Here we are in the first week of Hollywood, where America’s votes count (at least to determine the bottom three couples) and the show was slammed full of amazing dance routines and surprise contestants who’s talents weren’t truly shown throughout the tryout weeks, nor in Vegas.
Jeanine & Phillip – Hip Hop
Daniel: Starting the show was Jeanine (with Phillip). During the rehearsals clip, Jeanine referred to herself as a ‘big hot mess’ – and whoa was she dead on! Even though she started ballet at the age of three (and I give a hella amount of credit to those kind of dancers), her Napolean & Tabitha Hip Hop routine (to Ne-Yo Mad) was far from incredible. I credit Phillip as a partner and Jeanine’s sick yellow shoes to the success of this routine. Verdict: one Mary scream!!
Kevin: As with Daniel, Philip is really who made Philip’s popping and locking skills are seriously second to none. I have never seen anyone do what he can do- it’s insanity on the dance floor. Unfortunately for his partner, he’s so good at this genre that no one wants to watch whoever his partner is, even though in this instance she’s very pretty. The routine itself, like all that T&N put together, was AWESOME- and Philip does nothing short of amaze us. His moves are so clear and sharp, there is absolutely no question about what that movement is supposed to look like and in a routine as intricate as this performance was- that’s really what makes the difference between fabu-yay and fabu-nay.
Asuka & Vitolio – Broadway
Daniel: Second in line was Asuka. I was definitely curious to hear her history of dance, and to no surprise, it’s comprised of Jazz, Ballet, and Latin Ballroom (not picked up until college – what is that, like 21 in the states?!) The couple danced a broadway routine and Asuka should have been in her element given her partnering experience, but I just didn’t buy the dance, or the couples connection. Similar to Mary’s critic, she was “left feeling disappointed…both played it safe.” I too felt that this routine could have felt ‘more connected’, with the couple, ‘truly showing a physical energy with one another’, perhaps even a ‘romantic entanglement.’ I love talking in random dance talk that means absolutely nothing at all!
Kevin: Vitolio has such a touching personal story and I’ve really been rooting for him, but this number left me disappointed. Vitolio has some mad dance skills, but I really didn’t feel a connection from him to the audience and/or the camera. I think he’s one of those dancers that gets SO involved in what he’s “supposed” to be doing that he forgets there is an audience out there trying to connect. I agreed with Judge Adam when he said they both danced it very well, but it did feel a little artificial to me. Even Mary and the other judges were a little disappointed because they didn’t take it to the brink. It was a safe and uninspiring performance that lacked the passion I would’ve expected from someone with Vitolio’s story.
Karla & Jonathan – Cha Cha
Daniel: Next in line was Karla, who according to her bio clip, likes “challenging herself.” – Blah. They danced a Cha Cha and during the rehearsals Karla referred to Jonathan as ‘cute…and sweaty!’ Move over Karla, as Brandy and Monica once said, ‘That boy is mine!’ During the routine, I kept saying to myself, dang her outfit is amazing, especially in comparison to Jonathan’s see-through-mesh-nightmare! The most depressing part of this dance for me was the almost-kiss at the end; clearly they just couldn’t pull it off without laughing, so it was cut?!? Whomp, whomp…
In a random, unexpected verdict: one Mary scream!!
Kevin: Oh Jonathan… He’s so cute, and thank God he’s got the dance chops to back up the looks! Cha Cha has always been one of my favorite dances so I was happy to see this as their draw for the week. I also expect a little more from Jonathan than I would from any of the other guys (except Max of course, since he’s a ballroom guy) because he has a history with Salsa. Unfortunately I was a little disappointed from the actual performance because it was sort of “ballroom-by-numbers” in my opinion, at least on his part. It certainly wasn’t TERRIBLE, but it wasn’t quite what I was hoping for. That said, it was a great routine, to a great song (love the GaGa). He even got the Mary scream he was hoping for, so a nice entrance into the competition for Jonathan (especially that split move through Karla’s legs… Hot. Hot. Hot).
Randi & Evan – Contemporary
Daniel: Couple number four was a shocker for me (at first, but then the pieces began to fit together); Randi (with Evan), doing a Jazz routine. This was Randi’s third year auditioning for SYTYCD and the only thing that makes this acceptable is her country-family roots. I believe there were only 5 siblings in the family photo (maybe more), which makes this story somewhat acceptable. Sorry! Most people would be willing to look past this, but the marriage card also got tossed out tonight (to a man named Jon or John or whatever), and I truly believe this will hinder her further in the votes. It’s important to appear available! The pair tried to play this as a cute jealousy story with Evan apologizing to her husband in advance. Lame. Throughout the routine, I found myself watching Evan the entire time and noting his strength as a partner. Because I’m supposed to talk about Randi, I’ll remind you of the one memorable judging comment, “you two are vertically challenged as a couple.” BAM. Another random, unexpected verdict: one Mary scream!!
Kevin: I. Love. Evan. He is brilliantly talented and his technique is amazing… but to be honest, I think one of the biggest reasons I love him is because he doesn’t seem like your “typical” male dancer. I don’t know, I think if I knew nothing about him and saw him on the street, I’d just think he was a nerd (which is SO cute)- not an amazingly talented dancer. Tonight’s performance was really nice to see from Evan because the auditions really only showed him doing his broadway style- which is obviously fantastic- but it’s nice to see something a little different from him. I have really high hopes for this one, he has the quirkiness coupled with the talent that really could make him an audience favorite very quickly.
Paris & Tony – Hip Hop
Daniel: The fifth couple included Jay Leno’s love child (thank you Kodie, for your incredible insight), Paris. In support, Paris did have a unique life story of a devastating car accident that has left her with one leg completely numb from the knee down. Typically, this would catapult this contestant into my favourites list, as I love a good woe-is-me reason for support. The couple danced a Hip Hop routine. Paris’ headphones were SICK, her stretchy pants were SICK and her corset was SICK, but overall the dancing was TERRIBLE! I was left significantly under-whelmed. Mary asked the crucial rhetorical question, ‘will this be memorable?’ My response – NO!
Kevin: So Tony… I think he really lucked out getting hip-hop this week. Tabitha & Napolean naturally turned out another AMAZING routine (and who doesn’t love Boyz Noise)… too bad nobody told the dancers they had to step it up. I hate to say it, because I really like the kid and think that he has talent in his own style… but I don’t have high hopes that he’s going to get very far. He’s definitely one of the cute guys on the show, but I think the show is mature enough at this point to really call people out on their dance skills, even if they are cute. He really needs to step it up if he’s wants to stay in the competition. I will say, he knows how to take criticism, which shows a lot of maturity. I’m with Daniel though, I already don’t even remember the routine outside of the great costuming!
Caitlin & Jason – Bollywood
Daniel: The sixth (love) couple (love) included Caitlin (love) (with Jason) (love). In case you couldn’t tell by the excessive use of parentheses, I absolutely love these two. The fact that Caitlin started her career as a gymnast, and was forced to dance for her life in Vegas and still made it this far has me stupidly rooting for her! The couple danced a Bollywood routine (Jesus, Mary and Joseph I love this style), to Jai Ho from the Slumdog Millionaire soundtrack. Within the first ten seconds Caitlin did a handstand that lasted for what seemed like forever. The dancing was strong, the movements were beautiful, the costumes were exquisite and the kiss at the end was shockingly convincing! A perfect verdict: one Mary scream!
Kevin: YAY BOLLYWOOD!!! Jason and Caitlin have our first Bollywood number, which I love because it is so unique. I have to say, these guys both KILLED IT. Jason’s movement was so clean and precise, which is so important with those intricate steps. I do think he out-performed Caitlin, at least a little, but both of them were unbelievable. I was a bit scared about this number going in but they both just blew me away. Mary commented on Caitlin’s handstand which really was so cool… the little footwork she pulled off in the handstand was awesome. Jason’s footwork during the entire routine was absolutely flawless. I’m with Daniel on this one and just can’t say enough good things about this couple and this number. Love. Love. Love.
Janette & Brandon – Fox Trot
Daniel: The next couple in line was a bit of a surprising match up; Janette (with Brandon). Janette’s Cuban background, according to her, has lead to a natural talent for dance. The couple danced a Fox Trot, which is the dance-kiss-of-death in my personal opinion. The dance overall was forgettable; the only parts I remember are Janette’s pink dress and the final lift. But even now as I type this, I’m desperately trying to remember if that’s even note worthy. Oh well, I’ll leave it in. The best part of this entire video clip series: Janette pulling her face back all crazy-like in response to Mary’s ridiculous comment about Botox! Whoa – not a good ending to an already troublesome performance.
Kevin: Foxtrot. Shit. Now don’t get me wrong, I actually LOVE the Foxtrot, but in the context of SYTYCD, it’s only one step away from the kiss-of-death-Quickstep… but at least Janette has partnering experience because of her Salsa, and if any male dancer without a ballroom history could pull it off, it would be Brandon. In the end, I was actually quite impressed with the end result. They both did a great job with the choreography as well as with portraying the fun and easy feeling of the Foxtrot- which is almost the hardest part. Brandon has excellent partnering skills, kept an extremely strong frame and just did an overall fantastic job. I really think Adam Shankman really hit it on the head with the adjective “lovely”- that’s exactly what it was: Lovely. Unfortunately, I’m not sure “lovely” is enough to make people who dont know/love ballroom remember this performance. (P.S.- Brandon, you can practice your lifts on me anytime you want.)
Ashley & Kupono – Jazz
Daniel: The eighth couple was another miss-matched pair; Ashley (with Kupono). Ashley, who has unsuccessfully made it through in three previous years, finally made it to the top twenty in her fourth attempt. Dang, kudos for not giving up! Dancing a Wade Robson Jazz routine, the combination was set up for 100% success. Did they pull through? Abso-effing-lutely!! The crash-test-dummy routine was brilliant, and the most memorable of the night. Ashley literally stole the show, regardless of her insane make-up and unrecognizable face! From the judging panel, Adam simply stated, ‘[people will] either love it or hate it’. – I LOVED it!
Kevin: Sweet Jesus! This routine totally did it for me. Wade Robson really is a choreographic genius and Kupono & Ashley turned it out!!! Their dancing, their performance interaction, and even the song selection (I’m in LOVE with GoldFrapp) just made this little number one of the most fantastic numbers ever. That music had absolutely zero beat- so the skill it took for them to remain synchronized is just ridiculous, and they both completely sold the concept. Hands down, my favorite number of the night.
Melissa & Ade – Contemporary
Daniel: The ninth couple was a combination of two fairly unknown dancers, Melissa (with Ade) – which in my mind is a BOO before they even take to the stage. I feel like the two of these dancers would both be picked last if this were junior-high and we were picking baseball teams in gym class. To my dismay and to support her cause, Melissa further endorsed her stature as the ‘naughty ballerina’, also known as, ‘[the] buff ballerina’. At the age of 29, I want to say this is endearing, but I really think we need to move past these age-old (run with the pun) nicknames. The couple danced a Mandy Moore Contemporary routine (to Right Here Waiting by Richard Marx).
**Writer’s NOTE: I want to add an extremely random interjection. This is the song I danced to, on repeat, for hours, back when I was ten years old and dreamed of being a dancer. Seriously, it’s as if Mandy Moore was my babysitter way-back-when and knew I would be watching the show. I screamed when this song came on! That’s all**
The highlight of this routine (which ended up being pretty damn amazing) was at the end during the judges comments when Adam stated to Melissa, “Living proof you get better with age.” The final verdict: one Mary scream!!
Kevin: Contemporary with Mandy Moore and one old-school 80′s rock ballad… what could possibly go wrong? Thankfully nothing! Did you see the side-by-side leaps they did? Absolutely flawless and created such an amazing picture. Even their partnership in terms of how fair Melissa is next to how dark Ade is, I just thought it was beautiful. Ade really got to showcase his insane talent in this number and I’m happy to see it, because as I said last week- I didn’t have the foggiest idea who this guy was. He’s definitely on my radar now and I think we’ll see some really great stuff from him. With that said, he does need to step it up on the personality front. The pick in his hair obviously shows that he has a sense of humor, but he just seems so quite all the time. He needs to bust it out!
Kayla & Max – Samba
Daniel: The final couple of the night was Kayla (with Max). Most people will remember Kayla from the auditions as the girl who was essentially raised by her single-parent mother and lived with her grandparents, in order to afford her dance classes. Together the couple danced a Samba, which could have been a disaster due to Kayla’s lack of experience in the ballroom department. With the strength of Max as a partner and a ferocious pink dress, Kayla killed the routine! The best line of the night once again came from the judging panel when Adam uttered, “Max, I’m assuming you were in the number. I’m psyched for you!” Clearly, even the judges couldn’t keep their eyes off Kayla! Once again, the final verdict: one Mary scream including a ride on the HOT TOMALE TRAIN!!
Kevin: From Russia, Max is an extremely talented ballroom dancer, so I was happy that they pulled Samba this week. I never, ever, ever would have guessed that Kayla has never done ballroom before after watching this number- way to go girl! Now, although Max did this number better than any other male dancer on this season could even hope to do, I have to admit that I was a little disappointed. Bear in mind that he’s way, way, WAY better than I ever was, or ever will be- but in terms of actual “ballroom dancers” and technique, his footwork was a little sloppy. With that said, the number truly was excellently choreographed, and Kayla was so freakin’ hot there’s no way it couldn’t be great. I still stand by original prediction, however. I really don’t think Max is going to make it very far in this show. Male ballroom dancers historically haven’t made it to the end, and the ones who have made it furthest have always been super hot, (Dimitri, Pasha)… and unfortunately, Max just isn’t as good a dancer, and he’s not nearly as hot.
Click on the picture below to SYTYCD: Season 5 gallery
Daniel: The nightly recap: there were some definite surprises and I may end up eating my words tomorrow night.
Number of Mary screams: five out of ten (six if you include the Botox incident), with one ride on the Hot Tamale Train. Remember when this used to be a rare, coveted position? Now her screams are dolled out more like lollipops at the dentist’s office.
Predicted bottom three couples:
Predicted girl leaving the show: Paris– she may share a name with Ms. Hilton, but she just doesn’t have the staying power. TTYN!
Kevin: I’m with Daniel on most of the predictions for getting the boot tonight, but am well prepared to eat my words- especially this early in the competition! Here’s my prediction for bottom 3 couples:
Predicted boy leaving the show: Tony. He is the most un-trained dancer in the group and the fact that he fell short dancing a number in his own style says he’s just not ready for this competition.