Am I crazy or have we usually heard the panel congratulating themselves on selecting the best crop of dancers in So You Think You Can Dance history several times by this point in the season? It’s not the party line this year. And frankly, the judges can only blame themselves. They played it too safe putting together season 11’s Top 20 and here we are. I’m missing the drive, the energy, and the way the show fulfills its purpose when someone truly shocks us with what he’s capable of doing. Maybe I’m feeling the lack of the Dance For Your Life solo here. Either way, something is missing.
That’s not to say that this performance episode was a complete bust. There were triumphs. There were bold recoveries. Ricky wore guyliner. And it was good.
Bridget, Marquet, Brooklyn, Serge, Tanisha, Zack
Bridget and Emilio’s “Happy” jive was in our Top 5 performances last week, but one half of that partnership still made it into the bottom. Fans are connecting with Emilio, possibly in part due to the injury that prevented him from competing last year. (That’s the injury that brought us hunky tapper Aaron though, so I remain fine with it.) Kim predicted that Brooklyn and Zack would be here, and that Jacque would benefit from the audience’s investment in her showmance with Rudy. The judges have practically been instructing everyone at home to not vote for Marquet. There’s clearly something about him that sticks in their craw, though I just don’t see the flaws they do. Serge has been a fixture in the Bottom 6, though plenty of dancers in the annuls of SYTYCD have hung tight there week after week and ended up still in the game at the bitter end. There’s no excuse for Tanisha to be anywhere near the bottom of the ladder. WAKE UP, AMERICA.
Cat Deeley Scale of Awesomeness
We’ll start – as Cat does – with her wardrobe. This week, she sported a long-sleeved sparkly mini-dress with soft waves, matching dove gray eyeshadow, a gigundo cocktail ring, and sick-nasty shoes. How can one person look so bangin’ and so approachable at the same time?
I have decided that Cat, who I once thought of as a den mother, is actually like the cool camp counselor for this ragtag group of dancers. At Camp SYTYCD, Cat would be curled up on your cot doling out advice about boys and french-kissing during bedcheck. Therefore, Rudy is going to be answering giggly questions about his progress with Jacque every Wednesday for the forseeable future.
This Week’s “Jidges” Score of Awesome: 9/10. 8 for all of the above, plus an extra point for the way she says “Shazaaayyym!
Performances of the Night
Tanisha and Rudy, Hip Hop
I’m sure I’ll get comments asking why I rank this number over Bridget and Emilio’s contemporary, but I stand by my order. Prior to this routine, Hip-Hop hadn’t had its Season 11 day in the sun. Our Top 20 was light in that department, and no dancer from another style had truly broken through to Alex Wong or Chelsie Hightower levels of adopted (Appropriated? I don’t have the strength.) swag. So it was a hallelujah moment to see Rudy and Tanisha successfully attack this piece.
We all agree that NappyTabs are brilliant, but the show has benefited from branching out with other Hip-Hop choreographers. This has been Dave Scott’s stand-out piece so far in the competition, from the sexy comic-book concept to the slinky moves to the perfect song choice. With those ingredients, Rudy and Tanisha cooked up the hottest number in a season generally lacking in sex appeal. They acted the crap out of it too. Rudy continues to succeed at charming America with his grin and then wiping it off when he needs to get down to business. And Tanisha. Tanisha was that backless catsuit. She and the catsuit were one. On the whole, I lost interest in guest judge Misty Copeland during her second consecutive appearance on the panel, but I couldn’t help agreeing with her response to Tanisha’s “look at me” attitude: “Where do we start?”
Bridget and Emilio, Contemporary
That said, Bridget and Emilio’s contemporary piece was stunning. Travis Wall’s choreography was relentless and unsettling. There was not one movement that didn’t communicate the story he wanted to tell – that of a person trying to escape the negative, oppressive elements of his life. I don’t understand the significance of the bedframe, thought it did provide a structure for Emilio to be escaping from. He and Bridget are connecting really nicely; I think that’s more difficult for most couples in the angsty, un-romantic routines. Speaking of Miss Bridget, she snaps a neck quite gracefully. And Emilio looked for all the world – at least the world of laypeople -like a contemporary dancer. Nigel’s pandering compliment won’t be repeated here. He is the worst.
Valerie and Ricky, Bollywood
Resident cutie-pie Valerie was previewing her routine with Ricky when she struck her intro pose in a Bollywood-inspired outfit. It felt good to see them outside of their comfort zones, though they seemed mighty sure that their smiley good looks would translate. And they did. The judges were pretty crazy about their take on Nakul Dev Mahajan’s bright and joyful choreography and their performance was energetic and frankly, exhausting to even watch. Still, not a one of them even mentioned the few awkward lifts I’m sure I spotted in there. But Ricky and Valerie are clearly the prom king and queen of this season’s crop and will have to fuck up pretty decidedly to fall off their pedestal.
Jacque and Zack, Jazz
As soon as Sonya told the camera that Zack was “blowing [her] away” in rehearsals, I was on the edge of my seat for this routine. Sonya Tajeh is not easily impressed. You wear that like a badge, young Zack.
He’s so long-limbed and was able to put those limbs to use in the movement quality required by a Sonya routine. On the other hand, Sonya worried that Jacque was too concerned with making everything look “pretty” (the bubblegum pink wardrobe did her no favors), but she got there. She was very femme fatale in this piece, and her wry smile told the whole story.
Carly and Serge, Contemporary
I seal-clapped at this song choice. Never change, Mandy Moore.
There were a lot of lovely moments in this piece, particularly Carly’s controlled fall to the floor. My thighs burn just remembering it. Serge is a strong partner, no question. If I had to pick one of our Top 16 guys to trust to fling me in the air and not break my face, it would be him. But Mandy told us and her dancers that this piece was supposed to be about desire, and I just didn’t read that here.
Who Went Home?
For the second week in a row, the panel went with America’s vote, choosing not to save either of the lowest pollers. They took no prisoners in judging Jessica and Marquet’s foxtrot, taking issue with everything from Dimitri’s choreography on down. And Marquet knew as soon as those comments hit him that he was going home tonight. Poor bastard.
Brooklyn too sealed her fate with Casey in a truly unbearable Hip Hop number. It was so awkward, so messy, and so off-base that there was no coming back from it. You know JaJa sat at home watching that and shaking her head. Dragon House should stage a coup.
Who’s In Danger Next Week?
That atrocious Hip Hop number is going to send Casey back to the Bottom 6 for sure. I’d also wager that Teddy and Emily will find themselves there by virtue of their ineffective salsa. Massive props to Emily for recovering not just from a near disaster on stage but also from a dislocated shoulder earlier in rehearsals. Still, she can’t blame a shoulder for the complete lack of salsa movement in her hips in that routine. It was like watching an actual plastic Barbie try to tackle Latin ballroom. No side to side movement, just jerkiness from front to back. No me gusta.
Inappropriate Nigel Comment of the Night
In addition to Jacque and Zack’s “Back to Black” routine, Sonya also delivered a stunning group routine to Bjork’s “So Broken.” In a night when many of the contestants crashed and burned in their couple pieces, everyone excelled in the group routines. Safety in numbers, I suppose? Anyway, the judges were heavily impressed by this one, which – correct me if I’m wrong – tells the story of 8 young American dancers being converted into Cybermen. Nigel took the lead in delivering comments.
INCON: “I must be honest and say to you that I am not a Bjork fan.”
She cries herself to sleep every night.
The Mary Murphy Tamale Level of Screaming
We’ve been bemoaning the lack of Murphy screams all season, but clearly she was saving her strength for this Travis Wall group number. Scream on, Mary. It. Was. LEGIT.
Half of the Top 16 rocked this jazz piece set to OneRepublic’s “Love Runs Out.” Stylistically and otherwise, it was a home run. Wardrobe outfitted the outlaws chic and dangerous-looking all-black ensembles. The direction and camera work were ambitious and on-point – those close-ups and angle swaps made Travis’s choreography pop even more. I don’t know what, if anything, these group numbers do to help contestants score points in the competition. At least in the early days, they’re usually too populous to allow anyone to really stand out. (Tanisha in Sonja’s number being a great exception to that rule.) But they’re fun for the audience at home and in the studio and hey, there’s time to fill.
Tamale Level: 6/10. This is on you, dancers. Get her there.
- The Mandy group number that opened the show was very ’80s – in a wonderful, wonderful way. Mandy takes trends that are dated – like the synchronized portion of this number – and makes them fresh. And she can moonwalk!
- Just when you thought Valerie couldn’t be any cuter, here comes her Cheshire Cat outfit.
- I know the judges hated it, but that foxtrot was sexier than the entire 50 Shades of Grey trailer. We aim to please, Ms. Murphy.
- “You mean old ratface!”
- Jacque was that young in 1999 and I’m going to go mix myself a drink.
- Someone needs to “Oh, honey” Lucy Hale on this country music career, but she’s got those big, wet eyes. Disappointing her too would be like choking the Little Mermaid with a bike chain.
Now, we’re losing a whopping four dancers in next week’s eliminations, so I hope you’re ready to meet your Top 10. Who’s going to make the cut? Give us your predictions in the comments!