I'm ready to admit it now. I'm having a tough time getting my rhythm with this season. At first I thought it was because of the 2 weeks off for the Olympics. But now I know it's the single night format.
I tried to be positive about it, but the reality is that having the performances and the eliminations on a single night is bugging me. I don't feel relaxed when I watch the performances, because I know I'm watching at least 2 dancers who are going out right at the end of the show. As innovations go, I don't count this among my favorites.
It is what it is. At least this week we get All Stars.
Nigel Lythgoe and Mary Murphy are joined on the panel by Black Swan choreographer Benjamin Millepied.
And there's always Cat...hair is up again this week. I'm definitely digging the shimmery silvery frock, showing off stunning legsses.
Top 10 group routine is a tribute to Gene Kelly, choreographed by Tyce Diorio. And did you notice...Tyce danced with the group in place of Cole, who has a slight injury but will be able to compete.
Tiffany Maher, a 19 year old jazz dancer, is paired with All Star Brandon Bryant from Season 5 for Disco choreographed by Doriana Sanchez. That was packed with some really difficult and creative lifts. I thought Tiffany was terrific. She held her energy through the whole routine. She demonstrated her stamina and flexibility, as well as her core strength in a couple of split lifts. Excellent chemistry between the pair. They really hit it off in a short amount of rehearsal time. The transitions between the dance steps and the lifts were seamless. I would have liked more dance content, but the way they performed the lifts made it a complete dance. Well done.
Witney Carson, an 18 year old Latin Ballroom dancer, is paired with All Star Nick Lazzarini, champion from Season 1, for Jazz choreographed by Travis Wall. This is something different from Travis. The angles are more sharp and defined. I love his wispy ethereal stuff, but I liked this too. Once again I'm impressed with Witney's versatility. She matched Nick's defined and extended lines. What I really liked was the way they both presented the detail with sharp movements on the beat and delays as they transitioned between steps. You know, those little pauses that draw your attention and frame the phrases. I like that kind of emphasis. It shows patience, understanding, and terrific interpretation. I really liked that performance. Click here if the video doesn't play.
Cole Horibe, a 26 year old martial arts fusion dancer, is paired with All Star Anya Garnis from Season 3 for Cha Cha Cha choreographed by Dmitry Chaplin. Cole is another dancer who impresses me each week. He's a trained, champion martial artist, and yet he is so incredibly versatile. Each style he takes on every week and looks like he's had years of training with it. It isn't easy to look right with Anya, especially if you're not a ballroom dancer, but Cole establishes a connection with her immediately and yet again dances like he's been doing it for years. I'm surprised that the judges didn't see the chemistry with Anya, because I thought they were dialed in. There were a few technical issues with the balls of his feet...he slid rather than pivoted and that created a few dull lines. But overall I thought it was still a strong routine. Maybe not his best, but still very good.
Lindsay Arnold, an 18 year old Latin ballroom dancer, is paired with All Star Jacob Karr from Season 6 for Broadway choreographed by Spencer Liff. I like this concept of dancing with light and shadow against the screen. It really emphasizes how strong Lindsay's technique is. She is a ballroom dancer, and she is holding her own with Jakob, who's technique is simply brilliant. That was an outstanding routine. Excellent match of choreographer, concept, and dancers. Well put together and danced so very well. Lindsay still has a lot to learn, but she's a sponge and it isn't taking her long to learn. When you talk extensions, Jakob is your example. And Lindsay was getting there, particularly through her arms. I thought their connection and synchronization were excellent. Great stuff. Click here if the video doesn't play.
Will Thomas, a 19 year old contemporary dancer, is paired with All Star Katherine McCormick from Season 6 for Bollywood choreographed by Nakul dev Mahajan. This piece has a lot more story than I've seen in Bollywood numbers in the past. I like it. Will surprised me with how he was able to get low on the floor and keep the speed of the movement up, as well as keep it crisp and sharp. He's a big guy, but he managed his size very well. He controlled his movement. He looks like such a big goofy guy, but when he dances he channels all of that energy into a tight and clean performance. And his personality was all over that dance. I thought he and Katherine worked very well together. I haven't always enjoyed the Bollywood numbers, but this one was terrific.
Cyrus Spencer, a 22 year old animation dancer, is paired with All Star Jaimie Goodwin from Season 3 for Contemporary choreographed by Travis Wall. That was really amazing. Cyrus has no training whatsoever. He managed what he was given to do with strength, emotion, and honesty. I believed him throughout the entire piece. The choreography was amazing and in the hands of a trained contemporary dancer, it would have been incredible. But what Cyrus did with it was astonishing. It was completely raw and totally powerful because of that unconstrained emotional connection to dance. If you want to nitpick about his lack of toe point and extension, you certainly can. But what you'll miss while you're picking those nits is a young man who has so much potential and is willing to work at anything he is given, and who dances with tremendous passion. Talent will out, y'all. And thank you to Travis for pulling that performance out of Cyrus. That was not an easy routine. Click here if the video doesn't play.
Chehon Wespi-Tschopp, a 23 year old ballet dancer, is paired with All Star Lauren Gottlieb from Season 3 for Hip Hop choreographed by Dave Scott. This is more lyrical, which helps Chehon. It isn't easy for a ballet dancer to release rigid body control and relax into the movement. To dance hip hop well, you have to get into the floor and let the music come through you and be free. I really like this choreography. It's tough not to watch Lauren in a piece like this because she is just so fluid and sensual. But I think Chehon got the idea behind it. His movement had a flow to it, which allowed the musicality to really come across and make his performance accessible. I haven't really connected with him, although I appreciate what a beautiful dancer he is. Tonight he brought me to him and I felt like he enjoyed dance for dance, instead of as work.
George Lawrence II, a 19 year old contemporary dancer, is paired with All Star Allison Holker from Season 2 for Jazz choreographed by Tyce Diorio. Sorry George. It is almost impossible to take my eyes off Allison, particularly when she dances like this. I liked the idea in the story and I thought the choreography was excellent. I love the quality of George's movement. When I stopped letting Allison pull my focus, I saw strength and precision in Georg's dancing. But what was missing a little for me was the sexual tension that should have been in the piece. I thought George missed out on a chance to show some variety in his interpretation. This piece called for more passion and less concern for perfectly pointed toes. It was a solid performance but a missed opportunity.
Eliana Girard, a 21 year old ballet dancer, is paired with All Star Alex Wong from Season 7 for Contemporary choreographed by Stacey Tookey. It's so good to see Alex back on the show after not being able to finish out his season due to injury. And it's great to see Eliana paired with a partner who can challenge and compliment her talent. Oh my gosh. I couldn't take my eyes off this. That was brilliant. I got chills. Standing ovation in the studio, including the judges. Nigel said it...the dancing had maturity in the movement, in the emotion, and in the interpretation. There was so much nuance in that piece. The only problem I had with it was that it was too short. I wanted them to keep dancing. This one is going on my list of all time favorites and it is overwhelmingly my choice for dance of the night. Click here if the video doesn't play.
Audry Case, an 18 year old contemporary dancer, is paired with All Star tWitch Boss from Season 4 for Hip Hop choreographed by Dave Scott. You can't be intimidated by how amazing tWitch is. I mean, of course you can, but you have to figure out how not to be. You have to realize that he is a very unselfish dancer and he'll make you look good if you let him. This was really a great piece of musical theatre. I was totally entertained. I think Audry hung in there with tWitch. I thought she had the groove and the funk. It was a tough job for her because this choreography was right in the pocket for tWtich. He's so engaging and stylish, and he really can't help but dominate a stage. I thought there was a chance for Audry to take the character further than she did because she had the dancing down pretty well. As a whole, this was really an enjoyable performance and I thought Audry did pretty well. I'll give you the video because the piece was really cool, and, well, because it's tWitch.
Well, just when I was feeling a little down on the season, we get 10 terrific performances. The All Stars were just what I needed.
But now there's no time to enjoy it and let it sink in because we've got results right now. Sheesh.
Results...Tiffany, Cole, Lindsay, Will, Cyrus, and Eliana are safe.
Bottom four...Witney, Audry, Chehon, and George.
The judges ask the audience if they want to see solos, and of course we all do.
- Witney - Steamy and hot. Yeowza.
- Audry - Powerful.
- Chehon - This is a special talent.
- George - The emotion from this solo is what is missing in his work in choreographed pieces.
Now we have a special performance from LA Dance Project, choreographed by Benjamin Millepied. Wow.
And the elimination...
Witney is safe, so that means Audry is eliminated.
Chehon is safe, so that means George is eliminated.
Tough elimination. I thought all four dancers had stand out solos. But there are only going to be 2 winners, one guy and one gal, so that means 6 more still have to go.
Tune in next week for the Top 8 and All Stars.