So You Think You Can Dance Review: Double Down

It’s been quite the last two weeks in So You Think You Can Dance. Billy sat out to rest his hurt knee though the doctors okayed him to take the stage, a first in SYTYCD history. The judges didn’t send anyone home last week, another first. And Lauren, seemingly hurt at the end of this week’s performance show, made it through mostly unscathed, but didn’t perform in the group number. (This prompted a heart attack as I watched a beautiful and quirky Alice in Wonderland-style, Mia Michaels number with Allison as the feature girl. Oh, what Lauren could have done with that one.) 
Toni Redpath guest-judged with succinct criticism and an ability to have a strong opinion of her own. As a ballroom choreographer, she also brought some missed insight into the genre. (Mary, I still haven’t forgotten about you!) And we also learned that the winner would not only earn $250,000, the cover of Dance Spirit magazine and bragging rights, but he or she would be integral in some new Gatorade ads, as they’ve just acknowledged dance as a sport. (Go, Dance!) But we don’t really have to worry about all that for another two weeks, so let’s get to the good stuff!
6. JOSE and Comfort | Hip-hop | Marty Kudelka and Dana Wilson | “Try a Little Tenderness” by Otis Redding 
So are you with me now? We’re down to the Top 6 (really, the Top 5ish). No one with Jose’s level of talent has ever gotten so far, yet the judges still appear pained to critique the toothy sweetheart. I want to scream “Aren’t you paid for this?!” Even in a style that he should, at this point with his urban dance background, be able to master the routine. He just appeared slow and couldn’t get into the groove. 
5. ADÉCHIKÉ and Courtney | Jazz | Tyce | “Manteca” by Dizzy Gillespie 
There’s no denying that this boy, who seemed to have the judges gunning to get him out, has turned things around. It began with showing more of his lovely style, allowing his emotions to release, and his next step needs to be, as Mia said, giving his body into abandonment. He’s such a powerful dancer, and every large leap or big flip, is awe inspiring. He’s also proven that he can create a convincing character, but somehow even in this smooth, cool number, he appeared tight and clenched. 

4. KENT and Anya | Cha-cha | Jean-Marc and France | “My First Kiss” by 3OH!3 ft. Ke$ha 
Technically, I have no idea if what Kent did was good. But, I still have an issue with his masculinity which sometimes seems strong, other times appears more man-boy and then he’ll pull off a move in an extremely feminine way. And this performance, for me, had each of those moments. What is evident, though, is how determined he is to mastering technique and entertaining which has brought him a long way.  

3. LAUREN and Allison | Broadway | Tyce | “Who’s Got the Pain?” from Damn Yankees
Finally! We’ve seen the boys tango together, and now we’ve got our first girl-girl number of the season. It’s fitting that the theme was very Annie Get Your Gun’s “Anything You Can Do I Can Do Better,” but the two weren’t battling each other. Lauren showed all those boys not only is she the top girl of the season, but may be the top dancer as well. As proven in many performances this season, it’s not easy to keep up with the stunning, agile and graceful Allison but Lauren came off as an equal.  
2. BILLY and Ade | Contemporary | Stacey | “Mad World” (Alternate Version) by Michael Andrews ft. Gary Jules 
I know it’s about the dancers, but Mia called out Stacey’s choreographer for keeping Mia on her toes, and I’d have to wholeheartedly agree. Two beautiful pieces on performance night by the same choreographer? This might be a SYTYCD first, and Stacey earned it. She was helped by some extremely beautiful, poignant and honest dancing devoted to her story of a homeless man coming face-to-face with a rich, Wall Street guy.  
1. ROBERT and Kathryn | Contemporary | Stacey | “Heaven is a Place on Earth” by Katie Thompson 
Robert has shoved my foot in my mouth many times this season, and this was just another one of those times. I never really believed he’d get far, and slowly, I’m rooting for him to stay. His personality doesn’t necessarily pull me in like a Kent or Lauren, but he’s not only grown technically but emotionally on the stage. Stacey, also, put herself on the map again with an emotional piece and managed to throw in a twist, something of a rarity in our SYTYCD performances.  
Though my feelings are constantly shifting when it comes to all the changes for Season 7, getting right back to the format of contestant paired with another contestant allows the viewers to catch some of the weaknesses and strengths of our hopefuls. In a Spencer Liff Broadway number, Kent proved he’s got chops to be a true Broadway star while Jose looked lost and out of place. (Yes, he’s doing better but not competition-level better.) Both Lauren and Adéchiké aren’t perfect fits for a Foxtrot, choreographed by Jean-Marc and France, but Lauren still exuded grace and elegance . Both, Billy and Robert, killed Nakul’s number, giving the best Bollywood routine since Joshua’s and Katee’s from Season 4.  
The contestant pool was small enough to pit each contestant head-to-head so when Kent went up against Jose, it was an easy call. Jose deserved to dance for his life for the last few weeks, as cute as he is. Still the battles of Billy vs. Adéchiké and Lauren vs. Robert left me down. After Adéchiké took a beat down, early on, from the judges, he’s leapt many of his big hurdles, but Billy, a consummately better dancer, who’s shine started to dull, came back in full force this week. I don’t know if I’ll ever warm to Robert the person, at least from this digital distance, but Robert the dancer is slowly heating me up. And Lauren is all-around in a league of her own and not just gender-wise.  

Luckily, I’m not the only one making the big decisions, and the masses spoke. America sent Billy and Lauren into the bottom with Jose. And with two people already doomed, I easily parted with Jose, less so with Billy, but Lauren had no option of going home with her track record and the judges making the final choice.  

To keep us tuned in, SYTYCD nicely paraded new talent in front of us to either immediately adore or viciously tear apart. And this week was no different. It’s not like anyone thought Adam Shankman wouldn’t use SYTYCD to promote the upcoming Step Up 3D, especially since they recruited alums like Twitch, Joshua, Ivan, Legacy, Katee and more. Lil’ C, who also makes an appearance in the movie, even wanted in on the fun. Does seeing it live make the movie appear better? A little. But it’s a movie about DANCE! Of course, I’m all in.  

Also visiting was Christian TV, who sang “When She Turns 18,” a song definitely inappropriate for Christian TV, radio or chuch. I don’t really get the name choice since when I tried to Google it, I found plenty a place to listen to Christian music before I actually got to one link about him, but I’m sure it’s a great story. Still his song was infectious in that Katy Perry, Cobra Starship and 3Oh!3 kind of way albeit pretty poorly performed. Only time will tell his fate. Allison Iraheta, on the other hand, had some time since her Season 8, third place Idol bow out. Though I don’t really love her music, I do love her spunk and her voice, and she brought axe slayer Orianthi with her. She can rock the house and still hasn‘t compromised the artist she always intended to be for pop appeal. Thumbs up! 

After seeing two killer solos, I still don’t think the judges had a hard choice. Jose’s solo was fun and definitely showcased the most strength and creativity I’ve seen from him. Billy possibly chose the worst moment to showoff his oddball side. Sonya would have been proud, but it lacked the majesty he usually brings to his pieces, which is also what I think wins the judges over every time. Still, one could contend that the judges would have just said they wanted to see something new from him. Either way he was on his way out. Lauren focused on power moves and saucy charm, the perfect combination. This even got some of the All-stars on their feet for her, and I would have been there too if I hadn’t been typing on this here laptop, that’s how good she is.

So after a tough last two weeks, we lost no one to injury and a very solid Top 4 of, interestingly, all contemporary dancers. Wouldn’t the joke be on them if next we, they all had to dance each number outside of their style. That would be a true competition.

Want another opinion on this episode?  Read Say What? by Trisha Leigh here.  Follow Poptimal on Twitter here.  Friend us on Facebook here.  More on So You Think You Can Dance here.

Season 7, Episode 18 & 19: Top 6 Perform & 2 of 6 Voted Off (originally aired July 28 and July 29, 2010)

Photographs courtesy of Fox and IMDbPro

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