It’s week three of Paula’s attempt to convince America she is a stern and sober dance critic and not a squishy marshmallow, which is otherwise known as the semi-finals of “Live to Dance.” Paula really has been running around town trying to convince talk show hosts that she’s unleashing, if not her inner bitch, then her inner toughy. Whom she calls Pauletta. I couldn’t make this stuff up if I wanted to, people. Oh, and if you talk about the show, and I’m not saying you will, do know that Paula says the judges on the show aren’t judges, they’re “experts.” Take that, Ellen Degeneres! Told you she was playing hardball.

[Full recap after the break...] 

 

Our helpful host Andrew asks Paula what it’s like to be back on live television. And what is it like, you wonder? Well, it’s like floating down a cotton candy river and arriving on the sands of a brown maple syrup beach, of course! But Paula’s just playing, because she knows everyone’s tuning in to see the crazy. Actually, Paula, that wasn’t the crazy we were hoping for, but thanks for trying.
 
First up, we find out which act is the audience choice to enter the semi-finals. And the voters chose… White Tree Fine Art. I have to say, I’m a little shocked. Ballet isn’t usually a big hit with the masses and White Tree Fine Art has a God awful name. While I’m sorry to see Theatrix cut, it is refreshing to see ballet get its props.  
 
Unfortunately, we soon learn this is bad news this evening, as Kimberly is back to wearing that windswept wad of a hairdo again. Oh, Kimberly. It’s time to either grow it out or cut it off. Think about it.
 
Soon enough, it’s time to dance. Whoo-hoo!
 
There are 38 members of The Vibe, and Paula is going to be mentoring them (as well as every other group performing this evening). I would think this would interfere with her ability to judge the performers with a cool, objective eye, but then I remember she isn’t a judge but an expert. Paula apparently pushes The Vibe to work really, really hard on a stage that’s a little too small for such a ridiculous number of people, and soon we’ve got one nosebleed and one dislocated shoulder.
 
Fortunately the main stage is big enough for what is clearly a small percentage of the state of Utah, and The Vibe kicks ass. What I love about this performance is that it shows a strong sense of how to use the back, middle and front of the stage effectively and how to wow viewers instead of confuse them with too many disparate actions happening at once. Usually, if there are more than four dancers, the routine turns into a cosmic mess, but this, at least from what I can tell watching a wide shot, is sharp. 
 
Paula gives the group a standing, weird, wet-nails hand clap ovation. Which is good, even if it’s awkward to watch. She’s very glad they took her advice, which was that less is more. Travis thought it was awesome and felt it was as polished as a musical, which is absolutely true. Some New York theater producer could probably hire the whole mess of The Vibe for cheap and have a pre-purchased chorus line. Kimberly thought it was the full package. Three gold stars for The Vibe!
 
Jittin’ Genius, who will be performing a Detroit jig, works hard to show his kids that hard work pays off. That’s double the hard work, Jittin’ Genius!
 
He’s good and redefines the meaning of “getting’ jiggy with it,” but I wish he hadn’t wasted time walking out to the dance floor. Still, it’s hard to be the first act after The Vibe, who would have wowed us just from their sheer numbers alone. It was like watching a dancing Duggar family.
 
Not that it matters. Travis is a fan. Kimberly thought his footwork was on fire. Paula thinks he’s a charming man, and she’s proud of him for following her suggestions. I’m detecting a theme here. If you do as Paula says, you will receive the golden star. There’s a children’s book here, I can feel it! Anyway, three gold stars for Jittin’ Genius.
 
Up next, Chi-Town Finest Breakers, the grammatically challenged family act. I’m afraid just have zero tolerance for cuteness, I’m sorry. When Precious Moments hits the floor to adorably flop around like a stuffed bunny rabbit, I’m unmoved. While there were some good breaking moves in here, the dancers run out of material quickly and have to resort to mimicking The Jackson Five. It should be remembered that, while The Jackson Five had one of history’s great dancers in Michael, it also had Tito. I think this group may have more than one Tito.
 
Kimberly adores them, but thinks they have a long way to go, which is a nice way of saying they sucked. She gives them a red star. Paula says they made her melt, and that’s what it’s all about. And, wait for it, they may not be the best, but they’re the most improved. This is what we call backhanded praise. Anyway, she gives them a gold star. Travis agrees that they’re improved. And then gives them a red star.
 
Next is Austin Acevedo, the “SYTYCD” rip-off artist. He tells us he’s only been dancing for a year and he spends a lot of time in his garage practicing alone. This is what kids usually say when they’re building pipe bombs or getting high, but I think Austin is just telling the truth.  
 
This kid is incredibly limber, which will undoubtedly come in handy for lots of things beyond dance, like fishing his parents’ car keys out of drains. Unfortunately he waffles some moves in the opening, can’t keep his leg high for a complete turn and tends to look a little spastic running around the stage. He has a lot of potential as a contemporary performer, but if he keeps with the crumping, someone is going to kick his ass.
 
Paula tells him he needs to have self-discovery with his dance, which sounds like a euphemism but isn’t, then gives him a red star. Travis tells him he needs to harness and control his natural ability, also giving him a red star. Kimberly says his street dancing is too stiff and gives him a red star.
 
Neither Bev or Hap have died since last week, so they’re next to take the stage. Then we’re told that Bev and Hap are not a couple, which I find hugely disappointing. I was much more impressed with Bev when I thought she was a cougar. Now she’s just one of those sprightly old grannies who talks too much in the grocery store check out line and still writes checks.
 
As impressive as it is that Bev and Hap manage to get through the routine without breaking anything, let’s face it, they’re very good… for their age. I don’t think anyone, even these two, expect this act to go on to the next level.
 
Travis says they’re an inspiration, but can’t give them a gold star. Kimberly has so much respect for them, but can’t give them a gold star. Paula thinks they’re the best gift she’s received on the show, and gives them a gold star. Alas, Paula’s tough girl act is already crumbling.
 
D’Angelo and Amanda are next. Okay, I take it back about the cuteness thing. When it’s paired with real talent, yeah, I’m sucked in. These kids are adorable, they can dance their asses off and I think they could have their own “Sonny and Cher” take-off if they wanted it. I want to put them in my purse and take them home.
 
If I wanted to quibble, there are a few missed connections here, but I don’t want to quibble. These kids are good, and in some ways they’re more impressive for not wincing or losing their focus when they do screw up (Austen, take note). These kids are amazing.
 
Paula says they nailed it. Gold star. Travis thinks they were exquisite. Gold star. Kimberly thought they danced like true professionals. Gold star.
 
The judges, I mean experts, must now pick one act to go into the finals. One act? That’s it? I couldn’t pick just one, honestly. I’d be torn between D’Angelo and Amanda and The Vibe. I really couldn’t tell you which one I liked more. Although I will say, with 38 people to split the money, the $500,000 isn’t going to go so far after taxes with The Vibe. Maybe they can all go out to dinner or something.
 
Paula reveals that The Vibe will be going through to the finals, and we’re left with the responsibility of voting through another act. Geez, this show expects a lot of viewers. With “American Idol,” you could skip a week here or there and still be reasonably sure your favorite would live to sing again. But I guess if Paula has to unveil a whole new personality (and one that doesn’t even dance on tables or babble nonsensically), it’s not unrealistic to ask viewers to pull their weight, too.
 
Do you think The Vibe should have been picked for the finals? Who are you going to vote for? And do you think appearing on TV to judge amateur dance acts is like floating down a cotton candy river?