The top 12 got to show their stuff with two dances each

By Kate Ward
Updated November 26, 2009 at 03:42 AM EST
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Well, well, well. Ask, and you shall receive, huh? After weeks of pleading with our favorite dance competition — begging them to feature more, more, more dancing — SYTYCD did just that, offering us a whopping 12 routines last night. Twelve! And better yet, not one of the remaining contestants were terrible. Everyone, including the judges, brought their A-game: Cat expertly riffed with the dancers, the top 12 vigorously sold their numbers, and Nigel decided to double his dose of Viagra to celebrate the monumental night. (Seriously, Nigel, I’d appreciate it if you didn’t talk about Noelle’s breasts and Mollee’s crotchal region.)

In fact, last night’s show was so good, I’ll admit I got a little verklempt thinking about our couples parting ways in the top 10 next week. So one last time, let’s dissect their dancing, shall we? In order of appearance, here are your top six couples!

Ellenore and Ryan: What better way to wake the audience up than to bring them some insanely perfect coffee grinders? I know I haven’t been the biggest fan of the strong man-meet-quirky-girl pair, but their Lindy Hop certainly went down like a warm cup o’ java. Their lifts were incredible, they were dressed adorably (Ellenore’s skirt = WANT), and they looked like they were having a blast. And they probably were — new choreographer Carla Heiney’s 1920s-esque number made me wish I had access to Doc Brown’s flux capacitor. Even better: Ryan discovered buttons this week! As much as everyone loves to see the hottie’s abdominals, I, for once, was able to actually focus on his dancing without the pectoral distraction. SYTYCD! Is! Not! Sparta!

I’m going to get super-picky, however, about the duo’s second number. I’m sorry. I know Spencer’s Broadway routine far exceeded most Great White Way numbers that we’ve seen on SYTYCD. But it was distracting to have a routine about a girl being worked as a puppet set to Chicago’s ”Razzle Dazzle.” Because, as anyone who has seen the show will tell you, the musical’s ventriloquist routine is set to ”We Both Reached For the Gun.” (The whole thing felt akin to when Tyce choreographed a Singin’ in the Rain-inspired number using a couch for a prop — and set it to ”Moses Supposes.”) Yet, Spencer’s haunting choreography was refreshing, considering SYTYCD‘s Broadway numbers usually have enough cheese to fill a fondue pot. Instead of high kicks and jazz hands, we got a dance that reminded me so much of Coppélia. It was mature and hypnotizing, and still incorporated moves that would make Fosse proud. And while Ryan put forth a good effort, Ellenore was the true star of this number. Girl was so flexible, it seemed like you could snap her leg right off from that second position développé like a boy snaps off a head of a Barbie doll. Of course, thought the pair performed two fantastic numbers, they might not escape danger, since dialers have poor memories. But I’d love to see these two separated in the top 10, if only because I think Ellenore and Jakob would make a hell of a dream team. Agree?

NEXT: Legacy sells it

Kathryn and Legacy: I’d like to give Legacy a hand — and not just because I want him to bite it. (Rawr.) The b-boy once again proved his prowess during his jazz routine, perfectly meshing his strength as a break-dancer with Sonya’s quirky choreography. The way he folded off the ground into standing position at the beginning of the piece made me feel as though I was watching him on rewind. Not only did Legacy once again bring power to the stage — not to mention a naked torso — but Kathryn also proved her status as SYTYCD‘s most elegant dancer. She flowed and hit her marks, even if she wasn’t as passionate as her fiery partner. And that’s the big problem with this completely loveable couple. They complement each other so well, it’s impossible to think of them as two separate entities.

On another subject, if this whole dance thing doesn’t work out for Legacy, he should really become a salesman. Because this guy could sell me a poo-covered copy of Battlefield Earth. The duo’s second dance — the dreaded Viennese Waltz — was hardly out of this world from a technical standpoint, but Legacy makes it really hard to care about the little mistakes. I can’t think of any other dancer who has brought so much feeling to the SYTYCD stage, with a love of the art to boot. Prior to the top 20, I didn’t feel the b-boy’s emotions were genuine, but now we know he’s just a big ol’ softie. And when Legacy cries, I cry. Let’s hope they make it to the top ten, yea?

Karen and Victor: I expected their tango to be spicier than bottle of Tabasco. Instead, I got some mild Newman’s Own salsa. The judges might have loved the pair for their routine, but for me, dawg, there was just no real passion in the number. (And yes, I understand they were at a disadvantage being a newly paired couple.) Sure, Victor did well, considering he was working outside of his element, but when we’re at a point where it’s becoming less and less obvious which genre each dancer hails from, you’ve got to completely mold into the style. And he kind of looked like a boy who puts on a tuxedo for the first time — he’s trying to act fancy, but he’s still extremely stiff and uncomfortable. Karen, on the other hand, fared much better, but still hasn’t had the chance to partner with a dancer who really brings out the best in her. Perhaps will see her really shine if she makes it to the top ten. Nigel, however, is doing Karen no favors by comparing her to Jennifer Lopez, a singer/dancer who just fell on her well-cushioned bum during her AMA number.

Their hip-hop routine didn’t do them any favors either. Too bad, considering choreographer Laurie Ann Gibson gave the pair a fitting number for their final dance. After all, as the true underdogs of the night, this pair really had to metaphorically move mountains in order to stay in the mix. Unfortunately, they did little more than kick some pebbles. Victor certainly performed better in the hip-hop genre, but the pair suffered from shaky lifts and a lack of synchronization. I agree with Mary that there wasn’t ”anything to latch onto” during the dance. And, sadly for them, viewers certainly aren’t going to latch onto them. To me, they’re the clear pick to go home this week.

NEXT: Can-can Mollee and Nathan make it?

Mollee and Nathan: I’m already extremely anti-Mollee and Nathan, so it’s no surprise that I’m officially ready to hang up on the pair. They had a clever concept to execute during this Jamal Sims routine, inspired by Alexander Graham-Bell and the creation of the telephone, but they didn’t ring my bell. Nathan did look like he was having fun — and side note: I loved the mad scientist ‘do — but Mollee was hardly hitting her moves. Like Nigel said, the whole thing was like ”Dolly Dinkle’s regional hip-hop class 101.” I couldn’t even laugh at Nathan’s wardrobe malfunction because, well, it’s nothing we haven’t seen before.

Something we haven’t seen before on the SYTYCD stage? Mollee and Nathan’s second dance, the can-can. When a new style is introduced to SYTYCD, it usually goes one of two ways. (1) It can steer the couple directly into the next round (Afro-jazz, Bollywood, etc.), or (2) It can serve as a one-way ticket to the bottom three (Russian folk dance). Though the judges loved the routine, I would put Mollee and Nathan’s can-can into the second category. The dance is so much associated with Montmartre — a boozy Parisian underground rife with mature, flourishing artists. The cutesy Molly and Nathan hardly fit into that image. The whole dance looked like something we would see out of two 10-year-olds performing on America’s Got Talent. (And, unfortunately for us, there isn’t enough absinthe in the world to help us forget Nigel’s discussion of Mollee’s underwear.) Of course, they’ll survive, if only because Nathan proved he’s got technical skillz with those a-mah-zing pirouettes in second. And even if the duo land in the bottom three like they did last week, the judges will save them. After all, they heaped undeserving praise on Mollee for delivering a terrible cartwheel-happy dance-for-your-life solo last Wednesday. (Nigel, you should know better — since when is a gymnastics floor routine considered good dancing?) But, hey, life’s not fair. Just ask Elisha Gray, the man who really invented the telephone before Alexander Graham-Bell came along and stole the idea. (History lesson!)

Noelle and Russell: Well, my hips certainly don’t lie, fellow SYTYCD fans, and neither can I: I didn’t enjoy this pair’s first routine as much as I had hoped to. Russell and Noelle — a couple worthy of the top ten, if not the top four — have been resting on their laurels the past two weeks, and ultimately might suffer for it. While couples like Kathryn and Legacy are truly fighting to stay in the mix, Russell and Noelle are dancing like they’re a lock. And as we’ve seen in previous seasons when favorites have been sent home (Cough! Jeanette! Cough!), you can’t necessarily depend on your early favorite status. Mary loved the performance level, but I couldn’t see what she was seeing from my couch. Their dancing was like a kiddie pool — it might be fun, but it’s not nearly deep enough to encourage folks to jump on in.

NEXT: Ashleigh shows her strength

Luckily, their second piece got me on my feet and pushed me right in. Their painting-inspired contemporary routine was gorgeous, even if whole thing was — like Cat said — very Ghost at times. It’s a fitting comparison too, because usually, I want Tyce to get dragged away from the camera by a set of demons à la Tony Goldwyn. But sweet Lincoln’s mullet, I liked Tyce’s choreography for the second week in a row! What’s happening to me, guys?! Though the whole thing with the palette was a bit cheesy, the rest of the number highlighted Noelle’s incredible splits, Russell’s undeniable grace, and the pair’s passionate chemistry. And though they fit well together, a shake-up will likely serve this too-comfortable couple well in the coming weeks — and we know they’ll make it that far. Though they still could be a surprise pick for the bottom three tonight, Nigel & Co., can’t paint the rest of the season without these two in the picture.

Ashleigh and Jakob: I used to think Ashleigh was bunny-in-the-boiling-pot crazy. But, for whatever reason, over the past few weeks she’s transformed into bunny-hopping-in-the-field adorable. I know there are still some dissenters out there, but I’ve completely changed my mind about the ballroom dancer. I thought she didn’t have a chance of making the top 10. But then again, I thought Britney Spears wouldn’t have another hit after ”Sometimes.” So, it shows what I know! After last night, I would be shocked if Ashleigh was in danger of leaving the show. The dancer showed off some beautiful lines during her Sonya number with Jakob. And those lifts? Effortless! Of course, plenty of credit should go to Jakob, who last night delivered one of the most beautiful ponches I’ve ever seen on this show. But it has been nice to see Ashleigh, a dancer so seemingly dependent on her husband, Ryan, branch off and prove her own strength.

Because in the duo’s second dance, it was Ashleigh who did the carrying, for once. I wasn’t quite floored by the pair’s cha-cha — they seemed to be performing for the cameras more than for the room — but they still burned the floor, thanks to the ballroom dancer’s never-ending gams and Lil’ Kim-esque costuming. And though Jakob came off a bit ”wild and crazy guy,” what with the pointing and what Adam called ”hungry jazz looks,” he still rocked one heckuva pas de chat. And for that, we forgive him for those purple Joker pants. These two will be grooving right into the top 10 tonight.

Tell me, fellow SYTYCD fans: Do you agree with my assessments? Are you liking Ashleigh more? Which couple will you be sad to see split up? Do you, like me, think Karen and Victor will head home tonight? Happy Thanksgiving, friends, and see you next week!

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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