Okay, I’m just going to stop calling favorites this season, because this is the second week in a row where my endorsement of a dancer has resulted in a horrific, competition-ending injury for them. I never knew I had this power, you guys, and frankly, I’m frightened.
It was almost as rough to watch Ashley go home tonight as it was to say goodbye to Alex last week. Though her injury will only put her out for three to five weeks, as opposed to Alex’s possibly career-ending Achilles tear, she was clearly really, really beat up about her rotten luck, and I think the fact that we didn’t see her in the audience last night or tonight until the last few moments indicates that she’s clearly not ready to deal with this heartbreak on camera. And I can understand that completely: Just like Alex before her, she was on an upswing in the competition, coming off of a great NappyTab routine that showed she was capable of stretching beyond her contemporary wheelhouse. Hey, it just occurred to me that maybe NappyTab is the curse here, not me!
In that case, let’s hope Billy doesn’t draw them next week. Then again, perhaps he’s been inoculated against disaster, having to leave the show last season. Donna characterized Billy’s routines last night as sort of trifling and beneath his abilities, which I agree with to an extent; but I also thought they showed a much-needed fun side to Billy. Apparently America still has something against this kid though, as he ended up in the bottom three. Nigel’s assessment that he’s becoming a one-trick pony with his solo was accurate, but I think also a little dismissive of what an awesome trick that pony does. Billy is growing, as we saw last night (and I believe we’ve been seeing all season), but when he starts out at such a high skill level, the growth is less perceptible than it is with, oh, let’s say Jose.
It’s like dieting: The first few pounds come off like nothing, but then you hit that wall where you have to struggle to take off even a single pound. Jose started off really, really out of shape (figuratively speaking, of course), so his perceived “growth” at the beginning of the season seemed huge. But it was water weight; now he’s stuck on the treadmill, doing headspin after headspin but not getting anywhere. Whereas Billy came into the competition in nearly peak form, so it’s harder to see the inches he’s been slowly shedding. Or gaining. Or whatever. Analogies are hard.
Luckily, America doesn’t need my crappy analogies to see that Jose’s heart will only get him so far; that laughable Broadway routine last night spelled it out quite plainly. Top that off with that wildly overpraised breakdance “battle,” where he was so outmatched by Dominic that he seemed like his student. Thank God Mia had the ladyballs to suggest, however gently and roundabout, that maybe he just didn’t have the strength to keep up with his much-better partner. That popped that big old heart-shaped balloon Jose’s been floating through this competition on, landing him straight in the bottom three. I’m sure that if Ashley hadn’t had to leave by default, the judges would have pounced on the chance to send him home. It’s too late in the game for this tomfoolery; I will not stand for another Evan situation, sending good dancers home because the teenage girls of America love a boy with dimples.
So while it was very sad to see Ashley go ahead of her time, there are hints of a sea change as we move into the back half of the competition. I feel like even the judges were more on their game last night, though I still don’t understand what the hell Mia was talking about with that “duck in heat” stuff. Maybe she, like me, was a little addled after watching Mark’s thighs shimmy around for two minutes. Hummina. Lauren who? (Just kidding, I think Lauren solidified her spot in the top three this week, and not just because she’s the only girl left.)
And hey, there was some kick-ass dancing tonight too! Results shows are generally a little filler-heavy, but with the exception of that weird pre-teen jive number, I really enjoyed all of tonight’s performances. The opening number proves my point that Tyce can only choreograph Broadway for large groups, but when he does, it’s usually great. (And he knew enough to put Jose waaaaaay over in the corner for the entire thing.) Comfort and Twitch’s Dave Scott routine made me nostalgic for the days when good hip-hoppers would compete on SYTYCD. (Say what you will about Comfort when she was on the show as a contestant, but she was always a good hip-hopper, and she's improved mightily since her season.) And what is there to say about the Alvin Ailey dancers? Every time they come on this show, it’s like pro ballplayers going to hang out with Little Leaguers for a charity benefit or something. It’s almost awkward watching them dance so well for a bunch of teenagers holding up fluorescent cardboard signs. And while I could have easily done without Christina Perri—she of the terrible tattoos, nasally voice, and two-week-long career—the chance to see Neil and Allison doing a lovely contemporary number together made it worth sitting through.
We may have lost a couple of favorites, but there are still glimmers of hope: Billy and Lauren show continued excellence. Both Robert and Adechike displayed some serious dark-horse potential this week. America seems to be on to Jose. And Kent… well, Kent’s just Kent. I won’t say he’s a favorite, because he’s a sweet kid and I don’t want to see him break his clavicle or something. Better keep that kid in a padded room until next week.
• The little kid dancers were from Mary Murphy Dance Studio. Who is this Mary Murphy person? Why doesn’t she choreograph for this show?
• I have no idea how we reached the point where Cat was arm-wrestling an 11-year-old, but I’m glad we did. She started out hosting a live kids’ show back in the U.K., you know. Clearly she knows her way around awkward pre-teens.
• “And that person is… going to be revealed after the break!” NOT COOL, CAT!
• Billy’s solo song choice: “Stand By Me.” Very appropriate. Very Aww.
• Cat was super-kissyface with Jose. She loves her b-boys.