On ''So You Think You Can Dance,'' the 10 finalists test new partnerships and show off their individual skills with a Wade Robson solo

By Archana Ram
July 26, 2007 at 04:00 AM EDT
Joe Viles/FOX
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”So You Think…”: The couples break up

Just when our dancers got comfortable with their status as the top 10, last night’s episode of So You Think You Can Dance threw a curveball: Not only did they have to perform the usual duets, the finalists also had to learn a Wade Robson solo to show how they could put their own touch on the same piece. Set to the music of John Mayer’s whiny ode to social injustice, ”Waiting on the World to Change,” the routine wasn’t really my thing, but as long as Wade’s choreographing and Mia Michaels is back in the judging chair (and thus prevented from choreographing anything), I’m happy. (Speaking of judging, your regular SYTYCD scrutinizer, Adam B. Vary, is on assignment at Comic-Con but will return next week.)

So which dancers actually did as they were told? Though no one was dazzling, in my book Pasha was the only one to infuse any personality, with ballroom head tilts that helped smooth over some of the jerky choreography. The other boys didn’t put forth anything memorable, and even my boy Danny, who has the grace of a gazelle, seemed to fall flat.

If Pasha wins Best Male Solo, then the award for Best Female Solo goes to…anyone but Jaimie. For someone who has turned in some of the most elegant performances this show has seen, Jaimie was a huge disappointment (so was her duet with Dominic, but you know I’ll get to that later). She couldn’t find a way to make the choreography graceful, let alone her own. But the rest of the gals picked up the slack: Lacey proved that she can do anything and do it well; Sara surprised once again with her versatility; Lauren used her toothy, tweeny smile to make hers a dance of hope, rather than one of misery like everyone else’s; and Sabra, besides being a technically perfect dancer, showed she may have a career in horror films with that mid-routine scream.

Fighting social injustice is great and all, but I want to be entertained too. Thankfully, my prayers were answered with a few of the duets. Some of the new pairings worked out amazingly well. Lauren and Pasha’s hip-hop routine, for example, helped persuade me that Lauren is good. Actually, Lauren is very good. Considering her spotty track record, I’m tempted to say that she’s just having an ”on” week, but she executed every movement of Shane Sparks’ Transformers-inspired routine with robotic perfection. I’ve also got to give it to Pasha, the ”best Russian hip-hop dancer,” as Nigel dubbed him. (How many Russian hip-hop dancers are there, anyway?)

Just as pivotal was the disco number from Sara and Neil — one of the most entertaining pieces I’ve ever seen on the show, and not just because ”Knock on Wood” is a rockin’ song. For the first time, I didn’t want to throw the remote at Neil, and I think I’ve finally found my favorite of this season in Sara, the poster-child for versatility. She had technique, enthusiasm, and amazing chemistry with Neil, whose spread-legged flip won me over. Together, they made an art out of disco.

Rounding out my favorites: Lacey and Danny’s hot, hot, hot samba routine. Choreographed by last season’s Dmitri (you might not have recognized him with his shirt buttoned), this piece was essentially sex through dance. There’s no stopping Lacey (she even made nifty wrist bands for her and Danny), and even though the judges came down on Danny’s technique, the chemistry and fluidity in their dancing was good enough for me.

But when you have so much good, there’s bound to be just as much bad. Yes, Sabra and Kameron’s ”Amazing Grace” number was a snooze — but can we please talk about the abomination that was Jaimie and Dominic’s Viennese waltz? Forget that a Viennese style was set upon a Spanish one (they danced to ”Man From La Mancha”) — the routine felt tired, old, and misplaced. Dominic must’ve picked up on this during rehearsals and tried to remedy the situation by doing his best matador impression, because boy, did he ham it up. Even Jaimie, the judge’s darling, couldn’t save him. Was she resting on her laurels? Distracted by Dominic’s attempts to suck her face? Either way, she was a huge letdown. Technically she was fine, but dancing is also about entertaining, and neither she nor Dom accomplished that. Last night’s debacle might not warrant a boot for you, Jaimie — but Dom, don’t be so sure.

Who’s in your bottom three? Do you want to see more solo performances in the future? And is anyone else as saddened as I am by the fact that Wade is married?

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