Perhaps the SYTYCD choreographers are erring in tackling iconic dances from past Broadway shows and movies. In previous weeks, the dancers seemed to stumble with such well-known pieces like the “Moses Supposes” number from Singing in the Rain and “Rich Man’s Frug” from Sweet Charity. The best that I can say about these numbers is that they were ok. It’s great to hear familiar music, but when you are doing a dance that is etched into our consciousness by such greats as Gene Kelly, Donald O’Connor, Ann Reinking, and Ben Vereen, we expect more from the dancers — we expect them to be the same as the originals. Personally, I would have loved to see the "Moses" number tap-danced by Evan and his brother (who will be appearing in season six) – there would have been a better chance of recreating the original. And Evan’s attempt at the Fosse-style from Charity was admirable but disappointing.
The biggest surprises of last night’s episode were the two dances performed by Janette and Brandon. Janette has never been one of my favorite dancers, but last night changed my mind. Their first dance they did was an Argentine tango that completely sizzled. I did not think it was perfect, but the judges did. I thought the flicks and kicks could have been faster and sharper, but the dance was a joy to watch anyway. Argentine tango is a very sexy and sensual dance, while Brandon’s performance was hot, Janette commanded the stage with her Latin sensuality.
Janette and Brandon’s second number was out of this world entertaining and unexpected. Dancing to a song written by Róisín Murphy and choreographed by Wade Robson, the two dancers stood out as they amused and amazed with their precision, their use of the entire set, and their technical prowess in a dance that has not been matched in inventiveness this season. With their gloves and bowlers, I was reminded of Fosse doing an understated strut across the stage, but this dance was unique in its comedic and lighthearted aura, with a technical difficulty that the dancers made look effortless. It was just plain fun!
The biggest disappointment of the evening was a Russian folk-dance performed by Phillip and Jeanine. Phillip is one of America’s favorites, and as a hip-hop dancer I think he is amazing. Unfortunately, he does not always shine in other genres. Jeanine outshone Phillip by miles in this dance. I thought the dance choreography itself was disappointing and I don’t know if the choreographers made the dance easy because they doubted Phillip’s ability, or if this was their original intent. At this point in the competition, it was an unfortunate choice for the unlucky couple.