There may not have been a Lacey Schwimmer-Mia Michaels breakout moment to set the YouTubers all a-twitter in last night’s top 20 episode of So You Think You Can Dance, but in spite of all of Nigel Lythgoe’s unsubtle grandstanding about how great this season is turning out to be, I’ve got to agree with the guy. With only one or two truly unsatisfying performances, and nothing even approaching an outright disaster, last night went a long way to assuaging my frustration with Vegas week. Which isn’t to say there weren’t some dancers who still had me scowling about how, exactly, they were worth passing over Evan Kasprzak and Brandon Bryant, dancers with personality and good looks and skill and technique and panache and poise and great dimples…but I digress.
So! As Nigel astutely pointed out at the top of the show, there were a good five or six dancers who we’d seen next to nothing from before tonight — and whose fault is that, Mr. Executive Producer? — so now that we’ve finally gotten a good look at what all 20 dancers can do, let’s give ’em another good once-over to see who continued their momentum from the audition episodes, who launched themselves off on the good foot, and who helped perpetuate my frown lines’ continued assault on my forehead.
THE SURPRISE STANDOUTS
I don’t know which show Mary Murphy was watching when she proclaimed Jessica and Will the couple to beat after their wobbly tango (more on that in a bit), because the routine of the night for me was easily Katee and Joshua’s contempo hip-hop number, about a soldier going off to war. It was the one number that felt all of a piece, that transcended its steps, told a story, and made me actually feel something. (Unlike the dancers, I was perfectly fine getting a wee bit misty.) It’d be easy to chalk that up entirely to the choreography of Napoleon and Tabitha (a.k.a., NapTab, just ’cause), but both Katee and Joshua brought an uncomplicated humanity to their performances that is far more difficult to pull off, especially when you’re giving your first ever performance in a nationally televised dance competition show. (I’m sure Joshua’s occasional ballet training — aha! — came in handy too.) Any memory of Katee’s brush with SYTYCD ignominy as perhaps the first dancer to talk her way out of the top 20 was washed clean away last night, which was doubly impressive given that the producers’ decision not to remind us of that moment themselves showed a restraint they didn’t grant a few of the other dancers. (More on that later as well.) These two were so stunning that they even caused Mary to drop into her — well, I would call it her ”inside” voice if she weren’t otherwise on her way to supplanting Gilbert Gottfried in the Guinness Book of World Records as the screechiest person on television.
NEXT: Sex on heels