Well, she made an effort to come out of her cage, but not even a brilliantly quirky Tyce Diorio jazz routine about birds could stop Channing Cooke from getting her wings clipped and pecked out of the competition. And while it seemed that the talented yet benign dancer had been targeted for elimination from the beginning, I was a little sad to see her let go. Despite my inherent wariness of feathered creatures and puckish Tyce Diorios alike, I, like Kate Ward, loved Channing and Victor’s blackbird routine Tuesday night. I also hoped that it would help get them to the hot tamale station — or at least let them stick around for one more week. It also made me wish that there were more oversize bird cages around — you know, just to hang out on or jump through.
But seeing Channing on Wednesday during the results hour without her edgy feathers and avian makeup seemed to reaffirm that she was just another contemporary dancer in an already full field, and her flowy, arms-extended, leap-heavy solo confirmed it. While the dimple and the freshly-scrubbed girl-next-door image were obviously selling points, it may have been a combination of ill-suited partners and her own reserved persona that kept viewers and voters at bay. Plus, she wasn’t sexy enough to blip on Nigel’s radar. Compared to the other two girls in the bottom three this week, it was clear that Channing was the odd woman out: She didn’t have Karen’s va-va-va-voom (in fact, Channing, in her light blonde tresses and standard-issue loose-fitting contemporary dancer dress, was a striking contrast next to the sexified Karen, who was all straight hair and tight curves and black leather. It was an interesting study in opposites). Nor did she have Mollee’s kewpie/troll doll perkiness or built-in fan base. So it’s bye bye birdie, and bye bye Channing. It’s awful hard to bear.
The other departure on the train to the season 6 Top 10 was hip-hop dancer/model Kevin Hunte. Despite coming out like gangbusters during the regional auditions and Vegas week, he couldn’t seem to find his mojo if it was smizing head to toe right in front of him. It’s one thing to struggle with routines that are out of your genre (and goodness knows his and Karen’s Broadway slog could have used more than a healthy dose of sweet charity). But Kevin’s solos have also been as disappointingly bland and beige as the button-down shirt he sported last night. Whether he felt overshadowed by his sexilicious partner Karen or the whole razzle-dazzle of the competition itself, Kevin seemed to plod through these past couple weeks, eyelids half closed and plagued with a bad case of the doubts. Ultimately, it was clear that he was not performing at the same level as fellow hip-hop dancers Legacy and Russell, so he and his sparkly blue shoes were also sent packing.
Which allowed fellow bottom three contenders Victor and Nathan to pass into next week. Though Victor was let off with a slap on the wrist from Nigel, who cautioned the contemporary dancer to curb the spins, as the show is on the hunt for America’s Favorite Dancer, not America’s Favorite Pirouetter. Though I wholeheartedly agree with the executive producer that Victor should not lean so heavily on his (flexed-foot) pirouette crutch, didn’t Nathan also practically spin-cycle himself on the dance floor in his solo minutes later?
NEXT: Strike a pose