Two new group dances are added to the docket as we lose two more dancers to America's vote.

By Jodi Walker
Updated July 24, 2014 at 07:30 AM EDT
Credit: Fox
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As our Dancing Queen of Screams said tonight, “there’s a time to cry, a time to laugh, a time to sing, and sometimes, there’s a time to scream.” In the best So You Think You Can Dance episodes, there’s an opportunity for all four, and if you’ve got a little room at the end, maybe some time to worship at the Contemporary shrine of Travis Wall and Sonya Tayeh. Two baby group numbers to cap the episode? Sure!

Without a results show, announcing the six at-risk dancers upfront and letting them do their partner routine before the judges make their final decision is kind of the best scenario we could hope for. But with no dance-for-your-life-dance-for-the-air-you-breathe solos, the last few cuts have felt a little sudden, even at the end of the show. And though we still can’t do anything to affect the judges’ final decision (or, apparently, complain enough to just get the solos back), these additional closing group numbers could be very helpful in knowing just how annoyed to be with Nigel.

Of course, we still have to stuff all Top 16 dancers onstage for the opening number, and this week, choreographer Mandy Moore made her triumphant return with an upbeat Contemporary routine. I had almost forgotten they existed! Correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t even think it was about a love lost, or a love forgotten, or a toxic love, or—it might have just straight up been about water. (Okay, maybe a love of water.) If Duchess of Disco Dream Dresses, Cat Deeley is to be believed, “Baptism has never been so cool.” Wait, no—no, I shan’t be endorsing that.

I also can’t endorse whatever that violet and brown color palette was, but otherwise, the fluid and flying routine, set to Annie Lennox’s “Take Me To The River” was an excellent use of the 16 talents left on stage. There was something very elemental about it, both in its use of wind and water, and that I kept imagining these dancers might have done this routine with their studios and crews back home, only now, they’re better dancers than they were a month ago.

But this isn’t So You Think You Can Improve at Dance, and even the good dancers must go at some point. So with a sad lilt in her voice, and a mock turtleneck silver sparkle dress adorning her lithe frame, Cat revealed this week’s Bottom 6: Bridget, Marcquet, Brooklyn, Serge, Tanisha, and Zack. So, half expected and half “Oh no you didn’t, America.” Let’s see who can save themselves with the power of DANCE…

Valerie Rockey and Ricky Ubeda

Style: Bollywood, Choreography by Nakul Dev Mahajan

Song: “Dilliwaali Girlfriend ,” Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani (soundtrack)

I swear, I might be in the minority here, but I like these two together. Yes, Ricky is perfectly-parallel-leaps ahead of Valerie technically, but he challenges her, and in return, she brings a fun-loving spirit to their dances that he might not get with a stylistic equal. These two radiate energy, especially in a non-stop performance like this Bollywood number. Nigel wasn’t sure where they had time to breathe, but perhaps rightly assumed it was during the butt bongos. Misty did tell Valerie that she could have been clearer in her Bollywood hand movements, but Ricky continues to prove he’s the real (fun-size) deal.

NEXT: Can I borrow your Catwoman suit, mine’s at the cleaner…

Bridget Whitman and Emilio Dosal

Style: Contemporary, Choreography by Travis Wall

Song: “The Leaving Song” by Chris Garneau

That was a routine: brilliantly choreographed, staged and directed, beautifully danced, and passionately performed. I’ve (probably unfairly) stayed a little weary of Bridget because I just wasn’t that taken with anything she did during L.A. callbacks, and not that she needs me, but the power she gave in this performance won me right over. And Emilio, goodness—he is proving himself quite versatile; as Nigel observed: He pointed his toes! All the judges agreed that this was a perfect storm of not overshadowing each other and taking the opportunity to show how they’ve grown as dancers and partners in just a few weeks. Or as Misty put it, re: Emilio, “You were popping, and now all of a sudden, you’re doing a ponche.”

Tanisha Belnap and Rudy Abreu

Style: Hip-Hop, Choreography by Dave Scott

Song: “Good Kisser” by Usher

Rudy benefits from toning down his earnestness here, but I think it’s safe to say no one was really keeping too much of an eye on him in that routine. The thing about Tanisha is she would have been just as sexy in that leather catsuit even if it hadn’t been two-thirds mesh. She just knows how to move her body to tell a story, and if that story is that she’s teasing her partner with a fatal kiss, girl is gonna tell it. Mary says that Tanisha was totally in charge, but didn’t overshadow Rudy (that was mostly her fully exposed back), and Nigel said they were tenuous when they needed to be and sharp when they needed to be. **Bang, bang, bang**

Jessica Richens and Marcquet Hill

Style: Foxtrot, Choreography by Dmitry Chaplin

Song: “I Put a Spell on You” by Nina Simone

I will admit that I was turned off from this routine before it even started, when Dmitry described the story as Marcquet being a rich businessman, and Jessica as… nothing. Jessica did add to her character a bit with her quality of movement and playful closing smile, but compared to those that came before it, this routine felt a little hollow. Mary and Nigel both said Marquet seemed outside of his Latin Ballroom comfort zone, but Misty thought he had some beautiful, strong moments in the partnership.

Carly Blaney and Serge Onik

Style: Contemporary, Choreography by Mandy Moore

Song: “Foolish Games” by Jewel

Oof, you had me at “Foolish Games.” Mandy Moore, “you’re always crazy like that.” I loved the slight trope subversion that Serge was teasing Carly along, and the power dynamics of the dance were lovely and subtle. It’s difficult to recall anything past Carly’s gravity-defying final back bend (sans any actual bend), but Nigel rightfully awarded Serge “Most Improved Dancer” of the season, a prize he can hopefully cash in for some votes. We’ve gotten to see a lot of variety from these two dancers, and it’s nice to watch strengths slowly reveal themselves in a pair that weren’t necessarily immediate frontrunners.

NEXT: The judges stand by America (won’t let nobody hurt us)…

Emily James and Teddy Coffey

Style: Salsa, Choreography by Oksana and Jonathan

Song: “Bruk It Down (Soca Remix)” by Mr. Vegas, feat. Alison Hinds

My eyes were playing vertical tennis going between Teddy’s feet and brows, with frequent detours to Hipsville. Salsa—who knew?! That guy is proving himself able to dance just about anything, but with an injury for Emily earlier in the day and a quickly recovered slip, the salsa just wasn’t this normally-in-sync duo’s routine. Mary noted that this was particularly tough choreography, and there were a few missed (and choppy) exchanges, but Nigel thought they did “a fabulous job,” all things considered.

Jacque LeWarne and Zack Everhart, Jr.

Style: Jazz, Choreography by Sonya Tayeh

Song: “Back to Black” by Beyonce, feat. Andre 3000

I found myself with Nigel here, really appreciating the proficiency of Jacque and Zack’s dancing, but not really culling any emotion from it. Perhaps that’s because the routine was, by design, only about sex, or as Jacque put it in rehearsal, “just that one moment for one night.” They’re not here for a long time, they’re just here for a good time, and during that time, everyone continues to be more and more impressed with this slightly odd pairing. As a fellow ballerina, Misty did “pick on” Jacque for her feet, causing Nigel to ask Misty if she thought she was harder on the girls. She says the guys are just on a different level than the girls this season. Hmm.

Brooklyn Fullmer and Casey Askew

Style: Hip-Hop, Choreography by Will “Willdabeast” Adams

Song: “Hustle Hard Remix” by Ace Hood, feat. Rick Ross and Lil Wayne

Yoooo—a Hip-Hop routine with real, live Hip-Hop moves! Willdabeast, you scoundrel. I’ve been really interested to see Brooklyn in a Hip-Hop number… even though she’s ballroom, she just kind of has that vibe about her, doesn’t she? And while Brooklyn and Casey definitely tried their hardest, Nigel said, they were both still doing more dancing than feeling. He said Brooklyn gave a damn good attempt, and Mary said she brought it up a notch this week, but…

…it wasn’t enough. After an awesome bit of controlled Contemporary chaos choreographed by Sonya to Bjork’s “So Broken,” and Travis’ power-hungry whirlwind of a routine to “Love Runs Out” by One Republic, Marcquet and Brooklyn went out as they came… together. And boy, those are two mature teenagers—they handled their time to go with grace and gratitude.

I asked last week if you had any favorites, and after this week my frontrunners have revealed themselves to me like Cat appearing stage right when you swore she was just in the audience… have yours? Oh, and hey, don’t forget that National Dance Day is this Saturday! We don’t just watch this show for Mary’s luscious locks or the errant awful audition. We watch because dance is art in motion, and it’s important. So, go on out and bust out a Dance Day routine; or that Bollywood step Nakul Dev Mahajan taught after his dance is pretty fun… mentioning for a friend.

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So You Think You Can Dance

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