So You Think You Can Dance: Top Eighteen, S11

E: Now that’s what I’m talking about!  What a fantastic show!  This episode made this season came together for me; I feel like we’ve crossed the threshold, somehow.  No, none of the partnerships have the sizzle that Aaron & Jasmine and obviously Fik-shun & Amy brought us last year, but still, I’m feeling pretty happy.

Now, okay, it’s kind odd that Misty Copeland was the guest judge for a second week in a row – and even odder that she’s coming back next week.  I enjoy Misty as a judge very much, but I like variety, too.  But no matter.  This was so good, guys.

It started out with the absolutely stunning group number in which the remaining 18 players are arrayed on two sides of an enormous chess board (with a couple twisted tiles and one red one), white team against black, dressed in a fascinating combination of Futuristic/Elizabethan/Goth clothing and wigs which denote rank.  The pawns wear sleek Beatles-like wigs, the kings crowns, the queens tall feathers, with odd ball-like headpieces for what I’m guessing are the bishops and long ponytail manes for the knights.  Awesome. And the dance itself – damn.  As the white king, Emilio begins, and the movement is sharp and hard and fierce, stomping to the growls and barks of District’s 78’s “How It’s Done.”  Though it’s difficult to distinguish all the individuals beneath the hair and make up, Tanisha stands out for the girls, controlling the black pieces, as does fierce Marcquet, whose dreads turn his crown into what appears at first glance to be Darth Vader’s helmet, and finally Teddy as the black knight.  Each side stomps around the stage as an unit and then mingling, and there’s something so determined about it; you feel that there’s something at stake.  In the end, Jessica stands alone as the white queen, and even if it’s an unmerited victory it’s still the coolest group routine of the young season by far.

Between hip hop and house band District 78 I absolutely assumed we’d be looking at the work of Christopher Scott, but no, two members of Academy of Villains (Christopher “Pharside” Jennings and Krystal “Phoenix” Meraz) did the honors.  Hurrah for new blood!  I totally love that the show brought in people from the dance crews.  Way to be flexible and integrate that element, guys!  Nigel uses this opportunity to praise the costume and make up staff for their Emmy-nominated work, and bring up the 6 other Emmy nominations the show received this year – Reality Show Competition, Reality Show Host (YAY, Cat!  let’s hope you win this time!), and Choreography nods for Christopher Scott, Mandy Moore, Tabitha & Napoleon Duomo, and Travis Wall.  I hope they don’t all cancel each other out like last year and lose again to Derek Hough!

Cat, looking overly made-up in a black silk jumpsuit with a sparkly multi-strand necklace, brings out the dancers.  In danger: Bridget, Emily and Jourdan for the girls, Emilio, Teddy and Stanley for the boys.  Huh.  That’s a big old hip hop fail for last week, then, isn’t it?  Odd, because not only is the style normally popular, but both routines actually featured hip hop dancers!  Maybe voters were expecting more from Teddy and Emilio in their own styles?  I don’t like the new supervoting system myself; I’d be curious to know if vote totals were down.  Stanley had what was arguably the least successful routine of the night, and people just don’t seem to like poor Jourdan.  Once again, the dancers are dressed to do solos but not asked to.

Zack & Jacque

Or Zack and Jack, as Nigel belatedly realizes he can call them.  This week, the producers want the partners to tell us something about each other that we don’t know.  Quite cutely, Jacque tells us that Zack loves to swim, and Zack tells us that his partner has a big ole crush on Rudy.  Rudy?  (Nick must be dying at home, watching his bestie grab a gorgeous girl after he’s lost his chance.)  Jacque’s very adorably horrified that Zack even knows this, though the show has a bunch of selfies to prove it so it hardly seems to be a secret.

The two have drawn Keone and Mari Madrid, hip hop choreographer/dancers who we first met last season, I think.  (For Team Tuna’s “Dangerous” number, a low light that landed them in the bottom three, to the best of my recollection.)   They favor a lot of closely orchestrated hand gestures – does this qualify as tutting or not? – and I’m a bit nervous that their new piece, which is about a couple realizing they’ve fallen in love, won’t translate well, either.

Is it too early to call this the season of Sam Smith?  “Stay With Me”’s a nice background for this piece.  Zack and Jacque are dressed for a date (though perhaps a little bit primly, like they’ve just gotten off work at an office) – he’s in a untucked but gorgeously fitted button down and tie and she’s wearing t-strap flats with a gently pleated skirt and a white top with a lacy overlay at the shoulders, and they look terrific.  They lie on the floor with their feet to the audience, not touching, making those precise hand gestures.  They hold hands, spin on the floor, spoon, roll apart, stand, hold each other in wonder – and then suddenly as the song swells they bound around the stage, leaping and bending. The dynamics are pretty great.  To my eye Zack is spot on – hesitant and tender in his glances, like he’s not sure if Jacque feels what he feels, and also beautifully sharp and committed in every movement; Jacque’s adorable and winning, but so serious throughout that she’s not sending out the same level of romantic vibes.  I really like it anyway.

Doesn’t that make you think of “Bleeding Love,” Cat asks the judges, and I can see where she’s coming from, referencing the show’s most famous lyrical hip hop routine, but that just makes me sure that Jacque wasn’t quite putting across the right tone. Before she begins talking about the routine, Mary has to let the dancers know how much she loved their work on the group number.   (I think Jacque took part in the pawn on pawn fight sequence, which was very cool; even after several viewings I’m still not sure which one Zack was.)  You haven’t gotten anywhere near either of your styles yet, she adds, but you’re both excelling.  She loved the articulation and coins the term “sweet hop” for the style.  The hand movements remind Nigel of Bollywood; his favorite part was the break away to unison dancing, which I agree was an arresting and unexpected segment for a hip hop number.  Neither of them looked like they were far outside their comfort zones.  You’re growing into a great partnership, Misty observes.  They’re no longer just a tapper and a ballerina, but dancers.

Jourdan & Marcquet

Jourdan doesn’t just get her impressive physique from dancing; she’s addicted to working out and might just be able to out bench press Marcquet.  (“Plot twist!” he labels that fact, which makes me smile.)  She flashes her guns at us, which are indeed intimidating.   Somewhere in America, Amanda Mitchell must be feeling vindicated, because it turns out that Marcquet IS in fact a hip hop dancer in addition to being a ballroom specialist – he’s part of Utah’s top hip hop crew, Utah UDO.

The two have drawn Dee Caspary, which means great music and routines that don’t always connect with the judges.  His idea – a couple who’re trying to disappear – worries me from the start because that doesn’t make any sense.  How are they disappearing?  From each other?  Together?  Why?  He adds that they’re looking for the place where they can both be happy, which seems to me like a totally different thing.  During rehearsal, Jourdan tells us sagely that Marcquet’s having a little trouble with the routine because it requires him to get all up in her business; we need to learn to be comfortable with each other’s bodies, she says.

Mikky Ecco’s “Disappear (Demo Version)” gives a nicely haunting feeling to the piece. There are three umbrellas suspended from the ceiling and another on the floor, and Jourdan (wearing a pretty, simple dress with a striped a-line skirt) and Marcquet (wearing a tank and straight pants) try each umbrella, looking for that happy place.  They dance beautifully around the stage – I’m very impressed at Marcquet’s contemporary dancing, which is totally fluid and smooth, and they look great together, but there’s something missing.  Last week Jourdan was called out for smiling at odd times and I thought that was unfair; it’s this week that her mood seems inappropriate to me.  Aren’t they supposed to be yearning and unsatisfied now?  I don’t know what they’re trying to convey, and I don’t feel the connection between them.  They try all three umbrellas which are out of reach before finally hiding beneath the fourth, which lays on the floor.

“Ella, ella, ella…” Cat sings on her way out from the wings.  Okay.  You’re an interesting couple, Nigel muses. He doesn’t feel like he knows who Marcquet is.  Huh.  That certainly wasn’t my issue, though I agree that they’re somehow not projecting emotion as a pair.  Then he goes on at length about how Marcquet isn’t putting his weight over his feet properly so he’s wobbly during the lifts (Misty steps in to back Nigel up, and while they’re the experts, only a single tiny wobble’s visible to my untrained eye after repeatedly searching for it) and then slams him for a lack of discipline in general, which just seems rude. Jourdan’s the whole package, Misty says, except she can’t convey with her face the emotion she gets across with her body.  Which means she’s not in fact the whole package, right?  Ugh.  Nigel gets what Misty is saying – he thinks there’s a lack of vulnerability in Jourdan that’s problematic, and I can see where he’s coming from.  It’s a fair critique for this routine, anyway, but it shows perhaps a troubling trend in the voting if that’s responsible for the public’s reaction to her, especially since vulnerability wasn’t called for last week’s routine.

Poor Mary tries to salvage the situation, praising Marcquet for his tenderness and his extraordinary partnering.  Watch your feet, she cautions him, and then agrees that while the look of the stage was magical, and there was extraordinary attack and execution of the choreography, there was simply some element of performance missing from it.

In other words, Jourdan’s in big trouble, and they both are for next week if she survives.

Jessica & Stanley

America, did you know that Stanley wants to be a model? Um, in fact we did, though we hadn’t seen any photographs of him before, so there’s that.  He’s not bad.  For her part, Jessica loves to surf, but she doesn’t seem to be very good at it.

The two have drawn a Tyce Diorio jazz routine, which should be right in Jessica’s bailiwick and pretty comfortable for Stanley, too.  Tyce has brought an absolutely enormous oriental carpet to the practice space; the idea is that they’re dancing on a groovy magic carpet, and need to convey to us that they’re flying.  Okay.

Hand drums – and, it that cowbell? – introduce us to Nikka Costa’s “Funkier than a Mosquito’s Tweeter” a total 60s jam.  Wow, what’s up with Stanley and this kind of music?  Jessica’s hair is oddly puffed up to make her head look huge (why can this show not dress her properly?) and she’s wearing a beige dress with a shredded, spiderweb-like overlay;  Stanley has on pants with a beige tank that has a matching cobweb overlay.  There’s a wind machine, and the two run around and leap and bounce a lot, and their movement matches the music, and it gives the suggestion that they’re on top of something precarious some of the time, but the carpet’s too large and static to truly give the appearance of flight.  Also, some of their leaps are just too crazy to imagine anyone would do on a carpet.  Really, it’s an ill-conceived idea on Tyce’s part though certainly well danced.

Jessica, says Misty, your body says so much.  You need to trust your body and stop hamming it up with  your face. (It’s so true.  What she did was Broadway verging on mime.)  Stanley has this cool androgynous thing going on that Misty loves, but sometimes his eyes bug out “a little bit like wow, it’s a lot to take in.”  Mary agrees that the two have a tendency to oversell their performances, but lauds Stanley for catching air as well as any dancer they’ve ever had on the show (which is to say, as high as Chehon, the best ever).  Though Nigel’s happy to welcome back Tyce, he’s been disappointed in Jessica for not living up to her first stunning routine with Ricky.  She stole his heart in Callbacks (I’d date it from her audition), and he really wants her to find her place here.  Stanley could use some strength  in his core, but over all they were terrific (huh?) and he loves them both.  Um, okay.  That’s sure what it sounded like.

Bridget & Emilio

Emilio may tumble around like a ninja, Bridget tells us, but it turns out that he kind of is a ninja – he got his black belt in Tai Kwan Do when he was 12.  Impressive.  Emilio wants us to know that even though Bridget’s already confessed to being a nerd, she’s even more of a nerd than she implied. She goes to Renaissance Fairs, and has a wand.  Lots of people have wands, she laughs; no they don’t, he laughs, outraged.  (Yes they do!)

The contemporary dancer and the popper have a jive with Pasha and Anya.  Nice!  There’s no story – it’s just light and fun with a lot of variety.  It’s a rough start in rehearsal; Emilio drops Bridget right on her backside during a lift, and then she elbows him in the nose.  Doesn’t hurt like last year, he demurs after falling down in a comical faint, so we’re all good.

And how fun is this? Emilio’s kitted in rolled up jeans, a bow tie and suspenders over a white button down shirt, and Bridget totally rocks a kind of classic Hollywood cigarette girl look, wearing a blue sweetheart neckline dress with a poofy skirt, polka dot trim and headband, and a bevy of ruffles and cloth flowers.  She’s a peach.  And if that picture of adorableness isn’t enough, they’re dancing to Pharell’s “Happy” and there’s just so much bounce and snap and joy going on I can’t stand it.  As promised there’s a lot of variety in the routine, so much so that I fear the judges are going to come down on the dancers because there’s not enough classic jive.  There are great tricks, though, and no one lands on their butt or gets elbowed in the kisser, and they seem to have the rhythm down.  Naughty Bridget sort of spanks Emilio, but she’s so cute that it really looks like something Debbie Reynolds might have done in Singing in the Rain in her Coconut Grove number.

Mary’s dancing in her seat, Cat notes.  I was dancing, she says, and for people outside their style, you did great!  Why does everyone but Marcquet get a pass for dancing outside their style?  Blind to this bit of favoritism, Mary launches into a little story about how Anya inspired the Hot Tamale Train before telling us that Bridget really got the technique, and while Emilio needs to work on pointing his feet, he partnered ably.  Perhaps in a bid to be annoying, Nigel goes through a list of silly things Emilio has never done before, starting with lifting a girl in second position and ending with pointing his feet – which I’m sorry, he made it through the Call Backs two years running, the boy can point his feet.  As if that weren’t annoying enough, Nigel then asserts that Fik-shun never pointed his feet once last season (total lie) and look how it worked out for him!  He’s heartbroken and shocked that they’re in the bottom six.

Agreeing, Misty expresses her own surprise at this turn of events.  To her mind, these two are the perfect example of not overdoing the emotion in their faces, a bit of slam at the last two couples. Bridget was perfectly light and precise, and owned her femininity in the way that Misty last week expressed a hope she could manage.

Emily & Teddy

The other pair from the bottom gives us some actually new details; Emily loves spear fishing (such a useful skill if she’s ever shipwrecked) and Teddy is a boardgame Nazi (that, not so much).  The two have drawn a Tyce contemporary routine, which is a low concept contrast to his first (and, let’s face it,  not very successful) routine of the night; these two are desperate to stay together.  Solemnly Teddy tells us that he has to use a deeper part of himself than he’s shown us yet, which somehow doesn’t sound very authentic when he says it.

On the other hand, it feels authentic when he dances, almost surprisingly so.  Emily has her hair up and wears a short blue empire waist dress with in a floral pattern with yellows and oranges and greens: Teddy wears a short sleeve button down and a skinny tie.  It’s so formal tonight!  I’m totally loving the wardrobe.  Nina Simone’s smoky growl brings us “Ne Me Quitte Pas,”  and even though I often find French music a bit pretentious and melodramatic, this was emotional without being too far over the top.  The same is true for the routine; there’s drama, and a lot of coolly awkward bending and clutching and odd, desperate shapes – Emily’s feet are often deliberately flexed – but it all feels appropriate.  And clearly, Emily and Teddy are feeling it.  Though from the first audition I’ve like Emily’s personality and drive, she never stood out as a dancer to me before the live shows; since they’ve begun, however, she’s impressed me mightily each week.

Nigel loved the ugliness of the routine; love isn’t always lyric and lovely, it can be vulnerable and unflattering and strange.  He wonders if Tyce translated the lyrics for them (he did) and quotes a bit of it he attributes (sort of) to an unnamed American poet: “If you go away on a summer day, you’d take the sun away.”  He ends with an odd, awkward almost-compliment; dance can touch the human spirit, and they came really close to doing that there.  Thanks?

“Emily, do you speak French?” Misty wonders.  Nope.  “Your body does,” Misty replies.  Nice line!  You should always dance like you’re barefoot, she adds before saying that she’s a fan of Teddy’s, and that they were beautiful together.  There’s nothing Emily can’t do, Mary smiles warmly.  The choreographers must be jumping up and down with pleasure to have her.  For the first time, Mary found herself mesmerized by Teddy.

Before asking people to vote, Cat asks the pair if being in the bottom helped them, because she thought the routine had become even more brilliant in performance than in dress rehearsal.  Yes, Emily agrees; the song title means ‘don’t leave me,’ and we don’t want to leave.  Judging by the judges’ comments, I think you’re okay.  Of course, the judges saved their roughest comments for Jessica and Marcquet, who aren’t in the bottom.  I’ll be quite curious to see next week.

Casey & Brooklyn

Casey doesn’t just spend a ton of time on his hair, he’s also a total clotheshorse!  Metro all the way, baby.  For her part, Brooklyn skateboards, terribly.  What’s that about?  Why would you ever choose that to be your (or your partners) fact to share with the world?  Baffling.  A propos of nothing, has anyone else noticed that Casey has a total Joker smile?  His grin extends far beyond his lips.  Check it out, you’ll see what I mean.

The two have drawn a contemporary routine from Bonnie Story, who’s reaching to her High School Musical past; Casey’s crushing on Brooklyn and wants to ask her to dance at the Prom.  (Is that normal?  I mean, don’t you usually dance with your date at the Prom?  I’ve never really thought of the Prom as a place to either meet new people or finally approach your crush.)  Untroubled by these questions, Bonnie’s biggest concern is that neither dancer make a “technique face” – which is to say, she wants them to portray the emotion of the dance and not let their worry about doing it right spoil things.  Well.  I feel like that first rehearsal would be when you’d be most worried and least able to emotionally perform, right?  So hopefully they’ll get better from there.

First, let me say that the choreography is light on story.  It’s there, but there’s not a lot of it, and I really only saw it after re-watching; it’s quite different in that way from, say, Travis Wall’s Prom-themed “Collide.”  (Though that routine featured a very similar pink dress on Lauren, a kind of sweetheart halterneck with a sparkly top; Casey’s wearing dressy gray slacks and a vest over a pink button down.) And that’s because this routine is flat out dancing from start to finish and simply does not quit.  But oh my gosh, the dancing; I kind of love it extravagantly.  Michael Bubble’s “Crazy Little Thing Called Love” sets a zippy tone.  Mary may have been mesmerized by Teddy in the last routine, but it’s Casey I can’t keep my eyes off of, Casey who I’d been only mildly interested in before.  It’s quite fair in a way because last week’s routine featured Brooklyn, and this week, Casey gets to show us what he can do, and it’s much more than we’ve ever seen. His spins!  He does this crazy thing where he tucks one leg up like he’s sitting criss cross applesauce (as the preschool teachers say) and another where he spins down to the floor like an ice skater.  The two skim across the floor, moving from contemporary through a few ballroom-like moves which feels appropriate given the setting, and even though Brooklyn struggles a bit to keep up, it’s really cool.

The only thing crazier than love, Cat quips, is the amount of stuff in that routine.  True dat, Cat.  There really was no let up.  Brooklyn did more than last week, Misty says (funny, because I thought they liked her last week?) though she did detect a few technique faces.  Casey was all that is fabulous and she can’t wait to see him grow even more. Yes, Brooklyn had issues, but she got it, Mary decides; Casey’s a man on fire.   That was a tough one for you, kid, Nigel sort of gently chides Brooklyn.  Bonnie Story gave you a lot for an untrained dancer. Well, I have been trained, Brooklyn replies, stung, but I guess I could have done better.  If you’ve been trained you should have done better, Nigel scoffs, as if there’s only two levels (trained or untrained) and not levels of expertise.  Ouch!  Casey was smoking, and Brooklyn needs to work harder to keep up or her partner will steal all her votes.  Ouch again!  I don’t know how I feel about this voting for individuals bit.

Valerie & Ricky

Adorable Valerie loves pigs, has 200 stuffed animal ones (we see cute footage of her sitting with 30 or so on her bed, her beaming face surrounded by them) and occasionally will snort and oink at Ricky during rehearsal.  Ricky, for his part, used to be the mascot at his high school – dancing Barry the Barracuda.

That face glaring at the camera?  It’s Lacy Schwimmer, former SYTYCD finalist and occasional DWTS’s pro.  Oh, and sister of last week’s shamed choreographer/season 2 winner Benji Schwimmer.  She’s got a lovely Viennese Waltz for the pair, and in order to get the right romantic feel, she … duct tapes them together so they get the hold right?  Yet again, Valerie slays me with her commentary. “I’ve been taped to a tree, but not to a person.”  Oh, girl.

It will sound shallow, but the moment I see them I know my daughters are going to go insane over Valerie’s champagne colored dress, which floats down to her ankles, its outer layer a masterpiece of flowers, the top a sparkling combination of sheer shoulders and tiny pleats, her hair crowned with soft pink roses.  She’s a vision.  Daniel Radcliffe – I mean, Ricky – matches her in a champagne vest and pants set with a bow tie over a white shirt.  When you add the clean, soft up-lighting and Jason Mraz’s gorgeous “I Won’t Give Up” I’m sold from the first second.

And the routine does not disappoint. Okay, Ricky’s frame could be better, but I’m sure that looks worse because Valerie’s taller than him in her magical, sparkly heels.  Usually for me, this show’s Viennese Waltzes often fail to inspire, but oh my goodness.  Valerie’s dress floats up when she spins.  Her arms are light and graceful.  The two of them glow.  When she floats to the floor and he sweeps her over it, her shoes glittering, the audience sighs and swoons with pleasure.  There’s just such joy in her face as she finishes the routine, her dress spinning out like a flower almost up to her waist.  Spectacular.

After trilling her delight at having snatched Lacy back from Dancing With the Stars (all the while insuring us that the best reward is know that the contestants have work after the show), Mary heaps praise on the dancers.  Ricky’s topline was excellent (it was?), though if he does smooth ballroom again he’ll need to work on his feet.  Valerie, too, needs to work on her core a bit to get the form perfected, but the whole was beautiful and dreamlike.  I can’t critique your form, Nigel proclaims – he can only say that their performance was beyond reproach.  Generally Ricky is superb and a level above the dancers the show usually showcases, but tonight Valerie was Cinderella, and definitely up to Ricky’s standard.  She was gorgeous just breathing.  It’s good for America to see dancers of Ricky’s quality, Misty agrees, but tonight is Valerie’s night.

And it really was. It makes me smile.

Serge & Carly

Because setting the routine to the same song last week wasn’t enough of a coincidence, guess who Serge’s best friends are?  Max and Val Chmerkovskiy of Dancing With The Stars. Get out of town!  We have actual video footage of them playing pool and videogames together.  Damn. Carly was on the gold medal winning dance team at ASU.  Don’t call her a cheerleader, Serge warns.  (I assume that’s Arizona State University?)

This week, they’ve drawn a Luther Brown hip hop; the man himself chuckles wickedly as he explains his plan for the two to be skeleton people.  Carly’s a beast, he tells us, surprised and impressed; Serge, not so much.  The dance is set to the very creepy sounding “Senile” by Young Money, featuring (are you ready for it?) Tyga, Nikki Minaj and Lil’ Wayne, and the dancers are wearing – well.  Face paint to look like skeletons, first, and then a black body suit with a gold skeleton on it for Carly, and black sweats featuring the same bones for Serge (only on his, the pelvis appears on the sweatshirt so he’s got hips in his stomach).

And while last week’s hip hop was just okay, this one really sparkles.  I love their boney movement, the intense creepiness of Serge’s stare, the way their limbs swing, arms hanging from their shoulders.  There’s one section particularly where they crouch down and rotate their arms and backs that looks totally like you’d imagine a re-animated skeleton.  It’s awesomeAwesome.  Carly does particularly kick butt – she’s in the front in a lot of sections – but Serge holds his own ably.

When she glides over to get them, Cat starts quoting Michael Jackson’s “Thriller,” which I love.  (I love “Thriller,” and I love that she quoted it, in case you were wondering.)  The routine presents Nigel with a bit of a conundrum; will people get it?  Will they understand how hard it was, will they vote?  I can’t help thinking that this comment – which sounds like criticism and has the audience up in arms – is a sort of a backwards favor, an reverse psychology attempt to get the audience to prove they do get it by voting.  I’m not sure we really needed the extra push, Nigel; this was far more interesting than Luther’s routine from last week.

Misty dares to disagree; she thought the routine was wonderful and thinks it’s a great thing to educate the audience in how hard it is to step out of one’s style. Serge’s so impressive, really embodying what it’s like to be a dancer.  Carly fully grasped the concept and character and excelled; the bit where her head and neck rotated independently of each other was spectacular.  Yes.  It was!  Mary loved the routine too; Carly is definitely a beast, she was down in it for sure, and so was Serge. Good on you, dancers!

Tanisha & Rudy

Ever the master of the obvious, Rudy wants us to know that when Tanisha says she has a big family, and gave us the number of siblings and nieces and nephews she has, she really means a BIG family.  Um, thanks, Rudy/producers.  We get a lot of pictures of her family being blonde and wholesome looking together.  We also get footage of Rudy with a few girls on his arms (Bridget’s one of them) but we know his heart is reserved for Jacque.  Funny that the show is running with this, huh?  I hear there are a lot of backstage romances but we don’t usually get to know.  Possibly because talking about some of them would mean outing the dancers?

Anyway.  For the last routine of the evening, Tanisha and Rudy luck out with Nigel’s promised Tony winning Broadway choreographer – Warren Carlyle, who lost to Derek Hough for last year’s choreography Emmy along with the SYT crowd.  He’s might not have gotten any of the tappers, but he’s going to throw a little soft shoe in there anyway, gosh darn it!  Well, he doesn’t say gosh darn it, because he’s British, but you get the idea. “I don’t tap,” Rudy proclaims in horror. “I know,” Warren replies knowingly. Ha! Still, he thinks if they can execute it properly it’s going to be a showstopper.

Just in case you were still wondering whether this was serious Broadway or not, Carlyle chooses “Sing Sing Sing (part 2)” from Fosse. The lighting somehow achieves an Art Deco effect, and Tanisha’s dressed as a flapper in silver with dark beading and fringe; Rudy’s in suit pants and a vest over a shirt and tie; his cuffs match Tanisha’s dress.

This routine, too, is flat out dance all the time, and it’s a style I adore.  I’m so impressed at their facility with the canes, although this highlights the fact that the dancers moves don’t match; Tanisha twists hers to the side as Rudy lifts his straight above.  Usually dancers strive to eliminate these kind of distinctions, right?  Between the drive and all the complicated fun choreography, I still love it – and some aspects are better matched, like the spins and the aerials – but I can’t help expecting that the dancers will get slammed.  It doesn’t look like Tanisha even tries to execute the soft shoe section, for one thing.   I’m sounding like I wasn’t a fan, which is wrong; I can love and still see the faults.

I am completely wrong about the critical reaction; all three judges are on their feet as the crowd cheers wildly.  Misty actually raises it as a positive that they danced in unison but executed the moves differently.  I’m baffled again.  She thinks Broadway’s perfect for Rudy.  For her part, Mary was dancing along in her seat.  It was a showstopper she says.  (Well.  Literally it was end of the show…)  Tanisha’s terrific (yes) and Rudy has dance running through his veins.  Rudy cannot stop making weird faces at the audience; I think maybe it’s his family, but he also seems to be pointing to Warren so I’m at a loss.  We get a long story from Nigel about how he gave Warren a tap trophy 30 years ago, and the young man went on to fame and fortune and an assistant-ship with Susan Stroman.  It doesn’t seem like the timing could be right for him to be in the original cast of Cats, but okay.  Anyway, he praises Tanisha’s technique before continuing his odd insistence that Rudy’s lack of technique is irrelevant because he is – and I quote – such a shining light and “lovable character.” Okay, Nigel, I know you’re a producer, but he’s not a character on your show.  He’s a person.

Anyway.  Cat sidles over and wheedles a little information out of Rudy on the subject of (you guessed it) a special girlie that he likes.  What is it about Jacque that makes his light shine that much brighter?  “She’s perfect,” he sighs.  Cue the “aw.”

Cat reads us a tweet from Wednesday morning. “Almost one year ago Amy Yakima and Robert Roldan danced to “Say Something” on So You Think You Can Dance and our lives changed forever.”  Aw!  A Great Big World performs their hit with a string quartet and the West Los Angeles Children’s’ Choir, which is pretty great.

And then Nigel gets down to business.  The judges have decided to just eliminate the dancers with the lowest vote total, which happens to correspond to the two dancers they slammed most out of the bottom six: Jourdan and Stanley.  Aw.  Sunny/funny/fierce Stanley reprises his stomp on the stage (“this? this is home”) and both dancers talk about how they’ve loved the experience and their fellow competitors.  Well, you can both hold your heads up, guys. You may have been undone by difficult routines, but you both still shone.

Tune in next week to see if Jessica continues her role as a partner-killer; she’ll be dancing with the object of the judges most recent ire, Marcquet.  I’m rooting for you, dude, but the odds don’t look like they’re in your favor.

One comment on “So You Think You Can Dance: Top Eighteen, S11

  1. mấy bình ảnh trang trí phòng tắm bằng gạch mosaic trong bài nhìn đẹp quá

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