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SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE (SYTYCD) – Elimination round #2 with 16 left/Listen to your judges.

While the dancing this week was fine, as expected, I thought the judges were better, who constantly threw out sagely pearls of insight and knowledge. Adam had the most to say. Though not an exact quote, I loved that he said it’s not enough to dance well and get the steps. To be a great dancer, you need to lose yourself in the choreography, to transcend the movement. Adam didn’t want to be aware that the dancers were trying to dance. Mary said she wanted more abandonment in some of the dancing/dancers. Both Adam and Mary wanted more play, fun, life, joyousness and party in the dancing. Yes dance is serious and hard work but that is not necessarily what you want to broadcast to your audience. Several of the routines could not capture the wanted transcendent spirit and suffered for it. The waltz danced by Ashleigh and Jakob lost much of its magic by showing us all the preparations for the lifts plus all the little fixes to stay on task. The samba danced by Channing and Phillip was not good. The dancing was effortful, particularly in the lifts. They were the opposite of losing themselves in the choreography and having fun, life and “partying” in the dance.
The best dancers of the evening were Karen and Legacy. She sells the movement, earning your attention with full commitment, confidence and involvement. Legacy was incredibly clear and fearless in his dancing, and such a dependable, trustworthy partner for Kathryn, who knew he would always be there for her. Legacy also went deeply into his part and character. The weakest performances came from Noelle, Channing, Phillip and Peter. Noelle was fine, but her partner, Russell, was sharper, cleaner and more aggressive in this dancing. Also, dancing with a tennis racket was distracting and made the dancing just that much harder. I’ve already mentioned Channing and Phillip who struggled through their choreography. Peter was a victim of the production elements. The video backdrop completely overwhelmed the dance; I couldn’t see the dancing. I also felt he tried too hard.
So, I was not surprised to see Noelle and Phillip in the bottom four. Bianca and Victor suffered more because of the choreography than their dancing. Their dance was a rip-off of Alvin Ailey’s Revelations, perhaps one of the greatest modern dance pieces made to date. Most anything, which so directly references Ailey’s dance, would pale in comparison.
Of the bottom four dancers, Bianca and Phillip’s solos were the weaker ones and therefore I’m fine that they were eliminated. Both were at a disadvantage. Though personal opinion, tap just does not come across with the dynamic, full-bodied energy of the other styles. While I appreciate tap and know firsthand how impossibly difficult it is, it is not a style that is going to win mass audience favor and votes. Let’s see how long the final tapper Peter can last. He’s not one of my favorite contestants, particularly when his machismo comes into play.

  • joan

    Yes, the judges can be wonderful. Adam is so fresh and funny and honest. He exudes credibility. Sometimes Mary’s critiques are so generous and spot on they make me well up inside with happiness for the dancer. And you can feel the dancers absorbing the words–perceptive, intelligent, informed–that turn the show into something more than “entertainment.” It’s a gift, really, to watch someone who has worked so hard be rewarded by an austere, appreciative, and loving eye.

  • Stephen Koester

    Dear Commenter on post #2942, Thank you for your great and insightful comments. Yes SYTYCD does go beyond entertainment. Certainly the level of dancing and choreography can take it there, and the care, support, honesty and depth of knowledge that these judges bring is certainly different than what we see on most reality competition shows. I’m glad Adam is a permanent judge. Some of the other judges, Mary and Nigel excluded, were not the greatest, though I miss Mia Michaels. I wonder what has happened and if we will see her choreograph this season.

    Steve Koester

    • joan

      So, wow, I thought Mollee’s do or die last night was fantastic. Really glad to see her still in the competition. She was super charged; is her youthful athleticism part of the quality that made her so exciting do you think? Almost an undefinable quality there that made her stand out fromt the rest. And I’m not saying this because I really liked her before. I was ready to see her go bye bye.