SYTYCD 9.13-The All Star Slink

I completely forgot that the All Stars were coming.  I sat down ready to make the most of this, I have to say, relatively lackluster season (despite huge amounts of talent, and very little blame of which I would place on the dancers), and was so excited to hear Cat announce that the All Stars were here that I had to put down my plate to type this.

Intro Dance: The Cool World Stomp
Done as a tribute to Gene Kelly, in memoriam of his 100th birthday, which would have been tomorrow, it's a wonderful homage to an amazing dancer.  Is that Tyce dancing?!  It totally is.  It's difficult to not see Eliana as the star of this one, which is both good and bad. It means that the field has finally been narrowed down enough to notice which dancers are standing out in group numbers, it also means that some people might be getting more screen time than others, making the group numbers a little lopsided.  But that's not that big of a deal to me.  What's more important is that I think things will start to get interesting with the infusion of new All Star blood, it's like the dance version of True Blood.

Just for fun, entertain yourself with another amazing routine from Mr. Kelly:

Wait, did Cat say Cole is slightly injured?  Well, boo.

Our panel of judges seems to have been stepped up a bit tonight too.  Lining judges row alongside Nigel and Mary is Mr. Benjamin Millepied (aka Natalie Portman's husband and the choreographer of Black Swan).
He's got the recognition and the chops to back up this choice as judge, I just hope he comes in slightly more prepared than the BalletBoyz from last week, who, I think the most they had to offer was a potential job to Chehon.

Couple #1: Tiffany & (All Star) Brandon
Choreographer: Doriana Sanchez
Style: Disco
Theme: Studio 54 FUN! (I doubt the coke spoon ceiling decoration will make an appearance though)
Artist: Cobra Starship
Song: You Make Me Feel (Disco Fries Remix)

First things first, there are 11 lifts in this thing.  Presumably because Tiffany looks to weigh about 95 pounds soaking wet.  The second to last lift is basically a "Nobody puts Baby in the Corner" Dirty Dancing lift that's a total crowd pleaser.  When a routine is that power packed it's really difficult to pay attention to any technique issues, you're basically just thinking "oh, of course, Tiffany can make her feet touch her nose while being lifted and spun in the air".  It was a routine that was all about the tricks and they got through them with as much energy as you can when you're more than likely unable to breathe.  Nigel thinks Tiffany was "sensational"; Mary says Tiffany "set the dance floor on fire"; Benjamin liked the energy and thinks that Tiffany has a very expressive face.  He sounds more with it, so I'm hopeful about his constructive criticism.

Couple #2: Whitney & (All Star) Nick Lazzarini
Choreographer: Travis Wall
Style: Jazz
Theme: They're ghosts who, well, haven't given up the ghost of performing
Artist: Moloko
Song: Sing It Back

I love Travis' choreography.  The percussion of the song is so perfectly punctuated by staccato poses and the emphasis works so well.  Whitney does really well, or so say I.  Benjamin talks about release and tension and thinks it was great fun to watch; Nigel thinks that Whitney lived up up to her all star partnering; Mary uses a pun on her own name "Lord have Murphy" before saying that Whitney was "smoldering".

Couple #3: Cole & (All Star) Anya
Choreographer: Dmitry Chaplin
Style: Cha Cha
Theme: Whatever a Cha Cha is, a little sexy, a lot of hips
Artist: The Wanted
Song: Glad You Came 

Well Cole's costume includes an open shirt, so that's a beginning.   I feel like with Cole's natural speed, the Cha Cha is a really good fit for him. I thought it looked pretty good.  Mary says that Cole's got to apply more pressure to his feet and that the chemistry wasn't there for her; Benjamin thought the performance was great, but that Cole needs to think more about movement quality; Nigel also thought the chemistry was off and that Cole was performing more to the judges than to Anya.  Everyone loves Anya.

Couple #4: Lindsay & (All Star) Jakob (I had to download this song as soon as I saw this audition that season, still a trusted ally on my ipod, so thanks Jakob!)
Choreographer: Spencer Liff
Style: Broadway
Theme: Your Shadow Imagination comes to Life
Artist: Fosse soundtrack
Song: Dancin' Dan (Me & My Shadow)

Well, it's Fosse, so of course there are hats and a cheeky slink factor.  Lindsay and Jakob's unison is pretty impressive I think.  There's a lot of really breezy, fun choreography and the level of the dancing is impressive too, as it should be.  Nigel misses Jakob's feet, not in a fetishistic way, at least I don't think so, but just in his neatness and precision.  Mary thinks that that the synchronization was fabulous (told ya!); Benjamin thinks it was "incredibly musical" and loved the "crescendo" of the performance.

Couple #5: Will & (All Star) Kathryn (YAY!)
Choreographer: Nakul Dev Mahajan
Style: Bollywood
Theme: Will has to charm his snake (whatever you infer from that is your own doing)
Artist: The Dirty Picture (soundtrack)
Song: Ooh La La

Will has great speed for a guy as tall as him. His face was a little too expressive for me like "Hey Ma, look, I'm DANCIIING", just a little out of the style, but for a style that's about speed and precision, the two of them look really great I think.  I've always thought Kathryn was a pretty flawless dancer though so I might be a bit biased. Mary goes on for a bit about Kathryn and then mentions Will's "beautiful ronde", and she's right, the re-play is impressive.  Benjamin thinks that Will has a really unique personal style that he enjoys.  Nigel says "there are times I just want to tell you to calm down" but then he thinks better of it, so apparently my issues with Will's expressions are not shared.

Couple #6: Cyrus & (All Star) Jaime
Choreographer: Travis Wall
Style: Contemporary
Theme: It's the End of the World as We Know it, but Cyrus might feel fine
Artist: M83
Song: Outro

I'll say this before I watch it, I'm a bit nervous, but then again, the fact that Travis has said "he's never done ANYTHING like this" might be a clue that all will be fine, so let's see.  Oh!  This is the song from the Cloud Atlas trailer that I searched for for like 4 hours and couldn't find until someone kindly left me a comment about it.  Well, now I'll never forget it.  I wish that the beginning had been lit differently.  I mean, the carrying her out part is effective with the backlighting, but when they start to actually dance, I wish I could have seen more than shadows.  Maybe in the studio it looked different. Most of the hard work falls on Jaime, I think, although Cyrus does seem to feel the music really well and use that to his advantage.  It's a lot of lifts and not a ton of choreographed moves.  Benjamin likes Cyrus' "raw energy"; Nigel brings up the fact that people sent letters (really, did they?) about 'why would you take Cyrus who can only dance one way' and he assures Cyrus that he believes he's someone who "has to dance"; Mary thinks that the transitions in lifts were amazing.  The overriding feeling is that his technique isn't great, but his passion is infectious.  I have a sneaking feeling though that if Cole performed some of those leaps like that, they're tune would be slightly different.  I realize they're different dancers, and I really like Cyrus, but this is the Top 10, so EVERYTHING has to be taken in to account and the bar raised.

Couple #7: Chehon & (All Star) Lauren
Choreographer: Dave Scott
Style: Hip Hop
Theme: You've Got A Friend In Me
Artist: Maxwell
Song: Pretty Wings

I mean it's a really lyrical song, so there aren't a lot of really hard hitting hip hop moves, and it's more geared towards Chehon's balletic nature.  I still think there were too many smooth moves with not great isolations, and something that didn't feel entirely natural in his performance.  Nigel brings up again that Chehon should be in a professional company, by basically pimping him out to Benjamin, all right after he tells him that it was a warmer performance; Mary finally addresses the elephant in the room that it really wasn't quite hipping or hopping enough; Benjamin thought the performance felt "spontaneous" and that Chehon is very "charismatic".

Couple #8: George & (All Star) Allison
Choreographer: Tyce Diorio
Style: Jazz
Theme: One Night In Paris
Artist: Hazmat Modine
Song: Bahamut

First let me say that I find it a potential safety hazard, perhaps even downright dangerous, to have Allison dancing in heels and George barefoot.  I'm just worried for him, that's all.  Well I referred to the Fosse dance as slinky, Mary referred to Chehon's hip hop routine as slinky, and now, I hope we can all agree that this is also a routine full of slink.  George's ronde de jamb turn as he sinks (slinks?) to the floor is an impressive feat of core strength that looks deceptively easy. I just always think that George has the perfect performance balance, not too much character, not too much technique.  He's just so natural.  Mary makes a comment about Nigel's winkingly pervy nature and Nigel just creepily laughs it off.  She thinks it was a lot of fun; Benjamin thinks George is an "amazing mover" and he's "totally a fan" of George's; Nigel thinks George's technique is tremendous but he didn't think that George put enough raunch into it apparently.  We'll agree to disagree Nigel.

Couple #9: Eliana & (All Star) Alex Wong
Choreographer: Stacey Tookey
Style: Contemporary
Theme: Relationships are hard and filled with strife... and angsty dancing if you're lucky
Artist: Bang, Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down)
Song: Nancy Sinatra

My first instinct is "I have to watch Kill Bill again, even though I just watched it this weekend". I forgot how amazing Alex is and Eliana's lines in this piece are amazing.  I'm not sure if she dirtied it up enough for Stacey Tookey, but it's an entrancing performance with a hypnotic song choice.  This has been a good night for Eliana, between this performance and the opening number which featured her prominently.  The routine gets a standing ovation, despite the fact that Mr. Millepied seems uncertain about committing to it.  Nigel declares that Eliana is his favorite; Mary shouts "the hair went up on my arms you guys, it was by far my favorite routine of the night"; Benjamin comments on the song too (I definitely trust him now) and their passion.

And because you know you can't thing of Alex and Twitch without thinking about this routine, just go ahead and click HERE to watch it, you know you want to!!

Couple #10: Audrey & (All Star) Twitch
Choreographer: Dave Scott
Style: Hip Hop
Theme: Immortal couple with their ups and downs
Artist: Janelle Monae
Song: Sincerely Jane

It's so hyper-stylized that it could all go wrong very quickly.  It could have ended up a lot sillier than it did.  I thought Audrey was awesome.  It reminded me of when Lauren did hip hop, it was similarly surprisingly great.  I think her attempt was much better than Chehon's and if that's not reflected in the judges' panel, I'll be upset.  This was a much more difficult routine, at least it seemed so to me.  Benjamin thought that Audrey did well but he wanted more from her.  Mary notes that Audrey demanded her attention and liked her "sit down and get down"; Nigel just restates Benjamin's point and goes on to pimp the Step Up movies again.

We hardly get a breath before going in to the results portion of the show.  I feel like I have emotional whiplash.







Solo Songs:
Whitney: You'll Find a Way- Santigold
Audrey: And I am Telling You-Jennifer Holiday
Cheon: Til Enda- Olafur Arnalds
George: Brotsjor - Olafur Arnalds

If the judges are walking the walk and talking the talk about showing passion, then Audrey and George should win this showdown.

The LA Dance Project dances to Trio by Nico Muhly

The judges SAVE
Whitney (which I have to say, I'm a little baffled by)
Chehon (which I'm more than a little baffled by)

Personal Performances Rank (PPR):

1.Eliana & Alex-Bang, Bang
2. Lindsay & Jakob-Fosse Style
3. Will & Katherine's-Bollywood Charm School
4. George & Allison's -Parisian Escapade
5. Whitney & Nick's-Ghost Town
6. Audrey & Twitch's-Coffin Dancin'
7. Tiffany & Brandon's-Studio 54 Homage
8. Cyrus & Jaimie's-End of the World
9. Cole & Anya's -Cha Cha
10. Cheon & Lauren's -Hip Hop Friend Drop

I'm getting more disappointed with this season, the longer it goes on, I'm not sure exactly why, but it seems like the judges are determined to go against my wishes, so I could just be taking it personally.  Am I crazy?  Is there something I'm missing?  Let me know if I'm completely daft or if this season has a hitch in its giddyup.


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