SYTYCD 9.9- Smitten Kittens & Cat Daddios

Welcome, finally, to the first dance-your-pants-off or leave episode of the season!  We've made it past the auditions and those traumatic make it or break it moments that are requisites of making the Top 20, and it should be all beautiful gliding and unbelievable arabesques as we make our way to our final destination; in other words, all aboard the Hot Tamale train, it's about to get real.  Everybody's been getting so close, I'm sure, telling each other "no YOU should win" when they're really thinking "if you actually win I'll go Tanya Harding on you so fast you won't see Jeff Gilooly coming".  Sorry, that was just the competitive spirit in me trying to claw its way out.  I'm sure all of our Top 20 are far too classy to even have a thought like that rush through their minds.  However, it is the night where we find out which partnerships have a good chance of making it, who chose poorly, and let the debating begin on the topic of who SHOULD have partnered with who.  So if you're not yet blinded by Cat's glittering, golden sheath, let's get started, shall we.

First up, is a group number.  I love the intricacy and the Mad Men vibe of the whole thing.  It reminds me of what would happen if The Matrix and Inception had a baby that then fell in love with Step Up.  Oh it makes sense, it was choreographed by Christopher Scott.
Artist & Song: Kerry Muzzey-Architect of the Mind

Kenny Ortega (Mr. Dirty Dancing if you're nasty...or just nostalgic like me) is joining Mary and Nigel at the judges table.  Well, apparently next week 2 guys and 2 gals are schlumping home, dependent, of course, upon whom America loves the most.  The good and bad news is that usually America is more accurate in their dancing decisions than they are in their political votes.

Couple #1: Chehon & Whitney
Style: Samba
Choreographer: Louis Van Amstel
Artist & Song: The Cube Guys & Luciana- Jump

It's at least slightly underwhelming for me.  I couldn't get past the feeling that it was a Samba on the easy-mid level.  Everyone goes equally easy on Chehon, and basically acknowledges, without rubbing it in that Whitney was the one carrying that routine.

Couple #2: Tiffany & George
Style: Contemporary
Choreographer: Sonya Tayeh
Artist & Song: Sleeping At Last- Turning Page

It's a love story.  My opinion of the song was a bit tarnished as soon as I read that it was in Breaking Dawn, but I'm just a hipster like that.  It's still a nice song, I just wish I could un-know that, but like all things Twilight, there's no going back once you're aware of it.  Anyway, the dance is an overabundance of awesome.  It gets an instant rewind.  The speedy backwards lift about a third of the way through is just incredible as is Tiffany's assisted handstand.  There are moments when it almost feels so organic that you think there's no way it could have been choreographed.  And that's why Ms. Tayeh is so gifted.

Y'all should know that Travis Wall is going to have his own show on Oxygen.

Couple #3: Janaya & Brandon
Style: Hip Hop
Choreographer: Napoleon & Tabitha
Artist & Song: Drake f/Rhianna-Take Care

Whoa guys, this is a serious one.  Whenever addiction is brought in to a dance, I'm leery.  It's such an incredibly difficult subject to broach, although the extreme emotion of it usually does lend itself well to an expressive endeavor like dance.  Sometimes it can be downright amazing, like Kayla and Kupono's Mia Michael's Gravity routine.  But that was contemporary and contemporary is a completely different beast from hip hop.  I'm already feeling like the deck is slightly stacked against this partnership.  I actually think they have really good chemistry as a couple and they're both above average in this genre, so it worked better for me than Chehon and Whitney, but didn't quite reach the bar of Tiffany & George for the evening so far.  I feel like Nigel is a bit unfair in his judgement.

Couple #4: Alexa & Daniel 
Style: Jazz
Choreographer: Sean Cheesman
Artist & Song: Dennis Ferrer- Hey, Hey 

I guess this is Power Couple #2...there's no way these guys were paired by random picking out of a hat.  We're warned that things can go very wrong, which always means that the routine will be amazing.  The IT couple also gets the uber prop of scaffolding and some sweet lighting.  I'm thrown off by Daniel's 3-piece suit.  Well, if you didn't like that routine then you're just intentionally forming an opposite reaction to all the SYTYCD push to like these guys.  Then you're just that person who says they hate Titanic when in a group of people who love Titanic and then go home and cry your eyes out while listening to My Heart Will Go On.  It's ok, I forgive you for being a hypocrite. More than once I've been known to help Beelzebub prove his point pro-bono.  The judges are a little rough, but just remember, that just gets more votes in.

Couple #5: Amber & Nick
Style: Viennese Waltz
Choreographer: Jason Gilkison

I really like Amber and I'm really uncertain of Nick, so this is a lopsided partnership for me.  The practice video seems to corroborate that statement, or maybe I'm just playing right into their hands, in which case, well played Producers & Editors!  I swear "Tina Arena" sounds like a name right out of Baz Luhrman's "Strictly Ballroom" which if you haven't seen, go watch, immediately.  Yes, right now.
Kenny Ortega will apparently need oxygen during the commercial breaks because he's breathless again.

Couple #6: Amelia & Will
Style: Hip Hop
Choreographer: Napoleon & Tabitha
Artist & Song: The Cure- The Lovecats

Oh no, it's a character dance, and they're cats.  Don't tell me that you didn't just have a flashback to riding in the back of your parents minivan, wearing your hyper color shirt, and listening to your Walkman blare "Opposites Attract".  I will only be able to picture Will as MC Skat Kat...sorry Will:

The actual dance is more Fosse than Flo-Rida, with just enough vamp so that Amelia feels right at home.  It's fun and Will is a strong partner, but I worry about the cartoonish nature of the dance, none of which is either of the dancers' fault, both of whom dance it to their full potential.  Mary, of course, drops a "Puuurrrrfeccct" as her critique, so the judges endorse it.

Couple #7: Janelle & Dareian
Style: African Jazz
Choreographer: Sean Cheesman
Artist & Song: Highlight Tribe- Jungle

I always feel so bad for the couple that gets this style.  It never seems to feel natural to any of the dancers.  Holy crap, these guys are good.  I really don't think there's another couple that could have pulled that routine off.  The athleticism required and the acrobatic nature of the piece might only be undervalued because they made it look so easy.

Couple #8: Eliana & Cyrus
Style: Broadway
Choreographer: Tyce Diorio
Artist & Song: Hairspray (sdtk) -Run & Tell That 

I'm nervous too Tyce. But, to give credit to Tyce, he picked a great, fun song and worked perfectly around Cyrus' inexperience.  To give credit to Cyrus, he doesn't look that inexperienced and acquits himself quite nicely.

Couple #9: Audrey & Matthew
Style: Contemporary
Choreographer: Travis Wall
Artist & Song: The Righteous Brothers- Unchained Melody

They're on the Titanic guys.  I had no idea when I made my first Titanic comment earlier this evening that there was any way that this would be brought up.  Now I feel unoriginal. Let me wallow while I watch this routine.  Audrey is a rag doll, and then for a weird moment she's Ariel at the end of "Part of Your World".  The musicality is there, the chemistry is there and what's not to love about a routine where people roll around on a couch?!  The fact that Matt looks like a skinny Ryan Gosling is a bonus. First judges standing ovation of the evening.

Couple #10: Lindsay & Cole
Style: Paso Doble
Choreographer: Jason Gilkison
Artist & Song: E.S. Posthumus-Unstoppable

If you're wondering where you might have heard it before, apparently it passed the brash and brasstastic Guy Ritchie test, he used it in the Sherlock Holmes trailer.  Apparently Lindsay's a poisonous snake and Cole's fighting her off.  They get the second standing ovation.  I give a bunch of credit to the song choice, and they executed the moves in a pretty fantastic way.  I think the strength of these two is that they're both performers, not just dancers.

As of now, it's quite late and I'm too tired to do more than my rankings, but by all means if you watch, chime in with your opinions.  After tonight's performances, as couples this is my ranking in which you should Youtube the performances as soon as they're available:

1. Audrey & Matthew
2. Lindsay & Cole
3. Tiffany & George
4. Alexa & Daniel
5. Janelle & Dareian
6. Eliana & Cyrus
7. Amelia & Will
8. Janaya & Brandon
9. Amber & Nick
10. Chehon & Whitney


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