So You Think You Can Dance recap: Flat Footed
Tell me, fellow So You Think You Can Dance fans: Where was Lady Luck last night? Each week, our dancers draw genres out of a hat, hoping to score a familiar dance style. (I leave it up to you all to decide whether or not this process is more set in stone than we’re led to believe.) And last night, only one couple was lucky enough to nab their genre.
Instead, most our top 16 were forced to reckon with foreign styles like the hustle, Afro-jazz, and the dreaded quickstep. And while some pulled off their routines, more than a few fell flat — some favorites included. As our judge Adam Shankman said, the majority of our dancers’ success last night was determined by the luck of the draw. So who was lucky? And who will have to roll the dice in the bottom three tonight? Unlike last night’s show — which featured 10 minutes of filler at the top of the hour — I’m going to get right to the dancing. So here we go, in order of who I predict is safe, who is at risk, and who will likely be forced to dance for their life:
Noelle and Russell: Last week, we learned that Russell is a singer. This week, we learned that Russell is an artist. Next week, we’ll learn that Russell signed the Declaration of Independence back in 1776. Seriously, I feel like I’m watching an SNL Penelope skit when it comes to this guy. He just keeps one-upping himself! And last night, the dancer proved that he is indeed ”King of Afro-Jazz,” as Mary dubbed him. But a dancer is only as good as his choreography, so I have to give new choreographer Sean Cheesman some serious props for bringing this new genre to the stage. I felt Noelle, however, was a little less princess, and more lady-in-waiting during the Princess and the Frog-inspired number. She brought buckets of energy, sure, but I wanted her to be a little less reserved in her movements. It was all a bit too sleek. And though I felt it was necessary for the judges to praise the awesomeness of the dance, I felt it was, once again, completely unnecessary for Nigel to continue to slam last season’s Russian folk dance choreography. Seriously Nigel, it’s time to let it go. All I have to say is you better back off or stay out of bath houses. All you have to do is rent Eastern Promises to see what I mean.
Kathryn and Legacy: This season’s sentimental favorites faltered a bit during Andy Blankenbuehler’s Broadway routine — but certainly not because of our beloved b-boy. We already knew that Legacy boasted some killer skills, but who knew he actually could pull Broadway out of his fedora? Though I’ve praised the dancer’s growth in the past few weeks, I’ll admit that his weaknesses had been clear. Though he jumped, spun and soared with compassion, you could always tell he was one of the most technically limited of contestants. But as I watched Legacy fall into that final back flip onto the couch, I immediately thought of Donald O’Connor in Singin’ In the Rain‘s ”Make ‘Em Laugh” musical number. (And, apparently, the judges agreed with me: Nigel loved Legacy so much, he wanted to grind him up into Soylent Green.) Too bad Kathryn didn’t fare as well. I completely agreed with Nigel when he told the contemporary dancer that she looked too juvenile. And though cute might work for Mollee and Nathan, it’s not going to make voters put down the remote, get off the couch and vote for this older duo. Regardless, I reckon they’ll be safe tonight.
NEXT: Mollee shows how cuteness can be dangerous
Flirting with danger:
Ashleigh and Jakob: The judges and Cat might have given these two props for their use of a prop, but I felt the duo’s cane proved to be a bit of a crutch, no pun intended. I would have loved to see Jakob truly fly with his tour jetés in this jazz number, yet another 1980s nostalgia-fest whipped up by Mandy Moore. (I swear, the choreographer is one step away from giving us a routine about a love affair between Alex P. Keaton and a Glo-Friend set to A-Ha’s ”Take On Me.”) But instead, he seemed too focused on that darned cane to really let go. And Ashleigh, who I thought had the potential to rock this number, could have hit her moves a lot harder had she not been clearly terrified of dropping the prop. Yet, I can forgive it all, if only because of Jakob’s ridiculously limber extensions. Each time he lifts up his leg, I think to myself: No way Jakob can possibly go higher than that…but he does…oh dear God his leg is going to snap off like in that scene from The Hills Have Eyes 2…Wait, his leg is still attached to his body!…How does he do that?! In fact, the only thing better than watching Jakob execute the perfect leg lift was listening to the confused silence that hit the young audience when Nigel told the dancer he resembled The Prisoner‘s Patrick McGoohan. (Totally agree, by the way: He is not a number! He is a free man!) What other out-of-date references will you drop on these youngsters, Nigel? Mitzi Gaynor? Winnie Lightnor? Richard Cowley? Orgoth the caveman?
Mollee and Nathan: I had a hard time believing that Mollee would be able to subdue that cute-as-a-button-ness during her Gustavo Vargas salsa with Nathan. And, as it turns out, I was right to be doubtful. The duo whipped out what was probably the most lackluster, un-sexy salsa I’ve seen on the SYTYCD stage. Not only was Nathan unleashing some major cheese — the boy looked like A.C. Slater up there — but Mollee couldn’t catch up with the steps. Or the emotion of the steps, for that matter. At the beginning of the season, I feared that I would feel uncomfortable watching the dancer act sexy. And sure enough, seeing Mollee shake her hips made me feel like a dirty old man. (In other words, I felt like Nigel.) If the two want to grow in the coming weeks — because, unlike the judges, I believe these two are in as much trouble as straight-A students — they have to do something to shed their High School Musical images. (Makeover? Lessons from Karen? What?) Or Mollee has to at least toss that New Moon T-shirt she was wearing during rehearsal.
Ellenore and Ryan: Ryan no like hip-hop. Hip-hop bad! But Ryan will drink giant protein shake to conquer hip-hop! Next time, though, he should tell Jamba to put his shake in a crunk cup. The guy was just about as buck as Mister Rogers last night. Ryan, however, wasn’t the only thing wrong with this bizarre Lil C. routine: What was with the slow build-up? And the fact that the duo was robbing a bank costumed in what looked like swanky Aspen ski lodge attire? (Or half of Woody Allen’s Everything You Wanted to Know About Sex* garb.) Though I will give Ryan props for tackling a genre difficult for someone of his sheer size, his inability to pop or stay in sync with Ellenore made it near impossible to focus on his partner. It’s unfortunate too, considering she performed fairly well in the genre. And as for Adam telling Ryan he was the most transformed dancer of the night, I say: Jiggawha? Sure, Ryan transformed in that whole Bruce Banner-to-Hulk kind of way, what with the way he was lugging himself across the stage, but he hardly transformed himself into a hip-hop dancer. I don’t think, however, that these two are going anywhere — methinks that Nigel’s prediction that the two would land in the bottom three was a subtle hint directed at viewers to pick up the phone.
NEXT: And in the bottom…
Bottom three, here comes…:
Karen and Kevin: Holy moly, the SYTYCD producers objectify Karen more than we here at EW objectify Taylor Lautner. Not to say it isn’t completely deserved. The dancer (and recent divorcée, as we found out) shined on the dance floor during last night’s hustle — and that’s not just because of her hot red number. (Which was, might I add, far superior to Kevin’s bizarre get-up, which made him look like a colorblind Nutcracker prince from the 1970s.) Karen’s leg kicks would put the Rockettes to shame, and she boasted an impressive amount of confidence, especially considering that Kevin was so clearly petrified of losing his grip on his partner during his lifts. Unlike the judges, however, I felt Kevin shined more during his hip-hop last week. Sure, he was able to execute a double pirouette last night, but his feet were hardly pointed. (If Legacy and Russell can do it, Kevin has no excuse.) That being said, I thoroughly enjoyed watching a 1970s-era dance on the SYTYCD stage that wasn’t a manic disco. But I fear this pair might be getting too comfy in their seats on the hot tamale train — since Karen and Kevin danced in the dreaded first spot of the night last night, and might therefore be forgotten by memory-challenged voters, the two’s next stop might be in the bottom three.
Pauline and Peter: Oh, Peter, just when I was beginning to think your life only centered around spaghetti and flashing Gregory Hines and Savion Glover (my personal monikers for your right and left biceps), you make me go all warm and fuzzy after learning that you teach special needs kids to dance. And this sweet little admission immediately made me forgive any crime you were about to commit on the quickstep before you even started the dance. It’s a good thing too — though the judges loved Pauline and Peter’s performance, choreographed by JT and Tomas, I couldn’t help but equate it to a Dancing With the Stars number. There were crazy costumes, over-acting, and technical mistakes all over the place. But, yet, I can’t totally discount it. For whatever reason, I enjoy this duo, and the number made me feel like I was a kid watching Elvis in Blue Hawaii. And that wins serious points for a nostalgic like me. Both Pauline and Peter, however, have yet to truly shine during the competition, which makes me fear that a trip to the bottom three is in their very near future.
Channing and Victor: Appropriate that Victor wore a shirt during rehearsal brandishing the word ”Love.” Because these two clearly loved working with one another. And I loved both their backstories: Channing was a champion lawn mower racer — start your Deliverance banjo riff now — while Victor went through a goth phase in junior high. (Don’t worry, Victor, we all have survived ill-advised phases in our youth — I still have my Spice Girls-inspired platform shoe collection to prove it). Too bad I didn’t fall in love with their Stacey Tookey contemporary routine. I have been hard on Channing over the past few weeks, and, unfortunately, I don’t think I’ll be changing my stance anytime soon. The contemporary dancer improved her emotional performance last night, but she still dances too much like a gymnast to really capture me. She’s all power, and no grace. And while Victor delivered technically, I felt the same emotional void I felt during his Broadway number last week with Bianca. I would champion the duo’s effort if they were ballroom dancers, or hip-hop dancers, but last night, they were in their element. So it’s difficult to heap elephant-sized praise on the pair — especially when Victor and former partner Bianca brought so much beauty to their week one Travis Wall contemporary routine. None of the judges might suspect these two are in danger, but I sincerely doubt American voters have much love for them at this point.
Your turn, fellow SYTYCD fans: Who will be in the bottom three? Who deserves to be in the bottom three? Do you really think the judges think Mollee and Nathan are in trouble? Are you as curious as I am to see the dance-packed Dizzy Feet Foundation event? (No Katie Holmes, please.) And finally, what did you think of Ashleigh’s llama pants?
Nigel Lythgoe, Mary Murphy, and the viewers at home crown America’s Favorite Dancer.