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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.

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.
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!