Can I make a wish on Cat’s rainbow dress and fix whatever just happened? Of all the nights to saddle dancers with disappointing routines and even worse judges’ comments (and, you know, Twitter), it just had to be a double elimination round. Season 12 was just starting to take off. Cat, if you’ve got a pot of gold somewhere, now is the time to come clean.
While we wait for the magic to kick in, let’s process this together.
Jim and Yorelis
Choreographer: Sonya Tayeh, Contemporary
Song: “Asht” by Nebulo
Jimmy Jim Jimmy Jim Jim Jim Jim, don’t hurt yourself. Those Alex Wong comparisons are not invitations to injury. Luckily, whatever sidelined Jim during group rehearsals couldn’t keep him from this Sonya Tayeh duet, which was art, yes? This piece is a Picasso painting come to life: It’s sharp, stark, and compelling, and Jim and Yorelis match up well. As Paula points out, they don’t overpower each other. Nigel and Travis both believe that Jim is the most technically skilled dancer on Team Stage, but I think the most important news to come out of this segment is that Jim loves bread pudding.
Jaja and Edson
Choreographer: Misha Gabriel, Hip-Hop
Song: “She Came to Give It to You” Usher feat. Nicki Minaj
Takeaways from tonight’s hard-hitting dance journalism: Edson wants to be the flower girl at Jaja’s wedding, and Jaja believes in aliens. I just realized that I need an X-Files-inspired routine out of this show and lost nine minutes imagining it. Anyway, back on earth, Jaja and Edson are cast as shiny, good-looking runway models. How “sexy” you find this routine probably depends on how sexy you find the Zoolander walk-off (soooo, very?), but there’s no denying that it’s fun. Paula praises the dancers’ attention to detail. Jason and Nigel are less enthused; Jason calls it basic. It feels like he’s insulting the routine more than the dancers, but at least he picked a trendy insult.
Virgil and Hailee
Choreographer: Tyce Diorio, Contemporary
Song: “Cellophane” by Sia
Ladies, has Tyce got a stereotype-enforcing routine for you. He casts Hailee as Virgil’s “crazy, obsessed girlfriend” in this raw contemporary piece, and to Hailee’s credit, she commits. (The fact that she has a little dance crush on Virgil doesn’t hurt.) That last visual of Hailee hooking her feet into Virgil’s legs is a strong one. As far as artful flailing goes, SYTYCD has done it better, and Nigel suggests that Virgil exposed a few weaknesses in his technique, but Hailee is blindingly good enough to make up for both of these shortcomings. While we’re on the subject of Nigel, Paula continues to show impressive commitment to shutting him down. “Yeah, well, I’ve known some crazy manic men.” Keep it up, girl.
Alexia and Ariana
Choreographers: Tracy Phillips and Dominic Carbone, Burlesque Jazz
Song: “Circus Fish” by Vermillion Lies
They’re sexy fish, guys. Alexia and Ariana are playing “sexy fish.” Travis actually has to give Alexia a pep talk about how important it is that she really believe that she’s a fish (cue sad music). I can’t make this up. And here’s the thing: I don’t know if they believed that they were fish, but I believed that they believed it. Alexia gives good fish face. It’s possible that she’s more focused on the face than on the routine—Ariana’s moves are cleaner—but the ladies do their best with a bizarre concept that feels more like an adult Little Mermaid than anything else. As has become tradition this season, they’re punished for the choreography’s failings. (What’s worse: The fact that Nigel calls Ariana a dead fish, or the fact that he calls her Adriana?) Paula at least offers real, useful critiques, but the damage is done. Ariana shrugs it off: “I was the sexiest fish I could ever be.” That’s all any of us can hope for in the end.
NEXT: Stick to the status quo