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Here are the weekly Recaps from the Top Twenty Dancers to the Final Four:
Howdy, Dance Fans:
The influence of the SYTYCD Judges looms large in Week Four. Could Nigel Lithgoe be more obvious in the way he is trying to sway the minds of the viewing audience? Nigel suggested that people throughout America will be "picking up a telephone" to vote for Will Wingfield the Magnificent and his pathetic partner—never-good-enough Jessica King. Gee . . . thanks for the reminder, Nigel—as I cannot think for myself.
BUT will America be manipulated by Nigel's Vulcan Mind Meld? Here are the Top 14 Dance Intros, as well as the Less to Best Rankings for Week Four:
Dr Matt's Red-Hot Review of SYTYCD July 2, 2008—Seven Couple Recap
Cat came out tonight looking like Betty Boop—always making a new fashion statement. Is Cat cool . . . or what? Yeah, she's Cat-egorically, Cat-eclysmically Cool-icious. But I can't say the same for Cecily and Olisa's Hip Hop Choreography—gag me with a spoon!
** Note the YouTube Views in Parentheses (000) as of July 8, 2008
Dr Matt's Apology: Sorry about all the DEAD hyperlinks; Dick Clark Productions decided to exercise their copyrite privilege, and thus, crush our fun!
14 - Kourtni Lind and Matt — Hip Hop (15600)
Kourtni has been a big let-down for me this season. I loved her audition in Milwaukee but she hasn’t lived up to expectations. Most observers think that Matt has performed slightly better than Kourtni, over all. For a tall guy, he dances pretty light, but Kourtni often moves quite "heavy" lately.
They danced some steps out of sync, and failed to find interactive couple chemistry—which has been their strength previously. Their execution of the steps was "soft," but that could have been a function of what the Choreographers gave them.
Dr Matt's Fantastic Dancing Insight: Remember, great choreographers don't just dump their style and steps on dancers; instead, they are sensitive to what the dancers can do and what ultimately looks good on particular performers.
Luck of the draw: If Matt and Kourtni had Napoleon and Tabitha working with them this week, they would have undoubtedly done better. But even when M & K do better, it seems there is not enough popular support for this couple.
It was interesting to hear Nigel criticize the choreography a bit, saying that he doesn't prefer it. You won't see this "dissing" aimed at the more senior choreographers, where it's always a praise-fest even when the choreo stinks—which it inevitably does here and there. You can't hit home runs every time you come to the plate, and such is life.
It will be interesting to see if Cicily and Olisa will be hired in future seasons. If it were me, I'd "can" these two Hip Hop sisters, sticking with Napolean & Tabitha, Shane Sparks, and Dan Karity for future Hip Hopping. And while I'm "canning," I'd also like to dump the Krump choreographers! Remember, . . . "Krump" is a word which represents "the act of clearly one's throut." I just made that up myself—but it could catch on. Ya, it could happen.
13 - Twitch and Kherington — Paso Doble (50200)
I've been waiting for the producers to quit tossing Twitch so many easy pitches. I suggested last week that Twitch would NOT do very well with a Cha Cha, Samba, or Quickstep—but I forgot to mention the Paso Doble. Yes, this is a dance that would totally KICK HIS BUTT—and it did.
Judge Tabitha saw it the way I saw it, calling Kherington the Matidor and Twitch "the calf"—he didn't match her technique or intensity. That how OFF this dance was: the Paso Doble is a dance between a matador and "his" cape—not a matador and "her" calf. But Kherington was the better matador, and out-intensified Twitch.
The cape work was "so so" according Mary Murphy—and she should know. In Season Two, Mary choreographed a Paso Doble for Travis Wall and Heidi Groskreutz. Comparing the two numbers, we can clearly see that Twitchington didn't deliver on this dance.
And once T & K ditched their twirling capes, the perfromance didn't get any better. Mary Murphy pointed out that the technique on the "Chasse Cape" and "Grand Circle" was suspect, and called the performance "just O.K."
But I'll be more direct: Twitch and Kherington were a hot mess doing this dance; and specifically, they really "stunk up" the Chasse Cape. Take a look at Karina Smirnoff & Slavik Kryklyvyy demonstrating the how it's done. Twitch didn't every come close; and if he "thought he could dance," he would have at least come close.
Nigel commented that the piece was "entertaining"—which is secret code for: "the dancing was bad, but a ballroom-dance- illiterate audience will NOT notice." I expect that Twitchington will continue to be popular, but this week, they are in my bottom three.
12 - Twitch and Kherington — Contemporary (225400)
Some people will like this one, and some will hate it! I liked the concept, and it could have been danced so much better by other couples in the competition (namely, Matt & Kourtni; Chelsie & Mark; Joshua & Katee).
A lot of Twitch fans are loving this number just because Twitch is prancing around with his shirt off. Give him credit, going shirt-less IS one thing Twich does well. BUT, the name of the show: "So You Think You Can DANCE," . . . NOT, "So You Think You Got Great Abs."
The only thing this piece needed to make this choreography perfectly weird, was a pillow fight. Let's get real: Jumping on a bed, and throwing rose peddle in the air? This really stretchs the definition of "dance"—ya think?
Cognitive Dissonance is at work in this routine too! Why so? Because Mia Michaels is the choreographer of this clever disaster! And as we've learned, the Jidges are NOT going to "dis" a fellow Jidge, . . . so of course Tabitha is going to say "Awesome, awesome, awesome, awesome!" To which I respond: "Average, average, average, average!"
I'm putting Matt & Kourtni's mediocre Mambo performances ahead of Twitch and Kherington's bedroom frolic precisely because Matt & Kourtni could have danced either the Paso Doble or Mia's mattress mess BETTER—Twitch's technique inadequacies were apparent even in this move-any-way-you-want bed-flopping fiasco.
11 - Kourtni Lind and Matt — Mambo (25900)
I like these two dancers a lot and wanted them to do well, but they just didn't deliver in this number. Again, I rank them ahead of Twitch and Kherington, because I'm sure that Twitch would be even more of a hot mess doing the Mambo.
They looked like two contemporary dancers dancing out of their element. The steps looked labored and didn't flow. Alex Da Silva didn't do this couple any favors by gearing down the choreography to something they could execute more easily, and therefore the dancers could polish up more effectively.
Benji and Heidi set the bar very high for what we expect from the Mambo. And speaking of Benji, the Season Two SYTYCD winner was the choreographer of this next hot mess:
10 - Katee and Joshua — West Coast Swing (47600)
Great choreography is inseparable from the synergy of great music. And Benji choose a real stinker with the song "Shake It." So that was the first strike against this number.
Even Joshua and Katee fans did not like this West Coast Swing performance. But because Joshua and Katee are near the top in SYTYCD popularity, the Judges won't be brutally honest, and tell it like it is.
Joshua's dancing was heavy and lumbering; he’s an amazing Popper-Hip-Hopper, but he’s no Benji Schwimmer. Admittedly, Benji IS Benji . . . and few can match what he does on the dance floor. I felt pretty unfulfilled watching Joshua and Katee butcher this West Coast Swing. And then to crown this catastrophe, Joshua’s cartwheel over Katee was a molten lava hot mess.
Again, the judges go easy on Joshua and Katee. When you know what West Coast Swing ought to look like, at a high level, you know that Joshu-atee didn't bring it. Take a look at two top notch West Coast Swing routines by Jordon Frisbee and Tatiana Mollman and Michael Kielbasa & Jennifer Deluca.
So, while the Judges were saying to Matt and Kourtni "your performance just wouldn't cut it at a Hip Hop competition," . . . they completely failed to apply the same standard to Katee and Joshua. And speaking of applying a consistent standard, the Judges pretty much throw even-handedness out the window, when it comes to judging Will the Magnificent.
9 - Jessica and Will — Jive (47800)
Will Wingfield finally showed me that he can dance outside of his element by executing the technique for International Jive, pretty well. Jessica didn't quite match Will's effort. He made it look easy, and Jessica made it look hard. Will sold the heck out of this routine, but like their disco last week, the couple execution was labored at times.
You gotta feel for Jessica as the judges rave on and on about how marvelous Will is, and how she’s holding him back. The weekly theme of "you're bringing Will down" was repeated; poor Jessica is going need therapy after this show is over. Why are the judges so obsessed with destroying her, seemingly for the sake of building Will up? Aren’t they a team? It’s not like the viewing audience can vote for only one person.
Yet, the "Will" fans are a little crazy in the head; if they would just NOT VOTE for Mr. Magnificent for one stinking week, they could put him and his "weak" partner in the bottom three—and Ba Bye Jessica. You've got to believe that the Jidges would NEVER eliminate William Wingfield.
If you want to see what the Jive is supposed to look like when it's done well, take a look at Slavik KryKlyvyy and Karina Smirnoff (of Dancing with the Stars) doing the Jive to the very same tune: Choo Choo Ch'Boogie.
8- Courtney G. and Gev — Hip Hop (23600)
Courtney G. showed more precision and pop compared to Gev. It's not that Gev's Hip Hop movements were bad, they were just smoother—a difference in style interpretation. So, as a couple they didn't always match.
Still I rate them ahead of Will & Jessica's Jive . . . applying the "let's switch places" rule: I can see Courtney and Gev completely killing the Jazz routine that Will and Jessica did. We've already seen Hip Hop performed by Jessica and Will in week two—and we've seen what Gev and Courtney did with a Contemporary routine also choreographed by Mandy Moore—thus the "switch places" comparison.
7 - Courtney G. and Gev — Broadway (37100)
I’m a little surprised that the show closed with this number. It wasn't exactly the show-stopper you expect to be placed in the "pimp" spot. Gev has been surprisingly expressive for a B-Boy; and when asked to act out a character, he's met the challenge ever time. As for Courtney, she's impressing me more every week. She's a consistent performer who always dances with great energy.
6 - Comfort and Thayne — Smooth Waltz (32600)
Comfort danced beautifully, and we don't even need to add "for a hip hop dancer." Thayne was "there" as a partner, every step of the way; he made the lifts look elegant and effortless. Good dancing by the new couple!
5 - Comfort and Thayne — Broadway (41000)
Tabitha wanted the dancers to be more light when the flute music was playing? Making that happen is the job of the choreographer, not the dancers. If the choreographer did not build those dynamics into the dance, then . . . what can the dancers do? In a similar criticism, Nigel put down the dancers for NOT starting low and then building to a crescendo.
Following the inner circle code of courtesy between choreographers and judges, Nigel couldn't be honest and put the blame where it belonged—on Andy Blankenbuehler, the Tony-winning choreographer.
Here's something Nigel got right: Mister Lithgoe declared that it's that time in the competition when we should no longer be saying: “that was good for a popper, hip-hopper." I like this standard; now we just need consistent application by the jidges—who formerly have been giving Comfort a pass because she’s dancing out of her element. Guess what? Everyone else is dancing out of their element too.
4 - Chelsie Hightower and Mark — Foxtrot (35700)
It was slightly weird to hear Paul Anka singing a Bon Jovi song—enter the twilight zone. Add to that image of weirdness, the Cookie Monster being skinned to make Chelsie's Muppet-lined Dress.
Ballroom dancer Chelsie was totally in her element dancing the Foxtrot; and Mark, as usual, managed to hold up his end of the partnership. This couple shows great couple chemistry from week to week. It is a joy to watch them. They join Joshu-atee and Twitchington as the three most popular couples in the competition.
3 - Jessica and Will — Lyrical Jazz (123200)
The lifts were awe-inducing, and weaving "the shirt" into the piece was genius. I like Mandy Moore's clever use of props—see the suspenders routine, and the boardroom table number. Both Will AND Jessica danced well on this number. I’m glad for her.
Now comes the Judging Bias: Nigel said the everyone will be "picking up a telephone" and voting for this routine/couple. Nigel continues to push forward his one-sided Will-favoritism. Yet, I'm seeing why Nigel thinks Will is fabulous, BUT each perfomance needs to stand on it's own merits, and NOT be judged on the basis of what we think of a dancer/person—apart from a performance.
Psychological Moment by Dr Matt: "Cognitive Dissonance" rears it ugly head again. Here's how it applies: Nigel openly speaks of Will's alleged magnificence . . . and when the overall "couple" performance is mediocre, Nigel rationalizes the weekly theme "Jessica is pulling Will down." But this week, Napolean was the judge to sing this stale song AGAIN.
Every other couple in the competition is judged on their in-the-moment performance, and when it is below standard, other dancers don't get to benefit from the "But Will is such a Fabulous Dancer" Exception. Again, even though Debbie Allen recused herself from judging this season, her influence continues to be felt. Cognitive Dissonance Theory suggests that DISSING WILL is equivalant to DISSING Debbie Allen--so the Don't-Dis-Will Taboo continues.
In my first view of this performance, it didn't really WOW me, and I'm wondering why Mary Murphy is putting Jessica and Will on the Hot Tamale Train? In my second view of this piece, and comparing it to other performances, I raised my appraisal.
In ranking this performance high, I am ignoring a pretty awkward moment where the shirt seemed to get stuck on Jessica's leg and Will was ungracefully tugging and dragging his partner by the "shirt"—while Jessica momentarily writhed in clumsiness. But hey, that awkward moment may have been intentional choreography to express emotional tension?
2 - Katee and Joshua — Contemporary (215500)
This couple is excellent at telling a story through dance. Katee-shua showed total emotional commitment to this number—Mia Michaels requires it. I loved the gliding runs across the stage. Just beautiful.
1 - Chelsie Hightower and Mark — Jazz (122100)
Chelsie & Mark have great couple chemistry, and they never fail to deliver from week to week. Mark makes the lifts look effortless. Solid couple. I can see Mark-elsie making it to the final four; especially as America votes on "dancing excellent" more and more every week, as opposed to voting for the girl with the winning smile and the guy with the six-pack abs—I won't mention any names, but I'll whisper their initials: . . . TWITCHINGTON.
* * * * * * *
Averaging up each couple's two perfomances, here's the overall rank order for the couples in week four:
7 - Kourtni Lind and Matt ( 14 + 11 )
Last week Matt and Kourtni danced fabulously and still landed in the bottom three—so this week, it's an easy call: Based upon two weak performances in Hip Hop and Mambo, Matt and Kourtni deserve to be in the bottom three. And this is the couple I predict will be eliminated.
Twitch and Kherington absolutely deserve to be in the Bottom Three, but the "popular" vote will likely keep them safe? Twitchington have ranked high in the SYTYCD AOL Poll in the first four weeks of competition. In contrast, on the basis of two consistent and competent dancing performances, Comfort and Thayne do not deserve to be in the bottom three, but probably will attain Bottom-Three-Dom.
Is anybody in Texas watching their home-girl, Comfort Fedoke? If Texas gets out the vote and/or people around American simply give the best performances a "vote," then Thayne and Comfort will escape the bottom three, and that would be Justice!
The 3rd Couple in the bottom three?
It's not that their performances were that bad, but due to the top four couples being consistently better, Will and Jessica deserve to be in the bottom three. However, a lot of people will forget the mediocre Jive routine, and remember the Jazz "Shirt" Routine, that admittedly, was very intense and interesting. If Will and Jessica get popular support, the next in line for Bottom-Three-Dom, is Courtney and Gev, who have been safe in the first three weeks.
My Dream elimination would be Twitch and Jessica, leaving Will with a very competent dancing companion in Kherington—but this just ain't gonna happen. Twitchington is too popular, and Kharington without Twitch is like Salt without Pepper.
Dr Matt's Results Show Recap July 3, 2008:
The Results show begins with Tyce Diorio Choreography. As usual, the dancers are so wigged-up, maked-up, and costumed-up that you can't tell who is who? And for the 1st time, Will Wingfield replaces Mark Kanemura as the Evil Leader of Strange People— but Mr. Mark K. Quirky is at least the evil mysterious man who comes knocking at the door at a climactic point in the piece.
Tyce takes his turn at imitating the choreo-excellence of Wade Robson—who is the Choreo KING of jerky-quirky Evil Leaders and Strange People who are wigged-up, maked-up, and costumed-up beyond recognition.
Four weeks running, I've predicted two of the bottom three couples: Thayne & Comfort & Matt and Kourtni Lind. But I missed, yet again, the prediction about Will and Jessica. Can you tell that my mission in life is to finally see Jessica eliminated—and this agenda is completely clouding my otherwise clairvoyant judgment.
Maybe next week, my dreams will come true!
First two couples presented: #1 - Katee and Joshua, and #2 - Kherington and Twitch
And in the rich tradition of Fake Outs, Cat Deeley leads us on to believe that one of these two couples are in the bottom three. I actually got excited for a moment, thinking that the unlikely might happen: Twitchington in the bottom three, right where they ought to be after a pretty pathetic Paso Doble, and a no-dance-technique-needed Mattress Mambo.
Next out: Matt and Kourtni; Chelsie and Mark; and Gev. and Courtney G.
We're thinking that Matt and Kourtni are obviously OUT, so maybe they will FAKE us out, and announce that they are IN. Nope! Bottom Three . . . for Matt and Kourtni. Now, you may be thinking the next two couples will be safe, because neither has been in the bottom three before. NOPE . . . wrong again: Gev and Courtney land in the bottom three for the first time.
While the jeedges were deciding on who to boot this week, we got to watch the amazing Robert Muraine—the guy who "quit" so he wouldn't disadvantage any girl he was partnered up with. Rubber-man Robert Muraine knew his limitations, he knew he could NOT do the choreography; so it was hugely unfair for Nigel to label him a quitter. It's kind of like asking me . . . to do brain surgery: I can't do it, so I'm not going to do it . . . so am I . . . a "quitter"?
Finally, Thayne and Comfort, Jessica and Will waddle onto the stage. Will this be the week that Will lands in the bottom three and loses his chronically never-good-enough partner? NOPE . . . wrong again: the ever-magnificent Will and his ball-n'-chain partner are safe once again! Drats!
Next week . . . Let's lose Jessica shall we? Let's send out that emotion-filled mental image to the Universe, IF for only one reason: So we don't have to hear about Will's amazing magnificence, compared to Jessica's inept incompetence. This is the last chance to boot her butt to the curb, . . . or else America will get to see her on the SYTYCD tour! And does America want this?
Sometimes a little pain can be pleasurable, and in the same way, week after week, never-good-enough Jessica is growing on me. . . . OK, I've decided. If Jessica makes it into the top 10 Dancers, I'm going to adjust my attitude towards her, and put her on my Hot Tabasco Sauce Train: Choo Choo Ch'Boogie that!
Now if Thayne is in the bottom three, as he usually is, this means that Will just may get to switch to Comfort. BUT, Comfort will need to do a whole lot better in performing her elimination dance—it was pretty boring tonight.
Speaking of elimination solos, here they are:
I agree with Nigel, Comfort's solo was disappointing. She repeated one particular popping move over and over. Come Ladie . . . mix it up! Surprise me! Keep me guessing!
But what'cha gonna do if Comfort can't deliver? Eliminate Comfort and have little-shrimpy Thayne dance with king-size Kourtni. Nah! You can't do that. So the logical solution is . . . give the boot to both the BIG dancers—hence, king-size contemporary dancers unceremoniously kicked to the curb!
By the way, Kourtni's solo was very fine, while Matt's solo looked a lot like the previous weeks. Gev did a fantastic job and ever-energetic Courtney G. proved that she should NOT be eliminated. Even though Thayne has bottom-three'd it in 3 of the first 4 weeks, his solo looked fresh and new—and nicely choreographed to great music, "I've Want To Break Free" by Queen.
Next Week is will be the exciting Six Couple Recap & the FINAL CUT to determine the Top 10 Dancers who will definitely be a part of the SYTYCD Tour. See Ya then,
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