And cue music

Posted: Thursday, July 16, 2009 by Travis Cody in

Welcome to


And then there were 10. The Top 20 partnerships have been dissolved. The dancers will now draw partners from the hat, and then select a random dance style. Also this week, the Top 5 guys and Top 5 gals will each dance group numbers. Plus, each dancer will have a solo.

One of my all time favorites...Debbie Allen...joins the judging panel this week. And of course we have Nigel Lythgoe and Mary Murphy.

Let's get right down to it.

The Top 5 gals are up first with a Bollywood dance choreographed by Nakul Dev Mahajan. This is high energy and really fast. It's always hard for me to review the group numbers for individual performances. So generally what I look for is cohesiveness and synchronicity. They has it. That was well danced and well performed. Nigel praises the choreography, and the gals for working together. He says they lacked nothing and puts them on the Hot Bangers and Mash train. Heheheheheeee. Mary thought it was young, hip, and fresh. Debbie called it an amazing cultural fusion, and considers this the best top 5 gals ever.

Kayla, 18 year old Jazz/Contemporary dancer, is paired with Evan, 22 year old Broadway dancer, for Viennese Waltz choreographed by Tony Meredith and Melanie LaPatin. This dance wants elegance and grace, which is going to be difficult with the height difference. Kayla is half a head taller, plus a bit with the heels. Right off the bat I love the rise and fall. They look very good toether. Kayla is in flats, and Evan's shoes have a slight heel to balance their height. Evan was a very strong partner, making the lifts look effortless and guiding Kayla smoothly through the dance. Their frame and footwork was good, although there were some issues toward the end. But they showed the sophistication required of a Waltz and I bought the fairy tale.

Brandon's solo was just a series of odd movements that seemed disconnected and not well thought out. it was a bit disappointing and I didn't care for it.

Janette, 25 year old Salsa dancer, is paired with Ade, 20 year old Contemporary dancer, for Hip Hop choreographed by Tabitha and Napoleon D'Umo. Ade is the Funk Doctor, tasked to wake up the funk in Janette. So individually I liked both of them, but I didn't like them together. That was mostly due to the routine, which I didn't really care for all that much. But Ade's personality really came through and he performed it really well. Janette is a spitfire and can pretty much dance anything. It's clear that these two dancers are extremely skilled. Janette remains one of my top 2 favorite gals.

Randi's solo was enjoyable, but it seemed a bit out of control. She kind of lost her center a bit on a spin.

Kupono's solo is quirky and unique. It did not appeal to me. I enjoy him much more in choreographed pieces.

Jeanine, 18 year old Contemporary dancer, is paired with Jason, 21 year old Lyrical/Contemporary dancer, for Contemporary choreographed by Travis Wall. This is a very compatible partnership, working with a choreographer who can make excellent use of their movement. This is the first time Travis has made a dance for the show, and he brings such advanced dance ability to what he has asked J&J to do. I love Jeanine. She is my first favorite among the gals. This was an extremely sensual piece, and it was extraordinarily well danced. This was a moment for Travis, Jeanine, and Jason. It was simply brilliant. Travis' work was on a level with Mia Michaels. Simply stunning. Jeanine took full advantage of having a dancer like Jason to work with, and Jason really stepped forward as one of the better men in this competition.

Melissa's solo was naturally danced en pointe, with joy and precision control. I enjoyed that.

Evan's solo seemed specifically designed to remind America why they have been voting for him, and to reward them for it. It was a complete story told in 30 seconds, and reinforced the kind of entertainer Evan is. And oh by the way, the man is light on his feet and can dance!

Kayla's solo showed how much she has grown in the competition, from throwing way too much into a 30 second solo to emphasizing her beautiful lines and incredible movement.

Randi, 23 year old Jazz dancer, is paired with Kupono, 23 year old Lyrical/Contemporary dancer, for Paso Doble choreographed by Tony Meredith and Melanie LaPatin. Paso is so technical. They need to portray power and passion, and technique is a huge part of being able to do that. Neither of them really is a "big" dancer. Randi captured some of the fire and character of the piece. She was actually quite impressive. I wanted Kupono to take more control of it. He didn't have the aggressive stance of the matador. He needed to lead with his hips, power through with his chest, and stomp through the movements. The choreography was outstanding, and they fell just a bit short. This was a tough dance for a new partnership. They had some good moments, but overall it was a miss.

Ade's solo was danced as though he wasn't listening to the music at all. Of course the back flip was tremendous. But he danced his movement without expressing the music. I like Ade, but one of the jobs of a dancer is to interpret music, and he didn't do that at all.

Jeanine's solo demonstrated exactly what Ade's did not. She interpreted an amazing piece of music with her own brand of stunning movement. She's a star.

Jason's solo finally showed off his talent and personality. This was a man throwing his hat in the ring to challenge in this competition.

Melissa, 29 year old Ballet dancer, is paired with Brandon, 19 year old Contemporary dancer, for Broadway choreographed by Tyce Diorio. This is from the musical Hair, danced to Aquarius. Brandon's style, power, and gymnastics ability are all perfectly suited to a number like this, and he was extraordinary. Melissa danced very well also, but Brandon pulled my focus through the entire piece. He interpreted the character of the piece incredibly well. Melissa sort of just danced in it, but Brandon performed it. I thought he carried the performance.

Janette's solo reminds us that she is a pure Salsa dancer and a hot Miami Mama! This is the first time I've seen a solo from her since auditions, and she did not disappoint. She has shown so much versatility so far in the competition, and it was nice to see her attack it in her own style.

The Top 5 guys close the show with an African dance choreographed by Jeffrey Page. As I said, these group numbers are tough for me to review. Mr Page has made a dance that emphasizes masculinity. His movements were strong, large, and rhythmic. He wanted raw movement as opposed to classic or technical training. It was all about swagger and rhythm. You know what? I really enjoyed it! I can't tell you if it was good or not, but I liked it!

We're down to it now and voting for our favorite dancer. Of course you know my favorite is Evan. I enjoyed his partnership with Randi, but now it's about getting my guy through every week until it's down to the Final Four. Still, I could have voted for Jeanine too. She was amazing. Pam split votes between Evan and Jeanine.

As they said at the top of the show, it's about America's Favorite dancer. That dancer may not be the best dancer on the stage. But I can't really argue against any of these 10.

Tune in tonight for what is likely to be the first of three weeks of tough eliminations leading to the finale.


  1. I could add a snide remark about clothing is optional for the female dancers,but I will not,oh the hell i won't(with a tip of the hat to one of john Wayne's movies)

  1. Marsha says:

    I so glad that Jason has finally had a 'shining' moment. I knew he was good, but hasn't had a 'best foot forward' moment until now. Finally can stand with Jason and Ade as being the top three guys. Girls, Janette, Janine and Kayla. It's going to be hard to pare these six down to the top three.

  1. Anndi says:

    You squeeeeeeed when Evan danced his solo, I know, I heard it ;p!
    I told you his rise and fall in the waltz was good :) Yup!

    You got what I meant when I explained my lack of enthusiam for Ade's solo. Exactly.
    His performance was frantic, completely inappropriate for the song. If a dancer can't emote the feeling behind a song it falls flat. Ade, despite the "now in danger of being overly-used" backflip, failed to sizzle. I was like grabbing a colourful yummy looking bottled drink and finding it tastes like water. Meh.

    Ms Allen is one of the best judges they have on there, she knows how to give a dancer the right criticism without destroying that dancer's fire.

    Jeanine is the front-runner among the ladies for me as well. And I'm growing tired of Melissa.

  1. BeckEye says:

    I love Janette. She's definitely my favorite out of everyone. And I LOVED that hip-hop routine. It was so cute.

    This is definitely a year for the girls, although I don't really like Randi, and something about Melissa makes me want to punch her face. So my girl picks, in order, are Janette, Jeanine, and Kayla. The guys are still all kind of blending together for me right now, although Ade and Jason stood out to me last night.

    And it was great to see Travis back! But I still want more Pasha.

  1. Travis says:

    Mike: It's not quite the Festival of Tiny Costumes.

    Marsha: I was pleased for Jason as well. He's teased a little bit throughout this season, and last night he finally laid it all out.

    Ann: I DID NOT SQUEEE! But Evan's solo was definitely special.

    Beck: I agree that the gals are slightly stronger on the whole than the guys. We've had Pasha and I'm looking for something from Benji!

  1. Bond says:

    I know I am in the minority...but I still am so impressed with Melissa.

    Evan was great in his solo and did real well in the pairings...

    I agree Travis...Jeanine is really beginning to catch my attention also...

    I think Randy and Kupono are both in trouble tonight.

  1. Anonymous says:

    Janettte is the bomb. I want her to win this whole thing. That girl can do anything they put in front of her and do it well. She did good with Ade and he was good himself. I didn't like his solo all that much but Janette she's really got it if you ask me. Her's was excellent.

    I thought the dance of the night, and well deserved of the hot tamale train, even though it was muted, was Jason and Jeanine. For her being that young, she is excellent also. I was in awe of these two with that and what a great job they did. I was shocked to learn that Travis was on this show. Trav wasn't he one of your picks for all time? I can't remember if you said him, but if you did I can see why.

    Melissa and Brandon were real good as well. Brandon I thought did a little bit better job but I missed him with Jeanette Their dance was just awesome and I really liked it.

    Kupono and Randi were pretty good as were Kayla and Evan. Again I have to say that Kayla being as young as she is, did a great job. I don't think Evan is all that good. He sorta had a rough night I thought.

    The girls group dance was just awesome as well. It was fast and those girls just did a terrific job. Well done to all of them.

    Loved the boys dance as well but poor Evan, just seemed so out of place. Maybe it is because he is so much shorter than the rest of the guys and he just sticks out and I notice him more because of that.

    The solo's are interesting and I will say, the least favorite of mine for some reason. I like them paired up.

    I don't like that fact that now the judges don't have a say in this. I think now it's just a popularity contest like AI is all the time. All of these top 10 are great and I wouldn't mind seeing any one of them win. They are all great.

  1. Anonymous says:

    I forgot to ask did you see the Harry Potter movie? I'm not a huge fan and most liekly wont see it until it comes out on DVD or my DVR, if then but I know you do like the series so I was just wondering :)

  1. Travis says:

    V: I do like Melissa, I just don't think she's as strong as the other ladies.

    Thom: Travis Wall is one of my picks for the top 3 dancers in terms of talent. I do like that it's down to the fans. Remember, the show makes no pretense. It says right up front that the search is for America's Favorite dancer. I'll be seeing Harry Potter on Friday.