Before we get started, I can report that the Season 17 cast of DWTS will be announced the morning of 4 September. Premier night is 16 September.
I can also report that the producers have decided to eliminate the results show, so there will only be a performance night with an elimination at the end of that show each week.
You know how much I dislike that format with SYTYCD. We'll see if it's any different for DWTS.
Now to current business. Our Top 8 becomes our Top 6, joined by the All Stars, as 2 dancers are eliminated and the rest dance for votes.
Cat update...oh no no no no. That's not good hair. And if you're going to slick that hair in such an unattractive way, don't cover up the LEGSSESS!
Top 8 group routine choreographed by Mia Michaels in all her insanity. I'm not sure if I liked it or not.
Nigel Lythgoe and Mary Murphy are joined on the panel by Jenna Elfman. Did you know that she is classically trained in ballet? I didn't.
Our bottom two gals are...Jenna and Hayley.
Our bottom two guys are...Fik-Shun and Tucker.
Everybody gets a solo.
- Fik-Shun - This young man has enough talent and personality for about five more guys.
- Hayley - Full of passion, but lighter than air.
- Jenna - I like her way better outside of her own Ballroom style.
- Tucker - Wonderful technician with the power and talent to match.
If it were me I'd save Hayley and Fik-Shun in a very close vote, because Kitty only saves and never eliminates.
Remember, our All Stars are choreographing the routines this week.
Aaron Turner, a 25 year old Tap dancer, is paired with All Star Chelsie Hightower from Season 4, for Jive choreographed by Chelsie. This is a full on 1950s style Jive, which I appreciate. There are some lifts that are a bit clunky and slow down the momentum of the routine near the top. In fact, everything seems a bit slower than it should be. I think there were places in the routine that were spot on. The flicks and kicks were quick and precise. But things kind of slowed down and lost fluidity in the tricks. I enjoyed the details and the whole of the performance. Aaron missed several connections. Aaron also lost posture and balance, which I think contributed to how the routine lost flow and speed. This was the first time I felt that his height was a detriment in the partnership. He made up for most of the deficiencies with performance details and charm. I like that Chelsie didn't hold back on the choreography.
Du-Shaunt "Fik-Shun" Stegall, an 18 year old Hip Hop dancer, is paired with All Star Allison Holker from Season 2, for Contemporary choreographed by Allison. This is probably the best style for Fik-Shun to get when up for elimination, allowing him to reinforce his versatility. The only better choice would have been Hip Hop with tWitch to nail his own style and demonstrate his professionalism. That's about the third or fourth time this season when I just could not look away. What a powerful and beautiful statement. I love to watch Allison dance, and now I've seen her bring to life her vision in her own movement. I thought it was a great call for her to use Fik-Shun's natural talent in each phrase. I think he has been a sponge for each style this season, and that served him well. He was able to portray character and story, master the technique, and provide us with a complete performance that encompassed talent and charm and ability. Plus, he made a stunning moment on stage with Allison.
Tucker Knox, a 22 year old Contemporary dancer, is paired with All Star Courtney Galiano from Season 4, for Jazz choreographed by Courtney. I really enjoyed the changes in tempo throughout this routine. It was a nice mix of lyrical and theatrical. Some of the lifts were so different. I liked the way everything flowed from one movement to the next. Courtney did a wonderful job of designing the dance around the things Tucker does well. Then he took the inspiration of the story and demonstrated his strength and power, plus his ability to interpret music. I think the two of them dancing together so well is the true inspiration...Tucker has come all the way back from a nearly fatal car accident after which he was told he would never walk, and Courtney was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis two years ago and spent the month of December 2012 not being able to see out of her left eye. That makes this routine even more special.
Paul Kamiryan, a 22 year old Latin Ballroom dancer, is paired with All Star Comfort Fedoke from Season 4, for Hip Hop choreographed by Comfort. This is not my favorite kind of music or style of Hip Hop. I don't think it suited Paul, but I think he was mostly successful in the execution. I thought he spent most of the routine in the pocket and got down into the floor. I'm impressed with Comfort as a choreographer, not only with the way she put the dance together with the story, but also to teach the double bounce to Paul and get him to hit it on time and in sync. So while I don't think the style suited Paul, I do think he did what he needed to do. He had a lot of fun and kept up his energy, and left his ballroom precision behind for about 90 seconds. I continue to be impressed with Paul's versatility and ability to nail just about everything he is given.
Hayley Erbert, an 18 year old Contemporary dancer, is paired with All Star Dmitry Chaplin from Season 2, for Rumba choreographed by Dmitry. Can you put the words sultry and vulnerable together to describe a dance routine? Well, I'm gonna. Hayley had a wonderfully sultry quality to begin this dance, and then let her vulnerability lead her through the rest of it. I liked this Rumba choreography because it kept the flow and fluidity...it never stopped to pose. Dmitry is such a wonderful choreographer, and he took full advantage of how versatile Hayley is. I think Jenna Elfman had some great advice for Hayley...to let go completely in the style. If she can do that, she can be a dancer like Allison Holker. Allison is the dance when she is on stage, and Hayley has the talent to grow into that kind of performer. She was not on my radar early in the season, but she has grown on me each week. This story was well told, and the Rumba was well danced.
Jenna Johnson, an 18 year old Ballroom dancer, is paired with All Star Mark Kanemura from Season 4, for Jazz choreographed by Mark. Mark was never one of my favorite dancers during Season 4 because of his quirky style, but he does feature in one of my all time favorite routines with Chelsie Hightower and I'm excited to see his work as a choreographer. Yeah, it's weird. But I kind of liked it. It was such a mix of quirky shapes and angles with jerky movements and lots of perfectly synchronized side by side dancing. Then there were some creative lifts. It was different and incredibly stylized. Mark took all the things that I used to not like about his dance style, and made me like them. Jenna was fantastic. She danced clean and precise. And she allowed the innovative choreography to be the star of the performance, which made the routine even more cool and exciting.
Jasmine Harper, a 19 year old Contemporary dancer, is paired with All Star tWtich Boss from Season 4, for Hip Hop choreographed by tWtich. That's a mix of comedy and super sensational Hip Hop dancing. I loved the energy. tWtich essentially took his Top 10 moves, added a bunch if innovation, and threw down the challenge to Jasmine. I love how she lost herself in the choreography and danced with complete abandon. tWitch made Jasmine the star, and she took it from there. Her personality matched with his so well. I got the same feeling watching them dance as I had with the earlier Hip Hop routine Jasmine danced with Aaron...only taken to another level.
Amy Yakima, a 19 year old Contemporary dancer, is paired with All Star Travis Wall from Season 2, for Contemporary choreographed by Travis. Score. You can't ask for a much better opportunity as a contemporary dancer than this, unless it's dancing with Allison or as a Hip Hop dancer with tWtitch. This routine looked like something I would see from a professional company. Travis is an incredible artist, and he brought out that same artistic expression in Amy. He gave her a vehicle and she took the gift and made something special. She has been one of my favorites all season, and with this routine she was finally allowed to demonstrate her maturity and true virtuosity. I'm not kidding here...I say that Travis Wall is a brilliant choreographer and someday we will speak of him in the same breath as the historical geniuses of dance. It's not just the movement or the stories he creates. Those are just the tools this young man uses to evoke raw human emotion through dance. Amy benefited from that genius tonight, using it to stake her claim to a finale spot.
Now we save two dancers and say goodbye to two others.
Hayley is safe...that means Jenna is eliminated.
Fik-Shun is safe...that means Tucker is eliminated.
I think that's the right call, although a tough one. I have no doubt that they'll be working soon.
That's the last time the judges get to save anyone. Votes will decide who stays and who goes for the next two weeks until one dancer stands as America's favorite.
Our Top 6 - Amy, Fik-Shun, Paul, Hayley, Jasmine, and Aaron. I'm OK with any of them winning.