Our Top 18 becomes 16 as 2 dancers are eliminated and the rest dance for votes.
Cat update...hair down and full, plus a simple black frock. That's what I like to see.
The Top 18 open the show with another WOW group performance, choreographed by Sonya Tayeh and Christopher Scott.
It's bad news/good news right away. The bad news is that Jade has aggravated an old knee injury and must withdraw.
The good news is that the producers got the message based on fan feedback and will not eliminate dancers at the beginning of the show. YES! Eliminations will be at the end.
Nigel Lythgoe and Mary Murphy are joined on the panel by Erin Andrews and Paula Abdul.
Wait, I guess we will find out who the bottom three gals and guys are right away. I guess that kind of makes sense, since we can get the solos out of the way and then focus on the choreographed pieces.
Our bottom three gals are...Jasmine M, Jenna, Alexis.
Our bottom three guys are...BluPrint, Curtis, Jade.
Because Jade has withdrawn, both BluPrint and Curtis are declared safe. No eliminations among the guys, other than Jade's injury exit.
All three gals are going to dance solos though, and they are going to do that right now.
- Alexis - She's a special tap dancer, but I didn't see anything inspiring in that 30 seconds.
- Jasmine M - I don't think she belongs in the bottom 3 at all, and that solo proved it to me.
- Jenna - Lots of hip swivels and Cha Cha Cha walks, but I'm indifferent to the package.
The producers are doing a fabulous job of wobbling my interest here.
But on we go anyway.
Amy Yakima, a 19 year old Contemporary dancer, is paired with Du-Shaunt "Fik-Shun" Stegall, an 18 year old Hip Hop dancer, for Paso Doble choreographed by Jean Marc Genereux. JM has made a Paso war, emphasizing power and aggression on both sides. I am incredibly impressed by Fik-Shun's lines and his carriage. He is also quite strong...stronger in fact than he looks. He's not much bigger than Amy, and yet he lifts and turns her with control and balance. Amy, to use a phrase from two seasons ago, is a beast. She creates drama in her face that is complimented by the drama in her body. I thought they danced with precision. They have danced three distinctly different styles and owned each one of them. They trust each other and they make each other better. Even though they had to suppress their bright shiny personalities, they found a way to command the stage, both individually and as partners.
Jasmine Harper, a 19 year old Contemporary dancer, is paired with Aaron Turner, a 25 year old Tap dancer, for Broadway choreographed by Spencer Liff. I love the characterization in the piece. These two have been such a power couple, but this routine requires them to soften the edges a little bit and focus on presentation rather than just raw power. Then the music and attitude builds and they get a chance to let fly with that power. The whole transition from quiet beginning to energetic finish was controlled and clean. I think each dancer has an individual strength to take the choreography and interpret it into story, and then they are able to meld that together into an honest and believable complete performance. I thought they demonstrated polish and true understanding of how to project to the back row in the Broadway style, but maintain the subtlety of story. I think these two are ready for the professional stage right now and would be an asset to any company or show.
Makenzie Dustman, an 18 year old Contemporary dancer, is paired with Paul Kamiryan, a 21 year old Latin Ballroom dancer, for Contemporary choreographed by Lindsay Nelko. This piece was pure emotion. I expected Makenzie to be beautiful in this style, since it is her home base. But Paul made me forget that he is a Latin ballroom dancer. He danced so lightly, and that was unexpected. He's a terrific partner anyway, but I thought he was even better than his training in this performance. This was a bare bones, honest performance. The story deals with terminal illness, but there was peacefulness in the interpretation. It was stylish and beautiful in it's fluid, restrained technicality. I did not expect much from either of these two dancers this season, but they have surprised me in a good way. This was a wonderful, poignant marriage of choreographer, music, style, and dancers. A word about the choreography...Ms Nelko looks so young, and yet she made a dance with such gravitas.
Jasmine Mason, a 19 year old Contemporary dancer, is paired with Alan Bersten, a 19 year old Ballroom dancer, for Jazz choreographed by Sean Cheesman. It's a quirky high tea between a Queen and her King. It really would be a shame for Jasmine to be eliminated tonight, but I don't think she's in any real danger of going home. Oh wow! That lift was incredible...up and around and twisty. Alan continues to impress me with his strength and adaptability. He has surrendered the precision of his Latin training to the more relaxed and jerky movement required of Jazz choreography. I think that they portrayed the oddness of the bits and pieces of the routine...the steps and lifts and movement was spot on. However, I would have liked to see them add the little performance details...strategic pauses, nods or winks to the audience that don't break the magic but bring the audience into the story, and playing off each other a little more. It was a good performance that I enjoyed, but I think they just missed on a chance to create a real moment for themselves.
Jenna Johnson, an 18 year old Ballroom dancer, is paired with Tucker Knox, a 22 year old Contemporary dancer, for Hip Hop choreographed by Marial and Keone Madrid. I think Tucker can do just about anything. He has classic lines. He has Broadway expression. And he has just enough swag to pull off this particular piece. The choreography was Hip Hop with a heavy Jazz influence. I'm not a fan of Jenna's solo work as a Ballroom dancer, but I like her in these set pieces. She has an attractive quality when taking on choreography. I thought they both brought some performance experience to the piece...those pauses and nods that really complete a performance. And their chemistry together really adds flavor. Let me also add a note about the Madrids...they brought a cool, stylish hipster vibe to the choreography that really suited both Jenna and Tucker. Once again we have a great marriage of dancers to music to choreographers.
Malece Miller, a 19 year old Contemporary dancer, has lost her partner Jade Zuberi, a 21 year old Animator, to injury. She dances Contemporary with All Star Marko Germar from Season 8 choreographed by Sonya Tayeh. Lucky lady to get such a strong partner to replace Jade in this one piece, and to dance in her own style. I think Marko actually helped her find the mature quality that has been missing in her presentation. She has tremendous technical ability. Her lines are excellent. I think she also has tremendous timing. But the missing element has been believability. I think she achieved it in this piece. The story Sonya crafted was something into which a dancer should be able to immerse, and Malece did that. She understood what was needed. She found a connection with it. She used that bright shiny youthful quality in her look to great effect by molding it into the story and making it have weight. Kudos to Marko for his contribution, and helping Malece bring all her tools to the stage in this performance.
Hayley Erbert, an 18 year old Contemporary dancer, is paired with Curtis Holland, a 19 year old Tap dancer, are paired for Samba choreographed by Jean Marc Genereux. Damn. I keep thinking that this is the week I'm going to like them. I figure a nice hot Samba should be the dance that sparks my interest in this pair. But it's just not to be. I just don't like them together. I can't really put my finger on it, although this week I can say that I didn't sense any connection or heat between them. There was plenty of possibility in the choreography, but I don't think they lived up to it. Let me see what positive things I can say...Hayley's hips and footwork were very good. Curtis had a lot of technical challenges, probably due to the fact that his feet work differently as a tapper. I wonder if I would like these dancers in different partnerships. I don't care for them together.
Alexis Juliano, an 18 year old Tap dancer, is paired with Nico Greetham, an 18 year old Contemporary dancer, for Jazz choreographed by Spencer Liff. I'm a bit surprised that Alexis was in the bottom three gals based on how well I thought she performed last week. Based on her solo, which I didn't care for, she would be my choice to go this week. I think Nico is a dark horse among the guys. He's not the first dancer I think of, but he has been impressive the last two weeks after getting off to a tough start. I thought he did a fantastic job controlling his body through a series of dead drops and great spins. I was pleasantly surprised by Alexis in the piece. I thought she danced with power and precision, understanding what was required by the story and character. This performance made me rethink my choice of elimination, although it's hard to overlook an uninspired solo.
Mariah Spears, a 19 year old Krumper, is paired with Dorian "BluPrint" Hector, a 19 year old Animator, for Hip Hop choreographed by Luther Brown. This could be an interesting partnership. Although their styles are radically different in terms of the type of control the movements require, there is a symmetry that they should both understand and be able to blend. At least, I think that should be the case. HA! I really liked that. It put me in mind of watching Comfort and tWitch dance together. It wasn't on that level technically, but it was really entertaining to watch. Mariah was terrific. She had the swag. She was down into the floor. She had the full performance in her movement and in her face. I thought BluPrint was strong with the steps and I also thought he made some strides in getting the animation into his face. He still has a way to go and I think the one thing that is costing him with voters is that he isn't letting his personality shine through to voters. I think there were interactions designed into the choreography that allowed the two to connect with each other. I'd like to see those moments become more natural. They had an advantage this week dancing in Hip Hop.
OK...business time. Remember, our bottom three gals are...Jasmine M, Jenna, Alexis. I liked Jasmine's solo, but I wasn't moved by either Jenna or Alexis. I liked all three in the choreographed pieces.
Based only on solos, I say it's between Jenna and Alexis to go home. But the judges have choreographer opinions to consider, as well as the entire body of work for all three. I suspect it's going to come down to potential for growth.
Nigel tells Jenna that she is unanimously safe. He tells Jasmine that she seems like she doubts herself. He tells Alexis that she doesn't seem to hold onto notes she is given from one moment to the next, and will have to work on that.
Nigel says that Alexis is safe, which means that Jasmine is eliminated.
And we say good bye to Jade as well, due to injury.
So a favorite of ours unexpectedly drops off the list. I'm surprised, as you can tell if you go back and read what I wrote about Jasmine's work this week.
We still have these favorites - Jasmine M, Tucker, Aaron, Amy, and Fik-Shun. We enjoyed a couple of other dancers this week as well, but I think we'll stick just with these five at the moment.
Check back tomorrow for some encores. It's easy to forget to tune in next week for results and then our Top 14 competitive performances. But I charge you to remember it anyway!
If you don't tune in, you know I'll be here with a recap.