Robots, packages, and a frightful judges’ save. This week’s episode of So You Think You Can Dance had quite few memorable highs and lows, but nothing makes a great reality series better than a controversial decision, am I right? That can really be the only reason I can come up with for Nigel Lythgoe, Paula Adbul, and Jason Derulo to save “The Hebrew Breaker” Asaf over fellow b-boy Burim—because otherwise I think we need to get some medical professionals to check their heads. Your regular recapper Kelly is unavailable to regale you in the colorful account of tonight’s SYTYCD proceedings, so I shall attempt to fill in to the best of my abilities. But I have to say, I’m not sure how reliable I’m going to be as my blood continues to boil in both anger and pain over such a stupid judges’ save. Yup, not over it and won’t be for a while. But I’ll move on, for the sake of this recap.
Derek, Jaja, and Alexia
Choreographer: Stacey Tookey
Song: “All Waters” by Perfume Genius
Jaja continues to impress week after week. She works hard, she’s cute as a button, she’s fierce, and she can kill it time and time again. The judges are obviously seeing her talent as well, as Nigel tells her she is “blooming every week” and Paula states that she is “always going to have us in the palm of [her] hand.” But Alexia is also a standout in this routine. She worries in her rehearsal footage that Stacey Tookey wants her to dance like she is 6-feet tall even though she’s 5 feet, but in the performance she dances as tall and long as Mr. Fantastic can freaking stretch. She’ll be a Team Stage threat for sure.
Megz, Moises, and Jim
Choreographer: Jaquel Knight
Song: “Whateva” by Remy
As we all know, Jim has clearly (and unfairly) been compared to Alex Freaking Wong time and time again on the series. Kelly pointed out the totally unsubtle hints the show throw at us when they made Jim perform a hip-hop routine last week. But now it’s time for the show to prove in its trademark unsubtle fashion that he’s more than just his similarly dancing counterpart. So what do they do? They throw another hip-hop number in his direction, this time choreographed by the same person who gave us the iconic “Single Ladies” dance. (SYTYCD does not let us forget this fact.) Unfortunately, this dance doesn’t work. Megz kills the routine from head to toe, but Jim and Moises can’t really get into the dance, Moises less so than Jim. After Cat makes an awkward yet endearing (as always) reference to “stank face,” Paula gives a great critique to the dancers: In a routine like this with a little less moves and a little more freedom, the routine really relies on filling out the spaces with commitment, character, and vibe. The boys just couldn’t make it happen.
Yorelis, JJ, and Edson
Choreographer: Tovaris Wilson
Song: “Restart” by Sam Smith
Is anyone else relieved to hear a Sam Smith on mainstream television that isn’t “Disclosure,” “Stay With Me,” or “Lay Me Down”? This number is all about sex appeal according to new choreographer Tovaris Wilson, but aside from Yorelis and at times JJ, there’s not much sex appeal being brought to the routine. To be fair, if I were a man with abs like Edson, I would probably be resting on those laurels when it comes to oozing sexiness, but I couldn’t tell if there was just a lack of effort or a lack of sex appeal knowledge on that stage. Yorelis looked great, JJ looked great, Cat found a way to make a “keep your options open” joke about Edson’s role in the routine. But it just wasn’t an interesting number, and these three dancers aren’t impressing like they easily could at the moment.
Asaf and Marissa
Choreographer: Jean Marc Generaux
Song: “+1” by Martin Solveig feat. Sam White
Oof. From start to finish, Asaf is painful as he attempts to take on the Club Cha Cha, but everything about it is just off. Marissa can’t find a way to save the routine, despite being very supportive during rehearsal footage. And yet the judges highlight how far Asaf has come rather than really explain to him where in the routine he needed the most help. Sure Nigel makes his typical bad routine jab by calling the dance more of a “Protection Cha Cha” rather than a “Club Cha Cha” (not nearly his best zinger), but really Paula at least starts to tell Asaf his areas for improvement. But she then immediately focuses on Asaf’s “growth.” What the frack are the judges on right now? Even the studio audience could tell this number was a dud, and they cheer for anything.
NEXT: Burim’s package is a topic of conversation… You’ll see. [pagebreak]
Ariana, Burim, and Gaby
Choreographer: Sean Cheesman
Song: “Gorilla” by Lord KraVen
This creepy, awesome Afro Jazz number was almost completely overshadowed by one little, innocent comment from Paula: “Burim, I love watching your package.” No, Paula has not taken a book from fellow judge Jason Derulo, who, whether you admit it to yourself or not, has had some pervy moments while watching some of the female dancers onstage (though Nigel’s had a few of those, too). Paula was actually talking about the rehearsal footage, which film and TV people call a “package.” And that’s your SYTYCD term of the day, folks!
Because this show is filled with a bunch of 4-year-olds, Paula’s message was instantly misinterpreted and jokes about, as Nigel later teaches Burim about second position in ballet and immediately jokes that he likes Burim’s package as well. But the dancers should be commended as should the choreographer who brilliantly balanced fierce and grace in his African Jazz routine that played to the strengths of all three dancers. Ariana really killed the number, and Gaby continues to shine, proving that tap dancers are incredible in every way (Aaron Turner, I’ll never forget you).
Kate and Neptune
Choreographer: Justin Giles
Song: “Promise” by Ben Howard
It’s a simple premise and a relatively simple dance, but Kate and Neptune perform it beautifully. There’s something about Kate that I find really special. Maybe it’s just that I’m obsessed with her hair color, or maybe it’s because there’s an effortlessness and elegance to the way she moves (I really hope it’s the second one for this recap’s sake). The judges finally tell Kate that she has opened up and shown real emotion on the show for the first time. Jason repeats Paula’s earlier comments about this being the type of routine that has fewer moves and more space to fill in with performance, thankfully both Kate and Neptune step up to the plate in a big, big way. But the number equally belongs to Neptune. He’s a big surprise this week and is quickly becoming one to watch on the show. In many ways Neptune is similar to how tWitch moves and performs, and that’s a huge compliment.
Nigel says this story and this dance couple remind him that when the show started, he used to receive so many complains from ignorant people who couldn’t stand that African-American dancers were performing with Caucasian dancers. He then proclaimed he was proud of how far we’ve come in these 10 years (these are the kinds of stories and words of inspiration we could have used in that 10th anniversary celebration episode).
Hailee and Virgil
Choreographer: Pharside and Phoenix
Song: “Running’” by Noahplause
Robots take over the SYTYCD dance, and I’m 100 percent on board. Hailee and Virgil rightfully earn the titles of biggest personalities on the show this season as they went beyond the call of duty to commit to their robot identities. Hailee quickly picked up Pharside and Phoenix’s intricate choreography and Virgil did what he does best: Dominating the stage in every single way. During the rehearsal package (somewhere Jason and Nigel are giggling), tWitch describes Virgil in quite possibly the strangest way ever: “He’s like Arnold Schwarzenegger and Richard Pryor rolled up into a nugget of a person.”
Jason states that he always knew Virgil was insane (Does doing the “wiggle” give one magical psychic powers?) while Paula goes for a good ol’ pun and proclaims “If you two represent what aliens are, then sign me up.”
Choreographer: Jaci Royal
Song: “For My Help” by Hayden Calnin
Finally, a routine that teaches me geometry. There was a lot of flailing and a lot of intricate movement at the same time in Jaci Royal’s first choreography gig on SYTYCD, which featured standout moments for both Kate and Gaby. But nonetheless it was lacking in the pizzazz we’ve come to expect from group routines, especially group routines performed by Team Stage.
Choreographer: Marty Kudelka
Song: “Break Ya Neck” by Busta Rhymes
Yeah, this is easily the winning team dance of the night. Choreographer Marty Kudelka picked the right tone of the dance, the right song, and the right people to showcase individually: Virgil and Jaja. The dancers looked so happy to be performing the number, and I have never felt like I had so much swagger or was so cool while watching a dance routine in my life. And trust me guys, I am the opposite of cool. I am like a balmy, summer day in Puerto Rico.
But like milk that has been sitting out in my lack of coolness, things got sour quick, as is usual with SYTYCD.
BOTTOM SIX: Asaf, Burim, Ariana, Moises, Edson, and Kate
SAVED BY TWITTER: Ariana and Kate
ELIMINATED: Moises and Burim
Twitter is smarter than Nigel Lythgoe, Paula Abdul, and Jason Derulo. Perhaps that’s not so difficult to believe, but that doesn’t mean the sting of their save for Asaf over Burim hurts any less. Ariana and Kate were rockstars in tonight’s episode, and it seemed like Moises knew it was his time to go. But Burim and Asaf were surprised by their results, understandably so. Time to continue on in Kelly’s tradition with a final count.
FINAL COUNT: 16 dancers, two friendly robots, and hopefully a replacement for one departing great looking package. Until next Monday, America.