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Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

So You Think You Can Dance: "Top 6 Perform"

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Top six performance is probably the most important episode of the entire competition. It's the last performance before the finale, and often times dancers that have excelled weekly are sent home simply because they can't rise to the competition. The result for the final two girls has been inevitable from early on, and this week more or less solidifies Caitlynn's exit tomorrow night, likely joined by Ricky. Last week was a shocker for me, but Tadd lucked out by NOT GETTING A WAACKING ROUTINE and Melanie as his partner. Between routines with the All-Stars and fellow competitors, the dancers also perform solos, making this another episode loaded with content and not much filler. Even the little parental check-ins aren’t too grating, although “Mom from Guam” may be running its course as a storyline. A confused Christina Applegate joins Mary and Nigel on the panel, apparently having forgotten who half the contestants are, and fellow guest Lil’ C sits to her left to throw out verbose tongue twisters and suffer the occasional emotional breakdown. It’s nice to have the panel back from the A-list.

Last week, Lady Gaga came out at the front of the anti-prop/NappyTab movement, and the Melanie/Twitch hip-hop at the start of the episode had the choreographers dressing the set with spooky trees and putting a basket in Melanie’s hands. Thankfully, they ditch the trees and the basket early, but it seems like a cheap way to block off half of the stage so they don’t have as big a space to fill with their movement. The judges love the routine, but after multiple viewings I still think it’s a snooze. Twitch’s big bad wolf gobbles Melanie up, emphasizing how softly she hits the moves in comparison, and while Melanie sells it with her face, it doesn’t have the rough rawness that hip-hop needs. As fifth judge Genevieve Koski says, “I’d rather see Sasha dance it.” Melanie brings the house down with her solo, though, and I wish she had brought that strength to her hip-hop routine. It is seriously amazing. She’s never had to dance for her life (and she probably won’t have to), but Melanie’s solo are truly breathtaking pieces of art.

The best props this episode were set dressing, and Tasty Oreo starts the trend off by throwing a wall in the middle of the stage for Sasha and Kent to jump around on. Sasha is magnificent in this routine, showing off her special mix of emotional maturity and raw athleticism, and it’s a wise decision to have her dance with a younger All-Star. Sasha is actually a few years older than Kent, and she outshines him in this routine, no matter how many crazy flippy things Tyce gives him to do. The wall is a challenge but not an obstacle, and its physical presence on the stage helps them solidify the emotional wall their characters have built between each other. The dance brings Lil’ C to tears, and shows how this season has become a tense race between Melanie and Sasha for first place.

A bad prop takes focus away from the dancers, like Ricky’s pointless sticks in his Dee Caspery contemporary with Jaimie, and Sonya’s jazz number for Tadd and Ellenore needs to move away from the chandelier and get some actual dancing in. That’s not to say it isn’t used beautifully, especially Tadd’s crazy rotations while flying around the chair, but they are stuck on that chair together for so long the tension that fuels the routine dissipates.

Christina Applegate throws out a Donna McKechnie reference after Melanie and Tadd’s Spencer Liff Broadway routine, and Liff uses the mirror in the same way as A Chorus Line choreographers Michael Bennett and Bob Avian. The mirror is a dancer’s best friend and worst enemy, revealing every flaw and capturing each victory, and in this routine it shows Melanie’s character a truth about her lover that she is afraid to face. The mirror doesn’t lie, although Tadd’s conniving choreographer does.

It was Ryan’s main crutch, and it continues to wreak havoc on the competitors this season: the face. Caitlynn has been criticized for her forced sexy face, but she gets the chance to use it during her Dmitri Chaplin Samba with Pasha. While the routine starts off strong, there’s a sudden dip in the energy during the second half of the performance. It’s danced well, with tight samba rolls and really fast whatever-those-knee-things-are-called (someone help me out there, they say it like four times), but it goes on a bit too long, and the dancers aren’t able to sustain the sensuality.


The judges want Caitlynn to relax her face and let her body do the work, and she gets the chance during her Sonya jazz with Marko. I never viewed Caitlynn as the super sexy contestant, she looks too much like Kelly Clarkson to me, and when she completely lets go during this routine she is able to show off the talent that has gotten her this far in the competition. There’s the standard Sonya poses and flexed feet, but Marko and Caitlynn capture the emotion of the dance, earning them a standing ovation. Caitlynn knows she is going home tomorrow, you can see it in her face when she’s just standing next to Cat, but she is showing her gratitude for getting this far with her dance.

Last but not least: waacking. Princess Lockeroo introduced it to us during auditions, and this week Kumari Sulaj choreographs a waacking routine that reminds me of when my older sister used to copy In Living Color fly girls in our living room. It’s a fun, cheeky routine that is deceptively difficult, requiring incredible upper body strength and control, but Ricky and Sasha are spot-on with each other, even if they don’t hit the waacks as hard as Lockeroo. And let’s not get into how many times “waack” is said this episode (or I maybe I will in about 50 words).


Tomorrow night we find out who is going home along with the requisite filler and guest performances that are sometimes not filler. Donna is on vacation so I’ll be joining you again. I know, I’ll miss her too.

Stray Observations:

  • Cat Fashion: Did she get caught in some kind of beaded net somewhere between the shower and the stage? Wearing a full body snood and rocking the same hairstyle as Christina Applegate, Cat still looks gorgeous.
  • Holy god, Mary, put those away. I do not want to sit through two hours terrified of seeing your nipples.
  • This episode had a lot more sex talk than usual, most of the time through unintentional double entendres, so let’s start with Cat: “Nail-biting climax.”
  • “You put a finger against a wall and you break my heart. That’s dance.”
  • Tyce is a sore winner. Sit your ass down.
  • Very nice to see Janette back for that paso doble with Marko. She’s so spicy.
  • The power of the man comes from his crotch. Janette can dig into her Hispanic roots and pull it out for him.
  • Christina wants Marko to go a little deeper.
  • Ricky has a hole in his pants during his solo, and he spreads his legs a lot when he dances.
  • Mary and Nigel recreate Ellenore’s leg convulsions to wave her off stage. Awesome.
  • Those sticks were absolutely horrible. Bad, Dee Caspery! Bad!
  • “What a magically magnificent puppeteer of physically rhythmic artistry you are.”
  • Tadd solos are all the same: old-school latin song, bounce on one arm for a long time, twist your legs in and out a lot, look sexy. It gets old.
  • “Waacking is not a game.” “Was the waackin’ slackin a little bit?” “I’m no waacking specialist over here.” “I didn’t think the waacking was lacking anything.” “Waacked it harder.”
  • Kumari is looking tacky as hell in the audience.
  • “That’s not really how women want to be described, as beefy beasts, but we’ll take it!”
  • In glorious black and white:

Some extra awesome: A.V. Club is giving away tickets to the So You Think You Can Dance tour, because we love you so much.