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So You Think You Can Dance: "The top 6 compete (again)"

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We are looking at some testy dancers tonight, people.  As commenters pointed out after last week’s trainwreck of a “judges’” “decision,” the upshot of not sending anyone home last week, and promising to send two people home this week, is that the competitors who got the most votes last week got screwed over.  Instead of entering tonight’s performance show with (as Jeff Probst would put it) a one-in-five shot of becoming America’s favorite dancer, they instead have a one-in-three shot of being sent home tomorrow.


So anything could happen this week, and while that is often a recipe for compelling reality TV, it feels disturbingly unfair for a talent competition whose structure privileges technical ability in an abstruse discipline even over the gold standard for television—popularity with viewers.  

For the first time in weeks, we have a full complement of dancers in the opening credits, although Billy is wearing a big ol’ black knee brace.  And it seems as if the judges are trying to outnumber them, adding Toni Redpath to the panel.  Just when it seems that the improvisation is over, though, the drawing of dances for All-Star partnering is missing the part where they draw the All-Star.  Hmm.  But on to the dancing.

Kent: His cha-cha with Anya had plenty of energy, but was there any cha-cha-ing in it?  I wish it had popped a little more with the strong beat of the music. The judges are kind generally, but thank goodness Mia calls him on the faces, which were more egregious than they’ve been since the first few weeks of the competition.  It’s not dance-face that bothers me on Kent—it’s sex-face, and this routine was soaking in it.

Robert:  This is the week Robert gets the gift of the emotional contemporary routine, a going-off-to-war drama with Kathryn.  I didn’t enjoy the choreography, which was unimaginative when it wasn’t distressingly violent.  The only emotion came at the end, after the dancing was over.  The judges have nothing helpful to say, perhaps because the military theme left them afraid of not supporting the troops with their critique.

Adechike: Paired with Courtney for a jazz routine, Adechike continues to impress more and more.  He had terrific energy, drive, and—yes, Mia—style.  There was something off with his and Courtney’s sync, and the camera movements didn’t serve some of the more dynamic moments well, but I didn’t understand the judge’s criticisms, because I thought Adechike embodied everything the dance and music asked of him.  

Jose: Now this was the real gift. A sweet and inventive hip-hop routine with Comfort that played to his personality, and didn’t show him up.  Mia’s off topic here, because the routine had nothing to do with swag, nothing to do with predation or peacocking.  Or maybe it was supposed to, but Jose made it about companionship and puppy love.  I thought it worked better that way, but it could be that I’m just sexed out by Kent’s efforts in that direction.

Lauren: Or maybe this was the gift!  Because the girl-on-girl routine is automatically memorable.  I wish they’d been doing something other than Broadway, because while Lauren and Allyson are a great matched pair, the material felt too trivial for a display of such strength.  Giving the all-girl routine to Tyce is a bit of a waste; imagine what could have happened in jazz or contemporary, or with a more emotional number.

Billy: Imagine the roller-coaster of emotions Billy went through this week.  Yay, I get contemporary.  Oh no, it’s Stacey Tookey.  Yay, I’m dancing with Ade!  Oh no, I play a homeless man in a representation of the class struggle through dance.  I pretty much hated everything about this except for the unison section in the middle…and Billy’s extension (but that was offset by the horrific flailing).  Boo to everyone who gave that one a standing ovation, and boo to Nigel for inquiring solicitously after Billy’s injury after accusing him of malingering last week.  

Jose & Kent: Speaking of pulling a groin, the two play movers competing to pick up girls in Spencer Liff’s Broadway routine.  Another trifle, but more fun than Lauren and Allyson’s trifle because they didn’t play it as if there was that much at stake.  I liked the laid-back vibe, and once again it worked for Jose’s inability to go, ahem, balls-out.  Nigel can’t stop himself from letting the producers’ intention to send him home this week.  America, don’t listen!  Just vote for Kent like you always do!

Adechike & Lauren: A mesmerizing foxtrot with a hushed air.  The big lift and fall toward the end was a stunner.  The judges are tough on it from a ballroom standpoint, and Mia believes Adechike was disconnected, but I guess I was too busy watching Lauren being beautiful.

Billy & Robert: If it was a real Bollywood battle, I’d give the part to Robert by a hair.  His gestures were bigger, and his size was an advantage; Billy looked a bit too contained and controlled by comparison.  Great fun to watch, but it still doesn’t replace the lamented lost Alex Bollywood performance (sniff).

My predictions: Well, Jose is on the bottom, of course.  And thinking just in terms of the connections the audience has made with the performers, I wouldn’t be surprised if Billy and Adechike join him.  

Then in the last 30 seconds, Cat drops a bombshell: Lauren is being attended to by the medic.  I guess she had to explain why Lauren wasn’t on stage for the closing credits, but really?  What if people don’t vote for her because they think she’s on her way out anyway?!  The live show trotted out some real clunkers tonight, and this might have been the worst one of all.

Stray observations:

  • Judging from where she was holding the microphone, Cat appeared to be waiting for a response from Robert’s exposed chest during the judges’ critique after his contemporary number.
  • It’s Dance Tips You Can’t Actually Use from Mia Michaels: “Be the catalyst of your movement.”
  • It’s Dance Tips You Can’t Actually Use from Tyce Diorio: “Become the instruments, become the music!”
  • You can’t say “balls-out dancing” on live network television during the family hour?  I must be watching too much cable, because I didn’t even notice Adam’s slip-up until he got all flustered over it.
  • Jose is a wise tortoise, Lauren is the only girl, Billy is a nutjob that Robert loves, Kent is oblivious, Robert has arrogant sideburns, Adechike is a magician.
  • Also Robert is a big cheesy hamburger and Billy is a big cheesy slice of pizza.  The cheese is mostly on the judges' side of the table, though.
  • Nigel offers a solution to the mystery of Jose’s absence from the results show group numbers, and maybe to the minimal-dancing performances too: He’s been working around a groin injury.  Do you buy it?
  • What Adam Thinks Is Great: Watching two great lady dancers dancing together.
  • Nigel Lythgoe is back producing American Idol next season, which explains why he slipped up and referred to the wrong show during his critique of Lauren’s Broadway number.  There are rumors he might wipe the judging panel clean and start fresh.  Dare we hope?

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