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So You Think You Can Dance Review: Shake It Out

_MG_4869Are you excited about these So You Think You Can Dance All-stars?! If not, you clearly haven’t seen this week’s episode, which finally paired the Top 10 with more “expert” partners. Each and every contestant was lifted by the success and skill of many of our favorite dancers from previous seasons. But unlike last week, I made the hard decision and got back to ranking my favorite from least favorite to “over the moon” favorite – not that the decision was easier this week, but now that we’re down to the finals, it’s time to get critical. Debbie Allen joined Nigel and Mary on the panel with all her dance expertise and draaaama in her voice. I love her. On to the dancers!

After an evocative, contemporary group number by Christopher Scott to kick off the night, Cat let us know that Jenna, Mackenzie, Tucker and Nico fell into the bottom two. (Tucker automatically because he could not perform last week due to his injury.) Clearly, contemporary is not golden this season, and as the dancers who audition show up better-rounded, I think this trend is bound to continue. You’ll have to wait to learn how it all turned out since Nigel didn’t want a second of solos.

NICO and Comfort | Hip-hop | NappyTabs | “Get Ur Freak On” (Amended LP Version) by Missy Elliott
It’s kind of unfair to get paired next to Comfort the stage chomper, yet I commend Nico for giving his all and really committing to his quirky, lizard-like character. I, like Nigel, didn’t really love the number, but I did appreciate the oddity of it all, and it was something new and different. Unfortunately, as committed as Nico was, he just couldn’t come up to Comfort’s level and still looked like he was trying next to her.

PAUL and Witney | Cha-cha-cha | Jean-Marc Généreux | “Live It Up” by Jennifer Lopez
It was hard not to stare at Witney who was so smoking hot this routine, but Paul pulled out a few tricks – given by his choreographer – and displayed his fiery personality that he didn’t let you forget that he was also there, truly supporting his partner and leading her. That’s how it should be given this is more his style, but Jean-Marc also really serviced him by giving him a memorable number. Though you might not remember Paul always, you’ll remember the hotness they laid down on that stage.

FIK-SHUN and Melanie | Jazz | Mandy Moore | “Feeling Good” by Jennifer Hudson
Fik-shun like many animators/hip-hoppers before him is an audience favorite, and I’ve got to say that, like Twitch, he really has transformed into a more well-rounded dancer. I was nervous for his split from firecracker Amy, but Melanie seemed to pull out that same fire in him. Sure this jazz routine had more of an urban flare to it –meaning it was made for him – but that shouldn’t belittle all the other technical moves he still had to pull off to make it a success. He’s growing each week, and very few male dancers left in the competition are actual competitors to this fan favorite.

AMY and Brandon | Disco | Doriana Sanchez | “I Will Always Love You” (Hex Hector Radio Mix) by Whitney Houston
Disco was made for the silly, outgoing Amy, and that big, goofy grin on her face said it all, “I’m having the time of my life!” With a strong and masculine partner like Brandon, she really got to shine in this fast paced routine. Nigel noted that it’s one of the hardest genres, and Doriana never goes easy when it comes to lifts, dips or speed, yet Amy couldn’t be stopped. This girl is so likeable and malleable; she’s a clear frontrunner.

MAKENZIE and Jakob | Broadway | Spencer Liff | “Too Darn Hot” (RAC mix) by Ella Fitzgerald
Could it be because of Jakob? I somehow adore Makenzie like five million times more after this routine. It was saucy, incredibly technically difficult and fun. Makenzie kind of needed all of the above: to show that she’s a great dancer, she has a little attitude and can let loose. Being one of my favorite prior dancers ever, it’s hard to keep my eyes off Jakob when he’s on the stage, but this time Makenzie made it easy.

JASMINE and Marko | Jazz | Ray Leeper | “Blurred Lines” by Robin Thicke featuring Pharrell & T.I.
Oh, Judges! You and I are on the same page because all I could see was Jasmine’s legs as well. I also agreed that as fantastic of a dancer that Marko is, Jasmine was the star of this routine. They were in exact sync and matching attire, and yet Jasmine gave me that extra drama and looseness whereas Marko appeared stiffer. Jasmine also has a certain personality that is so easily read on her face – you know that she’s enjoying every step and I love that about her.

_MG_5499HAYLEY and Twitch | Hip-hop | Christopher Scott | “Locked Out of Heaven” (District 78 remix) by Bruno Mars
Hayley, will you be my best friend? No matter what style, what character, I just like her. (Something I think is Mackenzie’s biggest problem.) As Nigel noted, this was a different kind of hip-hop – easy, breezy instead of flashy. Twitch is a natural, and Hayley, the chameleon, sat well in the number’s easy groove. I loved the idea of a loan officer getting harsh with a bad credit dude whose cell keeps going off. It was light, sexy but still had those over-the-top moments, making it a well-rounded routine and showing off Hayley as a well-rounded dancer.

JENNA and Neil | Contemporary | Mandy Moore | “I Can’t Make You Love Me” by Mark Masri
I feel for Jenna! All three judges recounted how strong she was for bouncing back every week after being put in the bottom, and killing it every time. This time around was no different, but maybe with a partner as well loved as Neil (who’s beefed up!), she’ll escape the bottom. Nigel reminds us each time that she works so hard and really turns out fantastic numbers outside of her style as a ballroom dancer. What I loved most is that she connected so evidently from face to toe with the emotion of the piece that I believed their love for each other.

AARON and Kathryn | Contemporary | Stacy Tookey | “Kissing You” by Des’Ree
I was so nervous for Aaron. He’s incredibly well liked by America and myself, however, I didn’t know what separating from his equally statuesque partner would do to his cred. I can only say that it didn’t hurt him. Kathryn said that she wanted to dance with him from the moment she watched him on the show, and you could tell they formed such a great bond. It really showed through this romantic and beautiful piece.

TUCKER and Robert | Contemporary | Travis Wall | “Medicine” by Daughter
No piece has brought me to tears quite like this one. First, Travis based the piece of a brother lifting up his suffering sibling on his relationship with his own brother, another previous contestant Danny Tidwell. Then, we know that both Robert and Tucker have suffered near-death experiences that should have prevented them from dancing, yet they recovered with a second chance. Everyone on that stage and the creator put real emotions into this piece, and it clearly affected the judges, audience and reached right through the TV screen. Debbie said it well, “I don’t know how you can be in the bottom. But right now you’re on top.”

Each week it gets harder and harder to guess who’ll be going home, but now it’s really in America’s hands. The judges can’t continue to save Jenna, as great as she is. Fantastic dancers who are lovable are going to go home every week. What I’m most interested in are dark horses like Hayley and Tucker, who manages to turn in better and better work each week in the most subtle of ways. Those are usually the ones that break out in the home stretch. But I’m still behind my tops of Aaron and Jasmine. I’m not the only vote though, so what do you think? Who are your favorites? And who’s going home after another incredible week of dancing?

Season 10, Episode 13: Top 10 Perform/2 Eliminated (originally aired August 14, 2013)

For more So You Think You Can Dance, check out our other reviews.

Images courtesy of Adam Rose/FOX.

SYTYCD airs Tuesday and Wednesday nights at 8/7c.

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