Favourite DWTS Performances

Over the years, I’ve given Dancing With the Stars a lot of flack. First of all, there’s a very loose definition of “Stars.” Up until recently, they had their orchestra band perform all the songs, which I understood, but it resulted in a lot of not-so-good versions of pop songs. Their insistence on using a lot of pop songs was also met with mixed results; some songs just did not work with the style the pairs were supposed to be dancing. Nowadays, it annoys the hell out of me that they insist on including contemporary and jazz (just no, leave it to SYTYCD). Regardless, there has been multiple times where everything just comes together and we get legitimately good/great performances. After a certain point, I was just watching for the Pros and their group numbers during the results shows or dancing alongside the musical guests, but sometimes the stars actually do leave an impression and that’s the reason for the show’s existence. So here goes my top 10* favourite performances from the past 20(?!) seasons, in no particular order.

*Plus a few cheats. Because I can.

1.) Season 2, Drew & Cheryl – “Save a Horse, Ride a Cowboy”

This freestyle eventually set the bar for all future freestyles. Anyone who actually watched this back in the day, just has fond memories of it. It showed off Drew’s dancing skills that he learned from the weeks of competition and it was a lot of fun to watch. I guess it’s also one of the reasons why I’m not particularly fond of the slow, almost-Contemporary freestyles, because when I think freestyle, I think fun and upbeat. But that’s just me.

2.) Season 10, Nicole & Derek “El Capitalismo Foraneo”

Have I mentioned how much of a sucker I am for a good Tango or Argentine Tango? It’s such a gorgeous dance, and requires the partners to be strong and bold, yet sensual. Sure, Nicole Scherzinger was very much a ringer this season, but that doesn’t mean she didn’t earn her win. This routine was flawless from top to bottom, and it certainly helped that they got a more traditional song to dance to, as opposed to a pop song. Ugh, LOVE IT!

3.) Season 5, Helio & Julianne – “Hey Pachuco!”

The Quickstep is endearingly(?) referred to as the kiss of death on SYTYCD, and that’s because it is HARD. The stamina and energy required to just get through a one minute routine is crazy and mixed with the fact that you have to be light on your feet is crazy difficult, whether you’re a dancer or not. What was great about this routine was that Helio managed to do all that and look like he was legitimately having fun.

4.) Season 9, Joanna & Derek – “Living on Video”/ Season 10, Nicole & Derek – “Spanish Guitar”

As the show grew and with each passing season, it was expected of them to change things up a bit. First they added in non-typical ballroom dance styles, and then they started playing around with these fusion dances (some straight-up combos and some incredibly random). And if anyone could rise up to the challenge, it was Derek. [Full disclosure: I’m a huge Derek Hough fan. I think he’s an amazing dancer/choreographer and deserves all the praise in the world.] It was evident first in season 9, when Derek had to choreograph a ‘Futuristic Paso Doble’ (set to an 80s song) for his partner Joanna; then again in season 10, when he was tasked to choreograph a ’50s Paso Doble’ for Nicole. The end result was all kinds of awesome.

5.) Season 8, Gilles & Cheryl – “Assassin’s Tango”

See #2. Plus using the score from Mr. and Mrs. Smith gave it an extra edge that was absolutely wonderful.

6.) Season 5, Mel & Maks – “Free Your Mind”

The changing of the lyrics was actually hilarious, and exactly what I was talking about earlier. Mel B was just such a beast though, you kind of had to ignore the song arrangement.

7.) Season 18, Meryl & Maks – “Feel So Close”/ Meryl & Val – “Too Close”

I never usually call ringer, even when there’s someone in the competition who has dance experience, because normally it’s like a hip-hop or Broadway background, not ballroom. When Meryl Davis, along with Charlie White, were announced as part of this season’s cast, boy did I ever yell “RINGER!!!” I mean they basically ballroom dance, ON ICE! AND Derek had helped them with choreography for the Olympics! As the season went on though, I just couldn’t deny how great a dancer Meryl is, and she had such a great partnership with Maks. Had to choose both her Tango with Maks and Argentine Tango with Val because I would not have pegged those songs to use for Tangos (which would have annoyed me before), but they made it work!

8.) Season 8, Shawn & Mark – “Do Your Thing”

It was just non-stop dancing, and simply put, so much fun and entertaining to watch.

9.) Season 15, Shawn, Derek & Mark – “Jungle Jazz”

Sure, it was more Afro-Jazz with touches of Samba, but you couldn’t deny how good the performance was. Shawn getting to dance with both her partners on the show was such a treat.

10.) Season 19, Alfonso & Witney – “369”

When it was announced that Alfonso Ribeiro was going to be a part of the season 19 cast, everyone pretty much called it that he was going to win, pretty much based solely on “The Carlton.” From the beginning, he proved that he was going to work hard and earn that Mirror Ball Trophy, starting with this dance. A Jive in week 1 is no joke; you have to get those flicks and kicks right, and make sure you’re light on your feet with a natural bounce/rhythm. Alfonso’s routine was all of that and then some.

 

HONOURABLE MENTIONS – Non-competition performances

1.) Season 5, Jennifer Lopez performs “Let’s Get Loud” with the Pro Dancers

I don’t remember many of the group numbers from seasons 1-4, though obviously I always knew the Pro Dancers were crazy talented. Things changed after watching this performance; I loved every part of it, with our Pro Dancers performing, while J.Lo sang. I think it had finally dawned on me how much I love the Pros dancing as a group, when everything just comes together – choreography, music, costumes. I can’t ever listen to this song now without picturing this performance in my head.

2.) Season 7, Jennifer Hudson with Derek & Julianne – “Spotlight”

The Hough siblings are ridiculously talented and I love them both dearly. It’s just so great to see them dance together, every once in a while.

3.) Season 10, Chelsie & Derek – “Malaguena”

I absolutely loved the simplicity of the performance. An acoustic arrangement (featuring Mark on guitar) and they let the dancing do everything else. It was very much a classic Paso Doble. It’s no wonder they were Emmy nominated for this.

4.) Season 11, Mark & Val “Toxic”

This was before Val became a Pro on the show, though the connections and relationships were already there. They set this up as Val and Mark always having had a friendly rivalry because they both danced and played musical instruments; this was just a fun showcase of that. One of my favourite things about this is that they were playing “Toxic.” I mean, I remember watching it and it starts off with the dueling violin and guitar, then I start hearing those recognizable notes/riffs, and I was like “Are they..? OMIGOD THEY’RE DOING TOXIC!!!” 😀

5.) Season 10, Pro Dancers – “Evacuate the Dancefloor”

It’s great when you see the Pro Dancers do straight ballroom, but it’s also so much fun to see them let loose like this.

6.) Anytime Derek & Allison choreograph something (Season 13/Season 15 “Heart Cry”/Season 18 “Animals”)

Before Allison became a Pro on DWTS, she had often choreographed special performances with Derek. Two of my favourite dancers working together? It was amazing! The first time they performed together on the show in S13, they did an incredible Tango/Paso/Flamenco/Contemporary fusion number;I remember being away on vacation, watching the performance on YouTube, and was honestly left breathless. In S15, they choreographed a beautiful Contemporary number, which also featured Melanie Moore, Kathryn McCormick, and Jessica Lee Keller. Then in S18, they worked together on the really fun fusion featuring some of the Pros and Troupe members, though Allison didn’t perform with them.

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Top 10 Favourite SYTYCD Routines

So You Think You Can Dance is one of my favourite reality shows. Getting to watch different styles of dance on my TV screen every week during the summer is quite honestly the best. The show as a whole doesn’t get nearly the respect and recognition it deserves, but over the years, it has provided us with numerous memorable routines, which has been justly rewarded with countless Outstanding Choreography nominations/wins. As such, for my April blogging challenge, I wanted to include a list of my 10 most favourite SYTYCD routines. It’s a simultaneously easy yet difficult task, because lists are simple but narrowing it down is the hard part.

1.) Season 2, Top 10 – “Ramalama (Bang Bang)”

Still one of, if not THE best group routines in the history of the show. It was one of the first times the show really showcased a dance that was very much out of the box, and it really brought out an artistic side to the show that we hadn’t seen before. Also, Wade Robson just kinda rocks.

2.) Season 2, Allison & Ivan – “Why”

This was a turning point for me, in terms of when I really started LOVING the show. Ivan, a hip-hop dancer, held his own, dancing with the incredible Allison in her style, which was Contemporary. Add to that, Annie Lennox’s gorgeous song “Why” and it was just perfection.

3.) Season 7, Alex & Twitch – “Outta My Mind”

Everyone loves Twitch; he’s a beast of a dancer. Everyone already loved Alex at this point, but to see him, who’s trained in ballet, KILL it in this routine next to Twitch, just threw him up to another level.

4.) Season 4, Katee & Joshua – “No Air”/ Chelsie & Mark – “Bleeding Love”

Tabitha & Napoleon had been dancing/choreographing long before SYTYCD, but when they were brought in for season 4, everything changed. They made an immediate impression with the “No Air” routine, then a couple weeks later, they solidified themselves in the SYTYCD world with “Bleeding Love.” We had some smooth hip-hop in the past, but for the most part, everyone thought of hard-hitting hip-hop on the show, so when NappyTabs came on and delivered these contemporary hip-hop numbers, it was just never the same.

5.) Season 8, Melanie & Marko – “Triptico”

Melanie & Marko are among my favourite SYTYCD pairings (next to Allison/Ivan, Katee/Joshua). Every single routine they did was wonderful, starting from their Contemporary “Turn to Stone” and even to their Disco “I Feel Love.” So why is “Triptico” my favourite? Well, I’m a sucker for the Tango, and even though it wasn’t perfect, they sold the performance. And that drop/flip/turn/lift (I have no idea what to call it) at the end? Gets me every time I watch it.

6.) Season 5, Top 12 – “Calle Ocho”

Season 5 was top-notch, in regards to the group routines. I mean, the competition numbers were really good too, but the group routines were everything. This number though was my absolute favourite for the entire season: NappyTabs choreographed with Dmitry Chaplin to make a totally awesome Latin Hip-hop fusion. What more could you want?! It was everything and more!

7.) Season 8, Top 12 – “El Fuego”

I just love this group number. I can’t even explain why. Maybe it’s because it’s a Flamenco-style routine that we just don’t see a lot on SYTYCD, plus everyone was on point, performing the hell out of it.

8.) Season 9, Top 10 & All-Stars – “Circle of Life/Nants Ingonyama”

Season 9 was very light on NappyTabs. At the end of the season though, they made up for it with this awesome Afro Jazz Hip-Hop set to music from The Lion King! The competing dancers alone were terrific, but add in the All-Stars and it just explodes.

9.) Season 7, Top 11 & All-Stars – “Ra”

Speaking of exploding, season 7 was the first season that introduced the All-Stars, and it has certainly helped in bringing out the best in the competing dancers. This was, once again, a finale number, but it definitely proved just how amazing the talent was. A competitive season as it was, with the best 11 dancers (was supposed to be 10, but they couldn’t help themselves and added in one more) instead of 20 competing, you knew they meant business. Like NappyTabs before, Chris Scott immediately made an impression with this genre-fusing hip-hop, and has been a regular choreographer on the show ever since. Bonus points for finding a way to include an injured Alex Wong into the number.

10.) Season 4, Katee & Twitch – “Mercy”

The Door. This routine showed that not all Contemporary routines had to be sad and overwrought with emotion. This was all kinds of fun and emotional in a different sense. Absolutely love it!

HONOURABLE MENTIONS*

*AKA my way of cheating and adding 5 more routines I REALLY REALLY like. My blog, my rules*

1.) Season 8, Top 10 Guys – “Velocity”

Season 8 was just SO GOOD, right from the very start. Chris Scott choreographed this Adjustment Bureau-themed contemporary hip-hop for the Top 10 Guys for the first show, and it was just so indicative of what the rest of the season was going to feel like.

2.) Season 8, Melanie & Tadd – “(Where Do I Begin) Love Story”

There was a reason Melanie won season 8; she’s an amazing technical dancer, who really knows how to sell the performance. Spencer Liff didn’t give us the typical Broadway routine that we typically see on the show, instead he choreographed a routine that was sexy and required Melanie & Tadd to really act.

3.) Season 9, Top 8 – “Run Boy Run”

Sure we have a steady rotation of choreographers creating wonderful pieces, but the show does not just rely on those geniuses. There are so many talented choreographers that it would be a shame to not showcase their work. So it was a welcome surprise to see the show bring the immensely talented Peter Chu to choreograph this group number.

4. ) Season 3, Neil & Danny – “Are You the One?”

Mia Michaels. Genius. A contemporary routine that required so much power from Neil and Danny. Just fantastic.

5.) Season 10, Jasmine & Comfort – “Run the World”

For years, I was constantly complaining that the boys always got the “fun” routines for the finals; they often got either a completely different style (see: Russian Trepak of S4, Malevos of S7, Steppin of S8) or a cool jazz or hip-hop routine. The girls always got Broadway/Contemporary/Jazz. So you have no idea how ecstatic I was to see this routine happen. Mind you, it wasn’t the final 2 girls (Jasmine and Amy) dancing together, but rather Jasmine dancing with All-Star Comfort. However, it doesn’t change the fact that we got a girls hip-hop routine! FINALLY! HALLELUJAH! More of this please!

There you have it – my favourite SYTYCD routines! The show returns for its 12th season – Stage vs. Street – on June 1st!

 

 

 

 

 

 

5 Fandom Friday: 5 Times I Totally Fangirled

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I was actually already planning a post about celeb encounters when Megan (The Nerdy Girlie) and Kristin (Super Space Chick) released the Fandom 5 topics for this month. Perfect! Now, I’ve always prided myself in not COMPLETELY fangirling when I’ve met people whom I admire. Part of that has to do with the fact that I’m kinda sorta socially awkward, so I have trouble talking to my own friends sometimes, let alone celebs. Also, I try my best not to embarrass myself too much; it’s hard, but I try. Regardless of that, there have been multiple instances where that truly fangirl side of me comes out, meaning my awkwardness comes out and it gets hard for me to form proper sentences. My version of “totally fangirling” is getting so nervous I act like a total dork.

1.) SDCC 2013 – Final Nikita Panel

I’ve documented this in a previous post, but essentially I got up the nerve to go ask my favourite people in the world a question at their final panel. Just my luck, someone in front of me asked pretty much the question I was going to ask, and I had to think of another question on the spot. So much pressure! If you watch the video, you can probably hear exactly how nervous I was.

2.) SDCC 2014 – Meeting Shane West

Meeting Shane West after the Behind the Music panel?! AHHHH!!!! Comic-Con trip made!

Again, I already posted about this. To recap, I went to the panel Shane West was moderating and was determined to meet him afterwards. Tried my damned hardest to keep my fangirliness in check.

3.) SYTYCD Tours

SYTYCD Tour M&G

I love SYTYCD and for seasons 3-8, I actually went to the tour. For all the shows except one, I stayed after the show and waited to meet the dancers (because I found out early on that they did this, and I went with people who were willing to wait with me). Season 3 I met Lauren Gottlieb, was pretty calm. Season 4 I met Chelsie, Comfort, Courtney, Kherington, Joshua and Katee; it was when I met Katee that I nerded out a bit mentioning that I was a fan of hers from Paris By Night (and I think I embarrassed her a little bit by bringing it up). I skipped season 5 (it was too cold to wait). The season 6+7 tour I met Kathryn, Robert, Kent, Lauren, Ade, and Allison. Allison is one of my favourite dancers and I was so bummed that I missed the season 2 tour, so I was SO EXCITED to meet her. To be honest, I actually don’t remember much of the interaction because of how excited/nervous I was, except for asking her about tWitch (who was there at the show, but not performing), and then later on finding out that they had actually started dating (and now married)! Then the season 8 tour I met Marko, Melanie, Tadd, Caitlynn, and Nick. I definitely fangirled meeting Marko because he’s totally my dancer crush, and again I had to mention PBN, which I think caught him completely off-guard.

4.) FanExpo 2013

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I know I’m repeating myself again, but gosh, all these Cons are what dreams are made of. Saw Stephen Amell twice and acted like it was no big deal both times. 15 minutes after meeting Stephen (the first time), I met Gina Torres and could barely form a complete sentence. I met Piper Perabo and Peter Gallagher at the Covert Affairs signing. With Piper, I was my usual awkward self, not really sure what to say. With Peter, I managed to get in the fact that I loved Center Stage and The O.C., and have a proper interaction with him. It’s times like this that I don’t know how my brain processes being a fangirl.

5.) General Reaction to Awesome Events/News

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Sometimes, I’m at my most fangirliest when I hear good news. That means if my favourite TV shows get renewed, particularly if they’re on the bubble (which let’s be honest, applies to 75% of the shows I watch), I’m screaming and doing a happy dance. Favourite music artists going on tour and stopping into Toronto? Ditto. My favourite music artists teaming up to do a tour (like in 2013, when Maroon 5 and Kelly Clarkson toured together)? FUCK YES!