Last night’s So You Think You Can Dance contained sub-par judges critiques (mainly from one guest judge in particular), sub-par choreography and maybe … MAYBE … even sub-par dancing (more on that in a moment). It seemed as if the only component in a team of 19 set out to entertain us was Cat Deeley, who better receive an Emmy nomination this fall. But this isn’t Best Reality TV host, it’s a quest to find America’s Favorite Dancer. I’m afraid last night did not help in the excursion. The moment I knew Carmen Electra was going to guest judge, I had my reservations about the Top 14 showcase. Then, Cat confirmed my suspicions after trying to get Carmen explain her dance background. Little did she realize that America didn’t fall her for Miss Dance Ohio or whatever it was as qualification to judge last night’s performances. I’m not sure what she’s here to pimp, but we’ll find out tonight, I’m sure. Or did Nigel really let her on without some sort of product placement deal?
As for the other first-timer judge, choreographer Travis Wall, he was probably the most sound voice of reason of the night. While Travis had his moments seeming starstruck behind the table, he was also the most coherent and critical of last night’s dances, which, without question, fall into some of the worst of the season. Travis didn’t shy away from naming his favorite dancer this season and from pointing out some critical flaws in some of the contestants. Continuing on the trend of “new-ness” on SYTYCD was the plethora of unrecognizable choreographers. I’m not saying they were unqualified to take the SYTYCD stage, however, I do believe they underestimated the talent this season. Their choreography seemed to simple, and in many instances, brought out very little talent in some of this season’s highly regarded players. Should any of them return, I hope we are able to see more of a challenge for some of our favorites this summer. But enough of my whining, let’s get to the night’s dances and see who might comprise tonight’s bottom 3.
Melanie & Marko, “Americano” Jazz by Ray Leeper | This couple remains, in my opinion, the strongest of the season. Week after week, this duo tackles their pieces with vigor, passion, drive, and heart. It’s funny because many times, I find myself having to rewatch the performance to see the other half because I was drawn to one half so intently during the initial viewing. That’s not because the other half isn’t good…it’s because they are both so good, with intricate movements, that you move your eyes (or blink), you’ve missed something beautiful. While this wasn’t my favorite piece of the night, M&M continue to prove they plan to be a force reckoned with and I can’t imagine a top 5 without these 2.
Sasha & Alexander, “To The Moon” Hip-Hop by Shaun Evaristo | It’s a shame that this piece brought out the worst in Sasha and the “even more worst” out in Alexander. This is not to say either of them have dropped to the bottom of the SYTYCD contention list, however, it’s hard to pin point whether the choreography is to blame here or if the dancers couldn’t bring enough life to the piece. It probably was a mixture of both. In spite of everything, this was another moment where all eyes were on Sasha. At some point, and it might just be tonight, this duo should be split to provide her with a fresh attack on pieces in the following weeks.
Jordan & Tadd, “Nocturne” Waltz by Toni Redpath | While the piece had it moments of fluidity, romance, and intrigue, I’m afraid that’s all the piece was able to offer. Even ballroom queen herself, Mary Murphy, had trouble finding the right words to say in a genre in which she is most comfortable. The premise of the piece seems overdone and the emphasis on different parts of the romantic story was lost on me. This MAY earn the pair a spot in the bottom 3, however, I do not believe either should be leaving the stage tonight. As a pair, they have a lot to offer, but maybe we need to be reminded what they can offer us solo, as well.
Clarice & Jess, “Light Through The Branches” Contemporary by Justin Giles | One of the few breaths of fresh air tonight. For those keeping score, Cat, Travis, and M&M have made the list. Even the choice of music was very carefully selected for the story this dance was to tell. Jess was able to draw down his broadway/jazz hands to near 0%, while Clarice’s moves brought back the feeling I had when we first caught a glimpse of her at the end of the audition stages in Vegas. While this piece wasn’t my personal favorite of the night, it ranked within the Top 3. The chemistry these two were able to find was almost unparalleled on the night. Mary Murphy said it best in that these two have been steadily climbing the incline and will soon reach that peak to where America has no choice but to keep them around for more.
Ashley & Chris, “Mambo Beat” Salsa by Liz Lira | This was a fine example of whether the choreography just wasn’t deep enough for the duo, whether it was too deep for the duo, or whether the duo couldn’t bring in enough energy to add life to a piece that had potential. Sadly, I can’t pinpoint what about this performance last night has me frustrated. Ashley and Chris are both fine dancers, stuck in a talent pool of fine (and finer) dancers. Standing out is the name of the game and I’m afraid they did so – but in the wrong sense – last night. Look for these 2 in the bottom 3 once again. The piece was not without its standout moments, however, when you have fewer of those than moments that may numb the viewer, it doesn’t bode well.
Ryan & Ricky, “Fashion” Jazz by Chucky Kalpow | It seems as if they judges enjoyed this performance last night. Who am I kidding, Carmen Electra enjoyed almost all. Although at this point, I think she ran out of descriptor terms for her opinion on the pieces. This piece, which could have been confused for a Sonya Tayeh routine, kept my attention for about 30 seconds. The intro, with the intricate and fine doll-like (albeit creepy dolls) movements, was one of the best moments of the night. However, I was lost in the costume, makeup and confusing story to be able to follow and enjoy the dance as I should have. To be frank, because you know I’m never straight forward, had this dance been on any other night, it would have stood out as a cut below the rest. However, R & R might get to stick around because there were some other sore thumbs that might need to face a quick dance with reality.
Caitlynn & Mitchell, “To Love You More” Contemporary by Mandy Moore | And we’ve reached that point in the evening, ladies and gentlemen. Not only do you get to (finally!) stop reading my babbling, but you get to find out which dance of the night was my favorite. It was this one here. Not only was this filled with daring moves, dazzling footsteps and quite a bit of attraction between the partners, but it included a story. A story I could follow. A story many could relate to. And a story that I wanted to see again and learn more about. Forget the injured elbow, forget the mistake Nigel made in claiming Mitchell was a frequent member of the bottom 3, these two took what was given to them and magnified it on stage. Again, is this because the piece was choreographed at a better level or was it because the dancers took it to another level and breathed new life? That seems to be the unanswered question of the night … and we just might never find out.
Alright, my guesses for tonight’s bottom 3:
Sasha & Alexander (although may be substituted with Ryan & Ricky)
Jordan & Tadd
Ashley & Chris
Will tonight be the night the judges split a couple or will one of the above head home as a duo, keeping in with the pattern? What did you think of last night’s dances? Who is still your favorite of the competition? Was I too harsh on last night’s performances? In a slightly unrelated note, how about the cameo for Mia Michaels last night…thoughts on that anyone?Let me know below and join us for the elimination tonight. Don’t forget that you can address the eliminated couple by leaving us a question (or two) below…yours just might be chosen when we get to talk to the eliminated dancers later this week!