So You Think You Can Dance – Top 9

I keep writing down who danced what with whom to what music on So You Think You Can Dance, and every week I don’t post … This time I hafta.

I love this show. It is, I think (now that I’m worried about how Doctor Who will turn out), my favorite show on television. The dancer-contestants are wonderful; the All-Stars this season are some of my favorites and are all staunchly supportive of their partners; and the judges … lord, I love those three. (I miss Mary Murphy – she’s a great lady, she is, and while I understand how her screaming could put some off I love it because the dancers love it.) They are great teachers. I’ve never had one of those, but I know what they look like and act like – and they’re it. They are the ones you work for, for whom you leave your heart out on the stage. Dance means everything to them, and dancers, and they love it. It is their world, and they love it and want it to be even better, and they love for people to share it, and they are delighted that it is on television.

Me too.

Mia Michaels has put me off now and again with utter bluntness, but I respect it; she’s not going to pull any punches if by whacking at you she can make you a better artist. And she is peerless as a choreographer – which is the shame of her being a judge this year: she can’t choreograph, except for group numbers. Oh, and she’s gorgois. (I think that’s how you spell her coinage, pronounced gor-JWAH.) Nigel Lythgoe is just … grand. I’ve adored him from the beginning, and he never disappoints. And Adam Schenkman is one of my very favorite human beings anywhere, at all, end of sentence.

One thing I love about Mia Michaels – having just found my scribble on the paper with the list of dances – is her ability to take something that should not be a compliment and make it one of the best compliments. I forget which choreographer she said “ew” about, but it was a “you’re so amazing I just *ew*” sort of thing… And then at the end of the show, to Alex Wong: “Who the hell are you?” Hee.

The reason they’re all so wonderful is that they honestly, deeply love dance – and if they know that one of the contestants is up there dancing with an equal love and respect for the art, it’s a beautiful thing to watch. The first, introductory episode – a breather, where no one would be coming up for elimination and everyone was dancing in his own style -was so filled with genuine smiles and pure joy that it could be prescribed for bouts of depression. It was a wonder.

And Kat Deeley is one of my favorite people on tv. (After Adam Shankman – possibly tied with Nigel…) (Remote Kontrol will get their own post one fine day.)

Competition-wise, two weeks ago there was this:

(they’re not allowing embedding: click! And let me know if this video goes away too…)

I’ll say here and now that while I thought it was amazing, it wasn’t my favorite ever dance; I – surprisingly – was chills-free. The season has been surprisingly chills-free for me – surprising mainly because Billy Bell is on the team. I loved his dancing the second I saw him last season, and I was crushed when he became ill and had to drop out.

They gave him a free pass straight to Vegas this season, and he made his way all through to the top 11 (forcing them to create a top 11 instead of 10 – although I still wish if they had to have 6 guys that they had taken Anthony Burrell … Anyway.

They’re doing things different this year; instead of twice the number of contestants paired up with each other, they kept it to te – er, eleven, and paired them with All-Stars. (I almost put quotes around that, but that would be wrong – they ARE All-Stars.) I was happy coming into this season because not only was I finally getting Billy Bell, but Twitch was coming back. And, most of all, Mark. I love Mark Kanemura, very very much. Which is why I’m so worried about the fact that there are only three of the five girls left, and probably another one going home tomorrow … my Mark-odds are growing smaller.

Well, like last season, a tremendous performance has sparked me to finally write. Not “Hallelujah”, above; not even Alex Wong’s solo tonight, which was the first performance that has given me chills so far. (It was amazing.) Let’s see …

Adéchiké danced, wonderfully, in a nerdy hip-hop with Lauren. Great stuff. The judges were happy.

Ashley and Adé gave a really wonderful (though not chill-inducing) performance; I didn’t catch the choreographer’s name? Odd. The concept was that she could not stand on her own – he had to move her. It was beautiful, through and through.

Robert and Courtney danced to a Sonya Tayeh routine. Robert’s not my favorite dancer, but it’s undeniable that he’s remarkable. “XXXO” – well done.

Melinda danced a salsa with Pasha, and I’m worried about her; it didn’t go terribly well. Shame, though – I never noticed she was pigeon-toed till Mia pointed it out. Twice. I want to like her (Melinda, that is), but …

Lauren and Neil (whom I didn’t know before this season, as we only started watching with Season 4) (You can’t help while watching SYTYCD but hear of Anya and Pasha, even if you never saw their season) danced a Joey Dowling Broadway number, which was fun – and almost a major wardrobe malfunction: Lauren’s shoulder strap snapped at some point in there. I don’t know Neil very well, but he proved himself to be a superlative partner tonight – he did his very best to help her keep her costume together. If I could vote for him I would – it was kind of awesome.

Nigel: “I enjoyed that immensely.”
Mia: “I’m sure you did!”

Billy danced with Kathryn, a Stacey Tookey routine that I thought was beautiful (though not chills-y) … the judges said he didn’t connect. I felt pretty connected. I loved it. (“Jar of Hearts” – I need to look for that song.) Billy reminds me of The Kid, in a way – all giggles, can’t keep the smile down for long. That was one of the reasons I disagreed with the judges on this performance: he and Kathryn were both solemn as they waited for the commentary. The phenomenon impressed me last week, with Lauren and Domenic. Domenic is never solemn, as far as I’ve seen – but after that routine (below), they were both … shaken. It takes time to recover from a performance like those – and Billy hadn’t recovered yet.

Jose had Anya (aka “the maneater”) as a partner, and was going for a samba. Now, Anya is the one who sparked the commentary when she danced with Kent that – oh, yay, someone transcribed it better than I did. Adam: “You blasted through any of your weaknesses. It was so amazing. But what it looked like to me was every parent’s nightmare visit to the zoo where you lose your little boy and you look and suddenly they’re in the lion cage and they’re dancing with the lion. But babe, you did good. That was awesome.” I loved that. She’s dominated all the guys she’s been partnered with, really. Now, Jose Ruiz is a b-boy. No formal training. He should have been eaten alive like all the others … and he totally held his own. His dancing – not the best … but who cares? He looked fantastic, he enjoyed the hell out of it, and for the first time Anya had a partner who demanded as much attention as she did. It was a blast – and this is when I really love the judges, is with someone like Jose. They are extraordinarily proud of him, and they show it – and they tell him so. That was fun.

Kent. Oh, Kent. He’s the farmboy from Wapokoneta, and I refuse to spell-check that, and he is the sweetest thing since Krispy Kreme came along. He’s flat-out adorable. They compared Jose to him tonight, because the two of them have been deeply out of their elements lately, but have both tried their hardest and enjoyed themselves so much that it was infectious and irresistable. Here – with Allison, choreographed by Mandy Moore – he had yet another routine in which he had to play the part of the lusty man … and it just doesn’t work. He’s a sweet boy. And the judges were kind of hard on him – and he looked like a kicked puppy. I hope next week is easier. (I have no doubt he’ll be there next week.)

All show long they talked about the unusual partnership of Alex Wong and … Twitch, the first time two guys had ever been paired up for a dance. Alex was nervous – Alex is a ballet dancer! It was going to be a hip hop number by Napoleon and Tabitha! With Twitch!! OMG!!

It was the best thing I’ve seen in months. Oh, joy, someone posted it on YouTube already. I don’t expect it to stay up, but:

Try this … if not, search “Alex Twitch SYTYCD” – it’s worth it!

THAT is why I watch the show. That was brilliant. That was funny, and beautifully done, and I love Twitch, and I have a sneaking suspicion that Alex just bumped Billy Bell out of the top seat with me. Brilliant choreography – using the fact that Alex is a ballet dancer – and brilliant performance.

I love this show.

I haven’t been voting this season because I have no deep preferences. If Alex keeps this up, things may change. ‘Scuse me while I go watch that dance a few more times.

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2 Responses to So You Think You Can Dance – Top 9

  1. Paul says:

    Well written — you highlight many of the reasons I LOVE this show. (Another reason is the collective talent of the choreographers.) Small quibble: SYTYCD has had a same-sex pairing before — in Season 3, before you started watching (

  2. stewartry says:

    *facepalm* I was so busy effusing about everyone else I forgot to give love to the choreographers – thanks for filling in that gap!

    I thought they said at some point last night that Alex & Twitch were the first two guys to be paired – maybe they said this season. I’ll have to see if that’s out in the ‘verse somewhere.


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