So You Think You Can Dance: Top Twenty, Take 2, S11

E: Some years, I feel like I have a good handle on who the partners are going to be.  Last year, most of it made sense to me.  Divide everyone up by height and genre, and you can get pretty close.  Not this time, though.  I was surprised by almost every pairing.  And also, as with most sophomore efforts, I was a little underwhelmed.  Hopefully next week everyone will have settled a little more into the groove of the show?

Also, Nigel spends a lot of time being nice before being a real jerk in his final send off of two devastated dancers.  I’m pretty disappointed in him.  I’m not disappointed by Cat’s sleek hair or loose leopard mini-dress, though, with the belt and blousing and three quarter sleeves; it’s such a fun look.   She can even reconcile me to those booties.

I was delighted by the opening Top Twenty routine – a tribute to Broadway’s On the Town, the musical the winner (or winners?) will “star” in choreographed by Josh Bergasse, who won an Emmy for choreographing “Let’s Be Bad” on Smash –  though not so delighted that I didn’t notice the heavy featuring of male soloists and no female ones.  Odd, huh?  Teddy, Emilio and Zack got solos: Ricky, Rudy and Nick (the perfect trio for the sailors, since the Miami boys can really pull off that WW2 look) got an extended – what do you call that, a group solo?  There’s one brief moment where three girls (fronted of course by Jessica) sashay across the stage, but that’s it.  It was just odd, because the movie On the Town does in fact include several key roles for women.

The first real business of the episode is to call out the dancers in danger: Nick, Casey and Serge for the boys, and Malene, Brooklyn and Jourdan for the girls.  It’s quite a ballroom heavy list, but that makes sense, I suppose, because ballroom numbers don’t fare incredibly well on this show.  Brooklyn and Serge were first, which is always tough; Brooklyn and Nick came in for the most criticism from the judges.  I had a feeling that one or both of the ballerinas was going to be in trouble, though I’d have guessed it would be total unknown Jacque instead of her fellow coffee lover but as I mentioned in my recap and as the judges acknowledge she made visible mistakes they didn’t call her on. But Casey was heaped with praise, as was Malene.  Definitely surprising there. Off the bat, I’d say Brooklyn and Nick are the ones in obvious trouble – but luckily everyone dances, and may be able to change the judges’ minds.

From here, Nigel (sitting at the opposite end of the panel from guest judge Misty Copeland) gives us an extended sports metaphor; sure, getting cut first might feel like Brazil getting complete embarrassed in the World Cup, but what you have to remember is that while most of the dancers will lose, they all have to be amazing to get to this point.  They are all impeccable representatives of dance. And, like Brazil preparing for Saturday’s third place game, the dancers in danger need to get themselves together to perform now.   He finishes with a quote from Winston Churchill: “Success is not final.  Failure is not fatal.  It’s is the courage to pick yourself up and continue that counts.”

No one is asked to dance for their lives even though they’re all dressed for it.  I guess there’s no time with ten performances still to come.  Which brings us to – the pairings.

Rudy & Tanisha

So, hmm.  I’m trying not to be peeved by this.  I haven’t really made a secret of the fact that I question the judges decision to include Rudy in the cast, so I’m a little vexed to see him with Tanisha of all people, who for my money is one of the best if not the best girl here.  But in trying to explain this choice, I can say that Rudy has a big personality, and Tanisha’s also quite enthusiastic.   They’re both high energy and considered likable, and he’s just tall enough to partner her.  And, I don’t know.  Much is made of this with other contestants, but he can learn a lot from her.

In the beginning of the segment, the two dancers “interview” each other – which is to say, ask each other mostly inane questions.  His greatest fear is the dark (!), he wants to go to Paris, his guilty pleasure is the the Power Rangers; she wants to go to Greece and prefers dogs to cats.  The two have drawn a grimy, aggressive Sonya Tayeh jazz piece set to the Bengssons “You Need,”  which features two chairs and red lighting. It also explains why Rudy was wearing a collar and strip of buttons beneath his tank top at the opening of the show; he wears those over a red cummerbund and loose black pants, while Tanisha wears something rather tarty in red and black, Tanisha with her hair slicked back with a wandering braid, and Rudy with his mohawked hair standing up.  It’s very much a certain kind of Sonya jazz, which isn’t my favorite of her work, but still fun.  Rudy’s all hunched over, which I don’t know does him any favors, but Tanisha’s strong and powerful and they have a nice energy together.  It’s as aggressive as Sonya promised, but the two bring a level of enjoyment to it, a winking fun, which makes it extra enjoyable for the audience.  We can’t see it, but Cat lets us know that Rudy ended the dance sprawled in his chair, winking up at Tanisha.

Mary loves the style and she loves Tanisha; Rudy has to learn to watch those pesky shoulders.  Sexy can have many faces, Misty Copeland observes, and you gave me all of them.  She’s such a fascinating judge.  I’m so glad that they brought her in this season; she’s gorgeous and articulate and interesting and has great industry cred.  What’s not to like?  She tells Rudy he needs to think of himself as a tree, to help ground himself.  I like it.  Sonya brings out the best in her dancers, Nigel notes.  Tanisha’s so much more than ballroom (I’ll say!  I just love that girl) and Rudy’s stronger than he thought.  UGH, that kind of comment just kills me. I have to say, I don’t like that we vote for dancers as individuals here; when Rudy winks at the camera and asks us to use all 20 of our allotted votes for him, it feels like an insult to his partner.

Valerie & Ricky

Wow, did I get that one wrong!  I can see where the producers were going here – they’re both bubbly and super-likable – but I wasn’t expecting it, between the whole tap thing and then the fact that they’re about the same height.  Still, they’re from different styles, and it could work out well.  I hope.  Certainly they’re two of my own favorites in the competition.  We find out that her favorite color’s green, that he wants to throw a Miley Cyrus themed party (ick!) and that he can sort of imitate an elephant.

Travis Wall has a contemporary routine for them; Ricky is the one who got away, and Valerie’s trying to convince him to come back.  Which, when I think of that phrase “the one who got away” I think of the person that you never pursued who you wish you had, not really someone you dated who then decided they weren’t interested in you, but okay.  He immediately assesses that the challenge of this routine will be Valerie coming up to Ricky’s level, a daunting task.

It takes me two viewings to really watch this – one to be awed by Ricky, and the second to see the dance itself.  Maybe that’s dopey, but I am so blown away by that boy every time he moves.  Once I can concentrate on the dance, I can see Travis working his magic; Valerie reaches out, touches Ricky, and he shrugs her off, kicks her off, slithers away, pushes her off.  Wow.  Really harsh as a vision, but quite lovely to watch.  Ricky’s in dark jeans and white v neck t-shirt contrast with Valerie’s short dress which is white in sort of thick, shredded ruffles shot with gold and black lines.  Valerie’s faces pleads, but it’s a much more subtle expression than the joy that habitually lights her expressions; Ricky’s just cold.  Some of the moves are glorious; when Valerie stands on Ricky’s thighs and bends down backwards, slowly lowered to the floor, hands crossed over her chest, or when she supports Ricky on her calves, his back to her.  Again and again, she extends a gentle hand, tries to hold him, and every time he shrugs her off, his dismissal calculated and precise.

Misty cannot stand how amazing Ricky is; she shivers in her seat, smoothing her hair down as if watching him has made it stand on end.  Valerie can learn a lot from her partner, especially the way his energy extends all the way through his finger tips; Misty’s image makes me think of Beauty and Beast’s transformation scene where light shoots out of the Beast’s fingers, but it’s apt.  She’s all about the metaphors, this one, so her criticism is more or less useful depending on how much those metaphors speak to the individual dancers.  Anyway.  She thinks Valerie did incredibly well considering how far outside her style this way.

Yes, says Nigel, we tappers have soft legs and feet, but Valeria pointed her toes just like a contemporary dancer.  He thinks they have great chemistry, and lets us know that Ricky used to study with his “dear friend” Desmond Richardson perhaps during a Young Artist Presidential scholarship he was given.  Wow.  Finally Mary says that Travis made a dream world of athleticism and artistry, and these two dancers are living in it.

Bridget & Emilio

Sure, hip hop dancer and contemporary dancer’s a time honored pairing, but I’d have thought Bridget was too tall to dance with Emilio.  She isn’t, however – they’re about the same height – and they’ve both got those puppy dog eyes, and they’re both expressive and emotional.  We’ll see how they can help each other.

Turtles are her favorite animal (my oldest daughter approves), that between a dork and a nerd she’d pick both (excellent), and that between a vampire and a werewolf she’d pick – a wizard.  Damn, I love this girl.  Emilio, for his part, loves Chinese food, wants to travel to Italy and sings in the shower.  The two have drawn a Luther Brown hip hop in which Emilio meets up with his old kindergarten classmate to find that she’s grown into a total hottie.  No way!

And there he stands on stage with a picture of Bridget, hair back and glasses on, looking nerdy.  That’s not what she looks like now, though – she’s all confidence and swagger and black leather pants, her hair to the side.   Emilio’s wearing an … interesting combination of low-crotch pants under a black leather tunic with a hooded cardigan type thing on top; he flicks the hood back in excitement at the sway in her walk.  The two circle each other, swagger,  and then sink into synchronized flirting.   Though Luther was very nervous about Bridget’s capacity to do this, Emilio seems to have (as instructed) helped her raise her game.  (Of course, she’s great in that series of back flips on her own, which was awesome; I feel like girls don’t often get those showy, athletic solos, so good for you, Bridget!) I feel like she’s great with her legs and hips, but fades in and out of the proper sharpness with her arms and shoulders.  Sometimes there’s power in what she’s doing, but other times it feels too soft.  Still, they’re in very nice sync, and, well, I really want these two to do well.

I’m not alone in this desire, because Nigel lauds their chemistry and tells us Bridget was much better than he expected.  On the other hand, he can’t get past Emilio’s clothes, which make the popper look like a dancing hobbit.  He credits the tunic for shortening his legs, but I personally really hate those pants. Why do you want to look like you’re wearing a full diaper?  Why?

Like me, Mary thought that Bridget went in and out of form, but that over all she didn’t look bad.  Emilio ate the routine for dinner and spit out fabulousness.  (Ew, really, Mary?  A vomit metaphor?  Ugh.)  Misty too found Emilio amazing (which is interesting because I kind of felt like he was holding back to match Bridget) and tells Bridget that it really is possible to be strong and feminine, and that she can find that balance.

Jessica & Nick

Aw, how cute!  Aren’t they so super cute together, with their little faces and big wide eyes?  They’re anime, they’re so cute, these two.  Would be player Nick seriously cannot believe his luck when Jessica squeals out his name; he gets to spend all this time not just with a real girl, but a gorgeous one. I’m sure it doesn’t hurt that the judges love her, either. Jessica, in case you were wondering, like sushi and the color purple; Nick wishes he had laser beam eyes.  The new partners have drawn a Benji Schwimmer West Coast Swing routine (psych!  I thought I saw him in the choreographer’s ghetto), which is maybe near Nick’s wheelhouse, considering that he’s Latin ballroom, but definitely not right in it, and Jessica’s definitely intimidated.  Oh, and she dislocates her shoulder or arm with a truly sickening crack during the rehearsal footage, so that was awesome. Or something. We’ve had great West Coast Swing routines on the show before, though, so I’m hopeful and excited.

Let’s get one thing straight: I adore Aretha Franklin, and her “RESPECT” is a peerless classic.  What is not classic or normal or cool is spending the first 45 seconds of a 2 minute dance routine listening to Aretha chatter with her audience before the melody kicks in.  Down with the Live Februrary 5th, 1971 version!  I won’t call it the song choice, exactly, but the editing of the song choice was unutterably ridiculous, and set a bad tone for the piece.

More specifics: Jessica’s in wide pants and a cropped, one shouldered sparkly white top which somehow combine to make her look really short; Nick does better in fitted black.  They stand out nicely against a light wash that makes the stage look like it’s hung with stained glass windows.  Are we going to church, y’all?  This is going to sound odd, but it feels weirdly slow. Maybe it’s just West Coast Swing, but there’s a lot of time where the two are just kind of posing, holding each other’s hands. There were a lot of tricks, very athletic and taxing tricks, especially a crazy one where Jessica gets up on Nick’s shoulder and then he dips down into a back bend so she can walk off it.  It’s just not super rhythmical (I’m sorry the fast footwork section was so short, because they rocked that and the synchronized turns), although it becomes more so as the routine goes on, leaving both Jessica winded by the end. Nick’s pumped, and Benji’s really pleased, though, sticking his tongue out as he claps.

But not for long.  Coming off the side of the stage, Cat cringes over Jessica’s injury.  That was exhausting to watch, Mary starts things off; Benji sure didn’t take it easy on them. Jessica coped fairly well with the style, she declares grudgingly.  It was entertaining, Misty adds tepidly, saying that Jessica needs to think about her neck more, and that they both need to think about their feet. That would have been brilliant if Benji had done it himself, Nigel declares, but he asked too much of you – Nick can do a lot better than that, and Jessica was just pulling faces.  It wasn’t authentic.

Well.  That doesn’t bode well for Nick; he’s got to be hoping that Serge or Casey messes up badly.

Carly & Serge

Okay, that’s a pairing I wouldn’t have expected.  Maybe the idea is to age giggly Carly up a little?  After all, at 26 Serge is the old man of the competition.  By the way, Carly loves chocolate and groundhogs (her little impersonation of one is adorable), and Serge’s favorite food is a bacon cheeseburger.  The best part of all these interviews, in my opinion, is Carly’s incredulous laugh when Serge admits his celebrity crush is Minnie Mouse.

The two luck out with a Sonyah Tayeh contemporary routine about an unbreakable love.  I expect it to be profoundly moving, Sonya tells us (so no pressure!), and indeed, Carly has a sort of emotional break through/break down during rehearsal.  So cleansing!

They dance to Sam Smith’s gorgeous acoustic version of “Latch” which I just love.  I love the Disclosure version, too (and so does Sonya, obviously, or she wouldn’t have used in Vegas week last season) and as my five year old immediately remembered, it’s the acoustic version that was covered for Max and Meryl’s steamy, season winning free style on Dancing With The Stars during which Meryl’s hair flies up into the stage lighting and looks like it’s on fire.  In a magical and not dangerous way.

Anyway, much as I loved Max and Meryl and would love to see them have those ballroom/ice dancing babies, I am such a super fan of this routine and this couple.  Once again Carly’s in a plunging neckline with a cool crisscross strapped black dress, and Serge’s in black as well.  They touch each other, so tenderly, and then she leans on him, and he sort of pushes her forward, her legs out far in front of them, and as they move forward together, she looks up at him with both a question and a heart full of trust and it feels like she loves him so much she can’t spend that long without looking at him, and it slays me, that little glance.  This girl, wow.

Really, they’re just magic together, glowing in amber on the dimly lit stage, reaching to each other, spinning and rolling in unison, curving around each other.  I did find it moving.  In fact, there’s no question that it’s my favorite piece of the young season.  When Serge spoons Carly and wraps his arms, one at a time, over and over, around her, I feel their connection.  And I never for one second remembered that this wasn’t his style.  When it ends, Sonya spreads her hands wide.  “Yes!” you can see her saying.  That’s what she wanted.

Now that’s dancing, Misty observes; she’s dancing along with them in her seat. She felt Serge’s powerful tenderness. It’s amazing how you can touch people with dancing, Nigel says, noting that Mary’s too moved to even speak.  He was shocked by Serge, and thought Carly was beautiful.  Mary’s misty, and she’s not even Misty, Cat quips. Sometimes, we never know how much we can rise until we’re asked, Mary sniffles.  She’s so proud of Serge.  (Yeah, there’s no way he’s going home tonight.) That’s what this show is about, Cat agrees; showing up to do more than you (or anyone else) thought you could.

So. Stinking. Great.

Emily & Teddy

Okay.  Like I said, wasn’t expecting that, even if hip hop dancer/contemporary girl is the oldest pairing in the SYT book.  Teddy’s tall enough for Emily, though, and that’s a good thing.  In other news, she’s born in July, like monkeys, the color orange and Batman; he loves chocolate, prefers sweet to salty, and would love to be able to walk through walls.

Is it just me, or do you want to call foul at Teddy and Emilio both getting a hip hop routines in week two?  Oh well.  At least they brought in Dave Scott – it’s nice to see him and Luthor working on the show at the same time, because their styles are so different.  The rehearsal time is chiefly notable for Teddy sticking his head up Emily’s backside.

From the opening notes of Ed Sheeran’s “Don’t” I’m surprised by how much I like the two of them together.  They’re so well-matched!  And they’re so sharp together, nicely hard hitting.  From Emily’s leopard print leggings, the whole thing was smoking.

Nigel, on the other hand, thought that Emily was performing for the audience instead with Teddy.  What?  Though there’s more time when she’s looking at the audience, she definitely makes eye contact with him.  I don’t think that was fair at all.  Mary thought it was really cute, right up to the ticking at the end (which, admittedly, wasn’t very good).  She feels a bit left out, though – she didn’t get the leopard memo!  Ha.  Damning them with faint praise, Misty says they were committed, but not grounded enough.  Of course, but they she really means Emily, because Teddy was awesome.  By the time they got the butt scoot section, they did finally seem connected to her.  Wow.  That’s just not how it felt to me at all.

Malene & Stanley

Huh.  Well. My big worry with both Tanisha and Malene was the show finding a guy with enough cockiness to balance out their sexiness.  Rudy might just fit that bill, but Stanley? He’s got more soul than swagger, in my limited viewing.  I’m nervous about this.  We learn he loves chocolate and dolphins, and that she’s looking for a guy who’s a sweetheart.  There you have it, gentlemen.

Ah, how cool – I thought I saw him in the choreographer’s ghetto, too. Spencer Liff’s here with a Broadway routine!  That explains Malene’s 60s bouffant/beehive (another baffling look from the beginning of the show line up); they’re going for a 60s movie comedy about about a telephone.

And, indeed, there’s a super long cord on either side of the stage, and each dancer holds an old fashioned receiver.  They look great (he’s in slim black pants and a black turtleneck, she’s in a black bodysuit with sheer sleeves and a sweetheart neckline over black fishnets) and the music (Nancy Wilson’s “I’ve Got Your Number”) is beyond great.  The opening pose is phenomenal.  From there, we get a lot of high kicks, a lot style, but maybe not a ton of substance.

The first 20 seconds blew me away, Mary announces, but after that I was longing for you to ditch the phones.  You know, I really hate it when the judges critique the choreography instead of the dancers.  Your frustration has nothing to do with them, Mary.  I mean, I get it, and when I discuss a piece I try to take all of it into account, but I hope I’m clear about this all being my own opinion and how the music and costumes and choreography don’t speak to the dancers skills.  It’s not always easy to separate out, though. Misty thought the two were terrific as individuals (especially the sexy Malene), but that the choreography didn’t give them the chance to connect.

And once again, Nigel lowers the boom.  That was a wrong number, I’m afraid, he says.  Malene walked out looking like Claudia Cardinale, but she’s not flexible enough to do the high kicks.  Ouch!  Stanley didn’t work from his core, they had no chemistry, the style didn’t fit them, and maybe Spencer should have done a better job taking their skill set into account.


I cannot believe how harsh that was; I’m still shaking my head over it.  I had to go back and see if Nigel’s claim about Malene’s lack of flexibility was fair; she did do fewer kicks than Stanley, and one of those she did do was maybe slightly awkward, but ouch.  That seems really unnecessary.  It also vaults Malene past Brooklyn on the kill list, as it were.

Jourdan & Marcquet

Okay, I could dig this.  I like both of them a lot.  Ballet and ballroom is a cool combination.  We learn that Jourdan loves her coffee with protein shakes (what?), loves her kitten, and is good at math, which she demonstrates by spouting off 9 places of the number pi before time runs out; Marcquet gapes.  For his part, he prefers boxer briefs to briefs (thanks for that image, Jourdan), loves the movie Spacejam but can’t play basketball, and chocolate chip cookie dough’s his favorite ice cream flavor.

The two have a jazz piece created by Sean Cheesman, who’s interesting – sometimes awesome, sometimes esoteric. This time, he wants Jourdan to be the sexy investigator interrogating Marcquet (her agent? that doesn’t track quite as well); Jourdan’s immediately delighted.  She’s got a wickedly fun rolling laugh, don’t you think?  It’s sharp and fast but it needs to look like butter, Sean claims.

Lights flash on stage to the beat of Britney Spears’ “Work Work”; Jourdan crawls over a steel gray table (very 1950s institutional) wearing a sort of sexy Muammar Gaddafi/SS uniform (that impression’s due mostly to the hat which she soon tosses off), while Marcquet sits in a chair in plain clothes trying to look innocent.  As requested, it’s smooth and sharp at the same time, though it’s also very very fast, maybe too fast for them at least to give the tone completely.  Anyway, she’s super sexy, and it’s a fun routine.

And that’s exactly what Misty says, that it’s very fun.  Jourdan was fierce, and used her technique in the best way possible.  You made me proud, she smiles.  Marcquet was perhaps to serious.  I liked this better than your ballet last week, Nigel tells her (um, ouch?).  He warns her not to lose the plot and dings her for smiling, which contrasts sharply with Misty’s comment about Marcquet’s seriousness, and is also just wrong, because her smile was a kind of sexy, scary, powerful smile, and felt very appropriate the plot and her femme fatale character.  He thinks Marcquet was tremendous and will do well.  Finally, Mary loved the aggression and partnering; Jourdan and her awesome ballet legs are out of their comfort zone and excelling.

So that sounds like it means Malene needs to hope that Brooklyn screws up.

Brooklyn & Casey

Ah, that’s a cute pair.  Ballroom and contemporary, young and adorable.  Aaaaand also both in the bottom two.  I’m puzzled by Casey – I’d have thought he’d have the girls voting for him in droves – and all I can think is that his face is less expressive when he dances than it is when he talks?  I don’t know.  I got nothing on him.

Smiling adorably, he tells us he prefers coffee to tea, waffles to pancakes, and likes Nigel and Mary equally (mean question, B!).  “Adam or Adam,” she says, and I have no idea what this even means.  It takes 30 minutes to do his hair.  Wow.  That is so high maintenance!  I can’t even.  He still seems very sweet.  She loves cake, her hair is dyed, she prefers beach to the mountains even though she lives in Utah.

And oooooh, Miriam and Leonardo in the house!  I love me some Argentine tango.  In this routine, Brooklyn’s a toxic, domineering temptress who hypnotizes Casey.  Let’s see if she can pull that off!  I actually feel like that’s a hard task, because tango requires the man to be pretty domineering. This should be a good test of whether or not she deserves to stay; if she can’t excel at ballroom, she doesn’t belong.  (I still don’t know what to say about Casey other than it’ll be good to see him emoting, I guess?)

Gallo Ciego’s “Louis Bravo’s Forever Tango” starts with jangling strings and Brooklyn in read lace, weaving her web on stage.  Casey oozes up behind her, runs his hands down her arms; she curls her back into him. When he turns away, she pulls out a commanding arm and slowly turns him around.   Though his frame goes in and out (either the suit doesn’t fit him right or he’s not holding his shoulders properly) I’m impressed that he’s mastered these lifts and flicks.  With his hair slicked back he’s almost unrecognizable, and occassionally even fades into the dark background, a blank slate for her lipstick red dress and pale limbs.  It’s really good, and it ends too quickly. “Oooh, I love the little subtle ending of that,” Cat coos, and I’m right there with her.

It’s a good day for Argentina, Nigel claims. He thought it was intense, controlled, and tremendous; their gauchos were superb.  Mary laughs out loud at his pronunciation, but quickly moves on to her amazement that Brooklyn’s so young and cute in person but could pull off such a mature, dominating performance.  Mary’s super proud of her, and also of Casey’s impressive partnering.  (I have to agree, he was really good for a contemporary dancer).  I can’t help laughing when Misty says that Casey looks like a handsome Latino Ken doll; is it the slicked back hair, I wonder?  They had a sexy connection.  She still thinks that Brooklyn needs to be more assertive with her weight, something that bothered the judges last week.

Zack & Jacque

Huh.  That kind of rhymes if you’re just reading it and don’t know how she pronounces her name.  Tricky, that neither of these two got much (or in Jacque’s case, any) screen time in the audition rounds.  Sometimes that means that they’re cannon fodder, but these two are so appealing that I hope that’s not the case.  She likes monkeys and has a size 8 shoe (and he’s made her do the interview in an English accent, which is completely adorable), he likes the color blue and blue water and will not answer .

They’ve drawn Sean Cheesman and African Jazz, which I’d be super excited about except this was the downfall of Brittany Cherry last year.  Anyway, Sean’s looking for something fierce and animalistic.  For that, he puts the two in body suits covered with swirls of paint and ridiculous hair extensions that make them look like parrots, then puts them in front of a board covered with swirls of paint (think the video of “Somebody That I Used to Know” only with swirls instead of blocks of color). They’re warriors who come to life out of ancient art, which sort of annoys me in that this looks nothing like ancient art from any culture, but whatever.

It’s all okay, though, because Danny Tenaglia’s “Dibizia (Kick *** Mix)” is super fun, and African Dance is super fun whatever dumb plot you try to pin on it.  Again, you’d never know either of them were out of their style – they attack the piece and stomp the heck out of it, and I want to get up and stomp with them. It’s very athletic and rhythmical, and if I had one complaint it’d be the stupid body paint which obscures their faces, because these two need to be seen.

The routine was so much fun that it has Mary on her feet, not caring if no one else on the panel joins her; the vision, the make up, the dancing was just amazing.  Jacque was so animalistic (why does spell check not think that’s a word?), and Zack’s a beast.  Jacque made great choices with her body, Misty agrees, and Zack gave the right amount of everything.  It was one of Nigel’s favorite routines of the night, he says.  He loves to see ballerinas bust out of their technical box – to see their technique mixed in with freedom.  This is a great pairing, he finishes, and they should have no issues moving on.

Before we think about moving on, we get the first dance crew performance – Chloe Arnold’s Syncopated Ladies!  They dance to Beyonce’s “Flawless,” and I can’t even tell you how in awe I am of them.  If you didn’t notice at the time you need to go back and listen, not just watch, to this routine, because they tapped as one.  Seriously, every single tap they made was so perfectly synchronized that that it sounded like only one person was doing it.

Okay. Now the ugly stuff.  The six dancers in danger come out, girls first.  Please take great pride in being here in the first place, Nigel tells them, before telling Jourdan the judges overlooked a lot of mistakes she made last week but ultimately sending Malene home.  This makes sense, but the way he did it!  You’re one of the most beautiful women we’ve ever had on stage, he says, but then largely implies that they were dazzled by her prettiness into putting her through when they shouldn’t have.  I am stunned by the meanness of that.

When the boys line up, he says it’s a tougher call even though we all pretty much know how it’s going to turn out. Casey gave us two great routines.  So did Serge, who’s a wonderful partner and dances with his whole heart.  Clearly Nick is not going to get the chance he needs to step up his game; he goes home, looking stunned and a bit brutalized.

Poor Mary – that’s two ballroom dancers in one go!  Next week, we’ll see how Jessica and Stanley fare as a couple, and how Rudy copes with the loss (so to speak) of his best friend.


2 comments on “So You Think You Can Dance: Top Twenty, Take 2, S11

  1. Mimi says:

    By any chance, does anyone know who’s sitting behind Sean Cheesman?

    • E says:

      Which person are you thinking of? The only one who looks remotely familiar to me is the older man in the dark shirt who’s behind Sean’s right shoulder; I want to say he’s a ballroom guy? I can’t place him but I feel like I’ve seen him before. The two really good looking younger guys directly behind Sean and to his left could easily be dancers, but I don’t recognize them.

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