So You Think You Can Dance: Season 11, Top Sixteen

E: Well, that was a terrific couple hours of dance (the group routines! I swoon!) followed by an oh so predictable elimination.  The two dancers the judges ranked on the most last week go home: surprise!  There are a few actual surprises in store, but they relate to next week’s episode; first that next week’s a double elimination week which will take us from the top fourteen to the top ten (horrible horrible horrible), and then that after a massive block of Misty, we’ll get a new (unnamed) guest judge. Also, I’m fascinated by the way the public (including myself) are responding to the contestants. Dancers who seemed to be cannon fodder because we’d never seen them excel, while dancers who received scads of screen time falter.  On the other hand, still other dancers who received lots of screen time appear critique-proof. It’s fascinating.

On Cat’s closet watch: this week she’s wearing a glittery silver mini-dress with long sleeves and a mock turtle neck, accompanied by a large rectangular emerald ring.  We opens up to a Mandy Moore routine where the female dancers wear scarves and bodysuits with cut outs that make them look like glamorous old fashioned bathing suits (sort of high waist-ed bikinis) with their hair slicked back, the boys in long pants and either tanks or v-neck t-shirts in purple and an olive brown, dancing to Annie Lennox’s “Take Me To the River.”

While it’s no chess match, it’s really good.  The opening image of the eight women backlit with their scarves undulating is terrifically dramatic.  Somehow, there’s this back and forth feeling to it that makes me think of tides and women scrubbing clothes against washboards on a riverbank, the dancers pulling each other back and forth.  Literally the women lie on the edge of the stage, and the men pull them back by their legs.  It’s rhythmical.  I’m a fan; it’s got a nice feeling to it.  Good on you, Emmy nominated choreographer Mandy Moore!

After introducing the judges (Mary in shades of gold and Misty in a white dress that makes me think of tennis, but in a really good way), Cat gets down to the dirty.  This week’s dancers in danger are Bridget (huh?), Brooklyn (duh), Tanisha (are you kidding me?), Marcquet (duh), Serge (I guess he was standing behind Carly the whole time?) and Zack.  Someone has to be on the bottom, but most of these are head-scratchers.  I have a feeling that in the new voting system, having a well-liked partner (Rudy, Jessica) works against you because they steal all the votes. I am quite curious that Jacque managed to do better than Zack; neither of them got a lot of attention in the audition rounds but he certainly got more, and gets more praise from the judges.  Perhaps her little romance with Rudy (and her adorable personality) has drawn Jacque some fans?  It seems clear as day, however, that Marcquet and Brooklyn are on the chopping block.  I can’t imagine how badly the other four would have to fail (or in what way those two would be able to excel enough) to alter that.

Valerie & Ricky

It’s the first Bollywood of the season, what what!

Oh, wait.  Do you want to hear about the dancers’ first performances?  Valerie is a self proclaimed imaginative weirdo, and she did a dance as a tiny tot where all the dads had to come out on the stage behind their little daughters.  Ricky performed an overwrought emotional contemporary piece at about 12 that embarrasses him completely now.  It’s just a clear mark of our culture that the girls on this show all have performances from when they were tiny, and the guys are almost all older.  Girls were put there by their families and then decided to go on with it on their own; the boys, mostly, have to seek it out themselves.

Okay.  Back to Bollywood. As ever they’re dancing to a movie track, this time “Dilliwaali Girlfriend” from Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani. Of course Nakul Dev Mahajan does the honors, and his concept is – as usual – fast, high energy and sexy.  Both Valerie and Ricky laugh at the idea of her being sexy; she’s much too cute and nice and like a sister to Ricky for either of them to feel comfortable with that.

What she is in this routine is radiant, really.  She just beams the whole time, and as ever the clothes are stunning jewel tones – she’s in a purple cropped top with a long red skirt that’s covered with gold embroidery, with small jewels on her face and her hair braided back.  I don’t know if it’s sexy, but it’s fun and fast and self-assured.  Actually, I’m not sure if I see real lust coming from Ricky, either, even when he tries to kiss her; it’s blistering speed with super cool repeated jump-spins for Ricky and blazing footwork for them both.  His lines are so sharp that on the first viewing I feel like he’s wiped the floor with her, but on a second look, she shines as well, except perhaps for the moment when she walks up his knee and onto his shoulder – she looks a little nervous starting that lift.  It’s incredibly impressive that they can maintain the same energy level throughout.

Let me step back for a second and say that I can’t decide whether this pairing was a good idea or not.  Valerie is so incredibly likable, and Ricky’s so ridiculously talented – I can see how the producers felt it’d work.  I can’t help feeling that Ricky makes Valerie look bad sometimes, even though she isn’t, because he’s so blazingly fast and brilliant  – but then last week, I almost felt like Ricky disappeared (partly because she towered over him in her heels).  Maybe that’s ballroom for you, where the guy can often be the pedestal the girl stands on, but to have it happen between them is surprising.  Anyway, in the best pairings you feel like the two dancers complete each other, not compete against each other; last year seemed like the season of perfect pairings, but this year, I’m still not sold on most of them and here we have only a single week left with the original pairs!

Anyway.  The judges love it.  Mary calls Nakul out for beaming like a proud papa (he puffs out his chest in the audience to show his pleasure), and then lauds the high octane explosion of love and joy before complimenting both dancers on their stamina.  Thinking of the energy level as well, Nigel compares Bollywood to disco, saying that the only moment of rest the two got was when Ricky (lamentably) drummed on Valerie’s backside. He wonders what Valerie said while she was sitting on Ricky’s shoulder, which turns out to have been “okay, bye”; neither of you’ll be saying that next week, he predicts.  For Misty, the educational aspect of sharing Bollywood dance with America is her favorite part.  Well, that and Ricky, who she adores.  Valerie could have been sharper, but her energy never flagged.

Bridget & Emilio

If you need more evidence of what I was saying about girls and guys coming to dance at different ages, we see an eight year old Bridget skid around the stage, and Emilio with a crew at 19.   19!  Seriously, half the contestants left are younger than that. The pair’s drawn a Travis Wall contemporary routine – lucky them, and lucky Bridget to get her own style when she’s in the bottom.  Why is this girl not connecting with the audience?  She’s super talented, gorgeous, and seems like a sweet person.  I’m at a loss.  Emilio’s clearly a fan; I’m going to have to rely on her to get the style right, he tells the camera, but knowing that I can rely on her gives me complete confidence.  Aw!

Anyway.  I’m not worried about her at all for this week, though next week could be another story.  Travis’s very cool concept is that Bridget’s the embodiment of personal baggage that Emilio has to move past.  He’s set the dance to Chris Garneau’s “The Leaving Song,” which I’d never heard before but quite liked (always a plus) and has a wrought iron bed frame standing in the middle of the stage within a grid of light – the rest of the stage remaining in darkness.  Emilio’s wearing a light colored button down, while Bridget wears a more fantastical shredded costume of white with black spider-webbing all over it (including some painted onto her skin).

From the first it reminds me of Mia Michael’s “Addiction” with the way Bridget viciously holds Emilio down, manipulates him.  Bridget’s controlled and controlling, utterly dominating Emilio, cool in her confidence, even imperious.  He tries to run, she pulls him back – she stretches him around like putty.  “I know you like it, I know you like it,” Chris Garneau wails plaintively.  Emilio tosses Bridget up over his head, spins her, trying to dislodge her, and rushes back to the bed, trying to scrape her off onto the frame, her feet splayed against the headboard as she leans on his shoulders, weighing him down.  She slips down his body as the lift ends, wrapping her feet around his ankles as he tries to leave, pulling him under the bed frame.  Smartly, he scuttles under the headboard and though she clutches him through its bars, he’s able to throw off her arms and strike out on his own.

When Emilio comes back to the front of the stage to receive his critique, it’s clear he’s still very emotional, that he’s gone to a deep place in order to access this. Tenderly, Bridget wraps her arms around him and asks if he’s okay.  The powerful choreography blows Nigel away, and we get an interesting personal reflection where he talks about the crippling power of guilt.  Or at least, it seems personal when he says it. Guess what?  Emilio pointed his toes!  Bridget brought us the emotion with her whole body, and shone in her own style. Bridget was Emilio’s rock, Misty agrees, noting that he was actually able to do a ponche (the move where he leans forward, partly supported by her, and puts a foot high up behind him).  To take up time, Cat makes them demonstrate – and actually, I’m glad they did.  I learned something!   Mary loves Travis, loves the song, loves the two of them, and thought it was a wow moment full of beautiful control and partnering.  Unusually, there’s no mention of Bridget being in the bottom six.

Tanisha & Rudy

Now we know that Rudy started dancing at an usually young age for a boy and we see a clip of him at perhaps 9 salsa dancing.  He’s a ham with his shoulders up.  9 year old Tanisha does a very impressive cheerleader inspired dance routine with pom poms where she has a little solo, doing some handsprings and landing in a split.  Super impressive.

Dave Scott’s idea for this week is a black and white comic book (high contrast graphics, yo) in which Tanisha’s an irresistible vixen with a deadly kiss.  We’ve seen the basic concept before, most recently in Christopher Scott’s routine for Hayley and Curtis last year, but it’s not a bad one for all that, and his staging is fun with wonderful window lighting on the walls that make you feel like you’re in a film noir city at night.  Rudy leans against a streetlamp (its bulb a pulpy bloody red) in a black suit with a black shirt and tie and a black fedora, alone in the spotlight; Tanisha commands the stage in a black leather bodysuit rife with cut outs (her back, her midriff, her shoulders, her thigh) and red high heeled boots.  It’s unreal. (“Somewhere in Utah, a father is crying,” my husband observes.)

I’d never heard Usher’s “Good Kisser,” but it’s perfect, and so are the dancers.  I mean oh my gosh, they’re so fantastic. There’s a feeling of jazz to the piece, and the story telling is clear enough to be Broadway, and oh my goodness is it sexy.  Rudy’s a player, drawn to the dangerous girl, and she’s such an overwhelmingly sexy femme fatale, and he’s all about it, and they almost kiss about five times before they do, and he absolutely tries to eat her shoulder.  They bump bellies, they undulate, they slink around each other, sinuous yet also sharp, and it’s such good stuff.  In the end, of course, she grabs his face, plants one on him, and throws him dismissively to the floor.

Baby, you got serious back, Cat practically wolf whistles. You’re like a Tarantino villainess! “Holy cow, Tanisha!,” Misty gushes before praising the girl for not overdoing the sexiness.  I’m not sure I agree that anything about it was subtle, but it was lived; she wasn’t trying to telegraph anything with her face or put it on.  It was all just there in her body.  That was so powerful, Mary enthuses, so strong and incredible.  For once Rudy’s shoulders weren’t hunched (yes!), but instead his body was free and loose; the audience goes nuts when she mentions him.  (Sigh.)  It was a great routine that suited you both, Nigel observes (heck yeah) but he cannot stop talking about Tanisha.  Like Cat, she made him think of Uma Thurman in Kill Bill or as Poison Ivy in that terrible Batman movie.

Jessica & Marcquet

Ah, Jessica the black widow.  Another week, another partner to chew up and send home.  It’s really not her fault – besides Nick they’re all toast before she gets to them – but it’s getting to be ridiculous.

But we get to see the black widow in fluffy pink Honey Boo clothes in her first filmed performance; my notes refer to it as a pink bow nightmare.  For his part, Marcquet looks about 14 (although I suppose given how tall he is he could be younger), at a ballroom competition, his hair closely cropped.

I was so rooting for Marcquet’s last performance to be hip hop; we did get to see him in that group routine last week, but I desperately wanted to see him in a duet. He’d have killed it, right?  But no. They have a Dmitri Chaplin foxtrot; all of the plot we get articulated is Marcquet’s character, who is a successful businessman not unlike Nigel. “I’d rather picture Marcquet than Nigel,” Jessica tells us, justly horrified.  (Funny that she’s so far drawn two ballroom routines, isn’t it? I feel a little sorry for her, though considering she escaped the bottom yet again for a problematic routine, not that sorry.)  But since the editors are much more interested the Nigel comparison, we don’t really hear what the businessman is supposed to do other than sit in his suit in that huge, high-backed armchair.

Some good things about the start; Nina Simone’s “I Put A Spell On You,” which is just spectacular, and also Jessica’s full length blue dress with incredible draping and silk and glitter.  Oh, and her hair – it’s all so Golden Age of Hollywood/vintage Miss Piggy I can’t stand it.  Waaaay better than last week.  The general plot seems to be that Jessica casts a spell on Marcquet, although why he’s a business man I don’t have any idea.  I’m also not sure, but I suspect she’s a figment of his imagination, perhaps a day dream; I’m guess that’s the point of all the fog and dramatic uplights.  At any rate, she pops up behind his chair and dances with him around the room.  Her legs are a bit awkward in an over the head lift, did anyone else see that?  Of course she’s sexy but I really wish she’d take the critique about her over the top facial, expressions – and he’s pretty manly and sexy, too. I love Marcquet, and I want to see him shine, but his face isn’t the most expressive when he’s dancing. (It is when he’s talking, and also when he does hip hop, which is part of why I wanted that for him.)  He’s so capable and talented; why isn’t that coming across?  I loved the final moment, though, when Jessica pushes him back into his chair and he composes himself, drumming his long fingers on the arm rest.

It didn’t put  a spell on me, Mary declares – boo me if you need to.  The awful thing is, nobody boos.  Does that mean the audience is shocked, or that they didn’t like it either?  There were great moments, of course (the side by side bits were great), but she’s not surprised it didn’t all come together perfectly; Marcquet does latin ballroom, not standard, so this dance is completely new to him.  Jessica looked breathtaking.  What, that’s it?  The routine didn’t flow like Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire, Nigel tells Dmitri, which is what he prefer from the foxtrot.  (I don’t know – I think those routines often result in people going home.  I’m not sorry Dmitri tried to do more, I just wish he got to explain the story a little.) He too pulls a Paula Abdul and tells Jessica she looks fantastic.  Misty has a bit of a smackdown for them both; Jessica is still not thinking about extending her neck properly, and Marcquet had some foot issues, although in general she thought his dancing was gorgeous and manly.

As with Bridget and Tanisha, there’s no mention of him being in the bottom.  This is a departure for the show, but the judges keep it up all episode. Sigh.

Carly & Serge

When Carly was two, she wore a tutu for the entire year.  (My youngest was like that with a fake fur jacket.)  We get a little film of her at her sister’s birthday party, dancing around the deck.  Serge dances as a young teen in clothes that he thinks aren’t ballroom enough (which shows how immersed in the ballroom world he is, because in what universe would those be regular clothes?).  They have their second contemporary routine (very weird, but I’m not going to complain because they rock it), this time with Mandy Moore.  Her idea is that Carly wants something (love, probably) from Serge, and he toys with her desire.

Before they dance,  I want to say that for me, these two are the best partnership on the show; we knew virtually nothing about Carly before the live shows aired, and I like her more and more each episode.  Each episode brings me more respect for Serge as a dancer as well; he’s perhaps not so prepossessing as Carly, but they’re so well matched, and more importantly they each give completely. Neither overshadows the other. They fit. They’re a surprise and a delight to me.

Okay, so.  As always, Mandy’s pulled a tune out of her 80s/90s handbook (this time Jewell’s “Foolish Games”) and fills it with emotion.  Serge wears a heathered, cowl neck sweater, and Carly a simple purple dress (no plunging neckline for once) and you feel the story easily – how much she wants him, the way he toys with her, invading her space only to slip off to the side, chasing her only to run away. He wraps his arms around her, then drops her. He gathers her in, then pushes her aside. Eventually, she tries to hold him off, but he’s focused utterly on breaching her defenses just long enough to clutch her and leave.  In the piece’s most spectacular move, he pushes her away and she lowers herself backwards, standing on her toes until he catches her head with his foot; I think this is called a hinge in ballroom, but I don’t remember ever seeing it done in a contemporary piece, and never with such slow, anguished control.

Before he can critique this routine, Nigel wants us to know how much he loved Mandy’s opening number (a lot) and that in his desire to express concern about their routine last week he failed to praise Carly for her brilliant performance.  For his part, Serge is a tremendous partner, who grows and learns every week; his thirst for new skills is plain. Misty, too, loves their partnership, and praises Carly for dancing with her whole body. You’re the most improved dancer of the season, Mary tells Serge, something I find hard to appreciate since he’s been fantastic in everything I’ve seen him do.  Their passion and connection as a pair is incredible.

Emily & Teddy

Teddy, that ham of hams, wiggled his eyebrows during performances even back in middle school.  We see Emily in a baby ballet class, unable to stay in line because she can’t be the leader.

And, yikes, they’ve drawn salsa.  That’s a little scary.  Their choreographer is former contestant Jonathan Plantero, along with Oksana Dmytrenko (who seems to be his girlfriend, given that he spends the entire rehearsal package and every moment we see them in the audience with his arm draped over her shoulder), and it promises to be full of tricks and fast footwork.  The song is “Bruk it Down (Soca remix)” by Mr. Vegas featuring Alison Hinds.

The choreographer’s have dressed Teddy all in black with a fitted shirt and tuxedo pants, and Emily in a kind of crazy Salsa Barbie outfit with a cut out belly and a flouncy floral skirt.  He won that round for sure.  And he wins the dance, too – she’s a terrific dancer, but her back is stiff and after she slips in the beginning, she seems tentative to me, but he’s all fast footwork and swiveling hips.  It’s a surprise, actually, how good at this he is, because he’s way outside his comfort zone.  (I think I may have a bit of a chip on my shoulder about Silky Moore, too, because I have real issues warming to Teddy – yet I can’t help respect what he’s done here.)   They do it, and God she tries, but she doesn’t have the fluidity or speed I want to see, or the sharpness.  I’m super worried for her for next week. In the audience, we can see Emily’s mom cheering – or at least, I assume that’s who she is because she looks exactly like Emily.

You recovered so well from the slip, Misty tells Emily, which is the mark of a professional since that happens to everyone.  Of course, she continues, you did seem uncomfortable.  Teddy, on the other hand,  was a fierce, fabulous partner.  This was a tough routine far outside either of your comfort zones, Mary notes.  There were exchanges missed (yes – several very obvious to me, and you know that’s bad) but she too thought Teddy was closer to the proper technique.  Helpfully, Nigel explains to us that Emily dislocated her shoulder, which probably accounts for her tentative performance.  Why did we not have that information right away?  That’s kind of relevant!  It was  great routine that would have been better if she wasn’t injured – but the show went on, and he admires her for that.

 Jacque & Zack

Before our final male member of the bottom six dances, we see his first recorded performance, a pigeon toed tap number.  He’s actually pretty young, considering that he’s male.  Talk about your pink nightmares – Jacque drips with pink boas all over her dress and hat.  Too funny.  These two have a Sonya jazz piece about a pair of former lovers who, in a chance meeting, rekindle their romance.  Sonya’s super into Zack; she can’t believe how good he is at jazz for a tapper.  On the other hand, Jacque comes in for the usual ballerina critique for trying to make everything too pretty.  Sonya needs her to be a ball of fire!

The clothes are fabulous – Zack’s in shiny back (vest over sleeveless top) and Jacque’s in an amazing pale pink ensemble with clear Art Deco/ roaring twenties influence even though it can’t exactly be called a flapper dress  – it’s much too fitted for that, cinched at the waist with twisting ruffles over black thigh high stockings and garters.  She’s even wearing a fascinator with a curling pink feather, and a pink fur she tosses in invitation as soon as she sees Zack.  They flirt like two people who aren’t strangers, that’s for sure – potentially the coolest move comes early when Zack runs his hands down Jacque’s legs, holding her massive black high heels steady so she can walk out of them. She gets across the character really well, but I want more energy in her extensions, or something – I want to feel like she’s inhabiting the role with all of her the way Tanisha did; to be fair, we don’t even see that much of Zack’s face so every emotion I feel from him comes from his body, which is good, but maybe not enough either?  After that there’s a lot of finger curling and tossing of Jacque over Zack’s shoulder.  No, wait – the highpoint is definitely the slow, curved handstand Zack does over Jacque’s body.  Complete insanity.  The slow, sexy ending’s pretty fantastic too, because it has all of the tension (those braced arms!) I wanted to see throughout the whole.

Oooh, it’s like The Garden, Cat suggests, and while it wasn’t as good as The Garden, it’s very like, and not just in the costuming.  (Maybe that’s bad, actually, because when you compare the acting in the two, this new routine suffers.) She also mentions that the song – Beyonce and Andre 3000’s cover of the Amy Winehouse classic “Back to Black” – hails from The Great Gatsby soundtrack, which makes a lot of sense of the costumes.  Mary loved the way that Jacque got rid of the heels (which were clearly too tall to dance in).  She loved Sonya’s unique transitions, and thought Zack was impressively in character.  Nigel adores Sonya, but he couldn’t find the emotion in this particular piece.   I can see that, sort of; it was maybe 85% fantastic for me, when it had the capacity to be completely so.  Adding to the ranks of the mildly disappointed is Misty, who expected more refinement from Jacque in her footwork and details; she was impressed by Zack.  This critique prompts Nigel to ask if she’s tougher on the girls than the guys.  I can’t decide if I agree with that, but Misty does; certainly as a ballerina she’d be tougher on Jacque, but really, she just thinks the guys are better this season.

Which, hmmm.  Is that true?  It might be true.  Then again, I don’t know. Tanisha, Bridget and Carly definitely have my loyalty.

Brooklyn & Casey

Casey’s 8 and doing a hip hop show, which is definitely on the younger end for the guys, but you know what I mean, though – he’s not 3 or 4, like most of the girls.  It’s unremarkable, but contains the best thing ever; he’s less embarrassed about his pedestrian attempt at the worm than he is about his frosted tips.  Say what?  Who gives an 8 year old frosted tips?  Brooklyn did a tap routine in a yellow leather jacket (which, yikes, can you imagine the expense of ordering those leather jackets for all those kids?) and felt super cool.

The two have drawn hip hop – nice – with Will “Wildabeast” Adams, who is new to the show and very simply wants them to embody their inner beasts.  He uses “Hustle Hard Remix” by Ace Hood featuring Rick Ross and Lil Wayne, which is hard driving and deeply rhythmic.  And, huh.  Brooklyn rips it apart!  She’s way tougher than I would have imagined, and definitely fighting hard for her spot.

But – I don’t know.  They do really well, but I don’t love the routine.  To be honest I think a large part of it is the costumes, which are essentially gym clothes  – matching leggings, though Casey has sweatshorts on over his – and short tanks under what appears to be fencing vests?  It’s totally bizarre, wearing protective gear, and honestly the whole thing gave me the feeling that I was watching a really demanding workout video.  Mr. E believes this is because there’s no plot, and that’s a part of it too; I think part of it is that they largely dance side by side without interacting much, which again is very like an exercise class that would be really great to take.  It’s just odd.  I mean, it’s good, they’re impressive, but still  .  When they’re done, Wildabeast goes nuts in the audience, which tells me that they hewed closely to his vision, anyway.

Turns out that Nigel recruited Wildabeast from a youtube channel!  Nuts.  I’ll have to see what’s on Dance On.  Well, not that I was so enamored of this piece, but now I’m just curious about the channel.  He thought that neither of them got down enough (really? I think I disagree), although Brooklyn made a damn good attempt.  Mostly, though, he just can’t believe that someone put Casey on his stage in those shorts.  (Yes.  Odd. Was it a modesty thing, I wonder?)  That’s the most confident we’ve ever seen you, Misty tells Brooklyn. She thought it was fabulous and that Brooklyn stole it.  Like Nigel, Mary thought the first half could have been lower in the pocket, but found the second half nicely hard hitting.  It was definitely Brooklyn at her best.  How nice to know she’ll leave on a high point!  In the audience, Will stands for them.

Sonya Tayeh Mini-Group Routine

For the first of two contemporary groupings, Tanisha, Zack, Emily, Casey, Emilio, Serge, Valerie and Brooklyn become Sonya’s village of broken people, which is the most concise and evocative plot description of the night; it clearly conveys what Sonya wants from the piece, which is a lot of anguish.  Her dancers are dolled up like china – their hair back, wearing white mesh tunics over tanks tops (and in the boys’ case, gray pants) with a thick opaque band on the bottom.  Taking this china doll vision even more literally, the make up staff has drawn cracks on the dancers skin, spidering over their legs and cheeks and arms, each one uniquely smashed.

Somehow Bjork’s “So Broken” fits perfectly, ethereal and jangling and distressed; really, the dance seems to come out of the song.  At first they stand in a unit, and then break apart, lost in their own wanderings, grubbing along the ground in pained contortions.  It’s spectacular, really; I love the whole feeling of it, the way they move as individuals but also somehow as much of a unit as if they’d been doing the same moves.  They support each other through their personal pain; the group holds Tanisha inverted above their heads, and she leans far back, a silent scream of devastation.  It reminds me a bit of The Leftovers, the new HBO series with the white-dressed cult who try to erase themselves through silence and cigarette smoke, except it’s really the opposite because the cult is frozen in pain without either feeling or transcending it.  After Tanisha, Emilio is lifted up.  The dancers stand together and lean until they all fall over.  They stand together.  They stand together.

Beautifully horrific, Cat says.  After commenting on their cohesive teamwork, Misty declares that Tanisha’s a shooting star, the team captain.  (Yes.  Tanisha could not be more awesome, and what a night for her over all!)  Sonya has outdone herself, Mary adds; each dancer got a chance to shine, and even with Tanisha as a standout, each dancer showed tremendous passion.  (I’d call this a very impressive night for Emilio, too – three contemporary routines and a ton of emotion!)  This is the Sonya I love, Nigel crows, which is kind of annoying because it’s a slap on her previous routine; he’s not a Bjork fan, but it fit.  (I don’t that I could listen to an album of her, but this was perfect.)  The “children of the corn” (ha) were so good that he wished he was a part of it.  Needed to kill more time, Cat asks Emilio how it felt, and he said they put the world on their bodies as Sonya asked, which makes Sonya tear up in the audience.  And because they were so good at being sad, Cat does her happy munchkin dance.

Travis Wall Mini-Group Routine

It follows that Travis has Marcquet, Ricky, Rudy, Teddy, Bridget, Carly, Jacque and Jessica to complete his vision of outlaws trying to escape a city, destroying everything in their wake and flinging themselves off the landscape.  And in Travis’s dream city, this will be shown not by scenery but by the dancers flinging themselves off each other.

So.  Cool.  He’s using the beautifully thumping, relentless beat of OneRepublic’s “Love Runs Out” and has garbed his little troupe in black suits covered with the kind of straps and loops you’d find on a handbag. The girls’ version, of course, features a bustier with a strap going up to a collar, like Sonya made Rudy wear a few weeks ago.  Everyone is smeared with black eye make up which looks weirdly fantastic on the guys, especially Marcquet and an absolutely villainous-looking Ricky,  but not so great on Jessica who has her entire eye sockets blacked out.  It’s just as terrific as the first routine, but very different; the dancers are avid, aggressive, and they spread out all over the stage with a reckless, manic, thrilling magic. There are long passages of unison work with I completely love (hair whipping!  excellent!) but there are also the promised moments when they clump together and essentially toss each other in the air.  Ricky goes up!  Rudy goes up!  Marcquet even tosses Teddy across the stage. And then, holy crap, Carly the dance team champion stands straight on her teammates, falls back, stands up and falls forward!  I will say it again; holy crap.  The routine ends with Ricky hanging over the edge of the stage, his fellows holding the edges of his jacket so he doesn’t fall.

“Don’t do it!” Cat scoots up underneath him. “Don’t jump!”  Ha ha.  Absolutely over the moon, Nigel lauds his editing staff for live cutting the routine, the sensational choreography, the outstanding dancers in both routines. In the choreographer’s ghetto, a jubilant Travis and Sonya clutch each other.  “If we don’t win the Emmy then I don’t know why we won’t.”  Heh.  He’s taken his trumpet and blown it from the rooftop, Cat laughs.  That was incredible, Misty smiles, and of course Ricky impresses her with his facility to become whatever is asked of him.  (And he looks fabulous in guyliner, Cat adds – which is quite true.  Evil suits him.)  For her part, Mary gets everyone doing Cat’s happy dance, and then stands and screams, causing Nigel and Misty to stand as well.  She – with Cat’s help – calls out Carly for her incredible balance work. Marcquet, she finishes, I was hard on you before, but you tore that up!  Marcquet actually falls over with surprise and gratitude at the unexpected compliment.

While the judges deliberate (like there’s any question) we get to hear Lucy Hale, a past winner of American Juniors best known as a lead cast member of Pretty Little Liars.  It’s – well, maybe not absolutely terrible, but certainly not good.  This is just a brief delay of the inevitable; Nigel says for the second week in a row that they’re just going with America’s vote (which he rather ridiculously claims is always his aim) and sends Marcquet and Brooklyn home to absolutely no one’s surprise.  Happily he does it in a classy way, saying that all six dancers had a stand out week which made it incredible painful to lose any of them.  Tanisha looks devastated.  Being on So You Think You Can Dance has been a life-long dream, Marcquet tells us, how can he complain?  Good attitude! Brooklyn, too, expresses her gratitude for the opportunity. I just wish the show had given you more of a fair shake, because you are bloody fantastic.  Coming into the live shows, I had you pegged as a possible winner because of your tremendous facility with so many styles.  Cat reminds us that Brooklyn and Marcquet auditioned together and now will leave together.   Bye bye you ballroom beauties!

And that leaves us with the dreaded double elimination next week.  Between the black widow and his questionably costumed hip hop routine, is Casey doomed?  Emily and Teddy could also be in serious trouble; their salsa was clearly the worst routine of the night.  And bubbly, brilliant Bridget, oddly, seems to be a perpetual bottom dweller, although I just don’t see why or how that could continue after her stunning contemporary routine.  Of course, Tanisha ended up in the bottom after her amazing Broadway, so there’s no accounting for the vote.  Serge excelled; does that mean Zack or Emilio could be in trouble again?  Really, the thought of losing that many contestants at once is turning my stomach.  There aren’t four contestants left who I won’t miss.

What about you guys?  Thoughts on this week?  Next week?  Were the judges fair to Marcquet?  Does the audience dislike Bridget? Will the black widow strike again?




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