In their last official elimination on ''So You Think You Can Dance,'' the judges boot a hip-hopper and a pop-and-locker; next week, power goes to the viewers

By Annie Barrett
Updated July 14, 2006 at 12:00 PM EDT

So You Think You Can Dance

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”So You Think You Can Dance”: The final verdict

Ladies and gentlemen, ”please be upstanding” for Ashlee and Musa, the latest two thought-they-could dancers to get booted from the show. Neither was much of a surprise, because the jidges had consistently called both of them out on being too limited. Even the dancers themselves seemed to have made peace with their doom before Uncle Nige even bothered to crush them officially. I really loved this, because not only did it save me the effort of spewing half-hearted pity protests toward my screen, but it also showed just how obvious the jidges have been all along in declaring their favorites. The pop-and-locker and the hip-hopper knew they were goners and just smiled through it anyway.

It was quite a different scene a few minutes into Thursday’s show, when Uncle Nige delivered the news that would send millions of Benji-Donyelle fans crying themselves to sleep: Starting next week, the final 10 will choose partners at random, then perform two partner dances and one solo each. That’s a lot of dancing, and choreographing, and, if you’re me, note taking. I’m kind of scared, and totally psyched. Judging by the dancers’ shocked faces, so were many of them.

There’s more: Instead of Uncle Nige, Crazy Mary, and Brian in Chains deciding who will go home each week, it will be you, Ameriker! The guy and girl with the fewest votes will automatically get eliminated on Thursdays. I’m in shock. As King Jidge, Nigel fancies himself nothing short of an all-powerful deity — what will this new twist do to his precious ego? Will Mary hit the sauce even harder? Will Brian commission Aladdin to go unearth next week’s jeweled atrocity from the Cave of Wonders? What will become of the jidges?

Personally, I doubt anything about their behavior will change, and that’ll be a relief. I’d hate to sit through an entire episode without beholding at least two of Crazy Mary’s crazy mood swings. On Wednesday, she went from sobbing at Allison and Ivan’s lovely contemporary routine (appropriately set to a song called ”Why?”) to babbling something about percentages to give the impression that she was disappointed by Benji and Donyelle’s Broadway romp, only to stand up and scream, ”It was absolutely fantastic! Waaaaaaaaahhhh!” What a fakeout! I thought at least one of the jidges would have taken a brief pause after that ”Hairspray” number to fire the costume designer on the spot for letting Donyelle run out there as a yellow wedding cake. And those white leggings? Tell me…whyyyy-y-y-y-y-y-y-y?

Speaking of fashion disasters, Nigel may have forgotten about Ashlee and Dmitry’s pop routine 20 minutes later, but I will never, ever forget their fascinatingly horrific outfits. Dmitry’s pink sneaks and cut-up tee, Ashlee’s bouffant, the all-fuchsia background…I had one of those reality-TV moments where you happen to glance away, then suddenly sit up, look back, and ask yourself, ”What the #*$@ am I watching?” Then your eyes glaze back over and you eat it right up anyway. Because, duh. Why wouldn’t they be dressed like that?

Dressed slightly more elegantly were Martha and Travis, whose foxtrot won rave reviews but still landed them in the bottom three. This might have been a blessing, at least for Travis, who suffered a character-building mini breakdown after his solo. I certainly like him a lot better now that I saw that. (I’m being completely serious. I’m a sucker.) Come on, his mother was in the audience. Everyone loves a mama! I think this guy just picked up major sympathy support. Martha’s solo was good stuff, too — a little jarring at times, but her leaps and bounds won her the Best Elevation Out of Everyone Here Award from Uncle Nige.

All in all, there aren’t many surprises in the top 10. Natalie was uncharacteristically unobnoxious in her post-solo convo with Cat, and high-energy Heidi has grown on me, but I still haven’t warmed to Ryan, who seems to have mistaken this competition for a beauty pageant. Humans simply should not fake smile that often. It’s inappropriate. Has he no decency?

And then there’s Ivan, the jidges’ darling boy wonder all grown up. They’re all so delighted by him for what seems to me to be the most basic of skills: ”Your feet were pointed!” It amused me that Brian in Chains found something that was probably not too much of a stretch for Ivan to be so unexpected and brilliant. (We get it, he’s a hip-hopper, but come on.) Next week, he’ll hopefully get to tell Natalie, in the same overly animated way, ”You didn’t look like a hooker!” Now that would be impressive.

What do you think? Are you glad the dancers get to mix it up, or will you miss your favorite couples? Are you more likely to vote now that it might actually mean something? And who besides me wants Cat Deeley to start training for a season-finale exhibition disco with Dmitry?

Episode Recaps

So You Think You Can Dance

Nigel Lythgoe, Mary Murphy, and the viewers at home crown America’s Favorite Dancer.
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