So You Think You Can Dance Review: View From the Sidelines

_MG_5673Soooooo, sometimes they DOOOOOO listen to the fans. Very quickly, Cat ensured us that the producers had heard the outcry after cutting someone at the beginning of the show, and then forcing them to dance with their partner even though they were out. I still think it’s hard to do whether you place it at the front or tail-end of the show, but at least you don’t kick off with a downer. So You Think You Can Dance made the right decision for their Top 18.

First up was a gorgeous group number from Christopher Scott and Sonya Tayeh. (Please make a real dance baby because that was magic!) Then the guest judges, of which we had two this week! Yes, the legendary “Opposites Attract” dancing cat lover named Paula Abdul, as well as Erin Andrews, the peeped-on scandal maven and quippy College Football Saturday host.  Both weren’t particularly exciting after infectious fans like Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Wayne Brady and Christina Applegate, but both were extremely well-versed in dance and performance and clearly fans. Lastly before the competition really got underway, there was sad news – poor Jade, who was also in the bottom three boys, had withdrawn from the competition due to a knee injury. That left two boys in the bottom. BluPrint and Curtis were immediately saved due to the animators fate, but that also meant all three girls, Jasmine M., Jenna and Alexis had to dance for their lives. None of the solos blew my mind, but I was reminded of Alexis’ fire as she sizzled in her style. We didn’t learn the girls’ fate until the end, and neither will you!

BLUPRINT and MARIAH | Hip-hop | Luther Brown | “Bring the Noize” from M.I.A.
These two were the first new couple of the season, with their partners leaving last week. Being the first on my list from least to most favorite numbers, it appeared to wear on them. The hardship is to be expected, but they are also required to overcome those obstacles. Especially when they are giving something in or closest to their field. They got the steps down, no question, and like Paula said, they really stayed in sync which was required and difficult. Mariah was on, but Bluprint still has problems showing emotion in his face. That, in turn, makes it hard to embody a character. THAT makes it hard to tell the story and less enjoyable to watch when a dancer’s face is monotonous.

MALECE and Marko | Contemporary | Sonya Tayeh | “In the Embers” by Sleeping At Last
Malece has disappointed me lately, especially being the little pixie that she is. Sure, Erin, she’s a fairy, but Sonya had to scream some life into her. Marko Germar of season eight returned to step in for Jade, and I couldn’t keep my eyes off of him besides when I stared at Malece’s beautiful costume. All this makes me so sad when Sonya turned in such a beautiful piece, but at least the judges didn’t agree with me. To Nigel, Malece matured in front of his eyes, and Mary likened her to Melanie, the season eight winner.

HAYLEY and CURTIS | Samba | Jean-Marc Généreux | “Straight to Memphis” by Club des Belugas
Oh that, Jean-Marc. What a character! He cracks me up and seems like a really fun choreographer to work with even when he’s forcing you to drop to your DEATH – they don’t call it a death drop for no reason! Unfortunately, Curtis took a huge step back. He wasn’t strong enough. Nigel and Paul even called him immature, something that has bothered me the last two weeks. He’s so sweet, but sweet isn’t always enough. Hayley, on the other side, seems to be held back by this fact, ready to burst out in all her womanliness, but unable to in a ballroom routine that requires her to be lead and not lead.

_MG_6223JENNA and TUCKER | Hip-hop | Keoni & Mari Madrid | “Dangerous” (Immortal version) by Michael Jackson
Hmmm. Hmmmmmmmm. I felt awkward after the new choreographer’s routine, and the judges seemed confused. I felt like they hated the piece but just didn’t want to say it. Nigel almost made it very clear that hip-hop is an umbrella term that encompasses so many and ever-changing styles, as if he knew people were thinking, ‘whaaaaaaaaa?’ (Thanks there!) My confusion, on the other hand, is more about not understanding why I even liked the piece. It was offbeat, “hip-jazz,” maybe I’m just drawn to the avant-garde. The odd feeling will probably not do any justice to the dancers especially if half or more of that audience felt exactly like the judges, almost at a loss of words. But each judge made sure to compliment the dancers for a great performance, just not with typical enthusiasm.

JASMINE M. and ALAN | Jazz | Sean Cheesman | “Veins” by Charlotte Martin
I feel so bad for Jasmine, who must have been feeling the pressure of her potential eviction of the competition. But everyone’s on equal playing ground, so buck up! The number was quirky, cute and different, putting the spotlight on a King and Queen and how boring the royal life can be. I didn’t really understand why all four judges piled on about how both should have been quirkier in the piece. I guess it was one of those routines that left you on the fence. I felt like they were perfectly jaded, which I believed to be one of the points of the story. Still Alan shined with some powerful lifts, but I’m not sure that’s enough to help him continue on.

ALEXIS and NICO | Jazz | Spencer Liff | “I Put A Spell On You” by Nina Simone
Last week, I found these two intriguing and I still do. I still haven’t yet fallen for either or the couple, but they appear proficient in every style. Proficient sounds pretty boring, but it could be a great strategy to keep these two in the competition during a slow burn and then explode towards the end when it counts. I have to steal Mary’s words and say I was mesmerized. Also, adore that Spencer is doing more jazz, when we’re so used to his fabulous Broadway pieces.

AMY and FIK-SHUN | Paso Doble | Jean-Marc Généreux | “Tactical Dominance” (Orch Hybrid Version) by Jack Trammell
These two kicked off the show with high energy, and I’m loving them more and more each week which is exactly what the judges want you to do with comments like, “Amy’s a beast” and the combo is a power couple. For now, I’m right in line, fully invested in their growing partnership and excited to see what new style they could tackle next. As they fought to the death in a Mary dubbed “Paso War,” Amy won, but if Fik-shun can lower those shoulders and strengthen those arms, it would have been a close call.

MAKENZIE and PAUL | Contemporary | Lindsay Nelko | “No Day But Today” (Live from Soundstage) from Rent by Idina Menzel
Makenzie needed a comeback after seeing the bottom last week. Paul has always been solid, but not the most magnetic, personality-wise. Each had a coup this week. Nigel called Makenzie one of the most technical dancers, and Mary cried. I was also moved by the piece where the two dancers battled with one having an illness and the other’s hardship with accepting the fact but affected more by Makenzie. Paul is a beautiful dancer, but he still hasn’t imprinted on me yet. This new choreographer, though, has with one gorgeous routine.

JASMINE H. and AARON | Broadway | Spencer Liff | “They Just Keep Moving the Line” from Smash featuring Megan Hilty
Eeek! I’ve finally dubbed my favorite couple, and it’s no question Jasmine and Aaron have the chemistry, passion and dedication to go the distance. Both have their deficiencies with Aaron being a tapper and large, and Jasmine being unpolished and a little rough around the edges, yet they have quickly overcome them. This was the perfect follow-up to last week’s sexy anguish – classic pain, and allowed the two to show off a different side. Nigel said they both could be on Broadway, after his recent trip where he saw Motown the Musical. (I also highly recommend it having seen the wonder and joy it inspired firsthand this week!)

Besides my growing adoration of Jasmine H. and Aaron, the other dancers are jumping all over the place on my own personal preference list. Luckily, that usually means we’re in for an unexpected season, and when it comes to a reality competition, unexpected is the best we can hope for. (Especially when we know Amy and Fik-shun are one of the few couples being pushed to Top 10 status, and possibly the top guy and girl in the end.) But enough about what I think. That’s four dancers down. Sound off with your opinion below!

Season 10, Episode 9: Top 18 Perform/2 Eliminated (originally aired July 9, 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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