And cue music for the Top 18

Posted: Wednesday, November 04, 2009 by Travis Cody in

Welcome to

I've decided to give dueling dancing reviews a try.

Besides, I know you've been worried about the lack of updates about the stunningly lovely Cat Deeley. Last night...LEGSSES!

Judges will do the eliminating again this week, due to the World Series. Our panel of permanent judges is Adam Shankman, Mary Murphy, and Nigel Lythgoe. But next week we get to vote.

Good news! Billy Bell, who had to leave the show due to illness, will get to join the Top 100 in Vegas next season. And Brandon, who replaced Billy but was cut last week, will get to re-apply through the audition process next season. Excellent!

Let's get to it!

Noelle Marsh, an 18 year old contemporary dancer, is paired with Russell Ferguson, a 20 year old krumper, for hip hop choreographed by Jamal Sims. The choreography was inventive with the tennis rackets to begin. Then it stepped up into the hard attacking style that I don't generally care for. Their unison was good. But Noelle seemed like she was running out of gas toward the end. Mr Sims brought context and story to the piece, and I think that got a bit lost as the dancers struggled to handle the props and the choreography. I think there were little details in the piece that they could have emphasized just a bit more. And I think they could have played off each other a bit more. It was a good performance, but not a great one.

Ashleigh DiLello, a 26 year old ballroom dancer, is paired with Jakob Karr, a 19 year old contemporary dancer for Viennese Waltz choreographed by Tony Meredith and Melanie Lapatin. This pair should be able to create a fairy tale. She is in her ballroom element, and he is just a brilliant dancer. His pirouettes are amazing. And he is attentive to detail. Their form in hold was exquisite. I wanted a bit more gliding around the floor from the choreography. I'm surprised that Tony and Melanie made this mostly a static dance. It stayed right in the center of the stage, and focused more on lifts than graceful movement, which was a bit bothersome. I wanted some simple, classic Viennese Waltz movement. But that is picking nits. What they did was beautiful.

Bianca Revels, a 20 year old tap dancer, is paired with Victor Smalley, a 20 year old contemporary dancer, for Broadway choreographed by Tyce Diorio. This piece built slowly with complimentary movement from each dancer. Then the tempo of the music picked up and they should have let it go. But I thought they were too focused on controlling the choreography and keeping the energy up. That helped them with synchronization, but there wasn't that much side by side dancing in this piece. It was about character and story more than steps. The choreography was a bit simplistic because of it, but there was a concept in it that Bianca and Victor didn't quite capture. Technically they danced well and did the choreography they were given, but they could have embraced the characterization and created a moment. If they stay in the competition, they'll have a good tape and lots of notes to review and learn how to take advantage of that kind of opportunity in the future.

Mollee Gray, an 18 year old jazz dancer, is paired with Nathan Trasoras, an 18 year old contemporary dancer, for Bollywood choreographed by Nakul dev Mahajan. Wow! He threw an incredible series of spins at the beginning of the number. His balance is astonishing and he has tremendous control over his core. But I don't think the two of them together captured the full flavor and excitement that prior pairs have brought to this style. They danced the steps very well, but I don't feel that this was one of the better Bollywood pieces. It was a good performance. I think Nakul's choreography emphasized the strengths of both dancers. The individual skill elements were outstanding, but I didn't really feel this dance. I didn't compare it favorably to what I've seen before.

Channing Cooke, an 18 year old contemporary dancer, is paired with Phillip Attmore, a 25 year old tap dancer, for Samba choreographed by Tony Meredith and Melanie Lapatin. Phillip is having trouble straightening his core and pulling his shoulders back for better posture. Tap dancers are inherently bent a little at the waist, and loose through the shoulders, and he'll have to correct that for some of these styles. But I thought his partnering skills were surprisingly good. This was a complex Samba full of lifts and tricks. They did struggle with them, and it showed in the performance. I didn't really feel comfortable with it because they had a lot of trouble connecting the dancing in between the tricks. I like that Tony and Melanie gave them a tough routine, but I wanted to see them dance together rather than do all those lifts, because when they got to dance they really connected and did pretty well. I usually enjoy T&M's work, but tonight I wanted less lifts and tricks and more dancing.

Karen Hauer, a 27 year old American rhythm dancer, is paired with Kevin Hunte, a 23 year old hip hop dancer, for hip hop choreographed by Tabitha and Napoleon D'Umo. He could have easily danced beyond her, but he didn't. He managed to look strong in his style while helping her bring her level up to something that was more than acceptable. She didn't hit it as hard as she should have, but she didn't drag him backward either. She kept up. What she did was embrace the movement and character in the piece and just dance it without worrying about it. And that actually made it work. She's not a hip hop dancer, but I didn't see any anxiety in the performance. Kevin is an excellent technical dancer as well as a generous partner.

Kathryn McCormick, an 18 year old contemporary dancer, is paired with Legacy Perez, a 28 year old B-Boy, for contemporary choreographed by Stacey Tookey. She completely trusted him with the lifts in this piece. And I was impressed by how much he has learned. He comes from no technical training at all and he's just a sponge for the different movement he is being exposed to. There were some tremendous tricks in this choreography. And they looked wonderful performing it. Stacey created an incredible piece of art. Kathryn and Legacy together found the center of the piece, embraced it, and brought themselves together within it. For me, he has proven that he belongs in this competition. Outstanding. This is a surprisingly strong partnership. She has snuck up on me, and I didn't think I was going to like him. It's going to be interesting to watch how they continue to develop.

Pauline Mata, an 18 year old contemporary dancer, is paired with Peter Sabasino, a 22 year old tap dancer, for Jazz choreographed by Amanda and Wade Robson. This piece is based on Van Gogh's Starry Starry Night, as though there were people in the original concept that were discarded in favor of what the painting became. I was pleasantly surprised by Peter's work. He was expressive and really fell into Wade's unique movement and let it take control of his body. The concept and the character suited him quite well. I lost track of Pauline just a little bit because I was fascinated by Peter. He constantly pulled my focus. I'll have to watch this again to see Pauline. The thing about Wade's work is that it can sometimes be so "out there" that the viewer can focus on whether or not they understood the piece rather than whether they liked the dancers in it. And then the dancers can get lost and you end up missing something wonderful. I thought this overall performance worked and I liked it.

Ellenore Scott, a 19 year old contemporary dancer, is paired with Ryan DiLello, a 28 year old ballroom dancer, for Tango choreographed by Miriam and Leonardo. I know Ryan can dance this well and I know that he is a strong partner. What I want to see is how he brings a non-ballroom dancer through this piece. I shouldn't have been worried. She has the exotic look for this dance, but she has to move without fear and with total trust of Ryan. And she did. They performed a very difficult lift with ease. Ellenore was technically much better than I anticipated. This was an outstanding performance. She had trouble with her heel stuck in the hem of her dress for a good portion of the dance and never missed a step. In fact, I never noticed the problem until the judges pointed it out and they played the tape back. That's a professional reaction to a difficult circumstance. They were nearly flawless. The connection between them was so strong, and they controlled the emotion and tempo throughout.

The judges select four dancers to perform solos to stay in the competition.

Noelle - unimpressive
Phillip - smooth
Bianca - dynamic
Victor - strong

Nigel says that neither Noelle nor Bianca came up to standard in the routines. He tells Noelle that she truly danced for her life in her solo and she will stay. Bianca goes home. I disagree with this decision.

Nigel takes no time at all to tell Phillip that he is out. He says it breaks his heart that two tappers have gone out so early. I don't believe him, but this was a tough choice. I think Victor may have more potential in the competition than Phillip.

Although I love that three tappers made the Top 20, I am now convinced that this is not the venue for straight tap. I'm ok with that. Bianca and Phillip are extraordinarily talented at what they do. And I hope that the exposure from this short time on the show opens doors for both of them.

We're down to our Top 16, and next week we get to start voting for our favorites. I haven't got a favorite yet, so I better start paying attention!


  1. Between the costume and the music, Noel reminded my wife and I of a high school dance team member. I believe she is much better than what I saw last night.
    Channing was just too much for Phillip to handle. She is too big and too athletic for him as a partner. He struggled with every lift. Maybe she should have been paired with Ryan. He has the size and power to lift any of the girls.
    Great show though. This has replaced DWTS as my must watch show each week.

  1. Jody says:

    Russell and Noelle: The whole tennis racket thing didn't work for me. It just seemed rushed and kind of distracting.

    Ashleigh and Jakob: What a beautiful "wedding" dance. That is too bad because for some reason I really really don't like Ashleigh. And the kiss was a little odd for me.

    Bianca and Victor: This dance to me was just not a dance. It was more like two people flailing around. I know it was suppose to be a church like revival but it just seemed unfinished.

    Mollee and Nathan: Bollywood is kind of interesting. Too bad this one wasn't that. I can't get past how young she looks. It is like watching a little girl pretending. The beginning was nice though.

    Channing and Phillip: What a clunky latin type dance. She didn't move her hips right and he seemed to have trouble lifting her up. It was like watching two relatives after too many drinks.

    Karen and Kevin: I am really shocked at the sexuality that comes out of Karen when she dances. You do lose sight of Kevin and that makes me wonder how long he will be around.

    Kathryn and Legacy: Biggest shocker of the night for me. Legacy was wonderful. He showed so much growth and smoothness. I had no idea he had it in him. And Kathryn was wonderful too. The part where he jumped on her and she pushed him down was excellent.

    Pauline and Peter: I have no idea what was suppose to be so controversial about this dance. I thought they did a great job. I was surprised with the ability Peter showed in this.

    Ellenore and Ryan: WOW they did great. They were pretty much spot on with their crispness and I kept waiting for her to hit the floor after her foot got caught in her dress. That she was able to dance like it wasn't was amazing.

  1. Travis says:

    I need to remember to change the size of the photos so they don't make the post so wonky.

    Driller: I think Noelle may still have been affected by the injury, but that's just a guess.

    Jody: Thanks for your thoughts on the dancers! Looks like we're pretty well in sync with our opinions.

  1. Jaye says:

    I'm intrigued re the tennis rackets!