The husband and I journeyed up to the Pacific Northwest last Saturday to find ourselves a new home in Seattle. I’m happy to report that the trip went well and we’re now renting a three-bedroom place about two miles from the University with a giant-ass bedroom loft, strange pink 1950s bathroom, working fireplace, adorable backyard, cozy 50s kitchen and, most importantly, a murder basement. We don’t really have basements and attics in California because of earthquake logistics (i.e. having a basement makes your house fall into said basement), and while Seattle is on a fault line, I guess they just don’t care as much. A friend in Vancouver, WA pointed out that a basement is a good place to hide out from that active volcano Washington’s got going on. I generally assume basements are places to do devious things found in horror movies. The husband currently has plans to turn part of the basement into a rec room for private DVD-watching and video game-playing. If all else fails, it’s a big enough space to hide the bodies.
We did get a little TV time in, watching So You Think You Can Dance with our cousin Audrey on Wednesday night, and saving the results show for the end of our long drive home on Thursday. This week’s SYTYCD post will be condensed, so here goes:
Melissa and Ade (Pas de Deux)
Choreographer: Thordal Christensen
Song: “Romeo & Juliet” (from the ballet)
Last year, we saw Katee and Joshua wow us with a modern pas de deux, but I was even more wowed by the show’s first ever classical pas de deux. It was wonderful to see Melissa in her ballet element, as she is completely and totally brilliant in everything she does, but especially here. I wonder how the show’s other ballerinas would have done were they given the chance to perform a pas de deux (either modern or classical), but even so, I don’t think they’d have been as good as Melissa. Even more beautiful than her dancing was her acting. She may be 29, but when I watched her face, I believed she was 14 and falling in love for the first time with a strange, sexy black man. Having never seen a ballet of Romeo & Juliet, but knowing the play extremely well, I don’t know if the lovely palm-to-palm press is part of the traditional choreography, so I’m just going to compliment Thordal Christensen on his dedication to the text. Nothing moved me more in this piece than when Melissa and Ade pressed their hands together, palm to palm, and I recalled Shakespeare’s words: “For saints have hands that pilgrim’s hands do touch / And palm to palm is holy palmer’s kiss.”
The Good to Very Good
Jeanette and Brandon (Cha Cha)
Choreography by Jean-Marc Genereux and his wife, France (France seems to be doing a lot of work in these pieces this year, so it’s only fair we start recognizing that, like TabNap, they’re a team.)
Song: “Hush Hush : Hush Hush” by the Pussycat Dolls, which has a lot of unnecessary punctuation
Jeanette and Brandon started off the show with a pretty hot, spicy cha cha. Certainly, it was better than the crapsicle of cha cha delivered to us earlier in the season by Karla and Jonathan. I enjoyed it, but I clearly didn’t enjoy it as much as Mary Murphy, who gave it a total of four Official Mary Murphy Screams as well as two First Class Tickets to the Hot Tamale Train. Nigel called Brandon the Michelangelo of dance, noting how good and light his feet were in this performance. I actually thought this was their weakest week, and I love Jeanette and Brandon. They were good this week, just not disco good or hip-hop good or even as lovely as their waltz. Also, Jeanette’s dress looked like she killed a Fraggle. Just sayin’.
Kayla and Kupono (Contemporary)
Choreography by Sonya Tayeh
Song: “Eyes on Fire” by Blue Foundation
I have to knock a few creativity points off Sonya for describing this piece as having some vampiric qualities (Kupono plays a sort of death-spirit easing Kayla into her death) because her music choice, though quite beautiful and haunting, comes from the Twilight soundtrack. So, yes, clearly many people think that song has some vampiric qualities. I liked this piece, and I thought, as usual, that Kayla was amazing in it. The trouble with being her partner is that I only want to watch her. To Kupono’s credit, though, he did manage to draw my eye away from Kayla in a section with some loose-form pirouettes. Nigel, in fact, noticed Kupono more than Kayla and praised his work in the piece more than Kayla’s. Hmm.
Phillip and Jeanine (Hip-Hop)
Choreography by Tabitha and Napoleon Duomo
Song: “Love Lockdown” by Kanye West
Although I tend to get really angry when Broadway routines are taken too literally (because literal Broadway becomes hokey), I don’t mind as much when a hip-hop routine gets literal. Here, TabNap chained Phillip and Jeanine together as a way to discuss the partnership the SYTYCD dancers have, chained to someone for five weeks of competition to learn to work together. This is also a metaphor for Tabitha and Napoleon’s marriage, as is everything they do. I really liked it and I thought both Phillip and Jeanine were very strong in it. Mary commended them for not falling down, Nigel made some negative sexist jokes about how the piece was about how men feel in a marriage (thanks, Nigel!) and Mia said that she was a little bit thrown off by the chain because it sometimes distracted her from the dancing.
The Brian Freidmaniest
Caitlin and Jason (Pop Jazz)
Choreography by Brian Friedman
Song: “Creator” by Santigold (Did MIA sample them or are they sampling MIA here?)
Oh, Brian Friedman. I took one look at this piece and I knew whoever had it would land in the bottom three. People are just not into Brian Friedman this year. I realize he’s been gone for a while, but is there really such a difference between a doll brought to life dancing to Fall Out Boy and a fight for a throne or a crazy-looking lady-alien impregnating Jason? We all liked that Fall Out Boy thing from season two, right? What gives? I think Caitlin and Jason danced the choreography extremely well, and, most importantly, they both got into their characters more than I’ve seen them do in the past. I think Nigel is right to point out that Caitlin’s costume didn’t quite work — she was basically some rubber alien dinosaur — but wrong to say that she should have been wearing less. He only said that because he wants to do her, and that shouldn’t have anything to do with the wardrobe department’s missteps.
Randi and Evan (Broadway)
Choreography by Joey Dowling, friend to Andy Blankenbeuhler and Mia Michaels
Song: “Rich Man’s Frug” from Sweet Charity
While I enjoyed watching this more than other Broadway routines on this show, I’d hoped that the associate choreographer of In the Heights wouldn’t also turn out to be a Fosse worshipper like Tyce DiOrio. But, alas, she is. Dowling’s piece basically took some signature moments from the film version of Sweet Charity and threw them all together into something vaguely coherent. (Husband Note: As Joey Dowling was also in the recent revival of Sweet Charity, I have to assume that show’s director/choreographer also lifted a few of the moves from the movie as well.) Still, this could have been anything else, and it could have been more original. Randi and Evan weren’t bad in it, but they also weren’t good in it. It did nothing for them — and that’s really sad because Evan and Randi can both do a lot. The whole thing was mostly just a lot of posing and posturing. That said, I do give Evan lots of credit for being very Chuck Bass in his characterization. Sigh. Can’t Shankers do some Broadway? How about Jerry Mitchell? His dance show on Bravo is done, and so is Legally Blonde. What else does he have to do? At this point, I’d kill to see someone choreograph to “Ohmigod, You Guys” from Legally Blonde on this show just to breathe some life into the stagnant pool that is Broadway dance on SYTYCD.
Karla and Vitolio (Quickstep)
Choreography by Jean-Marc and France Genereux
Song: “Puttin’ on the Ritz” by Rufus Wainwright
The Genereuxs definitely created a fun and interesting quickstep with this piece, but that still doesn’t help the fact that the quickstep is the worst dance on SYTYCD. No one ever does a quickstep well (although Sabra and Pasha had one of my favorite ones in the show’s history in season three, set to “Mr. Pinstripe Suit” by Big Bad Voodoo Daddy), but Karla and Vitolio actually did a good job with this impossible dance. I was very impressed by the quick-change from Karla’s polka-dot museum day outfit into her fancy evening dress to dance with statue-come-to-life Vitolio. Plus, the Rufus Wainwright song was a great choice — lively, frenetic, joyous — all the things a quickstep is supposed to be but never quite is.
After the performances, my picks for the bottom three were Karla and Vitolio, simply for having a dance everyone would hate, Randi and Evan, for getting an unlucky Broadway routine, and Caitlin and Jason, for getting a Brian Freidman routine.
I was proven wrong, however, on results night when, after a wild and inventive Tyce DiOrio routine in which all of the dancers came out of a painting after closing time at a museum to be alive (Kayla doing so in the nudest of nude leotards, making me, once again, only watch her) set to “Brand New Day” from The Wiz, which is the only thing Tyce loves more than Bob Fosse. This was so interesting to watch (and by interesting, I mean, batshit crazy) that I’d sat at home hoping that Nigel had choreographed it due to its similarity to a certain piece in The Apple:
Suffice it to say, I was surprised to see it was Tyce.
Cat, in her shiny shiny version of a runner’s outfit/dress, lined up all of the couples and announced who was safe, and who was going to have to dance for their lives. For the sake of space, I’ve included my initial reactions below:
- Karla and Vitolio: Bottom 3! I am a very premium judge of dances!
- Randi and Evan: Safe! This is good because I like them!
- Jeanette and Brandon: Safe! As they should be.
- Kayla and Kupono: Bottom 3! Wait, what? Is the Twilight soundtrack not enough to endear you to voters? Is America turning on Kayla? HOW CAN THIS BE?
- Melissa and Ade: Safe! Correct!
- Jeanine and Phillip: Bottom 3! Really, y’all? You saved them in that abysmal tango, but put them in danger for a hip-hop routine they performed well?
- Caitlin and Jason: Safe! And my Brian Freidman rule is proven wrong immediately.
As the dancers went to prepare themselves for their solos, Desmond Richardson and Patricia Hashey performed an astounding contemporary ballet. Let me just gush for a moment about how unsettling and gorgeous Patricia was when she stood en pointe like a spider, her pelvis parallel to her knees, her legs forming a box with the floor. That was unfuckingbelievable. I’ve never seen anything quite like that before, not have I seen two people dance with the strength and grace these two had. Monumentally awesome.
- Karla danced to “Blackbird” by Dionne Farris. Each week, her solos get more interesting. This one was certainly her best to date, and I’d rather watch her do this than anything else.
- Vitolio danced to “Here Comes Goodbye” by the Rascal Flatts. I finally saw his weaknesses in this solo, which was basically just a lot of posing and posturing, connected with a few turns. Bad times.
- Kayla danced to “Stupid” by Sarah McLachlan and I can tell, not only from her tears, that she’s getting frustrated with landing in the bottom three. This solo was not her strongest and was mostly just a lot of kicks and leg-extensions — the go-to Melody solo from season 1. Leg extensions do not a good solo make.
- Kupono “danced” to “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” by Israel Kamakawiwo’ole. Wow, he is really terrible at choreography. Probably worse than Vitolio, actually.
- Jeanine danced to Beethoven’s “Moonlight Sonata” and easily delivered the best solo of the girls. She showed us grace and technique, all in 30 seconds.
- Phillip performed to “You’ll Find a Way” by Santigold and he fucking rocked that shit.
Do you see what you’ve done, America? How dare you put Phillip and Jeanine in the bottom two this week! Undeserved!
The judges went backstage to deliberate, which must have been difficult for Mia Michaels to navigate in that garbage bag of a tunic she was wearing. Kelly Clarkson performed “I Do Not Hook Up” and more than enjoying the song and the performance, it became clear to me that Miss Clarkson needs to fire her stylist. She’s taken some recent hits in tabloids for not being the skinniest pop diva (and she’s not — I’d guess she’s a very average 8 or 10), and there have been some very unflattering photos of her to support those claims. First of all, Kelly, please do not be blondeish anymore. Your hair looks ashy. It’s doing nothing for your skin and its making you look old. You are a brunette, and we like you that way. Secondly, you have larger arms. You cannot wear something with a giant drape across your breasts that turns your larger arms into wings. It is not flattering on you at all. Please, please fire your stylist. I want you to look as fabulous as you are.
After Kelly Clarkson was done, the “jidges” returned to announce their decisions, both unanimous. Jeanine and Phillip were immediately saved for producing coherent, stunning solos, Kupono was told he can’t choreograph, and Kayla instructed not to look desperate. Karla was sent packing, as was her partner Vitolio, who just couldn’t break out of his impressive presence to show us what he could do. Karla said something about how she hungers and thirsts dance, which makes me question just want she learned in that journalism program at NYU. You can hunger and thirst for dance, you can eat and drink dance, but you can’t hunger and thirst dance. Those words do not work that way!
- I loved Cat’s pink dress and studded belt from Wednesday’s performance show. So fetch.
- I think the producers knew we’d be watching the show with my husband’s cousin, who, while a fan, hasn’t caught a single episode this season. Just for Audrey, they made sure she was caught up by asking the dancers to discuss their highs and lows on the show during the producer package.
- On Wednesday night, Nigel announced that Katie Holmes would be performing in a Tyce DiOrio tribute to Judy Garland (which I will be calling “Katie! Katie! Does Judy! Judy,” like the Rufus Wainwright show I’ve got DVR’d right now) on the July 23rd show, to commemorate SYTYCD’s 100th episode. She was pretty good in that episode of Eli Stone where she did “Hit Me with a Hot Note.” We’ll see how this goes.
- Nigel also announced the formation of SYTYCD’s dance scholarship for underprivileged dancers, The Dizzy Feet Foundation. Katie Holmes also has something to do with this, which is a nice thing to help her out of relative obscurity. In seriousness, though, I’m pro-anything that promotes arts education in America, and I couldn’t be happier that a show that has brought the art of dance into American living rooms is doing something to nurture young artists and keep dance at the forefront of culture.
- “You can’t fake classical ballet.” — Mia Michaels
- America, please stop hating Kayla because she’s beautiful and talented. I don’t want to see her in the bottom three anymore.
- In other news, due to my mad prediction skillz, I am now officially ahead of everyone at EW in the SYTYCD Predictify game. I am currently 734th out of 3144 players. Suck it! I am a very premium judge of dances!
- I apparently missed Scott Bakula in the audience on Wednesday night. Instead, I thought I saw Sarah Vowell, which my husband informs me would never happen, because she does not drive and thus would hate L.A.
- Favorite quote of performance night:
- Jeanine: “We have chains all over our apartment.”
Cat: “I thought that was only certain clubs on weekends!”
You may notice my Husband Note in my wife’s post above in regards to Sweet Charity. I have a particular fondness for this show (less so for the somewhat overindulgent movie) because it was the first musical I performed in. And as non-arts-based American high schools are always a bit low on male actors, I played eight separate characters in the ensemble, and appeared both in the background for the striptacular “Hey Big Spender” that introduces us to all the “dance hall hostesses” of the shows, and danced in the goofily posh and waaaaaaay-too-1960s “Rich Man’s Frug” that appears halfway through act one during Charity’s date with Vittorio Vidal. Just to let you know how little Joey Dowling created on her own for this dance, here are both sequences from the Bob Fosse-directed-and-choreographed movie.
I don’t dislike Ms. Dowling’s work at all, though. She definitely got most of it right, and if you hadn’t seen the show or the movie, it might be 100% awesome. I just want a little originality in my choreography.