So You Think You Can Dance Review: Say Goodbye to the Oddballs
Last week, the judge’s decision to keep all Top 20 contestants for another performance elated me. After this week’s performances and results, I’m no longer sure I feel the same way.
Let me get you from point A to point B, starting with Wednesday night’s performances.
Ryan and Ricky pulled a Jazz number, and were assigned to work with choreographer Mandy Moore. In the sexy, slinky piece set to “Addicted to Love” by Robert Palmer, they showed off their skills for the second week in a row. They’ve been lucky, as a couple, by pulling two dances within their comfort zones, but they executed it with flair and precision.
Iveta and Nick were given the chance to dance the season’s first Bollywood routine, choreographed by Nakul Dev Mahajan and set to “Baawer” from the Luck By Chance soundtrack. The two did a respectable job, and the routine was fun. They seemed to pay respect to the genre and have a good time, but it lacked a spark for me and I soon forgot it all together. I also think, as the dancers revealed a secret about their partners this week, that Nick suffered from having Iveta as a partner. I can’t connect with her, as much as I’d like to, and the interview sequences leave me cold to her as a person. And as much as the judges want us to believe this show is about talent (and it is, because they’re all talented) a lot of who stays depends on how likable the contestants are from the get-go.
Miranda and Robert found themselves in the bottom 3 last week, and I wasn’t sure exactly why. Getting to watch this week’s Hip-Hop routine from Napoleon and Tabitha D’umo (to “Break Ya Neck” by Busta Rhymes), made me happy all over again that they both remained part of the cast. They. Were. Fantastic. The quirky, performance heavy choreography fit Robert’s personality perfectly, but the real surprise was Miranda. I have to tell you, for a pale white Contemporary dancer, that girl has some serious swagger. They were fantastic and one of my favorite routines of the night.
Missy and Wadi drew the Cha-Cha, and I think pretty much had to assume this spelled trouble. Jean Marc Genereux gave them a lightning fast routine to Ke$ha’s “Cannibal”, admitting the dance was “the hardest Cha-Cha he’d done for the show. My immediate reaction was that seemed unfair, to take a free running beat boy and a trained jazz dancer and hand them an impossible routine. I was only half right, because whoa. Missy knocked that crap out of the park. She nailed it. Wadi, on the other hand, honestly looked like he was only half trying, like he expected to fail so he figured why bother going all out. The judges agreed, judging him harshly, and making me sad for Missy because she deserved to stay after her performances.
Clarice and Jess lucked out again and drew Contemporary out of the hat, and were paired with Stacey Tookey. In a pretty, safe, and in my opinion, unchallenging routine danced to “Cathedrals” by Jump Little Children, they were just okay. There was no sparkle, no pleasant ache and, as Nigel pointed out, no connection between the two of them. I don’t really get Jess at all, and feel a little bad for Clarice because I don’t think she does either. Their performance was just okay for me, when it should have been something more than that with each of them so close to their own style.
Caitlynn and Mitchell are another couple that made me dance with joy over last week’s decision. We didn’t get to see them dance together then because Mitchell sustained an injury, and I’m telling you, we missed out. In my third favorite routine of the night, the two of them tackled a Stacey Tookey Contemporary routine (to Adele’s “Turning Tables). The story behind the dance, one of desperation and sorrow, shone through in their movements, their expressions, and every little moment. This routine was everything Clarice and Jess’ should have been but wasn’t.
Melanie and Marko, by far the oddest pairing in my opinion, drew a rather odd Mandy Moore Jazz routine. The judges loved the quirky movements, the showmanship, and their obvious skill as they strutted all over the stage to “Sing With a Swing” by DKS. It was okay. Once again, I just have trouble connecting to Jazz pieces. But, I will say they are both wonderful dancers and I feel like they could handle any genre they drew week after week. An odd couple, maybe, but a strong one.
Jordan and Tadd stole my heart from the moment they announced their dance – the Viennese Waltz. Season after season, these romantic, flowing dances steal my heart and often end up being my favorites. This was my second-vying-for-first favorite dance of the evening, a gorgeous number set to “Fade Into Me” by David Cook by choreographer Jean Marc Genereux. They danced with gorgeous lines, and floated across the floor with effortless lifts and the thread of connection between them never breaking, and casting a spell over the audience. Nigel and the judges loved it too, and I’d be surprised to see them land again in the bottom 3.
Sasha and Alexander turned in the performance of the night, the one that had me crying (harder) from the opening moments until the end of their critique. In a Nappy-Tabs Hip-Hop to “Coming Home” by Diddy-Dirty Money and Skylar Grey, the two played a couple seeing each other for the first time after the husband’s return from war. Everything they turned in amazed me. Their dancing, their connection, their storytelling, the way they let the story touch them and shine through – it was all effortless and a beautiful thing to watch. Sasha is winning this viewer over, because I am a big fan of both her dancing and her soul.
Ashley and Chris closed the show with a Spencer Liff Broadway number (to “Please, Mr. Jailer” by Rachel Sweet) in which Ashley came to visit her man in prison. I enjoyed this one, and thought it was sultry and they connected nicely (even through the prop bars on stage). I like this couple. They’re talented and, even more than that, it’s easy to see how hard they’re willing to work. The judges loved the routine too.
So, it came down to Thursday night’s results, and boy, was I dreading them. Honestly, no one did poorly enough to go home, but when the bottom 3 couples were announced only 1 of them surprised me. First to be slotted into the bottom 3 were Missy and Wadi. Wadi, yes, deserved to be there but Missy really didn’t. The second couple sent to dance for their lives were Iveta and Nick, also not a total surprise. Still, I’d blame this one on her more than him. The third couple came down to Clarice and Jess, and Ryan and Ricky. When they said Ryan and Ricky were going to be in the bottom 3, I not only felt shock but dismay. Not because I thought for one minute Ryan would go home (she didn’t), but because it meant Missy would.
I really like that girl.
While the judges debated, we were treated to some guest performances that I barely paid attention to as I awaited the results.
In the end, they kept both Ryan and Ricky, and we said a tearful goodbye to Nick, Wadi, Missy, and Iveta. I will honestly miss them all but Iveta, and I teared up again as they cried, and talked about how much they would miss their fellow contestants and the show. The camaraderie between the dancers is one of things that draws me in season after season.
What I did find interesting was the fact that none of the same couples were in the bottom 3 from last week, meaning two of the contestants who went home would still be on the show if they had done the eliminations as scheduled? Anyone else find that strange? Does is smack of unfairness, or rigging to you?
That’s what I meant by not being sure it had been a good decision. It feels a little bit like last week the judges felt America got it wrong, so they wanted another chance to send home who they thought should be the first contestants to leave the show.
It turns out some of the eliminated contestants had their own thoughts on the subject, and I’ll get the recap of Friday’s conference call to you over the weekend.
For more on this week’s episodes, check out Never Gonna Dance Again by Inisia Lewis.
Season 8, Episode 8 and 9 “Top 20 Perform Again” (original airdates June 22 and 23, 2011)
So You Think You Can Dance airs Wednesday and Thursday nights at 8/7c on Fox.
Images courtesy of Fox.