There was a very clever opening tonight “Puttin’ on a Ritz” courtesy of Napoleon and Tabitha as the dancers “arrive” and get ready for the show to start. From the car (a Bentley) through the halls of the studio and to the stage Nigel Lithgoe, Mary Murphy, Christopher Scott and even Travis Wall played a part in the theatrical, hip hop spectacle. It was definitely worth the watch!
In addition to Mary Murphy and Nigel Lithgoe, celebrity Wayne Brady took a seat at the judges’ table. The gimmick of the evening was that each dancer was given 10 seconds for a very frantic autobiography.
First performers of the evening were the pair of Mariah and Carlos in a super-speedy Jason Gilkison jive to “Get it Right” by Fantasia. Initially, some of the transitions were a little rough. Mariah seemed rather stiff physically although her expressions were well projected and appropriate. Carlos had great range and flair but might have needed to reel it in a little bit with some muscle control. Mary found the performance a “little bit labored.” Wayne liked the performance from an entertainment standpoint but agreed it was “a little frantic.” Nigel compared Mariah to Debbie Harry from Blondie but said the performance was “hectic” and “lacking in style.”
Jasmine M. was partnered by Alan in a Travis Wall contemporary piece. The theme being “Love is Blind,” the dancers were blindfolded which dancing to “Can’t Help Falling in Love (Fools Rush In)” by Ingrid Michelson. The red blindfolds with an otherwise gray pallet was a nice touch. There was obviously a lot of trust involved and one would never have guessed that this was the first time Jasmine M. and Alan had danced together. This early in the competition the skill level was good without the blindfolds seeming to hinder them at all. Wayne said the dance was “just beautiful” and that he felt they were “in such control.” Nigel found the choreography and the performance very good. Mary praised Jasmine and Alan’s chemistry and connection.
Travis Wall created a 1920’s themed jazz duet for Malece and Jade featuring two movie stars reading reviews of their latest movie. The soundtrack was “Silver Screen” by Felix the Housecat. There were flashes of real emotion from Malece showing that she internalized last week’s critique. Jade proved himself a strong partner who attacked the movement with panache. A funny little moment at the end has Malece forcing Jade to eat the newspaper where they had read the reviews. Nigel found Malece “striking” and Jade “strong” praising him for being a very present partner. Wayne told Jade he was performing “So You Think You Can Pimp” and encouraged Jade to step up his attention to technique. Mary said Malece had gotten in touch with her “internal diva.”
Dancers Jenna and Tucker were treated to a Tyce DiOrio Broadway number to “That’s All” sung by Kevin Spacey. Tucker was the force to be reckoned with in this piece. His movements were fluid and in addition to being a great partner he inhabited the character. Jenna hit some beautiful positions and demonstrated a good stage presence. The piece concluded with a clever kiss in silhouette behind a hanging sheet. Mary found the performance “fun” and “flirtatious.” Wayne said Tucker reminded him of Donald O’Conner and Jenna of Cid Charisse. Nigel called them a “power couple” and “sensational.”
Sean Cheesman’s Afro-Jazz piece to “Drumming Circle” by Professor Trance and the Energizers was for Brittany and Bluprint. The choreography was earthy and grounded with great partnering and articulation of the torso. The pair danced well together but the ballroom dip at the end was a little off with the rest of the piece. Wayne said Bluprint did a great job and Brittany was “strong.” Nigel said Brittany looked very “at home in the African Jungle” and that for Bluprint it was one of the best performances by a non-trained dancer. Mary said it was “brilliant” and there was a hint of that “Hot Tamale Train.”
At this point it is worth noting the “So You Think You Can Prance” video at the Funny or Die website. Adam Shankman and Nigel Lithgoe prance like horses with Beth Behrs in white pants and pink sweaters.
Alexis and Nico tackled a “goofy” Christopher Scott Hip Hop dance to “Last Time” by Labrinth. They had a chance to showcase a few counts of their own strengths which was well done. However, the performance was just OK. The two looked like they were enjoying themselves which made it easier to watch. Nigel did not feel this choreography was for these particular dancers. Mary said they were good at staying in sync. Wayne encouraged them to learn to adapt.
Makenzi and Paul had never done a Viennese Walz but one would never have known. Jason Gilkison’s choreography to “I’m With You” by Avril Lavigne had a Roman Holiday flair. Makenzi and Paul were a great pair with excellent form and line. Movement was fluid and embodied the waltz well. Mary said the performance was “beautiful” and “romantic.” Wayne called it “wonderful” and Nigel said “well done!”
Jasmine H. and Aaron danced to “Bottom of the River” by Delta Rae in a Sonya Tayeh jazz creation. The two tallest dancers in the competition proved to be great partners with Aaron’s strong, steadiness and Jasmine’s amazing flexibility and muscle control. Wayne said Jasmine was “powerful” and “strong.” Nigel called them a “power couple” and Mary praised Jasmine’s extension.
Haley and Curtis danced Christopher Scott’s hip hop routine to “Go” by Delilah. In this scenario Haley danced as a femme fatale as they played with lights as props. The movement was highly suggestive but generally well executed. Nigel called the dance “absolutely fantastic.” Mary praised their stage presence.
Last but certainly not least Amy and Fik-Shun performed a Sonya Tayeh contemporary piece to “Elsa” by The Valerie Project. Beautiful contractions and lifts and drops gave more than one audience member goosebumps. Amy’s technique is graceful and heartfelt while Fik-Shun made a stunning transition to contemporary. There was also a memorable stark white light moment at the end. Mary’s reaction was “Holy smokes!” and she praised Amy as one of the best dancers in the competition. Wayne said Fik-shun was “absolutely amazing.” Nigel said they were “incredible” and his favorite couple of the evening.
Albuquerque viewers can catch 'So You Think You Can Dance' Tuesdays at 7 p.m. (Mountain Time) on Fox Channel 2.
What was your favorite performance of the evening?