And cue music...

Posted: Thursday, June 17, 2010 by Travis Cody in

Welcome to my first official recap of performance night!

Before we begin, I'd just like to direct you to Poetry By Travis.  Cruise on over if you are so inclined and check out a new sonnet.

Oy...evidently the stylists didn't read my comments last season about keeping Cat Deeley looking natural.  She's got some kind of bun on top of her head.  But she's working the LEGSSES in a short tourquoise number, so I'll forgive the wonky hair thing.

I do enjoy Cat's LEGSSES.

Judges tonight are Adam Shankman, Mia Michaels, and Nigel Lythgoe.

Let's get to it!

Billy Bell, a 20 year old contemporary dancer, is paired with All Star Lauren Gottlieb from Season 3 in a Broadway routine choreographed by Tyce Diorio.  This was described during rehearsal footage as high energy and constant motion, but that's not what I saw.  Billy is one of those dancers that I think you over-choreograph.  What I mean is that you give him more than you think he can possibly handle, and then you make it more difficult, and then you pile on some more stuff.  I didn't think there was anything in that routine that was difficult or challenging.  He naturally makes things look easy anyway, so what I focused on was how cleanly he danced.  But come on Tyce...that was a disservice to one of the best male dancers on the show, in my opinion.  Make him leap.  Give him something to interpret.  Give him a story.  Of course, it's also up to the dancer to own the steps and the choreography, and to make it come to life no matter what it is.  I thought Billy danced well, but for me all of the movement was just ordinary.  He showed that he had fun with what he was given, but I just don't think he was given enough.  I wanted the whole thing to be better than it was.

Cristina Santana, a 24 year old salsa dancer, is paired with All Star Mark Kanemura from Season 4 in a Jazz routine choreographed by Sonya Tayeh.  I did not care for the choreography.  I wasn't really able to connect with the story of a predator and prey.  I could see that story, but it didn't really engage me all that much.  This type of routine was so suited to Mark, but to his credit he did not pull my focus.  Cristina stepped up and became the star of the piece.  I could see the strength in her core, which comes from her salsa background.  She was flexible and balanced, and her movement flowed.  I thought some of her lines were outstanding.  She really could have gotten buried in that piece but instead she stood out.  I could have lost interest very easily because of the style.  It really was a piece designed for Mark's quirkiness, but Cristina carved out her own space within it.  She worked with Mark to create a real partnership, and that kept me engaged despite not really liking the choreography all that much.  Well done.

Jose Ruiz, a 21 year old break dancer, is paired with All Star Comfort Fedoke from Season 4 in a hip hop routine choreographed by Tabitha and Napoleon D'Umo.  Now you'd think this would be a win for Jose due to the style.  But Tab & Nap focus so much on story and character.  In order to interpret their choreography, you have to be focused on the full performance with all the little details, instead of just throwing the steps.  Tab & Nap are known for putting a move to every possible note of music.  Plus, Jose is actually a break dancer and doesn't have a lot of experience with choreography.  I'm impressed by Jose.  I don't know exactly how to describe what I saw him do...I guess the best way to say it is that there were times when he looked like a character out of The Matrix, without the special effects.  He had that stop-n-go feeling to his movement, like motion capture or something.  There was a resistance, then there was a release, followed by hard hits and then softer transitions.  I enjoyed watching.  I think Jose has terrific potential to grow in this competition.  His personality should keep him around, and then his talent and ability will earn more followers.

AdeChike Torbert, a 23 year old contemporary dancer, is paired with All Star Kathryn McCormick from Season 6 in a Jazz routine choreographed by Travis Wall.  I usually enjoy Travis' work.  But for me, the choreography didn't fit with the music.  It felt like a series of movements Travis wanted for the routine, and he was going to set it to whatever music was available.  But that aside, I didn't think AdeChike made any kind of connection with Kathryn at all.  And because of that, unfortunately, there was no life in the dancing.  His technique was there.  He can leap.  He's very strong.  But he needs to marry performance to movement, and that was missing.  The overall performance felt flat to me.  Travis did provide a framework, and Kathryn certainly provided the motivation and character, but I didn't think AdeChike held up his end in terms of pulling the entire piece together.  The whole thing was disappointing.

Melinda Sullivan, a 22 year old tap dancer, is paired with All Star Pasha Kovalev from Season 3 in a Jive routine choreographed by Tony Meredith and Melanie LaPatin.  Something I didn't expect...Melinda matched Pasha in personality and performance.  But then she started pulling some unnecessary faces.  She turned on the acting a little too far.  Maybe that was because she was trying to make it a rounded performance.  She struggled quite a bit with technique.  She didn't show off some of the lines as well as I would have liked.  She was certainly fearless and she trusted Pasha throughout the dance.  However, she definitely had some trouble holding the discipline with her legs and so it seemed like she danced heavy.  That seems like it might be related to the fact that her style is tap.  Still, Pasha is a great partner.  When the dance started, it seemed like he was dancing way beyond her.  Then I think he dialed it down and tried to keep them connected as partners.  I think that helped the performance, but it couldn't mask that she was out of her comfort zone.  She gave it a good effort though and I think she has the dedication to learn and improve.

Alex Wong, a 23 year old ballet dancer, is paired with All Star Allison Holker from Season 2 in a contemporary routine choreographed by Sonya Tayeh.  Technique is not going to be Alex's problem.  But he has to let loose of some of the emotional discipline he uses as a ballet dancer and become visibly vulnerable on stage.  He couldn't have had a better piece to start that transition, or a better partner in Allison.  The whole package was beautifully designed and presented.  I got chills.  That was stunning.  I figured he was capable of that kind of emotional depth, but I did not expect to see it this quickly.  Nigel said it well when he said that sometimes we forget the poetry of dance.  This routine was poetry.  The dance was a living, breathing thing.  I watch this show for a lot of reasons, and moments like this keep me coming back.  That was a perfect combination of choreographer, dancers, music, story, and character.  Brilliant.

Alexie Agdeppa, a 26 year old jazz dancer, is paired with All Star Twitch Boss from Season 4 in a hip hop routine choreographed by Tabitha and Napoleon.  I love to see Twitch back on the show, but maybe it was a mistake.  I really had to work to focus on what Alexie was doing, because Twitch is such a force.  It's not his fault.  He's just a star.  He can completely swallow whoever he dances with.  But I was aware in advance that was likely to happen, so I did work to concentrate on Alexie.  I didn't believe  her as a mature, sexy woman in the piece.  It didn't seem like she felt the music.  Twitch was giving her so much to play off, but she didn't take it.  I didn't really see any sexy in the character, or any sass in her back pocket, or any real power in her movement.  Alexie danced a series of steps, while Twitch brought all the groove.  He brought all of the performance, and Alexie brought the cute.  She's got to work it more in order to get me to pay attention, especially when she's partnered with a heavy weight All Star.

Lauren Froderman, an 18 year old contemporary dancer, is paired with All Star Ade Obayami from Season 5 in a contemporary jazz routine choreographed by Mandy Moore.  Lauren is made of personality.  One of the things that really attracted me to her during call backs was all the little subtle details she adds to a performance.  But I thought she was flat in this piece.  She seemed nervous.  I'm sure they all were, but it showed in Lauren's performance.  I missed the winks and the connection to the audience.  Mia called it filling in the space.  I expected Lauren to excel at that.  What she did was dance the movement she was given.  But while Ade was emoting and carrying the story and character of the piece, Lauren seemed focused only on technique.  I think she needed to trust the choreography and let go.  I've seen other dancers on the show run back to technique as a woobie when they were nervous or didn't feel confident.  That's what this performance felt like from Lauren.  She trusted Ade with the athletic part of the dancing, but she didn't let herself be vulnerable and trust him enough to interpret the story with him.  So I didn't feel anything from her and that's disappointing because I thought she might be an early favorite.

Kent Boyd, an 18 year old contemporary dancer, is paired with All Star Anya Garnis in a Cha Cha Cha routine choreographed by Tony and Melanie.  I don't know what to expect from this young man.  I thought he might be left out for another year.  He's certainly a talented dancer, but there was a possibility that the judges might want to give him another year to mature.  I'm glad they put Kent on the show for this season.  He did what Mia said to do...he filled up the spaces.  He found the performance details and, most importantly, the cheeky stuff in a good Cha Cha Cha, and then he emphasized them.  Rather than the silliness of a boy he can often project, instead there was the masculinity of a man in much of his dancing, except for one unfortunate section when he was just a little too loose in his hips and with his hands.  Pam called him a little hottie in training.  But what I really liked about the performance was that he had fun and took control of the dance.  He should have been nervous, which he probably was, but he used it to his advantage.  He didn't worry about mastering the technique because he'd never done ballroom before, so his dancing was very relaxed.  He captured the flavor of Cha Cha Cha, and that was what made the dance so enjoyable to watch.  Well done young man!

Ashley Galvan, an 18 year old contemporary dancer, is paired with All Star Neil Haskell from Season 3 in a contemporary routine choreographed by Tyce Diorio.  Wow.  She was fearless and beautiful in this piece.  That dance was all about artistry.  She poured her heart into it.  She was completely off my radar during call backs, but she's on it now.  I'm not sure what the judges were trying to convey to her.  I don't think they were giving her any useful notes.  Granted, the dance didn't qualify for the poetry label like Alex's performance, but for me, I can say that I felt her emotion from the stage through my TV and into my living room.  I thought she had the whole package in the dance, and I thought her partnership with Neil was wonderful.  Maybe Ashley didn't interpret the emotion in the piece the way the judges expected or in the way the choreography was designed, but I thought she took what she was feeling and poured it into every movement she made.  I liked what she did and I enjoyed the dance.

Robert Roldan, a 19 year old contemporary dancer, is paired with All Star Courtney Galiano from Season 4 in an Afro-jazz routine choreographed by Sean Cheeseman.  Robert is another dancer who was not really on my radar during auditions.  I think Robert is a polished performer, but also a very genuine dancer looking to grow and learn.  I really enjoyed this performance.  It didn't blow my doors off to start.  I wasn't sure what to expect.  I liked that it felt wild but relaxed.  Then I liked that so much difficult choreography was performed so effortlessly.  Then I started to appreciate what I was seeing.  It was presence.  It was a command and an awareness of the stage.  It was the ability to reach through to the very last row of the audience and invite them into the atmosphere being created.  He understood the motivation in the choreography and how to interpret it.  He appreciated what Courtney gave him, and gave it right back to her.  I feel like Robert is a complete dancer right now.  He has the ability, the artistry, the athleticism, the enthusiasm.  And I think he has a bright future in this competition.

That was a thoroughly enjoyable show.  I like having the All Stars.  I found I was able to focus on the competitors while appreciating the work of the All Stars.  I think the only time I felt that an All Star overwhelmed a competitor was when Twitch was dancing with Alexie, and maybe when Ade danced with Lauren.

But, Twitch is Twitch.  Anyone drawing hip hop and dancing with him is going to have to raise his or her level of performance to match.  And if a competitor can manage that, then he or she is going to create a moment.

We liked a lot about the show last night.  We're all over the place with votes.  Pam likes Kent, Alex, Robert, and Ashley.  I like Billy, Alex, Robert, and Ashley.  We're really going to have to narrow things down.  

But for this first week, we're just going to rotate votes until we get tired.

Tune in tonight for the results.  And check back here tomorrow for some encore videos and a results recap.

Later gang!


  1. It was a great show last night. Last week we went to see the grand daughter's dance recital. They're 8 and 10. It makes you appreciate just how truly gifted these young contestants are.

  1. I think Alex stole the night with Kent close behind. I agree that there are a couple of all-stars (Twitch - YAY Twitch is back! - and Mark)

    I did not understand what they were talking about to Kent and his hands..I even went back and watched again

  1. So is this kind of a best or the best thingy? Sounds like you're in dance-heaven!

    Enjoy tonight's show!

  1. Driller: Indeed it does. And it emphasizes the hard work and dedication to craft. This is going to be a terrific season.

    Vinny: I enjoyed Kent's enthusiasm, but I agree that Alex had a moment.

    Lois: It's the Top 11 finalists from the auditions, combined with an All Star group of competitors from prior seasons. The Top 11 are competing for the prize, while the All Stars are there to assist.

  1. Julie says:

    ".....some kind of bun on the top of her head." Bwhahahhaahhha! It was awful wasn't it? Egads I said to myself!

    So Nigel drove from C'bus to Wapakenta while searching for Kent the other week....i made that trek on Monday! What a cool drive. But alas I had no yellow sports car. **sigh**