If you've followed my blog for ten months or so, you will know that my favorite blog topic in the summer is So You Think You Can Dance (henceforth referred to as SYTYCD). With the first elimination out of the way, I figured it was time you all heard from the opinionated World of Wendell. Since I'm writing this a long time after the fact, this post won't be as specific as what you'll come to expect from me...
I love the Top 20 show each season. That is when I just sit back, emotionally detached from the unknown dancers, and wait for someone to stand out. The first episode is usually when I pick a few favorites that I'll stand by throughout the season until I decide my liking of them was premature. I had heard a lot of talk (mainly from the judges during Vegas week) about how this season had the best Top 20 dancers of any previous season. Needless to say, I was expecting a lot.
I won't go so far as to say that I was disappointed, because I wasn't. But for the first several numbers my thoughts were "This is good choreography. Those are good dancers." But nothing more involved than that. Good dancing isn't enough for me. I mean sure--it's enjoyable, but I need a dancer to really touch me before I'll claim them as a favorite.
The first dance was a Tabitha and Napoleon hip hop performed by Jeanine and Phillip. I love, love, LOVE everything that Tabitha and Napoleon come up with, and the same holds true for this routine. But the dancers were nothing special. I'll go so far as to say that I don't think Phillip should be in the Top 20.
Next up, Asuka and Vitolio performed a Tyce Diorio Broadway routine. I usually really enjoy Tyce's work, but I was bored by this number. It was done fine for what it was, but I didn't find it overly creative or original.
Karla and Jonathan followed with a Cha Cha by Tony Meredith. Bored again.
I was looking forward to Randi and Evan, because Adiel had dubbed them a favorite. They didn't dissapoint with their jazz, choreographed by Tyce. I really loved the routine but still felt no overwhelming connection to the dancers. (Am I sounding repetitive yet?)
Paris and Tony followed with another Tabatha and Napolean number that I also didn't enjoy. Let me pause here and clarify something. I know I'm sounding overly harsh. I really was impressed by both the dancing and the choreography on Wednesday night. I just wanted so badly for something to grab me as memorable and defining, and I wasn't finding that with the first five couples.
However, everything changed with Caitlin and Jason dancing their Bollywood routine by Nakul Dev Mahajan. I have high expectations of Bollywood because of Katie and Joshua's fabulous debut of the style last season, and I wasn't disappointed. Right toward the beginning of the routine, Caitlin went into a handstand with bent legs and flexed feet, then straightened her knees and pointed her toes. Those 3 movements sent chills down my body. (By the way, that's how I identify a routine I connect with...those chills tell me everything I need to know.) I was thoroughly engaged in that routine. I have liked Caitlin since auditions, and I'll now claim her as a favorite.
Janette and Brandon's Fox Trot by Louis van Amstel was good. I love Brandon and think I'll enjoy anything he does this season.
I was so happy to see Wade Robson back with a routine for Ashley and Kupono! Sometimes Wade gets a little weird, but I thoroughly enjoyed this jazz number. I think, too, that the concept really struck me. The idea of living your life as though you've never been hurt is one I should adopt :) I thought this partnership really worked and I'll be interested to see how much I like them when they don't have choreography put on them that I already so fully enjoy.
Mandy Moore's contemporary routine was exactly what I had waited all night for. Melissa and Ade were absolutely stunning. During auditions, I got bothered that Melissa was always in a tutu, because it seemed a bit overkill. But my goodness how her ballet training has paid off. I teared up watching this number and I think it might have found itself a spot on my list of all-time SYTYCD favorites.
Kayla and Max were in a tough spot, following Melissa and Ade, but they held their own just fine. I'm not usually a fan of any of the ballroom numbers, but I was so impressed with this Samba by Louis van Amstel. All in all, the last four couples stole the show for me.
So I had no problem watching Paris and Tony go home on Thursday night. More to come next week...