So You Think You Can Dance Canada: Hot and hotter
It was the ecstasy before the agony.
The eight remaining So You Think You Can Dance Canada competitors gave us some brilliant dancing on Monday night's show.
But Tuesday is going to be awful. There's no dead wood here as far as I can see.
With a Sept. 11 date for the finale, the last performance show will be next Monday if my calculations are correct. So either we go into the finale with six dancers or we lose four in one fell swoop this Tuesday.
But let's not dwell on the negative, let's talk about the considerable positives of Monday's show.
It's the toughest week yet for ranking competitors for me and I've changed my mind several times between when I saw the routines live on Saturday night and watching them again Monday. Although it may sound like a cop-out, I think everyone did great. The differences between top and bottom for me are so tiny as to be almost negligible.
But here are my thoughts on the duets, starting with my favourite, with solos graded in the order in which they were danced.
Melissa Mitro and Matt Marr: The judges keep standing for Melissa week after week and I keep putting her at the top of my rankings. Guest judge Mary Murphy talked about Melissa fusing her mind, muscle and guts onstage and that's a great observation. I watch Melissa move and I see raw power. But Matt was also excellent in this jazz routine by Melissa Williams, about a woman seeking the forgiveness of a man she's wronged. Judge Blake McGrath had a small critique about Matt relaxing his upper body and expanding more through his movement, but I didn't notice those things because I was focused on Matt's intensity and how strong he looked when he picked Melissa up and threw her around. The best moment of all for me was when she took a flying leap off a chair and landed on Matt's back. That stayed with me after the routine ended, that and the sense of raw emotion in the routine. “In this piece, it was so well danced you could feel and see the struggle, the fight, the technique and everything,” said judge Jean-Marc Genereux. “Week after week, Matt, you always explore all the other genre of dance and you killing it, and it's amazing. Melissa, you are and will always be a beast. When you come out of your cage you burn that stage, you make this jungle yours. You always leave some blood, sweat and tears behind you.”
Jordan Clark and Adam LoPapa: It's such a cliche to say that someone's in it to win it (thanks for beating that phrase into the ground, Randy Jackson), but that sure looks to be the case with Jordan. This was her first chance all season to do a hip-hop routine and she was seriously hard-to-take-your-eyes-off-her mesmerizing in this Luther Brown piece. And not just because of those skin-tight pleather pants: she hit all her marks and she hit them hard. Once again, a strong woman had a strong man by her side. Despite Luther's teasing in rehearsal (“The Jane bus got stuck in Woodbridge”), Adam delivered plenty of flavour. And the synchronization in his and Jordan's side-by-side dancing was excellent. I'll confess I didn't see Adam as top four material early in the season, but he's coming on like gangbusters week after week and making his claim for a spot in the finale. “You know it doesn't hurt with your movie star looks, but your dancing is coming along just fine,” Mary told him. “Hang in there brother, 'cause you're coming on strong.” Mary also told Jordan, “You are still the girl to beat.” Blake echoed that, telling Jordan that Melissa should watch out for her, and Jean-Marc speculated that Jordan and Adam could be the last two standing.
Lindsay Leuschner and Shane Simpson: Don't think that all the praise heaped on Melissa and Matt, and Jordan and Adam meant there was none to go around for Lindsay and Shane. They took a tender Stacey Tookey contemporary routine and imbued even the subtle movements with powerful emotion. The number was about two paintings come to life and the male subject trying to bring the woman he adores into his frame. Shane's longing was palpable, he handled the challenging lifts with his usual strength and he was wonderfully expansive in his chest and arms. Lindsay was his equal in technique and emotional commitment. In fact, the routine won her her first standing ovation from the judges (Shane had one before when he partnered Melissa) and she seemed so thrilled she could barely speak. Mary said it was a personal best for both of them and said Shane's becoming her favourite dancer. Blake had special words for Lindsay: “I don't think enough has been said about you. I believe you have the most grace out of any competitor. You just have this presence about you.... I think you can give the rest of the competitors a run for their money.” Tre Armstrong, meanwhile, told Shane he has “the demeanour, you have the attitude, you have the passion, you have the technique for a champion.”
Denitsa Ikonomova and Christian Millette: The judges said it was a treat to see these two, who are professional ballroom partners off the show, together on the SYTYCDC stage and I heartily agree. Their technique on this Gustavo Vargas samba looked flawless, their connection was outstanding and the performance quality was off the charts. They both looked sexy as hell, too. “There was a couple of moments I just thought were absolutely x-rated.... Oh mercy,” exclaimed Mary. “Welcome to Canada, Mary,” quipped Jean-Marc. “If we could just harness all that darn booty shaking up there to fuel this economy right now, there wouldn't be anybody with any financial trouble whatsoever,” Mary said. She kept Christian on her Hot Tamale Train and gave Denitsa a ticket, too. That later degenerated into some double entendre-laden talk about all the judges riding the train with them until host Leah Miller got them back on track. Blake said Denitsa was “popping that booty like it was popcorn.” Jean-Marc told Christian he had “a lot of mojo under the hood” before putting them both on his VID or very insane dancer list with the help of “YMCA”-like arm movements from the studio audience.
Here's how I ranked the solos.
Melissa: What can I say? When Melissa hurls herself across the stage like she's literally dancing for her life, resistance is futile. A+
Matt: Matt didn't take the easy path and just do lots of turns and acrobatics, which he excels at. He varied his movements and hit some different levels while still showing his physical strength. A+
Christian: Christian is still one of the hottest things on that stage, even if his moves weren't as varied as last week's solo. A
Denitsa: This was Denitsa's best solo yet, practically crackling with energy. Her feet were nearly a blur. Throw in the body undulations, the hair flips and the hot pink fringed dress and it's a great combination. A+
Lindsay: Lindsay's solo had a subtlety and delicacy of emotion that differed from the other girls'. It was cleanly danced, well controlled and lovely, and earned her another standing ovation from the judges. A+
Shane: Shane had a new swagger and confidence in his solo. And when he leapt he was light as air. A
Jordan: Jordan's solo was very fast and intense, with gorgeous leaps and flips and kicks, and sexy to boot. Another standing O from the judges. A+
Adam: Adam kept the energy, the confidence and the technique up. And he knows what the ladies like, pulling off his shirt to show off his eight-pack. A+
Now's the hard part, losing more dancers. Cheer up first with a Sean Cheesman group voguing routine, which Leah says is a first on a SYTYCD world stage, then brace yourselves for the results. You can watch on CTV at 8 p.m. and catch the recap here.
And keep watching this site for my videos with the top eight dancers, coming later today.
(The photos of Matt and Melissa, and Jordan and Adam are courtesy of CTV.)