Monday, May 27, 2013

So You Think You Can Dance - 10x03 "Auditions #3"

Actually that's LA, which is of course a topsy-turvy world where people where hats on their feet and hamburgers eat people and chickens terrify cats.

After a mere 10 seasons, I've finally developed the ability to tell what style a dancer is going to perform simply by how they're dressed. For example, booty shorts? Especially with a midriff-baring top and bare feet?


Flared men's pants with a shiny stripe down both legs, a deep v-neck shirt, and an insanely smoldering woman?

Latin ballroom.

Casual, everyday, loose pants/tops?

Hip hop.



These shorts?


Seriously though, it's interesting to see the sartorial distinction between contemporary- or jazz-wear and ballet-wear for women. Both strive to show off the dancer's leg-lines, but the former invariably has a booty short-bare midriff combo, while the latter is often more demure and covered up, for instance:

PS -- Kentucky Firebird Chicken.

Alex Kessinger
In terms of artistry, her rictal smile suggests like that she might be a more athletic Caitlynn Lawson, though her flirting (the winks and bum-waggling and such), shallow as it is, does point towards some emotional depth.

Sebastian Serra

Emilio Dosal
He's in i.aM.mE, AKA Phillip Chbeeb's ABDC season 6–winning crew, but I don't remember him during their run at all. Mental checklist: ChBBC himself, young blond Chachi, Moon the Chinese guy who needs subtitles, Jaja the redheaded Czech, and that's it. Apparently they have a black dude too! I blame Iconic Boyz for making me put a mental block on that entire season. Anyway, Emilio isn't as tight in his audition as he is here.

Jasmine Mason

Nice to see the return of Jeanine and Alexis's long-lost sister.

Misha Smagin & Mariia Lebedeva
As usual, I remain unmoved by a cha-cha, but good heavens, Mariia is smoking. The audience applause during the audition sounded strangely canned, though -- edited in after the fact to make the couple look more fiery?

Makenzie Dustman and Hayley Erbert
I'm listing them together because they seem to be a step up from the usual contemporary girls the show gets (e.g. Alex Kessinger). Makenzie gets kudos from Nigel for performing "contemporary classical," and as potentially reactionary as the classical part can be, it absolutely beats listening to another overly earnest singing ovary. Which, of course, is what Hayley performs to, but she shows off her physical strength and control well enough to render my reservations moot.

Donovan Gibbs
Donovan pulls out some impressive moves -- love the Lil Buck–style slow-motion pirouette on sneaker pointe -- but he gets a little sloppy at times (e.g. his isolations), which suggests to me that he's not done developing physically yet. Mr. Gibbs, on the other hand, rips the stage apart, and it's a good thing that during their battle, Donovan breaks out the ballet because he isn't going to be able to compete with the bombs that Dad drops any time soon. The disparity brings to mind a quip from another age and another place: Dad taught everything Donovan knows, but not everything that Dad knows.

I do appreciate the mention of the blowback from the financial crisis, since too often the show tiptoes around real life to offer sanitized versions of reality that are positioned as grist for Disneyesque stories. My issue here is that they give too much agency to individuals, whereas in my estimation, the directions of our lives is as much influenced by ourselves as it is by a host of contingent factors, and if self-styled Masters of the Universe choose to throw caution to the wind and end up causing convulsive damage to global markets, there's not a whole lot that regular people can do. We are, in the end, at the whims of institutions far larger than us, and the first step to redressing inequities is to recognize the asymmetry of power, and of which the inclusion of the financial difficulties of the Gibbses is a welcome reminder.

Shane Garcia
The judges verge on committing their favorite sin -- belittling hip hop because it's not transmitted through a formalized pedagogical system -- when Mary says, "I find it so fascinating, because, I was telling her [Minnie Driver], I'm one of those people who had to have a million lessons." Then Minnie swoops in with a beautiful corrective: "You stood in your room, and you did that. That you taught yourself that is a great testament to you as a teacher and a student." Leave it to a celebrity guest judge, usually the most useless carbon-based lifeform on the panel, to point out that top hip hoppers require tens of thousands of hours of work to master their craft, whether they hone their practice in private or out testing their mettle in ciphers. And if you don't consider that training, then there are deeper class issues at play, because for a kid to take on the role of teacher while also being the student is no less an accomplishment than testing out of a studio system.

All kinds of Minnie Driver Saving the Judges From Themselves this episode, I wouldn't mind her coming back at all.

In a narrower context, Shane isn't bad at all, though hardly the best popper we've seen thus far (Fik-Shun has staked a position so high I don't think anyone's going to come close to matching him). Still, I'm heartened to see Shane acquit himself well during the choreography, so that for at least a little longer he can be more than an Inspiration For Those Of Us At Home and can continue to have the chance to be a multidimensional human, where the development of a person's identity is decidedly not comprised of discrete epiphanic moments -- in front of an audience of hundreds/thousands/millions -- after which nothing will remain the same, but rather a fitful series of struggles and false starts.

Or is that TMI?

Daniela Bustillos
"If it wasn't for my mom, I wouldn't be here." Hard to argue with that!

Nick Muckleroy
He could use some time in the weight room.

Of course, the comparisons to Brandon Bryant are inevitable when someone with such a physique performs feats of tremendous strength, though where BB's solos bend power towards bombast, Nick is far more subdued and brooding, though no less spectacular.

Also instructive is that Minnie Driver's idea of power-voting is calling 10 times. That must be her British restraint showing.

On a completely musical tangent, got to love someone who performs to Zoe Keating (whose "Legions" and "Sun Will Set" are particularly noteworthy). Colleen's Les Ondes Silencieuses mines the same vein of Keating's cello loops, though she opts for the viol de gamba, a "Renaissance period proto-cello," instead. (Colleen also has a new album out.) The solo work of Joan Jeanrenaud, onetime cellist for the Kronos Quartet, is worth checking out, too. Sorry, by the way, for the lol Myspace link, but Jeanrenaud oddly doesn't have a significant Internet/Youtube presence. Here, though, is her piece "Kaleidoscope", which, while not IMO the best track on Strange Toys, shares the same plucked vibe as Keating's "We Insist".

Mariah Spears
I'm not sure I get the enduring fascination people have with her -- I mean, outside of the obvious "blond girl krumping" angle. I understand that's a hell of an angle, but looking at it from that perspective, I don't see how special she is as a krumper, or even a white-girl krumper.

Hampton Williams, Darlesha Goggans, and spawn
Someone should tell Hampton that there's more to white people music than Evanescence. Like, I know for a fact that they have more than one song. But now for some real talk: Lil Exorcist is SO CUTE, she makes me want to have a uterus.

One note of worry: Hampton's daughter getting a ticket to Vegas gave me mute unease, I think because in the back of my mind I remembered how farcical ABDC became when it started letting actual kids compete on the show (hence my Iconic Boyz crack above). A brief timeline: ABDC removed or severely lowered its age minimum starting with season 6, and two seasons later, it was cancelled -- not a coincidence, in my mind. I don't think that SYTYCD is that desperate to stunt-cast in such a manner yet, so I'll continue to squee at the fistful of four-year-olds and wonder how he do that, but if they keep putting the munchkins on camera, I'll be sharing Nigel's expression here when confronted with young Cyrus-inspired Anthony:

Going back to Hampton, considering how well he performed in VEAGS last year, I wonder if Nigel deferred his casting on the live show for a year so that he and Cyrus weren't on at the same time. [Ed. Per anonymous, I mixed up the horror-themed animators who auditioned in Dallas last year, to my everlasting shame.]

Is it just me or are there more people coming to audition in pointe shoes this season?

Call it the Eliana Effect -- and I'm not complaining at all! More ballet is never a bad thing! Unless it's boring Balanchine abstraction. #challengingopinion

If Michael Stipe were a young hipster.

Chicken girl photobomb. Hen's everywhere.


Anonymous said...

"Going back to Hampton, considering how well he performed in VEAGS last year, I wonder if Nigel deferred his casting on the live show for a year so that he and Cyrus weren't on at the same time."

Are you sure you are remembering things correctly? Didn't exorcist guy quit as soon as he was asked to do choreography last year in vegas?

Leee said...

Anon, you're absolutely right, I completely misremembered!