Tonight’s episode marks the first week of the semi-finals on Superstars of Dance and also two shocking events – the judges were basically reasonable and the camera work didn’t blow. It’s a Festivus miracle!
Michael Flatley and Susie Castillo make their entrances before reminding us of the leader board standings, like that really matters. After the semis, only three acts per division will move on to the finals. With us, as always, are some of the worst judges to ever grace a reality show panel – the representatives from Argentina, India, Australia, South Africa, USA, Ireland, Russia, and China (the order of the parenthetical scores, minus the home country’s judge). Paula Abdul makes more sense than some of them.
Group – Team Australia
One commenter mentioned that the producers may be replacing the dancers’ music for broadcast, which may explain why their first number seemed weird. This time, it actually looks like they’re dancing to music playing. They are very skilled and do a lot of interesting combo movements – spins to floor rolls to flips and other odd bits. However, after the first third of their performance, it started looking more like Capoeira (which actually would’ve been really cool to see on the show). Not to say it wasn’t difficult choreography to pull, just saying there was a little too much roll/jump-spin/roll/kick/roll/spin/roll. It was like someone button-mashing on a dance game. I needed more contrasting movements.
Score: 62 (9-8-9-9-8-10-9)
Duo – Damien O’Kane & Bernadette Flynn, Ireland
Well, at least Damien is doing more this week than last. It’s supposed to be their sexy number but, despite being married and so much love, I’ve felt more chemistry from the kid dancers on Dancing with the Stars. Bernadette is good, I’m just not feeling it from Replacement Flately. Again, maybe it’s because I’ve been spoiled by seeing our host in his prime.
Score: 58 (8-9-7-7-8-9-8) – Two judges agreed with me – the Aussie judge wanted more fire and the South African judge was a little more blunt. He straight up told him that he lacked "virility and maturity" in comparison to Michael. Ouch.
Solo – Maria Kochetkova, Russia
This week, Maria gives us a more "traditional" piece complete with princess-like tutu and tiara. Great costume. Her feet and legs are great and she has fantastic lines. Not all ballerinas have such natural grace. Occasionally her arms drop a little in spins but that’s just me nitpicking. Brava!
Score: 63 (9-9-9-9-9-9-9) – the Argentinian judge mentions that Maria was "fighting the floor" which would explain the form breaks. She must have been compensating to keep from slipping.
Solo – Robert Muraine, USA
In Robert’s into package, he explains a little bit more about popping and how it has rules just like any other dance. He also says that he doesn’t choreograph his numbers since it’s an art rooted in freestyle and he wants to keep true to that. He also has been hanging out with the Groovaloos and picked up some new ideas. This was certainly more interesting/exciting than his first number. A lot more movement variations this time and is that Shane Sparks in the audience?
Score: 61 (8-9-9-9-8-9-9)
Group – Team South Africa
The group, Umojo, was talking about how much fun they’ve been having being in LA and add that they feel like they’re not just representing South Africa, but the whole continent. They’re so exuberant I just want to squeeze them. They really upped the ante this round. They had four guys playing drums while the rest danced. There was also singing and vocalizations. It was really cool. I hope they get a high score for this. After, one of the team members explains that the dance was a Zulu pre-hunting/war dance.
Score: 58 (9-8-8-8-8-9-8) – They got a little jobbed.
Duo – Miriam Larici & Leonardo Barrionuevo, Argentina
The dancing itself was phenomenal but my only problem still is that Leonardo isn’t consistently emoting, well at least not at the level of Miriam. I feel like she’d eat him alive. This choreography was no joke this week, lots of impressive stuff.
Score: 63 (9-9-7-10-9-10-9) – The South African judge essentially told Leonardo to man up, that he’s not as strong as Miriam. But Leonardo appreciated the critique. Which is good because he needed to be told that.
Solo – Amrapali Ambegaokar, India
Amrapali is the woman who specializes in the Northern Indian style, the one with little bells wrapped around her ankles. She begins with a very impressive sequence of spins and really gives great face when she performs. I think I may have said this before but I’m so impressed by how graceful she is while being so precise.
Score: 59 (9-8-8-8-8-9-9) – I thought they scored her low. No way she’s two points less enjoyable than the popper.
Solo – Reed Luplau, Australia
Reed’s opting for a more rock-flavored number this week. He seems more alive dancing to this music than the touchy-feely stuff from last week. I was more interested but still I can’t help but long to watch SYTYCD‘s Mark do his "Bohemian Rhapsody" piece.
Score: 58 (9-8-8-8-8-9-8)
While they were reading off Reed’s scores, they brought out Amrapali as one of them would be in…and one would be out. That’s kind of messed up. I don’t like it but yay for Amrapali!
Duo – Victor Da Silva & Claudia Savvides, South Africa
They’re performing a new piece for us tonight. It’s very dramatic and her outfit reminds me of the Black Queen from the Hellfire Club of the Marvel Comics universe. Excuse my nerd-out. Their lifts are crazy and the number is very dramatic with Tango/Paso Doble flavors. They have more fire than the Irish couple. They do a helicopter spin lift, among other scary/complicated/impressive ones. There were a few bobbles with the transitions but it’s a new piece so I’ll forgive it. The judges may have some issue with the step-to-lifts ratio though.
Score: 59 (8-8-8-8-9-9-9)
Group – Team USA
The Groovaloos are back and, among other things in their package, they show the Russian team coach attempt to tech them some ballet techniques. The theme of their number is people going to work – riding the subway, clocking in, etc. It was incredibly creative and had great skill moments. There was even this whole popping/locking sequence where four guys were working on the one girl like she was a robot that needed fine tuning. Besides being impressive dancers, they are great storytellers. Not all dancers have that gift. Also, one guy ends the number by doing about six backflips in place and landing in the splits. I feel the urge to start chanting "Served!" but in a totally non-braggadocious way.
Score: 66 (10-9-10-9-9-10-9)
Assorted Bits & Pieces:
- I only got mad at the camera work twice today. I’m shocked and amazed. Maybe the director is listening to us?
- All of the dancers have been talking about how great it is to be hanging out with each other and learning about everyone’s cultures and disciplines. To paraphrase Amrapali, having people from all over the world come together is something the universe needs.
- The American judge mentioned that the Groovaloos do this sort of open invvitation dance circle every week (aka a cypher) and said he’d love to see one with all the other talent on the show. Susie then sets up the Groovaloos/Shaolin Monks "battle" next week. Though I wouldn’t call it a battle per se, more like trading stunts. Either way I can’t wait!
- The South African judge kind of seems like Prince’s younger brother to me. Either way, as harsh as he can sound, at the base of his critiques he’s mostly right.
What did you think about tonight’s show? Were you as amazed that the camera work was actually *gasp* decent? Did you have a favorite number? Any dancer in particular you gravitate towards?