So You Think You Can Dance recap: Viewers' Choice
Whew, that was close. For a second there, I was afraid that there was going to be a huge upset, and that America had gotten it very very wrong.
Of course, this was the week where the judges relinquished their control to the masses and the voters took the wheel and decided who stayed and who didn’t in this competition. It’s always a crapshoot. How’s it going to go? Does everyone else like the same people I do? What’s going to happen now that some of our beloved couples have been split up? And midway through the program it dawned on me that we were veering in a horribly wrong direction and I had half a mind to stop this car right now! if the voters didn’t behave and get back on course.
Because how else to explain Kathryn’s presence in the bottom two? It was so, so, so many shades of wrong. She and Ellenore are toe to pointed toe the most talented female dancers of the season. She’s never made a misstep. No, America, I don’t get it. I don’t understand a lot of things about this country, really. Like why they discontinued Chocolate Cherry Garcia ice cream. Why the Nets can’t seem to win a game this season. How some people can choose to put off talking to police after an accident. And why Kathryn was voted into the bottom two. Why, America, why? My heart all but sunk at the news. I wrote a big NOOOOOO! in my notes. And my dinner of leftover turkey (yes, still) churned uneasily in my stomach (kind of like whenever I see Dominic getting people on the street to do samba rolls for K-Mart diamond bracelets). Though I don’t know if I was upset more because Kathryn was in danger, or because Cat’s announcement meant that both Ashleigh and Mollee were in the clear this week. And yet I knew I wasn’t alone in my surprise that Mollee made it through unscathed: Did you see the camera pan to Ellenore? Girlfriend had a look of utter shock on her face. You and me both, sister. You and me both.
Not Kathryn! My guess was that audiences didn’t latch on to the beauty and grace of Kathryn’s sublime Broadway routine, or have much of a taste for the rumba. Or that this was the cold hard truth of what happens when she’s left alone without the security (and massive voting block) of her beloved Legacy, who himself slid by so easily on a vampire cape and a headstand to the top 8. Sigh — maybe it’s hard to stand on your own when you don’t have use of your Legz.
NEXT: Cheese beats youth
So it was with a huge gulping sigh of relief that I greeted the news that fellow contemporary dancer Noelle Marsh was going home instead (sorry, Noelle fans!). Noelle, who I really did come to appreciate, but who fell short in both technique and chutzpah this week without the crutch of Russell and failed to convince enough people that she should stay. Part of me also suspects that people got Kathryn and Noelle, both brunette contemporary dancers with about the same hair length, mixed up. Or that the two dancers split each other’s votes.
Their solos Wednesday evening, however, exposed them to be as different as night as day. Noelle performed a different routine than she did on Tuesday, and this one was stilted, oddly paced, and ended with a cutesy sign of ”SYTYCD” and a smile of ”oh well, what can you do” resignation. Whereas Kathryn performed the same solo that she did the night before, and infused it H to T (that’s head to toe, in Tyra speak) with heaping amounts of fire and drive and quality of movement. (Which, incidentally, is what she does in every dance.) Even a passing observer could tell that she wanted this. And she said as much as she asserted herself — her voice rising to her signature, once-annoying but now endearing high-pitched cry — while nestled securely in the comforting crook of Cat’s towering armpit: ”I just feel like if you’re in the bottom, it’s not a bad thing. Someone needs to see you dance, and they need to see your solo, so this is for whoever it is that needed that.” Sob! How do you not love her? Well, at least now there’ll be no confusion as to who the brunette contemporary dancer in this competition is, and Kathryn will take all of Noelle’s votes and sail right through to the final four. Right? RIGHT?
And lest I get carried away with the Kathryn adulation, somehow, I don’t think we should feel too badly for Noelle. First of all, the girl seems to possess an inexhaustible amount of happiness normally achieved only by those on a steady dose of Paxil. Secondly, she got some good cuddly debriefing time with Cat. And perhaps most importantly of all, producer and director Shankers himself all but assured her employment after this gig is over: ”As a guy who hires a lot of people, you are in front of the line.” (Hmm — it was almost as if he knew she was leaving, wasn’t it?) Nothing like the promise of bigger and better things to take the sting off being eliminated.
On the guys’ side, it was young Nathan Trasoras who was sent on his merry way (though there was no promise of future work for him). And this was not a huge surprise, though for a second I thought that the masses were voting by couples, which with Noelle’s departure would mean fellow bottom-dweller Ryan would be the one sent packing. And judging by the solos that these two performed on Wednesday night, Ryan should have been the one to go: The copious amounts of Velveeta that the ballroom dancer poured into his dance-for-your-life lost any kind of novelty in its second time around, and started to reveal the routine (and him) for what it was: a big hunk of cheese. And maybe it’s my own lactose intolerance, but that second helping left me a little queasy. Luckily for him and the power of Grayskull, it wasn’t by that solo that this He-Man was saved.
Which meant that Nathan was muscled out. And it seems young Nathan has a ways to go before effectively maneuvering his way around a publicity machine. It also seems like he has a ways to go before he becomes old enough to shave. Despite performing a strong new solo that showed off some unique moves, those crocodile tears and seemingly contrived statements apparently didn’t fool anyone, and it seemed like the voters had decided that they wanted Nathan to figure out who he really was off camera. Again, I’m pretty sure Nigel was aware that Nathan was going home when he prattled on about continuing his journey and being on the right road, so the executive producer’s words were more like a send-off speech than anything. Though did Nathan also know that he was going to be let go? The dancer (whose raging post-solo Dragon Ball Z hair looked like it waged an epic battle with the vacuum edge of a Flowbee) showed another change of tune with his response, gawkily saying he welcomed the criticism as a ”kick in the butt” to make him better. And was it me, or did Nigel nod vigorously at Nathan’s response as if he had scripted the words himself? Puppetmaster, your strings are showing!
NEXT: Some extraordinary dancing
So Ryan continues on to suck face with his wife another day, just as they were instructed to do during Tyce Diorio’s jumbly and not altogether cohesive opening routine set to Billy Joel’s ”It’s Still Rock and Roll to Me,” a.k.a., the B-side Diorio’d version from Twyla Tharp’s Movin’ Out. Mostly, though, the dance seemed to be a showcase for jumping Jakob (smattered with some choice Russell bits). And looked like some neighborhood taggers had their way with a black spray-paint can on the guys’ right eyebrows.
But how awesome was that performance from the Legion of Extraordinary Dancers? Admittedly, when I heard Cat (who apparently was in a hurry this morning and put her corset on over her outfit) say the name of the group, I was a little dubious. Extraordinary dancers, really? It’s like when diners claim that they have the world’s best coffee. Or someone starts a story by saying, ”This is going to be the funniest thing ever.” Really? This is going to be like how Ellenore promised her first routine was going to be one of the best SYTYCD dances ever, right? It only took a couple bars before my smug, convinced grin was gone, and the jaw was agape. Holy b-boys of power and might, that was amazing. Their moves were so intricate and sharp, so gravity defying and light as air, and yet so poetic that it was unreal. And set to a string quartet version of Coldplay’s ”Yellow” (and a guy in yellow sneakers!), no less? Loved. Seriously. Like those three guys who did the scissor kick leaps in unison? Or that guy at the end who effortlessly lifted himself up from bent arms to straight in his hand spin? Beyond belief. The whole dance was like the equivalent of a chocolate meringue and mint chip ice cream cake: cool and light and totally sweet. Okay, so I bit: Catch the trailer to LXD.
More grounded and of this earth but still fun was Snoop Dogg. And it’s always a pleasure to have the Dogg in the hiz-ouse, as the rapper is always good for a SYTYCD shout out (or two or three). Plus, Snoop was nice enough to share his stage with America’s Best Dance Crew winners Quest, featuring former SYTYCD contestants Hok, Ryan, and Dominic, as well as a couple ladies who seemed to shop at the same jean leggings store as Mollee (but out-bumped her in the booty-shaking department), and a posse of Jerkin boys. Plus, this gave the ”living legend” (really?) a chance to show off his ginormous, blinged-out ”Snoop Dogg” iced mic, which will no doubt be all the rage for the holidays.
What did you think? Did you, like me, have a mini heart attack when Kathryn was in the bottom two? Were you okay with the two that were sent home? Will the Noelle voters now vote for Kathryn? Who’s on board with LXD in 2010? Anyone else also [heart] Jerkin?
Nigel Lythgoe, Mary Murphy, and the viewers at home crown America’s Favorite Dancer.