Whew – the performance show of So You Think You Can Dance is only an hour again. Cat tells us that next week’s show, with the final four, will be the very last performance show. I was wondering about that. And with that, our final six dance on in. Heidi, for some reason, looks like a total spaz. I think she’s trying to be … down, or something. Travis sticks with his old reliable – namely, his masterful spins. Natalie is wearing a hideous yellow jacket and black gloves. Benji wiggles his butt in the most adorable way. Donyelle is wearing the coolest camo vest and long, full skirt. And Ivan looks exactly the same as every other week – that is, thoroughly outclassed.
Just a word of response to those who defended Ivan last week. I absolutely agree that he is fun to watch. I pulled for him for quite a while, and I still like him. I just think that Benji and Travis, and the three girls, are all miles ahead of him in versatility. My personal turning point with Ivan was when he wore the wheely shoes to do his solo. That made me think that he’s mainly trying to get by on personality, at this point. I still think he’s a great dancer; I just don’t think he belongs up there with the others, and especially not with Ryan and Dmitry having been eliminated ahead of him. Your mileage may, of course, vary.Hey, does anybody know who the guy is who voices over, “This is So You Think You Can Dance. Here’s your host, Cat Deeley”? To my knowledge, we’ve never seen this guy, and he doesn’t do anything else. What an easy job. By the way, Natalie’s knee is very heavily braced. The device goes a good ways up and down her leg. Wow, I hope she’s okay – it will be interesting to see how this affects her.
Cat is wearing – oh, dear God. The dress is fairly harmless; it’s much baggier than her usual, so let the pregnancy rumors begin. But the problem is her hair. I really can’t diagnose it to my satisfaction. It’s up, yet also poofy and stiff and almost frizzy. From far away, it looks like she chopped off all of her hair and got a really bad perm, like Steve Sanders. Up close, it looks much better, but it has kind of a Marie Antoinette powdered-wig vibe. It’s also slightly asymmetrical, with most of the bulk pushed to the left side of the back of her head. Oh, Cat.
See? Bad perm.
Let them eat cake.
Cat introduces the judges. Yay! This is my dream panel: Nigel, Mary, and Mia Michaels. This should be a rowdy night of judging. I guess the downside is that we won’t get to see any weirdo Mia Michaels routines, but I think it’s worth it. To my disappointment, there is nothing noteworthy about Mary’s outfit; her necklace is a little much, but not in any obscene way. Mia, on the other hand, looks like an insane clown. Pink and purple vertical stripes, and it’s stiff and shiny, and her makeup really tops it off. Thank goodness Mia is picking up the slack, on a night when Cat and Mary are both dressed relatively boringly.
Insane Clown Bossy.
We jump right in, and Ivan draws his partner for the night. He draws Natalie, and then they draw contemporary and jive. Natalie immediately plasters herself all over Ivan, so she’s back to her partner-whoring ways. It really was just Ryan that she didn’t like – odd. For some reason, jive is up first, even though contemporary appeared first on the card they drew. The choreographers are Ron and Karla Montez. Much is made in rehearsal of the fact that Natalie is not a morning person and came in tired. Yup, she looks like crap (for her, that is). Squinty eyes and everything. The choreographers express a lot of doubt about Natalie and Ivan, but we don’t really see them doing anything.
If this is the worst you’ve ever looked, you’re doing all right.
They dance their jive. It’s a fifties rock-and-roll-type routine, with a ton of energy. If Natalie’s knee is bothering her, I sure can’t tell. Natalie has great stage presence, and the two of them are good as a pair. But it’s a very short dance, and not too complicated. Nigel tells Ivan that “the G.I.s used to do that sort of routine.” This makes no sense, so I play it back to see if that’s really what he said, and it is. Really? So – soldiers used to have professional-quality jive training? I mean, what do I know, I wasn’t there, but to me this seems like a dance that soldiers would do in a movie, not in real life.
Anyhow, Nigel thinks that Ivan fizzled throughout the course of the routine and came across as more of a Boy Scout than a G.I. Ouch, that is a really forced metaphor. I didn’t notice Ivan losing energy during the routine, but I did notice that Natalie really draws the eye much more than he does. Nigel says that Natalie appeared to be doing a solo, and had no chemistry with Ivan. Hm – I thought they had chemistry, but I also thought that Ivan came across as a non-entity, so I guess what I thought makes very little sense. Natalie soothes Ivan when he gets criticized, once again reminding us that last week with Ryan was the only time that she didn’t fawn over her partner this way. Instead, she seemed to project agreement with the judges, like, “Yeah, Ryan sucked.”
Suck it, Ryan.
Mary also thinks that Ivan was too heavy-footed and the chemistry wasn’t there, although she loved the ending. Mia says the dance was no fun – it was “fake fun.” Yeesh, these guys are being harsh. I thought it was fun. And after watching this, I think Natalie is the best of the three girls left on the show. Heidi is the best technically, and Donyelle is the best performer, but Natalie is a solid second in both categories, and so she is the best total package. Of course, me coming to this conclusion is meaningless, because I still think Benji leaves her in the dust.
Next up is Travis’s solo. So, we’re back to the format of two weeks ago, where everyone does a solo and they’re mixed in with the partner dances in random order. It still bugs me that they never even made any mention last week of the fact that they were leaving out the solos to save time. I mean, of course it was obvious, but they should at least pay lip service to the idea of the show having a format that’s planned more than five minutes before they start rolling tape. Sigh.
Travis dances to Lifehouse, which I feel like he’s done a hundred times before. The whole routine seems like a carbon copy of every other Travis solo, right down to the anguished facial expressions. Of course, it’s very good, but I’m bored. There’s a funny bit afterward, where Travis pulls up his shirt to expose a second shirt with his voting phone number on it, and then Cat pretends that she’s going to pull up her dress, but she doesn’t. The judges don’t comment on Travis’s solo at all, which I think is lame. Cat tries to cover that with some weak remark about how Travis is “dancing to impress you [America].” Again, I assume the lack of judging on the solos is a function of time, which is fine, but at least explain it, show.
After commercial, Benji draws Donyelle, which you knew was going to happen, because he just danced with Heidi last week. So it’s a Benji-and-Donyelle blast from the past, and their fans are no doubt wetting themselves with joy. I’m pretty happy about it myself. They draw hip-hop and Broadway, both of which we’ve seen them do together before, if I’m not mistaken. First up is Broadway with Tyce DiOrio, who is pretty endearing when he introduces the rehearsal segment by saying, “Welcome to the Benji and Donyelle show!” Benji enters rehearsal carrying a man-purse, which I find cute. Hey, remember when James “Jaymz” Tuaileva did that, and I found it nauseating? Well, I never said I was fair. Seriously, though, the difference is that James “Jaymz” Tuaileva always seemed to take himself seriously, and Benji never does.
So you think you can pull off the man-purse.
Benji says that the routine they’re rehearsing is reminiscent of Austin Powers. (I never notice this.) Tyce again beats us over the head with the fact that Benji and Donyelle are “a match made in heaven.” Okay, it was fun being reminded of that the first time; the second time is overkill. Again, we see no actual dancing in rehearsal.
The routine is set to “Le Jazz Hot,” from Victor/Victoria, which I am sad to say I have never seen or listened to. It’s a twenties number, with Donyelle in one of those horrifying fringed dresses that this show seems to love so much. It’s pretty crappy compared to these two’s greatest dances of the past – it barely even holds my attention, although they execute it perfectly competently. Nigel harshes it up by telling Donyelle that Benji has started to out-dance her. Well, I don’t know about “started” – I think maybe that was always true. But I’m surprised that Nigel actually said it. Donyelle does not look pleased. Mary pretty much just says that she liked the dance. Mia says that they got by on the fact that they’re both amazing performers, but that neither of them really danced all that great. Donyelle didn’t “snap” her moves, and Benji came down to Donyelle’s level.
This is the facial expression of a woman who is not used to receiving criticism.
Natalie does her solo. Guess what the theme of it is? Yes, that’s right – it’s “I’m a big whore.” If you’ve seen one of these routines of hers (and you have), you’ve seen them all. For the first time I notice the degree to which she’s ripping off that 1984 Madonna “Like A Virgin” routine, with the writhing around onstage at the VMAs. She’s even got the lace half-gloves. Of course, Natalie is a better technical dancer than Madonna, but seriously, get your own shtick.
I am really disappointed not to hear the judges’ comments on this display.
Travis draws Heidi, duhviously. Have these two been matched up before? Oh yeah, wait, the park-bench thing. How could I forget that? They draw pop and smooth waltz. I am sick of watching waltzes on this show – I feel like they are always boring. Now, before people get all outraged at my lack of culture, I don’t think the waltz is necessarily boring; I just think it doesn’t translate well to this show. Of course, if we have to watch somebody do it, I’m glad it’s Heidi, because she is one of the only people who actually knows how. In the event, they do a great job. Heidi’s dress is almost, but not quite, ugly enough to ruin the routine.
Nigel says that it’s great to see Travis’s contemporary skillz brought to bear in ballroom, because he’s much spinnier than your average ballroom guy. (MS Word thinks that I mean “spinier.” No, I do NOT, MS Word.) He says Heidi is the most improved girl, which I don’t know about; I think she’s always been right on the money technique-wise. Mary says that Heidi did everything right. Then she busts out one of those patented Mary Murphy fake-outs, where she pretends like she’s about to dog on Travis but instead she squeals about how incredible he is. Yawn. Mary says that Travis was gliding. Travis is over-the-top adorable with his reaction to this praise, jumping up and down with excitement. Mia says that Travis has a charisma that cannot be taught, and she agrees with Nigel that Heidi is most improved among the females. Then she says that she compulsively has to criticize something, so she wishes Heidi had been “breathier” and “more fluid,” but apparently these are small quibbles.
Did this remind anyone else of a golden retriever puppy? (Obviously, that’s a GOOD THING.)
Ivan does his solo. I can’t believe I’m about to say this, but this is my favorite solo of the night so far. The reason is that it doesn’t feel like Ivan just videotaped one of his past solos and then hit “play,” which is what Travis and Natalie did. Ivan’s solo actually feels fresh. Of course, it’s his usual hip-hop thang, but I get the sense that we haven’t seen this exact sequence of moves before, and he projects a ton of energy. Nicely done, Ivan. Now, I still hope that no one votes for you.
Next up is Benji and Donyelle’s second routine, which is hip-hop with Shane Sparks. Much is made of the fact that their very first routine together was also hip-hop with Shane Sparks, lo these many moons ago. We see a flashback, and I am reminded that back then, Benji was kind of uncomfortable with touching a girl that much (it was a booty-spankin’ dance). He’s loosened up a lot. I’m also reminded of how annoying it was when this show constantly tried to ram Benji and Donyelle down our throats as the perfect partnership and America’s sweethearts, and of how pleasant it was to have a respite from that for a few weeks.
The dance is good, not great. They do a bunch of, well, hip-hop moves in unison. Donyelle goes nuts with the booty; she really unleashes it. The ending is awesome; Donyelle pretends to deck Benji when he doesn’t want her number, and he wipes out on the stage very convincingly. The judges gush moderately about this routine. They all like it, but they don’t go into a lot of specifics, except that Mia thinks it’s funny when Benji pretends to be from the hood, and she bonds with Donyelle over the two of them having big butts. I love Mia Michaels!
For her solo, Heidi goes back to what she does best, which is the hip-swiveling Latin stuff. It’s great, but it has the Travis and Natalie problem, which is that I feel like I’ve seen this dance from Heidi again and again.
Back to Natalie and Ivan, this time rehearsing contemporary with Tyce. Tyce says that the dance is about looooove. Natalie flirts with Ivan. Ick. But what’s this? They do the dance, and I actually really like it! It’s rare enough for me to like a contemporary routine, but for me to like one starring Ivan – I’m in shock. It’s just really pretty; they both make their bodies do pretty things. The one maybe-negative thing that I’ll say is that I don’t much have the sense that they’re dancing together – it’s more like simultaneous solos, with the exception of a couple of moments. Oh, and of course, there is the obligatory Patented Natalie Crotch Flash.
How do we know this is even Natalie? It could almost be a body double … nah.
Nigel says that they still don’t have chemistry; he felt nothing whenever Natalie and Ivan touched each other. Well, I for one am glad. I am always a little squicked out when Nigel seems to be, er, feeling too much. Nigel says that although Ivan has grown a lot and danced a great solo tonight, this type of routine shows his limitations. He tells Natalie that she hasn’t drawn him in emotionally tonight the way that she usually does. Mary says that she felt good watching the routine, but it wasn’t extraordinary. She manages to dog on Tyce in the process, although I don’t think she means to. Mia sounds totally stoned, like dude, Natalie, you gotta break down the walls, man, where is the magic? You gotta be, like, man, more organic and natural, sorry, dude. Natalie looks really bummed.
Benji does his solo. It’s my favorite kind of Benji dance, but I feel like even he is on auto-pilot a little. He does fifties rock, with a lot of spins, and saddle shoes, and a fancy entrance using the banister, and the ass-shaking, and it’s all very Benji. He even wears a highly questionable tie/scarf thing. I definitely would have loved this if it hadn’t seemed so utterly familiar.
Last partner dance of the night is Travis and Heidi, doing pop this time. I am excited, because I love the pop routines, because they usually have some idiotic storyline. The choreographer is Wade Robson, who (the commenters have set me straight) is actually quite famous. The theme of the dance, apparently, is “dirty earth.” This strikes me as more contemporary than pop, but my mind is open. It turns out to be kind of an African world-beat number. I like it; I think it might be my favorite of the night, just because it is really something different. It’s definitely not Heidi’s area of strength and I think she really pulls it off.
Nigel says it was the best routine of the night, and they were the best couple. He says that they were together the whole time and they never lost their balance, which was tough. Yay! Mary says that they did an amazing job and they both appear to have a great sense of purpose. She wants America to vote for both of them. Mia loved this routine; I could have guessed that it would be right up her alley. She gives a shout-out to Wade Robson and says that this routine is why he is where he is in the business. She tells Heidi that she wouldn’t have been able to handle this routine a couple of weeks ago. Actually, I think that’s right; it’s not about Heidi’s technical ability, but about her level of comfort with tackling something new. That’s where she’s really improved.
Last up is Donyelle’s solo, and she blows me away, simply by making the choice not to dance hip-hop. When it came time to do solos tonight, the other five dancers all performed squarely inside their specialties; Ivan was the only one of the five who brought anything I hadn’t seen a million times before, and even he was definitely not pushing the envelope. Donyelle opts to showcase her versatility, which could have backfired (see: disastrous solo by James “Jaymz” Tuaileva), but she does a good job, so it doesn’t. She dances kind of a soulful rock-slash-contemporary-slash-Broadway number, to a song from Dreamgirls. She can barely breathe afterward. Sadly, her dress makes her look excessively large, but that’s a small price to pay. Claps for you, Donny.
Nigel interviews that Americker will be the true winner, no matter what happens. Mary cackles and says something, cackle cackle cackle. Mia for some reason decides to bring down the room by reminding everyone that when you’re on a reality show, everyone loves you, but the real world of dance is not like that. Okay – now I have no idea who I want to send home. I actually think that my beloved Benji had the weakest night out of everybody. I guess, on balance, I’d have to eject Ivan and Heidi. I would have said Donyelle before that solo. Really, I don’t want to lose any of them, and this is the first time I’ve really meant that. Luckily, I won’t be voting, so it’s out of my hands. Choose wisely, Americker!