Archive for the ‘So You Think You Can Dance’ Category

‘SYTYCD’ Finale: Why tilt a vote that’s already won?

August 12, 2011

Thoughts about last night’s finale of So You Think You Can Dance must start with this: Melanie had 47% of the vote, compared to just 32% for runnerup Sasha. Well, then, wouldn’t this large gap between them have been evident to Nigel and the show itself for weeks before the finish? And since they already knew that Melanie would win, didn’t that tilt their presentation of Wednesday’s final performance show to make the eventual winner look even better and her closest rival even worse?

All I know is, that’s what happened. Except for disco, Melanie got to dance the kind of contemporary pieces that are her forte, while poor Sasha, instead of getting urban, edgy dances, got ill-suited ballroom styles. And you can’t slant things more than that ghastly last number with the two of them, offered as a miniature Douglas Sirk film about repressed ’50s housewives.

Melanie? No problem. No dancer on SYTYCD has ever looked more like she stepped out of the ’50s. And she got to play anguish, which is great for a girl who seems able to cry on cue.

Sasha? Exqueeze me, but repression for a black woman in the ’50s involved more than being hemmed in by white picket fences and stuffy dresses and hair styles. Do I have to say more? She just didn’t fit the part imposed on  her.

Again, it was as if the show was sending a subliminal message to viewers: Stay with your votes for Melanie and make us look good by making her look good. Sasha’s too far behind for us to bother giving her a fighting chance, so let’s all get with the program and Go Team Melanie!

Hey, I like Melanie, and I’d have picked her too — as the second-best dancer of the season  (not the “series,” a British term for what we call TV seasons which even Mary has witlessly picked up). (And note to Brits: Our TV shows air in fall, spring and summer SEASONS, which is why we use that term for their airings. The shows themselves are TV SERIES which can go on for years, while seasons are only annual. Makes more sense.)

Anyway, I’m happy for Melanie. She danced well, even without Sasha’s fierceness and toned body, and I love the short hair, even though it always has, in fact, evoked a repressed ’50s housewife, even without choreography to match.  I do think her acting is a bit overrated, but I’ll take it –she’s good enough. I just don’t think she was as good of a dancer as Sasha. And I think the show made damn sure Wednesday night that we’d feel otherwise so it could seal the deal for a contestant who’d already won, in effect, but got things tilted her way anyway in the performance finale.

Chelsie and Melissa grace ‘Dancing With the Stars’

March 10, 2009

Like surely many fans of So You Think You Can Dance, I’m stoked that the summer show’s Chelsie Hightower is now getting the enormous audience she deserves by being a professional dancer paired with a “star” (the term is often loosely applied) on ABC’s Dancing With the Stars.

The downside is that Chelsie’s partner is stiff as a board and dull as dust cowboy Ty Murray. Even while reigning it in and toning it down, Chelsie couldn’t help but dance rings around the aw-shucks slow-poke cow poke on Monday’s premiere, while Murray’s wife Jewel — who’d have competed against him with another partner — watched wanly from the audience, having been sidelined by an injury.

Due to Murray, not Chelsie, I’m think this pair won’t last long on this edition of DWTS, and that’s probably why Jewel was front-loaded onto next week’s debut results show without any delay. She’ll be performing, while he may be saying “Happy trails” as he saunters into the sunset. (Then again, he wasn’t the only lackluster dancer on a largely impressive opening night.)

But Chelsie, we love you — at least, I know I do, as you were the catalyst for the most-read blog entry I’ve ever written on this site. Your theatrical hip-hop performance of Leona Lewis’ Bleeding Love with partner Mark Kanemuraxx on last summer’s So You Think You Can Dance for Fox was as good as any dance I’ve seen on ABC’s often phony ratings juggernaut, and you well earned your place on this far more widely watched show — even if it doesn’t extend beyond the second week’s roundup.

And while we’re singing Chelsie’s praises despite her dance-challenged Texas pahd-ner, let’s salute another Texan who stepped up big-time last night: Melissa Rycroft, aka, the woman who was cruelly jilted on ABC’s The Bachelor in what was either (1) a ratings stunt, (2) a coldly calculated career move by an actor-wannabe bachelor, or (3) a horrendous personal injustice given the emotional enormity of the situation — and maybe all three.

All of that — and just over two days’ rehearsal — didn’t stop Melissa from performing superbly by displaying her ballet-training grace alongside veteran pro partner Tony Dovolani. Like The Girls Next Door star Holly Madison, Melissa was asked to join the cast last-minute when two contestants dropped out due to injury, the other being Nancy O’Dell of Access Hollywood.

O’Dell fittingly gave Melissa a standing ovation — despite a cast on her leg — as the Bachelor’s loss became Dancing’s gain. While Chelsie and Ty may not last long, I’m thinking Melissa and Tony will stick around for quite awhile. Give her some rehearsal time, and this spirited former Dallas Cowboys cheerleader is going to give us all something to really cheer about.

You see, there is life after The Bachelor. In fact, DWTS may make Melissa a far bigger star than The Bachelor has ever done for any of its shameless, fame-hungry contestants.

What a concept: Even in Hollywood, there can be poetic justice.

No Cat on the grill, no ‘Bleeding Love’ — just Joshua getting it done on ‘So You Think You Can Dance’

August 8, 2008

“And in the end the love you make is equal to the love you take.”

Beatles, anyone? Or how about the delicious karmic justice of So You Think You Can Dance, whose voters rightly rewarded Joshua as this season’s hoofing hero given his clearly superior talents, rather than going the easy route of persona, back-story, sex appeal, charm or sheer popularity.

Such elements alone would have made voters switch to Twitch, a lovable guy who truly grew throughout this competition. But just as male dancers have an unfair advantage in strength and power, making it tough for women to prevail, Joshua was the dominant male in those categories, even if Twitch mastered some amazing lifts. And Joshua’s fierce spins and barrel rolls still made me audibly gasp.

But Twitch did finish second, and Katee, by nudging Courtney for top female dancer, won an unexpected $50,000 prize, as bestowed by Cat. Joshua’s take was a quarter mil and a spot in Adam Shankman’s dance movie, which got so much free publicity via this telecast that Shankman owed the show more than that mere morsel.

Wherever he winds up, Joshua is great and deserved to win — and how often can we say that about reality TV talent competitions? So bravo, America, for getting it right — and yes, my household put our money where our big mouth was, thanks to my wife’s diligent dialing to give Joshua his voting props.

As for Thursday’s two-hour results show, it fared much better than Wednesday’s two-hour performance finale, thanks to multiple reprises of the season’s best dances, including my personal favorite, Chelsie and Mark’s Bleeding Love, and my wife’s, Will and Katee’s Imagine pas de deux and Twitch and Katee’s Mercy, a rocky romance played out through a masterfully handled door.

That’s not to mention Joshua and Katee’s No Air, an emotional lyrical hip hop routine much in the vein of the same choreographers’ (Napoleon and Tabitha’s) Bleeding Love.

From Mary and Nigel dancing on stage (you’re right, Debbie Allen — all judges on this show should dance) to Cirque du Soleil’s wonderfully eerie number to the Jonas Brothers banal pop posing, the rest was needless extra icing on a cake which already was ready to eat. For me, it was enough seeing this show’s top dancers return to revisit their best routines, all remininding us what a dance-tastic season it’s been. Now it’s over and there’s a long wait till next year, but for Joshua, Twitch, Katee, Courtney, Will, Mark, Chelsie and others, their careers from here are just beginning. My thanks to you all. You did dance — and even TV itself — proud.

‘Tween Twitch, Katee and Joshua, who is, like, totally ready to win ‘So You Think You Can Dance’?

August 7, 2008

OK, we’ve covered the revolting “Cat wearing a spit-covered grill” yuckfest. And along with a two-hour (ouch) performance finale Wednesday, perhaps we all also saw Paris Hilton’s “like, totally ready to lead” rebuttal to “wrinkly white-haired guy.” But the big question is: Who’s totally ready to lead So You Think You Can Dance, now that the final votes are in for tonight’s two-hour (double ouch!) results show?

My personal pick would be Joshua — not because he’s a fellow Texan, but because he’s by far the best dancer in this entire competition. Built like a football player — which he once was — he’s mixed strength and power with grace, control and fast-learned skills to delight and dazzle for weeks, not just lately. And if I were a choreographer or head of a dance company, I’d hire him in a second. Houston Ballet, do you have an opening?

That said, I’ve got a not-so-funny feeling that Joshua won’t win.

For one thing, the judges and the show clearly showed favoritism to Twitch last night. He got the best dances, while Joshua was stuck with an awkward, flailing and (worst of all) dated jive at show’s end for his lasting last impression.

Twitch also got the night’s best reviews from the judges — pointedly. Heck, he even got to clown and charm in his lingering time before the panel. Looking dapper in his snappy tuxedo, Twitch played to a James Bond theme while encouraged by Nigel, in what seemed a rehearsed exchange. Apparently one of Twitch’s lines was added to make it all sound natural: when he asked Nigel to repeat how “Bond, James Bond” sounded. Uh, Twitch, I know you’re from the sticks in Alabammy, but I think they get movies and TV there, and I know damn well you know how that simple line is said with a faint British accent. Gimme a break.

Of course, America could still surprise me — and probably most of us — by splitting the men’s vote and giving the quarter mil and the title to — oh, say, Katee? She’s clearly the best female dancer of the season, though I do enjoy Courtney’s spirit (despite its sometimes cheerleader flavor). And no way Courtney is going to win, not after the backhanded “compliments” Wednesday, such as Nigel basically saying she’s not good enough to have a sustained pro dancing career, but at least she can teach. He might as well have added she has “a nice personality.” And BTW, amid Wednesday’s hype-heavy gushfest and its tone of delirious self-satisfaction, there were more between-the-lines dismissals — if not disses. To wit, the judges’ avowals that contestants were fine “entertainers” — as opposed to dancers — smacked of the same faint praise often heaped on lesser contestants on Dancing With the Stars. Trust me, as a dancer, you don’t want to be lumped with George Harrison or Jerry Springer.

So there — we know who’s not going to win. As for who’s going to win, as the Kinks would say, ya got me, ya really got me now, though I know who’s the best dancer.

As always with such shows, many of us keep saying it should not be a popularity thing, but a talent thing. Then others vote madly because a guy or gal is hot or has a relatable back-story. So it’s a mix. But maybe there’s hope for Joshua — hope in the votes of American Idol fans last spring, in giving AI’s title to talent first (though that talent certainly drove David Cook’s popularity).

If again, here, talent prevails, I have to believe that means Joshua. Or Twitch could win in a mix of pure-talent deciders and I-just-love-tha-guy voters. But whether Joshua or Twitch or Katee wins, they’re all  superb, on-their-way, worthy dancers, and you won’t hear me howl.

Besides, I’m just grateful — grateful to So You Think You Can Dance. Fox’s summer-only little talent show has shown me more vitality, enthusiasm, professionalism, hard work, heart, humor and togetherness by performers than on any reality-TV competition I’ve ever seen.

And — oh yeah — apart from Mary’s shriekschtick, it’s got a nice personality.

Was Cat Deeley’s ‘Dance’ stunt the real grill?

July 31, 2008

Sometimes I feel lonely. I feel I’m the only observor of show biz who really gets it and doesn’t buy the bull — who questions with eyes open, instead of slurping up each hype-heavy morsel with a goofy gulp. And such a time is now — now that bloggers have reacted to the stunt last night by So You Think You Can Dance hostess Cat Deeley.

Now, I love this show, and I love Cat as a hostess. She’s lively and fun and has a great British accent, by way of Birmingham (also home of Duran Duran). Like a den mother or doting big sister for the dancers in the cast, she’s always seemed a game gamine, ever ready to laugh and frolic while still keeping a smooth show-must-go-on professionalism, even with her fashion-victim frocks and absurdly overdone saloon-girl hair.

Well, on last night’s show, Cat was game, all right — more game than ever.

After Twitch performed his solo with a crunktastic fake gold “grill” popped into his mouth, Cat put her arm around him as he basked in applause and playfully donned his prop glasses. Then judge Nigel Lythgoe half-seriously nudged Cat to keep going by also wearing his “grill,” which was still in Twitch’s mouth.

Amazingly, Cat obliged, telling Twitch to fork it over and then, as the audience howled in disbelief, placing his spit-covered prop in her own mouth, where she wore it with the aplomb of a 17-year-old who’d been down with grills for most of his teen life. No biggie, just chillin’ and grillin’.

The crowd, of course, went wild — at least, they went wild over Cat’s pose with an absurd metal mouth. And now bloggers crow and go wild about what an audacious stunt it was, giving Cat major props for her zany (if icky) boldness.

But these bloggers fail to notice or mention a simple fact: Between the time Twitch took the grill from his mouth and Cat popped it in, the show’s editor cut to a different camera, and then back again. This is a misdirection trick as old as time when it comes to magic acts, and it clearly gave Cat a chance to don a different grill.

Keep in mind Dance’s Wednesday performance show is taped, not live, which allows all sorts of magic to occur of which you’re unaware. Like, how do the editors know to cue up the precise seconds of dance to which judges refer in their comments, only moments after the dance was performed? Because the show is on tape and they have time to do so, that’s how.

Similarly, a taped show would allow Cat to plan the stunt all along, have an alternate”grill” in her possession, and then, by the camera cutting, and perhaps by shaving off a few seconds, have a chance to slip that into her mouth while she or Twitch hid his grill, thus sparing herself the spit.

Now, I don’t know for a fact that this happened, but I know that’s how it easily could have happened, and I know that’s how I’d have handled it — no insult to Twitch, just basic sanitation concerns, ya know. Yet no one seems to have noticed the camera cut and the way out that it gave Cat. No one except me.

Hello? Is anyone watching with their brain switched on? Come on — it was just too fishy to swallow. I mean, why cut away from a “money” shot in progress? So show me a shot of Cat taking the grill straight from Twitch’s mouth and popping it in and I’ll believe you. Until then, this largely no-bull show may have fooled everyone else, but it hasn’t fooled me — lonely as that makes me feel.

‘Bleeding Love’ + ‘So You Think You Can Dance’ = Art

June 26, 2008

Entertainment is known for many things, from posturing wannabes to hyped product, from the overcooked to the overrated. But that doesn’t mean maybe, just maybe, if we’re attentive, savvy and fully appreciative, we can’t come across the occasional gem which isn’t just entertainment, but is art.

Such was the case last night on Fox’s So You Think You Can Dance, a show which stretches the limits of what constitutes dancing artistry far more than the higher-rated and more celeb-slavish Dancing With the Stars, apart from the latter’s free-style nights. In this case, it was So You Think’s best dance of the season, and perhaps its best dance ever. And it was hip hop.

Now, I’m no hip hop fan. I’m a rocker. That’s it. I believe in rock. I trust rock. I know what rock can do at its finest, and I know there’s damn near half a century of incredible nuggets in rock’s goldmine. But this dance by Chelsie and Mark — this “lyrical” hip-hop interpretation of a moving song (Leona Lewis’ Bleeding Love) and a stirring theme (choreographers Napoleon and Tabitha’s tale of a desperately in love woman being spurned by her work-obsessed man) — was one of the finest moments of pure dance, pure artistry and pure heart I’ve seen in many a moon.

Everything about it was right, and best of all, it had an emotional depth that’s always lacking — always — in the kind of fluff that passes most often as mass-market entertainment, and which we slurp up either because we buy it, which we shouldn’t, or because there are so few worthy alternatives.

If you missed it, thankfully, you can still check it out.  No need for me to say any more and risk sounding hype-driven myself. Just consider this your good tip for the day — and enjoy.