And cue music

Posted: Thursday, July 23, 2009 by Travis Cody in

Welcome to

Cat's LEGSES and a stunning dress!

We've got a foursome at the judging table tonight with Nigel Lythgoe and Mary Murphy joined by Mia Michaels and Ellen DeGeneres. Yes, that Ellen DeGeneres. And tonight it's a top 8 group number, solos from all 8, and 2 routines from each new pair.

We begin with the group number for our Top 8, choreographed by Travis Wall. Travis said it was supposed to be a huge banana extravaganza. I don't know what that means, but I enjoyed the number. It had power and punch.

There's a little preview of the 100th episode, which airs tonight. We'll see the Emmy winning dances from past seasons, plus a dance from Katie Holmes. I can't wait!

OK, let's get to the rest of the dancing.

Janette, 25 year old Salsa dancer, is paired with Evan, 22 year old Broadway dancer, for Jazz choreographed by Sonja Tayeh. The theme is shut up. The choreography was weird, which I've sort of come to expect from Sonja. I would have preferred Jazz choreography closer to Evan's style, although he seemed reasonably comfortable with the movement. I must say they danced what they were given pretty well. Janette is a spitfire and looks good dancing in just about any style. And Evan is often under-rated as a partner, but in this piece he was solid. I liked the piece.

Kayla's solo emphasized the control she has over her body. She combines athleticism with unusual movement, and it almost always works. She has learned how to put the movements together and keep everything connected without going frantic.

Jeanine, 18 year old Contemporary dancer, is paired with Brandon, 19 year old Contemporary dancer, for Waltz from Hunter Johnson. Lifts did not appear to go well in rehearsal. Jeanine was beautiful, and both of their non-Waltz work was well done. But as a Waltz, which it was supposed to be, I thought the dance was rough and somewhat disconnected. There was no rise and fall and they did not glide through the dance. The choreography wasn't really traditional Waltz, and it was difficult, which wasn't their fault. But I didn't see the extended lines that I've gotten used to from these two dancers. They also didn't seem to have complete control of the performance. There was no fairy tale. For the first time, they looked young and inexperienced, and unable to pull off the style. I didn't like this much.

Jason's solo was lacking something for me. He seemed to be trying to pack too much in, and so didn't appear to finish anything off. It didn't look choreographed.

Melissa, 29 year old Ballet dancer, is paired with Ade, 20 year old Contemporary dancer, for Cha Cha Cha choreographed by Tony Meredith and Melanie LaPatin. There should be no issue with chemistry between these two, since they were together in the Top 20. They did a bit better than I expected. This is so far outside anything comfortable for them. There were elements that they performed well. But really the best I can say is that they got through it. It wasn't horrible, but it wasn't the best effort from either of them. Oddly enough, with their history together as partners, I didn't really feel anything sexy in that dance between them. Nor did I really see anything cheeky in it, and Cha Cha Cha is cheeky above all. I did not like this.

Janette's solo brought more than just Salsa movement. She didn't actually dance her Salsa style. And what she did was terrific. I like her a lot.

Kayla, 18 year old Jazz/Contemporary dancer, is paired with Jason, 21 year old Lyrical/Contemporary dancer, for Broadway choreographed by Tyce Diorio. This is quite the jazzy number. I LOVE Kayla in this. Her lines and extensions were exquisite. She proved she can be a star. Sorry Jason...I didn't even notice you. That dance belonged to Kayla. She mesmerized me. I'll have to watch it back to get any idea about Jason. As Mia said, if Kayla can sing and act, the sky is the limit for this girl. She is that good. I'll say I liked the piece, based on Kayla's performance.

Ade's solo was much more suited to the music this week. His leaps are his strongest point, but I will say that I'm over the back flip. It's a signature move from him and I get that he's comfortable with it. But after the first wow moment, it's just there.

Janette and Evan return with Rumba choreographed by Tony Meredith and Melanie LaPatin. This could be a disaster. I'm not worried about Janette. But if she and Tony and Melanie can't get Evan to roll his hips in the proper sexy way, then he just doesn't have it in him. OK, once again Evan shows what a strong partner he can be. And he did have the hip rolls working. He actually did a good job in this, except for a bobble or two with footwork. Janette was mega watt HAWT. This style was so suited to her, and yet she did not dance beyond Evan. This actually was a pretty good dance. It was smooth and sensual. It wasn't my favorite, but I liked it.

Melissa's solo stepped slightly away from strict ballet, but it left me a bit cold. I've drawn steadily away from her throughout the show. I can't explain it, but as much as I respect her ballet talent, she's just not a favorite.

Jeanine and Brandon return with Pop/Jazz choreographed by LaurieAnn Gibson. I like both of these dancers and I thought they each danced well in this piece. I didn't care for the routine, but each of them brought emotion and power to the dancing. I can't review the dance though. Let's just say that these are two of my favorite dancers and I didn't enjoy their work this evening as a matter of personal taste.

Evan's solo once again demonstrated that he can tell a story in dance in 30 seconds. Nigel suggested after the Rumba that Evan didn't perform with his face. Uhm...pppppppffffffffttttttttt! Evan is all about entertaining with his expressions. Just watch his solo work. And make no mistake, Evan is an excellent solo artist.

Jeanine's solo expressed the music very well. I'm not sure I liked it and I think she had kind of an off night. Just my opinion.

Melissa and Ade return with Contemporary choreographed by Tyce Diorio. This is supposed to be an emotional piece, telling the story of a woman with breast cancer. The dancing was very good, most particularly the lifts. But I'm going to express what is likely to be an unpopular position with respect to the entire dance. If the rehearsal footage had not explained what the dance was about, I would have felt no emotional connection to the piece. The dance was lovely and well performed. But it was not emotional...even if you understand how much I hate cancer. This dance did not affect me, and it was not memorable. To me, the dance did not portray the struggle with cancer without telling us it was about cancer. I'm indifferent to this piece.

Brandon's solo proved again how well he can leap and spin. Didn't focus much on dancing, but he went with his strengths. He's only performed two solos since making Top 20, but I'm still waiting to see the emotion and passion in his solo work that he showed in that first audition.

Kayla and Jason return with Hip Hop choreographed by Shane Sparks. I haven't really been impressed with the quality of the hip hop this season. They both seemed to minimize the street element out of this piece and cover it with more contemporary movements. I think they danced well, but I was distracted a little bit by the costumes and make up...which of course isn't the dancers' fault. I'll say I enjoyed it. It was fun and entertaining.

Ellen cracked me up throughout the night. She was a pleasant counter to Nigel, who seemed to have the cranky pants on just a little too tight.

Of course, you'll have guessed that my votes went to Evan. I'm locked in until he either gets eliminated or wins the show.

Pam is still undecided, and Kayla's strong performance in the Broadway piece muddied the waters even further. Pam is definitely leaning toward the gals. She split votes tonight between Jeanine, Janette, and Kayla.

Tune in tonight for the 100th episode!


  1. I did not see the rehearsal clips, so I couldn't figure out why everyone was crying after the Ade/Melissa piece. It was a lovely number, but you're right, I had NO idea that it was about breast cancer until the judges mentioned it.
    Kayla looked like a Broadway star in that piece. Her hair, make-up, as all perfect. It is no wonder that you forgot to watch Jason.
    So, who's going home? I don't think Melissa has the fan base to move on and I don't think Jason has the talent of the other guys, so those are my two candidates for elimination. Maybe they decide NOT to put a damper on the 100th show festivities by making everyone safe this week.

  1. Marsha says:

    I agree, the breast-cancer piece was a nice piece, but...well....who in their right might is going to pan a dance about that subject. If they had not told us to begin with would we have guessed it from her head garb?? thinks not.

    An odd night of dance and choreography...not loving it all, most left me a bit bland.

    My call on results...I'm thinking Melissa and Ade are gone tonight dispite this dance. Melissa is a strong ballet dancer, but I've not seen a personality from her or a variety of dance. Ade, I love him, but dang, look who's left...they are stronger than he is in their dances.

    We've only two weeks left....

  1. Bond says:

    I never got to finish watching last night...something came up and I needed to head out.

    On TiVo at home...

    Sorry, I disagree on having Ellen on I thought it was a complete waste of time...she added nothing to the evening and her attempts at comedy fell flat for me (then again, I have never been a fan of hers)

  1. Cherie says:

    I'm totally with you about Melissa and Ade's contemporary. I was astounded by a couple of the lifts, but it didn't connect with me emotionally. With the way the judges were reacting, maybe it was much more powerful in person. I felt similarly about Jeanine and Brandon's pop/jazz piece. It also could be that the judges were so desperate to see something that wasn't flat that they latched onto these.

    Over all, I really wasn't blown away by last night's show. Though I thought in general that the solos were much stronger this week. They seem to have come to the full realization that their solo routine is just as important as their partner routine. They can't just wing it on national tv and expect to do well no matter how well they danced with their partner. Interesting, considering that most of them came to the show as solo dancers.

    Great recap as always. :)

  1. Akelamalu says:

    Well I know what you'll be watching! :)

  1. BeckEye says:

    I missed most of the show. :(
    Only got to see Janette and Evan's rumba and thought it was kind of boring. Like Nigel said, it's hard to get votes with that kind of number. I just hope Janette doesn't get voted off!

  1. Linda says:

    Evan is by far my favorite of all the dancers, has been since the season started and I would really hate to see him get eliminated. He sort of has a combination Gene Kelly/Donald O'Connor/Frodo Baggins thing going on! Personally I think hobbits are kinda cute so no insult meant there at all! I was so glad when all of the other judges overrode Nigel's assessment that Evan's eyes just didn't work in the piece. Pshaw, Nigel, pshaw!

    As for the "cancer" piece, I just didn't get it myself and couldn't quite understand why all of the judges were so emotionally blown away by it. Would have been interesting to see what their reactions were had they not been told ahead of time what the dance was supposed to represent.

  1. so on the flip side...(cause you know I like the opposing

    I haven't got caught up in the SYTYCD phenom...not because it isn't wonderful...just a time/life constraint.

    however I got emailed twice this morning with the clip of Ade and Melissa. My daughter Rhiannon had it posted as her tag message on gmail as well.

    I agree 100% that without knowing the concept behind the choreography I would have missed the point.

    but...KNOWING the concept....I have to say as a dancer and a daughter this piece tore me up.

    I studied ballet from 4 to 16. I see first hand the battle my mama and her band of buddies fight each day. is an emotional issue to begin with...and being moved by dance adds to the tug.

    I have to hit me where I live and it hit hard.

  1. Anonymous says:

    Great recap Trav as usual. Well here goes my two cents.

    Cat...what can you say. Trav I so can't wait to see her now that I'm watching this show. She is a stunning woman and one of the best hosts out I think. And yes, those legs...

    What I noticed tonight for the first time that I enjoyed a great deal is that the partners were all about the same height with each other and I liked that. There was not one standing over the other one for a change and for some reason I enjoyed it.

    My favorite Janette is the bomb. Her and Evan were great in both of their performances. I think Nigels comment about his eyes was uncalled for and he took it like a champ. Both routines were very good and I got to like Evan just a little bit better. Possibly because he was paried with my girl. What I have noticed throughout is Janette every time they start to do their critiques gets the fewest out of all the dancers. I don't know if it is because she is so good and they don't need to critique her so much or if it's because they actually don't much care for her and it's all a facade. I am sure it's not the later, and maybe I'm a little sensitive to her because I want her to win so much that I just don't think they talk about her enough. Mia, regardless of how crappy your hair looked and I wanted to take a pair of scissors to it last night, thank you so much for your comment about her. It's well deserved.

    Jeanine and Brandon's first dance I didn't much care for. They didn't seem like they enjoyed doing it. Now their second dance was to me the dance of the night. It was different, powerful and well synchronized. It was really the only dance I enjoyed all night long.

    Melissa and Ade were good. I didn't like either dance. I'm goign to let you in on a little secret, I generally fast forward through the rehearsal scenes. I don't really care what happens there and I just like to see what they are doing without knowing about the background or the choreographer. I like it fresh and from the judges standpoint on learning about them. Same on DWTS I do that. But have their cancer dance and seeing the reaction from the judges I had to go back and watch it. I thought WTF is going on here. Like you said Trav, if you didn't see that you wouldn't know what it was suppose to be about. So to me, because of what I said earlier about not seeing the rehearsal is true. You shouldn't have to see it to understand what they are trying to do. I kept thinking if I had paid money for tickets and saw this would I be as emotional not knowing the background of it? I don't think so. It wasn't that special if you ask me.

    Kayla and Jason were good. The last dance was by far their best, but the first one for Kayla, yes I can so see her on broadway. I think she can go far there. Jason was good in this one also but their second one was just odd to me.

    The group dance was excellent. I loved it. Fast and upbeat.

    Now another thing that I don't care for are the solo's. I don't know why but I watch them and just can't warm up to them. But of course, Janette was the bomb.

    Ellen was a riot. I love her to death. I was wondering what she would have to say to them and in true Ellen style, she was great.

    I'm anxious for tonight's show. I have know idea who Katie Holmes is, except my mom I think told me she is married to Tom Cruise. Big Deal. Still don't know who or what she is.

  1. Bond says:

    OK, I watched the rest of the show at lunch.

    Kayla was truly a star last night and I am leaning more and more toward Jeanine as my favorite female. I still think Even has it over all the other guys.

    As far as the cancer piece...I am totally with Katherine.

    I think that many of the routines would cause you to wonder what it is about without the rehearsal footage and the choreographer telling us his/her vision.

    If I were to go to a performance, the story of the piece would be in the program...I had tears flowing down my face just like the judges and the studio audience. It was an incredibly powerful piece.

    I think Melissa is in trouble tonight, but I have so enjoyed her the entire season...being the oldest dancer and having a specialty as confining as ballet, she has really come alive as a dancer.

    I will also say that Ellen was a bit better in the second half of the show.

  1. Travis says:

    Driller: I don't know that they'll pull a no elimination, but I'm prepared for it.

    Marsha: I thought the judges way over-reacted to it, based more on the subject matter than the quality of the actual dance.

    V: I suspect that part of the reason to add the 4th judge was to fill. I think Ellen did a great job.

    Cherie: It was simply a lovely dance that was blown way out of proportion by the subject, IMO.

    Akelamalu: Every Wed & Thurs!

    Beck: Rumba can be difficult to interpret, but I thought they did well with it.

    Linda: It's always good to meet another Kasprzactivist! And I think that the judges were overly sensitive to the subject for personal reasons known best to them.

    Katherine: I always appreciate your alternate perspective. We'll have to disagree on this one, and that's ok.

    Thom: See, that's my point. Just watching the dance most of us agree that it was lovely without the over-the-top reaction from the judges to the subject around which it was designed. I just don't think it was as special as the judges wanted it to be.

    V: I agree that sometimes I can't tell what a dance is supposed to be about without the rehearsal footage. But I don't think it's the subject of the dance that makes the dance special. It's the way the dance is presented by the dancers. And while I did think the cancer dance was lovely, I didn't think it was as special as the judges made it out to be.

    Thanks to all for telling me what you think.

  1. I just had a look at the piece on YouTube.

    I definitely teared up at the halfway mark. The judges don't need to know the back story to react to the dance language in front of them.

    Even if one thought that this piece was about a couple breaking up, it's still apparent that the woman must move into a separate future away from the man, and that this knowledge brings pain to both of them.

    He is forced to leap and struggle on her perimeter. She sometimes meets his invitation to join him with strength, sometimes with frail inability. When she can't go on, he lifts her up and becomes her means to carry on. A brief but powerful piece, definitely.

  1. Dianne says:

    I wish I could get into this show just so I could contribute there - but I can't

    I put up the Positive Day badge

    what a great idea and how sweet of you to encourage it and to be so proactive about it

    thom too - but don't tell him I said anything nice about him - he'll be insufferable! ;)

  1. Anndi says:

    A theme isn't enough to carry a dance... there should be details. The Cancer Dance lacked details.

    Nigel should start taking naps in the afternoon before a show, he might be nicer. Pffft!

    Kayla belongs on a stage.
    Evan found his sexy, it was smoldering and in this competition, he's the male dancer with the best partnering skills.

    Ellen cracks me up... tangled in Christmas lights... Bwahahahahaha!!

  1. Travis says:

    Julia: Thanks for the alternate perspective.

    Dianne: My lips are sealed.

    Ann: We chatted about this and I completely agree about the details. And as Julia indicated in her comment, the specific theme shouldn't matter for the dancers to convey some kind of emotion to the viewers. For some, M&A did that. For others, they missed.

  1. your comment back to Anndi makes total sense for me at that I don't watch the there is no comparison.

    AND I was predisposed on the emotion. I knew the backstory for the I was viewing it as an exquisite portrayal of emotion I was already familiar with.