You know how certain episodes of So You Think You Can Dance drag on and on? How you find yourself getting bored, because maybe the judges are filling an unnecessary two-hour time slot with inane chatter? How maybe there’s one too many segments about Nigel’s love for dance, or maybe we see just a leeeeeeetle too much behind the scenes antics and you’re like, wait, what show am I watching again? Why isn’t anyone dancing? Well, that was certainly not the case on this week’s episode, no sir. This week, SYTYCD managed to squeeze in one awesome group routine, seven partner numbers, two stunning mini-group routines, six emotional solos and a double elimination – plus, dance crew Academy of Villains performed and we learned everyone’s All-Star partner for the upcoming week. Phew! Let’s start things off with a Stacey Tookey group routine, shall we? I am pretty sure this Greek mythology-themed piece is about Ricky being touched by the Gods or something, which feels heavy-handed, even for this show. But oh well, he’s amazing, so who cares?
After that lovely routine, it’s hard to get right down to business, but Cat Deeley must carry on. This week, we have a bottom six and four dancers will go home at the end of the night. Next week, the top 10 will perform for the first time with their SYTYCD All-Stars and while that’s exciting, this cut is pretty brutal. Last week, I predicted that Emily, Teddy, Casey and Jessica would be in the bottom. I wasn’t sure beyond that. Turns out, I was right. Our bottom six are Emily, Jessica, Carly, Serge, Casey and Teddy. I cannot help but feel bad for Jessica again. I feel like she’s been stuck with random partners every week and never had the chance to grow. She’s also gotten some lame routines (I’m looking at you, magic carpet dance). I hope she can pull through this week, so we get the chance to see her shine like she did in auditions. Other than that…well, yeah, the group makes sense. The whole lot of them are good, but they haven’t stood out enough. It could really be anyone’s game.
Our first pairing of the night is a couple who are both guaranteed a spot in our top 10, Bridget and Emilio. They’re performing a jazz routine about the devil coming down to Earth to take souls or something. They look kind of silly, if you ask me. I think the whole thing is supposed to be dark, but it’s not, really. It’s still entertaining, though. The judges seem to favor Emilio’s performance and guest judge Christina Applegate mentions that he was really feeling it, not just performing it. Next up are Tanisha and Rudy, dancing a contemporary number from Mandy Moore. I swear to God, only Mandy Moore would unironically choreograph a dance about love and seduction to Celine Dion’s “Seduce Me.” Mandy Moore: making all your weepy late 1990s/early 2000s power ballads come back to haunt you. I’ve said in the past that it’s hard for me to take Rudy seriously as a romantic/sexual equal of Tanisha’s, but he does a better job of it this week. You can feel the connection. It helps that Tanisha could seduce a sack of potatoes. Plus there’s this part, where Rudy just holds her up one-handed? It gives him triple manliness bonus points. Level up, Rudy. You’re a real boy now.
Following that, we have Jacque and Zack, or as I like to call them, Zacque. Zack was the last name to be called into the top 10 earlier, and I almost had about twelve heart attacks over it, so I feel pretty relieved now that I know he’s safe. I just like Zack a lot, okay? Tonight, Zacque are literally blowing your mind with the most cracked out Jean Marc Genereux number yet. Is it a paso doble to Rob Zombie’s “Dragula”? Why yes, it is! They’re dressed like extras on Penny Dreadful and it’s weird and kind of cool, but mostly weird. Super weird. Go home, Jean Marc. You’re drunk. Next is a disappointing Broadway routine from Teddy and Emily. There’s not much you can say about it, really. It’s obviously a difficult routine and they do it well at first, but as the judges note, it quickly falls apart. There’s no emotional connection and they don’t have the technique down. Unless their solos really blow us all away, they’re toast.
But hey, speaking of blowing us away? This thing happens next. It’s the perfect (and long overdue) pairing of Jessica and Casey. Like Teddy and Emily, these two are in the bottom six and could go home tonight. But unlike Teddy and Emily, they get a spectacular Travis Wall routine and shine like the f*cking sun dancing it. I mean honestly, it’s just perfect. Gorgeous. This is what it means to feel a dance. The piece, which is about the zing you get when you’re falling in love, really does send a zing out to all of us. Plus, wind machine! Really though, it’s lovely and the two of them have great chemistry. It’s a bummer that, whether they stay or go, they won’t be partnered anymore.
The next routine, from Serge and Carly, pretty much seals everyone’s fate. Jessica and Casey will be safe and we will lose Teddy, Emily, Serge and Carly. This performance, a quick step routine from Jean Marc is difficult and interesting enough – it’s not to Pantera or anything, though. But the quick step is rough to learn and sort of difficult to connect to. The judges commend their performance, but they don’t seem to be very enthusiastic about it. Finally the last pairing of the night is Ricky and Valerie. They’re performing a hip hop routine from Pharside and Phoenix of Academy of Villains and God, I love their work. This dance is sick. Just sick. It’s easily the most impressive of the night and while Ricky is basically a legend at this point, can we talk about Valerie for a moment? That leg-wave thing she does, in slow motion, during a perfect side-split? WHAT IS THAT EVEN. I made my roommate climb out of bed to come in my room and watch it. It was INSANE. Valerie haters to the left, please.
As I mentioned, in addition to solos from all six dancers in the bottom, we’re also treated to two wonderful mini-group routines. Mandy Moore, still working your favorite black eyeliner playlist, gives the girls a gorgeous number to Evanescence’s “My Immortal.” All seven of the girls kill this powerful routine, but Carly really stands out to me as its emotional center. Next, Travis Wall gives the boys a ridiculous, Emmy-worthy number to Beck’s “Wave.” I know Travis Wall is like, the golden child of SYTYCD and hearing everyone gush over him so often can get old. But honestly? The way he creates feeling and movement with dance, the way these guys become an actual ocean, I just cannot even cope with how talented he is. As Christina Applegate said (more than once), “Travis Wall, shut your face.”
Unfortunately, we still have to send home four dancers. I won’t beat around the bush: my gut feeling was correct. Carly, Teddy, Emily and Serge are going home. Jessica and Casey will join the others for All-Star performances next week. And just which All-Stars will be returning? Well, Cat Deeley was kind enough to give us the full list.
Bridget – Brandon Bryant (season 5 runner-up)
Casey – Kathryn McCormick (season 6)
Emilio – Jasmine Harper (season 10 runner-up)
Jacque – Chehon Wespi-Tschopp (season 9 winner)
Jessica – tWitch (season 4 runner-up)
Ricky – Lauren Froderman (season 7 winner)
Rudy – Jenna Johnson (season 10)
Tanisha – Ryan Di Lello (season 6)
Valerie – Ade Obayomi (season 5)
Zack – Amy Yakima (season 10 winner)
What do you think? Are you excited about the All-Stars returning? Do you agree with the top 10 finalists? Let me know what you think!