Top 12 Jeanine Mason and Philip Chbeeb: Russian Folk dance in SYTYCD 5 (Really now Nigel!) plus the Jive

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Jeanine Mason and Phillip Chbeeb Russian folk dance, “Kalinka” Kalinka – Somewhere My Love: Russian Gems Choreography by Youri Nelzine and Lilia Babenko

Jeanine Mason and Phillip Chbeeb Jive, “Stuff Like That There” Bette Midler – For the Boys (Music from the Motion Picture) – Stuff Like That There—Bette Midler choreography by Tony Meredith and Melanie LaPatin

7/8 SYTYCD 5 Top Performances from the Top 12, Only 10 gets to Go on Tour…

This week we have to work top down. Most weeks we are thinking we have to nail the bottom three. So we go bottom up and try to pick who we liked least. This week, we loved every performance. These dancers are true stars and a step above everyone else in dance. The choreographers do deserve much of the credit, and we believe that choreography may have more to do with the elimination of this week’s pair of dancers than the dancing itself. But maybe a fan base could save one or two from elimination. We think Philip and Evan have a strong following that will bail them out on the telephone in many cases, but will it help them this week?

As a note aside, this is the last week these couples will perform with each other. They have to face the music with a different partner next week. This could result in some very interesting mismatches. For example, we could never imagine Kayla or Melissa with Phillip.

When you get down to it this week, there isn’t a dance we disliked. There were no major flaws. So, it comes down to how each dance made us feel and expect that we are in tune with the audience. We aren’t always, but we think we can tell you what happened and who was the most likely to get votes this week.

Normally we go through the dances in chronological order, but this week we are going to list our dancers top down, top to bottom, best to worst, and ecstacy to pain. Let’s see how this goes… (Watch solo introduction and dance recap at the bottom of this post)

Janette Manrara and Brandon Bryant Argentine Tango to the song “Libertango” from Forever Tango choreographed by Miriam Larici and Leonardo Barrionuevo
Janette Manrara and Brandon Bryant Jazz to the song “Ruby Blue” —Róisín Murphy choreographed by Wade Robson (Complete performance videos here with judges comments)

In every show, this couple has nailed every single dance. No slips, no flaws, just pure and perfect entertainment. Tonight exemplified their run with two of the best performances by any couple this season. One will definitely be on the tour. The first was a tango. Every move was executed with phenomenal precision. Jeannette is the dark horse here. We keep forgetting about her until she dances and suddenly we believe she could take it all. Every week she has been our number one or number two pick of the women. Brandon is brought out personality-wise by her. Her slightly cocky (in a good way) personality is exactly what Brandon needed to bring out his excellence as a dancer because it got him to lighten up. (Dance 1: 10/10)

The second dance will be on the tour. It was a jazz dance that has some of the sleekiest choreography we have seen. If executed correctly, it should have you laughing and still amazed at how well it is performed. This one had us laughing at the cocky character acting, but almost in tears over how amazingly delivered this dance was. You have to watch it, because if you don’t, we cannot explain it. If this were a final contest among couples, Jeannette and Brandon are well above the rest of the pack.(Dance 2: 10/10)

Melissa Sandvig and Ade Obayomi Disco to the song “Move On Up” —Destination choreographed by Doriana Sanchez
Melissa Sandvig and Ade Obayomi Waltz to the song “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman” —Mary J. Blige choreographed by Ron Montez (VIDEO PERFORMANCES HERE with judges comments)

The first dance was disco, the second dance a waltz. Melissa did one split upside down that would have likely killed a normal human being. Ade was strong throughout. When he needed to lift Melissa it was effortless. When he needed to deliver that perfect dance move or spin, it was there. Melissa was the top performer in this couple, but both kicked it up a notch even in that difficult first slot. Dance 1 was fast and furious. It was not as good as last week’s disco by Jeanette and Brandon, but it was so very well performed nonetheless. (Dance 1: 9/10) Next was a waltz that brought both of these dancer’s beauty into perspective. (Dance 2: 10/10)

Kayla Radomski and Kupono Aweau Contemporary to the song “Gravity” —Sara Bareilles choreographed by Mia Michaels
Kayla Radomski and Kupono Aweau Broadway to the song “The Dance At the Gym”  from West Side Story choreographed by Joey Dowling

In their first dance, they drew contemporary and it was superbly performed. The synchronized moves were spectacular. The touch of craziness in the dance had us mesmerized. (Dance 1: 9/10) Kayla, though, outshines Kupono. The second dance was a jazz performance and we just couldn’t help but giggle at some of it. It had a truly off beat appeal. We loved both dances. Kayla was spectacular. Kupono quite good. This was difficult to score because we loved the dance, but felt Kupono did not perform up to par. (Dance 2: 8./10)

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Randi Evans and Evan Kasprzak Hip-hop to the song “Halo” —Beyoncé Knowles choreographed by Tabitha D’umo and Napoleon D’umo
Randi Evans and Evan Kasprzak Samba to the song “Ritmo De Bum Bom”—Jababa choreographyed by Anya Garnis and Pasha Kovalev

In the first dance, hip hop was their task, and Randi was able to hit the beat and lead us into the dance much better than Evan. We like Evan’s personality and style, but he hasn’t been as much of a dancing standout of late, and this was not his best performance. It looked like he was dancing a different style. On time, on the beat and off the mark. (Dance 1: 8/10) Randi is just so cute that as long as she shows up and doesn’t fall, she looks great on stage. Her perkiness and energy bring that cute nature home even more

The second dance truly demonstrated the dichotomy this couple presents to us. Once again Randi was stunning, made every move flawlessly and led the dance with pure dazzle. Once again, Evan was a disappointment, disappearing behind Randi’s aura and just not showing the style and personality of a winner. Evan has the personality, we have seen it, but he hasn’t been bringing it to the show the last couple of weeks. Unlike loveable dancers from years past, such as Benjie in season 2, he can’t bring his personality consistently to the floor. He looks like he is straining and just not having the fun he should be. (Dance 2: 8/10)

Jeanine Mason and Phillip Chbeeb Russian folk dance to the song “Kalinka” —Barynya choreographed by Youri Nelzine and Lilia Babenko
Jeanine Mason and Phillip Chbeeb Jive to the song “Stuff Like That There” —Bette Midler choreographed by Tony Meredith and Melanie LaPatin

If Jeanine can dance as well as she has while partnering with a dancer as weak as Phillip, she deserves to win this year. And she has. Every single dance she has delivered pure perfection, and tonight was no exception. The start was a Russian dance that brought back memories of last year when Twitch and Joshua danced up an energetic storm of Russian movement. Jeanine was believable and on mark throughout. Phillip was not, but put in a commendable effort despite a stumble and being incredibly outmatched. Honestly, though, Phillip is way out of his league and is just plain no Joshua or Twitch (Dance 1: 7/10).

The second dance was swing, and once again, Jeanine shook the hips and took the dance away. Jeanine is championship quality, Phillip is not. But we think that quite possibly the judges promoted Phillip in these routines because they want Phillip’s entertainment factor on the tour. And only the top 10 are guaranteed to tour. Jeanine was so good in the second dance and Phillip put in an underdog performance worth noting, so this dance can’t be downgraded that much. (Dance 2: 9/10)

Caitlin Kinney and Jason Glover Foxtrot to the song “Minnie the Moocher” —Big Bad Voodoo Daddy choreographed by Tony Meredith and Melanie LaPatin
Caitlin Kinney and Jason Glover Lyrical jazz to the song “Show Me Heaven” —Maria McKee choreographed by Mandy Moore

The first dance was a 40s type slow swing. The dancers executed the dance with aplomb. Our issue was not the performance, it was the choreography. The dance, while amazingly performed, was dull, and votes come from how well the audience remembers the dance. Caitlin is better than this dance showed her to be. Jason as well. (Dance 1: 8/10)

The second dance was Lyrical Jazz and was their exact style. And once again, despite some beautiful movement, it was dull. We cannot place our finger on it, but this was the couple we would be least likely to vote for this week. They did the one thing that cannot be done. They bored us. (Dance 2: 8/10)

Top 12 Solo introduction and Dance Recap

RESULTS?

Now it becomes a bit more clear…We have two obviously safe couples…what about the rest?

Brandon and Jeanine are not going anywhere. They are spectacular and the best couple in this competition by a decent margin.

Melissa and Ade have strong movement and finesse that is magnified by the incredible strength of both dancers. Melissa is a bit butch at times, but never is anyting but perfect grace. Ade is strong and always at home. So, they are SAFE!

But then we get into the gray area. All these couples, with the exception of Caitlin and Jason, are tied. And Caitlin and Jason are not far behind. What do we do? Well, we won’t cop out, we will make our guess for the bottom three, but it may not be how the audience votes.

Let’s start by saying that Jeanine and Kayla are outstanding and carry their dances repeatedly. They are both easily top ten talents, but their partners? Well….not so much. Phillip is weaker than any man here, but has a major underdog factor combined with a lovable goofiness. And you have to give him a major A for effort in that second dance. So, how do we think it will go down. In this order.

Kayla & Kupono – They were marginally the best of the four.

Jeanine & Phillip – Jeanine gets 10/10 on both dances. Phillip gets an A for effort and just being on the floor with her and not looking downright stupid. They are lovable. But at the end of the day, someone has to dance for his and/or her life.

Randi and Evan – Randi, like Jeanine, gets top scores for her dances, but Evan had an almost sleepy quality to him as he danced. No pizzazz, no personality and just not a winner. And we really like Evan and are so disappointed. Perhaps he just isn’t cut out for the limelight? We just think he has to look like he is having more fun, but this is hard, and we think he is displaying a bit of stage fright.

Caitlin and Jason – Dead last for boredom. Neither stood out, both were equally dull, but much of it was the choreography which is just the luck of the draw. Jason is better than this and we think Caitlin is as well. But, at the end of the day, no matter what the champion draws, the champion only wins if he or she brings it, so we crave their next performance. These performances made us just plain not care if this couple was not here next week, and we think that the audience won’t care either.

We think that if it plays out the way we think, Phillip has to go home unless the other two dancers blow their solos. Phillip will perform a predictable hip hop solo that will be no surprise and that demonstrates that, in the end, he has little versatility relative to the other dancers. But, Evan could fall flat as well. This is mainly because he has been a disappointment, not only to us, but repeatedly to the judges. He has to nail his solo and remind us of what he can do, or he will be on the bus out of here.

Of the women, this is very difficult. We love them all. If we had to choose, we would prefer to see Randi and Jeanette move through. Melissa we think is spectacular, but we don’t see the personality in her that makes us want to vote for her. Caitlin is spectacular, but she has to nail the solo against some pretty stiff talent and we think she is last this week in our eyes as well as the judges. We think Caitlin will be shipped out.

Season 4 SYTYCD Finale: Men Outperform the Ladies!! WHO WILL WIN?? Prediction and Review

Our pollsters this week were overwhelmingly in favor of Katee. She was ahead nearly 2 to 1 over the nearest competitor, Joshua. Twitch and Courtney were taking up the rear with only a fraction of the votes. Our contributors have gained our respect from their past calls, but were they right this time?

We again apologize if this review is long, but this was a two-hour show with little anyone should miss. Each piece was spectacular and there were slight variations in the quality of the performances that we believe screams out who won this competition. If you are only interested in the prediction, and voting in our polls, it is at the end of this article. If not, read on, because this was one amazing show.

Now for the show.

The show didn’t waste time, and the first pair to take the stage was Twitch and Courtney. The theme was a crazed emotional girlfriend and the man that has to confront such emotion. It was a Hip Hop routine, and was well done. Courtney struck us, somewhat, as too cute for the part. She looked just a tad nervous, but in this competition finale, you could understand that. The dance was great, finished by an attempted pinwheel head spin. They blew the last move though, as Courtney dropped off Twitch’s head too soon. Fortunately, he caught her.

The judges tried to get the audience to look past the final slip and did not mention it. “I felt that from you!” exclaimed Mary, followed by her deafening scream. The thing that stood out in the judges’ comments at the end was that they seemed to focus on Courtney and promoted her performance more than Twitch’s. Nigel remarked, “Twitch, if I were you, I would be grateful I was dancing with Courtney and not Mary”. If you recall, this is the second time that Twitch has drawn the crazy girlfriend. In one of our absolute favorite performances from the season, Katee goes ballistic on Twitch, her indifferent partner.

Courtney had to now take her turn at the interview and solo. She danced the solo to “They Weren’t There” by Missy Higgins. Following her graceful and superior solo, Courtney broke into tears as the judges praised her. Courtney always wins the solo, but would it be enough to bring her the votes to win?

What was to follow was almost unfair. They paired Katee and Joshua to dance in competition against Twitch and Courtney’s initial performance. Katee quipped in practice, “Joshua’s my boo”. Could this be for real? They do seem wonderful together. The two have been astonishing as a pair all season. Twitch and Courtney have barely been noticed in their few pairings.

Wade Robson choreographed another contemporary masterpiece, performed to “Slow Dancing in a Burning Room” by John Mayer. Katie begins the piece quivering with evident despair, totally relating her character to the audience. The emotions burst through the television and into our hearts. The synchronization in this dance has to be seen. It cannot be conveyed in words. Every move is pure grace, with a particularly beautiful reverse fall by Katee onto Joshua’s leg, as he gently kicks Katee upright. Our response before the dance was that no one could beat Katee and Joshua as partners in any competition. Our response after the dance was that it wasn’t going to happen tonight. Round one to Joshua and Katee.

We were shocked by a rather muted response from the judges. Mandy Moore commented to Katee, “You could have used a little more work through the legs and feet.” We have no idea what Mandy was speaking of. Katee’s feet are among her most spectacular features during a dance. Mary did praise the dancers, but did not give them her scream or a trip on the Hot Tamale train. Nigel commented that Katee and Joshua were “Two of the best dancers we have ever had on this show”.

Courtney and Katee: dancing together!

Next up were the “girls” as the show refers to them. Courtney and Katee performed a Broadway dance for the audience complete with spinning umbrellas and puffy colorful outfits. Tyce Diorio choreographed the piece, and it was danced to “The Trolley Song” by Rufus Wainwright. The two dancers started off slightly out of sync, but they pulled it together as they progressed. What became evident during this dance is what makes Katee extraordinary. Her lines are impeccable. It was hard to place before you saw this dance scene. Katee almost makes Courtney seem awkward, and Courtney is far from awkward. Katee has lines that are nearly perfect. We would be inclined to say it was a height advantage, but Sabra last year dispelled that theory. It is grace and beauty in her motion that can only be seen and felt, not expressed in prose.

Nigel said it all, following the dance. “Katee finishes every move just a little bit further than you.” You could see the pained facial reaction to the comment on Courtney’s face, but Nigel was right. Katee was smoother and more graceful throughout.

Now it was time for Twitch to speak to the audience. He said he would be in the military now if it wasn’t for this opportunity. Twitch was asked what his favorite routine was, and he said it was clearly the Viennese Waltz with Kherington.

Twitch did a very entertaining mixed Pop and Hip Hop solo danced to “It Was All In Your Mind” by Wade Robson. Twitch started with a back flip and followed with moves throughout the dance that seemed downright impossible. The judges were unanimous in their praise.

Joshua and Twitch: sparring partners!

Joshua and Twitch were up next in an all male pairing. This dance made us glad that Mark was eliminated. While it was sad to see him go, and we believe he won last week, Twitch and Joshua made superb partners for this dance, and we believe it could have only been possible given these two specific men. It was a Russian dance called the Trepac, choreographed by Youri Nelzine and danced to the Nutcracker.

The costumes were ridiculous gypsy outfits, though, that made us think of Halloween. Twitch did all the floor work, effortlessly executing Russian squats, kicks and walks as he crouched. Joshua executed leaps that were six feet off the floor. We have never seen such height in all the time we have watched the show. There were body flips, twirls and jumps that were spectacular and had the audience screaming on every move. The audience and judges were on their feet. Mary expressed that it was great to see “two Hip Hop dancers for the first time in the finale”, and broke into another deafening scream. The men’s dance was clearly stronger than the women’s. The two dancers followed by attempting to show who could jump higher. Joshua left little doubt with a standing back flip.

Katee was up next, and the show reflected on her near elimination at the auditions. At the time, she said she would give up and not come back next year if not selected. Nigel then called for another vote, as though they would not let her through for her careless comment.   Of course, the judges did put through Katee, and we think there was no doubt this was little more than theatrics on Nigel’s part. Katee said her favorite dance was with Joshua in the performance to “No Air” by Jordan Sparks. A championship dance performed to another champion’s hit song.

Katee did her solo to “Hide and Seek”, by Imogen Heap. It was beautiful and expressive, but not as well danced as Courtney’s. Courtney again won the solo competition. The guest judge, Mandy Moore, once again stated Katee should work on her knees and feet. We suggest Mandy visit her optometrist; near sightedness can be fixed these days. The other judges were rather muted in their praise of Katee here. They just said it was great and not much else. Could Katee’s grip on first place be waning?

So, Twitch and Katee were to now perform the Fox Trot. This brought consternation to our faces as we remembered how badly Twitch danced last week with Chelsie. It seemed unfair to do this again, but this time to Katee. Could she survive it? The piece was danced to “Feeling Good” by Michael Buble. Katee was in a killer light blue full length gown with frills, and this dress was perfect for this dance. Katee brought it to life in every spin and every lift. Katee even pulled off something we had never seen before, a cartwheel in a full gown!!

Now for the surprise. Twitch was superb. While the dance accentuated Katee, that is what a leading man is supposed to do. Twitch worked this dance. Every lift and move was graceful and strong. Every smile, nuance and point perfect on Katee, raised up in Twitch’s strong arms.

The judges appeared to praise Twitch more than Katee once again, especially commenting on his strong lift of Katee directly over his head. Katee merely got the comment, “Bravo” from Mary. Nigel, at least said a bit more, saying that the men were so strong this year that they spoiled the choreographers. Twitch was pouring sweat after this dance. That tux was on its way to the dry cleaners for sure!!

Joshua came on next for his interview and, as it turns out, was quite the high school athlete in football and track. His coaches, he stated, were quite upset when he quit to pursue dance. It seems obvious that with Joshua’s leg strength, he must have been an absolute star in track. Joshua’s quote touched us, as he reflected on the show, “This is a blessing, everything here is a blessing.”

Joshua followed with his solo. It was quite fun with some spectacular moves and then breaking off the stage to pop and perform a finale split on the judges’ stand. He hammed it up just enough to be cute at the end, expressing the personality that makes everyone love him. Mary said that he has been riding first class all the way on the Hot Tamale Train. Nigel added, “You have set the standard for untrained dancers.” But this made us wonder. They say that he is trained on the SYTYCD website. Which is it Nigel?

Courtney would now have her chance to dance with Joshua. Joshua began with a strong leap over Courtney. Courtney was keeping up beautifully, but it was apparent, the costume department totally blew their assignment. Courtney’s outfit looked like a one-piece bathing suit. It should have been more of a skirt or a garment that accentuates movement. The high boots made her legs look short; this dance is made for high heels!! The outfit was completely wrong. It did nothing to augment Courtney’s lines and did not contribute at all to her performance.

Joshua’s attire didn’t help much either, because he was wearing sneakers and jeans, which are also all wrong for this style of dance. There were two spectacular moves though, a brilliant slide back bend between Joshua’s legs, followed by a lift up. And the killer move in the finale, which Nigel informed us is called “around the world”. In this move, Joshua swings Courtney around upside down behind is back, with one arm, and brings her back around perfectly just to gently lay her on the floor. Joshua finished with a cartwheel that effortlessly moved into a back-flip.

Mary and Mandy were quick to praise the two dancers, but Nigel then brought them back to reality. “There were a lot of things I was disappointed with; it didn’t have the great feel the Jive should have. It wasn’t brilliant, it was tired”. To that we respond, Nigel, this dance was anything but tired!! We believe the costumes totally negated the performance and made it seem slow and clumsy. You do not dance the Jive in a bathing suit and sneakers. It was simply a poor choice by the costume department that detracted from the execution of what could have been a championship performance.

Final Dance of the Top 4

In the finale, Mia Michaels choreographed a piece for all four dancers. They start off with a large blue scarf that spans the stage. The dancers move back and quickly discard the scarf after they exploited it for opening effect. We once again were disappointed with the costumes. They were dressed in Scottish Kilts that did nothing at all for the dance. As Nigel later quipped, he felt the dancers looked like “the Scottish Olympic Team”. In this instance, plaid was clearly bad.

Mia will get no Emmy for this choreography. The dancers did not seem in sync. There were some fantastic lifts and spins, but overall, while entertaining, the performance did nothing for us, and it did not help in differentiating any of the top four contestants. After the dance, Nigel commented, “Two untrained dancers in the guys”, and “I think these two boys deserve to be here”, finishing with “You are inspirational for others that could not be trained as dancers”.

Once again we are puzzled, because we have said all along that from what we could find, Joshua and Twitch are not trained dancers, and yet the Fox website contradicts both Nigel and our research. Maybe it is all a matter of degree.

So, we can finally conclude, and we appreciate your patience in reading our review. Our pollsters will want to know if they did it again. Did Katee indeed win? Did Joshua pull an upset, or Courtney bring it strongly enough to draw votes and take this contest? Could Twitch have pulled out a miracle with his astonishing performances?

This wasn’t as close as it seems. Joshua and Twitch’s dance together was spectacular and better than the ladies’ pairing, but even six foot leaps could not overcome Katee’s grace. After her prior performances, this competition was Katee’s to lose. She didn’t.


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