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After last season, which saw one promising dancer eliminated before her time (Janette) and one kept on way past his sell-by date (Evan), I’ve grown a little wary about the SYTYCD voting contingent—a complaint that is completely negated by the fact that I never vote myself. With elimination placed squarely in the public’s hands for the first time tonight, I fretted going in that our tastes would diverge once more. For the most part, though, that wasn’t the case.


The girls are first up tonight, and Ellenore gets an easy pass through, and I breathe a sigh of relief. Ellenore is far and away my favorite girl, and despite two blockbuster performances with Jakob last night—that Sonya routine rightly got more attention, but they also pulled off the quickstep, you guys—I worried that her quirkiness wouldn’t connect with the voters. I similarly feared for Ashleigh, though I expect to see her go soon enough, because she seems so much older than her teenaged peers (shades of Melisser, in both appearance and attitude). Perhaps this is because I for some reason imagine the voters to comprise mostly catty high-school girls—a completely ill-formed and probably inaccurate perception, I'll freely admit.

Then again, I suspect that is precisely the voting bloc that put Mollee in the safe zone tonight, though she admittedly improved greatly when paired with Russell last night. But it didn’t save her BFF Noelle—who is the same age as Mollee yet never gets called out for her youth—from the bottom two, along with Kathryn. While I was shocked and dismayed to see my No. 2 girl as a low vote-getter, did anyone suspect for a moment she would go home over Noelle? Not with Mary comparing her to Cyd Charisse and Ginger Rogers, she's not. Poor Noelle, despite having a great disposition and being paired with audience fave Russell for most of the competition, never quite rebounded from her first-week absence. She did everything that was asked of her, to use a favorite phrase of the jidges, but never managed to establish an identity for herself. It’s tempting to say it’s too bad, because she’s a great dancer… but all the remaining girls have proven themselves great dancers, and there’s really no clear-cut loser in terms of talent. While I’m sure many of us would have been just as happy to see Mollee head home tonight, Noelle’s departure was inevitable, and therefore doesn’t really sting too much.

Things seem a lot more delineated on the guys’ side. Jakob aint going anywhere any time soon, and Russell and Legacy each have good storylines and devoted followings keeping them safe. Meanwhile, Nathan has struggled and failed to rebound from his early “I’m a spoiled brat who likes to ride Jet-Skis!” persona, and Ryan’s cheese factor is starting to get a little moldy. (Ugh, I’m sorry.) Seeing Ryan reprise his solo tonight only reinforced how icky it was, despite whatever technical merit may have redeemed it. Perhaps it’s because he seems to be using all of the self-tanner his wife has apparently stopped using, but Ryan comes across older and skeevier each week. Nathan rightly went home tonight—that calculated crying last night was the last straw—but unless there is a distinct sea change, Ryan should be following him out the door next week.


In between all that, it was filler, filler, filler, as expected of an elimination show at this point in the competition. Though a lot of that filler was pretty entertaining, in a calculated, Fox-reality-programming kind of way. An intricate hip-hop routine to a string quartet version of Coldplay’s “Yellow” by something called “The League Of Extraordinary Dancers”? Neat! Snoop Dogg halfheartedly repping his new album in the background while the Qwest dance crew—featuring three SYTYCD alums!—dance in the foreground? Hey, I didn’t hate it! Dominic—excuse me, D-trix—from season three presiding over an embarrassing display of mom-dancing in a Kmart parking lot? Mmmm, trainwreck-y!

Everyone in the bottom four also danced their solos again, a part of the show’s format that I absolutely hate. Nathan gets major props for actually bringing a different solo than the one he performed last night (too little, too late, buddy). If the whole point of dancing a solo on elimination night is for the contestants to go out with a bang, should they go out, it seems advisable to do something new. All of these people have been performing and auditioning for a long time—presumably they have some other routines stored up to choose from, no? No? Okay, fine, rock us like a hurricane again, Ryan.

Stray observations:

• I don’t know if it was the Tasty choreography or the camera work, but the opening Broadway routine to Billy Joel’s “It’s Still Rock And Roll To Me” felt really chaotic and disjointed. And the styling made it look like all the guys had one big Groucho eyebrow and one normal one.


• The stress of hosting SYTYCD America and prepping for SYTYCD UK seems to be getting to our lovely Cat… she seems to have put her undergarments on on top of her dress tonight.

• Also, not to rag on Cat, whom I still love like an imaginary sister, but does she seem a little less friendly with the contestants this go around? She hasn’t called them her babies once!

• Don’t forget to watch for The League Of Extraordinary Dancers in their “online dance adventure,” starting in 2010! Ooof.