Wednesday, August 14, 2019

So You Think You Can Dance S16E07: The Academy Pt. 2

Emotions run high as dancers say goodbye and contestants say hello
by Stephen Mosher

Part Two of The Academy aired on July 22nd and it was a really fun, and really emotional, night for the dancers who, by this point, are cashed. In fact, at one point Mandy Moore told the interviewing camera that 'they are mentally at capacity ... and that’s when the best stuff comes out' - clearly the truth because some of the dancers absolutely rose to the occasion.

The first of the remaining 54 dancers to come out on stage were the contemporary boys, Jarrod Tyler Paulson and Luke Romanzi. Both dancers are talented and endearing but the judges chose to release them both and both men took it very well. Jarrod said he would leave with his head held high, while Luke declared he would come back even stronger and harder next year. Good sports, both of them, they are the type who will succeed, either on this show in a future season, or in life. Tyler, being the stand-up dude he is, waited around to see how Madison would do, because she was next onstage.

The contemporary girls were Madison, Juliette and Kaeli. Juliette and Kaeli were dismissed, with Kaeli sharing that she was 'proud of myself'. Madison, when asked how she felt about the performance, said she felt good about it before Mary told her that she was magical and that it was 'difficult for me to see anyone else.' Jarrod was waiting outside for Madison and when he got the news he could not have been more thrilled or more supportive. She states that she will, now, dance for the both of them. I hope Jarrod comes back next year, he really has something.

Down to 43, Mandy Moore and Robert Roldan get the entire gang onstage for a dynamic group routine that will combine all the dances they have done this week, to an entirely new piece of music. I love the way she talks to them - she is firm and demanding, but kind and supportive: 'I’m on your team!' And when she teaches them the dance, she is in it with them, making sure they are challenged and that they all meet the challenge. 45 minutes later, when she is finished with the choreo lesson, the dancers are all dispatched to the lobby and other areas of the theater to get it together, and it is a beautiful thing, watching all these young people help each other. They are all competing for a spot on the show, and they are helping each other. That’s not nothing. There were examples seen that, among these 43, there are 'a bunch of leaders' and those leaders helped to guide the team in, even if Eddie Hoyt does seem to be erring on the side of being dramatic and emotional, when he could just get his head in the game, focus, and do the work instead of complaining, which reminded my husband of a story he was told by a friend who danced on Broadway for many years:

During a grueling rehearsal with the legendary Chita Rivera, the dancers were on a break during which all were sitting around and lamenting the pain, the hard work, the complex choreography. Passing by, Ms. Rivera overheard the conversation and said, 'Are we complaining about dancing now? Is that what we’re doing? … Never complain about getting to dance.' Wise words from the greatest, if you ask me.

Returning to the competition, Nigel tells the camera that this stage of the game 'scares the hell out of them, and it should' and that 'every second counts.'. Well these beautiful young dancers waste no time, indeed, capturing viewers’ attention and the judges’ attention with a spectacular performance of Mandy Moore’s routine. It was truly magnificent. Of particular note to this lover of dance was how Madison was not only front and center, but how you couldn’t get your eyes off her, and it would have been the case had she been in the back. She just has that quality about her, as do Sumi and Bailey. This number was, in fact, so good that Dominic was crying. Had I been watching it live, I probably would have been crying, too.

The dancing done, the judges began another round of eliminations with Sophie being told by Mary that she brought magic that day and by Laurieann to 'stay in it!' Sweet Sydney was cut but was a good sport about it, while Mariah and Melany were told to prepare for their solo rounds. Other dancers staying included Ezra, Stefan, Stephanie, Eddie and Madison. Eliminations sent Desi, Jordyn, Elan, James and Caroline home, and the count was down to 33 as they gear up for the solo rounds. When Desi left Laurieann told her to 'Keep fighting and you’re gonna be fire' and Desi told the camera, 'I’m so proud of myself' -- one hopes she will come back again, she was a refreshing change from so many of the other departing dancers who were so bitter. It’s an unbecoming look.

As far as the solo round goes, I couldn’t breathe while Gino was dancing, there was so much color and light to his performance, while Sumi was all precision and stillness, dancing with every part of herself, even her face, in a most confined space on that huge stage. Dominic was destroyed, face in hands, unable to contain his emotions. Eddie came forth in a baffling costume that weighed him down, especially when one of his shoes came loose, but he kept on going, dancing like the artist he is - but he really needs to get control of his emotions. Bailey was the only remaining dancer to get a lengthy display of his solo because the program faded into quick showings of who got cut and who advanced -- but while Bailey was onstage it was a perfect display of talent, timing, personality and heart. The kid is marked for stardom.

By the end of the episode, some lovely dancers had to take hits and bad news, some handled it with grace and others, not so much. I am sorry for Stefan Yeritsyan to go but maybe he will be back, it would be nice. With these final eliminations, SYTYCD 2019 had its Top Twenty.

Girls: Anna, Sophie, Ashlye, Sofia, Nazz, Madison, Melany, Stephanie, Sumi and Mariah.

Boys: Bailey, Brandon, Benjamin, Ezra, Vlad, Nathan, Aleksander, Gino, Clocks, Eddie.

Now, I’ve been a SYTYCD watcher and fan since season one. I’ve studied the show and I am usually pretty good at predicting who will move forward. You can tell by how much time the camera and interviews give certain contestants that they will be on the live program, you can tell by the lackluster performances of dancers who get lackluster critiques and still end up in the Top 20 that their sole purpose on the show is to be one of the 10 who get cut, and you can tell by sheer grit and talent, who is meant to be on the show. I am going to predict (and I hope I’m right but if I’m not, I’ll own it) that the dancers who make it to the live shows are:

Girls: Anna, Sophie, Madison, Sumi and Mariah

Boys: Bailey, Benjamin, Ezra, Gino and Eddie.

And I can already tell you that Benjamin and Gino have captured, completely, my heart, but that the winner of the show should/will be either Madison or Bailey - probably Madison.

Let’s see how I did by coming back next week to see some real dancing!

What did you think of this episode? Give us your thoughts in the comments section below.

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