Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Thoughts on So You Think You Can Dance's Top 20

Tomorrow night is the night!

As any real fan of either American Idol or So You Think You Can Dance knows, the real competition doesn't start until the contestants get onstage and perform in front of the voting public. We are finally ready to move past the manufactured tension, manipulative backstories, and bickering group members to see what kind of real talent this year's show has in store for us.

Bring it on!

So, here is some info on the contestants (from the press release for the show), along with my thoughts on this year's Top 20 (made only slightly more difficult by the fact that there are a solid handful of contestants that we have not yet seen dance at all -- damn producers!):

Anya Garnis
Age: 25
They Say: Latin Ballroom dancer from New York, NY. Anya has been living in the U.S. for six years after growing up in Russia. She has been dancing with partner Pasha Kovalev, also a finalist, for nine years.
I Say: There's no question this girl can move -- she and Faina will likely be in competition for the season's best female ballroom dancer. With her thick, muscular legs and sexy performance style, she reminds me a bit of last season's Natalie -- which is a good thing!

Jaimie Goodwin
Age: 19
They Say: Contemporary dancer from Virginia Beach, VA. Jaimie danced in competitions with Season Two contestant Travis before coming onto the show.
I Say: I don't even know who this is. Have they shown her dance?

Lauren Gottlieb
Age: 18
They Say: Contemporary/Jazz dancer who currently lives in Sherman Oaks, CA. After moving to California, she landed a spot dancing with Shakira at the Grammy Awards. She has been dancing since she was 2 years old.
I Say: One of the season's strongest dancers, and already a major personality on the show (thanks to her stint helping Tyce choreograph last year). I wouldn't be surprised to see her around in the Top 4.

Sabra Johnson
Age: 19
They Say: Contemporary dancer from Roy, UT, with training in Ballet and Jazz. She hopes to pursue dancing as a professional career.
I Say: Um, who is this girl?

Ashlee Langas
Age: 19
They Say: Contemporary/Jazz dancer from Tyler, TX. Ashlee has spent her life dancing in all sorts of settings from dance theaters to high school productions.
I Say: Not to be redundant, but, um, who? Oh wait, this is the one who the judges "like her personality and looks." And her dancing?

Shauna Noland
Age: 18
Contemporary dancer from North Hollywood, CA. She has been dancing for 15 years and also has an avid love of singing.
I Say: She did some nice turns...but we've only seen her dance for about 12 seconds, so that's all I can say at the moment.

Jessi Peralta
Age: 24
They Say: Hip-Hop dancer from Valley Village, CA. She has danced in front of President Bill Clinton at the Apollo and has performed at Madison Square Garden.
I Say: I didn't fall for the baby oil trick as hard as the judges did, but there is no doubt this girl has the performance chops. Does she have the technical dance skills, though?

Faina Savich
Age: 21
They Say: Latin Ballroom dancer from Brooklyn, NY. Following in her brother Stanislav's footsteps (he was a finalist in Season Two), Faina grew up in Moscow and has been living in the U.S. for six years.
I Say: Definitely fierce and sexy in her own genre, can Faina branch out far enough to make a real impact on the competition? Her brother, after all, was the first one eliminated last season. Will she suffer the same fate?

Lacey Schwimmer
Age: 18
They Say: Swing and International Latin dancer from Redlands, CA. Following in the footsteps of her brother and dance partner, Benji, who won the competition last season, Lacey has her own style which she hopes to showcase this season.
I Say: So far, I'm not impressed. Perhaps it's because I'm comparing her to her brother, but she's going to have to really step up her game if she wants to get out of Benji's large shadow.

Sara Von Gillern
Age: 23
They Say: Hip-Hop/B-girl dancer from Ft. Collins, CO. She is a dance instructor and was one of 30 people from all over the world selected to be part of the Red Bull: Beat Rider program, which gave her the chance to work with some of the biggest names in the Hip-Hop/Breaking field.
I Say: I like that they've got a b-girl representing, and I like that this b-girl seems like she can actually really dance. I've got high hopes for this one.

Jimmy Arguello
Age: 21
They Say: Contemporary dancer from Miami, FL. After taking his first dance class in middle school, Jimmy, at first focused on running in track and field, changed directions completely and found his true calling in dance.
I Say: What? Who?

Kameron Bink
Age: 20
They Say: Contemporary/Hip-Hop dancer from Coral Springs, FL. Known for his distinct red-star hair, Kameron brings over 15 years of dance training to the show and hopes the experience will bring him new and exciting opportunities as he pursues a professional dance career.
I Say: This kid is cute and he can do a back-flip -- and that's all I know for now. But so far, so good.

Cedric Gardner
Age: 23
They Say: Hip-Hop dancer from New Berlin, WI. He started training at 18 at University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, then moved two-years later to Los Angeles, where he received a full scholarship with Monsters of Hip Hop.
I Say: What? Who?

Neil Haskel
Age: 20
They Say: Contemporary Jazz dancer from Clarence Center, NY. Neil is currently training in New York City, where he performed in the play "The Times They are A-Changin'" on Broadway and was named Male Dancer of the Year in 2005 by the American Dance Awards Competition.
I Say: With his blonde hair, great spins and cute smile, is this Travis 2.0? We should only be so lucky!

Hok Konishi
Age: 22
They say: B-boy dancer from Los Angeles, CA. Born in Tokyo, Hok spent much of his youth in Oxford.
I Say: Totally charming, and, after three seasons auditioning on the show, very popular. However, he is lacking in technical skills, so expect him to make it to the Top 10, but not much further.

Pasha Kovalev
Age: 27
They Say: Latin Ballroom dancer from Fort Lee, NJ. Pasha is originally from Russia and has trained with numerous professional ballroom dancers. He has been dancing with partner Anya Garnis, also a finalist, for nine years.
I Say: Season 1's Artem and Season 2's Dimitri, both ballroom dancers, went far in the competition -- will sexy Pasha do the same?

Ricky Palomino
Age: 25
They Say: Contemporary dancer from Phoenix, AZ. Ricky also enjoys singing (he recently recorded his first CD), and he is a master teacher and choreographer.
I Say: Total wierdo, but there's no question this kid can dance. If Mia Michaels loves him so do I!
Dominic Sandoval
Age: 21
They Say: B-boy/Hip-Hop dancer from Roseville, CA. Born in Sacramento, he started his hip-hop training in January of this year.
I Say: D-Trix definitely has the moves, but can he do the choreography? Time will tell.

Jess Solorio
Age: 23
They Say: Contemporary/Jazz dancer from Paso Robles, CA. Jess makes his own wine at his family vineyard.
I Say: Chuy! I think this guy has a real shot at filling the Travis/Nick L. spot.

Danny Tidwell
Age: 23
They Say: Contemporary/Jazz dancer from New York, NY, whose brother Travis Wall was last season's runner-up. Danny was previously involved with the American Ballet Company.
I Say: He certainly hasn't won any personality points so far, but from what we've seen of his dancing, he looks sharp. Will Travis' fans come out in support of his half-brother?

If I had to, completely foolishly, choose a Top 10 simply from this list, I'd go with: Anya, Lauren, Faina, Sara, Danny, Hok, Ricky, Chuy, Neil, and, why not, Jaime.

Who are you excited about?

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nick said...

Neil! Neil! Neil! Neil! Neil! Neil! Neil! Neil! Neil! Neil! Neil! Neil! Neil! Neil!

Anonymous said...

Sara is sweet! She rocks and I think shes going to go far!

Anonymous said...

Love Ricky - he needs to lose his partner. Too tall for him!

Neil is fab!!!

And I love Lacey.

Must make a correction - it is Jesus and not Jess Solorio. Also, his family does not own a vineyard. His family was picking grapes because that is the only job they could find. Hard working people.