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Thursday, June 16, 2011

SYTYCD8 & The Ballet - Everybody Dance Now - SYTYCD & Ballet Review

So You Think You Can Dance - Season 8 - Top 20 - Performances - Ep. 806
Judges: Nigel Lythgoe, Mary Murphy, Megan Mullaly

Celebrating Greta - The National Ballet of Canada - Four Seasons Centre - Toronto, ON - **** (averaged grade, out of 5 stars)
Mozartiana - Choreography by Georges Balanchine, Music by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky - ***
Other Dances - Choreography by Jerome Robbins, Music by Frédéric Chopin - ****
In the Upper Room - Choreography by Twyla Tharp, Music by Philip Glass - ****1/2
Runs until Jun. 19th 2011


I got a full dose of dancing tonight! Top 20 Performances on SYTYCD and opening night for The National Ballet of Canada's latest mixed program dedicated to principal dancer Greta Hodgkinson, who is celebrating her 20th year with the company (20 years! And I thought ballet dancers were tossed out once they hit 30). Actually, the program unofficially also celebrated Sonia Rodriguez (who danced a principal role in Mozartiana) and Rebekah Rimsay (who dances in In The Upper Room), who are also celebrating their 20th year with the company! It's lovely to see these ladies still in great dancing shape after all those years (granted, my guess is they're probably not that much older than I am and started young) and that there is a longevity in the dance world that is notorious for a short career span.

The newest program gives us a taste of three celebrated choreographers. First up, is George Balanchine, probably the most renowned choreographers in the ballet world. While I'm probably showing my lack of ballet expertise when I state that Balanchine works are not my favorite, I always have to respect his more traditional ballet routines and that it takes the most talented skills and strengths to perform his work well. Sonia Rodriguez, Keiichi Hirano and Aleksandar Antonijevic dance it wonderfully, but yet again, I found myself admiring the work, more than I loved it.

The central piece of the show is Jerome Robbins' seldom danced Other Dances (due to a tight hold on permission), and it gives Greta Hodgkinson and Zdenek Konvalina the spotlight in this joyous, flighty, ethereal choreography from the genius mind of Jerome Robbins. It's a wonderful heavenly piece, with a simple pianist playing on stage as Greta and Zdenek dance a pas-de-deux with some solo moments that show the care and control of a piece that feels light and precious. Greta is a spectacular form, with a whispy dress (from costumes by Santo Loquasto) that enwraps her body yet flits and floats in the air as she moves across the stage. Her dress seems to have it's own choreography, adding to the special allure to Robbins' choreography. Zdenek seems to be having delightful fun with the dance, and seems to let go of the tight rules of ballet, though stumbles a bit when he seems to unravel too much.


But the big wow factor is Twyla Tharp's In the Upper Room, which is a superb combination of modern movements, smoke and lighting, and music by Philip Glass. Say what you will about Glass' music, but it seems specially made for the modern ballet, as it works symbiotically with Tharp's choreography as the dance and music seem to enhance one another. With costumes that look either like pajama's or an 80's workout video, the dreamlike state gives the dancers the freedom to let loose, while Tharp's movements are so emotionally thrilling, that I was practically in tears midway through the piece.

While parts were not as tight as it could have been, it was still thrilling to watch Tharp's piece again. In fact, I think I loved it even more this time around (with I believe, some added smoke that added to the theatricality and dreamy state of the piece).

Stephanie Hutchison, Rebekah Rimsay (who I adore. My interview with her, here), Jillian Vanstone, Tina Pereira, Jordana Daumec, Tanya Howard and Sonia Rodriguez were all in great form. It was great to see Rebekah get moments to partner with Piotr Stanczyk again, since they have such a great dancing chemistry together.

Corps de ballet's James Leja looked like a beast and really stood out from the men, while newer dancer Brendan Saye really brought an eloquence to his movements. Saye may not be in perfect form yet, but his tall stature seems so graceful that I think he'll be another dancer to watch for in the future. He just moved beautifully alongside his more experienced colleagues and I'm excited to see more from him.

In fact, there are so many exciting new up and comers in the company that the rotating cast of dancers on each night will give viewers more dancers to keep their eye on, and I'm sort of sad I'm missing out on seeing some of the others who did not dance tonight.


Meanwhile, So You Think You Can Dance Season 8 started the competition rounds and with one of the best Top 20 group around, there weren't any truly bad dances. Which of course, means it will be harder to cut dancers from the competition, especially while we've only seen one main dance so far.

Sadly, on this first night, Mitchell is already injured and forced to sit out. Man, this is starting to happen on the first ep of every season now isn't it?


Jordan Casanova and Tadd Gadduang
Style: Afro Jazz
Choreographed by: Sean Cheesman
Song: "Riding the Waves" - Afro Celt Sound System
Grade - Dance: B+
Grade - Boy: B+
Grade - Girl: B

Yay! And we start with a Sean Cheesman number! Which is always great! A fun number that didn't let up with the beat, although with some moments of some simpler steps to let the fresh dancers keep up. Jordan and Tadd seemed to get into the spirit of things, and with the exceptions of a few clunky partnering moments, did a fine job with it. It could have been slightly tighter with some added hard hitting bounce, but a pretty great way to start things off.

Here's the video of Jordan and Tadd's AfroJazz:



Sasha Mallory and Alexander Fost
Style: Contemporary
Choreographed by: Travis Wall
Song: "Stupid (Mark Bell Mix)" - Sarah McLachlan
Grade - Dance: A
Grade - Boy: B+
Grade - Girl: A-

Alexander and Sasha do a pretty magnificent job at conveying the dance power required in Travis Wall's piece. With the exception of a slightly clunky partnering between the two (which I'll attribute to first week jitters, and that they were supposed to be hating each other (though with that, one would expect an angered history lighting up that fire), it was a nice new pairing to look forward to in weeks to come.

Here's the video of Sasha and Alexander's Contemporary:



Clarice Ordaz and Jess LeProtto
Style: Broadway
Choreographed by: Tyce DiOrio
Song: "Me and My Baby" - Liza Minnelli
Grade - Dance: C+
Grade - Boy: A-
Grade - Girl: B+

Nice to see Kent helping out in rehearsals in the background. Too bad he wasn't choreographing, but I'll move on to the dancers, since I have nothing nice to say. Of course Jess "lucks" out with picking Broadway for his first dance. Nicely done since it was basically tailor made for him. Clarice does wonders with her long legs and was one of the dancers I took notice of in last week's Top 20 reveal, so I think there's lots more to come from her. Love Jess' dancing though his personality is already starting to wear a little thin.

Here's a video of Clarice and Jess' Broadway:



Ryan Ramirez and Ricky Jaime
Style: Hip-Hop
Choreographed by: Christopher Scott
Song: "Ain't No Sunshine" - Lighthouse Family
Grade - Dance: A-
Grade - Boy: B+
Grade - Girl:B+

I felt like Ryan slightly outdanced Ricky in the first half and then Ricky caught up and slightly outdanced Ryan in the second half. But a pretty good Hip-Hop routine from two contemporary dancers. Very impressive for an early round with great hope for the subsequent weeks. Really loved Scott's style of Hip-Hop. Am definitely excited that the LXD dancer is on board this season.

Here's the video of Ryan and Ricky's Hip-Hop:



Caitlynn Lawson and Mitchell Kelly Robert Roldan
Style: Jazz
Choreographed by: Sonya Tayeh
Song: "In For the Kill (Skream's LetLet's Get Rave Remix)" - La Roux
Grade - Dance: B+
Grade - Girl: B+

Caitlynn has the luck, or is it a detriment, to get to dance a Sonya piece with Robert, who was my favorite dancer from last season. Robert was made for Sonya pieces so he looked absolutely stunning as usual, and it was hard to look away and at the actual competitor. But from what I saw, Caitlynn did a great job keeping up, and while she doesn't quite have that finish that Robert puts into his dances (especially now that he's gone through a season and developed the confidence and finesse needed to execute a Sonya Jazz piece), it's a great showing for the first week of the competition.

Here's the video of Caitlynn and Robert's Jazz:



Miranda Maleski and Robert Taylor Jr.
Style: Jive
Choreographed by: Jason Gilkison
Song: "Runaway Baby" - Bruno Mars
Grade - Dance: A-
Grade - Boy: B+
Grade - Girl: B

First off, love the retro costumes. A nice fun jive routine with enough pizazz to hide some of the difficulties of the dance non-experts usually have with this. Miranda seemed to get the snap right, but felt a tad heavy, while Robert seemed to bounce like he was made of helium (which would explain his "Woo" voice) and while he could have been slightly tighter, Robert definitely played the part right.

Here's the video of Miranda and Robert's Jive:



Missy Morelli and Wadi Jones
Style: Jazz
Choreographed by: Sean Cheesman
Song: "Judas (R3Hab Remix)" - Lady Gaga
Grade - Dance: C+
Grade - Boy: B-
Grade - Girl: B-

Sexy demons. Oh yes. It's gotta be a Canadian choreographer. Reminds me of the kinkier stuff usually seen on the Canadian version of the show. Although definitely seemed easier than a usual Sean piece. Not my favorite from Sean (despite Nigel saying it was Sean's best work ever), but Wadi and Missy do good performances though there was a slightly messy ending. It could have been more precise in the movements, and the partnering seemed a bit awkward at times, though nothing unusual for first week. Not as together as they could have been either, but nothing that can't be fixed in future weeks. I have hope for these two.

Nigel and Mary think it was phenomenal, but maybe I'm used to higher quality choreo in the Canadian version, because I thought this was a lite version of Sean's usual stuff. I think the sexiness clouded the judges here.

Here's the video of Missy and Wadi's Jazz:



Melanie Moore and Marko Germar
Style: Contemporary
Choreographed by: Travis Wall
Song: "Turn To Stone" - Ingrid Michaelson
Grade - Dance: B+
Grade - Boy: A-
Grade - Girl: A

I think I have my favorite new pair. Loved Melanie and Marko individually during the audition and Top 20 reveal, and now of course they've been paired together, showing equal strength in their dancing. The partnership already seems to have gelled and it's just breathtaking to watch these two, even if the choreo from my lover Travis was bit literal and hokey.

Here's the video of Melanie and Mark's Contemporary:



Ashley Rich and Chris Koehl
Style: Hip-Hop
Choreographed by: Christopher Scott
Song: "Forget You" - Cee Lo Green
Grade - Dance: A
Grade - Boy: B+
Grade - Girl: B+

Ashley and Chris did a great job getting into character before the dancing started, but once they started moving to the beat, the big smiles on their face seemed to defy the story they were telling. On the other hand, they seemed to have fun with the Hip-Hop and bounced around the stage to such a joyous vibe. Love Ashley and she seemed so hip and cool, and Chris does a great job with the movement parts of the character.

Here's the video of Ashley and Chris' Hip-Hop:



Iveta Lukosiute and Nick Young
Style: Quickstep
Choreographed by: Jason Gilkison
Song: "Ballroom Blitz" - Sweet
Grade - Dance: A
Grade - Boy: A-
Grade - Girl: A

Poor Nick, getting stuck with the dreaded Quickstep in week one, just because he's partnered with the lone Ballroom dancer this season. On the other hand, maybe dancing with a Quickstep expert helped him, because Nick looked amazingly cool and comfortable doing the Quickstep, in a routine that was surprisingly fun and fresh.

Iveta, a world champion of the Quickstep, obviously looked light on her feet and just breezed through that, but she looked like she was having fun and that she was proud that Nick kept up, and while I feared I would be cringing through it all, Nick managed not only to kept up, but looked good doing it.

Here's the video of Iveta and Nick's Quickstep:



- - - - - - - - - - - - -
The Final Roundup:

The Dancers - Pairs Routine:
1st - Best of the Night: Melanie and Marko
2nd: Iveta and Nick
3rd: Sacha and Alexander
4th: Clarice and Jess
5th: Ashley and Chris
6th: Ryan and Ricky
7th: Caitlynn (with Robert)
8th: Jordan and Tadd
9th: Miranda and Robert
10th - Worst of the Night: Missy and Wadi

The Routines:
Best Routine of the Night: Jason Gilkison's Quickstep (Iveta and Nick)
2nd Best Routine of the Night: Christopher Scott's Hip-Hop (Ashley and Chris)
3rd Best Routine of the Night: Travis Wall's Contemporary (Sasha and Alexander)

The Predictions:
Bottom Three Pairs:
Mitchell is automatically in the bottom, so I'm not sure if an additional 3 pairs will dance for their life, or if his partner automatically gets thrown at the bottom as well?
I really have NO idea at this point. Everyone is strong. if they had a weaker week, it's not that they can't dance, it just wasn't their genre. There were no disasters, which is amazing considering it's first week. So I'm pretty much randomly picking couples that I think might just have the least fans.
Caitlynn
Miranda and Robert
Missy and Wadi

Should Go Home: No one yet. I feel everyone deserves a 2nd chance to show their stuff. But if I'm forced to choose, I guess I'd have to say Mitchell and Missy?
Going Home: Mitchell and Missy

This is how I rank all the dancers overall (based on dancing and personality): (To be honest, it is too early to truly rank them and partially based on audition perceptions)
Overall Ranking:
1. Marko
2. Nick
3. Melanie
4. Ashley
5. Sasha
6. Chris
7. Clarice
8. Jess
9. Tadd
10. Ryan
11. Ricky
12. Wadi
13. Robert
14. Iveta
15. Jordan
16. Alexander
17. Miranda
18. Caitlynn
19. Missy
20. Mitchell (since we haven't gotten a chance to see him)


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2 comments:

DuchessKitty said...

Hey, in your bottom 3 predictions, did you mean Caitlynn instead of Melanie?

Iveta and Nick's quickstep might be my favorite ever on this show.

Vance said...

Oops! How did I get THAT wrong? esp from my favorite girl!? Yes, I meant Caitlynn. That's what I get for typing this after midnight, after watching both SYTYCD and the ballet!

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