So You Think You Can Dance Review: Now That’s A Show
Tonight’s So You Think You Can Dance episode was all about our Top 20, who were paired up with each other and finally surprised with a genre and choreographer. Simply, the competition got started! We’ve got our panel staples of Nigel and Mary, and Wayne Brady came back to do some real judging – as real as any non-choreographers get when they sit on the panel, which means lots of compliments. And of course, we can’t forget about Cat, who had Wayne hysterical with laughter after trying to show the audience a certain African Jazz move. With a lot of new faces and names to remember, I’ll make it easy by putting the deets on each routine up front and then ranking from least exciting to all out fantastic (in my opinion, at least).
JENNA (Ballroom) and TUCKER (Contemporary) | Broadway | Tyce Diorio | “That’s All” by Kevin Spacey
Look, Mary, I don’t care how many times you say fun or how you enjoy “dancing in your sheets,” but I was bored to tears, and it’s interesting that Nigel called them both a power couple, because I was BOOOOOORED! I can’t place all the blame on the dancers because they really threw their bodies into every move with abandon and also stepped into the shoes of their throwback, linen drying characters. It’s mostly Tyce’s fault now that I think about it, because they were “picture perfect” as Wayne said, and that just happened to be the most boring story ever told. Tyce relied more on the sheets and baskets instead of fleshing out the story of line drying and love.
ALEXIS (Tap) and NICO (Contemporary) | Hip-hop | Christopher Scott | “Last Time” (Knife Party Remix) by Labrinth
It’s extremely hard to criticize these dancers. I can acknowledge that, especially when both dancers are outside of their genre. The choreography also wasn’t the most high-octane or exciting of Christopher’s repertoire – even with the club music. But I agreed with Nigel that Nico didn’t seem like he felt the piece at all. It looked like he was doing counting the steps in his head. Alexis had more presence, but once again, she didn’t exude any swag. Mary coined it “pleasant-hop.”
HAYLEY (Contemporary) and CURTIS (Tap) | Lyrical Hip-hop | Christopher Scott | “Go” by Delilah
All I could think was, “what a young, fresh duo!” But could they pull off the seduction Christopher called for? Unfortunately, not in my eyes. The two still looked like kids trying to be sexy, and I had a flashback to middle and high school days when I would perform dances with my friends at some of our weekly morning meetings. Sure, they looked better than my performances, but I think I exuded the same amount of pretend sexiness when needed. Hayley exceeded Curtis, but that’s because she has more technique. He had more swag going for them. Still, when Hayley grabbed that briefcase at the end and walked off stage, I just thought, shouldn’t she have grabbed a backpack instead?
MARIAH (Hip-hop) and CARLOS (Contemporary) | Jive | Jason Gilkison | “Get It Right”—Fantasia Barrino
Mariah gives some good face; the girl knows how to show emotions. And when that emotion is all about excitement and energy, she really made the routine fun to watch. Carlos was a strong partner, and with the music, he gave me a Bruno Mars vibe. Any likeness to Mr. Mars will always be a plus. Jason gave them a non-stop routine, and Mary pointed out that there was some difficulty with their bounce due to the speed. Even Wayne noted that it looked frantic and that showed in on their faces, and that was the only reason that I felt it was hard to connect to the truly overtly welcoming number. However, both faired very well outside of their genres.
MALECE (Contemporary) and JADE (Animation) | Jazz | Travis Wall | “Silver Screen Shower Scene” by Felix da Housecat
This wasn’t my favorite Travis piece or maybe it’s hard to have another one so readily available to compare it to (see below). He also had to tailor his style to fit Jade, a smart move if he wanted the routine to look credible and Jade rose to the occasion. Travis, however, did not rise to his feet like when his other piece was performed. (He has a right to pick favorites!) What I did appreciate was how commanding Jade was, and Nigel remarked how he was there for Malece at every moment. The judges have recently been hard on Malece, and their prodding clearly pushed her to re-light that fire, and overall, they really commended the two, especially Jade.
BRITTANY (Ballroom) and BLUPRINT (Animation) | African Jazz | Sean Cheeseman | “Drumming Circle” by Professor Trane & The Energizers
These two may have been the most out of her element with the basis of African Jazz being all about free moment. Interestingly enough, I volleyed between the two, nitpicking on something here and then being in awe of how much they’ve grown in such a short period time. Brittany, unfortunately, doesn’t have the same pizazz in this piece as she does in heels doing a Samba. On the other hand, Bluprint really embodied the creature-like movement and freedom of his body, and my eyes ended with him. Now what the hell was Nigel talking about when he said people might think it would be easy for Bluprint because it’s in his heritage – but it’s not because he wasn’t born in a jungle. Thanks for clearing that up…
MAKENZIE (Contemporary) and PAUL (Ballroom) | Viennese Waltz | Jason Gilkison | “I’m with You” by Avril Lavigne
Jason thought he got lucky with Paul – come to find out he’s actually never danced the Viennese waltz. And Meredith thought she looked like a “truck driver” and not a princess, but by performance time, Paul’s foundation provided that extra support for Makenzie and allowed her to feel comfortable in the number. The two looked romantic and effortless, and they glided across the immense of the stage with ease. The biggest realization of how well they did – in a particularly non-flashy number – was not only the sigh-like, happy feeling the piece left me with, but forgetting that these two are not consummate waltzers…at all.
JASMINE H (Jazz) and AARON (Tap) | Jazz | Sonya Tayeh | “Bottom of the River” by Delta Rae
Only Sonya would describe her dance as swampy and aggressive. Thank you. That’s just how I like you, Sonya. Both these dancers have a certain fire when it comes to their stage presence, so I was excited to see them execute a routine sure to be coursing with passion. I really loved how Sonya turned the piece into an allegory for their journey – these dancers digging and crawling for what they want. Now, Jasmine H., I can’t even!! She becomes increasingly more of an electric dancer with each piece I see her in, and I’m in awe of her more and more. Aaron truly surprised me with how wholeheartedly he gave himself to the piece, though he still has to work on the looseness of his body. Wayne summed it up well: “To be a big dude and move with the grace that you do, man, you are a sexy cat.”
AMY (Jazz) and FIK-SHUN (Animation) | Contemporary | Sonya Tayeh | “Elsa” by The Valerie Project
Whoa! I wasn’t expecting such emotion from Fik-shun right out the gate. Cat got the chills and the judges leapt to their feet. I didn’t think Sonya could top herself…until she did. Mary called Amy one of the best dancers in the competitions, and she’s caught my eyes after this one. Fik-shun admitted the number allowed him to show us his serious side (something he doesn’t often do) which endeared him immensely and prompted the best comment of the night from Wayne as he popped the top button of his shirt. “Whenever I want people to see my serious side, I take my clothes off and dance on a white girl too.”
JASMINE M. (Jazz) and ALAN (Ballroom) | Contemporary | Travis Wall | “Can’t Help Falling in Love” (Live) by Ingrid Michaelson
Dude! I was legitimately scared most of this number, and that was due to Travis’ ingenious idea to blindfold these dancing fools as they leapt and twirled and lifted across the stage. They were lace, but c’mon! It must have been the best trust building exercise ever, and I really felt that trust in each other. My emotions were heightened and I believed their connection, and to top it all off, they ended with a kiss. Pure perfection. Jasmine M. really was the star, a vision, and Travis clearly choreographed Alan, not to stretch his movement, but to maximize his partnering potential, which was also a success.
This week was a fantastic episode of So You Think You Can Dance, and one of the best group of routines and well-rounded competitors for a Top 20 night in the show’s history. Not to be forgotten I have to give a shout out to NappyTabs making an appearance in the beginning of the show choreographing the Top 20 and some of the night choreographers as they danced the cameras from backstage to Cat welcoming us even when they don’t have a piece. I love to see the choreographers really supporting the show they love, and that really helped propel their own careers. Plus, Cat looked smoking hot in that little pink dress and those bright pink lips.
But now it’s your turn. What did you think of the season’s true opener? Who are your favorite dancers, and who do you think fared the best this week? And wasn’t Wayne Brady a surprisingly delightful and insightful judge? Best blend of performer/non-dancer or choreography to his the guest judge spot yet. Sound off below!
Season 10, Episode 8: Top 20 Perform (originally aired June 25, 2013)
For more So You Think You Can Dance, check out our other reviews.
SYTYCD airs Tuesday and Wednesday nights at 8/7c.
Images courtesy of Adam Rose/FOX.