So You Think You Can Dance recap: 'Academy Week 2'
Like every teen girl in the movies, Robert loses his glasses and finds love
Ah, the sweet sound of Travis Wall shouting “ROND DE JAMBE!” at 62 talented young adults.
We’re halfway through Academy Week, dance fans, and everything is chaos punctuated by people crying and Travis yelling French. It feels so right. (I just remembered that Vanessa Hudgens is legitimately judging this season of So You Think You Can Dance. I miss her.) The Academy is an odd, transitional time for all of us — dance is happening 24/7, but we get to enjoy so little of it. People we met and loved in the audition round disappear without a trace, like this is The Leftovers and they’ve all departed, and people we didn’t meet in the auditions are suddenly powerhouses, like that little girl on Game of Thrones everybody loves now. And while the All-Star team format is forcing us to lose a lot of good dancers early, at least it infuses all of this shapeless Academy madness with a bit of old-fashioned reality TV drama.
The facts, if you were attempting to keep track, are these: The All-Stars are picking four dancers each to join their teams. They’ve already picked some; they’ll narrow down the rest based on how they perform in contemporary with Travis and ballroom with Dmitry and Jenya. Then, as soon as their teams have bonded like summer-camp cabins, they’ll make one dancer per team go home (or more than one) based on how they handle choreographing and performing their own group dance with their team of four. Also, the All-Stars aren’t even following their own rules. Make sense? HAHAHA, of course not.
Some early observations:
- Someone wants Robert! And Robert wants her! After struggling to get anyone to accept his overtures last week, Robert finally has success with Taylor Sieve — who, when it comes to choreography, isn’t so much a sieve as a steel trap. (I’m so sorry.) Girl’s not messing around. Robert marches down the line of All-Stars like a kid on his birthday when nobody challenges him for Taylor, but I don’t think anyone would dare to at this point. Cyrus sums it up: “I don’t know if I’m happier for her or you.”
- Robert fills his team with two more dancers, Jonathan and Jennifer, but I’m pretty sure his heart already belongs to another.
- Chaz, the tapper who is 29 and thus ancient, doesn’t get to keep going in the competition, and at this point, I hope his going-away present was, like, prunes. We get it! He’s so old!
- Of the flexing duo Klassic and Havoc, only Havoc gets to stay in the game, landing a place on Cyrus’ team after dancing for his life.
- Cyrus also gets a dancer who just nods when Cyrus calls him exceptional. I want his confidence.
- I’ve missed Marko’s voice.
- Allison’s vibe when she asks people to be on her team is “I’m your new mother.”
- Jenna’s vibe is “You mean tonight boo boo? Club wise?“
- Robert’s vibe is “Ryan Seacrest dragging out an American Idol reveal for a full two hours.” Jensen, you’re… not going home! (Jensen does eventually go home after the team choreography round, meaning the Arnold dynasty will have to wait another year.)
- The ballroom drama continues with Vasily: Gaby has already told him he’s going home when Paul decides he just can’t let that happen and invites the ballroom boy to join his team. The normally sunny Gaby shoots eye-daggers at Paul for making her play the bad cop for no reason. (Like Jensen, Vasily eventually goes home after the group round. Vindication for Gaby.)
- A Fonzie impression may be the only thing Cat Deeley shouldn’t do.
- Animator Dustin Payne and contemporary dancer Matthew Deloch both go home.
- Kevin Davis Jr. is awfully cute in the ballroom round. He looks like he’s having fun. His fellow junior, Kyle Bennett Jr., also gets a lot of the judges hyped, and I’m not really sure why.
- Alexis, who escaped from a John Hughes movie, finally finds a team with Jenna. For a night.
- I’m obsessed with the way some bored director made all of the All-Stars sit in directors’ chairs while their dancers posed around them like ducklings, but casually. Like they all just happened to arrange themselves like that.
And so the teams are set. Cat hits the little ducklings with some good news and some bad news: They’re almost done for the day, except for the fact that they have to stay up all night choreographing group routines with their new teams. Harsh, Cat. But to be fair, that’s exactly the kind of mind game I play with myself when I have to stay up past midnight.
We breeze through this round, mostly ignoring the teams that aren’t affected by obvious drama. Paul’s team goes down hard because two of them are married (bye, Vasily), but at least we get to appreciate Sydney’s gold glasses. Allison’s team nails it (she cries!), but, predictably, she decides to send home her one non-contemporary dancer, krumper Kevin Davis Jr. Sure, she was always going to end up with a contemporary dancer in the end, but judging Kevin against three people trained in Allison’s style, especially when they’re dancing in that style, seems unfair.
Jenna agrees. In a bold move that she obviously didn’t totally think through, Jenna exclaims, “I can’t let Kevin go!” It’s a real rom-com moment. She steals him for her team, and then it hits her: “I have to lose two people now.” Jenna stares into the abyss. Her own team, who hasn’t performed yet, catches wind from outside the theater. In a twist, I adore their dance — it’s the most I’ve ever liked Alexis — but two of them still have to go. Jenna sends Alexis and J.J. home. No pressure, Kevin.
Was that dramatic enough for you? It definitely wasn’t dramatic enough for Sonya Tayeh, but that’s fine; we’ll see her next week. Finally.
PARTING THOUGHT: Travis says he’s “not really interested in building robots today,” but if he were, I would pay Westworld-level money for them.