So You Think You Can Dance: Top 16 Perform, Two Eliminated

Oh, my beloved show!  How I’ve missed you!

A red lit stage hosts a writhing armada of dancers dressed in red, with everyone but Jasmine wearing a stiff crimson tunic with even stiffer shoulder pads.   Clearly the queen, Jasmine stands in the center in a pretty, girly frock with a straight neckline and spaghetti straps.  There’s a sort of futuristic fantasy look to it that makes me think of Chinese opera at the same time – the exaggerated shapes, maybe.  Midway through the dancers pull off the strange red clothes to reveal shorts and tanks in a variety of neutral shades, draped and natural and free; Jasmine no longer directs their movements from on high, but dances with them.  Is this the end of monarchy, in time to celebrate the baby prince’s birth?  The music is “New World” The Irrepressibles, and the piece was choreographed by Stacey Tookey and Peter Chu.

The judges panel tonight includes Mary and Nigel and – gulp – adorable Canadian chart topper Carly Rae Jepsen.  Oh dear.  I am going to bite my tongue.  Because he likes to blow his own trumpet (!), Nigel takes the moment to celebrate the 7 Emmy nominations the show received during it’s brief hiatus – for lighting, for reality show host (yay! and with Jeff and Phil not in the running, perhaps my girl has a chance!), for best reality competition, and also four choreography nominations.  Nigel calls them out, but he gets them wrong (awkward): it’s Travis Wall (Where the Light Gets In/Without You/Unchained Melody), Mandy Moore (Power of Love/Wild Horses), NappyTabs (Call of the Wild-Circle of Life/Love Cats/Beautiful People) and instead of Stacey, as Nigel misspoke, Sonya Tayeh (Possibly Maybe/Turning Page/Sail).  Hurrah! I really love some of those routines – Where the Light Gets In, Love Cats, Turning Page, Without You and Circle of Life particularly.  Great stuff.  Nigel doesn’t mention, but All Star Allison Holker is nominated for work she did with Derek Hough on Dancing With The Stars.  Yay, SYT family!

Cat and her happy little hippy shirt (a white tunic with yellow flowers that frankly looks like a beach cover up from the 70s, which she carries off with her usual aplomb) dashes our good mood with the names of the bottom 6:  Jenna, Mackenzie, Mariah, Alan, BluPrint and Curtis

So, okay.  Interesting.  The ballroom curse does not hold true this week; Amy and Hayley have justly escaped the bottom three. Alan and Curtis had routines that didn’t work well, so that makes sense; they’ve each been in the bottom before, so we know they’re not connecting with the audience perfectly either.  (Frankly I don’t understand that with Curtis, because he just seems like such a love; Alan seems like a sweetie too, but we’ve seen a lot less of him so I’m sure that and Jasmine’s ouster are hurting his chances.)  But BluPrint?  He must not be connecting with the audience, because his routine with Mariah was freaking awesome, not to mention in a very popular style.  I genuinely don’t understand why they’re there.  Mariah, too, has been in the bottom before, so this isn’t a great sign.  The judges loved Mackenzie’s routine (even more than the first one which landed her in the bottom three) so she must not be connecting with the audience either.  I’m fascinated that Paul seems to be so much more popular.

Finally, Jenna’s inclusion intrigues me; I disliked her piece last week and for the first time didn’t vote for Team Tuna, but no one seems to be holding that against Tucker.  It seems safe to say both that the judges adore Jenna, and that the public is not as entranced with her as the judges are.  It’s a shame – I think she’s amazing – and I can’t help recalling Witney from last season who got the same sexy, super-star comments and kept ending up in the bottom.  It’s curious to me that Hayley too gets lots of attention for sexiness but experiences no backlash for it at all.  Does it seem like Jenna’s trying to hard?  Is the audience punishing her ambition, or the judges’ pimping?  Do we prefer Hayley’s ambivalence about her sexiness?  It’s all quite curious.

The judges aren’t remotely troubled by any of this nuance, and ask to see everyone dance – everyone except Jenna, that is, who cannot even be questioned.  Okay.  Between Makenzie and Mariah, I really hope that they decide that they can lose another contemporary girl.  Come on!  Mariah’s been great, and we haven’t had a girl krumper ever!  When she starts her solo, however, I am reminded that krump doesn’t always make for the most exciting solos.  It’s better than the first one, but still, eh.  Mackenzie wafts beautifully to “Claire de Lune” which makes me worried for Mariah immediately.  (It’s not that I don’t like Mackenzie.  I do, very much, and I wouldn’t have put her in the bottom.  But between Mackenzie and Mariah, I would saved Mariah.)

Alan gives us a paso doble-inspired routine with a cape which is pretty darn fabulous.  Curtis, too, turns on the charm big time; I just love him and his long lines.  And BluPrint, I’m sorry, he’s just wonderful.  I thought that was one of the best solos we’d ever seen him do.  Do I like it so much because I’m no longer comparing him to Jade?  I don’t know, but I love it.  I’m not sure how they’re going to make this decision at all.

So it’s a good thing we’re getting some more time to decide, right?  In the killer opening spot we have Alexis and Nico  – and, ouch, they’ve got ballroom! It’s a Tony and Melanie jive.  I love Tony and Melanie – I have since I was a kid watching them win ballroom competitions on PBS – and I love that they work hard to challenge the dancers.  It’s more than a little devilish of them, but it’s fun watching the two contestants destroy each other in rehearsal trying to get it right.  Nico actually drops Alexis, who is parallel to the floor, right off his shoulder.  Ouch!  They’re really lucky she didn’t get badly hurt. The choreographers want the duo to work not just on getting the style right, but on their connection, which at this point you’d think would be easier.  And yet it isn’t. “Our connection was great today,” Alexis recites in her deadpan, helium-high voice, “I connected my elbow with his face, and my knee with his groin.”  Ouch.

Oh.  This week we get to learn a little bit about the contestants – what they’ve been keeping secret, Cat teases, which is another way of saying that they’re looking for facts that will add nuance to or change our image of them.  Alexis tells us that she was a world gold medalist in tap.  The Dance Olympics: I would totally watch that.  How can I have 500 channels and not get something like that on one of them?  Seriously.  The first bit of new info on Nico is that he’s half British (too bad he doesn’t have any traces of that accent) and that being British and Colombian means he had no choice but to be thoroughly obsessed with soccer.

At this point it’s probably a cliche to say that Nico and Alexis look fabulous – Nico all in black (with an interesting leather vest) and Alexis in an absolutely spectacular silver dress with a tight bodice, frothy bottom, a thick belt and a bare back. “Mayhem” by Melda Way brings nice zip to the proceedings.  There are some real issues with it, particularly when the dynamics shift.  The bounce in their opening is nice, but more than once even a complete non-dancer like me can see them miss hand holds and connections, the times when Alexis reaches for Nico and he’s just not there.  Mariah and Carlos were far, far better than this.  By the end it doesn’t look fast and crisp like it ought to, and the deliberately slow sections just don’t work.  The passionate ending is – hmm.  I don’t know.  Slightly awkward, am I right?

Nigel gives a Randy Jackson “aiight” style review; it started out good, but became clunky and tired, and the connections were sloppy.  Good, but not great. After telling us how much she loved the routine and Melanie and Tony, Mary praises their retractions and double bounce while admitting the energy did flag.  Really?  No mention of the missed holds?  She praises a fun lift where Alexis twists up to Nico’s neck; usually, the girl rolls downward in lifts.  Right, I can see how going against gravity would be much harder. Are the judges perhaps trying to usher this couple into the bottom (the slot, the genre) without alerting their fans to the danger?  It’s an awfully mild critique, considering. In the first of seven pithy, positive critiques, Carly Rae Jepsen tells us how much fun she had watching Nico’s facial expressions.  I wish we had more of a chance to see that!  Before giving us their numbers, the ever supportive Cat makes sure we know that Alexis is dancing with an injured foot.

What don’t we know about Jenna and Tucker?  Well, Tucker likes to dress up, and his mother likes to dress him up as a mouse.  Also, Jenna has a cupcake baking business with her sister Jill, and that’s her career plan for when she retires from dancing; she’s not looking to teach, she’s looking to open a cupcakery. First, though,  she and Tucker need to conquer a high concept Travis Wall contemporary piece.  Jenna has lost all self control and is a puppet on a string; Tucker helps her find herself, giving her light and strength.  Interesting.  He feels like he can definitely call on the experience of his life threatening car accident to access the necessary emotion.

As Jann Arden’s “Hanging by a Thread” starts, we see just how literally Travis has taken this song.  As astoundingly talented as he is, subtlety is not the boy’s strong suit.  Jenna literally hangs from the ceiling from thick red straps fixed to her wrists and elbows.  They’re dressed in white, with Jenna in a shredded dress to further signify her lost emotional state.  My immediate interpretation of “lost all self control” is a wild hedonism, but Travis clearly means that Jenna has lost the ability to act, to physically control her body -perhaps that she’s in a depression so deep she can’t even try to lift herself out of it. “I’ve lost my soul,” Jann Arden confirms. Tucker tosses Jenna around, manipulating her body, pushing her to move, nudging her with his feet and hands.  They’re not perfect with the props – her foot gets caught during a lift, and her right elbow strap slips down to her wrist, which might throw off the symmetry – but they compensate for this beautifully (he releases the strap seamlessly, so much so that it looks rehearsed – was it?), and their positions in the air are glorious.  When Jenna practically flies across the stage and throws herself at her partner?  Gorgeous. When Jenna stands on Tucker’s shoulders and pulls up on the straps so she can spin on her on in the air?  Wonderful.  In the end, Tucker releases two of the remaining straps and hoists Jenna onto his shoulders; trying twice, she undoes the final strap herself.

When Cat throws the critique to Mary, the ballroom expert is too teary and emotional for a cogent response.  You two have always been excellent, she scrapes out, but I was thinking over the break that you hadn’t had a moment yet.  This is your moment.  Without the customary whistle, she puts them on the hot tamale trail.  Carly notes what a contrast this piece was to their silliness in the videos.  (This poor girl; she doesn’t have the proper expertise to be here, but at least each time she comes up with a coherent sentence and doesn’t merely echo Nigel and Mary.) The lovely nuances of the piece make it obvious why Travis was nominated for the Emmy, Nigel notes.  Indeed.  He loved that Jenna undid the last tie.  And because she is just that helpful, Cat lets us know that today was the first day the two were able to practice with the straps.  Yikes!  She wants us know to, too, that the red lines didn’t help carry Jenna’s weight; it was all Tucker and his guns in the lifts.  Good to know.

Up next are Mariah and BluPrint with a Brian Friedman jazz piece.  Oh, dear.  Brian’s work is super quirky – sometimes much too stylized for me – and we haven’t seen it in some time.  Historically his work doesn’t do very well for his dancers, who are particularly in need of some love from the judges tonight.  Well, speaking of the dancers, we find out that BluPrint is a champion pencil drummer (cool, but that’s really all you could come up with?) and that krumper Mariah was a perky high school cheerleader and loves all things girly.  Any fan of the show already knows that she’s no tough street chick because she’s always crying when other dancers leave, and the first to jump in with a hug or endearment, the love. In Brian’s routine, she’s supposed to embody a Greek goddess falling in love with a mortal man. The routine, she tells us, is super fast and very hard.  Harder and faster than last week? That’s hard to imagine.

At first, we see the two in stark silhouette beneath flowing columns and an archway.   When the lights come back, we can see some really serious costumes; she’s got on a Xena/Wonder Woman type outfit, a beehive and heavy gold over her eyebrows; BluPrint has gold rams horns fitted over his mini side mohawks, gold neck pieces draped over his chest and black straps over his torso.  It’s almost completely wacky and awesome, beside those somewhat ridiculously large gold eyebrows.  The tune is “Fall into the Sky” Zedd and Lucky Date (featuring Ellie Gouldings) and the piece – well, it’s over so fast I feel like I hardly processed it.  They were good, but I didn’t feel the story in it at all, though I can’t tell if that’s the dancers’ fault or the choreographer’s.  I’m leaning heavily toward the choreographer.  Actually, though, there’s a section in the middle where something sexy is supposed to be going on, and it just wasn’t, even with him pressing her up against a pillar and them doing a complicated back bend thrusting thing. Echoing Mariah’s contemporary piece, it ends with her sitting on BluPrint’s shoulders, reaching up as if searching desperately for a way back to Olympus.

Carly thought the ending lift was so striking and powerful it made up for the clunky start.  Was it the start that was tough?  The opening look was great – I didn’t think they got in trouble until the synchronized spins, which weren’t.  Wait, she meant the start of the lift, where BluPrint looked like he was going to drop Mariah.  Because that was definitely awkward.  While lauding the return of contestant-killer Brian Friedman and his unique perspective, Nigel gives us a little history lesson about jazz and hip hop coming from the same place.  (Puh-leeze stay away from racial commentary, Nigel,  I am begging you.)  He thought it was good-ish. Mary praises the synchronized sections (hmmm) and the start; she super-enjoyed about 3/4ths of it.  Was it hard, Cat wonders, knowing you’re in danger?  You just have to leave it all out there, Mariah says.

New couple Malece and Alan have drawn a Dave Scott hip hop routine.  But first, we find out that baby-faced Alan is crier (shocker! a sad Russian!) which comes as absolutely no surprise since we’ve seen him weep I think at least three times.  Entering more into the spirit of “things the audience doesn’t know about you,”  Malece explains that she might be 5″2′ and 98 pounds (!), but she can eat like a dude – and she proceeds to shovel in 3 full meals in one time lapse sitting.  Damn.   Anyway, their stories are very cutely opposed, and they definitely make a precious pair. We also find out that Alan thinks he’s getting his swag on, which Dave (an amazing dancer – wish we could see more of HIM) finds hilarious.

Scott has them decked out in futuristic silver and maroon outfits with vaguely military details on Alan’s thick wool tunic top; Malece’s working a 7 of 9 style unitard look. They’ve both got these silver fabric rings around their necks.  Chris Brown’s “Bassline” provides the backdrop to Dave’s completely insane – and completely irrelevant story.  See, there are these aliens who have stolen hip hop, and “they” – whoever they are – have formed an elite team to steal hip hop back.  But you know what?  I couldn’t care less, because this isn’t remotely reflected in the choreography, and from the moment she takes the stage Malece is a new creature.  Oh, I know the judges were in love with her during the last episode, which was a very nice piece, but she’s just got such authority here.  She’s so down and into it and just – wow.  I’m amazed.  It’s hard to force myself  to look at the super-adorable Alan when Malece is just stomping the crap out of every movement. The snap and fire in her retractions!  She’s ferocious.  She should dance hip hop all the time.  And wear bodysuits all the time, too. That deep knee bend – the way she looks at us – the way she looks at him – that awesome roll over his back!  Alan’s okay in some sections, they make a visually arresting couple, and if you could forget he was doing hip hop (and ignore his horrible drop crotch pants) some of it would even be gorgeous, but for the most part he’s not sufficiently hard hitting.  Put up next Malece it looks as wrong as Dave said in practice.

Malece, you are a mean little alien, Nigel laughs. Indeed she is!  To no one’s surprise he says Alan wasn’t aggressive enough, and that he didn’t take on the style properly.   Also, his pants are ridiculous and don’t help. They give him penguin legs.  (Cat starts giggling over how they make him look like Burt in Mary Poppins, an unfortunately apt comparison.) While Alan didn’t get the style, Mary notes he was still a strong partner and Malece was just on fire.  Finishing us off, Carly says it was her favorite so far, but all about Malece; like me, she barely looked at Alan.

I’m sure you’ll be completely shocked to know that Hayley was a beauty queen!  The gorgeous teen was a runner up in the Miss Kansas Teen competition.  Curtis, on the other hand, is 6’1′ and plays basketball.  Okay.  They’ve drawn a Dee Caspary contemporary routine (yay!) and he’s got a concept to match Travis Wall’s – the two are climbing the ladder of success at different rates.  Curtis points out that it’s hard enough to dance with props, but invisible props are even harder; Dee wants them climbing a literal ladder, but doesn’t have even a little one for them to practice on, and when the routine starts you can see what a handicap that really would be. Of course Haley’s happy not to have the ladder at all because she’s scared of heights, potential handicap number 2.

First, I have to tell you that David J. Roch “Don’t Let Go Yet (Radio Edit)” is freaking gorgeous.  Why is this song not on youtube?  (So I will buy it on itunes, presumably.  And I definitely will.)  Second, I love this dance.  Curtis wears a wine colored button down and long tan shorts, Hayley short beige shorts and a cropped teal tank top.  She rises, he falls, he rises, she scampers off the (very tall and rather rickety) ladder and I’m spellbound.  It’s an elemental magic, like the tide – forward, back, forward, back.  They lean through the bars to touch each other; she slithers down between his arms.  For a finish, Hayley places her hands in a strap so she can arch her back and hang out into space, with Curtis reaching through the rungs toward her.  Lovely.

Or at least, I think so.  Cat directs everyone in a cheer for Hayley (“she conquered it!”) once she’s lost the wrist cuff and made it down the ladder.  Huzzah!  The rest of the judging is not quite so celebratory. After Mary chirps about how much she loves Dee, she dresses Curtis down for not taking an earlier critique – he needs to keep his shoulders down.  Why didn’t you listen?  Hayley was amazing, we never saw her fear, the transitions were gorgeous, and the partnering was wonderful.  Carly lauds their amazing chemistry, but immediately Nigel’s coming down on Curtis’s shoulders.  He goes so far as to say that it ruined the routine for him.  Wow.  As the audience thunders their disapproval, Nigel goes on to say that Curtis’s solo bit.  It was at least a great emotional performance, Dee rocks and Hayley was magnificent.  But, ouch.

And oooh, what’s that Cat’s saying?  Listen to Mary Murphy squeal, and watch Carly throw up her hand for calling it – Curtis and Hayley wanted to work on their “connection” so he took her out on a date!  For sushi!  And he paid and everything!  (Oh my goodness, a guy paid!  Not that I think that’s what makes an evening out a date, or is in any way necessary, but Hayley, that amazed you a little too much.)  What do you make of that?  Hee: her dad in the audience looks deeply unamused. I can’t remember that ever happening before, the show calling two contestants out on something like this.  I mean, we know there are hook ups – tWitch and Allison Holker are engaged, there was a rumor last year of at least two couples in the top twenty, a well publicized crush, and then some of the top twenty pairing off with dancers who didn’t make it through to the live shows.  BUT.  I don’t remember the show ever actually promoting a romance between contestants before.  Airing this information seems like a bad idea to me (talk about pressure!) but the idea of Hayley and Curtis as a real life pair is fricking adorable.  Who knows, maybe this will get him more votes.  Or at least excite the conspiracy theorists.

Ah, Curtis.  This means that all three guys in the bottom three have come in for some serious criticism, and I just don’t know where to go with this.  They have two tappers left, two ballroom dancers, and two male hip hop dancers (though just the one animator).  It feels like their critique of Curtis was the harshest.  After re-watching the piece, I understand and even agree with overriding criticism about Curtis’ shoulders, but as a non-dancer, it didn’t interfere with my emotional response.  I can see that it would have been better had he been able to keep his shoulders down, but it was still lovely.

Speaking of lovely and adorable, fan and judges darlings Amy and Fik-shun have a Broadway routine with Tyce DiOrio.  First, thought, we find out that of the four girls in Amy’s family, she’s Daddy’s little side kick.  They fish together a lot.  Fik-shun’s a first degree black belt in Tai Kwan Do, and his martial arts training influences his dancing.  Neat.  And familiar.  Unlike Tony and Melanie – who seem to find it their personal mission to trip the dancers up – Tyce collaborates with the two, letting them try out different bits different ways.  Everyone seems to be enjoying themselves.

And the pleasure just continues when the two jovial hobos awake from a pile of trash bags, pan-handling tin cans in hand.  They hold out the cans, looking for contributions; when the longed for coins don’t come, the tattered duo shrug it off, and scamper and dance with each other.  (I can’t help noticing that as with their bellhop routine, they both have thick warm tops, but Amy still doesn’t get any pants.)  The Triplets of Belleville soundtrack’s “Under the Bridge/Sous le Pont” starts with claps and whistles and builds its rhythm into song, a wackiness that taps into the dancers’ offbeat, charming energy.  There’s something of Charlie Chaplin’s little tramp here, isn’t there, that irrepressible joie de vivre?  The two collapse, sated and happy, on the pile of trash.

“Like me and Mary Murphy after a night in Vegas,” Cat calls.  Damn, I want in on that party!  I mean, not seriously, because heaven knows I would feel like a troll doll next to a glamazon like Cat (and I also don’t drink myself into trash bins) but somehow she makes it sound marvelous.  Carly starts us off by saying it was absolutely adorable and that they’ve achieved the mark of great art – they made it look easy.  You’re sweet as Twinkies, Mary coos. and she just wants to pinch their cheeks.  She gives Tyce deserved props for knowing how to handle this pair – and it’s true, with the tricks and the folding and hip hop touches you can see that they’re both shown off to advantage – and remarks how Fik-shun has grown since the performance she unfairly derided in Meet the Top Twenty.  Her list of adjectives for Amy goes on for quite a while: she’s technical, sharp, liquid, sensual.  “These hobos need some transportation!” she cries, her voice recovered enough to blow the train whistle.  While he doesn’t have much to add, Nigel observes how impressive it is that Tyce can create something as moving as the breast cancer routine, and something as cheery and comical as this.

Paul and Mackenzie have a hip hop from Dave Scott.  I don’t think I mentioned before, but the choreographer’s wearing a newsie cap in the audience.  Love it.  Oh, for odd facts: Mackenzie’s obsessed with James Franco and claims to think Paul looks like him. For his part, Paul loves to sketch and paint.  We get to see him drawing a picture of Mackenzie, which, wow, did he really do that?  Because that was really good.

Dave’s idea for their piece is that Mackenzie’s a model in the 1930, and Paul’s the photographer trying to bring the sexy out of her.  In other words, a slightly different version of the excellent Melanie/Tadd “Black Swan” Broadway routine.  There’s an amusing conversation about Mackenzie already is really sexy, so sexy that coming near her in rehearsal makes Paul giggle and smile nervously.  (I can’t help thinking how this conversation might have gone if it was the girl who was nervous and the boy sexy, a la Dirty Dancing: would they even mention it?  Would it be funny then?)

It turns out that Dave Scott isn’t much of a historian, because the costumes are very clearly Roaring Twenties – Paul’s in a white button down and bow tie with suspenders and gray floods, and Mackenzie is demure and stunning in a silver beaded flapper gown with a sheer cardigan and feathered knit cap.  But who cares if he mis-assigned the decade?  They’re just plain gorgeous.  “Pretty Little Heart” Robin Thicke feat. Lil’ Wayne sets a sultry back drop as Paul snaps photos of a too modest Mackenzie (cardigan wrapped defensively around her body), then invades her personal space, using his charms to bring out a surprisingly aggressive, strutting side of her.  This time the hip hop is sinuous – more suited to Alan’s shimmy than Malece’s sharp lines – but both dancers do some impressive undulating and popping, and it’s really a cool thing, and it really works, because their movements are so well-matched. He peels off her sweater – she tears open his shirt and drags down his suspenders.  The judges are on their feet, and the crowd goes absolutely mad for them.

Correctly calling it out as a 20s look, Nigel raves about how gorgeous and sexy it was.  Nigel’s 100% right, Mary begins (causing Nigel to nearly fall out of his seat) .  It was classy sexy with great clothes; Mack is in control, but Paul has grit and soul she wouldn’t have suspected.  Carly coos about the amazingly hot choreography (she’s clearly a Dave Scott fan), and Cat loves how Baz Luhrman it all was.

So our final couple of the night, Jasmine and Aaron, get a Tony and Melanie quickstep.  Oh, no, not the quickstep!  The dance of death!  The dreaded quickstep!  We see rehearsal footage of Aaron dropping Jasmine and her falling on her own.  I’m vaguely alarmed by this – I guess we’ll see how the voting goes, but last week’s excellent routine and “pimp slot” didn’t keep Mariah and BluPrint out of the bottom, so I can only hope that my favorite couple’s awesomeness will ensure them a continuing place in the competition.  Oh, I didn’t say, did I?  Aaron loves music – he produces, djs, writes and even sings a little with his professional musician dad.  As a dancer, his life is already surrounded by music.  Jasmine used to be a tom boy, dressing in sneakers and big t-shirts and asking people to call her Zack.  Well.  Not such a tomboy now, is she?

And there’s a twenties feel to this piece, though not quite as obvious as the last. They dance to Paolo Nutini “Pencil Full of Lead,” which lends a lot of period atmosphere.  Aaron wears a black button down, black pants and a black vest with a white tie; Jasmine has on an amazing black lace backless dress with an emerald green belt, through which can be seen a green bra and (when she flips) panties.  They are gracious, and gorgeous and out for a good time.  And good lord, but they’re tall.  Their lines are just ridiculous.  The frame doesn’t look perfect – less exaggerated than ballroom dancers would do it, mostly on Aaron and his carriage – but their feet fly, and it’s really super entertaining and wonderful.  The rolls, the leg lifts, the character they bring to it…  They’re so much fun.  And that lift at the end, where he carries her off, is just flat out sexy.  It’s super clear how pleased Tony and Melanie are when it ends; almost as happy as me!

As usual, we start with Mary for a ballroom critique.  She loves their commitment to the dance, and while she did observe the frame being off, she felt the rest of it was so super-fantastic that she doesn’t care.  She loves Aaron’s confidence and showmanship (agreed) and their great partnership and trust.  And she names a ton of styles that they’ve incorporated into a really hard routine – Charleston, Balboa, and Peabody in addition to the traditional Quickstep. Carly says they made it look easy.  Your vivacious personalities shone through the choreography, Nigel tells them.  We paired you for your height, and it turns out to have been a magnificent decision for a host of other reasons.  When Cat gives their numbers, Aaron mouths “call me maybe.”  Ha!  Was he really the only person to do that?  Too funny.

And, buzz kill.  It’s quite obvious that they’re never going to let Mackenzie go after that routine.  We love you too, Mariah, Nigel’s quick to say – it’s just that Mackenzie beat  you tonight.  Curse you, Brian Friedman!  The guys are trickier, because really, they didn’t love (or hate) any of them.  Alan needs to work more on exuding the appropriate style. Curtis needs to keep his shoulders down.  And BluPrint needs to leap high into the future, because they’re letting him go.

Huh.  Did that do that so as not to break up either of the other couples? Based on the critiques, I expected Curtis to go.  I’m glad he didn’t, and I can see that BluPrint didn’t bring the necessary emotional content to his routine, but he’s a really good all around dancer.  In fact, I’d probably say he’s a better all around dancer than Cyrus, though obviously he lacks his crew-mate’s glowing personality.  (Though I hate that we’ve come to use “personality” to mean “wearing ones’ personality on their sleeve.)  Mariah sobs – understanding but devastated – while BluPrint doesn’t react at all. They clutch each other close as the show ends.   I’m so going to miss them.

And that’s this week.  What did you think?  Did the judges make the right call?  What would you have done in their place?  Are you as bummed as I am that you’re not in L.A. to attend the Dizzy Feet Gala?  That’s not even the least bit sarcastic; it looks awesome, and I’d go in a heart beat if I didn’t live on the wrong coast.  How will you celebrate National Dance Day, fellow dance fans?  And who do you think will be in trouble next week?

2 comments on “So You Think You Can Dance: Top 16 Perform, Two Eliminated

  1. Hey, thank you so much for your kind words regarding my song ‘Don’t Let Go Yet’ you should now be able to watch it on YouTube
    Thank you once again.


    • E says:

      No, thank you! Man, I love the internet – I’m blown away that you found my site. I can’t even express how much I love this song, or how perfectly the rise and fall of the choreography fit it. (I realized when I was looking for this before that Dee had used your “Skin and Bones” which is also gorgeous; one of my favorite things about So You Think You Can Dance is finding new-to-me songs and artists.) I hope the song’s appearance on the show brings it – and you! – some well deserved attention.

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