And cue music...

Posted: Thursday, June 18, 2009 by Travis Cody in

Welcome to...

Judges tonight are Nigel Lythgoe and Mary Murphy, joined by Lil C. One thing to remember about Lil C is that he is wordy and sometimes his point gets missed in all the extra syllables.

OK? Here we go!

Randi Evans, a 23 year old Jazz dancer, and Evan Kasprzak, a 21 year old Broadway dancer, are paired in a Jive choreographed by Louis van Amstel. The key word for Jive is fun! Technically the dance wasn't great. But it also wasn't awful. They had a good time and their personalities really came across. Randi had so much bounce in her step, and Evan again proved he's a terrific partner. Louis put a lot of cheekiness into the choreography, including some tushy grabbing. Mary really picked on technique, and I agree with Nigel that Evan's footwork was a bit heavy. Both judges had some very high expectations of Evan and they seemed disappointed that he didn't live up to them, at least in their opinions. But I still loved the routine because it was...uhm...FUN...which is what Jive should be. And that jump over Randi...terrific!

Melissa Sandvig, a 29 year old Ballet dancer, and Ade Obayomi, a 20 year old Contemporary dancer, are paired in a Jazz dance choreographed by Sonya Tayeh. Last week they made smooth movement look effortless and beautiful. This week they take staccato and sharp movement and make it look equally effortless. But as well as they did the movements, I didn't connect as well with this piece. The music bothered me. I definitely like these two dancers, but I can't say I liked that routine. They both dance with such confidence and strength. And technically they are tremendous. They compliment one another. This is a terrific pairing. My trouble with the dance was more with the choreography. I usually enjoy Sonya, but not this time. Lil C did suggest that everyone else may be chasing Ade. Possibly.

Caitlin Kinney, a 21 year old Contemporary dancer, and Jason Glover a 21 year old Lyrical/Contemporary dancer are paired in a Hip Hop dance choreographed by Shane Sparks. Jason pulled my focus again. He commands the stage. He seems to have a star quality. I wasn't impressed with Caitlin this week. She wasn't able to hit the moves as hard, and that detracted from the connection between the two of them. They just weren't able to bring this dance together. Jason carried the piece. They did so well last week in the Bollywood number with sharp movements and excellent synchronicity. But that did not carry into this number. Collectively, the piece wasn't as good as I wanted it to be. But individually, Jason was excellent while Caitlin was fair.

Janette Manrara, a 25 year old Salsa dancer, and Brandon Bryant, a 19 year old Contemporary dancer, are paired in Disco choreographed by Doriana Sanchez. Wow that was fast! High energy. Lots of personality. Out of control tricks. Janette's flexibility added to the excellent execution of the lifts and tricks. And they both attacked the choreography. This is one of the better disco pieces I've seen on the show. There was a moment in the middle third where it kind of bogged down. A few of the connections between movements weren't smooth. And she had a bit of a slip or trip. But they picked it back up again toward the end. Janette was fearless in the overhead lifts. And Brandon's strength carried the day in that piece. Well done.

Asuka Kondoh, a 25 year old Latin Ballrooom dancer, and Vitolio Jeune, a 26 year old Contemporary dancer, are paired in a Waltz choreographed by Louis van Amstel. That was breathtaking. Louis made a deeply personal dance, and these dancers breathed life into the steps. They connected with each other, with the movement, with the music, and with me. It was quiet, emotional, and vulnerable. It was so much more than the fairy tale I expect from a Waltz. This piece was danced from within. And when dancers come from that center, from that home, the dance lives. Congratulations and thank you Louis, Asuka, and Vitolio. Bravo, brava, bravo.

Kayla Radomski, an 18 year old Jazz/Contemporary dancer, and Max Kapitannikov, a 26 year old Latin Ballroom dancer, are paired in a Pop/Jazz dance choreographed by Brian Friedman. The story is supposed to be about a princess and an evil prince trying to steal her throne. I did not like the costumes or the music. I didn't think that Max was strong in this number. He didn't seem to have any extension...almost like he couldn't be bothered to finish the movement. I did like Kayla. This kind of dance seemed to suit her very well. I didn't think I was going to like her at first, but she is so talented that she just draws me in. But I didn't really understand the dance. For me, it turned into an opportunity to watch Kayla dance rather than a cohesive piece between two dancers and the choreography.

Karla Garcia, a 23 year old Jazz/Contemporary dancer, and Jonathan Platero, a 21 year old Salsa dancer, are paired in a Contemporary dance choreographed by Stacey Tookey. My pal Anndi tells me that Stacey comes to us from SYTYCD Canada. Click here to see a bit of that work. This piece was very well done. What I enjoyed were some of the subtleties of the movement, like the way Karla drew her legs up during a few of the lifts. Those small details make the piece more accessible. Jonathan was a revelation. He buried himself in the character and the movement. He was there for her in every lift, and his body positions were instinctive. They became one dancer within this choreography, perfectly balanced and beautifully expressed. And Stacey...brava my dear. My pal Anndi said of Stacey's choreography, "...the routines reflect life...moments in time, snapshots taken at very specific points in relationships." I wish I had said that.

Jeanine Mason, an 18 year old Contemporary dancer, and Phillip Chbeeb, a 20 year old Popper, are paired in an American Tango choreographed by Tony Meredith. I'm very nervous for Phillip in this dance. I'm just not sure about how well he can take this kind of specific and technical choreography. The thing I appreciated was that they committed to the style. They worked hard at it. Tango is so difficult to do well. They had the aggressive attitude, and they were able to pull off some intricate steps and a couple of really tough lifts. But I can't call it a good Tango. It was a good effort, but technically it just wasn't well done. Janette had a few good moments, but in this kind of style the woman needs the man to be a strong lead. And Phillip wasn't able to get there.

Ashley Valerio, a 22 year old Contemporary dancer, and Kupono Aweau, a 23 year old Lyrical/Contemporary dancer, are paired in a Hip Hop dance choreographed by Shane Sparks. I didn't like that. Dammit. I wanted to. It didn't seem to have any continuity to it. They danced well in spots, and poorly in other spots. I didn't think Ashley hit it as hard as she needed to, and I didn't think Kupono ever looked comfortable in the routine. She was supposed to be his shadow, but I didn't see that story anywhere in the performance of the choreography. It just didn't work for me at all.

Did the dancing fall off this week from a great opening last week? I think we had some dancers work in styles that weren't familiar to them. In some cases they were able to overcome the unfamiliar movement and make the dances work. In other cases, they weren't.

And that is another thing I love about the show. It offers so many varied opportunities for dancers to experience the art, learn the technique, and hone the craft of dance.

The dancers last week set the bar so high. It's tough to top that week after week. So perhaps there has been a dip. But that just means there is opportunity to rise again next week.

My votes went to Randi and Evan. Pam rotated her votes between Randi and Evan, Asuka and Vitolio, and Karla and Jonathan. She's not really settled on any pair yet, so she went with the dances she enjoyed most.

Tune in tonight for results. And remember to leave any questions you might have in comments and I'll try to answer them in tomorrow's results post.


  1. I just think Kayla is too talented for Max. I've not seen her do anything but near perfection so far this season. She was not on my radar early in the auditions, but she is "in it to win it", and she just might do that very thing.

  1. Anndi says:

    A most excellent recap, bro! *giggle* It's like I was there when you wrote it *smile*.

    Lil C... blah blah something something movement something... ugh. He gave better feedback during the audition process. Nuff said. I'd rather hear Mary yell than the superfluous and excessive blathering. You read that right, Thom LOL.

    I did have a tougher time this week with the dances. Sometimes it was because the dancers didn't make it entertaining, sometimes it was because of choreography or costumes (what's with the Hammer pants on Max?).

    Bottome line is this. My favourite dancer not only has to have good technique, but has to be a true entertainer. They have to pop off my screen and grab me.
    Evan (who turned 22 on Monday - Happy Birthday Evan!!) and Randi did that despite some of his footwork. Why? It WAS fun! They had energy, they had great tricks (I don't know what Randi's husband is going to think of the tushie grab... I liked it). If it weren't for the judges pointing out the footwork, I think the average viewer (who doesn't know technique but knows what they enjoy) wouldn't have seen a thing wrong with the dance. They make it look comfortable.

    Melissa and Ade are technically wonderful. I'm still looking for the connection. But they are a joy to watch.

    Jason is a dancer I'm keeping my eye on. I got over his babyface this week. (and again, wardrobe peeps... Caitlin's outfit? bad and distracting.. no no no bad wardrobe peeps!)

    The disco routine just might have been the best one choreographed for the show. I still get distracted by Brandon's pageant-like thing he does. Janette is awesome, that split! Woooooooooo!

    Asuka and Vitolio - they connected... they danced perfectly... bravo indeed.

    Kayla and Max - didn't feel it, didn't understand it... she is a strong dancer indeed... but the pants? Really, what was WITH the Hammer pants?

    Karla and Jonathon had my favourite (with the proper "u" because Stacey is Canadian - heh!) choreography of the night (followed by Randi and Evan then Asuke and Vitolio). It's one thing to be given that gift of a moment in time by a choreographer... but these kids made me believe it. Magic.

    Jeannine and Phillip - well... he tried.

    Ashley and Kupono - Shane Sparks' style isn't working for me so far with this group of dancers. But, I have to say, I liked it better than the other fiasco.

    Expectations. That's what I told you yesterday morning. They came from the strength of some of last week's routines and from assumptions about certain dancers being "made for" certain styles.

    I have no clue how the voting is going to go. bring on the solos!

    Evan and Randi remain my fav couple.
    I'm looking forward to Mia's group choreography... so many contemporary dancers!

  1. Marsha says:

    I don't know, there were some dances this week that I just didn't get, and I'm thinking it was more the choreographer than the dancers. Both of Shane's dances rather fell a bit short for me...he's usually better.

    Sonya...ok, I'll admit it's HER I don't like, but I'm trying really hard to put her aside and get into her dances, as they are different.

    Abe is terrific, as are Jason, Evan, Randi and Kayla.

  1. I can speak intelligently about this show....


  1. Anonymous says:

    Lil C I can do without very much thank you. Just get to the point already and don't make your answer hard to understand. Now I know I'm not intellectual giant but I have a hard time understanding what he's trying to say. I hated Mary's do. Thank goodness the show isn't about that. And why the hell is she always looking over at Nigel? I don't get it or her and no Trav...she's not growing on me yet. That's all about her.

    I was so disappointed in Jason and Caitilin. They were so much better last week and I'm worried about,mainly Caitlin going home or at least being in the bottom three.

    Karla and Jonathan seemed to get themselves together this week and did an excellent job. I guess being in the bottom three and almost going home is a real big wake up call.

    Melissa and Ade I really liked their dance. I thought it was the dance of the night. Both of them are so powerful and just right on it.

    Janette and Brandon were my other favorites of the night. That split that she did was awesome. I was sad that she had that little mix up towards the end but I thought she did nice on her recovery from it and just kept right on going.

    Asuka and Vitolio left me cold for some reason. I just didn't enjoy that waltz at all. I couldn't connect with them.

    Another disappointment for me was Ashley and Kupono. They were so much better last week. Maybe it's just the style of dance that they did.

    Kayla and Max were a let down to me as well. Again, maybe it was the music or something but I don't think they did the job like last week.

    Jeanine and Phillip I thought were good but out of all the dances I think this was the worst one by far tonight. He didn't look like he was into very much to me for some reason. She carried the dance.

    The rest were all good. Nothing outstanding but I think good enough to sail through to next week.

    Will be interesting to see who goes tonight. I don't think it's going to be a couple however. I think it's going to split and Caitlin and Phillip I think you both are in the hot seat.

  1. Bond says:

    Holy Cow! I can see your blog AND comment from work ( well at least right this second).

    It certainly was an up and down show last evening. I got to the show late, so missed Evan (he is on TiVo at my apt though)

    I wonder if Nigel letting the public know that Phillip deserves to stay will help him as that was the routine of the evening that fell the shortest.

    Lil C does not bother me...LOL

  1. All of 'em are right purty

  1. Ivanhoe says:

    This is not my cup of tea, but I'm glad that you are enjoying this show before the REAL dancing show comes back in September :o) Did I tell you yet that I will be watching because my school will be over by then?

  1. Mo says:

    I hope that was the last time we see Tiny C this season. Did not enjoy him, his trucker ghetto hat, or his trying to impress people with his vocabulary (it just seemed strained).
    That said, I enjoyed the show this week.
    I think your recap is spot on.
    Here's my 2 cents:
    1. Randi and Evan's jive was FUN and a great way to start the show, but ended up being my 3rd favorite dance of the evening.
    2. THAT was Jazz???
    3. Jason is a total hottie imho, and the dance was good but not up to their Bollywood standards set on premiere week.
    4. DISCO LIVES! My personal favorite dance of the night!
    5. The waltz was moving while it happened, but not really that memorable in the long run...
    6. The costumes drew too much away from the dance. I think someone went thru the muppet show storage unit.
    7. Karla and Jonathan. Jonathan is my personal favorite of the year so far, and this was my second favorite dance of the night - which surprised me, because I'm not a 'contemporary' dance fan. But Karla's execution and well, Jonathan, won me over.
    8. I thought the Tango was better than the judges did, and this showed that Tiny C knows precious little about classic dance.
    9. Kupono is my underdog candidate for the season. I can't say that I like Hip Hop, and it was kind of an anti-climactic way to end the show. I'm sorry, but I didn't care for either of Shane Spark's routines for the night. Hope they give him a couple weeks off to come back and wow us with something.
    So, my favorites this week - 1) Disco! 2) Contemporary 3) Jive

  1. Akelamalu says:

    You're in heaven aren't you? LOL

  1. Anonymous says:

    I watched this again. I have a new absolute favorite and it's Janette and Brandon. They were absolutely on fire, even with her little mistake. Their facial expressions everything. They are my top picks :)

  1. Travis says:

    Driller: You might be right about Kayla and Max. He doesn't seem like he is measuring up to the versatility standard for male ballroom dancers as set by Pasha and Dmitry.

    Ann: I usually do enjoy Lil C's insights. But last night was just too much. And my favorite dancer must entertain me.

    Marsha: Unfortunately for Shane, I think he got some dancers that couldn't quite interpret his work. Sonya was definitely one I didn't get last night.

    Katherine: Are you sure?

    Thom: Thanks for bringing a detailed perspective. I'm always interested in how others are seeing and enjoying the show.

    V: YAY! It's always so hard to say how the voters and going to go on this show.

    Charles: I noticed that too!

    Ivanhoe: Now I'm just the opposite. I think this one is the real dancing show and DWTS is pure entertainment. I enjoy them both in different ways.

    Mo: Tiny C...bwahahahahaaa! That had me snickering all evening. And thanks for the detailed perspective my friend!

    Akelamalu: I'm loving it not just for the dancing, but because I've got new peeps to enjoy it with!

    Thom: Good! It's always more fun to settle on a favorite.