Joining Mary and Nigel in Los Angeles is Adam Shankman, and we are reminded of how awesome he is, by which he means he's done a bunch of movies that I haven't seen. I mean, I don't have anything against Adam Shankman. But telling me that he was involved with Bedtime Stories doesn't affect me one way or another. So far the guest judges are batting five hundred, ranging from mean and annoying (Tyce) to just annoying (Sonya) to nice and boring (Taboleon) to respectful and actually helpful (Lil' C). I'm thinking that Adam's going to fall on the positive side of that ledger.
Bianca Revels, 20, from Detroit was a tap dancer who just missed out on the Top 20 last year. Am I nuts or is there a lot more tapdancing going on this year than before? How many times do we have to be told that someone is going to bring tap back? Don't we have to want it back? Wouldn't tap be back if we wanted it to be? And let's face it: even if someone does bring tap "back," what's that going to mean? Six months of Gap ads with people tapdancing in jeans, and all your friends are going to go to parties where suddenly people are putting their tap lessons to use, and half of them are going to claim that have always been into tap, and then you will buy a Squirrel Nut Zippers record, and then after a while you'll remember that it's much easier just to hang out and drink and play Wii. Still, that Squirrel Nut Zippers record was pretty good. Personally, I'm hoping someone brings back the barrelhouse polka.
Anyway, where was I? Oh, yeah: Bianca. She's crying about something now, and her mom is there to support. She says her mom always said, "Whatever you say, you speak into existence." Which sounds suspiciously like bullshit to me. I don't know. It's something to do with being positive. Bianca's dancing without music. What can I say about her tapdancing? For those who like this sort of thing, this is the sort of thing that they like. Which means the judges. Nigel calls it a "beautiful, contained" performance, and says she is a "consummate tapdancer." Mary calls her the best female tapdancer they've had on this show, and Adam says he's hoping for big things for her. She gets her ticket right through to Vegas. But my god, if there is a dance genre that cries out for proof a performer can do something else, it's tap, not hip-hop. But she gets a pass, justifiably, for having made it to Vegas before.
Then there is a brother and sister couple, Brynelle Blanton, 21, of L.A., and Xavier Blanton, 19, who are always holding hands and hugging and kissing, and then thinking how hilarious it is that people think they're a couple. They dance some ballroomish contemporary, and struggle at first, and then struggle in the middle, and struggle at the end. It looks sometimes like they're dancing two different routines, and Xavier can't swing Brynelle around to save his life.
Nigel calls it very strange. Mary says being childlike and goofy can work if it's layered on top of technique, which isn't happening. Nigel asks what training they have, and Xavier says he's gone to ballet school and then is already getting ahead of himself by saying he's fine if they don't go to Vegas, because this has brought him and his sister closer. God, any closer and Brynelle will be pregnant. Adam offers some specific criticism of actual moves, and the judges conclude that she dances like she's still four years old and say they're not right for the competition, and then the two of them leave to go make out somewhere.
Debra Lawson doesn't suck because she's heavy, but Nigel points out that if she's going to dance, she's got to choose movements that suit her body, rather than the movements of taller, thinner dancers. But Debra's got another problem: she's torn between her dancing and orthodox Judaism, which will forbid her from dancing on the Sabbath, and in front of men, for that matter. Which isn't something that she's going to have to worry about, but Mary puts in a chipper plug for dancing, because she loves it. Well, she loves God too. Adam helps out by saying that when he dances, that's the closest he feels to God. "I would never ask you to give that up. God doesn't make mistakes. God made you a dancer, it's not a mistake. It may not be your profession, but if it is your passion, continue." She thanks them, and thank god that she wasn't shown just for "check out the fat girl!" purposes.
Then there is a woman who looks like a fighter from a Street Fighter game, dancing to what sounds like Bjork slowed down and translated into whale music. She calls it fairy medicine. And there's a guy in white face paint, and a chunky Asian guy who dances like Rihanna. Apparently the judges found it "too girly" of a performance.
So hopefully we're finished with the "check out all the freaks in L.A." part of the show, and Calico Sequeira, 30, of Irvine, Calif., can wow us all with her swing dancing. She does well with the Lindy hop, dancing with a partner who's not auditioning.
Nigel thinks she's great at the Lindy hop -- she's even in a club for it -- but this is more of a social dance routine and not right for this show, or some such bullshit. Like, you're great at this dance you do, but we've decided we don't like the Lindy hop, so we're not putting you through. Adam, like Nigel, says that he'd love to dance with her too, and she invites him up on stage, and Adam comes up and effortlessly leads her through a routine. Then Mary and Nigel make Adam step up to the mike and invite some of last year's contestants -- Katee's there, as is Joshua, the champ -- up to the table. Katee solemnly asks him how bad he wants this, and Adam says he's wanted it really bad for the last ten minutes. Joshua starts to grill him, until Adam reminds Joshua who put him through last year -- at which point they send Adam straight through to Vegas, so Adam grabs a ticket and runs screaming out the doors. It's a cute, funny, unscripted moment that would have been even better if we hadn't had it ruined with the previews from last night.
So then there's Asuka Kondoh, 25, from Irvine, Calif., who's dancing international Latin ballroom, with her partner, Ricky Sun, 28, from Arcadia, Calif. She says that when you think of "international Latin ballroom" you don't think of Asian people. Well, that's true enough. She made it to the final round last year before being cut, and she's back again. She babbles for about half an hour, and then Ricky simply says, "I feel the same way." Heh.
Before she starts dancing, Nigel tells her to try to look sexy. So now she's got to perform whilst knowing Nigel's leering at her. They're really good, so now if I ever think "international Latin ballroom," I will think exclusively of Asians. Nice work, Asuka!
Nigel tells Ricky that he's got a tough job because when Asuka's on the stage, every head will turn towards her, but he holds his own. Not so much that Nigel wants to have sex with you or anything, but you hold your own, Ricky. He doesn't remember Ricky being that good last year. Then he lavishes praise on Asuka, and then Mary starts by laughing, so let's just skip right over her. Adam says he couldn't take his eyes off Asuka, so he has to assume that Ricky was as good as the other judges say he was. They're both sent through to Vegas.
So that leads into one of those contrived "that seemed to turn things around for the dancers" montages, where suddenly everyone is good.
Nathan Trasoras, 17 (17? Uh-oh) of Downey, Calif. is the last dancer, and he says he wanted to quit dancing because he was made fun of, but his brother urged him to give it one more year, so here he is, dancing contemporary ballet, and he's really good, with great control over his body. His pirouettes are really damn good. Adam calls it "pretty damn extraord