So You Think You Can Dance Review: More Technique Than Performance

There’s something in the water this week, because even though our dancers have only been competing for two weeks, they really are performing like the Top 10 of yesteryear. Just the idea that they’re performing as if they’ve been competing for five weeks, whittling down from a pool of 20, is insane.  Many still have a way to go to captivate the audience by conveying a believable character or mastering a new style, but that’s the beauty of So You Think You Can Dance.

10. ADÉCHIKÉ & Allison | Contemporary | Mandy Moore | “Listen To You Heart” by DHT
If dance were only about the neck on down, Adéchiké would get solid marks. Sadly, the face is very important, especially to help convey…you know…emotion, and pretty much everyone from Mandy to Allison to the judges wanted him to let go and feel the moment more. I’d agree that it was easy to enjoy Allison but difficult to stay connected to Adéchiké, who seemed to go in and out of genuine emotion.

8. JOSE & Kathryn | Bollywood (link included for those, who, shockingly, like Jose, have been living under a rock and have no idea what Bollywood is.) | Nakul | “Marjaani Marjaani Kasame” from the Billu Barber soundtrack
I thought it was opposites day for Billy, but Jose definitely pulled the toughest pick. There’s no way he hit all the intricate footwork or handwork, and Nakul was very kind to put in some fun flips and tricks, but he did it with earnest and glee. Quick feet certainly helped him keep up, but it didn’t look that great. In fact, the judges practically laughed in Jose’s face, but they all love his attitude and smile so, of course, they didn’t critique him like they did the performances that were executed much better. Okay, so he kind of won me over with all that a little too.

7. MELINDA & Ade | Contemporary | Stacey Tookey |  “Squander” by Skunk Anansie
I really want to like Melinda. Off the stage, she seems like my kind of girl. Yet even though she’s improved, tackling a technical piece, her fire doesn’t come across, which makes me a little unexcited. Nigel was impressed by her lines and Mia with her feet, but she was a little too upright and tense for my taste. Sometimes she’s seem in perfect sync emotionally, but then looked completely vacant like Adéchiké. Still, this is a competition about learning and growing so I must give her that.

7. KENT & Courtney | Jazz | Tyce | “Amy Amy Amy” by Amy Winehouse
To be honest, all I wanted was to see Courtney pair up with fellow All-Star Mark and get nasty with this number. (Insert daydream about “The Garden”.) Kent danced it extremely well, but he lacked command to me. And though I felt the mutual support between the new partners, I didn’t feel the sexual spark, and the music and movement called both to ooze sexuality, and a little bit of raunch. We only got 50%. But Kent will be around for awhile because he is so sweet and open and himself.

6. BILLY & Comfort | Krump | Lil’ C | “So U Think U Can Krump” by Tha J-Squad
What’d you say, Lil’ C? Billy has to seem like he’s from the “belly of the hood.” Now, I have to refer to him as Billy B Buck? Hey! I’m okay with that because he certainly earned the title, as dated as it sounds. It wasn’t just the baggy sweatshirt. He got dirty and had a tiny bit of swag. Technical and polite and upbeat Bill pulled it off well as well as I would expect but the judges and I were on different pages.  Still, appreciated that Adam gave useful critiques like he didn’t have enough hit, rebound or suspend. It’s better than just saying you were left with a weird feeling like Mia did.

5. ROBERT & Anya | Argentine Tango | Tony & Melanie | “Libertango” by bond
Whenever the judges aren’t in agreement, I always feel a little uncomfortable. It’s like Mommy and Daddy fighting. ::Tear:: When it comes to this tango, however, I happened to disagree with Mama Mia who pretty much hated the dance. I can’t say that he was the strongest partner, and with Anya certainly elevated him, but I still think Roberto held it together and conveyed strength and power. Perfect example of the judges being too hard on someone when they are so easy on others. Also, some tell him that the weird fake gagging bit, at the end as his numbers were announced, does not get you more votes. In fact, he probably lost some because of that.

4. ALEX & Lauren | Broadway | Tyce | “Summertime” by Sylvester
With a Fosse inspired number, Alex had to convey cool and sexy, and while I don’t think he was Slim Daddy Cool, he nailed each step perfectly. His connection to Lauren was strong, but there wasn’t any passion from the inside seeping outward, and you know that’s like a dancer’s oxygen. The judges couldn’t quit his extraordinary skills, but Adam said that it’s not about his ability but versatility and growth that wins the competion.

3. CRISTINA & Pasha | Paso Doble | Jean-Marc Généreux and France Mousseau | “Ira Deorum/Sanctus” by James Dooley
Sometimes you just get plain lucky. Not quite so lucky when you’re fearing for your life as you’re tossed around like a baton, but at least, she was doing it in something a little more comfortable, like ballroom. It was a dramatic piece which allowed the woman to be this beautiful beast. As Mia succinctly put it, “It was power, it was passion, it was the whole package and it was the perfect partnership.” To me, she seemed tentative at first but once we were in the throngs, she was stomping her heeled heart out.

2. ASHLEY & Mark | Jazz | Travis | “Wonderful” by Annie Lennox
He did it again. Travis gave us a fantastic number and an emotionally tumultuous one at that. Too bad, as Nigel pointed out, it wasn’t jazz, it was contemporary. Oh, and the lifts were awesome, but there were too many of them, and the judges want more dancing. And when it came to Ashley’s performance, they loved her dancing but wished she followed through more during her transitions. It’s hard not to agree with the judges on every point, but I couldn’t help but fall in love with the dance and with Ashley a teensy bit. I’m a sucker for things that cause a little stir in me when I watch them.

1. LAUREN & Dominic | Lyrical Hip-hop | Tashandra Chavez | “If I Was a Boy” by Beyoncé
Once again, the judges surprise me by offering harder critiques for one of the best dances of the night. It’s not that I don’t appreciate constructive criticism. I just think it should be spread evenly so that viewers aren’t left with bitter tastes come voting time. In my opinion, it was the first fantastic hip-hop routine. (From a new choreographer at that!) With a deep story, centered on domestic abuse, I felt almost as emotional as the teary Lauren at the end of her performance. Yes, Mia was right that I saw less “fight” dancing than expected. And it certainly was not Mia’s Season 6 Kayla and Kupono number. (Still one of my tops.) But it had the perfect blend of music, motion and emotion, and not everyone has been hitting the tri-fecta.

This week may not have had many emotional highs, but technically I’m very impressed. Seeing them all together in Sonya’s easily identifiable group number was the perfect example. Still, the two performances that captivated me the most this week were not from our contestants. Bryan Gaynor, the repeat auditioner, fan fav and crazy-good isolationist with scoliosis performed with his group RemoteKontrol. They all, equally, performed so fluidly, yet somehow also robotically and intricately. It was magical. Then came Debi Nova, who Cat introduced as Costa Rican superstar Debi Nova, performing “Drummer Boy”. I have no idea what the song was about, and she barely had the stamina to sing it in its entirety. Backup singers were doing the heavy lifting anyway! But Marc, Courtney, Neil, Lauren, Ade and Comfort. I could have watched them moving with the TV on mute, and I hope we see more of this. (Though maybe they were so captivating because Debi Nova was so the opposite.)

With Melinda, Cristina and Robert gaining the least amount of votes, it quickly became another all-girl bottom. Robert was going no where. None of the solos really wowed me. Melinda’s seemed sloppy, Cristina’s seemed slow, and Robert’s sleepy and floppy. The judges also seemed to have no words to really critique their solos or praise them. Instead they got straight to the point, complimenting Cristina from doing fantastic and being so proud of her to promptly saying you’re leaving. Apparently Mia and Adam, really see something in Melinda that even tap-loving Nigel would have let go.

So who did you love? Were the judges harsh this week? And are you falling in love with all the All-Stars all over again like I am? Who’s hoping for an All-Star competition?!

For another take on Top 10 Perform and the Results show, read A Week of Oddities by Trisha Huntsman.

Season 7, Episode 8 & 9: Top 10 Perform & 1 of 10 Voted Off (originally aired June 23 and 24, 2010)

For more on So You Think You Can Dance, click here.

Photographs courtesy of Fox and IMDbPro

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