Thursday, August 30, 2012

MercerMZ's Review (with all the videos) of So You Think You Can Dance's Top 8 Show.

So last week, with the arrival of the All-Stars to change things up, I decided to change up the format of these reviews. After the group routine, I will review the performances from the girls (in alphabetical order) and proceed to the performances for the guys. I'll also have a short paragraph giving my thoughts on each dancer and their journey in the competition. It should make things more interesting. Onto the performances:

Group Routine
- Contemporary - Newcomer Peter Chu choreographed this Chinese themed piece for our Top 8 dancers. It was certainly an interesting piece visually, since the dancers framed at an angle from the front of the stage. And honestly, much of the partnering was executed well and in sync among the dancers. While I can't say this was as exciting as some of the earlier pieces in the season, this definitely fit among them from a visual image alone. I'd be interested to see if Mr. Chu will continue to choreograph for the show.
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Eliana (with Ryan) - Quickstep - This season's lone Ballet girl takes on the most difficult and dangerous style of Ballroom dancing the show has seen: the Quickstep. Here, in this routine choreographed by Jonathan Roberts (of ABC's Dancing With the Stars), Eliana plays a bored and lonely housewife who wants to be with her husband, but when he comes home and continues to ignore her, the gloves come off... so to speak. This routine contains all the traditional elements of a quickstep: fast footwork, close partnering sections, and a pretty good use of the whole stage. There was also a very impressive lift mixed in towards the end. The judges liked the routine, and praised Eliana for her ability to adapt to all the styles given to her.

There's a reason why Quickstep is also known as "the Kiss of Death" on this show: because from Season 3 and onward, dancers who gave an average or below performance in this style typically found themselves leaving that week. However, there were a few exceptions here and there where the dancers were safe, and given Eliana and Ryan's performance tonight, she'll have no problem staying. They both danced through the steps seamlessly and played off of each other very well. In fact, the lift mentioned above was one of the highlights of the night.

Eliana is the strongest girl in the competition by a clear mile in my eyes. Not only has she been able to pick up and performance a number of different styles effortlessly, but her ability to find chemistry with her partners has allowed her to deliver strong performances every single week. At this point, she has most certainly deserved a spot in the Finale.
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Lindsay (with Alex) - Jazz - Our first of two Latin Ballroom dancers takes on her first Jazz number, choreographed by Sonya Tayeh. The routine is an emotionally based piece about two people who have a bit of sexual tension between one another. The routine itself more emotion based than just a technical showcase or story-driven, so the routine largely relies on the chemistry between the two dancers. The judges felt that the dancers danced it very well, but they couldn't connect to the piece and felt no chemistry between the dancers.

In a way, I see what the judges mean. If we're talking about a routine where two people feel some kind of tension with one another, it's important that the audience feels that tension, and I didn't really get that from these two. Granted, I wouldn't say this is a weak performance; on the contrary, this was one of the best-danced pieces of the night, but I didn't really see a connection between Lindsay and Alex, which was crucial for this piece.

Lindsay's had a bit of a bumpy journey in her time on the show. While she's delivered some really great performances, she's also given 1 or 2 that were not so good. In fact, I thought she had the weakest performance from the girls in Week 2. With a routine like her Broadway piece from last week, it was nice to see how diverse she is and how well she's performing her routines, but I'm not sure if she's doing much else to stand out. It would take perfection in all her routines from here on out if she wants to be in the Finale.
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Tiffany (with Ade) - Contemporary - Jazz meets Contemporary to perform a romantic piece choreographed by Mandy Moore. In what has to be the simplest explanation for a piece yet, it strictly a piece inspired by Celine Dion's "The Power of Love".... Hey, don't blame me, that's all I can tell you. Okay, not true; I can tell you that the judges gave this piece a standing ovation, with Mary saying this was Tiffany's best performance all season.

I suppose it's just me, but I don't like this piece as much as I want to. Don't get me wrong, it was really good, but compared to many of the other routines in the night, it didn't quite lift me out of my seat like it was hoping too. I'll put it like this, I thought Tiffany's 1st Contemporary routine from Week 1 was much more engaging. Still, the dancing was effortless and both dancers looked like they were in love with this piece from beginning to end. We can chalk this up to yet another solid performance for Tiffany.

And speaking of Tiffany, if there was any dancer who truly deserved the title of "underdog", it would be her. For her to get absolutely no airtime in the Auditions/Vegas Week and to never ONCE give a bad performance or reach the Bottom, I must stand and applaud her. She has most certainly earned her spot in the Top 8 and is a strong contender to be in the Finale. Click here to watch (embedding was disabled on this)
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Witney (with Twitch) - Hip Hop - Our second of two shining Latin Ballroom dancers takes on her first Hip Hop routine of the season, choreographed by SYTYCD Canada veteran, Luther Brown. Rather than attempt to explain his style, here's a quick summary of how his work can be described: "Conglomerate", "Lil Freak" & "Hands Where My Eyes Could See" (the first features Kim Gingras of Blueprint Cru (ABDC S5) and the latter two feature Janick Arseneau of Irratik (ABDC S7)). Essentially, Luther's style is exactly what many fans of the US seasons have been begging for. And this routine is no different, as Luther and Twitch attempting to make Witney more "ratchet" (which I'm assuming has the same meaning as gangsta). All of the judges loved it, and praised Witney for being able to pick up the style so well.

If Shane Sparks can't come back to choreograph for the show, then I welcome Luther Brown with open arms, especially if he's gonna continue to bring this kind of work to the show. In a season where Hip Hop has been primarily lyrical and story-based, it's nice to see a piece more about attitude and style. I mean Twitch looked like he was really enjoying himself up there. As for Witney, she definitely got the attitude down, though I thought at times she could've loosened up a bit more. Still, I'm impressed at how well she picked up the style. This was definitely among the best Hip Hop routines this season.

For me, Witney is peaking at this point. She was under my radar the first few weeks, but starting with The Bench redux, I've been enjoying everything she's done. Her routine last week with Nick was among my 5 favorites and I definitely enjoyed seeing her solo, so for me, her place among the Top 8 is rightfully deserved. If she keeps peaking and performing the way she is now, she could potentially make it into the Finale.
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Chehon (with Anya) - Argentine Tango - For this week, Chehon pairs up with Anya to take on an Argentine Tango from renowned ballroom couple Miriam Larici and Leonardo Barrionuevo. This style is one of the hardest styles in Ballroom to perform, as it requires not only a great deal of partnering between the dancers, but at least some intimacy between the pair. This performance received a standing ovation from the judges, with Mary putting Chehon on her "Hot Tamale Train".

This was a genuine shock for me. Way back in the first Week 1, I criticized Chehon's performance in his Samba, saying how incredibly stiff he was and he needed to loosen up, so upon hearing that he got another Ballroom, I thought this could be a disaster...... Boy was I wrong. I was so... so wrong. This was an amazing performance. Not only did Chehon make the dancing look effortless but his connection with Anya was on point. In fact, they're connection was so good that when the music began to build, they built up the intensity of the routine perfectly to the music. And while I would say Cole's performance tonight was more exciting overall (as you'll read below), the fact that Chehon did so well tonight puts his performance right at the top of tonight's performances.

Chehon has been a back-and-forth case for me; he's had both good and bad performances throughout his ride on this show. Oddly enough, for all of his weaker performances, he's managed to balance it with an equally good performance (tonight for example). If Chehon wants to make the Finale, he really can't afford to make another weak performance, or that winner's title will slip through his hands.
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Cole (with Allison) - Contemporary - Cole's third attempt at Contemporary finds himself playing yet another dark and sinister character in a routine choreographed by Sonya Tayeh. Here, Allison is playing a woman who desperately wants to win Cole's heart but Cole is a man with no heart. It's a dark and depressing piece where Cole is essentially toying with Allison's emotions. The routine comes with a mix of Sonya's quirky personality and some incredibly difficult partnering. The judges loved the performance, with Mary predicting Cole has a pretty good chance to make the finale.

I love watching Sonya's Contemporary pieces. I love how she's able to translate that dark, Jazzy, quirky style of movement she's best known for into a style that's more soft and fluid. And the choreography was only enhanced by two amazing performances from Allison and Cole. Not only did they capture Sonya's style so well, but they completely nailed their characters. It really felt like I was watching a confrontation between two people rather than two dancers performing a routine, which is the best compliment I can give the dancers.

Cole has continued to be one of the strongest males this season, with his ability not only to understand his characters so well, but his versatility too. His Cha Cha with Anya last week was his only slip-up for me, mainly because I don't think they had a whole lot of chemistry together. But still, his 5 stellar performances have more than made up for his 1 not-so-good performance. I truly believe he deserves a spot in the Finale.
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Cyrus 'Glitch' (with Melanie) - Jazz - This season's only animated popper pairs up with last season's winner Melanie to take on a quirky fast-paced Jazz routine from Mandy Moore. It's the basic story of two people strutting their stuff all throughout town, meaning it's a piece that is catered more towards attitude and style, something that Glitch is chalk full of. It's fun, it's uplifting, and as promised, it was certainly a fast paced routine. The judges thought the piece was a lot of fun and continue to praise Glitch for rising to the occasion for all of these routines.

While this wasn't the most technically sound routine of the night, I still thoroughly enjoyed this routine. Creating a piece that relies heavily on the dancers bringing character to it is perfect for Glitch; that's where he shines and when he's the most fun to watch. Honestly, Melanie and Glitch danced really well together and their chemistry was fantastic. They really looked like they were having fun with each other. And weeks into the competition, I'm still very impressed with how much he is working hard to perform these routines.

Look, it's no secret; Glitch is clearly the least technically trained dancer in the competition, and all the other males have delivered more technically sound performances in their time on the show. However, while Glitch may lack in technical training, he is one of the most entertaining dancers among the males, an ability that many of the technical dancers have struggled to deliver. For me, I want to see him dance these routines, regardless of how it goes. His journey has certainly been one of the most interesting and his ability to make it this far is nothing short than astounding.
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Will (with Lauren G.) - Hip Hop - The lone Contemporary dancer takes on his first *ACTUAL Hip Hop routine of the season (*see my review for Week 1 to understand what I mean), choreographed by Chris Scott. Here, Will is a man who comes under a lot of stress and decides to dance away the pain, while Lauren is a part of his mind that comes out to help ease the pain. Chris gives a mixed bag of styles here, with lyrical hip hip choreo. to tutting and even some housing thrown in there. The judges liked the routine, and felt Will nailed the musicality of the piece while also toning down his personality.

This was definitely a step up from Chris's earlier routines this season, and both dancers did pretty well in transitioning between the different styles thrown at them. That being said, I still had a problem with the concept of this routine. I felt like Lauren's part in the piece wasn't necessary at all; had she been removed, I probably would have connected to him more. The issue was the routine felt like there were two solo performances dancing around one another with no actual chemistry between the two. Plus, I slightly disagree with Mary when she said Will's movements weren't as big and sloppy from previous weeks; I would say he was articulate in certain spots but many areas could have been cleaner.

Admittingly, I've had a hard time connecting to Will. Without knowing much about him before the Top 20 showcase, I didn't have much time to adjust to his personality. Believe me, I like the guy's personality (as I can be the same way sometimes), but at times I've felt his personality distracts me from his dancing such was the case in his Bollywood routine last week. Still, giving credit where credit is due, he's tackled each routine like a champ, and his personality could certainly help him get to the Finale.
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In addition to all the routines tonight, all 8 dancers got to dance an individual solo tonight:
Tiffany, Will, Lindsay, Chehon, Witney, Cole, Eliana & Glitch (click on the name to see the solo)

At the end of the night, the Bottom 4 dancers were revealed to be: Witney, Lindsay, Will & Cole. And shortly afterwards, the judges eliminated Lindsay and Will.

So, did America get it right? Almost. Swap Cole and Chehon and it would been just right. As far as the elimination goes, I think the judges made the right call for both genders: Witney has been peaking while Lindsay hasn't really progressed and Cole has been the stronger performer by a clear mile. It's tough to see both dancers go, but that's all part of the competition. As for tonight's show... this was the best episode by a long shot. Almost all the performances were strong this week, and the All-Stars certainly helped bring out the best in the dancers. Plus, we finally got to see some individual solos from all the dancers, and they certainly strut their stuff.

Well, that's it for this week. Be sure to tune into FOX on Wed. at 8pm to see who will survive the Top 6 and become the Final 4 for Season 9. Oh and also, ticket sales for the SYTYCD Season 9 tour have already begun, so if you're interested in seeing these dancers perform live, I suggest you do a search for the local show.


Click here to return to the first page and to leave comments. Thanks again MercerMZ!

Sunday, August 19, 2012

MercerMZ review (with lots of videos): So You Think You Can Dance Top 14

Joining Nigel Lythgoe and Mary Murphy on the judges' panel tonight was an esteem pair of ballet dancers, Billy Trevitt and Michael Nunn. Truthfully, I think they could have done better as judges. I understand it's difficult to judge something (seriously, you think writing these reviews are easy?), but I think what could've have helped them is if they seen the original routines before judging these couples. Though I thought Mary and Nigel were pretty fair in their critiques.
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Group Performance - Opening the show with a brand new group routine, it seems like a tragic romantic tale with two different stories going on at once. There are the main five couples dressed in black, performing some the most difficult wire work we've ever seen on the show, and then there were two couples on the side performing what seems like a forbidden love story scenario. Unlike the last few routines, there was a lot to take in with this routine as there was constant movement on the stage. But unlike the other routines, which seemed more conceptually based (meaning they only ever stuck to their concept and didn't have as much story going for them) this piece seemed to have some deeper meaning to all that we were seeing. It's a visually stunning piece for sure, but I think I would have enjoyed it more if I knew the story behind it.
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Eliana/Glitch - "Mercy" - First in the night is a fan favorite routine from Season 4, originally performed by contemporary dancer Katee Shean and hip-hop dancer Stephen "tWitch" Boss. It's basically a fight between the biggest egotistical jerk you can imagine and his crazy, obsessive anger-fueled girlfriend. Although Mia did not win any awards for her work in Season 4, she was nominated for this piece at the 61st Primetime Emmy Awards. For tonight's performance, the judges loved this piece and commended the dancers for bringing a bit of themselves to this routine.

This time around we have a similar pair performing the piece, and honestly, I thought this was much better than the original. For me, Mercy is a very good piece, but it's not one of my personal favorites. I think a part of it has to do with the fact that Twitch didn't have a lot to do in the original. Here, Glitch not only performed as well as Twitch, but he really added something to the performance. Those animated rolls up against the door were my favorite highlight of the night, and actually, I think this is the loosest I've seen Glitch dance all season. So basically, Glitch did better than Twitch. Eliana was great too, but I'm not sure if she did anything to outdo Katee's performance. Still, she also gave an amazing performance. It's not very often that a couple not only give me my favorite performance 2 weeks in a row, but that my favorite performance was first that night. I'm definitely a fan of these two, and I think they more than earned a spot in the Top 10.
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Tiffany/George - "Hometown Glory" - Another favorite from Season 4, originally performed by contemporary dancer Katee Shean and hip-hop dancer (and Season winner) Joshua Allen. The story is about two people selfishly obsessed and focused on their own lives who cross paths with one another. It was a piece that had the judges fawning over the performance by what many fans still consider one of the best couples that the show has ever seen. For tonight's performance, the judges thought the dancers performed it well, but may have over performed it a bit.

This one was going to be tough to compete with the original. Hometown Glory is my 2nd favorite routine of Season 4, so it goes without say that I really, really loved the original, and for good reason. Katee and Joshua had amazing chemistry together, and what helped them in this routine is how effortless they made it look. It's not that Tiffany and George didn't perform it well, it's just that I felt like they were trying too hard to perform this piece. A lot of the movements were bigger and more spread out, which in my eyes made them look a tad sloppy. Basically, I agree with the judges they over-performed this, and had the pulled back a little it would have been one of the best of the night. It's a shame these two let me down a bit since they've impressed me the last 3 weeks. Still it's a good performance.
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Amelia/Will - "Koop Island Blues" - Season 5 showcased a different side to Mia; a more goofy, silly Brodway-esque side to her. Originally performed in Week 3 by contemporary dancer Randi Evans and Broadway dancer Even Kasprzak, the piece tells of a couple where the man obsesses over the girl because, and I cannot lie, she's got a big ol' booty (believe, there was no easy to say that). As Evan put it, “It’s a traditional cat and mouse love story, but with a Mia Michaels spin." This piece, along with "Addiction", helped Mia earn her 2nd Emmy in 2010 at the 62nd Primetime Emmy Awards. For tonight's performance, the judges felt they didn't adapt to the piece well, and didn't bring enough character to their performance.

Out of all the Mia pieces performed tonight, this was my least favorite of the bunch. Granted it's still in my personal Top 25 favorites from Season 5, but it's not very high on that list. Afterall, every choreographer has a hit and a miss with the fans; this one was barely a hit for me. I agree with the judges that this routine really was tailor-made for Randi and Evan, which is probably why I didn't enjoy this performance from Amelia and Will. Will in particular didn't do so well for me. Will basically towers over Evan and this routine has him slinking across the floor for a good chunk of the piece, something which doesn't look as awkward for a smaller guy like Evan. Plus, Will was really hamming up this performance and it became kinda cheesy after a while. I do think Amelia was a bit tighter than Randi was dance-wise but she still didn't stand out that much. This performance really help them win me over. Plus, it doesn't help that they basically haven't anything outside of contemporary or jazz to perform the last 4 weeks. It's a shame, but they've become one of my least favorite couples at the moment.
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Janelle/Dareian - "The Bed" - In another one of Mia's memorable routines from Season 4, The Bed routine is the simple story of a man who had his heart broken by a women and is struggling to cope with the loss. Originally performed in Week 4 by jazz dancer Kherington Payne and hip-hop dancer Stephen "tWitch" Boss, it quickly spread as yet another fan favorite from Season 4. In tonight's performance, Janelle was able to connect to the piece having going through a rocky relationship herself. The judges liked their performance, but were distracted by certain things from each dancer (Janelle's hair and Dareian's feet) that took away from their performance.

At this point, these two needed to deliver not just a good performance, but an amazing performance, and I didn't get that here. Granted, they gave a good performance, with both them dancing as well as the original. In fact, I'm pretty sure, in the little she had to do, this was Janelle's best performance so far, and Dareian also held his own as well. Still, I had one big problem with this: they didn't seem to have much chemistry together in this routine. I understand that in the context of the piece, they are separated and the guy is essentially imagining her being there. But in those little instances where they're near one another, looking at each other, I didn't feel like they were a real couple who had just broken up; they seemed to two individual dancers dancing their solos on top of each other. At this point, I wouldn't be surprised if they landed in the bottom after last week, but if they made through this week, these two would not last very long.
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Audrey/Matthew - "Time" - Mia's most memorable routine from Season 3 was a heartfelt piece about her dancing with her father. Originally performed In Week 7, by ballroom dancer Lacey Schwimmer and contemporary dancer Neil Haskell, the piece tells the story of Mia meeting her father in heaven, where they dance a joyous dance together after being reunited. Although it was not nominated for an award, it left an emotional impact with many, especially Mary, who was unable to critique the dancers at the time from crying so much. For tonight's performance, the judges felt the dancers danced it well but they wanted to see a stronger performance, particularly from Matthew.

I really wanted to like this performance more. After all, I think Matthew and Audrey were one of the strongest couples dance-wise in the competition, and being a Contemporary routine, they were right in their element with this piece. And yes, they both danced this piece very well; everything was smooth and flowing, and they seemed to enjoy this way more than they did last week's routine. However, like many of Mia's other pieces, the emotional side to the story is equally important as the dancing, and it's in that side of the performance where I had my problem. They're supposed to play this as a father/daughter relationship, but these two didn't sell that to me; they looked like romantic lovers instead, which is a completely different feeling than anticipated. This was definitely one of their weaker performances, and after last week's performance, I don't think this will help them gain votes.
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Witney/Chehon - "The Bench" - Mia won her very first Emmy Award in 2007 for this memorable routine in Season 2, originally performed in Week 6 by ballroom dancer Heidi Groskreutz and contemporary dancer Travis Wall (now current choreographer for the show). The story of the piece, revealed in tonight's show by Nigel, is about a relationship Mia once had with a man. The man couldn't physically love her because he was gay, and thus he could only love her as a friend but not as a romantic partner. The sunflower the girl holds is her love for the man, and he struggles to accept it because, as Nigel put it, "he knew that if he took her love, he would break her heart at the end of the day." This is one of Mia's most heartfelt pieces created for the show, and continues to thrive as a fan favorite. For tonight's performance, the judges thought they performed it just as well as the original, with Michael offering to hire them both.

This was definitely one of the better routines of the night. And given that the story behind the piece was finally revealed in the judging, it certainly helped me appreciate the routine a lot more. It also helped me a lot in comparing the two routines, and in all honesty, this was just as good as the original. I don't know if Witney and Chehon did anything to make it stand out above the original but all the pieces were just right with this performance. In fact, I think this is the most chemistry these two have had in the competition so far. I would say the only notable things to point out is I thought Witney danced it a bit better than Heidi, but Travis was a bit tighter than Chehon. Out of all the male performances from the original routines, Travis's performance in this routine was definitely the strongest, if not one of the strongest, and was going to be tough to outdo him, but Chehon held his own very well in this piece. Last week, I said these two needed to give me a great performance to win me over, and they definitely rose to the occasion this week. They certainly have earned a spot in the Top 10.
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Lindsay/Cole - "Addiction" - In Season 5, Mia delivered a powerfully dark piece about battling an addiction. In this piece, the guy plays a physical manifestation of the addiction and the girl is the victim, battling to leave the addiction but ultimately cannot escape its grasp. The original piece was performed by contemporary dancers Kayla Radomski and Kupono Aweau in Week 5, and was especially difficult for Kupono to perform, as it reminded him of a close personal friend with a very bad drug addiction. This piece, along with the "Koop Island Blues" routine, helped Mia earn her 2nd Emmy in 2010 at the 62nd Primetime Emmy Awards. For tonight's performance, the judges loved it, with Mary and Nigel saying it was the best of the night.

Before I got to this point in the show, I had a pretty strong feeling these two would get this routine, so when I heard they did indeed have this piece, I was both excited and also very nervous at the same time. The Addiction is my personal favorite routine from Season 5, mainly because of how brilliantly Kayla and Kupono danced it. After all, they should have done well; they are both contemporary dancers. So how would this oddly paired couple (of a Latin Ballroom dancer and Martial Arts Fusion dancer) handle this routine? Truthfully, they handled it extremely well. In fact, for a short while, it was my favorite routine of the night. While I still believe Kayla and Kupono were technically better dance wise, I think Lindsay and Cole's performance was just as, if not more captivating than the original. Lindsay did a great job delving into the character, but it was Cole's performance that really made this piece stand out. In the original, Kupono played the character as a sinister being, wearing this giant grin like Anthony Hopkins as Hannibal Lector in "Silence of the Lambs" did, who was enjoying every second of Kayla's torment. Here, Cole plays the character almost like a reanimated corpse, meaning he plays it as a cold and uncaring being, and for me, that was more captivating. I mean, the fact that through all of Lindsay's torment, suffering, anger & frustration, Cole shows absolutely no feeling for her and continues to make her suffer, that truly frightened me. It was almost verging on the mindset of a serial killer, that's how terrifying I thought it was. Cole's ability to tap into a performance so captivating really helped this stand out above the rest, and given they've already had two amazing routines from the past 3 weeks, I think they're contenders to win it.

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Now, the last 3 weeks, I haven't given a ranking to the routines, and I'm not planning to do so here, but I think it would be fair to say what my favorite/least favorite routine of the week was. Upon my first views of all the routines, I thought Lindsay/Cole was my favorite, mainly because of Cole's performance. But after re-watching the routines for this review, it became clear to me that I really felt Eliana/Glitch had my favorite performance of the night. Why? Both managed to bring something of themselves to the routine, but Eliana and Glitch managed to bring something a lot more to the performance than the original. For worst, I chose Amelia/Will, because ultimately their performance didn't live up the original in any way and I did find it forgettable by the end of the night. As for this episode, I found much more interesting than the last 3 weeks for two reasons: We got to see many of Mia's best routines revisited by a great set of dancers, and the fact that even the weakest performances of the night were pretty strong compared to the other weeks. I definitely enjoyed watching the show.

And now for the difficult part: eliminations. Having two weeks off for the Olympics, tonight was the second (and hopefully last) double elimination of the season. 14 dancers would be whittled down to this season's Top 10 dancers. Based on the votes for last week's show, the Bottom 6 dancers were revealed to be:
Amelia, Janelle, Lindsay, George, Dareian & Matthew (click on each to see their solos)

And after all six dancers performed their solos, the judges decided to save Lindsay & George, making them the final 2 dancers to make the Top 10. So, did America get it right in the votes? And did the judges make the right decisions? Almost, and absolutely. Lindsay and George did not deserve to be in the bottom based on last week's show, and they rightfully deserved to move forward in the competition. At this stage in the game, this where another element for the season's winner comes into play: consistancy. Having great technique, personality & performance, and versatility is a difficult thing for any dancer to balance out on this show. But now the biggest challenge for all the dancers is to give consistantly strong performances. And it is for that reason that I felt the judges were justified in saving Lindsay and George. True, Lindsay did have one bad performance for me, but she had 3 strong performances to over-power it. George, on the other hand has never had a bad performance yet. So at this point, I imagine the only reason they've landed in the bottom is because they don't have a large fanbase backing them up, so I'm going to ask you, the reader, to please not sleep on either of these dancers; they really are some of the strongest competitors on the show right now.
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And as always, I'm going to predict the bottom dancers for next week. This is based not only on this week's performances, but consistancy of all their performances from the last 4 weeks: It'll be Witney and Tiffany for the girls, and Will and Glitch for the guys.

Soooooo, there you have it. Thank you so much for reading this review. I know this week it was a bit longer than usual, but that was only because I was very happy with the show this week. I promise next week, I'll keep it shorter. And speaking of next week, our 10 remaining dancers will break away from their couples as they're now going to partner up with the All-Stars. It's getting tougher to vote, but more exciting to watch, as we're one week closer to crowing our 2 winners this season!

Click here to leave comments and return to the first page. Thanks again MercerMZ!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Greg S. reports on his dance workshop with Poreotics

Here's the rest of Greg's report on the Poreotics workshop at Urban Dance Camp:

Well, if that guy says so, how could I reject this opportunity? In the morning, I contacted the wonderful Bettina at Urban Dance Camp to see if there was still a space open for me at the Poreotics workshop. I'm not sure there actually was, but she happily made a place for me anyway. On the off day between Showcase and the workshop, I changed my tickets and switched to a hotel near the studio, then made sure to get tons of restful sleep.

The night before and the morning of, I was pretty nervous to stick out like a sore big toe. I was fully ware that most of the campers would be around half my age, but that never bothers me. It was all about the looming challenge of learning choreo fast. When it was time to walk over to the studio, I'd had enough of nerves and switched to excitement.

When I walked into the studio a little early to stretch, music was already playing and so were the boys. Charles and Lawrence were locked in a game of imaginary beat-tennis, once again displaying that the fun never stops with these fellas. After I got loose, I said hello to the six clown princes of popping and we snapped a couple of silly photos before it was time for business.

The first class dealt with the Charles/Dumbo routine to David Guetta's "Titanium" - which contains my arch dancing nemesis, tutting. I took a deep breath. Or two. The first couple sections went by without much hitch (Dumbo did pull me aside at a water break to show me a tutting move I failed to see well from my vantage point). Suddenly I was getting comfortable keeping up in my first workshop.

Of course, as soon as the confidence rose, Dumbo started a new 8-count by putting his arms and hands in tutting position. This head-dropper and the addition of a few more 8-counts had me experiencing the struggles I'd foreseen for a spell, but by the time we headed to a break between classes I'd nearly caught up with the full routine to music at tempo.

Despite the rally, I spent the entire break working on the tutting moves while chatting with some new friends from the afterparty outside. When I went back in to get ready for routine #2, Lawrence checked to see how it went and offered more support. All the guys were eager to help anyone struggling and I was sure they had seen me get lost in the mirror when the tutting started.

The second class taught us the Super Saiyan bit from their World of Dance 2012 performance, all the parts past when Lawrence is fitted with his blond wig. Once again, I started well and felt more confident. And once again, the piling of several 8-counts together at tempo had me frustratingly lagging behind for a time.

You put one right hand when you're meant to put the left and suddenly you stop for a second, then everyone has passed you and you must find your way back in on proper time.

However, as in the first class, I finished fairly strong and (if I must say so myself) kinda killed the closing section that gave others more trouble. It had been an entirely new experience for me, but one I was very grateful for. At the end, I quickly assured Lawrence and Chad that I would get into a regular class upon returning home, which made them quite happy.

The boys gave everyone a quick thank you speech before pumping up some beats for a freestyle goodbye session. One by one, they took turns picking a handful of campers from the 45 or so at the workshop to dance for everyone. Considering my previous friendly talks with the guys and my obvious patches of struggle during class, I just knew that I would be one of those chosen to freestyle. Knew it.

Sure enough, as visiting spectator Millie popped to everyone's delight, Jet Li started my way. He walked just past me as if to go by, but suddenly I felt a back pushing me out into the circle. Great, I thought, I get to follow Millie!

Though the song playing wasn't normally something I would dance to, I did my best to throw out some original moves and Millie was there with a smiley handshake when I finished. After saying some thanks and goodbyes to the boys individually, the experience was over, my feet were sore and my grin was beaming. Even if I didn't fare as well as I wanted, the challenge inspired me to train harder and learn more.

I've thought a lot about it since and the entire three days I spent in southern Germany was one of the best times of my life, no doubt. The whole Urban Dance Showcase and Camp vibe is a beautiful thing. Everyone - campers and dancers alike - are like family and I cannot wait to see everyone again in 2013.

And if it seems to you like I'm trying to twist some arms out there to attend next summer, then you are very perceptive. Don't mind me, though - I'm just a robot freshly programmed by Poreotics and so many others to spread the love for dancing and dancers. I've been sent from the future to inform everyone that next summer is going be more amazing than one could imagine. You can bet on that.

Click here to leave comments and return to the first page. Thanks again Greg -- I'm jealous!

Saturday, August 4, 2012

HHI 2012 Pics












DirtFaceX's HHI 2012 Review

From the moment I stepped into the convention center at the Red Rock, I was in awe.  So many talented, well known dancers and crews hanging out all in one place.  In fact, the very first thing I saw was Andrew Baterina practicing with his megacrew, The H, in the lobby.  I arrived just in time to catch all of the USA Finals.  Although, I really wish I had been around for the preliminaries- I wonder how many eastcoast/southern/mid-west crews performed, b/c the entire night was made up of mostly crews from the west.  For the junior division, I enjoyed watching all crews and my favorite was definitely Hawaii’s Rascals.  They certainly deserved and earned their gold medal.  My favorite from the Varsity division were the Bandits (Gold).  I also enjoyed the Elektrolyttlez - their routine mimicked similar moments to what we’ve seen the Elektrolytes do.  Before they read the results, we were treated to a surprise performance from 8Flavahz.  They started out with the Madonna routine, but quickly changed it up to an all new routines.  Kids or not, they are a really entertaining crew to watch.  I became a mega fan of the Megacrew Division.  I was thoroughly entertained by every crew.  My favorites were The H (from Houston) and the three winners.  As for the Adult Division, the Academy of Villains def took performance of the entire night.  The Elektrolytes were fantastic (now, I’ve seen every ABDC champion perform live), but I thought Illmatik Phlow from Miami should have got the Bronze over Mix’d Elements (they came in forth).

The next day, the only event was the first was World Varsity Preliminaries.  Being that it was the first world event, many of the international crews arrived that day.  I usually don’t get “starstruck”, but I turned into a straight up 28 year old teenie-bopper when I saw Parris and the Royal Family.  I was able to meet some other international crews and even some ABDC alum.  Another cool thing was I got myself some shirts for USA’s Bandits and Rascals.  Click here to read my post about the event.  Looking back, they should have added the World Juniors Preliminaries on this day...

The next day started at 9am with World Juniors. Despite the room being the most emptiest I’ve seen it (mostly made up of parents), my favorites were Cookies ‘N Cream (Canada), JB Star (Japan), Onizaka Ikka (Japan), Freshh 2.0 (Canada), Flip (Canada), Miniotics, Tao (Japan), The Rascals, and of course, Bubblegum (New Zealand).  For the Megacrew Semi-Finals, each crew that went on to the Finals impressed me the most with GRV being my favorite (The Royal Family was soo good, I consider them in another league).  Unfortunately, due to technical difficulties during the Megacrew event, the World Adult Preliminaries started REALLY late.... and we had 65 crews to go thru.  My favorites were the top 31 crews that went to the semis, but I was especially blown away by Mexico’s Neutral Zone, India’s SNV Crew, Spain’s House of Pose, Canada’s Illest Vibe, and The Crew from the Philippines.  Unfortunately, it was sooooo late that the energy died down drastically for the last 15 or so crews.  Even the Academy of Villains performance felt different.  The last crew performed at 3:00am and the results weren’t announced till 3:30!  Everyone was really shocked when Mexico’s Neutral Zone was announced #1.  They performed so early in the night, so not a lot of crews even knew who they were!  I didn’t get back to my hotel till sunrise.

The Academy of Hype (Megacrew)
The Acamedy of Swag (Megacrew)
After a whopping 30 minutes of sleep, I headed back to Red Rock for the Junior Semi-Finals.  Luckily, many of the crews did GREAT and it wasn’t too hard staying up.  Congrats to J.B. Star in moving up in the ranks.  The same went for the Varsity Semi-Finals.  I did notice, however, that Mexico’s Neutral Zone took out the the faceplant stunt from their routine which is understandable.  And as for Sorority - I can watch their routine for days...

For the Megacrew Finals, I was especially impressed with the Academy of Hype’s routine, and thought they AT LEAST got Bronze, but my favorite (not counting Royal Family) was def GRV.  Congrats to their Silver medal win.
UP StreetDance Club (Bronze)
GRV (Silver)
The Royal Family (Gold)
Finally, for the Adult Semi-Finals, it seemed like everything was running smoothly, until the second crew came on.  Colombia’s ABC ended their routine with a dancer doing a front flip suicide, and unfortunately, didn’t get up.  The entire room became silent and they weren’t allowing anyone to enter.  It took awhile for stretcher the come out and delayed the show for about an hour.  Of the 31 crews, only 8 were going to move on.  The room was packed to catch the last 15 crews.  I’m not exactly sure, but I believe The Crew (Philippines) changed their routine a bit, and added an amazing moonwalk stunt.  And at the end of the night, EVERYONE came to see what Mexico’s Neutral Zone routine was all about.  They killed it again, and the response was even greater than the night before.  But when the results were given, the entire room nearly broke out into a riot in celebration for The Crews first place win.  It was absolutely bonkers!  I hung around a bit to celebrate, but I was EXTREMELY exhausted and needed to get to bed.

Filipinos Celebrating their #1 Position
I honestly can’t wait for tomorrow’s Finals.  It’s going to be bananas.  I’ll be rooting for India and I’ll be making my signs for them tonight! Haha.  Overall, I freaking LOVE HHI, and am going to try to make this an annual trip.  Goodluck to all the crews competing tomorrow!

Click here for more photos from HHI

Friday, August 3, 2012

HHI 2012 Junior & Varsity Pics

Bandits from USA
Freshest Nutz from Singapore
Lil's Dance from Russia
 
JB Star Varsity from Japan
A-Team from The Philippines
 
I-Rock from Canada
 
Sorority from New Zealand
 
 
Zero from Japan
 





Thursday, August 2, 2012

Greg's Urban Dance Showcase report: All-star show, IaMmE close encounters, & afterparty!

Performances:
Nonstop: He is aptly named, that's for sure. One of the stars on a twinkly night at the G5 auditorium in the tiny German village of Eimeldingen, he thrilled the audience of about 250-300 with no less than four sets. He opened the show dubstepping to "Pumped Up Kicks" - but not just with the famous video return. Instantly displaying what a special night it would be, he mostly freestyled it, dropping in stray bits everyone on the planet who's been to YouTube could recognize from the clip. It was mesmerizing, sending the crowd into fits for the first of four times. Dude was money all night, he's definitely added plenty of new wizardly tricks to his bag.

Hilty & Bosch: The Japanese locking and popping duo went next and they didn't hesitate to entertain. In the first of two shows, they made it clear they were there to rep for the lockers. It's a difficult enough style for one performer to make look natural, but these guys do just that in perfect unison. There was a bit more popping in the second set, which featured more individual spotlight work, but they still kept the locking moves flowing like fine wine.

Choreo Cookies: I always tell people that I do not usually care for Michael Jackson tribute/interpretations. That being said (yet again), Choreo Cookies ate that set. Ate it. With a cold glass of milk. It was mass beat murder in the first degree. Talking to several of the crew members later, each freely admitted their routine was a risky gamble, from the music to the moves to their dark Smooth Criminal-style costumes. This gamble hit the jackpot; it was intricate and funky and graceful and (to borrow from JC Chasez) Jacko all day.

Quick Crew: The Norwegian trio appropriately performed three sets, including one with surprise guest star Lando Wilkins. The way they play with time and space is incredible, as is their fondness for odd formations where they aren't facing each other - talk about degree of difficulty! Maybe I'm just a late convert, but for me, these guys only get better and better.

S**t Kingz: Working from, on and around chairs, the Japanese quartet put in a powerful, brooding set with tons of precision timing in their interplay. Simply put, the best show I've ever seen from them.

Lando Wilkins & Mike Song: Since I let one cat out of the bag, why not both? These two gems did one brief set together, mostly playing freestyle "tennis" back and forth. Mike largely opted for his dubstep lane, while Bang threw down some nasty, fast and hard business with tons of control. Needless to say, this was all more than enough to make for a happy surprise.

B-boys, Junior, Lil G & Neguin :Since there were three of them and they performed three round-robin exhibition battles, I will give you three words to describe their cumulative display: RI... DICU... LOUS. Words fail with these guys. And of all things, Junior murdered his two battles while carrying what looked to be a thigh injury of some sort. I definitely saw him walking gingerly BEFORE the show started. When Urban Dance Showcase's YouTube channel posts the videos and you get to see for yourself, please make sure there is a soft landing spot for your jaw available because it will drop repeatedly. Even better, all three are cool as can be as people.

Poppin John: I doubt there's much need to describe the brilliance of this animatronic popper, so let's simply say that he is also one classy cat. What a nice guy.

Jason Smith: Ummm... this dude is FIRE. Tapdancing at this show. Killed it. And he's also just the friendliest, smiliest person. I had not seen him before and it wouldn't have been the same without him.

Chachi: Having too much fun (and frequently running back to my hotel room in the same building for camera memory card dumps and/or sweat-soaked shirt changes), I never thought to ask anyone in the crew why Chachi only did her solo set. While she did not perform with I.aM.mE, homegirl did set the stage ablaze. I'm not entirely sure why someone so young should be so intuitive in her dancing.

Also, if Ms. Gonzalez is reading - I hope it didn't seem like I was disinterested in saying hello when coming over to tell your mom happy birthday. I just wanted to make it clear to her that I came specifically to say that to her, not as an excuse to talk to her daughter. If my mom knew I neglected to tell such a pretty lady happy birthday, she'd slap me. Plus, it seemed like you were eating and I don't interrupt diners. I didn't happen across Miss Chachi after that, so she was the one dancer I didn't get to say hi to.

Pacman: The dancing version of Mr. Fantastic started out with a partial reworking of his Water Dragon video, which naturally drew plenty of oohs and ahhs from the crowd. Then he moved into a new piece, a poignant story routine. There were a few laughs provided by "guest villains" Millie & Jaja, and Pacman portrayed his character's poignant sadness to a tee. It was a somewhat unexpected and entertaining piece

I.aM.mE: So many flowing illusions and athletic formation changes, so little time. They only did one set, but it was nearly 100% fresh material and fun. There was one stunt flub when Millie slipped on Brandon's shoulder jumping up from the floor, but happily he wasn't hurt and they carried on like the champs they are. Not to sound like a broken record, but these are all wonderful people. I spoke at least some to all of them, but especially want to give a shout out to my boys Millie and Brandon. So cool to hang with.

Full disclosure considering my comments section user name: Yes, I met Jaja. Yes, she is beyond adorable and The Beast in a cypher. However, I'll admit that I may have been a little freaked out after she hugged me. I did not dance in front of her. It's not that I meant not to, but at the same time I realized that I wasn't. I'm not fazed by celebrity of any level, it's my job to talk to stars. That's nothing, but she is different and not because she's famous or a cutie. And not even because we do many of the same types of things (not a copy job, been this way before I knew of her, we just share some natural movement tendencies and mannerisms). It's because she's The Beast. She inspires, motivates and energizes me to dance everyday when I had stopped for a long time and many of those ABDC stars can tell you today that I'll go a little beast if invited. So, yeah, I didn't put it down for Jaja's eyesight. If inclined, you could say I involuntarily froze on it. I plan to remedy that next year. 

Poreotics: Both sets from the clown princes of popping drew heavily from their 2012 WOD routines, including the Super Saiyan and the motorcycle ride. They also almost completely reworked a new take on the lounge version of Baby Got Back. Basically, it was business as usual for the boys, who are also the greatest guys off the stage. Seriously. Those six fellas are an absolute pleasure in any setting, individually or as a kooky group that always looks like they are having a blast. Or dare I say, making it a blast.

And I can't go on without sending a special thanks to my new buddy Lawrence, who inspired me to stay an extra day to take the Poreotics workshop, my first ever proper class. I was nervous about being able to quickly memorize long choreo (which eventually proved to be for good reason), but hanging for quite a long time in the parking lot after they'd cleared us all out, Lawrence, Millie and 747 gave me some props and support, and it was appreciated. These guys don't have to do that; like Lawrence said, we were all here for the love.

Les Twins: You know how dancers and ABDC judges always say that it's not what you do, but how you do it? Well, nobody does it like these two. I'm beginning to wonder if they've been hit by lightning, because every movement is electric. Nearly all of their set was new stuff, with a few bits of 2011 UDS reminders thrown in as a nod to returning campers. This year, when they broke into the spotlight solo bits, both brothers went with more of a smoothness flow than last year's highly athletic masterpiece. It showed the lovely shades of what they alone can do on the dance floor.

After the show, which ended with a random freestyle set featuring MC Trix called the audience on stage to grab photos with all the dancers.

Afterparty:

As great as the entire show was, the afterparty was absolutely flippin' legendary. No lie, that was the greatest party I've ever had the privilege to attend, hands down. The dancers and the audience mingled while the DJ spun and the bartenders doled out cold drinks in a hot room filled with funk. What started quickly as one cypher turned into three simultaneous circles, which I were hopping around all night long.

The pros were dominating early, with everyone else just probably caught watching as all the stars of the show went OFF when not chatting around. This was no "celeb-fan" party, folks. This was a room full of love and laughter and hugs and chats and, oh yes, breaking it down like an enzyme where ever you looked. This was about making friends and smashing beats, and I did not see one unhappy person there.

Once a young guy rocking a bowtie and a fierce blonde girl stepped into the center, I figured it was time for me to get to throwin' down. As crazy as it sounds, my first cypher jump stepped in with Jet Li, Can, Charles, Mike Song, Lil G, Laurent from Les Twins and Poppin John. Somehow (and by somehow I mean a couple of rum and colas), I actually took my time and listened to the music, and got some glad hands when I finished.

When that happened like that, I felt free to just let go all night and I will never forget any of it. As long as this report is, there are a million and one things I could have added. And if you have any questions about the night, I'll be happy to drop that number in the comments section  I could talk for days about what was without a doubt one of the best times of my 43 years of life... at least until next summer when I return to smash beats with my new friends in that tiny German village.


Click here to return to the first page and to leave comments. Thanks again Greg -- I'm so jealous!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

HHI 2012 Pics: USA Finals

Miniotics (Bronze Junior)

Bandits (Gold Varsity)

The Underground (Silver Varsity)

 Click here to leave comments and return to the first page.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Korea's Got Talent


Animation Crew shows off their eponymous style of animation based popping, while telling a touching tale of what appears to be a husband who lost his wife. They recently also performed at R16.


Locking Khan and Moon show off some of the best locking I've ever seen. What really makes this performance shine is their integration of the background visuals, which actually complement their performance instead of detract from it as is usually the case. Locking Khan is one of the best lockers in the world, having represented well at Juste Deboute and other major events worldwide



PID reminds me a lot of crews like Fighting Gravity and Team iLuminate. They also use blacklights and dancing, so if you enjoyed their American counterparts, then be sure to check them out.


Morning of Owl is one of my favorite Bboy crews of all time. They're always up for something crazy and creative, from doing a 6 minute performance to no music for Battle of the Year, to insane routines at R16. Of note is their powerhead Bboy Pocket, though everyone in the crew is pretty insane. Make sure you watch their routine below!



Hopefully the American version of this will have dancers represented as well too soon.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

MercerMZ review (with LOTS of videos) - So You Think You Can Dance Top 16

This week, joining Nigel and Mary on the judges panel was actress Cristina Applegate, who I must say not only looked great but did a pretty fair job in giving her honest opinions about the routines.
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Group Performance - Broadway - SYTYCD goes Charlie Chaplin with this routine. All the dancers are dressed up like Mr. Chaplin and much of the choreography seems to imitate the style of movement that Charlie is known for. It's quirky, dramatic, and very, very technical all at once. I don't think I've been this impressed with the group routines for a few seasons now. Starting with Travis's group routine for the girls, these large group performances have been amazing this season. I'm not sure if the reason is whether the dancers are just so versatile or if the choreographers are really taking advantage of the dancers, but whoever is responsible for this should be commended. Typically I'm not always excited to see the group performances, but after this routine, I can't wait to see how the show will start next week.
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Tiffany/George - Hip Hop - NappyTabs delivers the first hard-hitting Hip Hop routine this season. Drawing inspiration from their (NappyTabs) recent pregnancy, Tiffany and George are playing the babysitters of NappyTabs' newborn baby, who are losing their heads over this baby. It's a bright colorful routine with big broader steps mixed with smaller intricate movements. All 3 judges loved the routine, though Nigel thought George seemed to be running out of energy towards the end and Cristina wanted it to be a little "soupier" (Hey, don't blame me, if that's how she wants to phrase it then so be it).

I really enjoyed this routine. Many fans have been asking for some hard hitting hip hop like the routines we would get from Shane Sparks, Olisa & Cicely and Dave Scott, and this was definitely in that vane. And while I typically find Nappytabs's strength is delivering the lyrical hip-hop pieces, there have been a few exceptions (*notably Alex/Twitch's unforgettable routine from Season 7- click here to watch), and this might be one of them. Both of them brought a lot of personality in their performance and executed the choreography well. Plus, George has had my focus in their last two performances, but Tiffany completely outshined him this time. And I do agree with Nigel, she kept the energy flowing the whole way through. I do agree with Cristina though, I wish the dancers had been a bit more sharp and isolated in their moves since in spots it seemed just a bit too fluid, particularly in those smaller intricate movements. Still, it was great performance, and it was one of my favorites by the end of the night. This couple is one of the strongest, most consistent couples in the competition. Between this and their Foxtrot last week, they're quickly becoming some of my favorites.


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Amber/Brandon - Jazz - Choreographer Ray Leeper gives this new couple a sexy piece all about Southern Love. Brandon is essentially a "Dr. Feelgood" character, who comes home to his wife and the two of them get it on. The most important aspect of the routine would be the chemistry between these two, since it's a very sexual and flirtatious kind of piece, and indeed there was a lot of flirting going on in the routine. All 3 judges liked the routine, and they all unanimously thought this was Amber's best performance so far.

I liked this routine; not loved but liked it. I do agree with the judges that Amber was really, really good in this piece. It played to her strengths and she gave an amazing performance. And as much as I like Brandon, I think this was his weakest performance thus far. Jazz is a very technical style and a lot of the movements he was given to do felt a bit labored from him. Plus, it didn't help that this routine used him as a tool to lift Amber much of the time here. However, the chemistry between them was important for this routine, and I do think there was some chemistry between them; it felt like they were enjoying themselves and each other’s company. So, between Amber's stellar performance, Brandon's not-so-good performance, and believable chemistry, it was enough for me to like here (after all, 2 out of 3 isn't bad at all). It's no surprise they're still here; out of the two performances they had with their former partners (Janaya & Nick), I felt Amber & Brandon outshined them in both of their routines. And for me, Amber has been one of the strongest girls in the Top 16 dancers.
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Janelle/Dareian - Cha Cha - Season 3's Pasha Kovalev returns to choreograph a sexy Cha Cha. The routine itself is actually what you expect from a Cha Cha; it features a lot of partnering mixed with a few difficult tricks. It requires a lot of chemistry between the dancers as well as some solid partnering. The judges felt that the routine had a lot of technical issues but felt the dancers were still a great couple.

I did not like this routine, to put it bluntly. I didn't like it at all. And granted, one could argue that Eliana & Glitch's Jive last week was much worse, but I can't in good conscious say it was worse. True, Glitch was a technical mess, but Eliana did very well and honestly, both of them had much more believable chemistry than these two here. I had two big problems here: the first was of course the dancing. Yes, it's true neither of them are ballroom dancers but this was clunky from beginning to end. And while much of the partnering was solid, they both looked like they were trying to work through the performance instead of living in it. My second and biggest problem with this was the music. I don't just dislike it, I whole-heartedly hate "Call Me Maybe"; I think it's one of the most over-played, overrated songs out there right now. And here in this routine, in fact in this style, it's completely out of place. Cha Cha is a very sexy ballroom dance, in which the dancers can get pretty intimate with one another... and they're trying to dance sexy to a bubblegum pop song about a girl giving a boy her phone number. I'm sorry, it just doesn't work. The truth is, Pasha's choreography is the only thing I didn't dislike about this routine, but everything else wasn't great. Considering these two had my least favorite performance last week, it's safe to say I'm not a fan of these two right now.
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Lindsay/Cole - Contemporary - Mandy Moore returns to choreograph a contemporary piece about a love/hate relationship. No really, Lindsay plays a loving free spirit and Cole is a hate-filled spirit trying to bring her down. As Mandy puts it, "There's always going to be people that don't like what you're doing, but I think if you can be as free and pure as you can possibly be, you will win in the end" (a lesson I think a good chunk of us online users could learn from). The routine features a ton of partnering with Lindsay throwing herself all across the stage, while the stage projects these huge shadows of the dancers in the back. The judges absolutely loved this piece and were surprised at how versatile these two were.

I loved this performance. I really can't say too much more about it, except that I'm very impressed with how versatile these two are. They made it look effortless, and the shadows projected in the background were gorgeous to look at as well. Last week was a hiccup for these two, but performing two out of three routines very well makes them some of the strong competitors at the moment.

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Amelia/Will - Jazz - Mandy Moore's second routine of the night is a quirky Jazz number about opposites attracting. I really wish I could say more, but much of the rehearsal footage was spent on Mandy flirting with Will... It's a quirky piece with a lot of technical movements, partnering and some flirting going on. For the first time in the night, the judges gave it mixed reviews. Mary and Cristina thought they danced it well and were fun to watch, but Nigel didn't connect with the piece at all.

I'm kind of siding with Nigel here; I think it just an okay routine, but it's not something I'll remember in three weeks. I think the reason for this is because of the routines they've done before. Both the Lovecat and Sonya's routines were very character/emotionally based pieces that brought out big personalities from these two, and this routine didn't have as much depth as the other two, so therefore I don't think they were given a lot of personality to bring out this time around. I mean, yes they danced it well, but eventually, that won't be enough to stick around. Like I said, it was kind of forgettable by the end of the night.
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Audrey/Matthew - Salsa - This strong contemporary couple takes on one of the sexiest, intimate styles of ballroom dancing choreographed by newcomer Liz Lara. The routine features some difficult tricks including a tornado spin that gave Audrey some difficulty in the first rehearsal. Just like Janelle/Dareian's routine earlier, the judges love the dancers but felt that this routine wasn't good at all.

So ballroom goes 0 for 2 tonight, and it's unfortunate because just like the other routine, I thought the choreography was okay, perhaps it was a little too slow. But my criticisms of Kanelle/Dareian's routine are pretty much the same here: the song choice was terrible, the dancers were struggling all the way through this, and there was no chemistry between them. In fact, both of them didn't seem to be truly enjoying this routine the entire time they danced it. It's a shame since they've had two strong routines already and with this routine, their golden train might have just dived off a cliff. Hopefully, they can recover from this.
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Witney/Chehon - Contemporary - Stacey Tookey returns to deliver a contemporary piece about an impossible love story; a story about a couple that want to be together but circumstances won't let them. In a way, it's like a Romeo/Juliet story but not directly or exactly. It’s performed to Whitney Houston's "I Will Always Love You" with both staying close and intimate to one another. The performance received a standing ovation from the judges, so you can guess how they felt...

This routine is quickly becoming a fan favorite for many other fans, but for me... I just didn't care for it. I'm sorry, even taking away the story behind the piece, there wasn't enough there to make me stop and say "That was spectacular". In fact, it looks a lot like many other contemporary routines that the show has delivered and I believe that Stacey has choreographed much more interesting pieces (such as the Fear routine and the Mad World Routine). I think it's the concept; the whole "two-lovers-who-can't-be-together" thing has been so many times now, it's just not interesting to me anymore. I'm also wondering if this routine is so popular simply because it was danced to one of Whitney Houston's most well known songs. But looking past the concept, both dancers delivered a solid performance; in fact, I'm impressed that both Ballroom girls managed to do very well in contemporary. I may not have cared for this, but I have a pretty strong feeling they'll be safe. However, this couple has gone back and forth for me, and they need to deliver an incredible performance next week if they want to win me over.
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Eliana/Glitch - Hip Hop - Last, but certainly not least, NappyTabs returns to give possibly the oddest couple on the show a robotic, popping influenced hip-hop piece. Glitch is a robot (both in real life and in the routine) who brings a jewelry box ballerina (Eliana) to life. The routine is a perfect mix small intricate movements to slower fluid motions mixed with the occasional ballet movements. And once again, the judges gave this piece a standing ovation.

This was by a clear mile my favorite routine of the night. It's strange because this couple has been the center of controversy from the fans, many of whom feel Glitch is holding down Eliana. And while I disagree with that idea, I can't honestly say their first two performances were spectacular. This on the other hand, was definitely their best performance on the show so far. And while Eliana continues to show how amazing and versatile of a dancer she is, this routine played to Glitch’s style and I could not take my eyes off him. The most surprising aspect about this couple is that while on paper this pairing might look like a recipe for disaster, they work well together and play off each together so well. A fantastic performance from them both, and one that I can guarantee will be on my favorites at the end of the season.
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So with the performances finished, the Bottom 6 are revealed to be the following:
Lindsay, Amber, Eliana, Dareian, Brandon and George. (click on names to watch their solos)


I think the guys were much easier to choose from then the girls. I think perhaps the audience may have found both Brandon & George's performances forgettable but Dareian's performance was easily the weakest of the group last week. As for the girls....

I can understand Lindsay being in the bottom, but Amber and Eliana!?!?! WHY!?!?! Both of them performed much, much better than their partners last week, so why they voted in the bottom, I have no idea. The judges decide that Lindsay & George don't need to dance solos, which means it was safe to assume they're safe. And after the other 4 dancers perform a solo, the judges decide to eliminate Amber and Brandon. This is yet another elimination that makes me sad since both of them were among my favorites for the season. Still, it's nice to see them both leaving on a high note with their solos. Though it's a shame that Janaya, Alexa, Daniel, Nick didn't get to dance a final solo before they left.

As for tonight's show, once again, it's on the same level as the other two. All three weeks have had a good chunk of average performances with  1-2 great & not so good routines. I think tonight might have had some of the weakest performances yet, particularly in the Ballroom styles, but the Hip Hip finally got better. I'm still waiting for that week where the performances are spectacular all the way around, which typically comes during the Top 12-8. And as far as the dancers in danger for the next show, I think this week might be easier to guess:

Girls - Amelia, Audrey, Janelle & Witney
Guys - Will, Matthew, Dareian & Chehon
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Well, that's it for this review. What did you think of this week? Did you have any favorites? Are your favorites still in the competition? Let me know below. The show will be leaving the air to make space for the Olympics and will return, on August 15th. In the meantime, good luck to the USA national team/competitors and good luck to the remaining 14 dancers.

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Dance Hero Japan | Season 3 Episode 3 Recap

More on Dance Hero Japan Season 3 Episode 3: 
LnP continue their sexy Broadway style, dancing to "Diamond's are  Guy's Best Friend" and getting 320 points total. They really capture that style well, very much capturing the spirit of Marily Monroe through dance.


Tokyo Footwork chose to use live music with a drummer, representing house music well and placing third with 270 points. Incorporating some bboy/acrobatics as well, they had great flow and showed how house dance, and really all dance, is about the music and bringing that to life. 


Trickstar again amazes with their popping, netting 230 points for the competition . Their costumes with makeup seemed to remind me of the Joker, and they played that slightly creepy angle really well. The balloon thing also reminded me of the AOV set that used one. But their ticking, hits, and isolation are top notch. 


Tokyo Beat Surf ended up wtih 80 points, but that doesn't mean that they're lacking as dancers in anyway. Their brand of newstyle choreo, with a lot of swag and loose movements is really compelling to watch, I also really enjoyed their music selection throughout the past few seasons.


Area Rock Styler is another crew that should have had more points than they got. They brough it all, with fast hitting popping, bboy, and some house to boot. Maybe they just needed a bit better blocking, and something to make them a little less generic compared to the other dancers this season, but I still hope they try again to represent themselves. Also shout out to the Beaste Boys Remix


Macho Pirates Opera Company are... always interesting. Some audience participation this time, which is a first. Still can't quite place what technique or style they're doing, but maybe that's their whole point - that they're doing their own thing. They end the season with 50 points


City Lights Tokyo had a less structured performance style, leading to 10 points overall this season. I didn't care for it personally. I think they could have been cleaner, and spent less time in the beginning "posing." They did have "Rack Swag City" cover though with relatively simpler choreography. I think they are better individual freestyle dancers than choreographed performers. 


Odorunosuki has zero points, which I find hard to believe. I'll leave it to you to decide, but I still enjoyed their dancing this past season. Dancing to non-traditional hip hop music is risky, and they pulled it off nicely I think, especially with the hat bit at the end.


All Genre Blenders, the youth group this season, again ended with zero points, when they definitely deserved more. I think that they concept they had with the conductor, combined with the energy they brought, the breadth of technique they showed proficiency in, and the general skill they had, I think should ave done better. There were some blocking mistakes, like with the highlights in the spotlight, but other than that, they did well. They are young still though, so they have a bright future
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