Look me in the eyes right now—but don’t overdo the eyes—and tell me you don’t wish these Bottom 6 kids could dance for their lives solo, the fear of their dreams slipping through their fingers evident in their every determined move. I know, I know, there's no time! But losing Stanley and Jourdan felt so abrupt tonight, either because, with no extreme front-runners, there are no real obvious hangers-on either; or maybe it’s because Nigel basically said, “America did it, blame America” and peaced right out of there. But, if going without solos is what it takes to extend our American Ballet Theater loan on the effortlessly wise Misty Copeland, then I. Will. Take. It (while still complaining about it).
You may have noticed, I’m also guest riding on tonight's Hot Tamale Train, filling in for your regular recap conductor, Jake. I guarantee not to be nearly as transcendent as Misty, but please go easy on me—someone dropped me during rehearsal today, and my chess piece costume really did not provide as much support as one might have expected. But, so what… evil chessboard, come to life! After having some good old fashioned fun with last week’s Broadway dandy, tonight's opening number was a welcome foray into the (Alice in Wonder)land of weird 'n creepy; and we should expect no less from the choreography of Academy of Villains’ Christopher “Pharside” Jennings and Krystal “Pheonix” Meraz.
If everyone has to wear Queen Elizabeth wigs and top hats to have a crump battle on a giant chessboard, then it’s probably worth it, but I didn’t love the anonymity of the opening number’s costuming, probably because we need every chance we can get to identify the standouts in this crew. Ricky, of course, has been deemed a perfect Contemporary parfait of technique, spark, and divisive facial hair; Tanisha and Jessica have at various times defied the expectations of their styles; Rudy has had an extra helping of sunshine every morning for the past 18 years; and a few players who didn’t get much screen time early on in the season are starting to define themselves through their *gasp* performances.
And that’s all good—it should be anyone’s game in the Top 18. It just means that every individual dance counts all the more toward getting the audience’s votes each week, and the judges on your side, hence an early favorite like Stanley landing in the Bottom 6, chosen by the judges to go home, all from one week to the next.
So, everyone do one final run-through of those Top Rock/Toe Heel Swivel steps you learned in between commercials from the choreographers because it's time to find ourselves some favorites…
Jacque LeWarne and Zack Everhart
Style: Hip-Hop, Choreography by Keone and Mari Madrid
Music: "Stay with Me" by Sam Smith
This was a sweet little nugget of dance to start the night even if they are flying pretty fast and loose with the "hip-hop" in Week 2. But the choreography was lovely, and certainly not tap or ballet, making Jacque and Zack’s connection to the story and each other all the more impressive. Misty specified that neither of them are simply their styles, but dancers all around, while Nigel and Mary thought they nailed the intricate hand movements and fully committed to the number. For the second week in a row, they’re a surprisingly cohesive pair.
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