Hello, and welcome to Cereal Box Wisdom with Jason Derulo: “Take chances. Be foolish. Don’t just fit within the mold. Don’t just try to be good. Try to be great.” Profound stuff. Fortunately, the Vegas round has these dancers so tired that they’re barely processing anything anyway.
Travis says that they spent most of Vegas week throwing bananas at people, so feel free to picture that as we proceed.
SMALL GROUP CHOREOGRAPHY: Just when it looks like it might be safe to sleep, Nigel and company break the dancers into groups of five and hand them a new assignment: They’ve all got one night to choreograph their own routines. Some groups click instantly. Some groups fall apart. Two groups are tasked with “O Fortuna,” which could not be less surprising unless every group were tasked with “O Fortuna.”
First up are Virgil, Jessica, Lily, Ariana, and Tyrus, otherwise known as “Party of Five.” This isn’t a Matthew Fox thing; they’re just hungry to dance. They’ve even got a motto: ”We made reservations, so we ain’t going nowhere.” If So You Think You Can Dance is college, “Party of Five” is the group that shows up on presentation day with the extra credit assignment already finished—and they don’t even need it, because they’re going to get an A anyway. Everyone sails through.
Thomas, Edson, Alyssa, Marissa, and Ekaterina have a harder time; after a late night, Thomas sleeps in (again, college) and leaves his teammates scrambling to rework their routine without him. He shows up just in time. Their performance leaves something to be desired, but no one gets sent home. (Nigel’s not mad; he’s just disappointed.)
Back on the street side, Bdash, Little Boy, Brittany, Angyil, and Ladia take a costuming risk. They cover their mouths with tape in order to convey the idea that they’re speaking with their bodies, but all it does is mute their personalities. The judges point out that you can’t hide your most engaging feature unless you’re really going to deliver on the movement. Angyil is sent home, while Ladia is asked to dance for her life. (From there, she makes it through.)
The judges need a better “O Fortuna.” They need Gaby, Hailee, Denys, Natalie, and Jim, whose routine is so powerful it actually gives me chills. Jim does an assisted handstand on someone’s back at one point. I can’t believe I almost worried that they were featuring his group because something went horribly wrong. How could anything go wrong when Jim’s around?
CHOREOGRAPHY ROUND 3: Making everything feel more real, Sonya Tayeh shows up to put the remaining Stage dancers through their final test—a jazz number. Everyone’s tired, but Travis points out that it isn’t going to get any easier from here. Only the strong will survive. That’s especially true for non-jazz, non-contemporary dancers like Gaby, who worries that she doesn’t have the technique. She nails it. The routine does weed out a number of ballroom dancers, including Antonina, but her partner (and boyfriend of eight years) Denys makes it through. He seems hesitant to carry on without her. I want to tell him not to throw away his dream for love, and I suddenly understand every parent in every rom-com ever made.
Things are also getting real on the Street side, as Tabitha and Napoleon (at last) take the dancers through a hard-hitting hip-hop routine. Will there ever be a NappyTabs routine that doesn’t make me want to dance? Tabitha makes it look easy when she demonstrates for the group. “That’s a 41-year-old mom,” Napoleon points out. “If they can’t rip it like a 41-year-old mom, it’s time to go home.”
NEXT: What’s this show’s name again?[pagebreak]
Guess who has nothing to fear? The women. In case you had any doubts, the women of Team Street are still killing it. As for the men, Bdash and Hurrikane are still standing, while tapper Justin is sent home, along with Mission and Anime. Mission falls to his knees, but tWitch reminds them that they can keep their heads up. This week is a roller coaster.
B1 and Asaf are both asked to dance for their lives, which in B1’s case involves spinning on his head for longer than I believed humanly possible. Also, he’s shirtless. It doesn’t hurt. The judges send him through. As for Asaf, this is a house divided. Jason and Paula appreciate his value as an entertainer and send him through, but, as Nigel points out, this isn’t So You Think You Can Entertain. Asaf talks back, asking if it’s So You Think You Can Headspin and generally pitting himself against B1 for no reason. There shouldn’t even be a problem here—he got a standing ovation, and with two yeses, he’s already into the next round—but his determination to make a problem sours most of the judges. Only Paula is still on his side. She’s dazzled by his hair, which, I’ll admit, reaches cartoon prince heights without even trying.
THE GREEN MILE: After what feels like both 84 years and the blink of an eye, it’s time to meet the top 20. The good news is that whether they’re in or they’re out, they’ve all got a hug from either Travis or tWitch waiting on the other side of that door. Some highlights:
- Edson is in, and we get a taste of his backstory—he didn’t start dancing until he was 19, because he wasn’t allowed to dance before that. I’m here for anyone who wants to have a serious conversation about toxic masculinity.
- Hurrikane is also in, which I’m especially excited about, because he’s like what would happen if playing hopscotch in a bunch of puddles took human form.
- I hope Jessica learns to stop second-guessing herself, because she doesn’t need to.
- Denys, though. Just as the judges are about to let him through—and after they’ve showered him with compliments—he says he’s dropping out of the competition. Wasn’t he feeling more positive just 10 seconds ago? His only explanation is that he doesn’t think they’re going to feature enough ballroom. That and a “gut feeling.” Travis wishes him the best, because he’s better than the rest of us would be in that position.
- The judges really need to stop doing this: “We’re delivering a lot of bad news today… but not to you, thank goodness!”
- They’re not going to stop.
- Kenya, unfortunately, is out—and the news comes after she tells the judges how much she’s grown and endured. They all tell her that it’s been a pleasure, and Nigel says she made it this far on talent. Shouldn’t that be true of everyone, though?
- Jim is in, and I am once again ashamed of myself for almost buying into the editors’ tricks. Why do I ever doubt Jim? Jim never lets me down. Travis says that he would murder everyone on the Street team, and Nigel dubs him one of the best dancers they’ve ever had on the show. OH, JIM.
MEET YOUR TOP 20: Team Stage is Marissa, Edson, Kate, Moises, Hailee, Jim, Alexia, Derek, Darion, and Gaby. On Team Street, we’ve got Hurrikane, Jessica, Yorelis, Lily, Ariana, Virgil, Eddie, Megz, B1, and Jaja.
FINAL COUNT: 10 Stage dancers and 10 Street dancers, but one mysterious injury to knock someone out of the competition. Who has to sit out season 12? And who will be called back as a replacement? We get to spend a whole week asking these questions! See you in a week, America.