Here’s some So You Think You Can Dance trivia: in all 10 seasons of the show, not one winner has made it to perform on Broadway. This fact is guaranteed to change this year, when the season 11 winner is promised a role in the upcoming Broadway revival of On The Town. You might not know the musical off the top of your head, but you’ll recognize it when you hear the main Leonard Bernstein song, “New York, New York.” You know, it’s a hell of a town? You know. Anyway, the top 20 dancers celebrate this news with a fantastic opening number to that very song, choreographed by someone’s future boss, Joshua Bergasse – who will also be choreographer for the stage revival. I really enjoyed this opening number (I am a sucker for Broadway musicals) and was especially impressed with the solos from Zack and Emilio.
After all that fun (and a very long plug for Fox’s upcoming broadcast of the MLB All-Star Game) we get started on the night’s big elimination. Renowned ballerina Misty Copeland on as guest judge (spoiler alert – she knows more about technique than Jason Derulo) and everyone gathers around Cat Deeley to hear the bad news. It’s time to announce the bottom six dancers. Before I get to that, though – short rant. It kills me that Fox cannot devote just 30 minutes of its summer primetime schedule for a results show. The performances have never been the same, since they started announcing the bottom dancers before they’re set to dance live. It’s cruel and it’s sort of depressing, already knowing they might be doomed, even as they take the stage again. The show got them four choreography Emmy nominations yesterday, as well as a nod for Outstanding Reality – Competition and Outstanding Reality Host. They might even have more technical Emmy nominations as well; I’m not sure. And Fox cannot even give them a measly 30 minutes? It’s pretty annoying. Sigh. Okay, rant over.
The bottom six are announced without ceremony: Brooklyn, Casey, Jourdan, Nick, Malene and Serge. Ironically, I am most surprised about Malene and Nick, basically the only two I didn’t see coming after last week’s show. The dancers take the news with somber faces, but the show must go on and tonight, the top 20 will be paired up with their new partners. Each contestant draws a name and then a dance style. First up is Tanisha Belnap, who draws Rudy Abreu as her partner. Well, if anything, they’ll be energetic. They choose a jazz routine from Sonya Tayeh and it’s supposed to be “grimy.” Tanisha is a much more mature
person dancer than Rudy, but they do well together. Also, I think if you measured Tanisha’s legs while split, from toe to toe, it would be about 57 feet.
Next we have Valerie Rockey, who has the good (and somewhat bad) fortune of choosing Ricky Ubeda as her partner. The good news is, he’ll probably always do well and has the potential to teach her a lot. The bad news is, she will always be the one trying to get to his level. They choose a Travis Wall contemporary number and while tapper Valerie is obviously new to this and not nearly up to Ricky’s ability, I think she does well. The judges are very complimentary.
Next up is Bridget Whitman, who draws Emilio Dosal as her partner. In some stroke of luck for Emilio, they choose a hip hop routine from Luther Brown. I love Luther Brown’s choreography, because he does that sort of old school, booty popping hip hop. None of this smooth nonsense. I want my hip hop drrrty with three Rs and no I, people! Bridget is a little out of her element, but she looks pretty sexy, I have to admit. Emilio kills it, of course. After that, Jessica Richens and Nick Garcia are paired up, which is kind of funny since Nick is currently in the bottom, and Jessica is a clear fan favorite. They’re teamed up with second-season winner Benji Schwimmer, whom I ADORE, and honestly I am so excited that Benji is back that I barely notice how poorly they do. But then I watch it again and…man, this is bad. West Coast swing is very challenging, but they also kind of suck at it? It’s supposed to be a fast-paced number, but they’re off beat and awkward. Nick looks terrified and Jessica looks like a six-year-old contestant on Toddlers and Tiaras. Both of them get slammed by the judges. Luckily, we can cleanse our palate with Serge Onik and Carly Blaney. Their routine – a Sonya Tayeh contemporary piece – is emotional and raw and completely stunning. After this, there’s no way Serge is going home. Mary Murphy can’t even talk, she’s crying too much. I think I will finally remember who Carly is.
Emily James, who I still do not remember at all, is paired up with Teddy Coffey for a Dave Scott hip hop routine. What’s with all the hip hoppers pulling their own style again? FIXED. The performance is alright, but I think that’s mostly because the choreography is just alright. It’s kind of flirty and fun, but mostly corny – Dave Scott’s fault there, not the dancers. Emily holds her own, though Teddy is obviously more comfortable with the moves. Side note: have you noticed that Mary Murphy doesn’t even remotely make sense anymore? She’s like the LFO of dance critique – she just says a stream of nonsensical words that don’t even connect. She’s like, “WOW, that much I was lift partner SO HAPPY you don’t are HOT TAMALE machine CHOO CHOO arabesque FANTASTIC.” It’s kind of alarming. I keep thinking she’s having a stroke on television. I assume she’s just drunk, though.
Anyway! Things sort of go downhill from there. One of the contestants in the bottom, Malene Østergaard, pairs up with Stanley Glover for a Broadway number. I will just come out and say it: the choreography is not good. First of all, I hate props and this routine has damn phones with cords and it’s really dumb. Also, there’s no energy. It’s just really boring. That, topped with the fact that Stanley and Malene have zero chemistry and, well, this number is not a winner. The judges pan it and I have to agree. Poor Malene. I think she’s wonderful in her style, but things aren’t looking good.
The next routine to bore the crap out of me comes from Marcquet Hill and Jourdan Epstein. The Sean Cheesman jazz number gets a little too story-heavy. It’s a sexy interrogation? I don’t totally get it. I am pretty sure they simulate sex at the end, though. It’s not poorly performed, but it’s lacking the chemistry and energy I think the story needed. Or something? Next we have Casey Askew and Brooklyn Fullmer, who are both in the bottom. They’re doing a tango and um, I have a confession to make: I hate the tango. It’s just…meh? That being said, they do a decent job. I think you can make some allowances, considering how serious the tango can be and how they’re both nervous as hell about going home.
Here’s a question for you: what happens when a tapper and a ballerina attempt to tackle African jazz? MAGIC, APPARENTLY. The last pairing, Jacque LeWarne and Zack Everhart, team up for a very animalistic Sean Cheesman piece and damn, they’re pretty great. I love it – I love African dance in general, but the artistry of this piece is so interesting. Jacque probably earns her spot in the top 18 (sorry, Malene) and Zack actually kind of kills it. I said it before and I’ll say it again: Zack is the dark horse, guys.
Finally, it’s time for eliminations. As expected, Malene is sent home, and they’re pretty harsh about it. Nigel is basically like, “Being hot won’t get you any farther than this, buh-bye!” Ouch. From the guys, it’s Nick who’s saying goodbye. Poor kid. He really mucked it up this week. He looks crushed, but not as devastated as Rudy, who is seen sobbing as the credits roll. Next week, I suppose Jessica and Stanley will be paired up, which should work out much better for both of them.