And cue music

Posted: Thursday, June 25, 2009 by Travis Cody in

Welcome to

Nigel Lythgoe and Mary Murphy are joined at the judge table by Toni Basil.

In case the name doesn't ring a bell...remember Hey Mickey? But lest you think she's just a wacky cheerleader type, Ms Basil began her career as a choreographer way back in 1964 on the show Shindig. And she began recording at A&M Records in 1966. Ms Basil has worked on such films as Pajama Party, American Graffiti, That Thing You Do, and My Best Friend's Wedding, and with such artists as Better Midler and Tina Turner. She was also instrumental in helping to shine a big bright light on American street dance.

And welcome back my darling LEGS...I mean Cat. Heheheheee.

Let's dance, shall we?

Karla, a 23 year old Jazz/Contemporary dancer, and Jonathan, a 21 year old Salsa dancer, are paired for Hip Hop choreographed by Dave Scott. We're bringing a "gangsta" love story vibe here. Karla is quickly becoming one of my favorite gals. She's proving how versatile she is each week. She had the flavor of the character and connected with the audience. I barely noticed Jonathan was there until he had that big leap and flip. As a whole, this routine was substandard. The choreography was smooth rather than sharp, but the piece was danced without the tightness it needed. The major steps they took forward last week were erased this week. They didn't connect with each other at all. I think they let the choreography down. They lacked synchronicity and groove.

Asuka, a 25 year old Latin ballroom dancer, and Vitolio, a 26 year old Contemporary dancer, are paired for Jazz choreographed by Mandy Moore. Mandy says this is thrash rocker jazz. Rehearsal was rough. I liked Vitolio in this. I thought he held the piece together and controlled the tempo. Asuka struggled just a bit. She doesn't seem to be as versatile in styles that don't have pairs work. This was a strong performance for Vitolio. He was confident and technically outstanding. His work in the lifts was excellent. He also put together a winning performance. Asuka was a bit weak, relying heavily on Vitolio to pull her through it. The one thing I do like is the chemistry between them. It shows on stage in the way he refuses to dance beyond her. I agree with Toni that they need to let the emotion they have for each other really permeate through their dancing.

Melissa, a 29 year old Ballet dancer, and Ade, a 20 year old Contemporary dancer, are paired for Rumba choreographed by Tony Meredith. This is international style, requiring very specific technique. If they can make this look as effortless as their first two dances, they will definitely emerge as favorites in this competition. But there were some problems. There were a couple of rough exchanges, and a couple of spots where it seemed she was falling without him there to catch her. Perhaps that was by design though. I'm used to smooth Rumba, and a couple of those fast lunges and spins didn't look right to me. They had a wonderful connection with each other and their hip work was excellent. Ade is an outstanding partner. I didn't see this as effortless as the prior two weeks, but what it did have was sensuality and passion. Very well done. These two might be the most versatile dancers in the group.

Janette, a 25 year old Salsa dancer, and Brandon, a 19 year old Contemporary dancer, are paired for Hip Hop choreographed by Dave Scott. Now we have rock meets hip hop. I liked this a lot. They attacked that choreography. They worked well together, playing off each other. She surprises me every time she takes the stage because she just doesn't look like she should be so good. And Brandon is really strong. This is another terrific partnership. The choreography was terrific and they nailed the story and style. That was really impressive. Dave saw what he had, and he took full advantage of it as he made this dance. Very well done.

Kayla, an 18 year old Jazz/Contemporary dancer, and Kupono, a 23 year old Lyrical/Contemporary dancer, are paired for Viennese Waltz choreographed by Jean-Marc Genereux. For those of you who have read my Dancing with the Stars reviews, you know that I want a fairy tale from any Waltz. They danced it barefoot to heighten the dream quality in the story. As expected, Kupono's length was an advantage for him. His extensions were really nice and finished. They had a lovely section of rise and fall. And the connection between the two of them was nice. I liked the dance but I wasn't blown away by it. They had an ethereal quality that helped the flow of the dance. I disagree a bit with Nigel, because a well done Waltz can capture the fancy of an audience and create a moment. This wasn't one of those Waltz's for me, and I don't think it belonged on the Hot Tamale train, but it had elements of elegance to it. It was a good effort and very enjoyable to watch.

Randi, a 23 year old Jazz dancer, and Evan, a 22 year old Broadway dancer, are paired for Contemporary choreographed by Mia Michaels. Mia says this dance is all about the booty. Wow. That was so quirky and odd and goofy. Randi and Evan took a series of movements out of Mia's strange imagination and made them come alive in a story that is going to be different for everyone who watches it. The choreography was simple, but the performance was memorable. I couldn't take my eyes off of it. That was a clear performance piece. They made the steps live. Dancers can be completely overwhelmed by Mia's movement, but Randi and Evan had total control over it. She was sexy and cheeky, and he was locked in. I loved it. Totally geeked out on this one.

Caitlin, a 21 year old Contemporary dancer, and Jason, a 21 year old Lyrical/Contemporary dancer, are paired for Paso Doble choreographed by Jean-Marc Genereaux. The marriage of costume and music was very dramatic. Jason wasn't strong and forceful enough in his movement. He needed to lead from his chest and through his hips, and whip her through each move. This dance was a little too big for him. But Caitlin was tremendous. She had the fire and passion, and attacked her role as the bull fighter's cape. This week she was connected to the piece and seemed more confident in what she was required to do. She was able to work through several spots where he did not hold the frame, and that's got to be tough to do because you lose your timing a little bit. The dance wasn't nearly as fierce as it could have been, but it was enjoyable to watch.

Jeanine, an 18 year old Contemporary dancer, and Phillip, a 20 year old Popper, are paired for Broadway choreographed by Tyce Diorio. For the two of them, that was well done. This isn't the kind of dancing they do. But it wasn't as good as I wanted it to be. It was fun choreography and they had a good time with it. Jeanine did a great job of playing the character in the dance. Phillip embraced the style, and you can tell that he's really working hard to get the steps and understand the technique. But he's at a disadvantage due to the lack of training, and it shows. He moves through the dance, but just misses on conveying story and character because he's not able to finish off movement and make it look easy. Jeanine outshines him, especially in a dance like this, because she understands how to do that.

I still think this is one of the most talented groups we've had. But I think the differentiating factor amongst the couples is versatility. Each of these dancers is amazing at their own style. But the key is going to continue to be which of them can embrace varied styles, and excel within that choreography.

My votes stayed with Randi and Evan this week. Pam rotated between those two, Melissa and Ade, and Janette and Brandon.

Tune in tonight for results!

Congratulations to LSU. They beat Texas last night to win the College World Series and the national championship of college baseball.


  1. Julie says:

    I SO enjoyed the show last night but I still need to find the final dance that I missed. Thanks for the recap Travis!

  1. Ivanhoe says:

    I really tried to watch last night as I was home early after my finals, but my heart just was not in it :o)
    So the Shaq deal for Cavs is for real. Hubby thinks it's a good move because he's a great defensive player...
    I think he's old & fat. But what do I know? ;o)

  1. Cherie says:

    Excellent analysis as always...

    It's very interesting how subjective all of this is. I normally am downright board by Viennese Waltz. I know technically and physically (endurance) how difficult it is, so I always admire the dancers who make it look effortless. Never-the-less, often I'm kinda "meh" about watching it. But I was completely transported by Kayla and Kupono. It might have something to do with the fact that I'm such a Jean-Marc/France fangirl, but to me the dancers brought life to his vision. Favorite dance of the night.

    On the other hand, I so totally did not connect with Randi and Evan in the Mia piece. They may have danced it well, but I found myself distracted by what they were asked to do in the choreography (and not in a good way). How hard it would be for Randi to dance with one shoe on and one off. Same with the stockings, and so on. I didn't follow the thread of the story, and I really wanted to. It all looked so disjointed to me. Perhaps, Mia would call continuity "cliche." (Oh, do I detect snark? Sorry about that. lol)

  1. I have been so busy with summer stuff there has not been a lot of TV time around the little house but thanks for keeping me in the loop Travis.

  1. LSU is a baseball factory man.

  1. Anndi says:

    I was looking forward to seeing the new pairing of Kupono and Kayla and they didn't disappoint. It was a lovely dance and a pleasure to watch, was it the best waltz? No... but the flow was extremely enjoyable.

    You know I completely geeked out too when I watched Randi and Evan. Yes, it was a simple premise... but there were rich details that Randi and Evan brought forth so aptly. I LOVED the routine.

    Tyce came up with a great little number, with the right dancers (*cough* Evan *cough*) it would have rocked.

    I'm ready to say good bye to Jonathan... the girls? I'm running low on patience with Asuka.

  1. Of course I couldn't see any of this because I literally have no TV. Digital is causing me great headaches. It worked for about 4 days and then POOF! It was gone.

    Back to the store. I don't even know where the wires are....

  1. Akelamalu says:

    Ah it's your happy time! :)

  1. Anonymous says:

    I almost died when I saw Toni Basil..Hey all I could think of...she still looks good.

    Mary was rather subdued last night I thought. It was nice not to hear her going off so much and I enjoyed her better. I will say, that I do think she is growing on me and I do look forward to her more each week...but Mary, oh Mary...please behave like you did last night. It's so nice to see you talk and not scream so much.

    Well my favs of course Jeanette and Brandon were awesome. Trav I think you are so right about Jeanette...she always looks like she is going to be average and comes out and just amazes me. I loved the number.

    Randi and Evan were my favorite dance last night. I loved it and now see the quirky side of Mia. That dance was so awesome and they just moved through it like it was nothing. I really enjoyed it.

    Caitlin and Jason were awesome too. Caitlin is my second favorite woman and she did seem more confident last night, which I'm glad. They did a great job and I guess I'm just not trained enough in dance but Jason looked okay to me. But that's why you have the pros.

    I liked Melissa and Ade also. They seem to compliment each other so well and that dance was just awesome.

    The other 4 were okay. I didn't like Jeanine and Phillip all that much. There dance was just odd and Karla and Jonathan were not good either. Well they weren't as good as last week. I was sorta shocked that Kayla and Kupono got the Hot Tamale Train (thank you Mary for keeping it a calm train as well). It didn't seem all that good to me. I tell you it amazes me what those judges see. I didn't even notice how out of sync they were until the replay...and you could definitely see it.

    My question of the day is this. I know they made a big deal out of the waltz being danced in barefeet, but I have noticed that a lot of these dances are in barefeet. Why do they allow that? on DWTS they almost always have shoes on so I don't get it. Especially with the more formal dances like the Waltz etc.

    Whatever the outcome these kids are awesome and I'm very much enjoying this show. The talent is beyond my comprehension on how they get it done :)

  1. Jamie says:

    Your descriptions are the best! The show should hire you to make them interesting.

  1. Bond says:

    Janette & Brandon and Randi & Evan ruled the night for me.

    Toni looks like she has not aged at all...I was staring at her (OK, and Cat's legs too)

    I also thought Phillip did better than the judges gave him credit for. He so reminded me of a younger Jerry Lewis type...maybe the steps were not perfect, but the character was (IMHO)

  1. Anonymous says:

    Toni Basil.... I remember her from MTV's golden age...

  1. Toni Basil, huh? Haven't thought of her in a long time.

  1. Travis says:

    Julie: That last dance was enjoyable, but not as good as it could have been in the hands of different dancers.

    Ivanhoe: As he gets older, you can't be certain what you're going to get from O'Neal. Best of luck that the move pays off, but be careful about getting your hopes up too high.

    Cherie: Waltz is one of my favorite styles because of the elegance and fairy tale quality. I guess everyone connects with something different. That's the beauty and power of dance.

    NNG: One of my favorite things with all of my dance shows is getting to 20:00 and knowing that I'm going to smile for the next 2 hours.

    Charles: Indeed they are. That was a really talented group.

    Ann: Evan may not be the best dancer...that might be Ade...but there is no doubt that he is the most entertaining for me.

    Mimi: Sorry for the tv pain.

    Akelamalu: It is!

    Thom: I think we're starting to see a bit of separation. There are some dancers that have the talent for any style, and others that will look great one week and not so good the next.

    Jamie: I've seen some other reviews that get into more technical details of the dances, but I'd rather provide my impressions and how the dancing makes me feel.

    V: The thing about Phillip in that kind of dance is that it allows his personality to show. And that makes it entertaining.

    Lois: I often forget how influential she has been in dance and music.

    Songbird: She comes up a couple of times of year on the show.