So You Think You Can Dance: 7/16, Top 10, Recap

This week, the couples get broken up, and each dancer does a solo.

Jessica comes out, looking like Jessica Rabbit, to announce that she has two broken ribs and can’t continue competing. She’s happy as a clam, and why not? She was obviously going to get kicked off tonight, and now she gets to avoid national humiliation AND go on tour. Win-win, Jessica Rabbit.

Couple #1: Courtney & Joshua

Style 1: Hip-hop

The rehearsal footage is scary; Courtney doesn’t even know what popping is. Cute concept: she’s playing the Bride of Frankenstein with her hair froed out to there. Joshua is embarrassingly good, and Courtney is surprisingly not-embarrassing. Lil C is impressed with her; Mary, not so much. For her, Joshua stole the show. Nigel liked Courtney’s character, but thought her dancing wasn’t up to snuff.

Style 2: Rumba

Song: Hero, by Enrique Iglesias

Courtney looks a zillion times better in this number, and they look constantly on the brink of making out. After coming down from a spectacular lift, Courtney’s eyes are unfocused with pleasure.

Lil C calls out the hands for particular praise. He says usually when you have new partners, you don’t want to touch each other, but they had a “sensual innocence.” Off stage, Lil c says, Joshua is timid, and onstage he’s manly and passionate. He says Courtney was great–his one note is that when the lifts are coming, he can see it on her face, and it should be a surprise. “You were stroking the floor, Joshua, like a paintbrush!” Mary says. She points out that most dancers fear the rumba because they’re worried about falling off balance, but these two avoided that, and added lovely subtleties. Nigel says that Joshua is a man who can still use his hips, and he even says he wished Joshua would have dropped his butch demeanor for a moment and shown Courtney a little warmth. He’s pleased that Joshua kept his shirt on and Joshua, sounding genuinely petulant, says Will and Twitch are always naked on stage. “Wait ’till y’all see the rest of it,” he says of his own torso. As if his dancing weren’t enough, that tease should be sufficient to make America pick up the phone.

Couple #2: Kherington & Mark

Style 1: Two-step

Song: Kick Back, by Ty England

For the first time on this show, I’m watching Mark. He looks hot. Should I move to Texas or something? Why am I so enraptured by his little cowboy outfit? What a strange dance; I can’t figure out if Kherington’s spotting incorrectly or if that’s the way it’s supposed to look. They look really uncomfortable and awkward.

Lil C fears they attacked it from the wrong direction. “Justifiable presentation” is his final verdict. Mary points out that the arm-connections, tunneling, and spins are tough as hell in this genre. She wasn’t impressed with Kherington’s limp arms. “I’m gonna give you kudos,” she tells Mark, and he looks shocked to hear the praise. Nigel says it was obvious that the two of them didn’t have faith in each other. “You can’t just let go in the middle of turns,” he tells Kherington. He praises them, though, for not giving up. “This is the first time I’ve seen either of you totally out of sorts with your partner and with the routine,” Nigel says.

Style 2: Jazz

Song: Cold Heat, by Jamiroquai

No story here; the style is the focus. There’s a disco theme in the lighting and the mood of the piece, which is unfortunate. That style shouldn’t be on the show, and I’m not sure why we’re highlighting it when we don’t have to. There’s something off about this pairing. Mark and Kherington are strong individually, but as a couple they don’t mesh.

Lil C loved the turns, wasn’t crazy about the lifts. It looked like Mark was asking Kherington, “Are you ready to come down?” Such a perceptive remark. Mary says there’s nothing to criticize, really, but she’s not jumping out of her seat. She didn’t feel anything. She’s happy, but she wants to be fired up. Nigel likens it to a driving test. He could have checked all the boxes: pirouettes, check, pointed toes, check, synchronicity, check–but there was no heart, no passion. They added nothing to Tyce’s choreography.

After the break, heart and passion for DAYS.

Couple #3: Comfort & Twitch

Style 1: Smooth waltz

Song: Open Arms, by Journey

We get some rehearsal footage of Comfort & Twitch practically vomiting at the idea of playing a lovey-dovey couple. Comfort goes so far as to convulse in disgust on camera.

It’s okay, it’s okay, and they’re gorgeous together, but it looks like amateur hour.

Lil C says they have to put aside the “gumbo of emotion.” The steps, he says, didn’t look like they were floating. He praises Comfort for being more graceful than he’s ever seen her on the show, but says in the end it was just “respectable.” Mary says, “It’s just lacking so much power at this point.” The rise and fall was choppy and clunky, she says. Nigel says there’s no way this is a Top 10-quality routine. People just tuning in would be perplexed to see this dance at this stage in the competition. In a generous mood, he says he was crossing his fingers, hoping the lift would go off, and when it did it was majestic. “Another hurdle you’ve gotten over,” he says, that’s all it was.

Style 2: Hip-hop

Song: Forever, by Chris Brown

They’re supremely confident in the rehearsal footage, and they look delighted on stage. Of all the routines this season, this could be the most crisply in synch–and not in a mechanical way. They’re really dancing, as you dance when you’re happy.

“Buck is when internal artistry meets physical expression,” says Lil C. He thinks that was Comfort’s best hip-hop routine yet. “I THINK IT WAS BUCK TOO!” says Mary. “That doesn’t sound right coming out of my mouth whatsoever.” She praises Comfort for stepping up to the plate, and stands up to genuflect to Twitch. Nigel says, “One of the best compliments you can pay a choreographer is to say it didn’t look choreographed.” It looks, he says, like they were just dancing for the joy of it. Nigel says Comfort never fulfilled the promise he made when he said she’s the best hip-hop dancer they’ve had on the show–until tonight.

Couple #4: Katee & Will

Style 1: Broadway

Song: Sit Down, You’re Rocking the Boat, from Guys & Dolls

Wow, could this couple be any stronger?

Katee’s playing a ditzy ho; Will’s playing a buttoned-up guy. There’s a rowboat on the stage, which I’m not sure about. Too much jumping in and out of the boat, not enough dancing. I wonder how Nigel will react to the clearly straight Will’s character, which he’s playing a bit effeminately.

Lil C calls them explosive in their characters and their choreography. Mary’s excited for the first time tonight. Nigel says that even though they were contained in the small boat, their movements were as big as Tyce wanted them to be. He says these two are, without doubt, the most technically accomplished dancers on the show. Will showed personality and charisma and proved he’s not just a technician, Nigel says, and he gasps at the thought of how close they came to not inviting Katee onto the show. These two are the first couple, he says, who have proved tonight that they deserve to be in the Top 10.

Style 2: Pas de deux

Song: Imagine, as rendered by David Archuleta

You’re not going to believe it, but Will has his shirt off. He’s also wearing what looks like a denim diaper. There’s a very, very jagged turn, but otherwise it’s going beautifully, and there’s a spin ending in a catch that looks physically impossible.

Lil C says he feels nervous critiquing this one. They danced with so much commitment and passion and vigor and fervor, he says, that anyone could grasp the choreography. Mary calls them “two of the most beautiful dancers I have ever seen,” with a catch in her voice. “It got you right here, in the heart,” she says. Nigel says he wants to take time out to mention Desmond Richardson, one the choreographers, whom he calls “one of the greatest modern/ballet/contemporary dancers.” He likens SYTYCD to the Muppet Show, which Nureyev deigned to appear on, saying great artists share dance wherever they can–even in a lowbrow format like SYTYCD, is the implication. “There was one mistake that will live with you forever,” Nigel says, and they know exactly what he’s talking about: that jagged turn. Katee hides her face in her hands, but with the wisdom of a father, Nigel says it’s a good thing there was a flaw, because if they HAD nailed that performance perfectly, they might never have surpassed it, and that would be a burden. What a moving and true thought, and one young people never would have had on their own (I certainly wouldn’t have). “It’s the magical and brilliant Katee and Will,” says Cat to us and the in-studio audience, putting the cherry on the sundae.

Couple #5: Chelsie & Gev

Style 1: Contemporary

Song: These Arms of Mine, by Otis Redding

Their dance is about a couple who’s desperately in love. Chelsie’s personality is the pits, but god can she dance, and her little blue underpants are the number one cutest. Gev is well matched with her, and aside from a few flat barrel rolls, he’s killing it. The choreography is OUTSTANDING.

Lil C, possibly my favorite judge, says Gev and Chelsie were really committed, and he could feel Chelsie yearning for Gev. He praises Gev for flowing, rather than chopping his movements. Mary bought the chemistry and loved Gev’s leaps and Chelsie’s assisted leaps. Nigel, bizarrely, thinks Gev wasn’t completely committed to the passion the routine demanded; was he pining for Courtney, perhaps? “Basically,” he says, he got the routine he could have hoped for.

Style 2: Jive

Song: The House is Rockin, by Brian Setzer

Crisp, sharp, fast, exciting–I can’t type, I’m so into it.

“She outstepped you, Gev,” said Lil C, and tells Chelsie, “You could make a mannequin look good.” Gev’s style was uneven, he says. Mary says it was great, and while it’s a great partnership, this looks like Dancing with the Stars: professional with amateur. She saw a little too much concentration on Gev’s face, but she says he was there for Chelsie as a partner. Nigel calls the routine a crowd-pleaser, and Chelsie outstanding. He saw Gev’s bounce occasionally, but it got staccato at other moments. Overall: great.

Soloist #1: Chelsie

Know what? This is terrible! Terrible, terrible, terrible. All she’s doing is shaking her hips in a green flapper dress to the bizarrely chosen “Pon de Replay,” which bears no relation to her costume or her style.

Soloist #2: Gev

Gev is an incredible entertainer and a truly top-notch choreographer. What will happen, though, if he gets paired with a tall girl?

Soloist #3: Courtney

Courtney’s dancing to Celine Dion, which is a strike against her, and she’s yanking her head around too much.

Soloist #4: Mark

Mark’s dance to “Bohemian Rhapsody” captures some of the wild pleasure of dancing around alone in your room in your underpants when you’re thirteen years old.

Soloist #5: Comfort

Mmmm. Nothing we haven’t seen in her other solos.

Soloist #6: Twitch

Wonderfully entertaining, and he uses the stage better than any of the other contestants, thanks to those long limbs.

Soloist #7: Katee

Gorgeous, emotional, and applauded by Katee’s Asian mum and white dad, who are adorable.

Soloist #8: Will

Technically accomplished, of course, and he’s laying on the emotion thick.

Soloist #9: Kherington

Another mismatch between contemporary and Rhianna.

Soloist #10: Joshua

I’d almost forgotten that Joshua is a hip-hop dancer, but by gum, he’s the best hip-hop dancer in the world. This was, by far, by FAR, the best solo of the night.

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