So You Think You Can Gobble: 8.10, “Week Three: Top 16 Performance”

Better late than never, right? Real life did it’s best to keep this week’s recap from happening, but you just can’t keep a good dance geek down.


One of the joys of this series each week is seeing what the ever-adorable hostess with the mostest Cat Deeley will be wearing. This week she’s apparently auditioning for a part in the new season of BOARDWALK EMPIRE, with her sparkly silver flapper dress and wavy bob cut. So cute!

She introduces us to this week’s panel of judges. Executive Producer Nigel Lythgoe and ballroom diva Mary Murphy are there as usual, joined by King of Krump Lil’ C, and the latest guest judge, the pixieish Kristin Chenoweth. As with Megan Mullally, I like KC but I’m not sure what to expect from her as a dance judge. I shouldn’t have doubted her, but also like Megan Mullally she turns out to be pretty damned good at this gig. She’s a little more of a pollyanna than her predecessor, even making a joke about not wanting to be the Paula Abdul of the show but not having anything negative to say.

Tonight we get two group numbers, with the Top 16 dancers split into two groups of eight. First up, a Tyce Diorio joint pairing the dancers with a bunch of chairs, which they slide, flip, and throw at each other. I have a soft spot in my heart for prop dances, and I confess that the choreography with the chairs here is impressive. But the wardrobe and makeup makes it near impossible to identify the individual dancers. This group includes Ryan, Sasha, Clarice, Miranda, Marko, Tadd, Chris, and Mitchell. But for the most part I can’t tell who is doing what, which could be part of the intent, part of the story of the piece, but I’m just not sure. The music is “Hit the Road Jack” by Ray Charles, and seems to be a boys vs. girls kind of thing, with the girls coming out on top (a recurring theme for the night.) But overall I’m just kind of meh for this one. I give it higher marks for the complex and impressive use of props, but dock it some for being less than inspired in terms of story and style. And because it’s by Tyce.



Sasha & Alexander
Style: Contemporary
Choreographer: Dee Caspary
Music: “Belong” by Cary Brothers
This time around our pre-dance clips include the dancers talking about their childhoods and first dance experiences. Sasha was a tomboy, and her first dance was as a frog in Thumbelina. Traumatic enough to make her hate frogs now. Alexander, on the other hand got to be a lion in a tribute to THE LION KING. No word on if there was any trauma involved for him. This week we get Sasha as some kind of memory for her partner, something we’ve seen at least once, possibly more in earlier routines this season. But the way the dancers move with, around, over and through the piano centerpiece of the routine is really quite exquisite.



Caitlynn & Mitchell
Style: Samba
Choreographer: Jean-Marc Genereux
Music: “Put It In A Love Song” by Alicia Keys feat. Beyonce
Caitlynn was also a tomboy, it seems, though her mother always had her in dresses and bows. Mitchell was a ham as a child, but didn’t actually start dancing till he was 16, when he performed as Leroy in a production of FAME. The samba routine is pretty good, with Mitchell in particular seeming to pick up the technique, with strong arms and great lifts. For some reason Nigel dubs him the Chris Rock of SYTYCD. I’m not sure that means what he thinks it means.



Miranda & Robert
Style: Broadway
Choreographer: Tyce Diorio
Music: “It Don’t Mean A Thing (If It Ain’t Got That Swing)” from Sophisticated Ladies (1981 Soundtrack)
Miranda was really “opinionated” (read: annoying?) as a child, and she started as a tapper. Robert liked being a character, particularly Michael Jackson. The story of the piece they’re dancing tonight has Miranda as a high-class call girl and Robert is the guy that can’t get enough of her. Or so we’re told. During the routine both dancers perform the choreography well enough, but the story is pretty vague as it’s “told” through the movements. If we hadn’t been given the details prior to the dance I’d have no idea who these characters are. Also Miranda is given an awful dress to wear. Low point of the wardrobe department so far tonight.



Melanie & Marko
Style: Lyrical hip hop
Choreographers: NappyTabs
Music: “I Got You” by Leona Lewis
Melanie’s first dance number growing up was a strange Lil’ Bo Peep ballet/tap fusion number. Marko was a spoiled brat, but dance taught him discipline. The story of the routine tonight is Marko has been left at the alter and Melanie is his best friend that lifts him up and helps him get through the pain, and they learn that they were meant for each other all along. An already emotionally moving concept, raised to perfection by the two dancers. Marko begins the number sitting on the edge of the stage in genuine tears. When Melanie comes and helps him up the tempo picks up as well, and the two of them move in synch flawlessly. She gets more than one opportunity to actually catch him as he falls. And though it may make me a sucker, I completely fell for it when he slides across the stage at the end and gives her a passionate kiss. And the judges fell for it too, as Nigel interrupts Mary’s critique by planting a huge kiss on her, Kristin kisses Lil’ C, and Nigel comes over and follows up by ALSO kissing Lil’ C. All while Cat is on stage looking horrified. Nigel says they are the couple to beat at this stage in the competition and I completely agree.



Ashley & Chris
Style: Jazz
Choreographer: Sonya Tayeh
Music: “Lights Go Down (District 78 Remix)” by Telepathe
Ashley says she was really, really shy as a kid. Chris has six siblings and his first performance wasn’t dance, it was a poetry recital. I’m excited because this will be a Sonya piece, apparently inspired by things like BEETLEJUICE, which is awesome. The dancers are half-zombie, half-human (I guess), and the makeup and costumes are pretty freaking cool. Unfortunately this is one of the very rare Sonya routines I don’t particularly care for. The choreography is decent if uninspiring, and the song is just way too passive and forgettable for one of her numbers. This is a case of the dancers not being served by the choreographer, which pains me to say about Sonya. But there it is.



Clarice & Jess
Style: Foxtrot
Choreographer: Jean-Marc Genereux
Music: “Fly Me To The Moon” by Frank Sinatra
Clarice was obsessed with performing all the time. Her first dance was at two and a half. Jess was also obsessed with performance, and worked hard to learn choreography, but his first performance all he did was wave at his mom in the audience. Jean-Marc tonight gives them a foxtrot, and Jess gets to be a lounge singer — a bit that he seems born to play — while Clarice dances for him. They both to wonderfully with the individual choreography, but unfortunately when the come together it becomes obvious they’re just not well paired with each other. Jess is an amazing dancer, but he can’t quite pull off the lifts required for a routine like this, particularly with a girl as tall as Clarice. Kristin says this is her favorite performance of the night and goes so far as to cite Gene Kelly! Really?!? That seems a tad hyperbolic, but whatever.



Ryan & Ricky
Style: Contemporary
Choreographer: Sonya Tayeh
Music: “With Every Heartbeat (Acoustic)” by Robyn
Ryan first danced as Shirley Temple. In a bunny outfit. Ricky accidentally started doing his friends choreo during the middle of his first performance. This one redeems Sonya a bit tonight. Another prop routine, this time with a long ribbon of fabric connecting the two dancers together. Reminds me a bit of the Phillip & Jeanine “Love Lockdown” dance from a previous season. This is one of those props that could end disastrously, with one or both of the dancers tripping over the ribbon or becoming entangled mid-leap or something. But both of them pull it off effortlessly. At least the physicality of it. The facial expressions and emotional connection to the dance continues to elude Ryan, in my opinion. Before the dance began she admitted that she’d never been in love, and I think perhaps that lack of experience may have told in her lack of authenticity on stage. I refuse to jump on the vitriolic anti-Ryan bandwagon that is sweeping through the fandom right now, but there’s no denying she is one of the weaker dancers in terms of maturity and soul.



Jordan & Tadd
Style: Hip hop
Choreographers: NappyTabs
Music: “Memories” by David Guetta feat. Kid Cudi
Jordan used to growl at people as a kid. Danced to the Spice Girls in first grade. Tadd was a nerd with a bowl cut who learned martial arts to help him dance. This NappyTabs hip hop piece is about waking up in bed together after an awkward one-night stand. Jordan is embarrassed despite sexing up her dances in weeks past. She feels more comfortable with pillow pets than strange guys in her bed. But nonetheless she dances the HELL out of this number. They both do, actually. Another prop piece, this time with not only a bed, but an assortment of clothes scattered about that they have to dance INTO. Tadd in particular makes pulling ON your pants while dancing around a stage look easy. It was a fun, energetic number and the couple brought a ton of personality to it. Thumbs up indeed, Tadd!



And for some reason the second group number is held for the very end of the night. This time we have a contemporary routine by Dee Caspary featuring some kind of Renaissance cotillion where the women get their partners to drink poisoned wine. The guys vs. girls motif tonight is just a little bit troubling, if you ask me. The dancers are Melanie, Caitlyn, Jordan, Ashley, Alexander, Robert, Ricky, and Jess. The music is “Poison & Wine” by the Civil Wars, which may seem a bit on the nose, but is utterly brilliant. There should be a Civil Wars song on every show!



And that’s that. M & M continue to own this competition in my eyes. What do you think? Who blew your minds, and who just blew? Let us know what you thought with a comment here on the blog, or even better you can e-mail us at

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