With such a solid group of hoofers, last night's eliminations hurt more than usual

By Alynda Wheat
Updated June 19, 2009 at 06:29 PM EDT
Mike Ruiz/Fox

So You Think You Can Dance

S5 E9
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I know, I know. Me too! No, I KNOW! It wasn’t right. It wasn’t fair. And to be brutally frank, it wasn’t the judges’ fault. It was kinda ours. We didn’t have the stones to throw Phillip to the lions, so the judges had to take out poor, undeserving Max. I won’t go so far as to call Chbeeb this season’s Cedric, but we’re kinda getting there. As for the ladies, apparently Asuka (or Oscar, if y’all absolutely gotta call her that) has more fans on the phone than she does among our blog commenters, because she and Vito slipped through, leaving Max and Kayla vulnerable. But this is indicative of the high-class problem we’re going to face all season: With few dancers breaking out, and just about everyone up to par, every week we’re going to lose someone who doesn’t deserve to go home. Brace yourselves, Dance fans, because as the great philosophers Run DMC once said, it’s like that…and that’s the way it is.

But ooh! Let’s talk about the filler! Um, did anyone else completely guess wrong on the choreographer for the group number, and shout ”Wade!” only to hear ”Mia!”? I don’t know why I was surprised. Given Mia’s bellicose personality, it’s actually more shocking that she frequently choreographs with such pronounced serenity. (Oh crap, I just used ”bellicose” and ”serenity” in the same sentence. Damn you and your infectious loquacity, Lil C!)

Speaking of the Discursive Don, the SYTYCD editors just could not stop themselves from doing a one-night greatest hits of his passages from the Tao of C — just like we did! Why, it’s almost like they read this very TV Watch, right here. In fact, I’d almost guarantee they do, because C took our advice and sported his three-piece-suit-minus-the-jacket again, only this time, sans chapeau. In fact, I really hope he’s reading now, because as evil as this is, somebody has to tell him: The man’s name is Robson, Lil C. Wade Robson. Not Robinson, Robson. Easy mistake, and I know the name’s a tad unusual, but given your facility with linguistic calisthenics, I’m pretty sure you can handle it. Buck on, my brother.

And here we pause to acknowledge that the judges and hostess looked elegant and appropriate last night — especially that minx, Ms. Deeley. That white pantsuit was Dynasty fabulous. (Which reminds me: We talked to the Lady Cat about what’s on her Must List.) Pity we can’t extend praise to all the dancers for their choice of attire. Jeanine’s bondage outfit was not kind to her, Kupono looked straight up goth-sloppy, and Janette seems to have robbed a belly dancer — but only of her scarves. Fellas should aim for Jason’s simplicity, and the ladies should take lessons from Karla and the dearly departed Ashley (who somehow channeled Betty Boop, by way of Ashley Judd, and made it look good). Nobody remembers what they wore, and that’s sort of the point; don’t let the clothes overshadow the steps.

NEXT: But let’s get on to the solos.

Caitlin The judges loved her lines. I thought she did a lot of stretching and not a lot of dancing. There were some nice gymnastics elements toward the end, but that looked more like ”Shoot, I’ve got four seconds left. Quick, do something fancy!” than deliberate, considered choreography.

Jason I don’t know if, as Nigel declared, it was the absolute best solo in the history of the show, but it was damn good. It was a complete composition that used the stage well and had some unexpected elements. Basically, he attacked that piece like he was back in the audition phase. That little bit of Michael Jackson-inspired shoulder work at the very end was unnecessary, though. He’d already earned it.

Ashley Oh, Ashley. It was a nice performance — it certainly had moments with more originality than Caitlin’s — but it’s always a mistake to hang out on the stairs too long.

Kupono There’s an undeniable quirky lack of self-consciousness to Kupono that the judges clearly dig. You know they’re salivating at the prospect of Mia getting her hands on him. He really might be the new Mark — and not just because they’re both from Hawaii. Just one subtle but important difference: Mark never looked like he’d trained with mimes. Go back and watch that again. You’ll see what I’m talking about.

Kayla The best of the female soloists, Kayla knows how to use the whole floor. And I have to take issue with Nigel. You can’t tell a person to dance for her life, and ”leave it all on the floor,” as they like to say, then criticize her for having a ”crowded” solo. Of course a person is going to throw in as much as they can. If you want balanced, complete solos that are as expressive as they are restrained, then you need to say so.

Max It really is impossible for the ballroom dancers to do more than hoof it for thirty seconds in their solos, which puts them at a cruel disadvantage. Still, Max did probably the best we’ve seen in his genre. It just wasn’t enough to save him.

It was generous of Nigel to admit that if they’d had their druthers, none of those six would have had to pack it in, but I’m still thinking Caitlin and Kupono dodged bullets last night. Agreed?

NEXT: What about those guests?

Before we part, though, we have to talk about the guests. You can dismiss Kristiana DeBarge (yes, of those DeBarges) as lip-synching bubble pop (I certainly do), but I gotta hand it to her — her backup dancers were actually fully clothed! No video hos here, my friends. Glad to see it. (Actually I’m glad not to see it. I don’t need to watch folks shake their business in my face in music videos. That’s what Skinemax is for.) But I cannot tell you how happy I was to see Amrapali Ambegaoka dancing in the Kathak style. The little most Americans know about Indian dance can be summed up in two words: Jai Ho. It’s good for us to see that not all Indian dance is the leaping, swirling dervish of Bollywood. The only trouble with Ambegaoka’s controlled, intricate performance is that most people won’t fully appreciate it, and that was obvious by the audience’s muted reaction. I was disappointed for her. And for Max and Ashley.

The best news of the night, though, was hearing that Evan’s big brother Ryan made it to Vegas for season 6. Now let’s all put our hands together and pray to whatever divinity we believe in — God, Buddha, Allah, J. Crew’s shoe department — that he doesn’t meet the same cruel fate Natalie did. (Not even to let her dance for her life?! Of all the undignified discourtesies you could possi… no, wait. I’m not going there. Serenity now!) As I was saying, let’s just hope he makes it all the way through. That might begin to make up for a few things.

Episode Recaps

But what did you think? Should Max and Ashley have gone home from that group? Did you wonder what happened to the rumored appearance by Katie Holmes? Will Lil C ever stop pronouncing ”genre” like he’s talking about a mighty warrior named Jon-Rah? Answers! I need answers!

So You Think You Can Dance

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