Friday, June 29, 2012

MercerMZ review (with lots of videos) - Top 20 Showcase Episode

Tonight's showcase episode is a special one, not only because of its announcement of this season's Top 20 dancers, but this is a milestone for the show: So You Think You Can Dance (USA) has now aired 200 episodes! Fantastic news. And I for one am hoping the show could push for maybe 300 episodes... but I won't jinx it just yet.

And just like every season, the producers insist on changing the format to keep the show exciting, and this season, they might have topped everything from before: This season will be crowning 2 winners; America's Favorite Male & Female! It should make for some pretty strong competition from the dancers.
Moving on, tonight, the judges panel consisted of 3 people: executive producer Nigel Lythgoe, ballroom dancer/expert Mary Murphy, and the star of FOX's show "New Girl" Zooey Deschanel. Although truth be told, these 3 weren't exactly judging the dancing tonight, since no one was at risk of elimination, so maybe we needed another name for the panel in this episode. I would provide an example but I'm honestly terrible at this (chuckles). Anyway, onto more important matters...
Contemporary Group #1 -
Dancers: Alexa, George, Will & Amber
Choreographer: Tyce Diorio
Music: "We Found Love (BBC Radio 1 Live Lounge)" - Jessie J

This one was a little difficult for me to discuss: 1) Because I can't quite make out or understand the story of the piece (assuming there is one), and 2) I have no experience in contemporary dance. However, regardless of whether this piece had a story or not, or if I understood it, what's clear here is that Tyce was given a fine group of dancers to work with, and boy did he bring his A game. Honestly, this was one of favorite contemporary group routines from the showcase episodes, seeing how well the dancers performed this. They made it seem very effortless going between long extended movements to smaller, sharper movements and the tons of partnering Tyce threw in here. For me, I think Amber and George stood out the most in this piece, and yet all 4 seemed to be enjoying themselves the entire time. It was a great way to start the night. (And on a side note, is it just me or did Amber look a bit like Rihanna in this piece?) NEXT...
Ballroom Group -
Dancers: Lindsay, Witney & Nick
Choreographer: Jason Gilkinson
Music: "Dance Again" - Jennifer Lopez feat. Pitbull

there's="" Iveta & Pasha from last season. Sorry, not much else to say. NEXT...
Ballet Group -
Dancers: Eliana, Chehon & Daniel
Choreographer: Desmond Richardson & Dwight Rhoden
Music: "Romantic Inclinations/Like A Shot/Fury" - P. Mottram, S. Everitt, G. Shadid, T.           Marberger

Here's a piece that showcased two different sides of ballet; one side which seems like a ballet set to something more classical (very much like the ballet stereotypes), but then changes abruptly into something more intense and physically demanding; something, for lack of a better word, modern. Choreographed by two world-renowned contemporary/ballet choreographers, this routine definitely showcase some seriously strong classical technique from its three dancers. For me, Eliana definitely stood out here, since she was almost always front and center, but Daniel and Chehon definitely held their own too. I noticed Chehon was a bit out of sync with the other two at one point in the beginning, but that's a minor flaw compared to the rest of the routine. NEXT...
Jazz Group -
Dancers: Audrey, Tiffany (Janelle was unable to perform tonight)
Choreographer: Sonya Tayeh
Music: "Sail" - Awolnation

So unfortunately, Janelle got sick and was advised not to perform tonight by the doctors, which is sad considering it might put her at a disadvantage for the next show. It also could have helped pick apart which dancer was which in this routine because, for the second time in this show, I had a tough time remembering who was Audrey and who was Tiffany. Sonya brings her typical strong, quirky choreography to this piece, but I wonder if it might have been straining on these girls. Both of them had a few falters in the beginning but pulled it together for the second half. I think Sonya has choreographed more interesting pieces than this, and maybe Janelle could have helped this one be more memorable. But for what it was, it was okay. NEXT...
Contemporary Group #2 -
Dancers: Matthew, Dareian, Janaya & Amelia
Choreographer: Stacey Tookey
Music: "Modern Drift" - Efterklang

This routine seemed to be the result of bringing 4 different personalities together, which even though they're all contemporary dancers, they all seem to bring something to the table. Stacey Tookey delivers another strong piece that fits the mold of her work on the show: bringing strong technical routines that flows through the whole thing. I'll admit, I wasn't crazy about this piece, mainly because of the music, but the four dancers really did well. Stacey's also great at creating strong moments in her pieces and for this piece, there is a fantastic moment where Amelia runs across the front of the stage, performs a spinning jump, and is caught by Dareian, perfectly in sync with the music. Between this and the first contemporary routine from Tyce, we can expect more stellar contemporary routines to follow this season. NEXT...
Hip Hop (or Individual Styles) Group -
Dancers: Cole, Brandon & Glitch
Choreographer: Christopher Scott
Music: "Resolve" - Nathan Lanier

This was EASILY my favorite routine of the night. Not only because of the pairing of these three uniquely different dancers but for the creativity behind the routine. Creating a baseball themed routine (in honor of the upcoming MLB All-Star game), Chris Scott found a way to highlight each of these three dancers and to show off exactly how talented they are in their craft. What surprised me more than anything else is how well Glitch performed here, since he seemed to struggle with every round in Vegas week. My only setback with this routine is I wish Brandon had gotten a bigger stepping solo or more time to show off what he does best. Still, this is an incredibly fun routine to watch and I hope the hip-hop choreographers can continue to bring this kind of excitement to their  routines to this season. Now onto the larger group performances...
Top 10 Girls -
Style: Contemporary
Choreographer: Travis Wall
Music: "Where the Light Gets In" - Sennen

This routine featured a door prop, which was meant to symbolize the gateway to the afterlife. And the routine itself was about the girls wanting to cross through the door and into the light. Travis and the girls both noted how this routine could also be interpreted as the journey they've gone through on this, with crossing through the door to represent them making it into the Top 10 girls. For me, the best word to describe the whole piece would be gorgeous. Everything, from the girls to the choreography to the music he chose, it was gorgeous. Travis is brilliant at creating pieces where the choreography builds all the way to the end, and here was no exception. The second half of this piece is just divine, when all the girls come together (in perfect synchronicity with each other) all the way into that final image of Alexa standing in the doorway as the other girls create one body and move towards her and cross through the door. It was a complete contrast from last season's routine, but just as amazing to watch.
Top 10 Guys -
Style: Jazz
Choreographer: Sonya Tayeh
Music: "Precognition" (Steed Lord Machine Mix) - Steel Lord

Sonya wanted a create a piece to represent the fight that it takes for the dancers to stay on the show. And seeing how she had 10 strong guys to work with, she held nothing back. She managed to mix lots of lifts and assisted lifts in here along with her usually quirky and odd movements that showed off exactly how athletic this group of guys is. The only setback I could find were the outfits; I mean.... what is that? What even is that? It especially seemed strange on Will; poor guy, he gonna give the costume department a challenge this season for being so tall. Either way, this routine showed off the abilities of the guys quite well, so mission accomplished.
Top 20 Dancers -
Style: Contemporary/Jazz (though don't take this at face value since it's difficult to label this piece)
Choreographer: Mia Michaels
Music: "Eyes" (Coachella Live 2012 version) - Kaskade

"The Queen of Contemporary" is back to choreograph a very interesting piece for the Top 20. It's strange and quirky (very much like Sonya's choreography), and yet it's very theatrical at the same time. After watching it a few times, this pieces is the very definition of a "build-up". The piece starts out slow and meticulous and it goes on, it begins to open up, with bigger movements and formations and faster choreography, and just the piece seems like it's about to let the dancers go wild... it ends.... And for me, this makes it all the more interesting. It's almost like the piece asking "Do you want see more? You're gonna have to wait and see what comes", which for me is a fantastic way to end this showcase since it left me very excited to see the next show.

So overall, I think this was a fantastic show.  Typically the whole goal of the showcase is to not only show off the abilities of the dancers but to highlight what the choreographers will bring to this season. With that in mind, this was one of the better showcase episodes from the last few seasons. All the dancers performed well in both the larger and smaller group performances. But for me, the best part about this seasons' dancers is just how diverse they are; in style and in versatility. And while once again the number of contemporary dancers reigns supreme among the group, it's great that there's a pretty evened out number of other styles here to compete for the titles.

So, do you have any favorite routines from the show? Do you have any favorite dancers going into the elimination shows? Let me know below, and thanks for reading!

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