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[pagebreak]
Megz and Derek
Choreographer: Dave Scott, Hip-Hop
Song: “Worth It” by Fifth Harmony feat. Kid Ink
If you saw Derek in this routine and did not think, “Ryan from High School Musical does hip-hop,” I don’t know what to do with you. Forget the burlesque fish: This is the awkward routine of the night. Derek can’t do hip-hop at all. His facial expressions are all wrong; he can’t get low; he’s not sharp; I’m cringing thinking about it. Instead, let’s talk about Megz, who likes to draw and play the trumpet and does not deserve to be punished because her prop should have been a saxophone. The judges are just taking their powerlessness out on the wrong people. Let’s also talk about Cat, who, when Paula critiques Megz’s un-sexy pants, whoops, “Just take ’em off!” Cat Deeley is the purest force of good we have in this world.
Gaby and Neptune
Choreographer: Stacey Tookey, Contemporary
Song: “Take My Hand, Precious Lord” by Ledisi (Selma soundtrack)
Jim is the golden boy of technique, but Gaby is Nigel’s favorite, and it’s hard not to understand why when she keeps pulling out performances like this. (The fact that she’s never been asked to play a sexy fish doesn’t hurt.) Neptune also rises to the challenge as he and Gaby “chase each other’s trust” in this piece about the intersection between prejudice and human compassion. It’s a heavy subject, and the judges’ comments are a little self-congratulatory, but the dancers act the heck out of it. Neptune in particular is feeling it, and he gets a nice opportunity to speak to how much this routine resonated with his life.
Kate and JJ
Choreographer: Brian Friedman, Jazz
Song: “A Different Beat” by Little Mix
There’s no contest: JJ wins for best interview questions. “Last week when you saw Asaf shirtless, were you thinking dirty?” “If Jason Derulo asked you to marry him, would you say yes?” “There are two chocolates: one in the toilet water, one on the ground under dust. You have to eat one. Which one do you eat?” “Neptune’s armpit or Virgil’s feet: Smell one.” Is this how Cat got started? JJ and Kate are cast as pinup girls in this perky, personality-infused routine, and they both sparkle—even if JJ has to look up what pinup girls are. At one point, they do a cute hand jive. Paula suggests that they could have played it with a little more of a wink to the audience, like they had a secret. Jason makes basically the same suggestion, but I only accept it coming from Paula.
Choreographer: Sonya Tayeh
Song: “Lift Me” by The Bengsons
When Sonya comes to SYTYCD, you use her as much as possible. Even the concept of this piece—the instant you hear bad news and want to fight it—is evocative, and it draws something real out of every member of the team (including All-Star Robert, who’s filling in for Jim). This is like watching a Greek tragedy unfold, in a good way.
Choreographers: Pharside and Phoenix
Song: “Dragula” by Rob Zombie
Look away if you have a fear of clowns; this freak-show inspired number is not kidding around with the nightmares. Pharside and Phoenix’s choreography is inventive, but everything together feels too busy. The music is loud, the costumes are overwhelming, and Team Street doesn’t seem as sharp as usual. Maybe this routine kept them up at night.
Which is exactly what this elimination is going to do to me.
BOTTOM SIX: Ariana, Neptune, Yorelis, Alexia, Kate, Derek
ELIMINATED: Ariana, Yorelis, Alexia, and Kate
Really? America saved Derek? America looked back on last week’s save and thought, “That worked out well; let’s do that again”?! I’d come to terms with losing Kate—she hasn’t been pulling in the votes—but I thought Alexia could take this if she peaked at the right time, and I’m sad to see her go. Losing Ariana is also a letdown, but I’m okay with the fact that Neptune has more to show us. Thanks for nothing, sexy fish routine.
FINAL COUNT: Ten dancers, two fish, and zero pots of gold. See you next week, America.