Ballerino Alex Wong Nails Hip Hop: So You Think You Can Dance Week 3

07/01/2010 02:38 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011
  • Tonya Plank Novelist, blogger, ballroom dancer, public interest attorney

So, this week, they had the first same-sex routine (not the first ever, but the first pre-finals) -- and it turned out to be an excellent one -- a hip hop Alex Wong danced with Twitch, and they also allowed the contestants to talk a bit about their inspirations for starting their dance careers, which I thought was nice.

First on: Adechicke and Lauren dancing a hip hop choreographed by Dave Scott. First, Adechicke says he's inspired by Desmond Richardson, which excited me greatly because I love that man! Says he liked him because he's manly, nothing feminine about him, not to mention an excellent dancer. The routine: I thought it was pretty good. Adechicke doesn't completely blow me away for some reason (Lauren didn't either though), but I thought his form was excellent, he was really fun, had a real funk about him, and those kicks and that turning jump were awesome. I liked his solo - contemporary but with a little bit of breaking movement. It reminded me of someone else's from a past show - maybe Will.

Next, Ashley and Ade dance a contemporary routine by new choreographer Dee Caspary. First, Ashley's inspiration is her dance teacher, whom she calls a second mom. Sweet. This is yet another contemporary routine for Ashley, which we know she does well. But I thought this was particularly beautiful. She has such lovely lines. I love how she never forgets to point her toes, unlike some other dancers, and she never stops thinking about the lines she's making. And yet she's so fluid and natural you'd never know she's thinking about such things. She also danced with a lot of intensity and intention. In my opinion, she outshone Ade in this. I agree with Nigel that it was her best performance yet.

Robert's biggest inspiration is his mother, who's been through a lot of life crises -- cancer, death of two children, miscarriages -- wow, a real survivor. He and Courtney's do a Sonya Tayeh jazz dance. I thought the best part of the routine was when he bent over and shot Courtney this crazed look, then started working his fingers like he was an evil magician, before coming toward her. Deliciously creepy! But still, I didn't think the whole performance was at the level of someone like Mark Kanemura, and Courtney really outshone him. I think he tried hard with this routine and I think some of his lines were, as I said, deliciously creepy, but most of them just weren't all the way there, not at the level of others who've done Tayeh's work anyway. And his solo was nice but to me his movement just doesn't have the range or expansiveness of other contemporary dancers like Alex and Billy. The judges love him though, so I totally understand if people disagree with me!

Jose's inspiration is Bruce Lee. He took his philosophy on life and applied it to breaking. I love it! He dances samba with Anya to a Dmitri Chaplin routine: Well, this is Anya's best dance, I think, and it was hard not to concentrate on her. When Jose went fast his hips didn't really move properly, but when he went more slowly he was so sensual. There was a set of cucharachas (slow, hip swaying movement) that was really mouthwatering! He's not a natural Latin dancer but I still loved watching this. He looked really suave and smooth and virile. And he does have a sweetness that really shines through no matter what he's doing. And that solo, wow, he is an excellent b-boy. Love love love those head spins with the different leg lines. Wrapping his legs around each other like that, raising and lowering them into a winding, snaky pattern makes it interesting and not just about the trick of the head spin, you know?

Melinda's inspiration is an older tapper named Dr. Harold Cromer, whom she actually met and who's helped her. Melinda dances a Fabian Sanchez salsa routine with Pasha: Even though she's a tap dancer, I thought she had some really lovely balletic lines- like with the opening fish dive which was gorgeous, and some great battemants (fast high kicks) scattered throughout. Would have been great to see Cristina doing something like this, but Melinda was fine. She's not a natural salsa dancer. The shakes and shimmies and twists of the waist were good, but, as Mia said, her frequent pigeon toes were very noticeable. She sure can move her feet as a tap dancer though, as her solo showed. But I wasn't in love with that slow song to fast tapping.

Kent's inspiration is his older brother, whom he's always looked up to and is now a youth pastor. He dances a Mandy Moore routine with Allison. He's another one whose endearing qualities really stand out. He had a good cartwheel trick and despite his size he's got real strength -- some of those lifts are hard. But I don't know if you can win the competition on sweetness alone, and his movement doesn't have the range of some of the other contemporary dancers. There are a lot of male contemporary dancers on this season, aren't there? It's hard to stand out with Alex and Billy in competition, especially Alex.

Lauren's inspiration is her student adviser who helps her with basically everything. Lauren dances a Joey Dowling Broadway number with Neil, and the song is "Let Me Entertain You" from Gypsy. The dance should have been really seductive and sexy but, to me, she didn't really pull it off. I didn't notice until the end that her dress had torn and she had to hold it up, so she obviously hid that well! That could be the reason she didn't dance as full-out as I would have liked with a number like that. I think her hips should have had more sway, her shimmies should have been bigger. She seems to have seduced Nigel though. I liked Adam's suggestion to think of yourself dancing through water when doing a routine like that. That would definitely have brought out the slinkiness.

Billy's inspiration is Legacy from season six of this show. Billy'd actually seen him dance hip hop when he was a child and he's the one who originally inspired him to take up dance; he actually began with hip hop. Billy dances a Stacey Tookey contemporary routine with Katherine. I thought he interacted much better with Katherine here than he has with previous partners. Big improvement on that end, although the judges don't seem to have agreed much with me. His movement is really beautiful but it doesn't always reach a certain intensity. At one point he did an arabesque and his leg was bent slightly in attitude and his toe was sharply pointed and his back arched way back, and the whole shape just had so much breadth and fullness and beauty. He just needs to do that more throughout, make every shape the fullest it can be. His solo was really lovely with such expansive movement -- from the deep knee bends to the high split jumps.

But it was Alex and Twitch's hip hop that really knocked me off my sofa. Whoa. First of all, I'm so happy he named Edward Villella (artistic director of Miami City Ballet and probably the most famous ever American-born male ballet dancer) as his biggest inspiration. Alex says he's made him the dancer he is today, which I love. So the routine: I love the little story Tabitha and Napoleon created -- Alex as a ballet dancer trying to learn hip hop from master Twitch. I love that they gave him a little balletic movement, like the slow turn in attitude and the port de bras (ballet arms) at the end. But more importantly, he really nailed the hip hop. He was down deep in the knees, he had the precision, the isolations, the swagger, the whole package, both movement- and attitude-wise. I just couldn't believe how well he did with it. And I'm apparently not the only one who thought so, judging by that standing ovation and crazy Bravo-laden applause! Cat said she's never heard a roar from the crowd like that. Alex went on this show to do dances like this. He's already proven himself a stunning ballet dancer -- makes perfect sense why someone like him would want to see what else he's capable of. But it's also the little things with Alex, like how he'll be on the floor in a split and pull himself up slowly using only his leg muscles. It looks impossible, like magic. But, still, even though you notice the little things, the whole is far better than the sum of the parts, unlike with some other dancers. It's the whole thing that blows you away.

Anyway, what did you guys think? Who do you think is going to go tonight? I think it may be Melinda.

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