So, here’s my first blog post about the 11th series of the US version of So You Think You Can Dance. I’m still a relative newcomer to the show, as the recent Australian series was the first one I ever watched. I’m not usually a huge fan of reality TV, but I do like dancing (watching, not doing… well, except when I’m absolutely sure no one is watching…)
So far the US version has been very interesting, but also quite different in some significant ways. I’m not going to go over what I do and don’t like about the differences in format, that’s the sort of thing that’s down to personal opinion. In terms of the dancers, I think that the American bunch are probably more technically skilled overall, but there are no individual dancers that I love as much as I loved some of the Australian contestants. That, however, could change as the series goes on. I do have to say that I really like the judges. Nigel is fair, even-handed and knows what he’s talking about. Mary’s enthusiasm is good to see, and although her voice took a while to grow on me, she clearly knows her stuff too.
Anyway, here’s a rundown of my thoughts on the Top 18 show!
The Group Performance
Dramatic staging and decent choreography created a routine that was quite interesting but not massively impressive. I loved the costume design, but the camera work was a bit too busy, there were too many quick edits, leaving the whole thing looking a little disjointed. This is a sadly common flaw in televised dance, but usually SYTYCD has done a relatively good job, so it was particularly noticeable here. The performances seemed basically fine, but not many of them had the opportunity to shine.
Overall, good, not great.
Jacque and Zack
Both of these dancers have kind of flown under the radar for me so far, although it’s been clear that they have much potential. This routine brought them both closer to the forefront of my mind. It really worked for me; I loved the way they started on the ground, it was simple in theme and choreography, but they also displayed some true musicality. Technically it probably wasn’t the most challenging routine, but that doesn’t necessarily matter. Despite Zack’s young appearance, he carried off an air of maturity here, and Jacque was just as good.
Jourdan and Marcquet
This was quite a low key routine that I nevertheless liked a lot. I loved the way their movements ebbed and flowed with the gently pulsating soundtrack, I thought they did a great job of visually representing the music. However, I believe both of them could have brought a little more presence onto the stage, and a little more poise. They both looked slightly too heavy at times, Jourdan in particular, and Marcquet maybe looked a bit too much like he was thinking about his performance rather than being in the moment.
Even so, I found a lot to like in this one.
Jessica and Stanley
Not a particularly great routine. They didn’t really manage to pull off the flying carpet theme, as it just made them look unstable, not as if they were soaring through the sky. Jessica was decent enough, but Stanley looked fairly ordinary, except with those incredible leaps. He didn’t really have the funk that the music demanded. Ultimately quite disappointing.
Emilio and Bridget
Emilio can be a bit over the top for my taste sometimes, but at his best he probably has more charisma and showmanship than anyone else in the competition, and he was near his best in this routine. However, the surprise for me was how well Bridget not only kept up with him, but outshone him in some ways. She’s another one who had flown under my radar a bit, but she pulled this off magnificently. They both had real lightness and energy, and they were a joy to watch.
I’m kind of sick of hearing that tune, but this was still a very interesting and downright cool interpretation of it. Great stuff.
Emily and Teddy
Not a bad routine by any means, but not one that I’ll remember in a week or two. The emotion was a little overdone, I thought, and there wasn’t much that was subtle or nuanced in this one. Teddy was adequate, I thought he could have shown a little more grace and a little more personality. Emily was better, she seemed to get into the role more convincingly, and clearly she has talent. Actually, the both do, but to my mind this wasn’t the best demonstration for them.
Casey and Brooklyn
Casey demonstrated some very impressive technique here, and while he could have got a little more into the groove and shown just a bit more of the cool factor, I thought he performed really well. Brooklyn was a little overshadowed, I thought: Casey was more often the centre of attention with his spectacular pirouettes. However there was nothing wrong with her dancing, and when she got the chance to take centre stage she made the most of it. Overall it was a good routine, I’m not a fan of Michael Bublè, but the dancing didn’t suffer too much.
Valerie and Ricky
An interesting one. I’m not a fan of ballroom and I’m not a fan of that song, but I still enjoyed this a lot. I don’t think either of them looked completely comfortable in this genre, but they pulled it off with style, Valerie in particular. Ricky perhaps didn’t have the stage presence to really be the leading man, but it didn’t matter too much in the end. It’s not a genre I can really comment on intelligently, so I’ll just say that it looked pretty good to me.
Serge and Carly
I found this to be pretty disappointing, if only because it’s the sort of thing I should have really liked. They’re both great dancers, and the theme was interesting, but there was a lot wrong with it too. The costumes just looked silly to me, like the sort of thing an apathetic trick-or-treater might throw on at the last second. I thought the choreography was pretty underwhelming too, and there were only a few moments that really worked. Their performances weren’t massively impressive, I thought they could both have done a bit more with it, but ultimately I think it was mainly the choreography that let them down.
Tanisha and Rudy
I loved the old school Broadway vibe. It sat better on Tanisha, but Rudy still threw himself into it and pulled it off nicely. Their synchronisation was a bit off, they could have danced better as a couple, but individually they were both very good. They both had high energy that lasted the duration, and although I personally don’t think either of them has the greatest charisma, they put enough of themselves into the routine to create a compelling performance.
Thoughts on the eliminations
Is there no Dance For Your Life segment in this series? I’ve only watched the Australian version so I don’t know how it’s done elsewhere, but I think it’s a huge mistake to not give the bottom six a chance to perform solo before two of them are eliminated. For me it was such a crucial part of the show, and such an important opportunity to see what the dancers were all about. It really gave them a chance to showcase their individuality in terms of both performance and choreography. It’s massively disappointing not to see it here.
Anyway… on to the actually eliminations. I have to say, after the auditions, if you’d asked me to name my favourite guy and girl, I would probably have said Stanley and Jourdan. Their first auditions, Jourdan’s in particular, were very interesting. However, both of them had been a little disappointing since then. Part of that’s down to choreography, no doubt, but I have to admit that they’d also made some mistakes. Jourdan was kind of outshone in that ballet routine in the first performance week, and Stanley didn’t prove as versatile as I’d hoped.
So, I’m not too disappointed that they were eliminated. Certainly I’m glad that Emilio and Bridget stayed; they’re possibly my favourite couple at this point. Personally I might have been happier if Emily and Teddy had gone, but in all fairness they didn’t deserve to be eliminated.
Well, there you have it, my first blog post on the US version of SYTYCD. Hope you enjoyed reading, folks!