So You Think You Can Dance Review: Abstract Hotness

_MG_0022There were all kinds of fireworks on this week’s episode of So You Think You Can Dance, though it took a while to spark. The gorgeous Cat, in her barely there dress and shimmery body glitter, swiftly introduced that the format changed slightly; for how long remains the question. We kicked off with the bottom six being rooted from the other contestants who would definitely remain in the competition. Very quickly the judges picked Alan and Mackenzie to save, while leaving Jade, Mariah, Carlos and Brittany to dance for their lives and the final two spots in the Top 16.

After four solos that disappointed Nigel, and semi-entertained me, Carlos and Brittany were sent home, leaving the two street dancers to continue on. Sadly for C and B, with the decision being moved from the tail end of the show to the front, they had to continue on with show when there wasn’t a chance of them moving on. (Note: Had their partner also been eliminated, their dance would have just gone into the abyss, I suppose.) While it felt like air was let out of the SYTYCD tires before the dancing even started, I agreed with the idea that watching a pair dance beautifully and then get voted off on a dance that was from the previous week, always felt disingenuous, and I never desire to go back to a bloated live show, but I understand the reasons they do work.

This week, Christina Applegate joined the judges’ panel, and if you remember from last season, she was charming and cute and fairly astute in the ways of dance. I was awed by a Tyce Diorio group number choreographed to “The Heroic Weather-Conditions of the Universe,” from Moonrise Kingdom. He inspires me most when he shifts outside of the Broadway box. Now on to the dancers!

JENNA and TUCKER | Cha-cha-cha | Dmitry Chaplin | “I Like It Like That” (Aaron Jerome remix) by Pete “El Conde” Rodríguez
This routine was the last number of the night, and to be honest, these choreographers are on a role, and very fortunate to have this group of dancers, so I thought for sure this had to be the missing link. Yet, it wasn’t. Yes, it is still my least favorite routine of the night, but it was still a good number, performed well. Nigel wanted to give some criticism so he said there wasn’t enough cha-chaing…okay. I’ll defer to Mary – hell Christina – both were entertained. Sadly, this is the second week where these two just haven’t drawn me in. Maybe it’s the connection because Jenna surely sizzled, and Tucker (though unmemorable) supported her well but it was the one I’d forget the fastest.

BLUPRINT and Brittany | Broadway | Spencer Liff | “It’s Oh So Quiet” from Ice Princess
Time to focus on Bluprint since his partner was heading home anyway. As I said last week, she just doesn’t shine as much when she’s not doing ballroom whereas Bluprint has shined across genres. I hope that losing his partner doesn’t slow down his momentum because he did seem like he wasn’t giving his all. He smiled and pirouetted, just one mere move that I’m sure he wasn’t doing six months ago. All the judges commended the job he is doing, but he still has to try harder – especially when it comes to his shoulders reaching towards his neck. That kills me.

MALECE and JADE | Bollywood | Nakul Dev Mahajan | “Radha” from Student of the Year
I’m sorry, but you are a sad, sad person if Bollywood music doesn’t make you happy. That element will work in Jade’s favor this week. Not only did both do extremely well, outside of their styles, but especially for Jade, who clearly had a fun number and allowed the audience to bask in his smile and lightness. Malece finally got some uplifting feedback, and Nigel summed up her biggest problem, and it’s that he can’t keep his eyes off of her due to her look, but that also means she sticks out when something isn’t right.

JASMINE M and ALAN | Tango | Miriam Larici and Leonardo Barrionuevo | “Escape From Slavery” by PP Music
More hotness! I’m sad to see Alan get knocked to the bottom so early, since I had him in my top spot last week. I really was just getting to like him, and hopefully America will see what I saw last week, after two strong performances. Some may say it’s lucky that he pulled something in his own genre, but I am thankful because, for once, I really wasn’t looking at Jasmine who looked a little awkward and like she was waiting for the next move at some moments. In the end, the two really pulled it off as the footwork picked up and they conquered some amazing lifts and drags. Their sizzle sweltered.

AMY and FIK-SHUN | Hip-hop | NappyTabs | “After Party” by Dorrough
Bring it! Just to hear Amy say, “booty work,” and watch Fik-shun get excited about all that booty, is enough to propel these two through next week. It actually wasn’t my favorite NappyTabs number, but it was comical and didn’t take itself too seriously, and I always appreciate when the couple gets a little grimey. What I loved the most was that Amy might have brought more swag than Fik-shun this time around. These two are just a lovable pair, and there’s no need to worry about them anytime soon.

_MG_1020HAYLEY and CURTIS | Jazz | Ray Leeper | “Mama Knows Best” by Jessie J
Seriously, Mama shouldn’t have seen any of that number – it was that spicy! I think I saw Nigel wipe the drool off his face; he was so enraptured by Hayley. (Nigel is not hiding his inner, creepy uncle at all!) Curtis continues to play up his warm personality well, and Christina noted that she forgot he came from a tap background. Mary believed the Fourth of July came early with these two. For the first time, though, I really saw Curtis as a contender.

MAKENZIE and PAUL | Jazz | Sean Cheesman | “Mannequin” (Skeet & Tito Remix) by Trish
Abstract hotness. Total flash. Wow! I think Makenzie may have slightly put voters off with her overt sexiness. It makes it hard to get close to someone when all the talk about is how they ooze sex, but here she did. And here, it worked. I believe she did quite well last week, so let’s hope she gained a few fans. Paul just oozes sweetness. He’s adorable and hot, and you just want to like him. Nigel pointed out that the ballroom boy pulled out some great flips, and there’s a contestant on the up and up.

ALEXIS and NICO | Contemporary | Stacey Tookey | “Old Skin” by Ólafur Arnalds & Arnór Dan
These two are interesting. Every time I watch them, I feel pulled in, but I’m not particularly drawn to who they are as people. And their hip-hop last week lacked connection, but they made up for it this time. Nigel commented that Alexis, as a tapper, has bent knees and loose ankles, and Stacey required her to point her feet and hold straight lines. Again, I never would have known Alexis’ style by the routine. Where did this season’s tappers come from? They’re an anomaly when it comes to SYTYCD. Nico, in his wheelhouse, gave me all the commitment and passion I missed last week.

JASMINE H and AARON | Lyrical Hip-hop | NappyTabs | “Tears Always Win” by Alicia Keys
But Tapper Curtis still has not upstaged, in my opinion, Tapper Aaron, who was given an equally sexy piece. Nigel summed up my opinion best by noting that there’s honesty with the pair. He believed the story they were telling, and I think that difference will always keep them ahead of Curtis and Hayley, but it’s anyone’s game. Jasmine is my front runner for her appeal and personality, as well as her amazing skill and ability to be a character chameleon. Every week she comes off “new” to me, which is refreshing. And let’s not forget the “push and ripple.” Thank you for explaining, Mary.

MARIAH and Carlos | Contemporary | Stacey Tookey | “Dead in the Water” by Ellie Goulding
Inhale. Exhale. I had to remind myself to breathe, the number was so good. Mary was shocked these two ended up in the bottom, but with a frantic Jive last week, it’s no surprise. Both are fantastic dancers. (Mariah actually drew my eye the most during the solos.) But sometimes you just don’t get the best pick out of the hat. This week, Carlos will go out on one of the best numbers of the night. He also elevated Mariah, who did well on her own, by connecting to the piece and then connecting those emotions to the viewers. She’s a growing favorite, for me, and I think we’ll continue to see her grow in the future.

And there you have my least favorite numbers to my most favorite, leaving Mariah and Carlos at the top of my list for this week. (One went home, and the other barely escaped the chopping block!!) It’s never taken me so long to settle into a season, even with all the changes that have occurred previously. In fact, I think the talent is as diverse as I’ve ever seen, and the choreographers are turning in amazing work. It’s not that the show’s quality has decreased or weariness has settled in. I just think this batch of contestants are so good that it’s hard to pick a favorite, and often that’s what propels my excitement, and I have yet to zero in on someone I’m 100% behind. But that’s also kind of exciting, no? Anything could happen…

Sound off with your opinion below!

Season 10, Episode 8: Top 20 Perform Again (originally aired July 2, 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.

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