'SYTYCD': Mary Murphy on the Top 14 week's new choreographers and new judges
Due to some technical difficulties, Mary Murphy’s blog entry for last week’s Top 14 episodes of So You Think You Can Dance was unfortunately delayed. Better late than never, here are her full insights and observations about what went down on Wednesday night’s performance episode and Thursday night’s results.
Last Wednesday’s episode was an exciting night with new choreographers and new judges!
Yes, some new choreographers came in with a big splash, while others, not so much. I’m happy to report I loved the work that Justin Giles did with the seven guys — it was interesting and kept my attention the entire time. His other number also hit big, a contemporary piece starring Jess and Clarice, who in my opinion are coming on stronger every week. It will be interesting to see what happens when this partnership is broken up.
The choreographer in the hot seat is Shaun Evaristo, who choreographed Alexander and Sasha. I felt really bad that such a dynamic couple were not given choreography that played to their strengths. I hope that the public got the gist of that when I told the dancers that they brought tears to my eyes just two weeks ago doing a hip hop number by Tabitha and Napoleon. But that is part of the show: the luck of the draw, the luck of the right music, the luck of the right choreographer, the luck of which partner you receive. Destiny is often out of our control. All of these dancers have done their homework. After eight seasons they know what is expected of them. Their fate now lies in the stars as to their journey on this show.
If you think the choreographers have it easy, you’re wrong. Even the best of choreographers that have been on this show know how difficult a task it is to take two dancers and turn in a performance at a professional level at under seven hours. They often make it look too easy. Some of the dancers look like they have been dancing together for years. As nerve wrecking as it is for the dancers, the choreographers usually get no sleep until the contestants have done their work respectably. And when the verdict comes in with the judges comments, the cameras flash to their face with either delight or anger over how the judges criticized their piece.
Now to the new choreographers. Chucky Klapow was another one who was a hit last night; he choreographed a jazz number and zombie piece that scared us all just a little with a strong character driven performance by Ryan and Ricky. Ray Leeper, another choreographer new to me, did an outstanding job not only with Melanie and Marko’s jazz number, but I so enjoyed the top 7 girls performance he put together as well.
But the real star routine Wednesday night was by one of our long term resident choreographers, Mandy Moore, with a piece starring Caitlynn and Mitchell. What made matters more interesting was the fact that Mitchell had an injured ankle and was not going to be performing, but he stepped up to the plate and gave a performance of a lifetime that I will never forget on season eight of SYTYCD.
Now, on to the new judges. It’s always exciting to me to have new guest judges sitting beside me. Carmen Electra looked as spectacular in person as I’ve seen in the magazines. Did she bring a new dimension to the judging table? I don’t think so. But I found her to be a lot of fun and she loves the dancers and that’s what I most care about.
I was particularly proud of Travis Wall. I’ve choreographed for him myself, and have a deep admiration and love for him. Any choreographer develops this connection with the contestant; mine was season 2, choreographing a paso doble with Travis and Heidi. I was impressed with his determination and focus, which he also brought to the judging table. I thought his comments were insightful, even though rather speedy at times, but that is common with first-time judging. The only way if this night could have been better was if Travis was sitting right next to me.
So now the results. It was no surprise that Chris and Ashley fell into the bottom three. But what was a surprise was Ryan and Ricky, and Tadd and Jordan landing there again. I wish I knew why America isn’t connecting with these two couples; I think they are fantastic. But let’s not forget about Ashley and Chris. They left Thursday night as celebrated dancers. I will always remember their “Please, Mr. Jailer” number that put them on my hot tamale train. And even though their salsa number was not as hot, I never took them off the train.
Stepping off for now,