Let me first state for the record that Season 6 has officially gone straight off the rails. First they offer an unworkable plan to have America choose one winner from six dancers next week. This is insane. The vote will be split between -- well, everybody -- and anybody could win just by racking up the tiniest of margins. There's a distinct possibility that my beloved Jakob -- or as Shankman insists on calling him at every opportunity, "the best dancer I've ever seen, or did I already mention that?" -- won't win because of this six-way trainwreck. Did the producers not see this coming when they drew up the schedule and decided to start the season on September 9? Or did they get to the start of November and realize, "Crap, we'll have to end this on December 15 in order to dodge the Christmas specials. Ah, what the hell, five measly weeks of America voting sounds just about right."
And then for the last pre-finale elimination, Ashleigh can't dance but has to be trotted on stage any way to beg for America's votes (not to mention goad her husband into crocodile tears on her behalf) ... for what? The whole voting process becomes a transparent sham if you're being encouraged to vote for someone's non-performance. With six spots in the finale, I would have just given her one and made everyone else compete for the remaining five spots. If it was a top three or four, that would be different, but with six, they could afford to give one away; it doesn't appreciably alter the odds for the other dancers.
And one other thing: Remixes. Wha? First, most of the remixes didn't even sound remixed. Second, the ones that did (District 78 ruins "People Are Strange," Samantha Ronson throws in annoying stutters on "Easy Street") were horrible. Why, oh why were these remixes touted as a special feature?
Alright, enough bitching. Here are my notes about the dancing last night, and my predictions for the bottom two girls and guys.
Kathryn and Ryan
It's always a good sign when disco either kicks off or closes the performance show. But in both "Last Dance" and the cha-cha, I barely noticed Ryan, because Kathryn was just incandescent. She's far and away the best of the girls, glowing in the disco number, sizzling in the cha-cha; she even had the best solo of the night, doing inventive moves rather than the standard-issue contemporary reach-out-with-your-hands, flex-your-feet stuff, and seeming all but weightless.
You'd think Ryan would score high in both these numbers because of his flamboyant style, but for me he just almost disappeared. (It didn't help that he was hiding under a fedora during the cha-cha.) Interesting discussion among the judges about whether your arms should be straight and stiff during those big disco gestures, but what I appreciate mostly is that Nigel is trying to give the audience some help rather than just going on and on about fabulousness.
Mollee and Jakob
"Lucky Mollee, getting to dance with Jakob!" was my first thought last night. "Unlucky Mollee, getting the Viennese waltz!" was my second. But what a lovely and lyrical one! I don't think this was the best lyrical dance this season, but I do think that Mollee was put to her greatest advantage in these two numbers. Jakob always looks so great in side-by-side work because his compact stature matches perfectly with his partner and because his timing is impeccable. I liked the way the choreographer snuck in a jump for him, too. (And wasn't it interesting that Nigel revealed, perhaps inadvertently, that he has not liked the "stealth screen" that is the stage backdrop until now?)
I disagreed with the judges about the Broadway number. Aside from the horrific remix, I thought it took a long time to get started; not until the quick costume change did it catch fire. Nobody's vote is going to be swayed by it, unfortunately. And Jakob, what was with the subdued solo? Are you trying to redefine yourself as moody instead of awesome? What with the so-so Broadway showing, that unexpectedly floor-bound solo, and the bedamned six-way finale, I'm concerned for The Best Dancer I've Ever Seen.
Ellenore and Legacy
"Lucky kids, getting a Travis Wall contemporary routine!" was my first thought last night. But despite the praise heaped on it by head cheerleader Shankman and his pom-pom waving buddies, I found the Mr. & Mrs. Smith bit a smidge out of control, and more than a smidge weird. There were some great moves, like that simultaneous over-and-under the table (nice that we got to see it from the audience angle in the replay after seeing it from behind in the performance). But it just wasn't the emotion that I wanted to see these two play. Combine that with a Truly Truly Awful NapTab hip-hop number (awful music, truly awful costumes, and I'm so done with NapTab's squishy marshmallow version of hip-hop), and I think Ellenore and Legacy just vaunted themselves squarely into the middle of the pack.
Legacy did not help himself with that solo, even though Genevieve thought he pulled off the phone thing. (I did laugh when he deadpanned "America" to Cat's question of who was on the line.) The solo looked exactly like his auditions weeks ago: No transitions, just vamping circular steps while he geared up for his next trick. And here we thought he'd learned something. If the contemporary routine had given us a relatable emotion, something with some yearning and traction like his breakout contemporary number in the round of 18, Legacy could have made himself into a contender. Now I'm afraid he's dragged Ellenore down with him.
Russell and ... ?
It's probably better for Russell that Ashleigh didn't dance these two numbers with him. I tend to get distracted by watching how the person out of their element does the movement and I don't watch the seasoned pro. This is one of the first hip-hop numbers I've liked these year because it wasn't the fuzzy NapTab version. Russell got to show off his quickness in both the Shane Sparks and the Bollywood routines, and especially in the latter, I was smiling right along with him. It looked like he had been bouncing into Bollywood all his life. It was fast, high-energy, constant movement, and of course, that palpable joy. Plus we got to hear Nigel intone, in all seriousness, "Shane, I remember when you first did 'Too Much Boot-tee In The Pahhhnts ... I really enjoyed watching her shake that boot-tee."
During the commercial break before Russell's solo, I was creeped out by the flasher trenchcoat he had on, but the Santa suit reveal made sense of it. Unfortunately, I don't think he managed to turn losing his shoe 10 seconds from the end into something positive. Just leave the shoe, dude, and keep dancing.
Based on what I saw last night, Ashleigh and Ellenore will be the bottom two girls, and Ryan and Legacy will be the bottom two guys. I think the smoochy married couple should go, but I'll only be truly disappointed if Ellenore (or heaven forfend, Kathryn) ends up falling short of the finale.
Now on with the show! I think you can predict by the order in which the boys are standing what will happen. Russell is saved first, leaving Legacy, Jakob, and Ryan (what is with the comb-forward, dude? Uncool). Obviously Legacy is in danger so it can come down to Jakob and Ryan, and Jakob can be saved. So far my predictions are spot on. It's the girls' turn, and if my order hypothesis holds true, I'll be four for four. Cat relieves me of my greatest anxiety by sending Kathryn to safety immediately. Ellenore's up next and sure enough, bottom two. Either Mollee or Ashleigh could go with her, honestly; it's difficult to know how the wildcard of Ashleigh's non-performance will affect the voting. Turns out that the sympathy vote, well, turned out. Mollee or Ellenore is going home, and since I floated the Ashleigh-free-pass plan above, I can't really argue with that.
Your results? Ellenore and Ryan get the nod, Mollee and Legacy are going home. Stay tuned for the news that Ashleigh's shoulder is more injured than we thought, and Mollee has to step into her dancin' shoes.
- Based on her outfit, Cat will be attending a University of Michigan sorority formal later this evening. And she has accessorized with a big ol' gray battery pack for her microphone! Bold choice, Cat!
- Arresting contemporary routine by Sonya to start the show. It doesn't seem possible that they revamped it for three girls and four guys, so was it Ashleigh-free from the beginning? Or am I shortchanging everyone's ability to adapt on the fly?
- Tighten it up, Shankman. It's only an hour show.
- Korean girls lipsyncing. It's why you came to So You Think You Can Dance.
- Ladies and gentleman, the Kris Allen band featuring Chuck Klosterman on drums!
- Cat said "vitt-amins." Awww, I love it when they do that! Now say "ad-ver-tissment"!