Nigel celebrates his birthday by eliminating the first two dancers of the season with some Broadway and baseball flair.
Credit: Fox

For many dancers, performing on Broadway is the ultimate dream. For alums of SYTYCD, besides winning the competition or returning as an All-Star, the Great White Way has been a great way for dancers like Neil Haskell, who reached the top three in season 3, and Thayne Jasperson, Jess LeProtto, and Alex Wong, who all had their time in front of the cameras before sharing the stage together in Newsies, to be able to work and do what they love. However in 10 seasons, no winner has yet to make it to Broadway.

That all will change this season (well, probably) as the singular winner will be offered a role in the upcoming Broadway revival of the classic New York-loving musical On the Town. Just in case you don’t know the classic 1949 film adaptation with Gene Kelly and Frank Sinatra (but since you’re reading this recap, it’s likely you’re interested in dance is already high), tonight’s episode opened with an homage to the Big Apple and Leonard Bernstein from Smash choreographer Joshua Bergasse, who will later become one of the winner’s bosses when they join the cast sometime next year. With ballerina Misty Copeland returning as guest judge and the first elimination of the season, tonight would definitely be informative of what’s to come for the rest of the summer.

Fortunately, the really bad news wasn’t given till the end of the night though Brooklyn, Casey, Jourdan, Nick, Malene, and Serge all had to perform with the anxiety and knowledge of already being in the bottom six. Oh, and did anyone mention that it was Nigel’s birthday, too? (Go Dodgers!)

Tanisha Belknap and Rudy Abreu

Style: Jazz, Choreography by Sonya Tayeh

Music: “You Need” by Bengsons

Only the second week in and Rudy has already found a performance that thematically works perfectly for his mohawk hair style. The grimy and physical performance demonstrated again how great a performer Rudy is, but he was able to share the spotlight a little more this time with his partner. He still seems a little too excited to be there and even though he has a great smile, we came to really see his toes, not his teeth. As he gets more comfortable and less nervous each week, Rudy will always be a highlight. Tanisha was a strong partner in the aggressive game of musical chairs. If she uses some of Rudy’s excess energy, they may be able to to balance each other’s personalities and bodies throughout the competition.

Valerie Rockey and Ricky Ubeda

Style: Contemporary, Choreography by Travis Wall

Music: “Oh Darling” by Gosling

Poor Valerie. First she was told she would have to rise up to Ricky’s level in order to succeed this week. As Nigel noted, both Ricky and Valerie had great partners last week, but that may have just been because Valerie was paired with fellow tapper Zach, and Ricky can just make anyone seem great. That just might make Ricky the best and worst partner on the show; he will elevate your dancer to a higher level but will still always look better than you (He may look even better if he shaved again). Misty told Valerie she could benefit and learn from looking at Ricky. I think that lesson could be applicable to all of America.

Bridget Whitman and Emilio Dosal

Style: Hip-Hop, Choreography by Luther Brown

Music: “Work” by Iggy Azalea

For a contemporary dancer, Bridget should be a little more comfortable with the hip-hop genre. Maybe it was just the editing of the rehearsal footage, but it seems the producers really wanted you to think this dance would take Bridget way out of her element. Though it wasn’t perfect, there were definitely moments where she looked like she knew what she was doing. But with some falling bracelets and overall interesting wardrobe choices for her and her dancing hobbit of a partner Emilio, Bridget also had moments of slight cluelessness.

NEXT: To dance the truth

Jessica Richens and Nick Garcia

Style: West Coast Swing, Choreography by Benji Schwimmer

Music: “Respect” by Aretha Franklin

So, you think dance isn’t supposed to be fun? Did the sound of Jessica’s shoulder cracking in rehearsals answering that question for you? Though Benji implied he wanted the number to be full of energy, the slow and awkward beginning got the piece off to the wrong beat. Jessica’s shoulder didn’t seem to bother her, but her over expressive face was pretty difficult to read. Misty called the piece “entertaining,” which is just a nice was of saying she thought it was only okay. Both dancers had very little experience with the swing style though, which isn’t an excuse, just the truth—something the performance really did lack.

Carly Blaney and Serge Onik

Style: Contemporary, Choreography by Sonya Tayeh

Music: “Latch” by Sam Smith

And suddenly, there was Serge! Even though his strong performance last week got him in the bottom six, Serge shocked the judges with his emotionally powerful and touching piece. Again, not a surprise since he is the oldest competitor this season. Serge’s connection with the equally stunning Carly was a highlight for the unexpected standout pairing. For only the second week, you would think they would have been performing together for years already (or at least a couple of weeks). Luckily Mary was crying too much to scream say anything nonsensical about the piece.

Emily James and Teddy Coffey

Style: Hip-Hop, Choreography by Dave Scott

Music: “Don’t” by Ed Sheeran

When you’re told you need to make out with your partner as part of your rehearsal, you know you’ve picked the right reality show to compete in. Mary didn’t get the leopard print memo or the dance at all really though; she called it entertainment. You know what that means. The flirtatious dance flirted on the border of cheese and fun, but Teddy was getting a little more into it at points than Emily. (Almost everyone slowly started to disconnect from their partners at this point.) Emily was performing too much for the cameras, but she was still performing well so she can’t be completely faulted as she gets adjusted to the added challenges of dancing in this very unique environment.

Malene Ostegaard and Stanley Glover

Style: Broadway, Choreography by Spencer Liff

Music: “I’ve Got Your Number” by Nancy Wilson

Let the metaphors begin! Using telephone props as an homage to 1960s variety shows may have been a good idea, but the judges got pretty bored with it pretty fast (Mary said it went downhill for her after 20 seconds). Nigel thought the pair had got the wrong number (see song title for reference) and had their lines completely crossed and was disappointed in many areas. What’s really disappointing is that Malene looked really good in her costume and appeared to be able to play the part well.

NEXT: “Look like butter or it will be a mess”

Jourdan Epstein and Marcquet Hill

Style: Jazz, Choreography by Sean Cheesman

Music: “Work Work” by Britney Spears

A piece of advice from Nigel Lythgoe; when interrogating a suspect, don’t smile. There was a lot of pressure put on these two to work work their hardest this week for a fast and sharp routine that had to “look like butter or it will be a mess.” It wouldn’t be an episode of SYTYCD without at least one dance/food metaphor. Marcquet has a lot of work to do with his face while performing. At times he looks like he’s holding his breath, if he ever manages to actually look up once in a while. Technically, the dance was strong but the whole cop and robber story line got in the way and in the heads of Jourdan and Marcquet and prevented it from being a real showstopper.

Casey Askew and Brooklyn Fullmer

Style: Argentine Tango, Choreography by Miriam Larici and Leonardo Barrinoneuvo

Music: “Gallo Ciego” from Luis Bravo’s Forever Tango soundtrack

One thing we learned from this routine; Casey’s hair is just as pliable as his body. Though the woman is usually supposed to be the dominant one, Casey outperformed Brooklyn a little bit. Though the amount of tension and control throughout was extraordinary, there felt like there was still something missing to the piece to completely make it pop. It also kind of appeared that Casey and Brooklyn may just be a tad too young and not quite mature enough to handle the emotional tone and quality of the tango, but it was definitely enough to likely save both of them.

Jacque Luong and Zack Everheart

Style: African Jazz, Choreography by Sean Cheesman

Music: “Dibiza (Kick*** Remix)” by Danny Tenaglia

Well, they certainly waited for the most artistic piece to go last. Jacque and Zack were not meant to be pretty in their animalistic performance, coming to life from an abstract painting wearing matching bodysuits. Once you were able to get past the bizarre but visually stunning concept, the rhythmic style of dance worked in favor for the tapper Zack, though he was able to show fuller extensions with his legs and feet than he probably would be able to normally. Like Jourdan, Jacque was able to show she can still compete outside of her ballerina technical box, but certain choices in the style she chose to perform the style (like a moving mouth that bothered Misty) were a reminder that the box still exists.

After all the dancing had been done and the judges deliberated, Malene and Nick were the first dancers to be sent home. With a weak performance tonight, Malene’s beauty couldn’t keep her in the competition any longer and it seem Nick may need just a little more time to grow up and become more comfortable on stage.

Follow Jake Perlman on Twitter @JDPerlman.

Episode Recaps

So You Think You Can Dance

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

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