In a similar vein, the annual VEAGS installment expresses the program's moralism so nakedly -- whereas the viewers' morality comes to the fore during the competition portion of SYTYCD -- which is summed up in how a number of the male eliminations react to their cuts. We see Andre Rucker from Dragon House and Shafeek Westbrook (both of whom were among my favorites from their audition episodes) react poorly to the challenges of the choreographies, and then we're invited to compare them against Cyrus's relentless positivity. However, I find this comparison to be acutely unfair even as I wish that Andre and Shafeek handled their situations better; I figure that they had their egos bruised and shaken so badly that they both put up shields to protect themselves from being hurt by criticism, either by withdrawing to prevent further embarrassment or by lashing out (which is a basis for an institutional critique).
Even keeping these reservations in mind, I absolutely admire Cyrus's tenacity and optimism, and when he's about to dance for his life, talking to Cat about how the solo lets him be himself, I tear up a little when he says, "There's no better feeling than being myself." Part of the effect is because it jibes so beautifully with some our notions of artistry, and partly because of editing (we get a tight closeup of his eyes in all their slow motion intensity). And that's the power of editing: it can instill in us emotions that are roughly contrary to our rational thoughts.
To a less charged but no less manipulative end, we also see some post-production trickery in the montage of Twitch and Comfort during the hip-hop choreography round: they demonstrate and lead the dancers in two places, on the main stage and in the hotel atrium, and the montage keeps alternating between the two places back and forth, though unless we're very watchful, we don't get a sense of discontinuity (Eisenstein would be proud and appalled). Here's a rough illustration with screencaps that I took in chronological order (chronological according to aired episode):
(Even though they're the default hip-hop all-stars, I'm still tickled to see Twitch and Comfort in charge of the hip-hop choreography round -- a welcome relief from NappyTabs. I further wish we could've seen their entire choreography, in all of its groovy funk -- it almost goes without saying that I want to see Twitch and Comfort doing the dancing.)
A final example of manipulative editing that I notice involves
Despite their many failings, I have to credit the judges with, amazingly, their discrimination, especially with Rachel Applehans. Her solo has a powerful air of desperation that's easily mistaken for passion (she had me fooled), but the judges prove discerning enough to not be distracted by her schtick and call her out in plain terms for using SEXuality as a crutch or even replacement for dancing (it feels good to be making 30 Rock references again).
When bellydancers start performing to dubstep, you know you've got a genre that's reached its saturation point. You heard it here first: Dubstep is over.
Lil' C showing off the newest trend in hip-hop eyewear:
IMAX movie glasses.
I may have been prematurely dismissive of Amelia's '20s affectation, because she's gone so far as to have a turn-of-the-century bathing suit:
No scandalous bikini for her!
And while I'm on the subject of swimwear, in case anyone had been curious about what Eliana looks like in a bikini:
Poor Brandon Dumlao. He's never struck me as having whatever qualities that Nigel looks for, and I suspect the reason that he made it as Billy Bell's replacement in Season 6 was because he was available at short notice, and that he had and has no real chance of making it past the "green mile."
Cyrus is all over this episode. Here, he's comforting Chehon Wespi-Tschopp:
OK, so even though I consider predictions a mug's game, I'm calling the following people mortal locks to make the top 20, simply given the amount of airtime they've gotten (which means the editors have invested a lot of time developing their narratives):
- Dareian Kujawa
- Witney Carson and/or Lindsay Arnold -- I have a suspicion that the show won't pass up the chance to cast real-life BFFs who do the same style as part of a lame BALLROOM IS BACK promotion akin to the OMG THREE TAPPERS THIS YEAR I MEAN TWO OH WAIT WE'RE LEFT WITH JUST CONTEMPORARY DANCERS experiment from Season 6.
- Marshae Kidd (if he's still in the running) and/or Jasmine Mason
Whatever the case, if they're cut or if they make the show, the dancers already have their gang signs to fall back on:
HOOLIGANS, GET OFF MY LAWN.