cover art by Opalsong
|Podbook (entire series)||3:12:35||90.6 MB|
Credits in the End Notes
cross posted at amplificathon, my journal, and AO3
Was there something in the water this week? What did I just watch? Can every week be like this, please? No other week has made it so abundantly clear how much the remaining dancers have bonded as a group. Every contestant danced twice with a partner and showed off another solo to boot. No other week has been quite so... adventurous with the choreography and design decisions either. It was a weird, wild ride and I loved every second.
First, there is an important business matter I need to discuss. You may recall I was more than a little upset when Mirajane was voted off last week. I, among others, was pretty vocal in stating how unfair it was that Mirajane was gone when Lucy wasn't. It seems our voices were heard. Mirajane herself took to twitter to lay down some truth bombs. With that extra-smooth segue, I take you to the tweet of the week:
Mirajane is right of course. I regret everything! So, keeping Mirajane’s sage and sobering words in our hearts, let’s get to the dances!
Top 6 Dance
Bollywood, Lalla Lalla Lori, choreographed by Nakul Dev Mahajan
I don't know what I was expecting from this dance, but a three-vs-three-bollywood-gang-war storyline was not on the top of my list. It wasn't just Natsu who looked like he was having a blast with this routine, everybody did. The only person who probably had more fun was me, watching it. I liked how the 'gangs' were divided by boys vs. girls, but it didn't feel like a 'battle of the sexes' routine. Instead it felt like Juvia and Lucy just were the two people that Erza chose for her gang. And can I just say, of course it was Erza's gang who won. That's only the only natural conclusion to this story.
Gajeel & Natsu
Contemporary, I Want it That Way, choreographed by Travis Wall
Gajeel and Natsu were so good last week, we got to see them dance together again! This time contemporary! And it was super romantic! I'm damn sure it was intentional this time. It was pretty overt too, because even professional gay-subtext-denier Nigel noticed, and looked super uncomfortable. But forget him! What I loved, loved, loved about this routine wasn't the technique, which was only so-so, was how both dancers just went for it 100%. No awkward, 'oh we're like brothers' excuses. And Gajeel lifted Natsu! Dudes lifting dudes! YEEEEEEES!
Erza & Gray
Ballet, Meditation, choreographed by Desmond Richardson
I didn't know Erza could dance ballet! Is there anything she can't do? Sorry, silly question. Of course there isn't! We almost never get ballet duets on this show, since it requires such dedicated training. A woman can't just throw on a pair of point shoes and learn a pas de deux in a week (unless she wants to destroy her feet, that is), so Erza clearly has the training, though she's not on Gray's level. Probably. With Erza you never know. Both of them looked completely comfortable. The whole routine was clean and precise.
Juvia & Gajeel
Broadway, Let the Monster Rise, choreographed by Spencer Liff
Wow, this was dark! Not the same quality of darkness as Gajeel's hip hop with Natsu last week. This was... creepier. I got actual shivers. Juvia's chemistry with her partners has been hit-or-miss, but this was another 'hit' in my books. I had forgotten until now that Juvia and Gajeel used to be on a dance crew together at one time. And, yeah, I could tell. Unlike Gray, Juvia's chemistry with Gajeel was distinctly not sexual, more like long time partners. And both of them pulled off the creepy factor of this routine perfectly.
Lucy & Erza
Contemporary, Under Your Spell, choreographed by Tessandra Chavez
Weren't we just talking about gay-subtext? Well it's not just for the boys! Like Natsu and Gajeel, both dancers held nothing back here. It was sexy as hell! The lighting and costume designers were obviously on board as well. Sadly, So You Think You Can Dance still isn't 'allowed' to overtly acknowledge when a routine is a love story between two dancers of the same gender, but anyone with eyeballs can see it. Poor Nigel! Two in the same week? Tooooooooo bad!
Gray & Juvia
Lyrical Hip Hop, Stupid, choreographed by Tabitha and Napolean
Juvia and Gray back together! Juvia looked so happy it almost broke the routine. I mean, the piece was supposed to be about unrequited longing, but it doesn't work so well when one of the dancers is grinning from ear to ear. And yet, I can't stay mad at Juvia! That smile wasn't fake, and how can I criticise Juvia for being happy? That would make me an ass! I try to avoid that. And I still need Mirajane to tweet some sense into me! Ok, off topic, back to the routine. The 'unrequited love' story didn't quite make it to the stage, but what we got instead was immeasurably sweeter.
Natsu & Lucy
Cha Cha, Shake It, choreographed by Dmitry Chaplin
This dance had no story, no concept, no depth. AND I LOVED IT! I was super excited to see Lucy and Natsu back together at last, and I was not disappointed. This dance was pure, concentrated, high energy ballroom joy. Technically, this piece didn't seem very difficult. I'm fairly certain that anyone among our remaining dancers could have pulled off this routine. BUT! The true brilliance of this piece is that nobody, I mean nobody could have done it better. Not even Ballroom Goddess Erza could have captured the same feeling of unbridled delight.
Erza Solo (Ballroom)
Ah the solos! This was where the episode really let it's hair down. Ok, I'm referring specifically to the 'about the dancer' segment. This week the producers did something really unorthodox. Instead of asking every dancer a question, each contestant was invited to plan and lead a group activity. I think the idea was to have the dancers give each other lessons in their own specialty dance style. Buuuuut, that's not how it played out. Erza, who went first, made everyone choose their outfits for the finale solos. Nobody takes clothes more seriously than Erza. According to her, the right outfit literally means the difference between victory and defeat. Oh, was I supposed to be talking about the dancing? Erza was flawless. When is she anything else?
Gajeel Solo (Krump)
Dare I say it? That solo looked... polished. The difference between Gajeel’s solo just two weeks ago and now is incredible. Maybe 'polished' is the wrong word. I think I mean happy? You'd think it would be easier to tell the difference between those two, wouldn't you. And yet, here we are. Either way, it was nice! Gajeel's activity is one I'm positive the show's producers did NOT have in mind: home piercing tutorial. I don't think even Gajeel took into account Natsu's enthusiasm and strong competitive streak. I'm glad Erza stopped Natsu before he pierced his entire face.
Juvia Solo (Contemporary)
I always find it fascinating to see Juvia dance on her own. Juvia always looks so happy when she's dancing with Gray and either disinterested or strangely intense when dancing with anyone else. But Juvia alone always seems sad. Bring back happy Juvia! I liked Juvia's activity too; she led everyone is a lesson on how to build your own small doll. In a moment that was small but heartbreaking, Juvia mentioned that these dolls were her best friends when she was a child. Juviaaaaaaa! I'm crying forever!
Gray Solo (Ballet)
Sadly, this time Gray's solo was actually ballet. I'm positive I'm not the only person who was hoping for another pole dance. Completely positive. Fortunately, we weren't entirely without. For his activity, Gray gave everyone a lesson in how to pole dance! Nobody took it more seriously than Erza, who looked like a professional after twenty minutes. Juvia was certainly putting her heart into it too. I genuinely have no idea if Natsu took the lesson seriously or not. He was sure... um.... giving it his all?
Lucy Solo (Jazz)
A nice light hearted solo piece from Lucy. She was still leaning a bit heavily on the 'sexy jazz dancer' shtick for my personal taste. And yet, I can see the growth in Lucy's dancing too. She isn't just a sexy dancer anymore. Lucy's activity was the most interesting, in my opinion, and definitely not one I saw coming. A short story writing activity? Whaaaat! I am so, so, so sad we didn't get to hear all the stories the other dancers wrote. I know the show has a 'time limit' or whatever but this is important!! I neeeed to heeeeaaaar those stories. I bet Juvia's was self insert romance between her and Gray. IT WAS, WASN'T IT! And can you imagine what Natsu wrote? My only, small, consolation is that Lucy didn't let anyone see hers. Which is extra amusing to me because, Lucy, you chose that activity!
Natsu Solo (Breaking)
Natsu, breaking out all the stops! Get it? 'Breaking'? Eh? Yeah, that was bad; I'm not sorry. But in all seriousness, I'm pretty sure I stopped breathing during this routine, it was that intense. Natsu is clearly in it to win it. Nothing showcased that better than Natsu's activity this week. He challenged all the other dancers to a breakdance fight. Lucy pointed out, reasonably, that Natsu is the only break dancer left on the show. Though I personally would NOT be surprised if Erza turned out to be a professional breaker on top of being a ballerina and ballroom world champion. Not surprised at all. From there, the activity turned into Natsu giving everyone informal dance lessons. Does it strike anyone else as ironic that Natsu's activity turned out to be the one that MOST conformed to what the producers had in mind? Anyone?
Eliminations and Closing Thoughts
There are so few dancers left now! Seeing anyone go home is heartbreaking. I wasn't terribly surprised that it was Juvia and Gajeel. I just have to keep telling myself that this DOES NOT mean a future of sad Juvia solos forever. No. She'll dance with Gray again in the finale, I'm sure. And if Juvia has anything to say about it, she'll dance with him a lot more after that too.
Gajeel looked, surprisingly chill with being sent home. Cat noticed it too, and asked Gajeel if there was anyone he was looking forward to seeing now that he won't be tied up with the show... And Gajeel blushed! I didn't think his face could DO that! And it was adorable!! Hugs for Gajeel? Yes. Hugs for Gajeel! And hugs for Juvia! Hugs for everybody!!
Next week is the top four! It's down to Lucy, Erza, Gray, and Natsu. Not the top four I'd have predicted eight weeks ago! We're going to be in for something really special, I can tell. There's only one week left for the dancers to show their stuff and collect votes! After that is the finale and the winner is announced. We're so close to the end people! So close!