Next up is Bei Zheng, who is a ribbon dancer from China. Ooh... promising! OK, it's not like rhythmic gymnastics, with the ribbons on a stick -- she's got these huge swathes of rainbow colored fabric twisted around her arms and she does these spins and they form circles and waves and they are very pretty, but there's not a whole lot of "dance" here, so I'm not sure what the judges will think. I mean, this is the inherent problem in judging all these different kinds of styles against each other. This just isn't as obviously impressive as a sexy ballroom, or as easily identifiably as a tap dance. Michael Flatley tries to greet the Chinese judge in Mandarin (which again, comes off as pretentious). She gets a 51.
During the commercial break I go to the other room and see my husband is watching Freaks and Geeks DVDs and I'm jealous. Especially since I've got another hour of this to get through.
South Africa's Gumboot Dancers kick off the second half. They're dressed like miners to tell the story and plight of their fellow countrymen. They are carrying big garbage cans, and jump in and out of them and on them and they've got bells on their shoes so each time they stomp the ground, they jingle in unison. I like it! South Africa's judge commends the simplicity of the dance and how it is from the heart. Flatley marvels at the fact that there was no music; it was all generated by them. The judges give them mostly 8s. I thought it was better than that, but what do I know. They get a 57.
A group routine from Australia is up next. Garry Stewart, their choreographer, talks about this unique style that is fast and flexible. It's got a hip-hop meets contemporary sort of feel, with lots of down on the ground moves and leaping. Think like what Step Up 4 would probably look like. It is a string of little small groups and the entire group doesn't really perform together, which might not fly, but since we get no actual criticism or opinions from the judges it is hard to know why they are giving these scores. They get a 57.
Then there's a solo by Damien O'Kane from Team Ireland. I think he's the same guy who was flitting about during the group routine, but I wasn't paying that close attention then and I can't bring myself to go back. If it is him, he's wearing a new costume and this one has flames all over it. Considering that the judges loved the group routine they'll probably eat this up. Eh, sorta. He gets a 58. He's in a tie for first among the soloists so far.