Compared to last week, this was quite a let-down. There was more chaff to be had last night.
Randi and Evan - The Jive (Louis van Amstel)
They certainly both put everything they've got into their performances. It's personality out the wahzoo with these two, but their technique was lacking. I thought she seemed to be lumbering through parts of it. Like she was flailing her arms as a means of propelling her body into doing what she needed it to do. His legs weren't nearly as crisp or quick as they needed to be and there was a flappy quality to his arm movements. The FUN of their perfomance made it a decent enough attempt for week two, I suppose.
Melissa and Ade - Jazz (Sonya Tayeh)
Sonya is balls-out crazy (and her eyebrows freak me the hell out!) and some of the time that makes for truly awesome routines. This routine was fun to watch but didn't really let Ade shine, as most of his time was spent lifting Melissa. What he was given to do, he did beautifully and Melissa once again rocked it. Her extension is unbelievable and his strength is out-of-this-world. They're fast becoming my favorite couple (though maybe not my favorite dancers.)
Caitlin and Jason - Hip Hop (Shane Sparks - WOO!)
Well I was so happy that Shane was back that I nearly plotzed. I actually had to pause the show so I could jump up and down and squeal for a minute. But then...oh the performance was not good. In fairness, Jason was alright. He wasn't great but he was passable - I think with a stronger partner he could have been excellent. Caitlin was pretty bad. She danced it like she thought "hip hop" meant "headliner at the strip club." She was all seductive faces and chest-out prancing. I'm officially not a fan of her dancing (and I have never been a fan of her personality). This was a hot mess.
Grade: Caitlin: D, Jason: B-
Janette and Brandon - Disco (Doriana Sanchez)
I don't like disco. I can think of only one disco routine in the history of this show that I liked (Neil and Sara in season three), but they keep dragging it out and expecting people to enjoy it and it is just not winning me over. That said, these guys kinda killed it. That shit was moving Bollywood-fast and they hit every bit of it. Janette appeared to roll her ankle coming out of one of the lifts, she wobbled a moment then pulled herself out of it and went on. And my girl is FLEXIBLE! There was something Mary called an "eagle split" at one point (pictured) that nearly made me faint just looking at it. And I don't even want to like Brandon, but so far he's done everything he could to prove Mary right and Mia wrong, and he and Janette almost made me like disco.
Asuka and Vitolio - Waltz (Louis van Amstel)
I think Louis is a bit of a genius. He didn't choreograph a dance based on his own story, he did one based on his dancer's story. He asked Asuka and Vitolio to dance the pain and heartache of Vitolio's past as an orphan. The technical aspects of the dance weren't perfect by any means - the rise was alright but Vitolio in particular wasn't managing the fall and his knees were bent too much of the time (that's ok in the Tango though, right Lil' C?). But Asuka's strengths with the ballroom styles and the emotion and personality they both put into the performance this time pulled their butts from the fire. It was one of those dances that didn't have to be perfect because it was good - like Mia's dance in the flowers with her dad (season 3) and Jean Marc's routine for his disabled daughter (season 4).
Kayla and Max - Pop Jazz (Brian Friedman)
Well I'm totally glad that Brian Friedman is back because he's a complete loon and I love that. I retain the most vivid memories of his giant, crazy jewelry and his permed-to-poodlehood-one-minute-flat-ironed-the-next hair from the early seasons and I mean that in both a bad and a good way. And his choreography is like someone put Mia, Wade and Sonya in a blender and sent the mixture on tour with Britney Spears circa 2004. There is just that level of poppy, weird, conceptual, avant-garde, quality dancing going on. Max didn't quite pull it off...he just doesn't make the movements seem organic. It looks like he's doing something someone told him to do. He does it pretty well, but he can't make it look natural. Maybe this is another of the "it's only the second week" situations, but I fear it might be a sign of his limitations. Kayla on the other hand knocked my effing socks off. She is amazing! I believe she's the early front-runner for the title this year. Everything she does appears to be effortless and merely the movement she feels at any given moment as opposed to a step she's memorized or practiced. Max really won the partner lottery because her awesomness should easily carry him though to the Top 10.
Grade: Kayla: A+, Max: B
Karla and Jonathan - Contemporary (Stacey Tookey)
Well hello Canada! Stacey Tookey is one of the choreogs from SYTYCD Canada and thus far her work is on par with my beloved Mandy Moore. I had already written Jonathan off because I was really unimpressed with his Latin ballroom dancing which was supposed to be his style. He needs to re-think that and make contemporary his style because this was great! He was solid and confident in his movement. The pair of them lived in the dance and felt it and gave a believable and lovely performance. After marking them both down as "they might as well go second," I have decided I hope they stick around long enough to do a jazz or hip hop routine.
Jeanine and Phillip - Tango (Tony Meredith)
It's only week two. Listen, I hate to grade on a curve but in all fairness, Phillip is a popper and hip hopper who got hip hop the first week so getting arguably the hardest of the Latin dances week two was bad luck for him. I am not a ballroom expert so I can't say exactly what he wasn't doing right (yeah, I know, I was all "rise and fall" and "bent knees" earlier but those are things that are obvious even to a novice) but I could tell it wasn't exactly how a Tango should look. But he kept his shoulders down and he held his frame well and performed it as I believe he was supposed to. Neither one had those flicky little kicks down like that couple on the results show last week and that routine certainly isn't going to be called up for the finale as a favorite, but given that it's only the second week, they really didn't do too bad.
Ashley and Kupono - Hip Hop (Shane Sparks)
I was so excited to have Shane back and he choreographed two really interesting routines - this one even more interesting than the first - but then he was given dancers who were just not able to dance them. Ashley did pretty well. She performed it excellently, worked the attitude, was almost as hard-hitting and crisp as she needed to be. Kupono was not remotely believable, he struggled and fell behind, he looked much too out-of-his-element. After killing it last week, these two were quite a let-down this week. I guess I should be cutting Kupono the same slack I cut Phillip but the difference is that Kupono didn't look like he was trying as hard or putting as much of himself into making the performance make up for his lack of skill. You have to have one or the other and if you don't, you won't be around long.
Grade: Ashley: B, Kupono: C-
Prediction: Ashley and Kupono, Caitlin and Jason and Phillip and Jeanine in the bottom three. Kupono and Caitlin are going home.