Summer’s Guilty Pleasure: So You Think You Can Dance – Week One Performance Show

“Week One Performance Show”

Season Four

In every television viewer’s summer, there are three things to watch: those shows that are actually good, those shows that are awful but are the only thing on at a given time, and those shows that enter into the category of “Guilty Pleasure.” For me, in this final category, that show is FOX’s So You Think You Can Dance.

The reason is really quite simple: the contestants on the show can honestly answer “Yes” to the titular question, and the result is often a compelling assortment of engaging dance routines. Unlike the painful to watch Dancing with the Stars, which derives its value from celebrities embarrassing themselves and occasionally a decent dance or two, this is a show that is about succeeding in one’s profession and not about creating a marketing machine. These people are forced to embrace multiple styles of dance in a way that American Idol singers aren’t forced to diversify, and the result is far more compelling in many ways.

So while in past summers I haven’t quite embraced these urges fully, this year I’ve decided to give in: my floormates for the summer are way into the show, and I can’t help but be sucked in by their enthusiasm. So, let’s do this, but with two ground rules.

  1. I know absolutely nothing about dancing.
  2. Presume that every paragraph begins with “SHUT UP MARY MURPHY.”

And with that in consideration, let’s do this.

Rayven & Jamie [Hip Hop]

Rayven is a ballet dancer, while Jamie is a West Coast Swing dancer with a supportive girlfriend, and are performing a hip hop routine from Napolean and Tabitha. While I have no idea if their moves were any good, they were at least convincing as hip hop dancers. There was some partial nudity, a lot of quirky humour, and ultimately some interesting little set pieces. Nigel enjoyed it but isn’t sure it’s memorable, Mary Murphy shrieks and compares it to cotton candy, and Dan thinks that there wasn’t enough funk (Modular funk).

Likely Fate: Early in the show like this, they’ll struggle to get votes especially when combined with their lack of coverage in the early parts of the competition.

Susie & Marquis [Smooth Waltz]

Susie is a high school teacher from Miami who wore that red shirt Nigel disliked, and Marquis is an 18-year old with a heartless mother who seems to be coming around. Marquis seems overwhelmed by remembering both his feet and his arms, as we are entering into the areas where only the ballroom people excel at first. All I know about a dance like this is that the extensions and the lifts appear to be the most important parts – on those fronts, the extensions seemed great and the lift was mangled at the end. Nigel confirmed it was extremely difficult to engage with the audience but that their lines were great, Mary thought it was really well handled, and Dan felt it was a bit of a disappointment but not a serious one.

Likely Fate: It’s a slower dance, which means it’s less showy in terms of personality, so they definitely have a bit of an uphill battle.

Kourtni L. & Matt [Jazz]

Kourtni is a young prodigy who graduated from high school to dance faster, and Matt is…athletic. The big problem? They’re tall, and Jazz isn’t for tall apparently when it comes to Mandi Moore’s choreography. While I don’t really think of Jazz when I hear “Tainted Love,” it seems at least to be fun and technically interesting. Nigel is right to point out that Matt needs to be a bit more relaxed (his idea of personality seemed to be “occasionally smile like a dancer smiles”), while she likes Kourtni’s unique face (I don’t get it either). Mary thought it was great, but Kourtni wasn’t quite hot tamale worthy. Dan thought it was a great concept, but that they kept playing it safe instead of being aggressive.

Likely Fate: Kourtni’s notoreity could help her through, but I wasn’t actually aware she was noteworthy, so let’s not bet on that.

Chelsea & Thayne [Salsa]

Two contemporary dancers who want their dream to come true come together to get their latin on. From the looks of it, and from my limited knowledge, there appears to be plenty of hip action, so they at least got that together if their booty shaking section (Which really was gratuitous, but it’s the nature of the dance) was any indication. Chelsea seemed to really enjoy herself, especially after Nigel says that she as a creature was so great she was hard to contain. He loved the hips, missed a little footwork, but felt they were both wonderful. Mary gets them tickets on the hot tamale train (Which I want to see derailed sooner rather than later), but really focused on Thayne’s partnering skills. Dan loved Chelsea, and felt Thayne was secondary but adequate – clearly, Shane is feeling harsh this evening.

Likely Fate: Between Mary’s shrill praise and the general hub-bub, chances are they’re sticking around.

Chelsie H. & Mark [Contemporary]

She’s a ballroom dancer, while Mark is the guy we know as the Bohemian Rhapsody guy from Vegas. They’re working on a contemporary routine from Emmy-Award Winning Mia Michaels, and it’s sold as “Tim Burton’s Wedding.” Mia spares no punches by noting that she expected a lot better from Mark, who is struggling in his own discipline. Michaels’ choreography is always the most emotionally interesting, and here we have a really intriguing story and Chelsie getting lost in her skirt (It was like he was twirling a giant ball of tulle (Blame Project Runway for me knowing that one). Nigel felt that both Mark and Chelsie showed new sides of themselves as brought out by Mia (Who was happy with Mark in the end), Mary loves that he’s different and that she’s an angel, and Dan enjoyed it.

Likely Fate: Mark will be in trouble outside of his discipline, but here he’s right in his element and both had considerable presence and screen time.

Kherington & Twitch [Broadway]

Twist has perhaps the biggest profile of any dancer (Almost made it last year), and Kherington is the WAY too smiley dancer, so they come together as “Twitchington” for a Tice D’Orrio (Clearly not spelled right) broadway routine. The benefit of a broadway routine is clearly the amount of energy and personality that they get to show. Both get plenty of time to do really fun sequences and their shared name is perhaps indicative of their collective personality. Nigel felt that it was certainly quite hot, Mary thought it was really hot for both of them, and Dan felt that Twitch was untraditional but certainly engaging.

Likely Fate: They’re staying.

Comfort and Chris [Jive]

It’s our oddest pairing of the week, the female hip hopper with the male contemporary dancer. Comfort talking about how she isn’t into all of this “lookin’ sexually” was extremely humorous, so she needs to get into a kick ass jive this time around. Comfort is more than willing to embrace a different side of herself, which is good because they’re both a bit in new territory here. Comfort has certainly been practicing, because she’s certainly better than anyone who auditioned as such a pure hip hop dancer should be. Chris seems a bit wooden (Not to fall into the tree comment) by comparison, really, and the routine never quite comes together. Nigel thought Chris was fine while Comfort needed to bounce on her knees more, we find out she popped out her shoulder, Mary thinks that it was kickin’, and Dan realizes they are talking to much and keeps it short.

Likely Fate: They’ll stay based on Comfort’s personality alone.

Katee & Joshua [Hip Hop]

She’s the one who nearly lost her spot by mouthing around in the final selection, and he’s a popper with ballet training. Napoleaon and Tabitha are choreographing them as he’s going off to war, and it certainly helps create an emotional connection. Both seem to be really capturing said emotion, and with Katee’s emoting and Joshua’s skills they’re well within a comfort zone here. There was also the nice jacket gimmick, and Nigel agrees: it was really, really good. Nigel thinks it was his favourite routine, Mary didn’t expect this but seems too emotional about the war storyline to be insane, and Dan felt they killed the unison sections and that Katee held her own.

Likely Fate: It seems to be the night’s showcase, so they’re sticking around.

Jessica & Will [Tango]

Jessica misspelled Vegas in the earlier auditions, while Will is a hip hop dancer who is all about undulating and means that Debbie Allen can’t be a judge until he gets voted out. They have to jump right into the sensual side of things, mainly because she thinks he’s hot, so she has no problem playing second fiddle to his masculine control. This is one of those dances where I have no idea if it’s good or bad, but for the most part they each seem to hold their own in the style (Which means that to this point no one has failed utterly). Nigel felt they looked professional and coped well with difficult choreography (Although Jessica had some wobbles), Mary screams for no discernable reason about how it was strong and passionate, while Dan thinks they played their parts very well.

Likely Fate: Late in the show and the Debbie Allen factor was enough – dancing decently is icing on the cake.

Courtney & Gev [Disco]

Dorriana Sanchez has a difficult routine for this Knicks dancer and a B-Boy from Kazakhstan, as they’re discovering how crazy it is and they seem to have some great chemistry where it matters. Boogie Wonderland is an energetic song, so of course this routine brings a certain energy. They also get some showy lifts and a veritable light show, and other than a slight hiccup on the final move they seemed to pull it off. Nigel, however, disagrees and didn’t quite love it: he felt it didn’t have the “get down and boogie feel.” Mary felt that they brought it on, and Dan enjoyed it – wasn’t the best, but felt it was good and was a performance.

Likely Fate: Enough personality to survive a bit of a rough critique, especially late in the show.

Who’s In Trouble:

Rayven and Jamie, Susie and Marquis, Kourtni and Matt

Best of the Night:

Katee and Joshua, Mark and Chelsie

Losers:

People like me who have to keep all of these ridiculous names straight. Honestly, people, traditional spellings aren’t so bad.

[Okay, so let’s have it: who else is watching, and got any thoughts about the first performance episode? Overall, I’d say it’s quite impressive that no one outright sucked, so there’s plenty of promise for the future. If you have anything to say about it, leave it below!]

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