This is not the time to mount a detailed defense of my watching this show. Suffice to say the dancers and choreographers are talented and frequently breathtaking. I regret my early reluctance to watch during the first four seasons. Thankfully I came around. I've become a big enough fan of the show that this is the 2nd tour show I've seen.
Most of the clips I've included here come from the New Orleans or St. Louis live shows, where my comments pertain to the Houston one that I attended. Not sure why their clipped on the right side and frankly I'm too sleepy to figure it out. Just full-screen it for the best effect. Anyway, on with the show.
Introductory video, then the dancers one by one showing their stuff. Into the first routine, an adapted group piece that borrowed lots of bits from one of the first group routines on the TV show.
Dominic is a ham, but a good one. Cheesy banter flows. This is only the 2nd show of the tour so it isn't quite smooth yet. Choppy cheese. None of it was worth quoting.
Lauren & Russell (sub in for Twitch) – My Chick Bad
Russell did an admirable job, but I wish I could have seen Twitch. Excellent start to the evening.
Kent & Ade (sub in for Neil) – Shoeless Joe
This one was a little too "Broadway" for me on TV so I wasn't crazy about seeing it on tour. Decent though. Kent looked a little deer-in-the-headlights and Ade, while having plenty of power, is missing Neil's crispness.
Robert & Courtney – XXXOOO
Good. I barely remember this one from TV so it clearly wasn't a favorite of mine.
Dominic & Jose – the battle for a sword
Dominic is fantastic. Jose is a distant, over-the-horizon second. Tour clip below isn't great but shows how sloppy Jose is comparitively. Just watch the smaller guy with the bleached hair streak and ignore the other one. The superior TV version, click here.
Lauren & Billy – Boogie Shoes
Lauren is far more committed and professional than I would expect from most 18 year-olds. However, I do not like this routine. It is what I would show someone if I wanted to confirm their worst expectations of what the show was like. Boo.
Robert & Kathryn – Heaven Is A Place On Earth aka Off to the Army Dance
Why why why did they do this one instead of the great West Side Story routine from the TV show? It actually softened my visceral loathing of WSS. Why this? Because it's gooey as hell and the mom/teen girl matrix melt in their chairs for it. Awful cover, competent choreo. Meh.
By general consensus of the fans and judges, Alex & Twitch's Get Outta Your Mind routine is one of the best routines in any season of the show. Alex was injured quite badly on the show, torn Achilles tendon, and so couldn't even participate on the tour. However, knowing it makes for a nice break for the touring dancers, the producers just showed the video. Still killed. No embed again, watch here. And keep in mind Alex's (the Asian guy) training is mostly in ballet. Damn boy.
Group of 7 competitors - Royal T
This wasn't a favorite of mine from the show, mostly because half of the competitors just can't pull off Sonya's choreography. Though to be fair it is off the beaten track. Robert is yet again the standout for the guys and Courtney shows why she's such a great match for Sonya.
Kathryn & Russell – I Can Transform Ya shaky on the power moves
This was the only performance from Season 6 (which sadly did not have it's own tour) and was included here because these were the only dancers representing that season. The choreographers NapTab were at a nadir that particular season, though it's an adequate routine. Thank goodness they recovered and turned in a largely fantastic body of work for Season 7. No decent live clip again, here's the show performance (which as I watch it now was much better than the tour one anyway).
Kent & Robert (sub in for Neil) – How It Ends
Loved this one on the show and was wary of Robert taking over for Neil, but he killed it. Kent was great as well. Kent's been pretty lackluster this show, appearing nervous and lacking in energy. He must have been saving it for this one or possibly just felt it more. I admit I teared up a little, partly because it was just well-danced but mostly because that DeVotchKa song is just heart-breakingly beautiful.
Stupid compilation video of "funny" bits of the judges. More dancing please.
Group routine – All That Jazz
Robert shone again here. By this time of the night, I started to understand how good he really is. Definitely the guy to cast in a touring show.
Ashley & Dominic – How Low aka ninjas
Ashley is sadly worse than on the show. Least improved which rather bummed me out. Couldn't find any live clips so here's the show version.
Lauren & Ade – Fever
Pretty dang good. Smoky. Can't find any clips of it though.
Kent & Allison – Sundrenched World
Muscular but frantic, powerful but missing the flow needed to really land this one.
Robert & Billy – Bollywood
A definite improvement from the show version. Robert just lit up the stage.
New Group Bollywood routine
This was fun, but geez some of those guys suck at Bollywood.
Group routine – Everything She Does is Magic
Lauren taking her place as was originally intended. On the TV show she was injured and Allison subbed in for her. Definitely more sweetly charming as it was obviously intended (at the time she was the only girl left going up against I think five guys). Still, on the show version Allison brought a strength and joy that Lauren didn't quite match. Also I'm biased because Allison is my ladycrush. This one really worked great in a live setting. Very happy they staged it.
Russell, Dominic, & Jose - New hip-hop routine
Unclear from my notes where this came in the order. It was fun and significantly better for Jose because it featured his skills worked into a routine. Dom & Russell were great as well.
Season recap video
Robert & Dominic – Scars aka scary clowns
Really looking forward to this one as I loved it on the show. Both guys had some flubs and an uncharacteristic streak of mushy movement that took it down a few pegs, but still pretty good.
Kent & Courtney – Amy
Headscratcher why this was included. Probably to give each dancer another routine. Kent still hasn’t lost that awshucks quality, but Courtney smoulders. She is seriously the sexiest lady I've seen in quite a while. I almost stayed after the show and got in the teenager-heavy autograph line just to talk to her up close. Woof, er...meow? Allison's my ladycrush but Courtney sets a fire.
Ashley & Ade – Drumming Song
Disappointingly off. The pair didn’t connect as one the show. The whole idea here is that Ashley is almost bonelessly being tossed about. She was great on the TV show but here she seemed to scale back, not trusting Ade to be there. C'mon Ashley this is your showcase. However, Ade is supa-hot. Dang, dude is ripped and when he does layout backflips my tummy flutters. Also, this is one of my favorite songs of last year. Florence got some serious pipes.
Adechike & Lauren (sub in for Comfort) – Fallin’
This was a good showcase for Adechike so of course they were going to perform it. Lauren's the best girl hip-hop dancer they have on the tour (and that's quite a compliment for this 18 yo) but she just didn’t live up to the passion of Comfort on the show. Still it works.
Kent & Kathyrn – Tightrope
Somewhere in here was also a group disco routine that incorporated all the best lifts from Doriana Sanchez’s routines over the past three or four seasons. It was high energy and fun. Robert, Ade, Allison, and Kathryn knocked it out here.
Billy & Ade – Mad World
I love this routine. Yes it's has a "socially relevant" theme and that usually bothers me on SYTYCD, but the beauty of it overcomes my knee-jerk objection. Still not sick of that song so it does some heavy lifting but geez the quality of movement from both of these guys is just breathtaking. Absolutely shows off their strengths.
Robert & Allison – Fix You
I like Travis Wall's choreography, he's particularly great at hitting the climax of a song with an energetic unison section. Still, he leans over the schmaltz line a bit here. I have a massive crush on Allison for the way she completely assumes the character in every piece she dances. In group routines my eyes were often drawn to her because of the passion and precision she exhibits. Really wish I'd seen her season start to finish. Robert continues his streak of fantastic work for the night here.
Lauren & Kent – Prom routine, then immediately into latin ballroom First Kiss
The screams, oh the screams. This looks like a good idea on paper, the winner and runner-up getting all lovey-dovey in back-to-back routines, but Kent looked tired at this point and frankly sucked the energy out of what was to be the climax of the show. Never cared for these routines myself anyway.
Group – You Can’t Stop the Beat
Best of the night accolades go to Robert, Lauren, Allison, and Dominic. Lackluster nods to Jose (of course!), Kent, and Ashley.
Overall it was a pretty good show, but suffered for not having ballroom experts Anja and Pasha on the tour. Lauren's tango with Pasha played a large part in her getting to the finale and likely winning. It clinched it for me anyway. Sad we didn't get to see much ballroom at all tonight. Also, I wish the Houston stop had come a little later on the tour. We got the second show and nerves were clearly present for some of the less-experienced dancers. It would nice to see a later show for comparison.