So You Think You Can Dance Watch: Top 20 Results
Author: Patrick Hodges
published: 2011-06-10 05:54:34
When Cinema Blend tasked me with doing recaps for So You Think You Can Dance last summer, it was my very first assignment. Since then, I have recapped two seasons of The Amazing Race, two seasons of Survivor, one season of The Biggest Loser and the final (abbreviated) season of Medium. I wish, once again, to thank Cinema Blend for keeping me busy for an entire year. On to Year Two!
This summer, I will be recapping both So You Think You Can Dance as well as my other favorite competition show, America’s Got Talent. Instead of doing a dance-by-dance critique, encapsulating each dancer’s routines, the music selected, as excerpts from the judges’ comments, I will borrow a little from the format of my fellow contributors, who so eloquently recap Top Chef and Celebrity Apprentice, by giving a brief synopsis of each dancer, ranking them in the order that I think they are likely to win the show. It won’t be exactly the same, but it will be close. I do tend to ramble on (this you know…), so hopefully this format will help me exercise some brevity.
Of course, if you watched ANY of last season, you’ll know that the #1 question to ask entering Season 8 of SYTYCD is, “Will Alex Wong be back?” Alex Wong, who had to bow out of Season 6 because of a contract he was forced to honor with the dance company with which he worked, and who had to tragically bow out of Season 7 because of an injury, was quite possibly the best dancer to ever appear on the show, period. He was pretty much a shoe-in to win Season 7 until his injury, and Nigel promised him an automatic spot on the show this season. Now, after two weeks of audition shows, I have not heard his name mentioned once. I have scoured the ‘Net for news, and have heard that he is pretty much completely recovered from his injury. But will he be back? I have not heard one way or another. I’ve visited his Facebook page - and left a message in the vain hope that he will let ME know firsthand – and even his Twitter account, but methinks that if Alex does return, the producers want to make it as dramatic as possible.
I can’t help but wonder if Season 8’s contestants secretly hoped Alex wouldn’t be back. I mean, giving the “to be the best you gotta beat the best”, is a great thing to say when there’s a camera in your face, but if the Top 20 discover that Alex is back in the game, I have a feeling their first thought will be, “Damn, I should have waited for Season 9.”
This season, the format will change slightly. Twenty contestants, ten guys and ten girls, will be invited to be on the show. Once the show reaches the Top 10 (I’m guessing one guy and one girl will be cut each week up till that point), ten All-Stars (outstanding contestants from past seasons) will be brought in and paired up with them. And thus, it will proceed until a winner is crowned. I’m sure the ten All-Stars have already been determined, but I’ll announce who they are at a later date. Also back in the judging seat is Mary Murphy, who I have previously said I despite because of her tendency to scream at the performances she loves. However, I have heard that she had a form of throat cancer last season (which is why she wasn’t present), and though she’s mostly all better, she will not be screaming any more. Which sucks, and is never something I would wish on anyone, but whenever it came time for her critiques, my finger would inevitably hover over the “Mute” button on my remote, if you know what I mean. For now, let’s meet the Top 20, along with their ages and the cities they auditioned in. I have ranked them in the order that I think they have a shot at winning the title “America’s Favorite Dancer”.
THE EARLY FAVORITES
Jordan Casanova, 18, Los Angeles. Jordan’s selection was a no-brainer from the moment of the judges’ slack-jawed amazement at her first audition. Fiery, fierce, and fearless, Jordan has strong, athletic legs that go on for miles, and I think that there’s nothing she can’t do. If she doesn’t make at least Top 5, I will be astounded. The girl is a freakin’ machine. of sexy.
Melanie Moore, 19, Atlanta. I had no doubt Melanie would make the show from the very first time I saw them. An art major at Fordham University, she is a natural as a contemporary dancer as well. Her short brunette hair and infectious smile should be in the competition all the way to the end.
Sasha Mallory, 23, Los Angeles. Along with her younger sister Natalia, Sasha rocked both the auditions and Vegas Week. Sadly, health problems may have detracted from the slightly-heavyset Natalia’s chances, and she was cut, but Sasha moved on. Dark-skinned and spiky-haired, Sasha seems to effortlessly blend jazz, contemporary and hip-hop dancing, and can even bust out African rhythmic when she needs to. I think she could go very far. I will miss the sisterly ribbing, however.
Tadd Gadduang, 25, Salt Lake City. Asian, mohawked and lanky, Tadd is listed as a breakdancer, but the sheer drama of his movement, which I would almost describe as “balletic”, gives me hope that he could outshine all the others of his preferred genre. He is beautiful to watch, and the fact that he’s around makes me miss Alex Wong a little less (knock on wood).
Ashley Rich, 22, San Francisco. All through Vegas Week, the judges fell over each other praising Ashley’s dancing. A contemporary dancer by trade, Ashley is the type that could jump up and win (like Sabra in Season Three) when nobody expects it. Keep your eyes on this girl.
Clarice Ordaz, 19, Los Angeles. A Hispanic jazz dancer, Clarice seemed to pick up every genre with complete ease, which is why she’s one of my early favorites. The only reason she’s THIS low is because she just didn’t get as much camera time as everyone listed above her. That will change from this point on.
Marko Germar, 22, Atlanta. Not only is Marko a great dancer, he’s also the best story in the bunch. Several years ago, while manning the cash register at a convenience store, he had the misfortune of being robbed at gunpoint and shot in the shoulder. In fact, the bullet is still there, and to remove it at this point would probably cripple him. But he hasn’t let it slow him down at all: he is energetic, fluid and brilliant, especially in jazz. And the female viewers probably won’t complain about his looks, either.
DANCERS WITH A GOOD SHOT AT GOING FAR
Iveta Lukosiute, 30, Salt Lake City. Usually ballroom dancers make the show in droves, but they had a really tough time of it this season. Iveta, surprisingly, was the only one to make it this season, and I’m so glad she did, because this was her last year of eligibility. When you picture a stereotypically hot, blonde, hella-talented eastern European woman who kicks ass at ballroom…that’s Iveta. She’s a friggin’ world champion in TEN ballroom dances, but she is quite weak at Broadway, which almost proved her downfall in Vegas week. I hope she makes it far. (Note: her last name is pronounced “LOO-ka-SHOO-teh.” Practice a few times.)
Wadi Jones, 24, New York. A break dancing B-boy, Wadi showed incredible resiliency in adapting to other styles, far more than I anticipated. He is definitely one to watch, and I wish I had more to say about him.
Ryan Ramirez, 19, San Francisco. Ryan, if you remember, was one of the last few contestants to be cut last season. She should probably be higher on this list, but she did have her struggles in Vegas Week, having to resort to pleading with the judges to keep her around at least once. Plus, she had to go to the hospital for a severely bruised tailbone, and that’s something the doesn’t just go away. I love her, but I fear she will be the season’s first shocking elimination.
Robert Taylor Jr., 30, New York. A hip-hop dancer with a terrific smile and a beaming personality, he added humour and verve to every routine he had. The oldest man in the competition, he became a favorite with judges and other contestants as the “Woo-Man”. Seriously, the guy goes “Woo” more than Oprah’s entire audience. I hope he’s up to the task ahead of him.
Caitlynn Lawson, 18, Salt Lake City. Caitlynn, a jazz dancer, was one of Nigel’s early favorites, and she is simply adorable. I just don’t know how memorable she is, and that’s a problem. Only five girls will make Top 10, and this season, she’s got her work cut out for her. She doesn’t have the chops of Iveta, nor the charisma of Jordan, Melanie, Sasha or Ryan. Maybe she’ll prove me wrong.
Ricky Jaime, 18, Salt Lake City. A contemporary dancer who has been dancing since childhood, Ricky is long-limbed, lanky and very fluid. Didn’t see much of him through Vegas week, but he does not appear to have any overt weaknesses. He could go far, but it’s worth noting that no male contemporary dancer has ever won.
Mitchell Kelly, 20, Atlanta. I don’t know much about Mitchell, because we weren’t really formally introduced to him at any point. He, like Ricky, is a contemporary dancer, and also has the same complexion. Honestly, unless the lighting is really good, it’s going to be hard to tell them apart. I need to see more of him before he can climb this particular ladder.
THE DARK HORSES
Alexander Fost, 21, unknown. Alexander is a ballet dancer, the only one this season. He was shown to us very little up until his inclusion in the Top 20, but I’ll give him a little benefit of the doubt until he shows me otherwise. Lithe, limber, with those devilishly handsome, swarthy, roguish good looks that ladies seem to love, Alex is the true definition of “dark horse.” Looking forward to seeing him on a regular basis.
Missy Morelli, 19, unknown. She seemed to perform in Jordan’s shadow through most of Vegas Week, but she was good enough to make the show anyway. She’s a jazz dancer, and though she has tons of ability, I’m not sure whether she’ll be able to stand out enough from the more vivacious personalities that are her competition.
Nick Young, 19, Atlanta. This season’s only tap dancer (although Nigel hinted that four of the girls can do it if need be), and that alone is what makes him a dark horse. He has a terrific, friendly, outgoing personality, and he obviously is able to adapt to other styles, but no tapper has ever made it to the second half of a season, and until I get a good look at Nick’s attempts at hip-hop or ballroom, he will remain in my bottom half.
Miranda Maleski, 19, unknown. I saw snippets of her performances in Vegas week, but if they showed her in her original audition, they didn’t mention her name. A contemporary dancer, she has incredible legs and is very willowy, but I can’t really speak to her strengths because I haven’t seen enough of her. I hope she becomes memorable as the voting rounds start.
Jess LeProtto, 18, New York. He looks like a typical New York Italian kid, but his one of the better Broadway dancers to be on the show, and he’s the only one this season. The judges had an early problem with his inability to effectively express emotion in his dance, but it seems he worked through that. Nigel also called him “arrogant”, which is a big turnoff. If Jess can connect with audiences and be likable, he could go far. But that’s a big if. I don’t see it happening.
Chris Koehl, 21, unknown. A hip-hop dancer, who made Top 20 after just barely missing last year. I honestly don’t remember him, which isn’t a good sign. Hip-hop dancers seem to have a harder time than others adapting to other styles, and Chris’s ballroom is very shaky. He just barely squeaked by the judges during that round of Vegas Week, and now he’s squeaked into the Top 20. I look for him to go home early.
I’m guessing you’ve noticed that most of my favorites the season are girls. Is it because I tend to watch the girls perform more closely than the guys? Perhaps, but I truly believe that this is the strongest field of female dancers the show has ever had, and as a whole they totally outshine the guys. This is shaping up to be one hell of a season, whether Alex Wong decides to be part of it or not. Check out my recaps over the rest of the summer, and if you can, check out the show itself, if only to watch Cat Deeley. She is, without a doubt, the coolest host on television.
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