SYTYCD 7: The Serenade of the Sixth Male Dancer

As an add-in for this week’s series: Billy Bell, the Top 6 Dancer that was given a second chance… twice. As always the previous posts in this series include: All-Stars, Kent Boyd, Lauren Froderman, Robert Roldan and Adechike Torbert.

Was it worth it? Did the judges/producers make the right choice in bringing in Season 6 Original Top 20 dancer Billy Bell into the fold for Season 7?

You know, I find it kind of odd that Billy Bell was originally part of the Top 20 on Season Six, but had to withdraw due to illness only to be added onto Season Seven as the sixth guy effectively turning the Top Ten into the Top Eleven… Only for him to be out of commission on Week Six while in the Top Six and then for him to end his run on Season Seven in the Top Six? You guys see a trend here? πŸ˜€

All kidding aside let’s take a look at his journey from Las Vegas week to his exit…

Las Vegas Boot Camp
Going through Las Vegas he didn’t really standout as much as the judges expected of him (considering it’s his second time around) except during his solos.

In fact, when the judges chose the Top 10, Billy ended up getting cut… which stood to reason that he would have to wait til another year. Even Adam Shankman told Billy, when the judges were going around telling people if they made the Top 10 or not, that he didn’t really “show up” until his final solo.

However, the producers and judges decided to add a sixth guy and as thus included Billy into Season 7… but was it worth it?

Meet the Top 11:
– Wade Robson’s Jazz
– Mia Michaels Contemporary
During the Wade Robson routine his unique style of dance blended well with Wade’s choreography… I believe that if Wade Robson were to choreograph him in a dance it would be a very special kind of magic. Mia Michaels, in her own way, did just that. Billy had the role of a child, his insane flexibility and movement fit the role so perfectly that it was very easy for me to see why he is such a special dancer.

Week 1: Top 11 Performance:
– Broadway w/ Lauren Gottlieb choreographed by Tyce Diorio
After watching this dance I started to realize that in between dance steps my eyes lingered to Lauren… and suddenly I understood what Adam was talking about. Billy needed to work on filling the space in between steps. Without filling out that void he won’t be able to complete the movement.

Week 2: Top 10 Performance
– Krump w/ Comfort choreographed by Lil C
So we learned that Billy Bell started dancing in hiphop, which would mean that he should have some sort of idea of how to feel into it. Except when he was dancing with Comfort his movement was very flowing and very… well… contemporary-ish. Is it because he wasn’t allowing enough friction in this steps? Or power? Whatever the reason, this was not a strong dance for Billy

Week 3: Top 9 Performance
– Contemporary w/ Kathryn choreographed by Stacey Tookey
W00T, Season 6 reunite. πŸ˜€ Anyway, this is a very beautiful piece… it felt like a moving painting. Which is not necessarily a good thing. I love watching him dance but I’m not drawn into his dancing much like how I love various pieces of art but I won’t necessarily appreciate it wholeheartedly. So this would be an issue of connecting? Chemistry? Seems like I’m not the only one that believes this considering this is Billy’s first trip to the Bottom 3.

Week 4: Top 8 Performances
– Broadway w/ Katee Shean (Allison out due to injury) choreographed by Spencer Liff
Billy’s second Broadway piece this season. Remember how everyone’s dream is for Billy and Allison to dance together with Travis Wall choreographing? Two out of three isn’t bad… but it would seem the fates were against that. So Katee stepped in for Allison. (No other contemporary girls were available… but I would have loved to have seen this dance done with either Neil or Mark or even Ade since they were available) So the major question in this case would be: Did Billy grow from the first time he did Broadway? Yes, I believe he did. Did he grow enough to get out of the Bottom 3? No, not really… he hasn’t had a real “break out” dance as of yet, nothing that really wowed me from him… which is not a good thing.

– African Jazz w/ Jose Ruiz choreographed by Sean Cheesman
Ok I really really really loved Billy in this piece, don’t ask me why. I think him being an animal totally fits with his dance style so he should be able to nail it, and to me I really liked it. Could Billy use more power? Of course, but power isn’t his specialty. Could he use more abandon? Of course, but that hasn’t worked for him. But like I said, I really liked him in this piece, but that’s just me.

Though it wasn’t a “breakout” week, to me, he finally did start to get out there and started shining, slowly, for me… but alas another trip to the Bottom Three he was.

Week 5: Top 7 Performances
– Jive w/ Anya choreographed by Louis van Amstel
He did really well with this number. High energy, but his center is too high… but of all the ballroom routines up to this point, this is definitely one of the better ones thus far.

– Jazz w/ Lauren Froderman by Mandy Moore
A very relaxed loose and fun style… Billy has been growing slowly and steadily from week to week, still no real break out performance, but still he’s growing in some capacity.

Was this week enough to get Billy out of the Bottom Three? No not really, but it didn’t mean that he wasn’t growing, because he was.

Week 6: Top 6 Performances (Round One)
Billy did not dance this week due to injury. Although the doctors cleared him to dance, he did not feel that it would be in his best interest to dance… so he opted out to take the extra time to heal and recover for the long term.

The argument is that because Billy did not dance, he should automatically be let go. However the catch is that he was signed off to dance, it was only Billy that opted not to. Why? For me, having danced before and knowing the wear and tear and the very short life span for a traditional dancing profession Billy made the right choice. He has an injury and even though he could technically continue dancing this particular week it would be safer not to if only to make sure the injury heals so he could prolong his dance career. This show isn’t the catch all of his career, if anything it would only give him a slight edge over people. So thinking for the future was the best thing he could have done for himself, even though it meant putting the judges in an unenviable position.

Week 7: Top 6 Performances (Round Two)
– Contemporary w/ Ade Obayomi choreography by Stacey Tookey
I believe if there was ever a “breakout” performance for Billy, this piece was it. He had the talent, the skill, the performance, just everything. If there is ever a dance I would love to see on the tour this would be the piece. Then again, this was Contemporary, his style, he HAD to be great in this piece and he was… but what he got in this piece that he missed in the last contemporary piece that he did was connection. You sensed that connection that partnership that he seemed to be lacking in past dances.

– Bollywood w/ Robert Roldan choreographed by Nakul Dev Mahajan
O. M. G. If there was ever going to be a dance that tested his knee this would be the dance, and he didn’t show it not til the dance was over anyway. He was strong, he did well… but I felt that he was a bit upstaged by Robert. Though part of it was probably because Robert’s “look” matched the piece more than Billy did, but that’s just me.

This week, I believe, was the strongest week for Billy, but considering he was in the Bottom Three for the past few weeks I don’t believe he had enough of a fanbase to take him through into the next round… and unless the Bottom Three included Jose and Robert, he didn’t stand much of a chance of moving onward…

In Conclusion
All in all, Billy started slow but eventually began to grow as a dancer. He needed a breakout performance to prove his meddle, and even though he got something like that in his contemporary with Ade in Week 7, I almost felt like that was too little too late.

Had Billy not been ill last season the hype would have been a competition between him and Jakob Karr, however considering his performance this season, I do not believe that head to head battle would have happened the way the producers would have wanted it to happen. At the same time, things was different back then, so who knows what could have happened last season.

However, had Billy not been chosen for Season 7 would he have gone through the audition process and trip to Las Vegas again for Season 8? I would like to think that he would, but who knows?