No matter where they go, they know where they came from.
It’s getting serious here on So You Think You Can Dance. Paula’s necklace looks like an Elizabethan collar. This season’s touring company is set. The All-Stars are back. The Twitter save has (mercifully) flown the coop. But nothing says serious quite like this: Jenny from the block is in the building (via webcam).
Jennifer Lopez stops by to announce that this year, America’s Favorite Dancer will have the opportunity to dance in her new show in Vegas. “I’m putting my trust in you,” she says. “Now dance.” What was everyone doing before?
JJ injured her ribs, so she’ll have to sit this one out, but the other nine dancers are ready to show us why they’re here. Let’s get to it.
Hailee and All-Star Brandon
Choreographer: Warren Carlyle, Broadway
Song: “It Don’t Mean a Thing (If It Ain’t Got That Swing)” by Tony Bennett & Lady Gaga
Carlyle describes this number as “a tap dance without tap shoes,” which should not make as much sense as it does. Hailee grabs this fast-moving, Liza Minnelli-esque routine by its points and does not let go; she’s so sharp and sultry that she even outshines Brandon. Is Hailee capable of blending in? I feel like spotlights follow her to the grocery store. Her stage presence is so natural that it sometimes feels like she could tone down the theatrics a notch or two, but this is Broadway and Paula Abdul is talking about Liza Minnelli and maybe I’m the crazy one for thinking that subtlety could ever play a role in that scenario.
Derek and All-Star Kayla
Choreographers: Nick Florez and RJ Durell, Jazz
Song: “Got It” by Marian Hill
It would have taken a performance on the level of Kayla and Kupono’s addiction routine to make me forgive America for saving Derek last week. This was not quite that performance. Derek’s arms could be a lot stronger, and, as the judges pointed out, he could still use some help in the passion department. But about halfway through this routine, the lights went red, Derek’s face was suddenly a few inches from Kayla’s, and, against my better judgment, I felt something. The further his face got from his partner’s, the more his performance faltered, but this was a start, right? And Derek’s solo was one of my favorites of the bunch, so at least he’s working for it.
Virgil and All-Star Comfort
Choreographer: Christopher Scott, Hip-Hop
Song: “Just My Imagination (Running Away With Me)” by The Temptations
Jason compares this routine to “a cool breeze on a hot summer day,” and I have no air conditioner, so I know what he’s talking about. There’s something soothing about this whole piece, from the choreography—which tell the story of a couple’s first night together in a new apartment—to the music to that casually coordinated denim. Always a storyteller, Virgil gives this love story a playful edge; he and Comfort have such good chemistry that Paula is already dreaming about their babies. In related news, Virgil was an adorable kid. As if that’s surprising.
Megz and All-Star Marko
Choreographer: Ray Leeper, Jazz
Song: “Canned Heat” by Jamiroquai
I think we’ve found Cooper Nielson’s next principal dancer, because whatever Megz feels, she dances it. Does Megz even know fear? Is there a dance style she hasn’t tackled with a smile? Much like self-proclaimed Jamiroquai fan Nigel, Megz loves this routine from the moment she hits rehearsal, and if anything about it worries her, she doesn’t show it. Her technique could be polished here or there, but she’s infectious, and she nails those backflips. Megz has the feet and the heart.
Edson and All-Star Jaimie
Choreographer: Travis Wall, Contemporary
Song: “Your Day Will Come” by Son Lux
There should be some sort of therapy program where Travis Wall just choreographs everyone’s problems. I feel better, and I didn’t even know I felt bad. This is a piece about losing all hope, with Jaimie, at the end of her rope, reaching out for a light that Edson doesn’t want her to embrace quite yet. It’s a powerful number (Jaimie’s scream!) danced with raw emotion and athleticism—this is definitely Edson’s best work on the show. Paula even calls it one of her new favorite Travis routines. Now that’s high praise.
NEXT: Glass case of emotion
Neptune and All-Star Jasmine
Choreographers: Pharside and Phoenix, Hip-Hop
Song: “Milk Was a Bad Choice” by Yultron
It may be the dead of summer, but it’s never too soon to look ahead to Halloween. Pharside and Phoenix describe this routine as “Frankenstein and his bride,” and yes, Frankenstein was the doctor, but it’s okay; we all know what they mean. This won’t go down as the night’s most memorable number, but it’s fun, and Neptune plays his character perfectly. Nigel tells Neptune that the last time Jasmine danced on a table, it was with tWitch. That was Sasha, Nigel. Anyway, you don’t know Jasmine’s life.
Jim and All-Star Jessica
Choreographer: Dee Caspary, Contemporary
Song: “Heal” by Tom Odell
What’s left to say about Jim’s technique at this point? It’s flawless. He apparently struggled with the choreography this week, but you’d never guess it from the final performance—which is appropriate, given that this is a piece about inner conflict. The judges all challenge Jim to lose himself in dance a little more, and they’re not wrong, but Jason goes so far as to say that he didn’t enjoy the routine. That’s pushing it. Not every contemporary routine has to engage Travis Wall-esque emotions.
Jaja and All-Star Alex
Choreographer: Nakul Dev Mahajan, Bollywood
Song: “Naacho Re,” Jai Ho (soundtrack)
Just give Jaja a tiger and call her Jasmine. As a princess sneaking out of the palace, Jaja is a little ball of light—this is one of my new favorite Bollywood routines on the strength of her smile alone. She makes it look easy. “You’re a firecracker and a sweet dream,” says Paula, who might as well throw in a plastic bag to complete the Katy Perry trifecta. Nigel just repeats “whoopie” a lot, and with absolutely no inflection, to indicate that Whoopi Goldberg is near (and apparently a fan of Jaja). Let’s stick to Katy Perry songs. Aside: Alex Wong makes an excellent Aladdin.
Gaby and All-Star Joshua
Choreographers: Pharside and Phoenix, Hip-Hop
Song: “I’m Really Hot” by Missy Elliott
Gaby really can do everything, can’t she? She hits this hip-hop number about a ninja and a geisha every bit as hard as Joshua, and while I’m not entirely comfortable with the fact that they put a girl from Miami in geisha makeup, that isn’t any fault of hers. Gaby is just fun to watch. My only note for this whole routine is “YESSSSS.” She nails it. And the more Missy Elliott on this show, the better.
BOTTOM FOUR: JJ, Megz, Derek, and Edson
ELIMINATED: Edson and JJ
The Twitter save is a thing of the past, but the results are the same: Derek is safe. It’s a shame that Edson’s performance tonight couldn’t factor in, but at least he’s going out on a high note. And I’m still wrapping my head around the fact that Team Street lost another woman (this was supposed to be the year of women!), but between the two, as much as I’ll miss the injured JJ, I’d rather see Megz stick around. Cat plays off our eliminated dancers with a montage of their fellow contestants saying nice things. That’s so So You Think You Can Dance.
FINAL COUNT: Eight dancers, nine Empire-inspired solos, zero cartoon tigers, and one Jennifer Lopez. See you next week, America.