'Live to Dance' recap: First group of semifinalists perform

Janell is back to get down with the get down on tonight's Live to Dance:

Are you or have you been snowed in? Perhaps some heartwarming dance will warm your cockles tonight. Guess what? The show is live! Presumably on the East Coast, not where I am. I hope nothing scandalous has been edited out for the West Coast feed.

Tonight, six acts will perform, and two will make it to the finals. Much like the dance off, or, actually, exactly like the dance off, the judges will choose one act and the People of America will choose the other. Do the judges not trust the People of America to vote correctly? Like last week, they didn’t trust that we would fall for the cuteness and charm of Kendall, so they kept her for us. Hmm.

Our host, Andrew Gunsberg (with the two dots over the U that I don’t know how to make) is all giddy. I think we’re still in the Dance Dome, because the audience isn’t huge. But there’s no ramp up to the stage, and Andrew doesn’t say “Welcome to the Dance Dome, People of America,” so maybe they’re trying to fool us without lying to us. They’d better not lie to the People of America, because we have 50% of the power. By the way, Commenter Toeknee said last week that Andrew was the host of Australian Idol. Thanks, Toeknee, now we can place that accent. I guess he’s not a complete beginner.

Andrew introduces the judges, and he calls Paula the “global superstar who lives to dance.” I wonder if his intro will change every week. The judges come out holding hands, walking slowly so Paula doesn’t fall over on her giant red platform shoes. Hi Travis, cast member of Newsies! The crowd chants Paula’s name. Andrew asks Paula how it feels to be back on live TV. She is thrilled to be on a “platform that celebrates the intrinsic value of entertainers. It feels like floating down a cotton candy river and arriving at the sands of a brown maple syrup beach. ... Is that the crazy and wacky thing you all tuned in for? I got you!!!” Oh, Paula, did you just serve the People of America? Then she wishes Andrew luck on his green card situation. I hope she was joking. I am not yet emotionally invested in Andrew, but I reserve the right to care about him in the future.

We start with the results from last week’s dance off. Remember that? In an “epic return to the Dome,” 4 acts competed, and a little girl was put through by the judges. The other 3 acts are now on stage. Andrew performs his first dramatic pause very dramatically, and reveals that White Tree Fine Art (the ballet couple) has been voted into the semifinals. Kimberly congratulates the People of America for siding with her. Farewell, Newsies dancers! I was hoping to see a re-creation of other older dance movies, like maybe “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun,” but I guess it’s not to be.

Now to tonight’s performers. Apparently Paula sat in on everyone’s rehearsals and tried to rechoreograph them. The Vibe starts out, they’re the largest act at 38 people. They get injured a lot during rehearsal. It’s a mix of girls and guys of various ages, one girl holds a conductor’s baton and the other 37 dance around and do tricks and such. They do a good job, although there are so many people it was hard to focus on one awesome thing. Anyhow, Paula gives them a standing ovation for opening the show. She’s glad they listened to her directions, and she gives them a gold star. Wait -- the stars are still here? I guess that’s a helpful shorthand reminder. So, Travis says it was awesome, gold star. Kimberly says it was the whole package, gold star. The group squeals a lot and jumps around.

Next is the fastest feet in Detroit, Jittin’ Genius. I don’t remember him from auditions. He’s a solo act, I don’t know how old he is but he’s old enough to have kids, which makes him older than half the contestants tonight. His style is the Detroit Jitty, kind of a hip-hop jitterbug. The dance is cool, he does have fast feet. Although they’re not super-fast blurry feet, so, I don’t know, that “fastest feet” claim is dubious. Experts, what do you think? Travis apologizes for “slapping” on him at first, because now he’s a fan. Gold star. Kimberly says the footwork was on fire, gold star. Paula calls him one charming man, and she is glad he took her direction. Gold star.

Andrew recaps for us: the first 2 acts each have 3 gold stars. That’s 6 gold stars that have been awarded tonight. Zero red stars thus far. I’ll take this recap-in-the-recap moment to point out that Paula is especially happy when groups take her direction. Because the show is all about Paula.

Back to dancing! Remember Chi-Town Finest Breakers? The group that couldn’t afford an apostrophe and another s? B-Girl Precious Moments and her B-sister and B-brothers? They would like the whole world to break dance with them. That’s a noble goal. An old-school boom box is projected onto the back wall. (All of the acts have random annoying projections that I find distracting. And they all perform to a medley of 2 or 3 songs, because they can’t let just one song tell a story.) Someone does a long headspin and then throws confetti. Precious Moments comes out smiling and waving, but she does not spin on her head. They are very happy. The end. Kimberly adores them and thinks they have potential. She says they have a ways to go, and she gives them a red star. Red star alert! Paula loved their happiness and says they were good students. Gold star. Travis says they’ve improved, but they’re not the best dance act in America. Red star!

Now we’ve had 3 acts, 8 gold stars, and 2 red stars. And suddenly the judges are changing the standard from “favorite” dance act to “best” dance act, which is really going to cut out all the sentimental cutesy acts they’ve already put through. It’s like the contest is rigged, now, and the adorable-moppet contingent is there just to be cannon fodder so the experienced acts can progress. Not that that’s a bad thing. But last week there were a lot of “good for you” gold stars being thrown around, and now the judges are turning around and saying “you need another decade.” Why couldn’t they have said that last week and put some more awesome acts into the semis? Red star for you, show.

Speaking of moppets, here’s Austen Acevedo. I didn’t catch his age, probably around 9. He’s been dancing less than 2 years. He has a cemetery gate prop, a fauxhawk, and a lightening bolt drawn on his cheek. He does some zombie contemporary and has great leg extensions and spins. Then the song changes, of course, he takes off his zombie shirt and tries to do some funky moves. And there’s like 2 more songs in there, because he’s got to throw in every style he knows. Why didn’t Paula tell him to edit? Maybe because he’s 9. Judges. Paula wants him to have self discovery. He’s really talented, but he got “disconnected,“ so he gives him a red star. Oh, cruel. Travis says he had similar issues at that age, he needs to harness and control his ability. Red star. Kimberly says his contemporary is strong but his street dancing needs work. Red star. See? Why did they put him on only to say, “you know, you really need to work on a few things.”

On the opposite-of-moppet scale, here’s Bev and Hap. Remember them, the old couple? They’re not really a couple, he’s married to someone else and she’s single (if you’re interested). We get a video of her doing dishes with her leg on the counter. They tap dance to Boom Boom Pow. They tap better than I could, I’m impressed. But they also do lots of goofy pseudo-street moves, too, to fit in with the youngsters. They should stick with the tapping. Travis says they’re an inspiration to millions, but he can’t call them the best. Red star. Kimberly has love and respect for them, but they’re not America’s best. Red star. Paula says they awaken the spirit in everyone, gold star. Hmm, when the judges were selecting the semi-finalists, did they look at Bev and Hap and think they would rehearse a lot and become the best in America? Or did they think the People of America would vote for them? I don’t get it.

Finally, more moppets. D’Angelo and Amanda, the 10- and 11-year-old Latin dancers. They’ve been dancing together for 4 years, and they are cute together, Paula says they’re like an old married couple. D’Angelo explains that he’s the boss on the dance floor, but off the floor she’s totally the boss. They are good dancers. They could be the best 10- and 11-year old dancers, even. But, you know (see above rants). Paula says they’re phenomenal, brilliant, gold star. Travis says they’re exquisite, gold star. Kimberly says their technique and ability is out of this world, gold star. Amanda holds her pose very well while they listen to comments, she’s a professional.

Andrew tells the experts it’s time to choose an act, and he stumbles on his words a bit as he awkwardly fits in a shoutout to the sponsor. After the commercial break, Paula tells us that (of the 3 acts that got 3 gold stars) they’re putting through The Vibe. Good for them. The People of America now have to vote among the other acts. Hopefully it will be Jittin’ Genius, because he’s worked at it and he’s actually good. Not to slam D’Angelo and Amanda, but I’m biased toward older dancers. We’ll have two more weeks of semi-finals, and then the finals.

Next week we’ll have some good acts. Including Twitch (starring Anthony!)! I hope they’re as good as I want them to be (meaning: I hope Anthony! is awesome). We’ll also have adorable moppet Jalen, Dax & Sarah, Du-Shaunt, Dance in Flight, and White Tree Fine Art.

So, People of America, what did you think? Who would you (or did you) vote for? What do you think about moppets? Is this a show for the favorite act or for the best? Did I get too crotchety? Was Paula’s joke funny? Are they, in fact, in the Dance Dome? Is Andrew’s hair too derivative of Ryan Seacrest’s? I need answers!

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