Murtz On The Scene: So You Think You Can Dance Canada – Top 22 Performance Episode Review

So here we are again. So You Think You Can Dance Canada Season 4.

I have to say that I was looking forward to this year’s competition because I would finally be able to catch all the performance shows live (after being stuck in LA for the past two summers) and reestablish myself as the ironman of Canadian reality television.

So let’s get right to it. From the audition episodes this season, I definitely picked a favourite and I have to say that the judges did a major disservice by not allowing Jenny Dailey through. Jenny’s twin sister, Jayme-Rae was a finalist in the show’s second season and I believe that she was definitely the best dancer of the entire season. I am still trying to make sense of it.

While I definitely disagreed with many of the dancers that were advanced into the Top 22 stage this year, this is the part of the competition where everything really does start all over. It will also be interesting to see how the fact that the U.S. version of the show is airing concurrently will increase or decrease our nation’s appetite for dance.

When I arrived at Showline Studios on Saturday for the first performance episode of the season (the shows will be pre-taped in advance of them airing on Mondays), I noticed that there was a definite increase in number for the live audience. From the crowd size, it seemed like a much bigger show.

I also quickly realized that it would be a long night as 22 dancers advancing meant 11 dances in the first show.

When host Leah Miller kicked things off, things started on a somber note as the dancers didn’t immediately come out to the intro and she announced that the show’s only competitor from Manitoba, Moses Layco was leaving the competition due to a shoulder ligament injury. Something similar happened last season when an injury forced Shelaina Anderson out of the competition and she returned to make this season’s Top 22. After a short and heart-tugging video package that showed the dancer crying, judge Jean Marc Genereux invited Moses to return next season. Interestingly, the judges volunteered some interesting information and Jean Marc revealed that other dancers were injured too (although presumably not as seriously as Moses was). He mentioned Jordan and Kevin also not being at 100%. Luther Brown said that he couldn’t pick a winner and that it was the “most personable set of kids” yet.

Then the show opened as it usually does with the girls and guys coming out. Some items of interest to note here:

– The stage looked packed with 22 dancers
– Jordan was announced last and as I believe she is the current favorite to win based on how much airtime she received in the audition episodes, I thought that getting the last call-out would make her stick out even more.
– My new favorite (not that Jenny Dailey is gone) is a tie between Cassandra and the aforementioned Shelaina)

Let’s get to the new pairings:

CHRISTIAN MILLETTE & LINDSAY LEUSCHNER
– Christian is a ballroom dancer from Montreal and Lindsay is a contemporary dancer from Stouffville
– Christian must have felt like he was at a serious advantage dancing in his style
– The pair looked a lot like Tara-Jean & Vincent from Season 2
– Clearly Christian’s partnering skills helped Lindsay’s lack of experience in the style
– I was not convinced of their chemistry together, but hopefully this will grow as season continues
– Routine seemed more like a series of tricks rather than a flowing collaboration
– Guest judge Mary Murphy put the pair on her ‘hot tamale train’ and Blake referred to the pair as ‘beauty and the beast.’
– Tre referred to Lindsay as looking like season 1’s Natalli Reznick but I stick with my Tara-Jean comparison
– It was a good opening performance from one of the show’s stronger teams.

JOEY ARRIGO & JORDAN CLARK
– Joey is a contemporary dancer from Newmarket and Jordan is a contemporary dancer from Tottenham
– Interesting that the pair of contemporary dancers drew a contemporary routine from a contemporary choreographer
– In my opinion, this is the best duo and one that is guaranteed to make it to the Top 10
– Stacey’s routine, dedicated to victims of natural disaster (I think) was powerful but I am not sure it would have been as compelling with other dancers.
– The routine featured intricate contemporary choreography which has become a staple for Tookey, who has now clearly established herself as the second best choreographer on dance shows next to the incomparable Mia Michaels
– Mary Murphy said that the routine was mesmerizing
– Luther Brown said that Joey and Jordan were a “dream team on top of a dream team” which I completely agree with.
– Noticed that the choreographers were in the crowd with the fans to watch how their dancers performed which was unique as on the U.S. version they just sit in the stands.

JP DUBE & DENITSA IKONOMOVA
– JP is a hip-hop dancer from Montreal and Denitsa is a ballroom dancer from Laval
– The vampire routine was cute and will only further the JP/Justin Bieber comparisons
– While I liked the routine, I thought that they didn’t hit it as well as they could have
– Denitsa’s inexperience with the style was definitely visible
– JP did a good job and with girls voting for him has really nothing to be worried about for awhile
– The style of the routine was quite unique for hip-hop
– Mary said they might be the ‘cutest couple’ ever
– Blake admitted that the pair followed two phenomenal routines right out of the gate, which I thought was a relevant point because it might have impacted what people were expected out of them

SHELAINA ANDERSON & MATT MARR
– Shelaina is a contemporary dancer from Edmonton and Matt is a contemporary dancer from Quispamsis
– The Sabrina Mathews routine was inspired by a doll coming to life (it’s pretty much not a dance season without some kind of take on this concept)
– Once again two contemporary dancers managed to draw a contemporary routine
– I personally loved this routine and performance but I have a feeling that it might not stand-up against the other dancers who have developed bigger characters over the course of the show
– While we remember Shelaina, it’s primarily because of how she came back from the injury and I would be hard-pressed to name anything Matt did during the auditions
– With that being said, if their partnership continues the way that it did, they could be darkhorses… if they make it out of the first couple of rounds
– Loved the music of the routine

ADAM LOPAPA & YULIYA ZAVADSKA
– Adam is a jazz dancer from Woodbridge and Yuliya is a latin dancer from Toronto
– The theater routine choreographed by Melissa Williams was about a magic quarter which when put into a 50’s themed diner jukebox prompts the girl into attracting the attention of the hottest guy around
– I didn’t know I was dancing
– I thought Yuliya was spectacular in this number
– After her original audition partner, Sharon, did not make it into the Top 22, I worried that Yuliya might not be able to capture the same chemistry with anyone else
– Completely wrong as I thought she was one of the best dancers of the night who was performing out of her style
– The Buddy Holly music was great and I thought the fun choreography did a great job to highlight both dancers strengths
– Not sure how far they will go, but they deserve to move on past this round

FRANCOIS PRUNEAU & CASSANDRA FLAMMINI
– Francois is a ballroom dancer from Trois-Rivieres and Cassandra is a jazz dancer from Toronto
– Very interesting video package before this pair took the stage where Cassandra admitted she was a ‘sexy jazz dancer’ and she liked when the judges called her ‘Ca-Sexy’
– I can’t see that going over to well with the girls who vote on the show
– Crazy lifts in this routine… some of the most impressive lifts I have ever seen on a dance show
– While the lifts were great, I thought that this slowed the routine a little
– The rose petals was a nice touch
– Chemistry needs to grow between the pair
– Mary said that there was nothing wrong with the connection between the pair, but I disagreed
– Blake threw in a plug for his new “Lovesick” video and how he wished he could have cast Cassandra in it

DWAYNE “BONELESS” GULSTON & CARLENA BRITCH
– Boneless is a hip-hop dancer from Toronto and Carlena is a hip-hop dancer from Vancouver
– New choreographer Steve Bolton made an amazing impression as this was undoubtedly the best performance of the evening
– Once again, it was a hip-hop routine that was danced by two hip-hop dancers so that obviously helped matters
– The judges gave the routine a standing ovation and it was deserved
– Both dancers were in the pocket and hit each mark
– Undeniable chemistry
– Will be interesting to see what happens when they get other styles

KEVIN HOWE & TEYA WILD
– Kevin is a contemporary dancer from Ottawa and Teya is a hip-hop dancer from North Vancouver
– This pair definitely didn’t connect in this contemporary routine and I think that they are in the most danger to be the first eliminated
– Kevin was one of the best male dancers during auditions but as Jean Marc hinted at, it’s clear that he wasn’t himself
– I expected him to dominate a contemporary routine but whereas the style was on the spot, this chemistry just never seemed to find its footing
– I thought Teya did a good job considering she was out of her style but definitely was expecting more out of Kevin who was one of my picks to go to the end
– Jean Marc said that while he knew that Kevin was deeply injured, “it didn’t show at all,” but I didn’t concur

RODRIGO BASURTO & LAUREN LYN
– Rodrigo is a hip-hop dancer from Toronto and Lauren is a salsa dancer from Toronto.
– They danced a brilliant Gustavo Vargas piece which highlighted both of their personalities
– There was a strong connection between both dancers and it was a fun one to watch
– While it technically had some issues, that didn’t really matter as both dancers made the live audience smile
– I like this pair because of the underdog factor as well
– I think that they are both underrated
– Mary agreed and said that the performance was an “A+” but that it technically wasn’t correct

ADAM ASSELIN-RIOUX & GEISHA CHIN
– Adam is a contemporary dancer from Saint-Jean-Sur-Richelieu and Geisha is a contemporary dancer from Toronto
– The pair performed a New Disco routine from Melissa Williams to Lady Gaga’s “Edge of Glory”
– Geisha is one of the best female dancers in the competition and despite Adam just joining the Top 22 to replace Moses, the pair were on fire
– The popular song certainly helped the crowd get into it
– It was revealed to the live audience that Adam might not perform because of a hip injury, but he managed to pull it off effectively
– Geisha was so good that I think she could have carried any partner into a great routine

MELISSA MITRO & SHANE SIMPSON
– Melissa is a contemporary dancer from Richmond Hill and Shane is a jazz dancer from Thornhill
– The pair’s connection was, in a word, fierce
– They drew Afro Jazz from Sean Cheesman and it basically revolved around the idea of a marriage ceremony and a broom
– It was a nice way to the end the show as afro jazz is like Bollywood in the sense that it always gets the crowd into it
– Melissa’s strength will be an obvious advantage for her partners as she has the ability to propel herself up very high in jumps and aerials
– Both dancers were in sync

So there you have it. The first performance episode of the season. I think that Boneless and Carlena were the best of the night and that Kevin and Teya are the most in danger. I also think that despite their great dance, Melissa and Shane might be in danger as well. I am hoping that in the next episode we see all of the dancers out of their style as that will really separate the pretenders from the contenders.

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