The group routine that kicks of tonight’s festivities is a Bollywood number by veteran choreographer Nakul Dev Mahajan, set to the song “Kata Kata” from the RAAVAN soundtrack. Bollywood is almost always fun to watch, even when it’s not done particularly well. Fortunately the Top 14 dancers all do particularly well. It’s fast, hyperkinetic, and there are interesting things for every one of them to do. For once I don’t feel like the group number is playing favorites.
As all the dancers sweat and wheeze their exhausted way off the stage, host extraordinaire Cat Deeley reintroduces us to our judges. Two bits of good news tonight: first, Cat has sex-hair again; second, Carmen Electra is MIA (as in not there, not as in she’s secretly the singer MIA… oh nevermind.)
Welcome… to SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE!
The first two couples are brought up on stage to hear the results of last night’s voting frenzy…
Melanie & Marko – Safe
Caitlynn & Mitchell – Safe
Now we get another promo bit for National Dance Day on July 30th. I’m not 100% certain what this really is, as I’m the furthest thing from (a) a dancer, (b) athletic, (c) a joiner or participant in any way. But I think what happens here is you go to fox.com/dance and pick one of the three choreography pieces available. Use the online lessons to learn the dance, and then on National Dance Day go join up with the nearest flash mob and film yourself performing the routine. There might be prizes awarded here for something or other… I’m an awful fan for really having no idea. Sorry.
Ashley & Chris – BOTTOM 3
Clarice & Jess – Safe
Jordan & Tadd – BOTTOM 3
Ryan & Ricky – BOTTOM 3
Sasha & Alexander – Safe
First guest performance tonight is by the Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet, who apparently were the company that did the actual dancing in the film THE ADJUSTMENT BUREAU. And they are pretty amazing. Ballet doesn’t get quite as much play on this series as contemporary and hip hop, but these dancers show what a supremely moving (and versatile) style it can be.
Now it’s time for the dancers that are in danger to come out and dance for their lives with solos in their own styles…
Second guest performance is by the incomparable Florence and the Machine performing “Cosmic Love.” Florence Welch can project like a MOTHERFUCKER! And I guarantee you she’s not lipsynching. Awesome, sparkly performance.
Finally, the judges return from their deliberations. I’m always reluctant to jump on the fan backlash bandwagon that wants to badmouth everything the judges say. One of my favorite aspects of this series is how much Nigel and Co. genuinely care about the dancers and how incredibly supportive of them this series is, even after they go home. So much of the critiquing the judges do is actually constructive and helpful and geared towards helping these kids become better at what they’re doing. And most of the contestants go on to have careers in professional companies and troupes, and often return to SYTYCD as choreographers, assistants, or All-Stars. So as a general rule I resist the urge to piss and moan about what Nigel or the other judges have to say.
HOWEVER… tonight Nigel seems especially incoherent in what he chooses to praise, what he criticizes, and how he justifies who stays and who goes. The long and the short of it is he praises Ryan for giving a great performance tonight in her solo (it wasn’t), and tells Ashley that she hasn’t reached her full potential yet… which somehow translates to Ashley going home. What?! Really? Umm… okay. As for the guys, Ricky and Tadd, both of whom I feel are amazingly talented and have done tremendous work with what they’ve been given, get very faint, almost dismissive praise. Chris, on the other hand, is told that he just hasn’t been fulfilling what he’s been asked to do by the choreographers. I completely disagree, and of course he had the best solo performance of the night by a freaking light year. But he’s the guy they choose to cut.
So, leaving this week: Ashley & Chris.
And now I’m officially frustrated with their refusal to split up couples. There’s only one more week of the current partnerships, so they’ve missed their chance to mix up the existing couples before moving into the Top 10 stage, where the dancers are all split anyways and paired with a different All-Star each week. Disappointing. At this moment I’d say that, while Season 8 has given me at least one of my favorite couples of the entire series, as a whole I’m just kind of lukewarm on the season as a whole. So far… I maintain my cockeyed optimism that things will kick into high gear with Week Six. Gimme some Alex Wong, some Twitch, some Mark and/or Kupono, maybe some Jeanine, Janette, Lauren Gottlieb… and for the love of god keep Melanie and Marko.
So chime in, Gobblers. Prove to me I’m not talking to myself here. Do you agree with the cuts made tonight? Do you think Nigel’s bias is showing in his refusal to admit Ryan just isn’t worthy of making it this far? Do you think maybe *I* should be invited on as guest judge one of these weeks? Sound off in the comments here or in an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org