Let me preface my comments with this: I am by no means an expert, but my mother was a choreographer, so I know a bit about it, a bit of the mechanics and sat by while she analyzed dancing on TV/movies and also choreographed hundreds of routines.
Dance-wise I liked:
Jason, Jessica, Ryan, Heidi, Ben, Travis, Martha
Personality and Dance-wise I liked:
Benji, Allison, Stanislav, Joy, Dimitri, Natalie, Musa and Jamyz (or however weird way you spell it).
My favorites were Natalie/Musa and Dimitri/Joy in a landslide!
Benji was adorable; Allison exuberant in a non-annoying way. Dimitri was adorable, but in a hot way as opposed to the Benji-goofy way. Joy just had a spark and seems like such a nice girl. Natalie seems funny, self-effacing and just a livewire. Musa didn't show as much personality in the package, but I liked his attitude and boy, did his personality shine on the dance floor. I also found myself liking Jaymz the following night, whereas he didn't impress me at all the competition night.
My favorite routines were:
1. Musa/Natalie -- They were hot, fun, sexy, they had loads of chemistry and connected beautifully during the dance. I laughed, smiled, clapped in joy during the routine and at the end. I loved them!
2. Dimitri/Joy -- Screw the judges, LOL! I thought they were fun, fun, fun! Like M/N, they made me laugh, smile and clap when they were done in joy.
3. Jason/Alexandra -- I thought that, overall, this was the most compelling, well-put together routine. The costumes, the music, the choreography and their chemistry just blended beautifully to make an irresistible routine.
4. Ryan/Heidi -- I thought the first half was pure magic; just beautiful like they were floating in a dream. The second half showed their weaknesses as ballroom dancers, but the overall feel (helped in large part by the costumes, music and lighting) was just lovely.
- I could not believe the praise the judges were giving Jaymz/Jessica (although, I did like them). I saw three OBVIOUS missed and then quickly grabbed holds and there were other less obvious technical errors throughout the whole program. I was much more impressed with Jessica (who I thought had a lovely vitality) than Jaymz in the program. (He redeemed himself the following night.)
- Dimitri = hot! And Joy just has this spark about her. I really enjoyed these two.
- Ben/Ashley -- Sigh, they were really awful, but like the final judge (whose name is escaping me), it was Ashley who I felt was responsible. Ben? I could not take my eyes off. I would try to concentrate on Ashley, but once they separated, my eyes would immediately dart back to him. Regardless of how off that routine was (and boy was it) the fact that I came away with it still wowed by Ben's ability is a testament to his talent. Wow!
- Musa = Sexy! He and Natalie were a sheer sizzling joy to watch. While I agree that Martha/Travis had a technically difficult program that they executed flawlessly (both are marvelous dancers), I just enjoyed Natalie/Musa more and for me it was because I felt a connection between Musa and Natalie. They were dancing WITH one another, they reacted to one another and fed off of each other's dancing, actions and reactions. They were a PAIR dancing. Martha and Travis were two wonderful dancers sharing a routine; they were separate entities even when dancing together.
I was also annoyed with the judges accusing Musa of just standing there and somewhat comparing him to Ivan. Ivan was a stiff plank that Allison was dancing around. Musa, even while standing there (via the choreography) wasn't stiff, but loose while Natalie danced with him (not around him) and when Musa got to strut his stuff, he was wonderful -- fluid, graceful, sexy, sizzling and selling the hell out of his routine.
I thought the bottom three would be Erin/Stanislav, Ivan/Allison and Ben/Ashley and I thought that it would be Ivan and Ashley to go for sure. Yeah, I was wrong.
I was as shocked as Ben and Ashley that they weren't in the bottom three as they clearly, clearly had THE worst performance. Two of the three bottom-placers, I agreed with, but I don't think Jaymz/Jessica belonged there at all.
As for the solos:
Erin seems a lovely girl and is a great dancer, but there is something just slightly unpolished about her. She would have been my pick to go as well (since Ashley wasn't in the bottom three).
Allison is a great dancer, but she seemed all over the place. Too frantic and filling the music instead of feeling it. When she claimed (almost arrogantly, dipped her a bit in my estimation) that it was just improv, I shook my head and thought, 'ah, yeah and it showed.'
Jessica just has amazingly lovely lines; she is so fluid and graceful. I thought she was wonderful and while her comments came off a sight arrogant too because of the phrasing and the expression on her face, I'm giving her the benefit of the doubt that it was her nerves and lack of know-how in public speaking. Bottom-line is I'm glad that she is still around.
Stanislav can MOVE. I thought he was sexy, rhythymic and clearly showed that he can move across a dance floor. While he was doing a ballroom dance without a partner, his skill and fluidity showed clearly that he could handle more than ballroom.
Ivan was good, but he didn't wow me! And hip-hop while difficult is (imo) the only dance that just because you CAN do it and do it very, very well, it doesn't mean that you can do any other type and Ivan proved that. The other hip-hoppers showed their stuff (I'm still faint from watching Musa, phew!), but Ivan was stiff as a board in his routine and proved that versatility is NOT his forte. I still can not believe that Stanislav was voted out while Ivan remained. That is just wrong.
Jaymz wowed me. I had been quite unimpressed with him the night before, but his moves and vitality were awesome in his solo and I thought his comments with Cat were just adorable and I fell for him. Awww.
Finally, my thoughts on the judges. I have long-held deep-seated issues with Nigel Lythcoe from AI, but he does appear to know what he's talking about and I'm trying to separate my innate dislike of his slimy, two-faced political mongering from AI and enjoy what he brings to the table here. Mary whatshername! OHMYGOD!! Give me Paula Abdul on her crackwhoriest of crackwhore days over this woman. Seriously, she honestly makes me want to throw something at the TV. Can she be any more obnoxious? Sadly, I think the answer is yes. The third judge (Dan?) is okay, in between Nigel and Mary.
I can't help but compare the AI counterparts and Nigel beats Simon's narcissism anyday and Dan (?) beats Randy's idiocy handily (he may have the know-how but other than his correct calling on the pitchiness of singers (which he still misses half the time), he doesn't show what he actually knows, and of course, Paula Abdul over Mary in a rapidly beating heartbeat.
So You Think You Can Dance? Thumbs up or thumbs down from me? Definite thumbs up! With the first 20 years of my life filled with as much dance as it was and my addiction to reality-TV (except for Fear Factor and Big Brother -- I do have some limits, LOL!), why I didn't watch this the first time around or start this sooner is beyond me!!