'So You Think You Can Dance': Melanie LaPatin talks Sasha and Alexander's fall
Has it really been a week since I blogged last? No, I mean, has it ONLY been a week?! The last few days alone have been such a blur that half the time I thought I oughta have my eyes checked! That’s because, as you probably know by now, I was in Canada last week working on So You Think You Can Dance there (the couple Tony and I choreographed made it onto the “hot tamale train”!), and in L.A. this week working on our home-grown version!
Sooo… the challenge for me this go-’round hasn’t been just to find the time to organize my thoughts to write this blog, but also to make sure that, after this whirlwind, I could still think, period! Haha! All kidding aside, it’s been busy, but it’s been exciting, too. And a little tense, because, after all, we ARE down to the Top 12 now, PLUS this was the first week that the dancers had to perform not one but two numbers ON TOP of their group number. So, determined as they were to put their game faces on, they were exhausted, emotionally and physically.
How did they do? Let’s see. Bearing in mind that 1) it turns out it is HARD to take notes during the show! and 2) it’s even harder for me to be impartial about dancers once I’ve met them and worked with them and seen firsthand just how sweet and adorable and talented they are, I AM going to be honest, brutally if need be, my picks for the Top 4 performances this week are:
· Tadd and Jordan’s contemporary routine. Not only was it technically spot-on, but it reached down into your soul so deeply that I can’t imagine anyone watching it and not coming away feeling… I guess “satisfied” is the word. Really beautiful work.
· Jess and Clarice’s lyrical hip-hop routine. First of all, they were totally in sync. Second of all, I don’t remember when exactly in the last couple of weeks I noticed that it happened, but these two “clicked” for me as partners. And ever since, including here, I’ve felt that their chemistry was switched on. And finally — and this may be the bit that impressed me the most — you know how Jess has had a tendency to maybe mug a bit, to let his “big” personality get the better of him? He’s been getting that under control, and in this number, I felt (and not for the first time, I should mention) he was completely in character, which was absolutely necessary for this heartfelt piece to be as moving as it was. Well done.
· Sasha and Alexander’s jazz routine. Besides the fact that they gave a strong, fluid performance, two things wowed me big time: 1) After weeks of being criticized over and over by the judges (and sometimes by me in this blog, too), Alexander seemed to begin to trust himself and just do it, and that was a beautiful thing to see. It felt as if he’d “arrived,” in a way. Oh, and 2) Sasha, aka “the queen of passion.” She fell, right? And of course, no dancer wants to do that. The judges don’t want that, either. But what I loved was how she recovered, committing wholly to what was happening and creating her own ending to the piece. That, my friends, is the hallmark of a real pro. Is it too late to add a third “what I loved” to this blurb? 3) The energy coming off of Sasha and Alexander was overwhelming. I’m QUITE sure the audience could feel it at the back of the theatre.
· Melanie and Marko’s contemporary routine. I feel like I write a love letter to these two every week, but the fact is, I think they deserve it. This was stunning. I mean, I can’t even think of what I COULD critique, it was so fluidly, powerfully danced. It totally made me forget all about the “off” moment Marko had earlier in the show, which we’ll get to very shortly…
As for the others…
· Sasha and Alexander’s paso doble. This is the number for me where Alexander really became a Man with a capital M. He just 100 percent brought it — and he sure needed to, because Sasha might as well be called Sasha Fierce, she’s so intense. Yes, he stumbled, but he totally made up for it by staying absolutely in character. Thrilling to see. (Also thrilling: I could be wrong, but I think this was the first time, at least on the U.S. version of SYTYCD, when the show was opened with a paso doble — and Tony and I got to choreograph it! Whee!)
· Ricky and Ryan’s Broadway routine. I had to disagree with the judges about this one. They felt that the dancers didn’t bring enough to the table, but I thought they did. Maybe because they made it LOOK simple, dancing it with such ease, it was perceived as having BEEN easy? From where I was sitting, it was well done, performed with style and grace.
· Caitlynn and Mitchell’s lyrical hip-hop routine. This was a tricky one, because obviously, the theme of the dance was very emotional, and I think that sparked each of their musicality differently. As a result, they weren’t always in sync. So what happened was understandable but not really ideal, if you know what I mean.
· Melanie and Marko’s tango. As usual, she was stunning — she seemed to be living the dance before our eyes. Also as usual, he was very good, too. But his frame was awkward at times, especially in the pivots.
· Jordan and Tadd’s Broadway routine. Now here, I have to agree with the judges: J&T’s technique was fine, but they weren’t able to bring the overall “package” together or deliver a clear theme. Not gonna be part of their “best of” collection.
· Caitlynn and Mitchell’s jazz routine. They performed it well, but I couldn’t take my eyes off of her, so — elementary, my dear Watson — what was needed was more “presence” from him.
· Clarice and Jess’ jive. You couldn’t know this at home, of course, but this number (that Tony and I choreographed) was tighter in rehearsal. (Oooh, backstage tidbit! Haha!) Overall, I thought they did a good job, but she outshined him. It didn’t help that, around the middle of the routine, he seemed to lose energy at exactly the time when it should have been building.
And that is IT for Lady Cha-Cha this week. Doing some interviews and a photo shoot for the Ballroom Remixed album here in Tinseltown (if you “like” Ballroom Remixed on Facebook, we’ll let you know when you can see the pics, etc.), then it’s back to New York for me. Oh, and before I sign off, am I allowed to give shout-outs? I guess I’ll find out, won’t I? Wanted to say THANK YOU, loudly, publicly and, if it were up to me, repeatedly to all the music bloggers, especially Paul Reynolds (My Fizzy Pop) and Bill Smith (BillCS Is Tuned-On), and Sirius XM’s MVP DJ, Larry Flick, for their enthusiastic support of the project — and to any and all of you who have checked out the songs on iTunes, amazon, etc.! I knew it was insane to try anything like that, and I’m so, SO glad you guys were crazy enough to come along for the ride! ‘Til next time…
Check out Melanie LaPatin’s album of unabashedly offbeat ballroom dance songs, Ballroom Remixed, featuring ace of clubs Lucas Prata, electropop Boy Wonder Kyle Brylin, and Spain’s answer to Lady Gaga, Romy Low.