So You Think You Can Dance: Seeing stars
We're only two performance shows into Season 8 of So You Think You Can Dance, and already some dancers are starting to pull away from the pack.
Sasha Mallory owned the stage once again on Wednesday in an emotional Tabitha and Napoloeon hip-hop routine, but this time partner Alexander Fost was able to keep up.
Melanie Moore and Marko Germar may have cemented their place as early favourites with a Mandy Moore jazz routine. In particular, it was hard to tear your eyes away from Melanie.
Ryan Ramirez was stunning in another Mandy Moore jazz piece.
And on the guys' side, Tadd Gadduang showed that a B-boy can be the romantic hero in a Viennese waltz.
It was an unusual show in that all of the top 20 got to dance again, given the judges' refusal to send anybody packing last week.
It was also notable for the presence of Hollywood dance royalty in Debbie Reynolds, who joined Nigel Lythgoe and Mary Murphy on the judges' panel.
And lastly, we got a good bit of Canadian content on Wednesday's show, with Stacey Tookey and Jean Marc Genereux choreographing two routines each.
Here's a look at who did what:
Ricky Jaime and Ryan Ramirez: The gist of Mandy's piece was that Ryan and Ricky were a couple who were totally hot for each other. Despite their giggles in rehearsal at the concept, they managed to look convincingly like they wanted to jump each other's bones onstage. They were both very good, very sharp and clean, but Ryan was the star for me, especially when she kicked up those lovely strong legs of hers. "I never saw anybody dance sexier," said Debbie.
Caitlynn Lawson and Mitchell Kelly: This was the couple's first chance to perform together on the show after an injury sidelined Mitchell last week, and they made the most of it. Caitlynn portrayed a woman who longs to leave her lover in this Stacey Tookey contemporary routine. The conflict became almost too realistic when Caitlynn was accidentally hit in the face, cutting her nose. Mitchell's partnering was really solid, and both dancers were strong technically and emotionally. Caitlynn has beautiful lines, too. "The chemistry between the two of you is so believable. This is such a great partnership," Mary said.
Wadi Jones and Missy Morelli: I did so enjoy Wadi last week, but this just wasn't his night. He and Missy drew a Jean Marc cha cha out of the hat, a fast and complex one to boot (note that SYTYCD Canada Season 2 runnerup Vincent Desjardins was assisting Jean Marc along with Catherine Turcotte, a past SYTYCDC hopeful). Once onstage, Wadi looked stiff instead of supple, with hardly any movement in his hips and torso. Nigel and Mary praised Missy but said Wadi's technique left a lot to be desired, however, Debbie declared that she'd take him home. "You can cha cha with Debbie anytime."
Nick Young and Iveta Lukosiute: File this Nakul Dev Mahajan Bollywood routine under fun. Nick, a tap dancer, and Iveta, a ballroom champion, did a respectable job with the very fast steps and complicated hand movements (I've tried Bollywood, the hands are killer), not to mention the lifts and spins. "I'm an old tap dancer, to do this kind of dancing would freak me out," Debbie said. "It did freak me out in a good way. You were terrific."
Robert Taylor Jr. and Miranda Maleski: This was one of two terrific hip-hop routines by Napoleon and Tabitha D'Umo, a.k.a. Nappytabs, in the show. Robert was a woodpecker teaching another woodpecker how to fly. It might sound silly, but it was quirkily charming. And Robert and Miranda owned it. Even a stumble, when Miranda fell coming out of a somersault, didn't mar the routine. The judges praised both but especially Miranda, whom Nigel called "probably the best contemporary dancer I've seen do hip hop ... I hope you don't find yourselves in the bottom three this week." Best part of the whole thing was Debbie's Woody Woodpecker imitation.
Clarice Ordaz and Jess LeProtto: Poor Clarice and Jess. After landing in the bottom three last week, they needed a slamdunk this week to stay out of danger, and they didn't get it. That's too bad, because there's something about the way Jess moves that I find delightful. But alas, partnering isn't always the easiest thing for someone of his small stature, which was the case with this Stacey Tookey contemporary routine. Jess worked mightily to master the lifts, but they looked uncomfortable onstage. Nor were Jess and Clarice all that convincing as a young woman and her beloved prince. But they touched Mary's and Debbie's hearts. "I'm gonna take you both home with me, with Wadi," Debbie said. "I need more children. Let's all go home with Mommy Debbie."
Jordan Casanova and Tadd Gadduang: This Jean Marc-choreographed Viennese waltz was one of the best routines of the night. And it came from a B-boy and a young jazz dancer who specializes in sexy moves. They were both so graceful as they flowed across the stage. The way Tadd held his arms was a marvel when you consider his lack of ballroom experience. "It was probably the best that I've seen a B-boy dance something like the Viennese waltz," Nigel told him. "i just wonder, have you ever heard of Gene Kelly and Fred Astaire and Cyd Charisse?" Debbie asked them. "You were just as wonderful as they."
Melanie Moore and Marko Germar: Melanie was my favourite female from the audition shows and remains a favourite. Put her together with Marko and you've got cute overload. They were both smooth as silk in this Mandy Moore jazz routine (except when Marko lost his hat) and Melanie was packing a ton of sexy behind that cherubic face and pixie cut. Debbie called them stars. "I would have said in truth it's a little early to talk about stars on this program," Nigel added, "but I really believe Debbie's right. I believe you two are stars."
Sasha Mallory and Alexander Fost: This routine was Nappytabs at their best, combining precise hip-hop choreography with an emotion-packed story, in this case about a soldier coming home from Afghanistan to his apprehensive wife. Sasha blew me away with the depth of emotion she conveyed in her movements, and those movements were squeaky clean. Alexander was wonderful too. The number brought a well-deserved standing ovation from the audience and brought Mary and Debbie to tears. "You're both such beautiful dancers," said Debbie. "You had to act and give us a story and make us cry, which you did. We loved you."
And now, instead of giving you a final summary, I have to give you an apology. Due to the speech by U.S. President Barack Obama, which pushed back the start of programs like SYTYCD, my PVR didn't record the last few minutes of the show, so I did not see Chris Koehl and Ashley Rich dance. Sounds like I missed a great one too, because Mary put them on the Hot Tamale Train. I'll try to catch up Thursday and update this recap then.
And I'll be watching the results, which air at 8 p.m. on CTV, when I get home from the ballet and recapping those too.
Don't forget, four dancers are leaving Thursday instead of two.