By Diane Trap
7:38 AM EDT, July 19, 2012
The first eliminations: 20 dancers enter, 16 leave -- or four dancers leave, however you'd like to put it.
The six dancers with the least support from the voting audience, will be at risk tonight. The judges will save one boy and one girl from the long sad walk home.
Cat Deeley welcomes us and leaves us to the tender mercies of Cyrus in creepy half-skull makeup demanding to be shown beauty in a wicked way. All 20 dancers are on the floor; the girls are in flowy bits of red or black and the boys appear to be wearing black sequins and half a jacket. I
'm calling the dance a steampunk-inspired worship of Zuul. Graveyard setting is implied.
The dancers, suddenly in their performance costumes, rush onto the stage when Cat calls their names and give us a step and a posture. Here are the girls and "your guys" according to Cat; don't we get the girls as well?
Cat comes out with a shimmy and thanks Napoleon and Tabitha for the routine. We'll find out who's in danger at the end of the night, after every one performs.
Love for the judges! Mr. Nigel Lythgoe, the magnificent Mary Murphy, and Mr. Step Up Himself, Mr. Adam Shankman, who says Cat looks like a big sexy tomato in her red halter and skirt and instead of whacking him with her microphone Cat invites him to take a bite.
More about Dance Day: the USPS is offering choreographer stamps, and Nigel will be dedicating the stamps in Grant Park. Cat tells us to put the date in our diaries: July 28. As part of the night's festivities we'll be getting a sneak peek of Shankman's latest film,"Step Up Revolution," which opens Friday and features former dancers.
Lindsey and Cole are up first: Cole is a nerdy kid in need of a checkup and Lindsey is not your average dentist. In rehersal Cole is wearing a t-shirt that says "I do all of my own nude scenes" and there would be nothing wrong with that. Christopher Scott promises this will be the trip to the dentist everyone wants ... or is it?
In performance Cole is dressed as Urkel. They're dancing to "Teeth" by Lady Gaga (I was hoping for something from "Little Shop of Horrors"). Lindsey tears off an abbreviated lab coat and shows us more than her teeth. Possibly under the influence of gas, Cole does a flip off a dentist chair.
Nigel says good characterization from Cole but thinks he plays a character in real life too. Cole says thank you sir in a nerdy chipmunk voice. Judges laugh. Nigel posits Lindsey would be a solution to British dental problems, but thought her performance was a bit immature, played to the audience not her partner.
Mary Murphy gives the choreographer a shoutout and a good-girl pass to Lindsey for being insufficiently vampy. Cole stays nerdy which Mary says is unnerving. Adam Shankman agrees and blames Cole's chest-high pants.
Amelia and Will are next. Sonya says they're two souls carrying the weight of the world on their shoulders: they'll be dancing to "3326" by Olafur Arnalds. Slow motion and angst seems a stretch for these two sunny personalities, but they bring the ballet, beautiful extensions and lovely lifts. From their costumes one might assume they're dancing a dream sequence in the "Adventures of Huck Finn."
Sonya gives them Two Raised Fists of Triumph and Mary screams. They were just in it, Mary says, and have taken another floor up in the elevator. Shankman tells Sonya that was sickness but appears to mean it in a good way. He tells Will he stepped it up and admits that was a movie plug. Nigel gives Sonya more praise and notes Amelia buried her quirkiness for the routine.
Amber and Nick get the season’s first tango -- one body four legs. They're dancing to a very violin-y instrumental version of the tango from "Moulin Rouge." Why does my heart cry? Because this dance is lovely.
I get the feeling Amber is selling it more than Nick but that may because she's wearing the sequins. Shankman says Amber became a firebreathing dragon and compliments Nick on his skills as a partner even if they made him disappear. Nigel says Amber was absolutely perfect and Nick was strong. Mary says they made it look easy and praises Nick's reverse pivots with Amber on his hip.
Audrey and Matthew will be portraying the robotic power struggle between a man and a woman. Their costumers forgot to give them shirts. Music is "Hear Me Now" by Steed Lord. This means war, Cat says at the end.
Two for two on the choreography, Nigel tells Sonja, and imitates the "stank steps" of her darker style. Audrey and Matthew would be one of America's favorite couples, Nigel says he would have thought -- is that foreshadowing of disappointment to come?
Mary says they maximize everything for such a little couple. Shankman says the night belongs to Sonya, but Audrey is freakin' brilliant and with that dancing the competition is Matt's to lose.
If Cat keeps telling us four dancers are leaving us tonight we may begin to believe it. Next up, Janelle and Darien: at the end of the routine Darien is supposed to propose, but Janelle says he's too Donald Duck to take seriously.
Their song is "My Girl" by the Temptations and their costumes come from the Frankie and Annette line at Wanamaker's. Their dancing is adorably nerdy but I can't believe they're old enough to do more than go steady.
Shankman says the characters were more important than the choreography for this number and thinks Darien was more successful. Nigel tells Christopher the choreography was a little uninspiring, especially when the audience isn't invested in the dancers the way they would be later in the season.
Mary asks to be left out of it when a routine ends with a big kiss (it looked like Janelle said yes at the end) and Shankman, not to be upstaged, pushes Mary out of the way and plants a big one on Nigel. Mary screams. Nigel spits a little and points to Shankman's mother in the audience.
Janaya and Brandon are in the hands of Sean Cheeseman. They're dancing a PSA on the dangers of reading romance novels to "Bring on the Man" by Linda Eder: Janaya is in fiction-fueled pursuit and Brandon is not having any.
One hopes their scores make up for the unfortunate kick Brandon took in rehearsal. Shankman tells Shawn it was a successful character piece. For Brandon it was huge step up and Janaya played the comedy well.
Nigel says it was brilliant Broadway and really fun. Mary says it was one of the most entertaining numbers of the night and, for the purposes of plugging Shankman, that Brandon really stepped it up. Did last week leave this couple in danger? Mary thinks tonight may make up for it. Cat tells Janaya to catch up with Fifty Shades of Gray and sends them off stage.
Eliana and Cyrus are jiving. Choreographers are Melanie LaPatin and Tony Meredith, who say the only problem is their dancers don't know what they're doing. The song is "I'm Shakin'" by Jack White. Eliana is wearing something small and red and Cyrus is in black with the conservative ear gauges.
Ballroom is pretty clearly not their style, but Eliana has the dance training to pull of the steps and Cyrus is talented enough to be a good partner. He's stronger on the footwork than in the lifts. Mary lists all his flaws but compliments him on his support of his partner and congratulates him on getting through.
Shankman says the inside of Cyrus's brain must look like a zoo when all the animals escape from their cages and that Eliana made him look good. Nigel asks them what other numbers they might have had: by picking the jive they dodged the foxtrot, tango, and Bollywood. Cyrus got all the bits right but needs to put them together; please vote for Cyrus because I want to see what he does next.
Daniel and Alexa are next with choreography by Dee Caspary. Their prop is a bathtub, their costumes are bathing suits, and their dance appears to be a tribute to splashing and slipping on soap. Their final pose is something Sue Johanson wouldn't recommend.
Shankman says after that bath he doesn't want to take a shower, that there was something chilly about it -- maybe the blue lighting? Mary rather nervously suggests "dance bathing" could be a new genre and concurs with Sue Johanson that the audience should not try this at home. Lots of ability, no emotional connection -- are Daniel and Alexa mismatched? Nigel agrees: brilliant dancing, but no more than that.
It's the foxtrot with Tiffany and George next, with Melanie LaPatin and Tony Meredith trying to teach them years of knowledge in a week. They're dancing to "I Want To Be Loved by You" bySinead O'Connor, which is a standard I wouldn't expect from someone who once ripped up a picture of the Pope on"Saturday Night Live."
They're good dancers, if not ballroom dancers; the number mostly works. Mary screams and says they had a lovely topline; everything was perfect. Shankman is madly in love and plugs his movie again.
Nigel says the plugs in this show are just disgusting and Shankman beats me to the joke about the plugs in his hair. Nigel tells Tiffany and George could give every other couple a lesson on connecting. The words Fred and Ginger are tossed about way too freely.
One couple left, Witney and Chehon to take us to Bollywood. Their choreographer is Nakul Dev Mahajan, offering no storyline but a managerie of hand gestures. Whitney worries about getting something wrong and offending half the world.
The screen says they're dancing to Tandav Music by Aatish Kapadua but I'm not sure if that's a title or a type. Feet stomp, hands flail, the choreographer cheers at the end.
Shankman says the dancers should feel great about it and suggests Witney dance with a long neck. Mary thinks this number fits Chehon better than last week's samba and Witney's still on fire.
Nigel asks Whitney if she's ever done anything in demi-plie before and Shankman implies that's something naughty. Nigel shows off his Bollywood knowledge and says they've really shown their personalities.
Cat calls the other dancers are called on stage; they're in rehearsal clothes. It's time to answer the big question of the night: Who's in danger?
Wow. The judges and choreographers have consulted over the week and Nigel says they don't need to see anyone re-dance. To prolong the agony and plug Shankman's movie again, it's time for a preview of Step Up Revolution. It promises awe-inspiring flash mobs.
Here's their number: If you're going to have breakdancers spinning about the floor, it seems rude to obscure them with stage fog.
Time to say goodbye to four dancers; Nigel explains that no one's being voted off, it's just that some dancers got less votes than others. Is that meant to be comforting?
The girls are up first: Witney is saved. That means Alexa and Janaya are gone. They don't cry. Boys next: Chehon is saved. Daniel and Nick are leaving. One last round of applause and plea for votes: another six dancers will be on the bottom next week.
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