially disliked the All-Stars hanging around onstage during the critiques, but sometimes they actually offer insights or interesting perspectives (that is, when they're not busy defending their contestant partners), which is what happened when Anya mentioned the connection problems in her salsa with Adechike and vouched for its authentic competition-style choreography. Every little peek into the elements of professional dance is fascinating.
While on the subject of the salsa, Shankman was right to point out how hard it was, and sadly, Adechike showed how hard it was: the lifts were strained, he looked stiff, some of the connections were missed rather visibily. But even with these shortcomings, the routine wasn't a disaster at all. In terms of quality, it was middle-of-the-road, but Adechike deserves credit for it simply because of its difficulty. (Interestingly enough, this week I watched a salsa that was stupendously tricked out -- without a single lift -- and it was awesome, enough so to make me reconsider my No Salsa stance.)
Lauren and Billy's shoe dance is my favorite routine of Mandy's (the first time I honestly liked something of hers) because of disarmingly cute it is. Between the two dancers, I found Lauren to have performed better than Billy because her footwork looked exceptionally precise without ever coming off as overly rehearsed. But on the whole, a great job from all involved.
Travis' number for Robert and Allison was quite good (the Mr. And Mrs. Smith rip is still my undisputed favorite work of his), though I wish Robert and Allison had better sync, because the performance would've been that much more impressive. As it stands, it's merely memorable (I am constitutionally resistant to routines that are explicitly emotionally connected to real-life events, which to me tend to rest too much on emotion rather than better-structured performance, but that's just me).
That said, I had the sense that Travis was playing directly towards the judges and their approval, because the end of the routine with Robert walking for Allison -- the single most novel thing Travis has done, for what it's worth -- happens right in front of the judges, like he really wanted to make sure that they saw his shiny new toy and could thus approve of him.
And Coldplay? I'm revoking your music geek cred, Travis Wall.
As much as it pains me to say it, the Gump from Yoknapatawpha had his best night on the show, even if he had the sad distinction of being the first person in the non-adorable-b-girl division to make Neil look great. (Nb. Tasty's baseball Broadway simply wasn't authentic for me, as it completely lacked any butt-slapping.)
(The beauty thing is that it works for either of them.)
But I have to admit Kent was stellar in the contemporary with Adechike, who was great but just didn't have the little bugger's airy grace -- like, I had a hard time pulling my attention away from the quality of Kent's wrists.
As the performance show's end credits were playing, Adechike and Lauren were doing the Worm, and for that, the two of them have shot up to the top as my favorites. (Either I am easy to please, or this is a referendum on the season.)
My reaction on hearing that we were going to get the first pure b-boy routine:
And my reaction on hearing that TappyNabs were choreographing:
Even if NappyTabs have built their straight hip-hop cred through their work on ABDC -- and I have to say, they do some fine group routines on that program -- I have to question the wisdom of installing a storyline into the first SYTYCD breaking number to make the competition rather than going with an all-out b-boy battle. Having a narrative for a b-boy number shamelessly hems in a lot of the style's vitality and saps it of its spur-of-the-now braggadocio, and makes it less invigorating as it's transformed into a hip-hop number with some breaking in it. That's not to say that b-boying can't be choreographed -- it can be intricately mapped out and set up and still burst at the seams with spontaneity and energy. Even so, I would've rather seen Teresa Espinosa (whom I believe choreographed most of the Beat Freaks' dances on ABDC) in charge of this number, which in the end is a marginal disappointment, and not just on account of Jose's modest abilities.
Something that needs to be pointed out is how tight this cast seems to be. While dancers from every season bond with each other, I think that Season 7's kids all have personalities that mesh perfectly, which is most evident by the way Kent and Adechike were horsing around during their contemporary rehearsals and during their contemporary critiques -- very endearing and charming.
Really? Billy never header the term "sex bomb" before? For those who don't know, it's like "soy bomb," but with sex.
You know, I really hate it when kids a third of my age are a million times better than me at something. The one thing I can hold over either of them is that I've never worn makeup as garish as the little girl's. Anyway, time for some interactive stylee, since this is the internets and all (make sure you click on the picture for the higher resolution):
I spot six. See if you can beat that. (Highlight for the answers.)
1. Little girl's leather pants.
2. Little girl's hairy scrunchy.
3. Little girl's ripped top.
4. Little boy's radical leather jacket.
5. Cat and little boy's Top Gun/Karate Kid cowabunga high-five.
6. The Ghost of Mandy Moore.
To any white people who may have stumbled upon this blog: Avert your eyes! Hooligans and thugs ahead flashing gang signs!
Wha' happened? Wasn't it just a couple weeks ago that he was kind of hot? That's ok, though, because Liz Lira is seriously smoking.
RIGHT BACK ATCHOO, BEAUTIFUL. YOU CAN CHOREOGRAPH ANOTHER SALSA ROUTINE ANY TIME YOU LIKE, IF YOU KNOW WHAT I MEAN.