'Superstars of Dance' wraps up first round
After an uneven start, Superstars of Dance comes out with their second two-hour bonanza in as many days. Will the directing be any better? Will this set of dancers be more impressive than the last? Will that Argentinian judge stop scoring people in a "Opposites Day" fashion? We'll find out soon.
Tonight's offerings will be solo-heavy with a whopping eight. I have two hopes for today: 1) Obviously the US will be doing breakdancing for the group specialty and they'd better not suck; 2) I hope the remaining representatives from Ireland aren't clogging or are at least more exciting.
Michael Flatley and Susie Castillo review the group leader board and introduce our judges from Argentina, India, Australia, South Africa, the United States, Ireland, Russia and China (which is the order that the individual score are listed in, minus of course the judge for the corresponding country who don't get a vote).
Group - Team Argentina
This group, called Los Huincas Gauchos, are a mix of dance styles as well as weaponry. The music is exciting, though the lighting is crappy. There are only three guys in the group, all with mustaches, and two are playing drums while another starts with a red cape like a bull fighter. The third grabs a drum and plays too, ending the first section. Our next soloist uses bolos. It's quite impressive. He's not one of the monks, but still impressive. Cape guy comes back for his turn with the same apparatus doing a nifty trick where they're hitting his hair as they whiz past his face. We almost missed it thanks to the back lighting. All three end with unison work. Flatley calls out the fact that there wasn't that much dancing to the Argentinian judge, who responds by saying they didn't everything they were supposed to be but she can't judge. Wow.
Score: 48 (7-7-6-7-6-8-7)
Solo - Mythili Prakash, India
Didn't we already see Team India's solist yesterday? Not that I'm complaining because they're beautiful dances. Mythili will be doing a traditional dance of South India believedto be the style of dance done by the gods. Ooooo. She's a very engaging performer and her routine is great, despite the bad camera angles. Why do you cut to a long shot on a soloist during a final pose? Wtf is that?
Score: 58 (9-8-8-9-8-8-8) - Team coach Nakul Dev Mahajan said he didn't understand the 8's since Mythili is the master of this discipline in India. Not just in a town, the whole flipping country. She "sets the standard." She should've gotten at least all 9's.
Solo - Kelly Hendry, Ireland
She's a world Irish Step champ who's father had a heart attack after she'd come over. But she knows he'd want her to perform and give it her best. No pressure. It's not exactly clogging, though it uses similiar movements and footwork. It's got more of a balletic feel to it. It was solid and she's easy on the eyes but it didn't knock me off my chair. Maybe if the music had a little more drive.
Score: 56 (8-8-8-8-8-8)
Duo - Henry Byalikov & Giselle Peacock, Australia
Their specialty is ballroom and also do what I'm thinking is a Samba. They're a great looking couple and have really good technique. Their chemistry isn't as palpable as Pasha & Anya but there was some fire. I wouldn't mind seeing them dance again.
Score: 56 (8-8-8-8-8-8-8)
Duo - Victor Da Silva & Claudia Savvides, South Africa
Victor & Claudia are also ballroom dancers, emphasizing on the Latin side. Like many of the dancers here, they've won several championships and are doing a "show" piece with a lot of lifts. It's basically a Rumba but I think they should've picked something with a little more oomph as the lifts, though good, occasionally came off hinky. Perhaps if they didn't use "I Have Nothing" by Whitney Houston I wouldn't have been a little bored despite their great skill.
Score: 59 (8-8-8-9-8-9-9)
Solo - Yang Yanan, China
He's only 18 and has been touring with a show that focuses on the monks. The weapons he'll be showcasing, the single and double whip, are the hardest of the discipline. In fact, only a handful of people can use them with the same amount of skill. Oooo. Now what sets him apart from the Argentinians with their bolos is that he was moving around a lot and covered the stage. Plus he's a Shaolin monk.
Score: 51 (8-7-7-7-7-7-8)
Solo - Dormeshia Sumbry-Edwards, USA
Dormeisha is a tap dancer and was in the movie Tap with Gregory Hines, Sammy Davie, Jr., and Savion Glover. Challenge! She's barely stopped moving the whole time and did it to music (that piece with the typewriter sounds that was in a Jerry Lewis movie). I like that she came out doing a more classic, 40's Hollywood type of number. She's the best tapper I've seen in awhile. Take that Australian dude.
Score: 55 (7-8-8-7-9-8-8) - This score is a travesty, a sham and a mockery. It's a traveshamockery. She was better than that dude yesterday. At least she got high enough to move on but damn.
Group - Team Russia
They doing a Cossack dance, which some of you may remember Twitch & Joshua doing in the last round of last year's So You Think You Can Dance. Dude, the director needs to chill on the back-lighting. It flares so you can't see stuff. It took a little bit to warm up to the super-impressive feats of acrobatics and whatnot but was enjoyable overall. I probably would've liked it better if the camera work didn't suck so hard. They kept missing the beginning of solos.
Score: 51 (7-7-7-7-8-7-8)
Group - Team India
This is one of the numbers I was most looking forward to, if not the number. Too bad about the bad camera work. Was anyone paying attention during the dress rehearsals? It was full of energy and exciting and I really dug it. Well, the parts that weren't ruined by the terrible directing decisions.
Score: 54 (7-8-7-9-8-7-8)
Solo - Mamela Nyamza, South Africa
She describes her solo as "Afro-Fusion," the story behind it being about a woman frustrated with her marriage and home life. And Mamela has a shaved head and working it. Her lines are fantastic. It might be a little too modern/interpretive for some, one girl in the audience looked particularly confused, but it was definitely filled with emotion.
Score: 58 (9-8-9-8-8-8-8)
Solo - Miriam Larici, Argentina
Miriam returns from her duet yesterday to perform by herself, which is cool with me since her partner wasn't nearly as engaging as she is. Her outfit is weird, but she said the number was her dreaming of a guy so the quasi-pajama look works. It was a nice little interlude that told a story but could've had a bit more content.
Score: 57 (8-8-8-8-8-9-8)
Duo - Damien O'Kane & Bernadette Flynn, Ireland
Like the soloist, they are champion Irish Stepdancers and happen to be married. I'm not sure what Damien's purpose in the dance was really because half the time he looked like he was trying to levitate her. Worst magician ever. Bernadette had much more to do.
Score: 58 (8-8-8-8-8-9-9)
Duo - Zhen Zhu Zheng & An Nan, China
This pair comes from the Nanuing Acrobatic Troupe so I'm prepping to have my mind blown. She's very light on her feet and they both have good lines. She just went en pointe on his shoulders and, among other moves, did a full turn. On his shoulders. No hands. And he walked around while she was en pointe. On one foot. Mind. Blown. If this doesn't get a good score, I'm officially calling the fix.
Score: 53 (7-7-7-8-8-7-9) - BOOOOOOOO! FIX! It's a fix!
India and China unfortunately are the two duos who had the lowest scores and won't be continuing to the next round.
Solo - Maria Kochetkova, Russia
Maria performs the first traditional ballet number of the competition. I could to without the castanets but her technique and lines are very good and she ends with a long turning sequence. Overall I liked it and have no problem at all with her moving to the next round.
Score: 63 (9-9-9-9-9-9-9)
Solo - Reed Luplau, Australia
This is somewhat surprisingly only the second Contemporary piece of the night. Eh. I'm not always a big fan of male Contemporary pieces because they read very similar to me. Very few people bring anything different or exciting. That being said, I recognize that Reed is very skilled but he's no Travis Wall.
Score: 65 (9-10-9-9-9-10-9)
The Russian and South African soloists from yesterday, both Chinese dancers, Dormeisha and Kelly have all been eliminated. There's a three way tie for the last person to go through (Miriam, Robert the Popper from USA and the Aussie tapper) with five of the judges voting. Robert Muraine qualifies with four of the five votes, the tapper got the other one.
Group - Team USA
The street crew is called The Groovaloos. Of the ten members, only one is a girl. Their number is based on the true story of one of their members, Steven, who was struck by a stray bullet and told he'd never walk again let alone dance. They especially better be good since they're using "Throw the Water On 'Em" by Busta Rhymes. More horrible camera angles AND OMG WHY ARE YOU CUTTING TO THE AUDIENCE?!?!? Sorry. Anyway, Steven was mainly doing a little popping because he's not 100% yet but it was good seeing him out there. They threw down some good tricks and danced to the whole song. I'm impressed overall despite the crap camera work.
Score: 67 (9-9-10-10-9-10-10)
The two groups eliminated from this round are Argentina and Russia.
Assorted Bits & Pieces:
- I am indescribably confused by the scoring. I don't even really want to go into it because I'll just start sputtering and I don't want to short out my laptop. What was wrong with some of those judges today? They were even worse than yesterday. I'm confounded.
- Having all the judges being from the same countries as the dancers is a tactical error. I feel like some of the low scores were given in retaliation or out of spite. Instead they should've had judges from neighboring countries - Canada, England or Scotland, Spain, Japan or Korea, etc. - to make it seem more objective.
- Dormeisha should have a dance off with the Aussie tap guy. I guarantee she wins.
- In the previews, it looks like Team China and Team USA will be having a "skills" showcase. Flips versus flips, splits versus splits, crazy skills versus crazy skills. At least there's one reason to watch next week.
What say you all? Were you as baffled by the scoring as I? Did you have a favorite number? Were you ambivalent to most of the numbers like me? Any other thoughts?