'So You Think You Can Dance' recap, first live show
Top 20 contestants Audrey Case and Matthew Kazmierczak perform a Contemporary routine to "Unchained Melody," choreographed by Travis Wall. (FOX)
Since we're only getting one show a week this season, I was worried we wouldn't get the group numbers we used to get on the results show, but this show starts out with one.
Yay! It's all 10 couples dancing behind tables in what's supposed to look like an office setting. I only wish my work was (A) this uncluttered and (B) scored so well.
They've kept the introductions intact, with each dancer coming out and doing a move or two while Cat says his/her name. Notable: Janelle is in a metallic silver bikini. I thought Nick was going to get the biggest screams, but I think Witney got a bigger roar.
The announcer introduces the show twice, which Cat handles with aplomb by joking about it. She then tells us that Christopher Scott choreographed the opening group number.
Cat introduces the judges and almost calls Mary Murphy Mia Michaels. Rare misstep from our blonde bombshell hostess. Kenny Ortega (most famous as choreographer of "Dirty Dancing" and choreographer/director of the "High School Musical" movies) is guest judge and, of course, Nigel Lythgoe is there as head judge.
Nigel explains that this season, from the beginning, we the audience will be voting for individuals -- not couples. Next week, the bottom three male and female dancers will be declared "in the bottom" and then the judges will send home two dancers of each sex. Cat reminds us that this season they will crown two winners, one male and one female.
Cat explains that the dancers drew numbers out of a hat to couple up and then, in number order, chose the dance style they wanted to perform this evening. Each contestant will also get nine seconds to introduce themselves tonight.
First up: Witney Carson, 18 years old. She's musical, from a large family, and afraid of crickets. She's partnered with: Chehon Wespi-Tschopp, 23, born in Chicago, and raised in Switzerland.
They're dancing the samba, choreographed by Louis van Amstel. I love Louis. He's got moves, as he demonstrates the lower half vibration this dance requires in Brazil.
I'm not pleased with all the strobe lights at the beginning of this routine -- makes it hard to focus on the dancing. Witney's clearly in her wheelhouse as a ballroom dancer, but Chehon is a little stiffer than he should be, doesn't quite have the hip action there yet. Maybe I'd be more impressed if I hadn't just seen Louis show us how it's really supposed to be done.
There's something about the way Chehon is costumed and styled for this routine that makes me think of Taylor Lautner. One imagines that will not hurt him when it comes to votes. Unless the SYTYCD audience is overwhelmingly Team Edward.
Judges: Nigel repeats Louis' praise of Witney as a "firecracker" and calls her a star. He says that Chehon is a fantastic dancer, but that he needs to not overcompensate when trying to leave behind his ballet training.
Mary throws out a lot of technical critiques -- I caught things about feet and samba rolls and such. I actually like when she gives that kind of specific feedback. Then she screeches about trains and I hit the mute button. Kenny adds nothing of specific substance.
Tiffany Maher, 19, once had a pet duck, has tiny hands, and likes the beach. George Lawrence II, 19, loves green, crab legs, and collard greens, and doesn't go camping. I like him already.
Sonya Tayeh is choreographing them an "emotional" routine. Of course. It's about the connection these two people feel. Sure. Ok.
Tiffany does a better job than George of keeping that Sonya flat-foot pose. For a routine that's supposed to be about how these two "melt together," there's a lot of dancing apart. This is why sometimes I wish we didn't hear what the choreographer was trying to do and just got to figure out the dance for ourselves.
Judges: Mary is choked up and talking about how both dancers "surrendered" themselves to the choreography. She adds that she had high expectations for George and that he didn't disappoint tonight. She compliments Tiffany's strength.
Kenny likes to say Sonya's name. And then he starts reminiscing about being young. Stay on topic, old man. Nigel claims he can't remember being young. He talks about Sonya having moved into a "romantic" period in her choreography. And then he compliments the extension of both dancers and their lifts.