And cue music

Posted: Thursday, July 09, 2009 by Travis Cody in

Welcome to

I can report that we have LEGSES, and you know how I love the LEGSES, my preciousss.

It's down to Top 12 now, coming up on one of the most difficult cuts since only the Top 10 make the tour. Joining Nigel Lythgoe and Mary Murphy at the judging table is Tyce Diorio.

And guess what? Each pair gets 2 dances this week.

Let's get started with the first round.

Melissa, 29 year old Ballet dancer, and Ade, 20 year old Contemporary dancer, are paired for Disco choreographed by Doriana Sanchez. Ade had the energy right from jump on this routine and he was more than just a forklift this time around. He really captured the character and the fun of Disco. Melissa struggled with this style. She was a little slow from move to move and it seemed like Ade was either dancing beyond her or dragging her through it with him. I think she looked best when she was in the air. Some of the spins off the lifts were amazingly well executed. They lost balance on the final pose, but that's a small flaw. It was a fun performance with all kinds of content. I give Ade the edge in this dance. He's such a strong partner, and this week he really showed off how strong a dancer he is. He was terrific.

Kayla, 18 year old Jazz/Contemporary dancer, and Kupono, 23 year old Lyrical/Contemporary dancer, are paired for Contemporary choreographed by Mia Michaels. I've actually been hoping these two would get a chance to work with Mia. Kupono's character in this piece is the addiction, with Kayla as the addict. Kupono brings a personal connection to the material and that may have helped him convey such strong emotion. The best way I can describe what I saw was that the movement was figuratively carved out of the air. It was a tremendous performance. Both of them brought a deep level of emotion and vulnerability. Mia's choreography was stark and gripping, and the story came to life in the hands of these two dancers. I was in the moment with them, both wanting them to stop and not to stop. Absolutely outstanding.

Caitlin, 21 year old Contemporary dancer, and Jason, 21 year old Lyrical/Contemporary dancer, are paired for Foxtrot choreographed by Tony Meredith and Melanie LaPatin. Caitlin has the elegance in her lines to really bring this off, but I'm concerned about Jason's skills as a partner. She was classy and sophisticated and I loved her in this style. She brought a maturity to the dance that Jason lacked. Caitlin made everything look so smooth and controlled. I wanted Jason to take a little more control of the dance and make more of a connection with the audience. But as a partner I thought he handled the lifts well and matched her in elegance. I enjoyed them both in the style. They seemed relaxed, like they were really having a good time with the style. Well done.

Jeanine, 18 year old Contemporary dancer, and Phillip, 20 year old Popper, are paired for Russian Folk choreographed by Youri Nelzine and Lilia Babenka. Oh my goodness. The only way I can tell you about this dance is to say I enjoyed their performances. They embraced the challenge of the style and looked like they had a good time with it. Phillip's squat kicks were outstanding. And Jeanine's twirls and spins were great. They even worked in a little of that heel sit-and-spin at the end. But at the end of the day, this style never should have been thrown in the hat. It's one thing to have an exhibition of an ethnic dance by performers that know how to do it properly. That I would enjoy. But it's quite another to ask a Popper and a Contemporary dancer to bring this style to life. They had some good individual moments, but it was tough to ask them to present the style.

Randi, 23 year old Jazz dancer, and Evan, 22 year old Broadway dancer, are paired for Hip Hop choreographed by Tabitha and Napoleon D'Umo. The story here is that Randi and Evan are a young couple just finding out they are going to have a baby. This was just an enjoyable piece. The choreography was intricate, with movement on just about every beat of music. It had lyrical elements to it, rather than the aggressive hip hop style. They brought the love story to life for me. They showed the joy between two people about to enter a new stage of life together, coupled with the magic of creating a third to complete the new family. This was a wonderful combination of storytellers...Nap & Tab make a story and Randi & Evan bring it to life, not just in the movement but in the performance. Most excellent.

Janette, 25 year old Salsa dancer, and Brandon, 19 year old Contemporary dancer, are paired for Argentine Tango choreographed by Miriam Larici and Leonardo Barrionuevo. Janette is so impressive. Her lines and extensions through every movement were so precise. Her background in Salsa helped her in this style, but she carried it even further. The two of them made some really intricate footwork look so effortless and easy. Brandon was a strong partner in that dance, bringing maturity and control to the piece. That was an A+ job of making Janette the star of that dance. The judges gave them a standing ovation, and it was deserved. If you'll recall, the choreographers were the ones who demonstrated Argentine Tango several weeks ago. Janette and Brandon did them proud with this dance. Hot Tamale train for certain.

For our second round, I found some couples pictures to change things up a bit.

Melissa and Ade return with Waltz choreographed by Ron Montez. Waltz shows off Melissa's grace to much greater effect than Disco. She's back in her element with this dance. This piece emphasized how effortlessly they both move across the floor. They make such exquisite lines and shapes together. I would have liked to see more rise and fall from Ade, and I didn't see him extend his arms through the movement. He didn't frame Melissa as well as he usually does. His spin at the end was sublime, though, reminding me of the kind of dancer he can be. It was a beautiful dance, although it was a bit light on the fairy tale. Still, it was elegant and sophisticated, with just a few technical issues that kept it from being perfect. Still, nicely done.

Kayla and Kupono return with Broadway choreographed by Joey Dowling. Damn. This missed for me and I was looking forward to it. I love Jerome Robbins-style choreography, and West Side Story in particular. But Kayla and Kupono just didn't look secure in their movement. They didn't connect as Tony and Maria, nor as Bernardo and Anita, nor even as Riff and Graziella. It was just a series of steps to me, and those steps really weren't executed all that well. There was no tension in the movements. Anything from West Side Story should be danced on the edge and almost reckless. If you've seen the film, you should understand what I mean. The dancing should be athletic. But this was almost as though the dancers had never seen the movie. Everything in that show is danced at full speed and with street passion. This routine just didn't get there. The sense of danger was completely missing. I'm probably going to look back at this review and think I was expecting too much.

Caitlin and Jason return with Lyrical Jazz choreographed by Mandy Moore. This choreography is in their style and the piece was quite enjoyable. Everything looked so smooth and effortless. Every step, every lift, every movement was relaxed and flowing. They danced the piece so well. The choreography suited them, mixing simple movement with difficult lifts. They do good work together, but I disagree with the judges and think that the best thing for these two is to break up the pair and explore dancing with different partners. I think that will help them understand what isn't connecting with voters each week. They are both individually wonderful, and I think they have a chance to really be excellent with different partners.

Jeanine and Phillip return with Jive choreographed by Tony Meredith and Melanie LaPatin. This is another style for them that can be great or disastrous. I think it was a mixture of both, but it showed me two things. One, Phillip is a great individual Popper and has plenty of talent to become a versatile dancer if he chooses to embrace dance and go to class. Two, Jeanine is tremendously talented and is truly going to benefit from changing partners. As to this Jive, of course Phillip struggled with technique but he did his best and had fun with it. Jeanine really could have made something out of that with a more experienced partner. She makes up for a lot of issues in Phillip's dancing.

Randi and Evan return with Samba choreographed by Pasha Kovalev and Anya Garnis. It's Pasha and Anya!! Wooooooo! I love Pasha and Anya! But it's Samba for Randi and Evan, which could be a problem. Samba should be sultry and sexy, but also fun. It's the party dance gang! Randi was smokin' hot. She had the shake and the wiggle and the hippyyippykiyay going on with that body. Evan...not so much, dammit. This just isn't what he does best. He never got the real rhythm of the Samba and his hips were stuck inside the box. Regrettably the best I can say about his performance was that he held the handle of the skillet while Randi sizzled right there on the fire. Pasha and Anya's choreography was really advanced. Randi was up to it, but Evan wasn't. Dang.

Janette and Brandon return with Pop/Jazz choreographed by Wade Robson. I so love Wade's work. Damn that was good! This is what the judges are talking about when they say they want "more" from a dancer. This wasn't about steps or anything...this piece was just about entertainment and fantastic movement and story and character. Janette and Brandon have proven that they are the most versatile dancers on the program. And the working partnership with Wade Robson's creativity and vision was just perfect. The dancing on that stage spoke. If I could use a musical analogy, picture the sound of Eric Clapton's guitar. That's how good this piece was. Absolutely brilliant.

Not a bad show tonight.

It should come as no surprise that my votes went to Randi and Evan. Evan could really need my votes this week because of his struggles with Samba. And y'all know I'm locked in. Pam is still torn between 3 pairs...she rotated again between Randi and Evan, Melissa and Ade, and Janette and Brandon. Although, she did say that if she could only vote for one pair, it would have been Janette and Brandon.

But she doesn't! So she split votes for one more week.

And did you catch the hints in my reviews of the second dances? If you didn't, I'll spell it out. This is the last week for these pairs to be guaranteed to dance together. They choose pairs at random starting with the Top 10. Also, after tonight's results, the judges will no longer be able to save anyone. It's all down to America's votes.

Next week the competition really begins.


  1. Tonight two very talented dancers are going home. The sad thing is, I don't believe any of the girls deserve to get booted. Given that, I fear that Randi may be eliminated along with Evan. Jeanine was too much better than Phillip to get eliminated with him. That being said, Phillip and Randi may be in trouble tonight.

  1. Marsha says:

    All of these dancers are good, really good, but 2 have got to go home. A very tough pick that I fortunately don't have to make. But here's my prediction...I'm thinking it's Philip and Melissa that are going home....everyone else seems to be far more versitile than these two...while they are good at what they do, now, that's not enough.

  1. Bond says:

    Can not believe we are going to continue losing these dancers.

    Have to tell you Travis, Melissa is beginning to become a favorite of mine.

    She has such incredible lines.

    I think Phillip's run might be over, as well as Kayla...

  1. Cherie says:

    Janette and Brandon were simply incredible. To have nailed both routines so brilliantly is almost unbelievable. Tyce talked to other dancers about getting into a character whether or not they were specifically given one by the choreographer. Janette & Brandon personified that advice.

  1. BeckEye says:

    So, I haven't been watching this season but I finally watched a whole episode last night. I picked the right night because....HELLO, PASHA!! Ohhhh, I was so pleased to see that hunk of man meat again. Yum yum, double yum.

    I don't really like Randi and Evan. They're both kind of goobery and they lost all the sex appeal that should've been in Pasha and Anya's dance.

    I LOVE Janette and Brandon. Both of their dances were wonderful, but I really loved that funky jazz number at the end. Oh, and it was nice to see Wade Robson again too.

    Hey, DrillerAA is using my hero as his avatar!

  1. Anonymous says:

    I'm going to admit something here. Trav you have been right, along with the others that have said this...Mary has grown on me. I am enjoying her and, if anyone repeats this I'm going to deny deny deny, I look forward to her whackiness. When she told Nigel to pipe down English muffin and then did the hand I just about died. She inspires those kids in a way that the other two judges don't. Nigel is is Simon of the show which I really like. So anyway, on to the show.

    Janette and Brandon, as I've said over and over are so my favorties. They were so hot last night in both their dances. That hot tamale train was well deserved. And the standing ovation was well deserved.

    Phillip and Jeanine first dance I didn't care for all too much but he sure did turn it around on the second one. I enjoyed that.

    Caitlin and Jason are always up there in the top for me. I really enjoy these two and think they did great.

    I don't get what all the hoopla is about Randi and Evan. I don't think they are all that much, if any better, than any of the others. They were okay. Randi is so good I really like her.

    Kupono and Kayla were good tonight, but I think they could both be in trouble.

    Same with Ade and Melissa, but not her. He could be in a little trouble tonight as well.

    I'm sorta anxious but sorta sad for next week. I'm so use to the couples as they are. And for them to get new partners next week..gonna be itneresting.

    Whatever the outcome all these kids deserve kudos. They make this show so worth while to watch and to see all their effort is just excellent. I don't want any of them to go home :)

  1. Anonymous says:

    Ooops...and how could I forget this. Cat's hair was totally UGLY if you ask me. But Trav as you say, her legs...WOW!!!!

  1. You're scaring me, Gollum.

  1. Travis says:

    Driller: Well, I hope you're wrong about Randi and Evan. But it's hard to say who should replace them as the ones to go home.

    Marsha: I'm thinking they want Phillip on the tour at least, so the judges may save him if he's in the bottom.

    V: I know...but there can be only one winner so we've got to lose 11 dancers to get there.

    Cherie: Agreed. Those two were the stars of the night.

    Beck: Samba definitely wasn't a good dance for Evan, but he's still my favorite. It was GREAT to see Pasha & Anya again.

    Thom: I won't say I told you so, because a lot of people never to get to like Mary. But I'm glad she's not bugging you anymore. As to Randi & Evan, I can't speak for anyone else, but Evan dances in a style that has always appealed to me...very 40's/50's/60's movie musical.

    Songbird: Sorry precious!

  1. Baby Boy and I watched some of this last night. During the Russian folk dance he had an incredibly puzzled look on face and then said something about it reminded him of Disneyworld and we changed the channel.


  1. TopChamp says:

    Who is the woman judge with the whiny voice? WOW it's annoying.