So You Think You Can Dance recap: Almost Showtime
To quote the world’s most sought-after hunk of man (Bret Michaels, naturally): Whatsagoinon?! I’m out one week — thereby missing not one, not two, but three SYTYCD episodes — and we still haven’t found our top 20 dancers yet? Man, these producers are dragging out this process like it’s a Days Of Our Lives Swamp Girl plotline.
Frustrating, yes, but even more so when you consider how little dancing we actually saw during last night’s day two in Vegas. Sure, the episode paraded plenty of contestants in front of our eyes, but thanks to a ridiculous amount of camera cuts (did Paul Greengrass guest direct the show last night?), we were only able to catch short glimpses of each. And it’s really too bad. Because we didn’t need to see Nigel pacing about like a football coach, spouting hilarious-when-read-out-of-context phrases like ”You’re caressing a woman’s face there! You’re not feeling a melon!” and ”I want women here!” (Sigh. Nigel, you just make this too easy.) Or Laurie Ann Gibson responding to a dancer’s innocent marking question as if he had just asked her to fetch him Junior’s cheesecake in Brooklyn. (”The audacity of you to ask me such a ridiculous question…Now dance!”)
That being said, we saw just enough of some dancers to know that they’re hopping down a one-way street to the top 20. And I’d argue that one contestant is hiding a map to the finale in his back pocket. Just which contestant? Why, krumper Russell Ferguson, of course. Ever since his more-than-respectable foray into ballroom last week, I’ve had my eye on the guy. And then on day two, he proves he can perfect contemporary and Broadway? Insanity. Now, I will concede something suspicious is going on here — what with Russell insisting that he’s never received formal training — but how can you not root for him? I’ve been searching for Joshua 2.0 for over a year, and Russell might just prove to be the perfect updated model. Therefore, regardless of the seemingly inevitable but-the-Internet-proves-he’s-had-formal-training! scandal to come, I’ll be clinging onto this contestant this season like Winona Ryder clings onto a sweater at Saks.
Another top 20 lock is Billy Bell, the contemporary dancer who has made it far, regardless of his inexperience and tendency to go all Drag Me To Hell on us. I, however, can’t seem to get behind Billy 100 percent. His legwork is utter perfection, and worthy of marvel, considering he’s only had five years to perfect his craft. His upper body, though, is still far too manic to not be distracting. It’s just too strange of a dichotomy: He’s Roberto Bolle on the bottom, Gumby on top. But then again, everyone loves an underdog, which might be the reason why Adam Shankman cried during Billy’s solo routine (the only one we saw last night). That, or Tyce was farting out some serious tear gas.
NEXT: Mollee takes her slot
Now I’d like to interrupt this TV Watch to announce the winner of my first annual Jody Sawyer award! And the award goes to…Ashleigh Di Lello! I admit that I wasn’t a huge fan of the married girl after watching her bland Salt Lake City audition. But the ballroom dancer has proven that her performance skills more than make up for her technical weaknesses. My eyes zeroed in on the dancer during her Sweet Charity number — and that’s not just because the judges’ comments pretty much demanded us to. Girl knows how to command the stage, and she’s one pretty face. That’s a lethal combination on SYTYCD if you ask me.
I wish I could be as enthusiastic about her husband, Ryan Di Lello, the ballroom dancer who pulled a major Dmitri during his ”Movin’ Out” Broadway routine. Now, I’m a girl who enjoys a good six-pack (and I’m not just talking about Old Style), but that was a bit over-the-top, no? The judges would disagree though — methinks the guy could have just stood in the front of his group, tore off his clothes, asked ”Like what you see?” and been ushered into the top 20 while the judges fed him grapes. I’m not going to count him out yet, but Ryan’s going to have to bring it in his solo for me to officially consume the Kool-Aid.
I am, however, more in favor of a top 20 that includes Ryan than a top 20 that includes Mollee Gray, the cute-as-a-button contemporary dancer who auditioned in Los Angeles. Mollee’s not terrible by any means, but she’s as vacant as the seats in an afternoon screening of Love Happens. I’m having a hard time figuring what more she adds to the competition than a bare midriff. Not only was her jazz dancing clumsy, but the dancer also suffered a sprain that jeopardized both her chances and the chances of the dancers in her group. And, honestly, that group number was absolutely terrible. Embarrassing. I felt like I was watching Britney Spears’ ”Gimme More” VMA performance all over again — the group tried to make up for Mollee’s immobility by essentially pushing her through the number. Hard to believe they stayed up until 5 a.m. choreographing the piece, when Russell’s group went to bed at 11 p.m., with an awesome Broadway routine under their belts. (Who needs Tyce?) Yet she was passed through every round. I know every SYTYCD season needs its resident cute blonde from Utah (Hello, Chelsie Hightower!), but let’s make sure that slot is filled by someone who really deserves it.
Speaking of people who deserve to make the top 20, let’s give it up for hip-hopper Kevin Hunt, a dancer who’s obviously picked up some training after being denied a spot in season three. During Mia’s contemporary number, Kevin shined, thanks to his lines, which were surprisingly broad and beautiful. And he pointed his toes! A hip-hopper pointed his toes! So impressive, considering that’s more than I can say for Kherington Payne in the Fame remake.
NEXT: Do svidaniya, Iveta
B-boy Legacy could also make the cut, if his emotional response to Mia’s routine was any indication. He pulled out all the stops, and managed to hit all of our judge’s sensitive spots. Emotional for Mia? Check. Technically proficient for Nigel? Check. Humble for Tyce? Check. Shirtless for Mary? Check.
And while we’re on the subject of emotion, let’s talk Dominic Pearson, the contestant who was rushed to the hospital back in season 4 after suffering an injury in Vegas. He made it all the way to the Broadway round this year, but was ultimately turned away after performing a cheesy rendition of Tyce’s dance. Dominic was rightly upset — who wouldn’t be sad to be cut after coming this far? — but grumpy Nigel wasn’t having any of that. Because, come on, there’s no crying in SYTYCD! Except that there is. Quite a bit, actually. And the majority of crying comes from the judges’ panel. Hm.
And now, in does-anyone-really-care? news, ballroom dancer Matthew Hauer was cut in the jazz round, while his wife Karen continues in the competition. Moving on.
While the episode might have zeroed in on the folks above, I’m still happy to see that some early favorites remain in the competition (as far as I could tell): tap dancers Bianca Revels and Phillip Attmore (”Attaboy, Attmore!”), and contemporary dancers Paula Von Oppen, Jakob Karr, and Nathan Trasoras. I was, however, surprised to see that the judges cut the effervescent Iveta Lukosiute, the ballroom dancer with the gams of Cyd Charisse, and the makeup of Mimi Bobeck. I do think the 29-year-old would have appeared ancient next to the babies that so often make the SYTYCD semi-finals, but so many of them lack her technical maturity. So I’m quite sad to see her go. до свидания, Iveta. (It’s up to you Russian commenters to let me know if I correctly cut-and-pasted the word for ”goodbye,” or accidentally asked Iveta if she could direct me to the nearest bank.)
And now, after nearly 1,500 words, it’s time to say до свидания to you too, fellow SYTYCD fans. Are you getting as impatient with this season as I am? Are you rooting for Russell? Do you believe that he hasn’t received formal training? Did you, like me, get Joe Theismann feelings when you saw Pauline Mata’s ankle injury? Do you think Mollee deserves to be in the top 20? And, finally, in non-episode-related news, does Mary Murphy’s now public past change the way you feel about her?
Nigel Lythgoe, Mary Murphy, and the viewers at home crown America’s Favorite Dancer.