Friday, June 22, 2012

MercerMZ reviews So You Think You Can Dance Las Vegas week, with solo highlights

Solo Highlights
Janelle Issis - a 23 yr. old, full-blooded Palestinian belly dancer. Janelle did not appear on my predictions list from last time, mainly because I look at cultural dancers as wild cards when they head into Vegas. This show (particularly the American version) has not seen a lot of cultural dancers in the auditions/semi-finals, and with my lack of knowledge about their style of dance, it's difficult to predict how they may do in the competition. Last season, I made too hasty of an assumption by saying Irish step dancer Mary Kate Sheehan (click to watch) would make Top 20, when she ended up being cut in the Hip Hop round. So this season, I decided not to do the same with Janelle. But, as it turns out, she is among the remaining 35 dancers, waiting to hear her fate in the competition.

Amelia Lowe (Dance For Your Life) - After failing to impress the judges in the Jazz round, Amelia was fortunate enough to dance a solo for the judges to stay in the competition. I think Amelia's strongest quality in this solo was not only how effortless she made the dancing look, but that she really dives into the character she plays in her solo. It's probably why she made it all the way to the end of the week.

Cyrus "Glitch" Spencer (Dance For Your Life) - Glitch struggled through almost every round in Vegas, and the ballroom round proved to be the toughest of them all. Ballroom is a round that provides the biggest challenge for many hip hop dancers and has asked for some of them to dance solos in the past (most notably Bboy Legacy (Click to watch). For Glitch, not only did he dance, but he completely threw down and put all of himself out there to stay. With this solo, Glitch has come into the running for being among some of the sickest poppers the show has seen (along with Pacman from IaMmE and Robert Murraine aka Mr.Fantastic)
Vegas Week Recap

(Note: I already featured most of these people in my last write-up, so click here to get a reminder of some the auditions from the Final 35). And click on dancer names in the 'casualties' list to see some of their SYTYCD work.

This season, the judges panel consisted of 6 permanent judges: executive producer Nigel Lythgoe, ballroom dancer Mary Murphy, choreographer Tyce Diorio, dancer/choreographer Debbie Allen, producer Adam Shankman, and krumper Lil C. The judge’s panel also received initial input from the choreographers in each round as well. Kicking off the week was the first solo round, where all 181 dancers had to perform a solo to remind the judges why they were sent here to Vegas in the first place. If they made an good impression, they were sent through the choreography rounds. And typically, with so many dancers entering the competition, the judges are never hesitant with sending dancers home. By the end of the round, 51 dancers had been sent packing before the week even began.
Casualties: Tim Conkel
Then began the very first choreography round: hip-hop. This season, the round was choreographed by SYTYCD All-Stars Comfort Fedoke (Season 4 Top 8) and Stephen "tWitch" Boss (Season 4 Runner-up). Choreographing a high-energy piece to "B.O.B" by Outkast, the dancers were expected to bring both personality, energy, and a groove to the piece. And while more than two thirds of the contestants managed to get through, there were a few that simply couldn't get it down. By the end of the round, 24 more dancers had been cut, leaving only 106 dancers at the end of the first day.

Casualties: Hampton "The Exorcist" Williams (who bowed out of the competition), Andre "Androiid" Rucker (who also bowed out), Boris "Top Knoch" Penton, Gene Lonardo, Bree Hafen
At the start of Day 2, the contestants moved to the next round: Broadway. Choreographed by Tyce Diorio, the story behind the piece was about a guy and girl dancing in a club at 2am, who after stopping for a water break, suddenly kick into overdrive. Tyce and the judges were looking for big, expressive characters in this round to go along with the dancing. During the round, Alexa Anderson managed to scrap by with a warning from the judges that she needed to bring more personality to her dancing. But for 24 other dancers, they were not so lucky, leaving 82 remaining in Vegas.

Casualties: Teddy Tedholm (a Vegas week veteran), Sam Lenarz
Ending the second day of Vegas was the Jazz round, choreographed by the quirky and aggressive Sonya Tayeh. She was looking for strength, aggression, texture & musicality from the dancers. And unfortunately for many, particularly the girls, this round proved difficult for them to handle. This round sent Amelia Lowe & Rachel Applehans into the bottom, forcing them to dance for their lives. It also sent Danielle Dominguez to the hospital, after being kicked in the side of her head hard by another contestant.

Casualties: Shafeek "Mighty Mouse" Westbrook, Britney Ortner, Rachel Applehans
Unfortunately for the dancers, Day 2 carried over into the late hours/early hours of Day 3, as they took on the Group Choreography round. The dancers had to form their own groups of 5-6 members and choreograph a routine from a selected piece of music to show the judges first thing in the morning. This is typically the most stressful round for the dancers, having already danced 2 rounds that day and running low on energy. And in many cases it shows on stage, often times forcing the judges to eliminate most, if not all, the members of the group. Plenty of cuts came in this round, but the highlight was Aubrey Klinger's group called "The Highschoolers" who, according to the judges, felt it was one of the best group choreographed pieces in 9 seasons of the show.

Casualties: Danielle Dominguez
Moving on to the next round in Vegas was the Ballroom round, and serving the dancers a sensual but intense cha cha was Australian choreographer Jason Gilkinson. The Ballroom round requires personality, fast and fancy footwork, and above all, strong partnering from the dancers. And this round has always taken a toll on the dancers. Many more standouts from the auditions were sent home and this was the round that forced Cyrus "Glitch" Spencer to dance for his life. By the end of this round, only 52 of 181 were still left in the competition.

Amber Williams, Asher Walker, Deanna "Dee" Tomasetta, Aubrey Klinger (audition at the end of this video)
In the final choreographed round, the dancers take on Contemporary, choreographed by Travis Wall (SYTYCD Season 2 runner-up) and assisted by Robert Roldan (Season 7 3rd Place) and Melanie Moore (Season 8 Winner). Contemporary has never been an easy round, even for the contemporary dancers. This round, more than all the others, demands for technique, partnering and emotion from the dancers. Dancers who do well in this round typically make it onto the show. And indeed, at the first set of eliminations, 34 of 52 dancers made it through. The remaining 18 were asked to dance again, after which 12 were cut from the competition.

Casualties: Stepheon "The Zombie" Stewart (I think), Leo Reyes, Mariah Spears
And finally, on the last day of competition, the 40 remaining dancers each performed one last solo to convince the judges why deserve to head into the Top 20. Of the remaining 24 males and 16 females, the final solos showed a diversity of styles, including contemporary, jazz, theater, tap, ballet, ballroom, popping, stepping, and bellydancing. After which, the dancers lined up in genders to see who would be last to be cut. All 16 girls made it through, while 5 strong male dancers were cut before the end.

Casualties: Dres Reid (Season 8 Vegas veteran), Adrian Lee (Season 7 Vegas veteran), Brandon Dumlao (Vegas veteran)
And with that, 35 contestants remain to celebrate for the rest of the week. And among the final 35, there were a few faces I could makes out:
Males - Cyrus "Glitch" Spencer, Daniel Baker, Cole Horibe, Chehon Wespi-Tschopp, Dareian Kujawa
Females - Alexa Anderson, Amelia Lowe, Eliana Giraud, Witney Carson, Lindsay Arnold, Janelle Issis, Abigail Ruz, Audrey Case, Jasmine Mason

So next week we'll find which guys and girls will make the live shows. So tell me, what did you think of Vegas week this season. Were there any dancers who shouldn't have been cut? Were there any dancers who shouldn't have made it this far? Are your favorites still in?

Well, you already know my answer but I want to hear yours. So leave a comment and go watch some videos! And to find out who made it, tune into FOX at 8 pm next Wednesday to find out the full results.

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