Tadd's all, "Abs? Check."
The first week of voting on So You Think You Can Dance did not disappoint. Tadd and his partner Jordan were the very first couple up, performing African jazz. Each dancer got 8 seconds to tell us about themselves, so we learned that Tadd was a dancing taco in a movie (was it High School Musical 3??), he thought he was Caucasian when he was a kid, and he can't ride a bike. Aww. The judges loved the opening performance (see it here) and were particularly impressed by Tadd's skills outside his on genre. Quoth Nigel: "As a hip-hop dancer, if you keep on picking up the styles like you've done tonight, you are going to be extremely exciting on this series, and you're going to go a long way." Hoo! Hope you live up to that high praise, Tadd!
I didn't realize until now just how nude these two appear to be.
Marko and his partner Melanie were both right in their shared wheelhouse, as the style they picked was contemporary (choreographed by the amazing Travis Wall, the luckies). I'll let Marko have his complete 8 seconds: "I'm 22, from the small island of Guam, I can eat a lot of ketchup, a lot of burgers, I can eat a lot. No, I don't have a sore throat, I'm not sick, this is how my voice sounds." Ha! I'd been wondering about the voice thing, actually. Marko and Melanie were acting out statues that had come to life, and they were styled to resemble marble with sculpted hair and white body paint (or powder?). It was one of Travis's moving pieces (see it here), and the judges gave the dance a standing ovation. Mary had tears in her eyes, calling the performance "just breathtaking." Guest judge Megan Mullally (who I thought was surprisingly great -- bring her back, Nigel!), nearly in a daze, just said, "Chills ... crying ... so beautiful." And Nigel suggested that the performance could be the first Emmy nomination for the show this season.
Statues ... in love.
... So it's no surprise that Marko and Melanie were the first couple called to safety the following night. Unfortunately, Tadd and Jordan were the first couple to be sent to the bottom -- performing at the beginning of a long line-up and getting a less well-known style undoubtedly hurt them. Thankfully Tadd was clearly safe, as the judges loved his solo to "Jump, Jive and Wail" and they loved his previous performance with Jordan, calling it "tremendous." It didn't matter, however, as for the first time they sent no one home. Watch out this week, though: four people will be sent packing. Pick a better style, Tadd!
Quick Voice update: Dia was the contestant voted to safety on Blake's team! This bodes well for the children's book writer; keep surprising us with your pop renditions, Dia!
Dia is really delivering it in the shoulder department. Also Blake is a giant.
More exciting news: Floyd is the newest Top Chef Master! For the finale, the remaining three chefs had to cook a three-course meal: one course was to represent their first food memory, one was to encapsulate the experience that made them decide to become chefs, and the third course was judges' choice. In Floyd's case, he had to make rendang, a traditional Indonesian dish, as chosen by James. Unfortunately, the rendang required specialty ingredients that apparently Whole Foods does not carry, so Floyd had to go out to several shops to gather everything, losing hours in the Los Angeles traffic (further compounded by a rare rainstorm). He pulled it out despite the lost time, however, slow-braising beef, recreating a flavorful fish dish he had with his father when he was a preteen, and creating a deliciously simple upma polenta that encapsulated the dish he ate at teatime as a young boy.
Floyd and his sous chef work double time.
Like his competitors, Floyd didn't get raves all around from the judges (which included Susur Lee, a.k.a. my favorite Top Chef master). Some of the fish was allegedly overcooked, some of the rice was chewy. James was clearly a fan though, saying that Floyd's "soul went into" the rendang, and he took the "utterly plain [upma] and made it elegant." He called the spicy broth in Floyd's fish course "astonishing." Gael Greene declared that "the best dish [out of all the chefs' courses] was the rendang ... I was so sincerely moved by what he put into it." It was a lovely moment when Floyd took the top prize, and he was truly appreciative about the $100,000 he won for Young Scientist Cancer Research Fund at Mount Sinai Medical School. Congratulations, Floyd!
Come on, guys ... they're all winners! Floyd just won a little more...