June 24, 2010

Mr. Crankypants And The Crabettes

I don't know what was going on with Nigel, Mia and Adam last night on So You Think You Can Dance, but whatever it was made the show almost hard to watch despite some very good dancing.

I don't always agree with the judges and that's fine because enjoyment of any art form is certainly subjective, but in this case it seemed like they had a contradictory opinion about nearly every single thing on the show. They were unnecessarily hard on some contestants and cut others way too much slack. They picked at every nit with some people while they fell all over themselves with praise for others with seemingly no correlation to how each person actually danced. Sometimes that's to be expected from Nigel who can definitely tend toward crankiness on occasion, and Lord knows Mia gets up on her bizarro high horse from time to time and starts bitching about how things needed to be more "zsa zsa zsa" and less "bah bah bah" or whatever, but it's not like Adam to follow along on this path of criticism for criticism's sake. He's usually positive and constructive. I feel like perhaps we'd all be better served by the judging order being reversed (as it was in seasons past) and having Nigel Crankypants go last instead of poisoning the well with his negativity right out of the gate.

Aside from the irritating antics of the judgery, there were a couple of other changes that I quite enjoyed last night. One being that the all-stars stayed with the contestant during judging - for moral support and, in a couple of cases, to defend them against the meanness of the judges - rather than running off the stage without fanfare as soon as the routines were finished. They also managed to incorporate a useful edit or two last night as well as mostly eliminating the most problematic of the camera screw-ups.

But all of that is, I think, secondary to what we all watch the show for, which is the dancing (and the dancers) so let's talk about that, shall we?

Contestant: Cristina
All-Star: Pasha
Dance: Paso Doble, Jean-Marc Genereux and France Mousseau
Like Debbie Allen, I am not a fan of the Paso Doble. The entire construct of the dance - the man is the matador, the woman his cape - tends to make the dance feel passion-less because it's like the man is dancing with an inanimate object. Once in a while, the dancers are so good they overcome that but...I didn't get enough performance out of Cristina for that to happen here. She did the steps fine but from Pasha I get fire, from her I got warm water. The judges thought she was great - maybe slightly lacking in "performance" but mostly terrific. She was pretty damn good last week and still ended up in the bottom three so I think there is something about her that isn't connecting with the audience and I suspect that the judges' continued insistence that she's awesome when the routines leave us a bit cold isn't helping.
Grade - Contestant: B
Grade - All-Star: A
Grade - Choreography: A

Contestant: Adechike
All-star: Allison
Dance: Contemporary, Mandy Moore
After some harsh criticism of his (non-existent) performance last week, Mandy Moore is determined to get him in this dance both technically and emotionally. I think she mostly succeeded. It definitely came and went but week over week it was a huge improvement. It was one of those dances that gives me goosebumps and makes me wish I could do what they do - as if joy itself comes out of that movement. I officially hate myself for not loving Allison more all this time because she is unbelievably wonderful.
Grade - Contestant: A-
Grade - All-Star: A+
Grade - Choreography: A

Contestant: Alex
All-Star: Lauren
Dance: Broadway, Tyce DiOrio
Oy! First of all, I blame Katie Holmes for the return of 2-a-week routines by Tyce. Ever since she befriended him, the show has decided he's good when he so rarely is. This is one of those times where the routine just isn't anything. It's supposed to be a tribute to Fosse but it's just steps without much of anything to do or any point. So it ends up being two people in hats picking their knees up a lot. Ok, there was more to it than that, but mostly only because of Lauren who I thought single-handedly elevated that routine to near greatness. Alex was a bit stiff and ballet about it all. He failed to get down into the beatnik-cool vibe of it. As Adam said, he needed to smolder and he just didn't.
Grade - Contestant: B+
Grade - All-Star: A+
Grade - Choreography: B

Contestant: Ashley
All-Star: Mark
Dance: Jazz, Travis Wall
Here's where I agreed with Nigel last night - this didn't seem like jazz to me. It seemed like contemporary. Not that it wasn't a good routine, because it was, it just wasn't what he was asked to do. That said, I liked it a lot. I will admit that I had a tough time paying attention to much of anything that wasn't Mark's torso because crap on a cracker is he hot. But when I was able to force myself to pay attention to the entirety of the dance, I thought Ashley was great. Unfortunately the judges continued to insist that she's not good enough, continuing to insist that she doesn't convey enough emotion and I guess they think she lacks this "natural, technical" ability they think most of the other contestants have. I think they've all decided she's the next to go and they're just trying to sway the votes in that direction.
Grade - Contestant: A
Grade - All-Star: A
Grade - Choreography: A

Contestant: Billy Bell
All-Star: Comfort
Dance: Krump, Lil C
Krumping pretty much looks like someone having an angry fit to me so I can't exactly comment on the likability of this routine, but I know what Lil C or Russell look like when they krump and I thought that Billy did a great job with it. To get something that far outside his wheelhouse in the second week is tough and I thought he gave it his best effort and pulled it off admirably. Was it perfect? No. Did he appear to be doing it as well as, say, Russell would have? No. But you know what? Neither did Comfort. The judges flat out told him it was terrible but I think they just decided ahead of time that there was no way they'd buy krumping if Billy was selling it and didn't bother to pay attention.
Grade - Contestant: B+
Grade - All-Star: B+
Grade - Choreography: A-

Contestant: Robert
All-Star: Anya
Dance: Argentine Tango, Jean-Marc Genereux and France Mousseau
It's going to be a tall order for any of this particular crop of men to avoid being out-danced by Anya. The problem they're all going to have is that they're new to partner work and new to ballroom and they're supposed to be leading. Learning the steps and techniques is important for them, but they're going to have to focus just as much of their attention on their confidence because otherwise they just look nervous and stressed out up there next to her. That was Robert's problem. He was stiff and worried-looking the whole time.
Grade - Contestant: B+
Grade - All-Star: A
Grade - Choreography: A

Contestant: Melinda
All-Star: Ade
Dance: Contemporary, Stacey Tookey
It was bound to happen eventually and this was the night - I did not like Stacey's choreography at all. It looked to me like she threw it together 5 minutes before they showed up to learn it. It might have looked better if Melinda had managed to dance it with any grace or skill. I bet if Ashley or Lauren had this routine it wouldn't have looked like quite such a mess. She looked uncertain and wobbly to me and her lines never seemed clean. So naturally the judges all thought she was great and her lines were a thing of beauty. It's like they saw one show and I saw another!
Grade - Contestant: C
Grade - All-Star: A-
Grade - Choreography: B-

Contestant: Jose
All-Star: Kathryn
Dance: Bollywood, Nakul Dev Mahajan
You should know by now that I'm one of the few who doesn't really enjoy these Bollywood numbers when it's just two people dancing them. I think Bollywood calls for a huge production and a whole passel of peeps. And the untrained b-boy did not have one of those Dominic or Gev moments where everyone has to pick their jaw up off the floor at how he took to this completely new dance style like a fish to water. His upper body was too loose and bouncy which made the it look more groovy than is typical for a Bollywood routine. But he danced that piece like he was having the time of his life and he tried and damn it all if it wasn't a ton of fun to watch. I think he and Billy had similar success this week in that they both danced way outside of their wheelhouses, they both gave it their all and they both did a yeoman's job. The judges pretty much told Jose that it was so bad it circled around to being good. The judges are mean.
Grade - Contestant: B+
Grade - All-Star: A
Grade - Choreography: A

Contestant: Lauren
All-Star: Dominic
Dance: Lyrical Hip Hop, Tessandra Chavez
Capital-G Great! There was some cause for concern when the rehearsal package revealed that the routine was about an abusive relationship because we all know that Lauren's weakness is her ability to convey any emotion that isn't a broad smile. But she performed it wonderfully and danced it like hip hop was her specialty. The chemistry between she and Dominic was perfect, her hits were hard, the choreography was awesome. I loved everything about it. The judges immediately started giving her tips on how to dance better and said that she could have given "even more" emotionally. Assholes.
Grade - Contestant: A+
Grade - All-Star: A+
Choreography: A

Contestant: Kent
All-Star: Courtney
Dance: Jazz, Tyce DiOrio

There was this whole thing with a table and a love-hate, sexually tense relationship. For some reason Kent was in earth-tone bondage wear and Courtney was in some kind of froofy sex-kitten attire. Despite all of that, I liked it quite a bit. I think Kent could have been a tiny bit more believable with the sexy man shtick but considering the journey from his actual personality to the "sexy man" place, I think he came a remarkably long way. The judges had such helpful things to say as "your Kentness is so Kenty." Three chimps would be more helpful.
Grade - Contestant: A

Grade - All-Star: A

Grade - Dance: A-

Bottom Three: Cristina, Robert, Melinda
Should Go Home: Melinda
Will Go Home: Melinda

1 comment:

Kooser Family said...

I completely agree with you, the judges have gotten pissy this season. I had to watch it on DVR, so I was able to FF through it, but they were quite snarky. Loved the comment about the three chimps!