Cat Deeley really hates Thursdays, and nothing makes me love her more than her mama bear attitude toward all of the Top 20 dancers on this reality dance show competition program we like to call Dancey Dance. She earned a thousand extra adorable points for me last night by choosing to follow up Wednesday’s ruffle kerfuffle with a sleek double breasted white suit, which, after seeing the group number, I decided was an intentional move on Cat’s part to reflect the style and costuming of the piece, thus giving the show’s introduction a smooth and cohesive appearance.
That opening number, by the way, was brought to us by Mia Michaels. In it, the Top 18 donned black business suits, black lipstick and face-obscuring mokos (the traditional form of facial tattooing amongst the Maori of New Zealand) while dancing to “Higher Ground” by Stevie Wonder amid bright photo-studio flashbulbs and projections of the dancers’ mokoed faces on the big SYTYCD screen. Although I knew last night’s piece would be Mia’s (because Nigel teased Brandon about it on Wednesday), I had my doubts during the choreography of this piece. This isn’t to say it was un-Mia, as I know she does have a fondness for tribal dance (which you can see in her Top 4 number from last year, which was brought down by some poor costuming decisions), but it was almost more Sonya Tayeh in its strictness of movement. Ah, but then the dancers launched their bodies in the air, nearly four feet off the ground as horizontally and fluidly as possible and I was once again sure it was a Mia Michaels piece.
I made a note to myself to think about the piece overnight and try to divine its meaning, so here’s the best I’ve got: this piece was about the loss of cultural identity in Western culture. It reminded me very much of one of the books I wrote my thesis on, Jill Ciment’s The Tattoo Artist, which is about a 1920s bohemian artist who ends up shipwrecked on the island of Ta’un’uu with her lover, only to be forcibly tattooed (on their faces, no less) by the natives and assimilated into their culture. After about 60 years spent on the island, Sarah (the protagonist) fully loses her Western identity and becomes one of the most revered tattooists on Ta’un’uu. In the end, she returns to New York City to be photographed for Life magazine after a journalist somehow finds her on Ta’un’uu and has trouble reconciling the person she was before Ta’un’uu with the person she became there. Only, Mia’s piece is something of the opposite. It’s like what Sarah’s experience would have been at that Life magazine photoshoot: the flashbulbs illuminating her face, the contours of her mouth obscured by five concentric circles of pitch black ink. It was about the process of assimilating culture in the reverse of the assimilation of The Tattoo Artist: it was about appropriating the Maori traditions and turning them into faceless, nameless entities to be repackaged in a way pleasing to the Western eye (the business suits). Nothing illuminated that more for me than the brief moments in which we did see the Life-esque photographs of the dancers’ mokoed faces, staring back at us with a near-expressionless sadness. The one that struck me most, I think, was Kupono’s, because the dance itself, although it was based in Maori heritage, could have easily been about the same struggle as those of the Native peoples of Hawaii.
If what I just wrote doesn’t make a lot of sense to you, that’s okay, because the producers followed up the Top 18 number with a package on the Tao of C, highlighting Lil C’s particularly verbose rhetoric, and you’re welcome to lump my analysis into the portion of your brain that ignores Lil C if you’re not into that sort of thing.
After that, it was time to get to results. Cat called up Melissa and Ade, Caitlin and Jason and Phillip and Jeanine. She informed us straight away that Melissa and Ade were safe and that, as I predicted, Chbeeb and Jeanine have already accumulated enough fans to keep themselves out of the bottom three, landing Caitlin and Jason the first two spots in the “Dance for Your Life” solo round. Their presence in the bottom three, however, totally screws up one of my bottom three predictions. So while I may have been a very premium judge of dances last week, this week, I got one measly fucking point in the “EW Predictify SYTYCD” challenge. So, you know, don’t trust me on everything.
Of the next three couples to sweat it out before Cat Deeley, my other favorites from last night Brandon and Jeanette were told they were safe, followed by Jonathan and Karla-of-the-totally-blank-face, leaving Ashley and Kupono in the bottom three, which would be the only predication I actually got right this week.
Finally, Randi and Evan, Auska and Vitolio and Kayla and Max took the stage. Before any results were given, Cat reminded everyone that they’re currently auditioning dancers for fall’s season 6 and showed a clip of Ryan Kasprzak’s audition and subsequent immediate ticket to Vegas, just to make little brother Evan smile. I had been worried about the show losing its momentum going into season 6, but dear sweet Lord, if Ryan Kasprzak makes it to the Top 20 of season 6, I will never, ever, ever stop believing in this show. You give me Ryan Kasprzak followed by Glee on Wednesdays at 9 and I will be deliciously fucking happy.
As for the results themselves, I was happy to hear that Randi and Evan got by this week on the strength of how cute they are (also, did anyone else notice that the recap of this dance made the judges comments seem overall more positive than they actually were on Wednesday?) but then totally and completely shocked to see that Kayla and Max ended up in the bottom three rather than Auska and Vitolio. Granted, Auska and Vitolio were beautiful this week and the only reason I thought they’d be in the bottom three is that I’ve seen a number of commenters out here in the innertubes that spend their whole day hating on Auska. And you must know how totally shocked I am to see Kayla and Max in the bottom too, considering they were one of my top three most premium dances of the night! Dear SYTYCD viewers: please do not hate on Brian the Evil Elf, or I will post the Dmitry and Ashlee Fall Out Boy dance again, just to show you he’s wicked cool. And that’s a threat, because you’d then have to listen to a Fall Out Boy song and actually enjoy it.
So after a performance of some totally difficult (because it has to be perfectly timed to the music) Indian dancing by a lady with tons of little tintinabulating bells tied to her feet, Kayla, Max, Caitlin, Jason, Kupono and Ashley all danced for their lives:
- Caitlin danced to “Make You Feel My Love” by Adele, and while I think she looked strong, I didn’t really think much of her solo. I am beginning to realize that I might not like her.
- Jason danced to “Superman” by Robin Thicke. Nigel later called this the strongest solo he’d ever seen. Uh, I like Jason a lot, but I’m not sure that’s true.
- Ashley danced to “By Your Side” by Coco Kosse. While I appreciate the fact that she dressed up like Marion Cotillard to perform this piece, I don’t understand why she made that choice or why she chose not to really dance while doing so.
- Kupono “danced” to “Many Moons” by Janella Monrae (I think?). You know, I like Kupono, but he is no Mark Kanemura. The only reason I’d want him to stay on the show is because I want to hear about his furniture collection, but this solo was a steaming pile of poop. He basically just ran around and occasionally vogued poorly. Benny Ninja would be ashamed!
- Kayla danced to “Walking on Air” by Kerli. The girl shouldn’t have been in the bottom three in the first place, but she took the name of her song choice very literally and spent most of this solo physically in the air in a variety of leaps, twirls and mid-air splits. Nigel later said her solo was crowded, and I guess that’s true, but you can’t knock the fact that she did everything she jammed into that solo incredibly well.
- Max danced to “Footloose” by Kenny Loggins. Hands down, one of the most violent jive steps I’ve ever seen. Also, I now know that while he’s a great dancer, he totally can’t choreograph. There was a lot of dead space between segments in this solo.
The judges went backstage to deliberate and Krisinia DeBarge of the family DeBarge (whom you should totally check out on Punky Brewster!) showed up to lip-sync (and poorly!) her new single, “Goodbye.” After which the “jidges” announced that they were not unanimous on their decisions and decided to send Ashley packing (goodbye, my vomiting friend!), which wasn’t totally surprising, because Nigel wants to bone Caitlin and it did take Ashley four auditions before the producers finally caved and added her to the Top 20. But then we also had to say goodbye to Max, which I really think was the wrong decision. Yes, Kupono is perhaps a little more interesting in the personality department, but what about the idea of having a well-rounded Top Whatever? Last week, Paris was let go because she was the weakest of the eight contemporary dancers that comprised the Top 20. Why would you axe your only male ballroom dancer so early in the competition, and let an inferior contemporary dancer stay? I think Kayla was even more unhappy than I was at Max’s untimely departure. She’s a very strong dancer, but I am worried about her dancing with Kupono. I think she only benefited from having a great partner like Max who was strong and knew how to partner well – two things I do not think of when I see Kupono, especially after that horrible solo.
So next week, we’ll have a new couple: Kayla and Kupono, which is only promising because of their alliterative names. But I’m worried about Kayla. Please transcend this disaster, Radomkulous! Persevere!