Contestants compete in Las Vegas, with hospital visits galore!

By Breia Brissey
June 09, 2011 at 02:20 PM EDT
Adam Rose/Fox
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So You Think You Can Dance season 8 hopefuls convened in Sin City to dance it out for a chance to make it to the top 20. It was a pretty jam-packed episode with one week of dancing, 160 contestants, seven judges, and two trips to the hospital, which, of course, was all edited down to two hours. So it was really one of those episodes where everything happened and nothing happened all at the same time. We got to see a few new dancers, but most of Vegas week was given the montage treatment. Harumph! I’m ready to get to the live shows, but I’d rather they spend two episodes on Vegas week instead of giving us another two-hour episode that just introduces us to the top 20. (Set your DVRs for tonight!) But if they won’t listen to viewers about those horrendous cut-aways to the judges while people dance, then why would they heed my advice now? Okay, grievance aired. Back to the recapping.

Nigel Lythgoe gathered his posse of judges which included Robin Antin, Adam Shankman, Debbie Allen, Tasty Hydrox Tyce DiOrio, and  Mary Murphy. The week started off with solos, where each dancer had another chance to prove why they’d made it to Vegas in the first place. From there, they moved on to five rounds of choreography: hip hop, Broadway, ballroom, a group round, and contemporary. After all that choreography, the remaining dancers performed one more solo. If they survived that, they were sent to a celebration room where I supposed they’ll stay until tomorrow night when the top 20 is revealed.

Iveta Lukosiute started off the solos with a hot little routine set to “When You’re Good to Mama” from Chicago. Apparently Nigel had not been so good to Iveta, sending her home twice before during Vegas week. This time Iveta came dressed as a police woman hoping to teach Nigel a lesson. It worked. She sailed through the solo round and was seen celebrating in the swanky party room at the end of the episode.

We also got to see b-boy Wadi Jones (who later had the first injury/cramp of the night) and sister favorites Sasha and Natalia Mallory. This was just the beginning of a very Sasha/Natalia-centric episode. I really love these two, and even I was getting a little tired of the sister Mallory story that was front and center for the majority of the episode. But at least they proved why they deserved to be in Vegas with their joint dance. Not everyone could say the same. Marion Pelayo showed “bravery and courage” by wearing a unitard that no other human being would consider wearing in public. He had to say goodbye when the only impression he left was that of a really distracting outfit. Also sent packing was Danielle Ihle. By the end of the solo round the judges had narrowed the competition to 114 dancers.

The remaining contestants took on a Napoleon and Tabitha hip-hop routine. I thought they sped through this round, which I found kind of ironic since they were dancing to “Look At Me Now.” It’s hard to look when everything is montage-ing by so fast. We did get to see Chyna “badass and buck” Smith. And I won’t even sugarcoat it. She sucked during the NappyTab number. But this just goes to show that when you’re cute and have a over-the-top personality you can triumph over anything (on reality TV)! The judges gave Chyna and eight other dancers a second chance after the round. There she prevailed, and I scrunched up my nose because I’m not a fan. Especially considering the fact that several other early favorites got cut. We lost Hero McRae (noooo!!!), Patty Anne Miller, Mary Kate Sheehan, Kristen Dobson, and Princess Lockeroo. After all it was all said and done, 19 more dancers were gone.

NEXT: What rhymes with “You”? But Adam Shankman cheered me up when he said this gem: “What rhymes with you? Through!” So clever. Natalia, the youngest Mallory sister, also made it through this round. It was then that I determined part of the reason she got so much camera time during Vegas week. Didn’t you see her rocking that Gleek T-shirt? Those who are successful at network cross promotion shall inherit the earth. At least I think that’s how that goes.

Day two began with Tyce’s Broadway choreography. The ladies had to get their sexy on as they portrayed a character who was “100 percent trash in a good way.” I didn’t even know that was a thing, but it made for a good soundbite. Jason Gilkison joined the judges (filling in for recent knee surgery victim, Adam) to lend his expertise. My favorite portion of this round was more screen time for Virgil “Lil O” Gadson. He and his partner, Jessica Watanabi, were singled out as two of the competition’s shortest contestants. They also happened to be extremely adorable. I want Lil O to go places. Specifically the top 20. We were then introduced to two Vegas veterans, Rebecca Hart and Jeremiah Hughes. Rebecca had been to Vegas four times, and unfortunately for her, the fifth time wasn’t a charm. Jeremiah, on the other hand, was the last to make it through the round. Fourteen more dancers were eliminated.

The dancers picked up the pace and channeled their inner Elvis with a jive choreographed by Jason Gilkison. The fast footwork began to take its toll on the girls’ feet. One of my favorite moments of the night was Cat Deeley getting close and personal with Ryan Ramirez‘s feet! It was pretty disgusting. And a round in Vegas would not be complete without a Mallory sister moment. Natalia is not the tiniest girl, as we have been frequently reminded. The lifts during the jive proved to be a little too difficult for her partner. My heart sank when I was sure she’d be eliminated for the poor performance. Fortunately, the judges gave her another chance with a new, stronger partner. Natalia’s second go was a lot better, and she made it through. Also on the chopping block was Alexis Mason, famed sister of season 5 winner, Jeanine. Alexis managed to save herself with a solo, but it was pretty uninspiring. I think Tyce said it best when he said she had no flair. She’s a great dancer, but doesn’t excite me. And there’s certainly not enough there to pick up the phone and vote for her. And with that, we were down to 39 guys and 35 girls.

Up next was the group rounds. I was surprised at how well it went. Typically, there’s at least one group that doesn’t work well together and it all comes crashing down on stage. But that wasn’t the case. Only seven dancers were sent home during this round. The only real drama was for…wait for it…Natalia Mallory’s group. First she got sick and was unable to rehearse with the group. Then, DC Chapman got frustrated with the choreography and spent some time venting to a cameraman in the bathroom. But the medic eventually cleared Natalia, and DC got over himself and the whole group made it through.

NEXT: One More Solo

We interrupt this episode of SYTYCD to have a montage of everyone in their bathing suits! Now back to regularly scheduled programming. Travis Wall was there for the final round of contemporary choreography. I’m going to take a page out of Robert Taylor Jr.‘s book and say “Wooooo!!” I love Travis Wall and his choreography. He was assisted by season 7’s Robert Roldon and season 3’s Jaimie Goodwin. But before we could get too far into the dancing, we learned that, yes, Natalia Mallory was sent to the hospital with an unknown illness. Not too long after that, Ryan Ramirez injured her tailbone and was sent to the hospital for X-rays.

My favorite dance of the night was the first performance of Travis’ dance to that instrumental version of Coldplay’s “Yellow.” Sasha Mallory and her partner, Bryce the professor, gave me goosebumps, and it was the only dance I rewatched all night. As it turned out, Natalia was diagnosed with diabetes. She was cleared for dance and given a free pass through the contemporary round. Ryan had deep tissue bruising and swelling in her coccyx. It wasn’t broken so she did the dance anyway, with minimal rehearsal time, and easily wowed the judges. At the end of the final choreography round, 12 more dancers were sent home, including Chyna Smith, and they were left with 55 hopefuls.

Their final task was to perform one more solo to make one last impression on the judges. Also, Natalia had to give a speech about why she should continue in the competition. Her speech moved Mary (and almost Nigel!) to tears and was convincing enough to keep her around. Off she went to the celebratory penthouse along with her sister, Sasha. Joining them were gunshot victim Marko Germar, Lil O, and my personal favorite, Ginnifer Goodwin lookalike Melanie Moore. Just missing the cut were 24 dancers including Alexis Mason, Kimalee Piadad, Chase Thomas, and Amber Williams. (And I’ll have to eat my words, because I was convinced Amber would make it to the top 20. But making it to the next to last round must count for something, right?)

What did you think of Vegas week? Was your favorite dancer one of the lucky 31 to make it to the party room? Who do you think will end up in the top 20? And keeping with the theme of the night, who is your favorite Mallory sister?

Episode Recaps

Nigel Lythgoe, Mary Murphy, and the viewers at home crown America’s Favorite Dancer.
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