Wednesday, July 6, 2011

{alltv} 'So You Think You Can Dance' Top 14: Our summer at Swag Camp


They grow up so fast. At only 23 years old, Travis Wall has been on our radar since he placed second in Season 2 of "So You Think You Can Dance." His work as a choreographer has since become a highlight of the series.

Well, now he's even sitting in as a guest judge -- and an eloquent one at that. He joined Mary Murphy, Nigel Lythgoe and fellow guest Carmen Electra on the Top 14 panel, where he gave some of the best commentary of the night.

... by "best," we mean "most closely in line with our own." We're speaking of his admitted favoritism for Melanie and Marko, who gave another great performance this week.

And how about that Carmen Electra? Despite a questionable dance resume of being a Pussycat Doll and "Little Miss Dance Ohio" (or something to that effect), she was pretty charming herself. This show really does bring out the best in people.

Unfortunately, that wasn't totally true for all of the dancers tonight. Book-ended by two incredible group numbers and two memorable duos, performances in the middle of the episode really seemed to get stuck in the mud.

And here's where we explain whose feet got the dirtiest.

Melanie and Marko
A less tragic take on "Romeo and Juliet," their jazz routine about star-crossed lovers saying "shut up, stars" played out like a disco-fied Paso Doble... with Marko as the bull and Melanie as the matador. It's not just our favoritism and the evident aid of a Lady Gaga soundtrack at work when we say this, but this number killed it. And the judges were in resounding agreement.

Alexander and Sasha
Hip hop requires a certain amount of "swag" -- something Alexander doesn't exactly have in spades. And though his partner and choreographer tried to give him a crash course in being smooth with a "Swag Camp," it was all in vain. Alexander had no swag, the two had little chemistry and the judges called them out for all of it. Oh, and if you want to give a guy swag, you don't outfit him in one of Bea Arthur's old jackets from "The Golden Girls" closet. (White leather with shoulder pads and three-quarter-length sleeves? Really?)

Tadd and Jordan
These two really did excel at their smooth waltz -- and the judges approved -- but juxtaposed to the more buoyant and modern styles of their competitors, it seems unlikely that it will garner the most votes. That's the bullet you sometimes have to take with the blind choreography, though. And hopefully it won't cost them during tomorrow's elimination.

Jess and Clarice
Upon second viewing -- yes, that's what's happening right now -- this contemporary routine actually holds up as one of the best of the night. There's a story, but it doesn't get in the way of the dance. And Jess really surprised us with the sharp hip-hop moves.

Chris and Ashley
Chemistry issues strike again. And though the frenetic pace of their salsa seemed impressive on television, the judges pointed out that they lacked the energy of the night's other pairs. Travis got booed for his criticism and even Carmen had a hard time being diplomatic. These two are guaranteed for the chopping block tomorrow.

Ryan and Ricky
Conceptually, this is the bread and butter of "SYTYCD." Familiar tune? Check (David Bowie's "Fashion"). Bizarre premise? Check, check (ghost members of a fashion cult). Zombie hands? Check, check, check! This one was in the running for the best of the night, but it was followed by...

Catlynn and Mitchell
Heavily aided by choreography all-star Mandy Moore, this contemporary number really made up for a lot of lackluster predecessors. It was ethereal and swoony and all those things you love to see. It even prompted Carmen to wax poetic, quoting Agnes De Mille. "To dance is to be out of yourself. Larger, more beautiful, more powerful."

Hmmm... we wonder if she calls upon that one during "stripaerobics."

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