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So You Think You Can Dance recap: Pulling Out All the Stops

One dancer’s injury keeps her from performing, while others in the top 8 get gimmicky

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Think You Can Dance
Joe Viles/Fox

So You Think You Can Dance

TV Show
Reality TV
run date:
Nigel Lythgoe, Cat Deeley, Mary Murphy
Current Status:
In Season

Does time fly or what, fellow SYTYCD fans? We’re just one week away from the finale, and from the looks of last night’s bizarre two-hour performance night, our dancers are starting to feel the pressure. Why else would they have pulled out gimmicks to stay in the competition? Jakob performed gymnastics(!) during his solo. Legacy whipped out a cell phone. And Russell inexplicably dressed like Santa Claus.

And that’s just the beginning of some of the changes we saw last night. Not only did Samantha Ronson remix some tracks for the dancers — that whole thing seemed about as necessary as a pair of leggings designed by Lindsay Lohan — but one of our contestants suffered an injury, and was banned from gracing the dance floor. Yep, after popping her shoulder out of her socket, Ashleigh was told by doctors that she couldn’t compete in last night’s show.

So will she survive the week regardless? It’s impossible to tell how America will vote these days, so I’m hesitant to make predictions. (Especially in light of such a strange show.) So, in order, here’s how our top eight dancers fared last night.

Ashleigh: Poor Ashleigh. After months of hard work, the ballroom dancer finds herself one week away from the finals, only to be sidelined by a dislocated shoulder. And it’s too bad — the blossoming dancer looked downright amazing in her rehearsal footage. She was bringing street cred to her hip-hop routine with Russell, and effervescence to the duo’s Bollywood routine. Unfortunately, we were unable to see her perform either of these numbers. Nope, Ashleigh was forced to beg for votes without nary a clip of a solo. I don’t know what made my heart break more for Ashleigh — seeing her nearly break down into tears on stage while talking about her injury with Cat, or seeing her obviously frustrated over not being able to perform in any way for the voters. Why wasn’t she allowed to at least tendu? Play the pan flute? Perform a monologue from The Towering Inferno? Though I would love for the ballroom dancer to stay another week — there are others I’d prefer to see sent packing (cough! Mollee! Cough!) — I doubt she will survive a round of voting without having taken the stage.

Ryan: Ryan is a wonderful ballroom dancer. Clearly, however, the editors would prefer us think of him as the physical manifestation of the Arm & Hammer bicep. It’s difficult for viewers like myself to really respect Ryan as a dancer when the show constantly focuses on his physical appearance rather than his undeniable strength as a ballroom partner. The shots of him in rehearsal pointing to his muscles while telling Kathryn he could support her made him look like bizarro Ivan Drago: ”I won’t break you.” (Okay, he really told Kathryn, ”You can trust me.” But still.) Also not doing Ryan any favors? The costume department, who insisted on dressing Ryan in what looked like a giant cakewreck. The glitter glued pants? The sequined top? I’m sorry to say that I have to take Nigel’s side on this one: I wouldn’t wish such horrible costuming on my worst enemy. (And that’s saying a lot, considering how much I despise my work printer.) And costuming can make or break the dancer. Though his disco was finely executed, I couldn’t walk away without feeling it was also as schmaltzy as a Wayne Newton Vegas show.

Luckily, the costume department redeemed themselves with Ryan’s Jason Gilkison cha-cha. The fedora, the heavage — for once, Ryan’s costuming matched the sheer power he brings to the floor. And it translated right into his dancing — the guy showed strength, style, and even pulled out a crowd-pleasing move. (That final upside-down lift.) The judges were indeed pleased: Adam called it one of the best ballroom routines of the show, while Mary placed Ryan and Kathryn right onto the hot tamale train. Said outburst from our kooky judge was a bit jarring, if only because it made us viewers realize how few times she whipped out the complimentary phrase this season. In years past, Mary handed out tickets to the hypothetical choo-choo like they were fruitcake. Does that mean she’s showing more restraint? Or has the dancing really been that weak this season?

Unfortunately, I’d have to say the latter point is likely true. After all, I’d like to heap more praise onto Ryan’s solo, but I can’t seem to muster up the enthusiasm. Whereas ballroom dancers of the past like Pasha had me on my feet during their solos, Ryan left me a bit cold — that is, until he began pleading with the audience to vote for the sidelined Ashleigh. As much as we can tease this crazy couple, that was a declaration of love if I ever saw one. Of course, that doesn’t necessarily mean Ryan will pull in enough votes to be present during the finale, but that was one freakin’ cute moment, no? Totally makes up for the sexual assault he inflicted on my eyes last week during his Chippendales-esque solo.

NEXT: Lofty praise for Mollee