Friday, June 5, 2009

So You Think You Can Dance? Season 5 - Las Vegas Top 20

After Wednesday night's confusing hash of a second auditions show at Planet Hollywood in Las Vegas, I felt we all deserved something a little less frazzled. Because heaven knows the Top 20 picks are tense enough without having to deal with a bunch of goofy stuff from the producers.

Thankfully, we got a pretty straightforward evening with a few surprises, some pleasant, some unpleasant.

Things opened up right away with Janette, a spunky, feisty dancer who confided that this has been just about her most stressful week ever, coming right on top of her boyfriend of four years breaking up with her, and the car wreck she was in, not to mention having to move back in with her mom. Yikes. She could use some good news, methinks. And the news is good! She's made it into the Top 20! Janette starts babbling her thanks, mentioning the boyfriend and the break up, until she finally gets a grip and goes off to jump through the backstage curtain shrieking, "I'm in!"

The next girl, Diana, wasn't so fortunate, in spite of the fact that she was carrying her lucky monkey. For a brief moment, it seems like she's going to be one of the chosen ones, but then she's let down with a bump. Tears commence to fall and she leaves the stage whimpering. I hate it when they do that - makes me cry, too.

Now we see our first boy, an energetic Vitolio, who informs us that he's so nervous, he's been having "diarrhea moments." TMI, Vittolio! I would rather picture you executing athletic dance moves than crouching over a toilet with a pained expression on your face. Vitolio is from Haiti, and was raised by his grandmother until she grew too poor to support him and his brother. He spent the remainder of his childhood in an orphanage, and somehow got to the United States and learned to dance and ended up here in Las I don't know, but I assume that we'll find out at some point. Because he made the Top 20!

After Vitolio makes a run for the men's room, a montage of disappointed dancers begins to roll and Cat says on a voice over that for the next half hour, things are very bad. The judges cite the need for more dance experience, more training. Cat busies herself commiserating with the Unchosen Ones, hugging and comforting and encouraging them to keep their chins up. She's such a lovely girl.

Next up is Kayla, she of the adorable and supportive Nana and Papaw. It's Mia's turn to be the one to break the news, so she starts in on how much she loves male dancers, how she just really connects with them (I just bet she does. Or at least tries) and she's saying all this about men and their consummate danciness while Kayla is patiently standing there thinking, "What is this COW rambling on and on about?" Oh, wait. That's what I was thinking. Finally, Mia manages to grope her way to her point, which is that she, Mia, really feels connected to Kayla, even though Kayla is not a man. Errrmm....Credit to Kayla for not running screaming from the auditorium: she has obviously sensed that if she flees, Mia might chase her down. Mia, with what is supposed to be a friendly smile but which looks more like the bared fangs of a jackal, says she "can't wait" for Kayla to be a part of the show; she part of the Top 20. Okay! (Kayla, watch your back, hon.)

Kapono comes before the judges next, and for the first time, I note that he's done something to that whacky hair because now it doesn't look like Mia's anymore. We see a brief film clip of him making an obsessive list, and I really wish the producers would cut it out, because Kapono is so nervous and trying to be so bright and cheerful for the camera, he's coming off looking like a bit of a head case. "I make lists!" he squeaks, holding up a piece of paper with notations on it preceded by Sharpie-drawn check-off boxes. One of the things on the list is "breathe." Another is "get iPod." A third reads "Make the Top 20." Much more of this, and the number one item on my check-off list is going to be "Buy vodka." Anyway, the judges thank Kapono for being so teachable. They say he's done everything they suggested he do to make himself a better dancer. He's a worker! And a nice kid, but really high-strung right now. I hope he calms down. He makes the Top 20 and I am happy for him.

Time for another montage, this time of people getting through to the Top 20. My notes from last night include these names: Paris, Gigi, Ade, Karla and Jonathan. A later list reveals that no Gigi made it to the Top 20, or perhaps was even on this show. Gigi, where did I come up with that name? I guess it doesn't matter, because I barely know any of these people. Producers, NO MORE DAVID SOLLER.

It's time for Natalie Reid's friend Brandon to take the stage and he comes out with such a hopeful look on his face, my heart just contracts. It's Mia's turn to break the news again, and only heaven knows why she was chosen to do so, because she immediately bursts into a personal attack: She "can't stand" his attitude and his "fake smile" and his dancing "annoys the [bleep] out of her." Throughout this whole thing, Brandon is still standing there, his smile gradually fading while he attempts to remain respectful, because after all, this person is one of the ones who holds his future in her hands. I am just....horrified. I can't remember when I've ever seen anything so painful. Oh, wait, yes I do. It was in Season 4 when Mia unleashed on Kherington after the Viennese waltz choreographed by Jean-Marc.

Meds check, Mia!

Finally, Debbie Allen speaks up. Or tries to anyway, because Mia just boosts the volume to continue her diatribe. Nigel finally interrupts and tells Mia she's said her piece, and now it's time to let someone else talk. Mia subsides into quiet snarls after shooting Nigel a look of death. Debbie is all about the affirmations, telling Brandon that he's a beautiful dancer, but then Lil C chimes in and says he personally doesn't know what all the Brandon hype is about.

It's at this point in the drama when Mary Murphy -- who tearfully said during the city auditions that she thought she'd "just die" if Brandon didn't make the Top 20 this season -- rose up in high dudgeon and, in a voice that was trembling with rage, says that she has HAD ENOUGH. She goes on to say that the other judges' criticisms of him are ridiculous and that she is not going to listen to any more of this crap. He is not cocky! Mary says. And I don't know, but I'm so used to Mary and her big smile that I am, like, afraid of her right now. Although I am TOTALLY behind her. Mia is way out of line and back to being her old nasty, hag-like self.

S0mehow, things get smoothed down and Nigel tells Brandon, whom I deeply admire for his poise under pressure, that he has made it into the Top 20. All the judges clap except for Mia, who sits like a toad on a stone, jaw thrust out, eyes glittering. "What do you think it will be like when we're in a room together?" she asks Brandon in a dangerous voice. I'd be hard pressed at this point to say just how much I dislike her.

Brandon, who still somehow appears calm and unflustered, says something like, "It'll be the bomb." I didn't quite catch it. The judges all seem to think he's scored, so they all clap and cheer. Even Mia claps. I wish he'd said something more like, "I could fell you with one kick from my well-muscled left leg, old woman, so be nice to me or be prepared to eat some flooring," but I admit that that wouldn't be diplomatic.

Yeeeesh. And Vitolio thought that he was having a diarrhea moment!

After we've all had a chance to catch our breath -- and I assume when the medics have had a chance to subdue Mia with some kind of horse tranquilizer -- the process continues with Tony. Tony is the guy that I couldn't remember from Wednesday's show, and frankly, I can see why he slipped my mind. He danced a contemporary piece to "Somebody's Watching Me" with Nigel's picture in a briefcase, his suit jacket, his newspaper, but frankly, it was too gimmicky for me to appreciate and I didn't see that much actual dancing. Although I do credit him with a clever sense of humor. In the review I posed yesterday, Tony was the kid who with a bad case of the whim-whams: he could not get a grip. Nigel tells a quivering Tony that his dance technique is not as strong as it should be, but that he's in the Top 20 anyway. Hmmm. Tony smiles and shouts out a big, "YESSSSSS!" which makes me feel better about his mental state.

New montage of people making it! Max (Faina's partner), Caitlin, Melissa (the "naughty ballerina") and Jason are through to the Top 20.

Next up is Ashley. It's her fourth time auditioning, poor girl. Mary says she's a "fighter." The rest of the judges say that she has improved a lot. She makes the Top 20 and is understandably delirious with happiness. Awww!

Randi comes onstage next, and once again, we have to hear from Mia. WHERE IS SONYA?! Mia bloviates on and on about Randi's committment to her unitards as the audience is shown a montage of Randi sporting several different unitards and it is all just more unitarded than you can possibly imagine, especially with the judges braying with laughter in the background like donkeys. Randi makes the Top 20 and presumably goes off to do a wardrobe check.

Professional ballet dancer Alex comes out next and I am puzzled by his whole deal. The judges want him to be in the Top 20, but there's the small matter of Alex's being under contract to the Miami City Ballet for their upcoming season. Oops. Nigel says that he has contacted the MCB to see if Alex can be released from the contract, but that the answer was no. Alex looks crushed, but I don't get it: he knew he was under contract, so what did he think was going to happen if he was chosen for SYTYCD? The judges wish him well and Debbie is encouraging as always. He's invited to come back when his contract is up. He leaves, and I feel sorry for him. Shame.

After the break, another montage, this time of people being cut. Ricky Sun, partner to the sassy Asuka, goes home. Bummer.

Next up is Phillip Chbeeb and I am worried for him. He is so adorable. Phillip tells the judges that this week has been stressful, but that he has enjoyed it anyway. Adam Shankman says that Phillip has improved and grown over the week and that the judges can see that he really loves dancing; all dancing, not just his own genre. Phillip agrees and Adam tells him he's made it to the Top 20. Phillip and I are both so very happy!

We're now down to the last two girls: a contemporary dancer named Deena and International Latin ballroom dancer, Asuka. To me, there's no question of who's in the Top 20 and who's on the next flight back home and I'm right. Asuka gives the devastated Deena a brief hug before going all "yippeeeeeeeeee!!!!" There's something about that girl that bugs me. She seems a little too certain of her own sexiness. I find that off-putting, but in order to avoid any uncomfortable comparisons to Mia, I'll keep my thoughts on this to myself for now.

Last but not least are the Brothers Kasprzak, and I don't know about anyone else, but I feel very maniplulated by the fact that they're left to the last, together. Producers, you are jerks. This was a nasty thing to do to these two very nice guys. I hate it when television pits two kindhearted people against each other. Fortunately, Evan and Ryan are supportive of each other no matter what and hug one another and cry manly tears until I think I'm going to just plotz.

Evan is the brother who makes the Top 20. I could have gone with either one, but I did like Evan's Fred Astaire-like dance better, so all is good. When the brothers get backstage and go through the curtain, Ryan gives Evan one last hug and gives him a gentle shove toward the excited throng of dancers so that he can begin celebrating his victory. Ryan's eyes meet the camera for one fleeting glance and the disappointment is evident, but he smiles a crooked little grin and moves on out of camera range. Well done, Ryan. If there was a show called So You Think You Can Act Like A Person of Sterling Character, you would win it.

And that wraps up the Top 20 show! Here they are, in alphabetical order:

Ade, Ashley, Asuka, Brandon, Caitlin, Evan, Janette, Jason, Jeanine, Jonathan, Karla, Kupono, Max, Melissa, Paris, Phillip, Randi, Tony and Vitolio.

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