And cue music...

Posted: Friday, June 11, 2010 by Travis Cody in

It's time to meet the Top 10...I mean the Top 11!

That's right gang.  The judges picked 5 gals and 6 guys to vie for the title of America's Favorite Dancer in Season 7.  These kids are incredibly talented.  From what I've seen so far, this is a powerhouse group.  

The opening group number features our All Stars and our finalists in a number to Bowie's Fame.  And before anyone tells me, I recognize this as choreography by Amanda and Wade Robson.  Yup yup!  Oh man!  This group is amazing.  Don't get sold on a favorite because I can almost guarantee that it's going to change every week.

Oh...LEGSSES!!!  Cat Deeley is looking lovely in a short, frilly, and pastelly rainbow frock.'s a word.

There's a new director this season...perhaps the producers listened to me when I wrote to them repeatedly about the camera angles last season.  Sometimes I got so dizzy trying to follow what was happening, and the stage never felt intimate.

What?  It's my blog and I can take credit for that if I want.

Mia Michaels is back!!  She joins the judging panel of Adam Shankman and Nigel Lythgoe.  Mary Murphy will not be on the panel this season.  Rather she is going to do some choreography for the show.  Does that mean there's no more hot tamale train?

So what are we dancing here?  Each of our top 11 will get a chance to dance in their own style.  Then next week the actual competition starts.

Lauren Froderman, an 18 year old contemporary dancer, and Kent Boyd, an 18 year old contemporary dancer, partner with Mark Kanemura from Season 4 and Kathryn McCormick from Season 6 in a contemporary routine choreographed by Travis Wall.  That was incredible.  Travis is a brilliant dancer, and his ability to make interesting and provocative dances continues to grow.  This piece was quirky and strange, but full of intricacy and personality.  Lauren caught my eye early in the auditions because she's the kind of dancer who invites the audience into the performance with her.  She is always aware of her job.  As for Kent, he's just a breath of fresh air...very young and perhaps a bit immature, but a hugely talented young man.

Alexie Agdeppa, a 26 year old jazz dancer, and Melinda Sullivan, a 22 year old tap dancer, partner with Allison Holker from Season 2 and Lauren Gottlieb from Season 3 in a Broadway routine choreographed by Tyce DiOrio.  Melinda is way more than just a tap dancer and Alexie is just a little ball of fire.  I think the lesson for both of these girls to take from the All Stars is attention to detail in performance.  All the talent is there...they just need to raise the level.

Jose Ruiz, a 21 year old break dancer, partners with Twitch Boss from Season 4, Comfort Fedoke from Season 4, and Dominic Sandoval from Season 3 in a hip hop routine choreographed by Tabitha and Napoleon D'Umo.  Now this is a heavy weight crew right here.  These are three of the finest hip hop dancers that have been on the show.  And Jose hung right in there with them technically.  But I'd like to see him bring his energy up a little.  He's got a ton of potential to grow.  We recorded the program so I got to watch this routine back a couple of times.  The difference between Jose and the All Stars at this point seems like comfort with the stage and the moment.  The All Stars were relaxed and that came across in facial expressions.  Jose needs to find that comfort level and let loose.

Cristina Santana, a 24 year old salsa dancer, partners with Anya Garnis from Season 3 and Pasha Kovalev from Season 3 in a ballroom routine choreographed by Jason Gilkison.  I love Anya and Pasha.  Not only are they two of the finest Latin ballroom dancers in the world, but they are both tremendous teachers and choreographers in their own right.  Pasha is one of the best partners I have seen in my years of experience watching dancing.  And Anya is...well she's Anya!  Cristina threw herself right in the mix.  In this routine, I saw the benefit that the All Stars are going to bring to the competition.  Since they have already been through the same experience as the competitors, they'll not only be able to explain what a performance needs; they'll also be able to demonstrate it and drive the point home in rehearsals.

Alex Wong, a 23 year old ballet dancer, and Billy Bell, a 20 year old contemporary dancer, partner with Ade Obayomi from Season 5 in a contemporary routine choreographed by Mia Michaels.  Welcome back to the show my dear.  Wow.  I thought the movements in that were absolutely stunning.  The thing that impresses me about Billy is his attention to all the tiny little details that enrich a performance.  From his facial expressions to the twitching of his feet, he portrayed the character and told the story of the piece.  And Alex is a brilliant technician who is going to evolve into a complete performer the longer he stays on the show.  As a principal male dancer in a ballet company, I don't know how much opportunity he's had to relax into dance.  Ballet is just a different animal.  I'm looking forward to his journey.

AdeChike Torbert, a 23 year old contemporary dancer, Robert Roldan, a 19 year old contemporary dancer, and Ashley Galvan, an 18 year old contemporary dancer, partner with Courtney Galiano from Season 4 and Neil Haskell from Season 3 in a jazz routine choreographed by Sonya Tayeh.  That was nuts!  This group was vibrant and dynamic, suiting Sonya's style right down to the ground.  There are times when Sonya's work is too weird for me, but this wasn't one of those times.  The piece combined sharp angles with refined spins, and huge leaps with powerful lifts.  I had forgotten how Neil can jump out of the building, but AdeChike and Robert both matched him in strength.  And I was impressed with Ashely as well.  I couldn't really separate her from Courtney.


The highest compliment I can pay to our Top 11 is that when they danced, there were moments when I couldn't separate the All Stars from the competitors.  Everyone was that good.  It bodes well for the competition because it means that for the most part, our Top 11 is confident in their own ability and ready to learn and grow each week.

After all, as much as I love having the All Stars back to watch every week, they are here to help our Top 11 shine.

Of course, last night was all about each dancer to his or her element.  No judging and small pressure to perform.  Next week the competition starts, and each of our Top 11 will have to bring passion, technique, personality, and versatility to the floor. 

It's all about dancing well, performing well, and making people pick up the phone.  That's how you become American's Favorite Dancer.

I can't wait!!


  1. Linda says:

    Well said, Travis, as those are the very things I don't like about the show myself. I've almost stopped watching completely a time or two because there are things on the show that just drive me nuts but then I keep going back for the music via the DVR where - like yourself and Pam - I find myself fast-forwarding through the stuff I don't like.

    I just downloaded a few Glee songs to my iPod last night including "Find Me Somebody to Love" and a couple others you don't have on this set today. I've got to say that the version of "To Sir, With Love" that they did in the season finale was fantastic and has stuck in my head ever since. That went on the iPod, too!

    I went with a "Flying" theme this week being that I'll be flying down to Florida a little later on today and it seemed appropriate!

    Once again, thanks for this great meme - I love it!

  1. I can only say that Mia's dance was freaking brilliant...I watched it three times...

    I like the use of all-stars (sort of a DWTS twist) and just am so excited to be able to watch Twitch dance again and again....

  1. Linda: I downloaded a couple of the full cast albums too, and then some individual songs. And I'm definitely with you on the cover of To Sir With Love. That was very well done.

    V: I caught myself drifting to several of the All Stars in the routines too. Luckily it was just "exhibition" night. I suspect it will be easier to zone in on the Top 11 when the performances for votes start.

  1. I do not think pastelly is a word IMHO.

    Hugh Jackman, however, now that's a word. Just sayin'....

  1. Twitch is back? I'm in!