This episode could have been in “A” territory if not for the slimy Kim Kardashian shout-out from Nigel during the girls’ elimination. After Carmen Electra’s nonappearance last night, the unnecessary acknowledgement of Kardashian kills whatever momentum the episode had gathered, her coy wave to the camera as genuine as Robin Antin’s Carbonite face. For the 52 minutes that precede it, though, this episode is an emotional showcase of what So You Think You Can Dance does best, celebrating dance and the people that work, sweat, and bleed to bring it to us.
The opening Bollywood number by Nakul Dev Mahajan is a exuberant, brightly-colored party that someone apparently didn’t get invited to, because there are only six men on stage. Where’s Chris? Did he get lost in his costume again? There’s no mention of his absence in the opener during the episode, but after seeing him dance for his life, the conspiracy theorist in me thinks Chris actively withdrew from the group number to work on his solo routine. I don’t know if a dancer is allowed to do that, but if that’s the case, he super-deserves to go home, even if it means dragging Ashley along with him.
This show expects dancers to push themselves beyond their limits (which is why so many end up getting hurt), and Chris has rarely shown himself capable of breaking out of his creepy-hip-hop niche. The Spencer Liff Broadway routine was Chris and Ashley’s sole breakthrough of the competition, and at this point in the competition they need to be breaking through every week. While their fate is still in the judge’s hands, the dancers need to be constantly improving technically (which is why they don’t always love perfect [Iveta L]), and Chris hit a dead end. Ashley was one of my favorites and I’m sad to see her go, but her solo didn’t have Jordan’s flair or Ryan’s emotion.
Yes, Ryan’s emotion.
Maybe it’s my soft spot for Bowie on this show (Wade’s “Fame” tea party last season), but I thought Ryan and Ricky’s goofy zombie fashion show last night was one of the more enjoyable numbers of the evening, and seeing Ryan take the judge’s critiques and apply them each week builds my confidence in her. She’s put the grin away and is letting her body do the smiling for her, and once she and Ricky get that perfect routine, they’ll be able to ride that wave to the top. Fully agree with Travis that Ricky is one of the best contemporary dancers on the show, and his solos are consistently impressive, with tonight’s routine bringing more emotion to intensify the technical feats.
Tadd and Jordan both had solid solos, and Nigel’s advice to Jordan that she needs to show new sides of herself can be applied to her partner as well. Last week’s NappyTabs routine gave Jordan a chance to downplay her sexy dancing with a shy rehearsal interview revealing her prudishness off-stage, now she’s going to have to show that softness in her solos. Tadd’s done a much better job at adjusting to other styles than the rest of this season’s hip-hoppers (he’s the only one left), but his solos are a little one-trick-pony, or maybe 10-hops-on-elbow. He certainly knows how to work a crowd though, and I don’t even know why they were in the bottom, especially because Sasha and Alexander need to dance for their lives so Alexander can get his shit together.
The guest dance company this week is the stunning Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet, and their five-person routine is a flawless display of raw athleticism and emotion. This is what a group routine on this show would look like in a perfect world, but the contestants are still developing dancers. They aren’t at this level yet, but they’re getting damn close. Cedar Lake’s spacing, fullness of movement, the combination of contemporary rise-and-fall with the precision of ballet, it’s amazing to watch, and one of the reasons why SYTYCD is so valuable to the dance community. Where else would millions be exposed to this kind of art? A little boy in Ohio is watching Cedar Lake and the next Kent is created.
Florence and the Machine perform their current single “Cosmic Love,” a song danced last season by Ashley and Ade in a Dean Caspery Contemporary.
I really used to love this song until those goddamn Water For Elephants commercials, when I started associating Florence’s yodeling with the sound of a painful death by stampede. I wish there were some dancers in the background, but she gives a solid performance with only a few vocal hiccups. (Those might just be actual hiccups, I’m not sure what exactly she’s doing while she sings.)
This season is getting increasingly hard to call, although at this point it’s a safe bet that Melanie and Marko will be in the top along with Sasha and Jess. The rest is a mystery, especially after Mitchell and Caitlynn’s surprising Mandy Moore routine last night (really, where the hell did that come from?), but tonight’s elimination is a step in the right direction.
- Travis gives the best advice of the season because he’s been there: “Dance for your life.” Maybe one day you’ll be sitting up here.
- So I give Robin Antin lots of shit, but I applaud SYTYCD for what they’re trying to do with National Dance Day. Maybe it’s that awesome video of Beyonce crashing that junior high “Work My Body” dance, but I like how media is trying to get people a little more active, even if I’m not sure just how many people are getting off their couch for Mary Murphy’s beginner’s salsa. I’m going to try and learn all three. I want to be as hardcore as NappyTabs.
- Can Travis be on panel every week? And choreograph? And dance? How about we just give him a show on FOX every week. Better yet, a weekday morning show where all he does is dance and talk. I wouldn’t mind that one bit.
- Coming soon: Gaga.