So You Think You Can Dance, Season 12: Top Twenty Perform, Two Eliminated

E: Okay, that was much more like it. A heartbreaking early cut, yes, but the routines felt much closer to the standard I was expecting.

Also, this show aired on the exact ten year anniversary of the show’s beginning.  Huzzah!  It’ll be followed by an anniversary show Tuesday night to celebrate.  While that makes me long for the years when SYT took over the summer schedule, I’ll take it and be grateful.

Whether it’s because of the Stage vs. Street theme, or the gender imbalance, the format has definitely shifted from partners to groups.  As with the Top Twenty show, we gets groupings of 2, 3 and 4.  I’m not totally offended by this, but I do think that it means we get less time seeing each contestant in action, understanding them.  I don’t mind at all seeing the dancers in new groupings as well as styles, but I’ll miss the chemistry that develops between partners who’ve spent increasing amounts of time working together.

Instead we see the contestants spending time being judged and mentored by their team captains as well as the choreographers.  This is not as satisfying to me, at least.  Also, we’re not really getting any of the usual “12 things you don’t know about me/how much can you tell me in 12 seconds” kind of packages on each contestant (information that’s online now, I believe, but not on the live telecasts), and I feel like we know all of them less than we usually would at this point in the season.  I mean, heck, my daughters still refer to last year’s runner up Valerie as the girl who likes pigs, something we learned in one of those “things you don’t know about me” packages.  The primacy of screen time is clearly demonstrated in the bottom six, who’re certainly not the worst dancers or even the ones who gave the most problematic performances, but the dancers who got the least amount of screen time in the audition process.

Oh.  Also?  Of the bottom six, Cat tells us that there’s be a Twitter vote to save one from each team.  The dancers’ destiny will be in the hands of the audience!  Or at least, in the thumbs of those with Twitter accounts.  Huh.  Worth getting a Twitter account?  I wonder.

But. First.  Let’s talk about that opening number, choreographed by Pharside and Phoenix with a Day of the Dead theme and set to District 78’s “Baila Como Yo.”  It begins with a male dancer strumming a guitar, wearing a sombrero and mariachi style clothes (beautifully embroidered pants and bolero jacket) with amazing skull make up; Hailee stands in the distance, wearing a white corseted Spanish-looking dress, flowers in her hair, her face similarly painted, standing on a ladder around 9 or 10 feet off the stage, her dress flowing to the floor.  The over all effect is stunning.  As with the Nutcracker, dancers begin to spill out from inside her massive skirt.  There are tricks and lots of stomping unison moves (mostly from the 18 non-breakers); my children exploded with excitement when a mass of dancers hung their favorite Jaja over the stage so she could krump at the camera.

Because of their hair color, it’s relatively easy to tell the girls apart. The street boys aren’t wearing hats (so they don’t fall off during their tricks, I guess? Neptune did have one to start but takes it off to solo with it, impressively rubber-legged) so I can identify them too, but the five stage men are completely indistinguishable.  One of them — based on this move either Derek or Jim — hoists his leg up behind his head like a figure skater, and someone I first think is Asaf somersaults through it; it turns out to be Megz, wearing a suit, because Asaf solos next. The whole thing is fabulous — especially the unison bits lead by a fiercely joyful Lily — and makes up for the somewhat disappointing opening from last week.

Cat pops out, grinning and wearing a strapless red dress ruched asymmetrically into a knot over her left hip.  She delivers the news that the show has received 8 Emmy nominations, including best Reality Competition, nods for make up and lighting, and choreography nods for Travis, Sonya and Spencer Liff.  Of course she leaves it to executive producer Nigel Lithgoe to note that Cat herself received her 5th nod in a row for best host.  Let this be her year!   The Critics Choice gave her their prize in the spring.  Let that be a trend!  Come on.

The first competitive routine of the evening is a trio, Darion teamed up with Hailee and Yorelis for a salsa routine.  Well. What could go wrong with that?  A lopsided salsa with three non-ballroom dancers? Yikes.  Former contestant Jonathan Plantero and his partner Oksana Dmytrenko bring all their most devious tricks, which is more than a little alarming given the rehearsal footage.  This is every man’s fantasy, Jonathan enthuses a bit blindly, but it’s clear Darion’s far more panicked than pleased.

In fact, Travis — who attends the second day of rehearsals with tWitch, something that appears to be a feature of the new format — thinks Darion is phoning it in.  He’s disappointed, and gives a little lecture about the necessity of bringing his A game.  Both mentors are thrilled with the women.

I’m not a fan of Saamara’s “Blucutu,” and the number itself seems flawed and unbalanced from the start.  In their heels both girls are taller than Darion, and he doesn’t have the stage presence to make up the difference, understandably unsure where he was confident in last week’s ballet.  He flips over the girls, hands on their shoulders, arms interlocked, and that’s cool, but the complicated lifts are terrifying to watch, not least because something goes horribly wrong in one.  Between the two of them, he and Hailee manage to save it, but even if you don’t remember from the rehearsal footage what it should have looked like, you can tell it’s all wrong.  Darion does properly execute a crazy jump over Yorelis basically on top of Hailee, who falls back, suspended above the floor with her head between his legs, but you can always see the effort in Darion’s face.  He has good hip action, and seems to relax into the groove when he’s not trying to partner anyone, but really instead of being fun to watch, it’s nerve-wracking.

Immediately Jason takes Darion to task for not being a secure partner.  Someone could be injured badly, he warns, or worse.  This is on you. (Yes, but it’s also on the show, isn’t it, expecting the dancer to be able to do professional level lifts with minimal training and rehearsal?  It’s a wonder no one’s been paralyzed.)  Poor Darion’s eyes begin to go dead when Jason complains that the number wasn’t sexy like it was supposed to be.

You mean Darion and not the girls, right, Nigel protests, because the girls were dead sexy.  Darion was the bland yogurt cooling down the spicy dishes that were Yorelis and Hailee. Travis was right, Nigel goes on, Darion just went through the motions, and dings him for the near-failed lift, sneering “maybe some people didn’t notice.” Though of course she noticed, Paula tries to be the nice one, praising them for making it through moves called the helicopter and the pretzel and also for recovering from the botched lift.  We know we gave you a hard task, she says, but you can’t let it get inside your head.

It hardly helps the state of his head when Cat reads off a results card and announces that while the girls are safe, Darion is one of the bottom three stage dancers.  She tells him not to despair, but you can see that he’s already accepted that he’s toast.

The second competitive routine of the night is a Ray Leeper jazz for Derek and Ariana about bereavement, and the solace found expressing your grief to others. I can relate to heartbreak, Ariana says, and the show — leaves it at that?  Seriously? God forbid we get to know anything about her!  Derek’s very excited – Ray’s using my legs to my advantage, he says, and indeed the bendy dancer has lots of leaps and stretches.  Don’t count me out, Ariana is allowed to tell us; street dancers have technique too. The mentors seem pretty pleased with everything; Travis expected to have issues with Derek’s performance level but doesn’t, and everyone’s blown away by Ariana’s ability to do the choreography.  She’s really terrific.

And she continues to be terrific in a piece I don’t really enjoy, I think mostly because Ray massively misrepresented it; instead of a straight piece about bereavement, the two are sad 60s clowns in tight pants and long sleeves shirts, gray with white suspenders, blue tears painted on their faces.  They dance to Michael Buble’s “Cry Me a River” and it has the feel of a 60s piece, highly stylized rather than the raw emotion I was expecting.  I do like that it was a lot of flat out leaps and dancing and unison (mostly); it just doesn’t have the emotional heft I was expecting.  At the end, both dancers seem to pull knives out of their chests, the only point in time that seems to call for the emotion Travis and Ray mentioned.

The judges are pretty pleased. Of course everyone expected Derek to excel, but Ariana!  Shocking!  Paula found it a fresh take on jazz, Ariana nailed and Derek’s technique was unassailable.  They do both need to work on performance quality, though.  (Do they? Am I the only one who thinks the story wasn’t there in the choreography for them to perform?)  Predictably Jason wants to mirror what Paula said; Ariana was shockingly good, Derek was predictably good, and they both need to work on their performances.  Nigel was shocked by Ariana’s magnificence.  Sadly, both dancers end up in the bottom two, a completely predictable outcome given their lack of screen time.  Off stage, tWitch tells Ariana he doesn’t care about the bottom three, he’s so proud of her.  I agree, but she has to be the obvious candidate to go home.

We get a little Degree in-show commercial in between routines, where the deodorant company conduct biometric science experiments on the dancers as they practice for the opening number.  Or, that is to say, collect data, and then tell us that the dancers reach 45 mph (the speed of a sprinting lion), produce 2916 joules of energy (enough to power a light bulb for half a minute – is this all of them?), achieve 5.13 g-force (the force of a race car stopping), and push their heart rates to 165 (like they’d just done a 100 meter dash at full speed).  Cool.

After the infomercial, Megz, Virgil and Alexia team up for a Dee Caspary routine about a man undone by the toxic love of two women.  Okay.  Travis tells Alexia (and hey, what’s up with that extra I?  Why is it there if her name is just pronounced Alexa?) that she really needs to outshine the other two since she’s in her own style.  Megz, like Ariana, is really excited for the chance to prove that she can move like a dancer (which is to say, fluidly, and not simply the staccato of her hip hop work).

As usual, I quite enjoy the song Dee’s choice (Ruelle’s “Until We Go Down”), and I can see why he’s used it here – there’s a nicely fuzzy intensity to it, a buzzing threat that fits well with his theme.  The stage is lit with stars, and when we follow the dancers down, it’s a great trip.  They’re dressed in earth tones, beiges and browns and olives, Virgil in loose pants and an open shirt and the girls in cropped tops with sweetheart necklines and long skirts.  Megz is dressed like a girl!  Amazing.  As Travis hoped, Alexia stands out well against the less trained dancers, though Virgil is pretty impressive at getting tossed around by the women.  Megz does move fluidly, though she needs to stop hunching her shoulders, and her arm movement can be occasionally flailly.  All that said, they make great use of the entire stage and are really enjoyable to watch.

I liked that a great deal, Nigel says once they’ve finished, but I’m not paying attention to him – I’m kind of entranced by the way Megz has just lit up.  It turns out that her mom and cousin are in the audience, and something about their presence turns her previous cool reserve into a sweet vulnerability that is as charming as it is unexpected.  It’s like she’s a kid again in her excitement, and it’s nice, because Megz is yet another of the contestants we know so little about.  Anyway, Nigel tells Alexia he forgot to mention that she was magnificent last week, and thought she was brilliant here too, giving a little wave and wink at the end of the routine.  It’s a great point — she gives a lot of character and performance value to her pieces.  Paula’s crazy proud of Megz, who jumps up and down like a giddy little kid. “Oh my gosh oh my gosh oh my gosh!” the judge squeals, leading to imitations from both Cat and Jason (allowing him to literally mirror what his colleague has said; it must have been thrilling).  The latter calls Virgil a top contender, and compliments Dee for the great routine.  And as the icing on the cake, they’re all safe.

And, happy day — we have a Bollywood routine next for Lily, Gaby, Burim and Edson.  Nice!  This is literally a song about drumming, Nakul tells them, and so the boys will have drums more as props than anything else.  We find out the Edson used to be a cheerleader, a skill that he thinks will serve him well here, and that Burim is totally cheesy, also a good skill for Bollywood. I hope unnecessarily, Travis extorts them to all work together for the good of the routine.  Bollywood is more about uniformity than standing out.  We get a lot of fun hearing Nakul invent names for the different movements to help the neophytes remember them, including one that Gaby incorrectly remembers as “slap the baby” instead of “slap the bootie.”

The song is “Dhol Baaje” from the Ek Paheli Leela soundtrack, and the boys do have two very large portable drums with them at the back of the stage. They’re wearing long open vests with a stunning embroidered pattern that seems silvery and teal, perhaps, with a wide gold band on the edges, and beige pants with a loose inseam.  The girls have pink veils on their heads, over purple cropped tops and yellow skirts, a riot of bright color.  Everybody looks fantastic. It’s fast and fun as you’d expect.  To me, Edson and Gaby are the stand outs – I feel like Lily loses a little steam toward the end, and Burim’s movements aren’t quite as sharp from the start.

Jason tries to get Gaby to show him how to slap the baby/bootie, which makes Cat giggle.  Don’t try to tell me that’s new to you, she teases, and everybody laughs.  Nigel thinks the girls outshone the boys. While Paula thinks poor Edson could give more, she loved watching Lily’s joyful face, and thought Burim was cheesy fun.  And Gaby?  What can anyone say about Gaby?  She seems at home in any style.  For my money, she’s a contender, too.  When Cat takes over the proceedings, she gives Burim a chance to thank his team-mates (routine-mates?) for helping him through the choreography, and Lily gives a shout out to the 9 members of her family in the audience.  Yay, Team Lily!  Except consistent stand out Lily turns out to be in the bottom 3 (rather choreographically challenged Burim), proving once more that screen time is at least initially more valuable than performance.

Speaking of b-boys who ought to be in trouble (or not even on the show), Asaf‘s in the next routine along with Kate and Neptune. They’ve drawn Emmy nominee Spencer Liff, who envisions them as a jazz trio where they’re not just the musicians but also the instruments.  Excellent!  In no time at all we see that Spencer’s unimpressed by Asaf (and, amusingly, pronouncing his name ASS-af, not Ay-saf, as we’ve heard before) and his whining about his inability to grasp choreography. “‘Never give up?'” a disbelieving Spencer quotes the dancer, “you’ve been here for 10 minutes!”  Soon Asaf’s telling a producer via the camera that he just wishes he could do his own style in Broadway. tWitch pulls the dancer aside for a pep talk; you’re being disrespectful of Spencer and the amount of work he’s put into making you look good, the team captain warns. He reminds me of my seven or eight year old self, asking my mom if I could quit ballet because they didn’t let me dance my own steps.

I have to admit, I went a little nuts when the dancers appeared on stage to Postmodern Jukebox’s version of “All About That Base” featuring Kate Davis.  Scott Bradlee is a genius and a joy, and if you can see his collective in concert, I highly recommend it.  I love that whole vintage style, anyway — look at Kate, cool and elegant in a dress with long French blue fringe, her hair twisted into a knot behind her head, or the boys in zoot suits, fedoras slung low over their eyes, Neptune in green and Asaf in maroon.  They all look gorgeous.  Each starts with a tiny solo as a instrument, plucking strings and playing horns, and then they move together, sinuous and lithe, long and languid and smooth.  Okay, sure, you can occasionally see Asaf’s limits, and I wonder a little sometimes about Kate’s full commitment to each movement, but Neptune is extraordinary (why did we not see more of him in the auditions?  he’s incredible) and they’re all sexy and fun, altogether it’s pretty magical.

After congratulating Spencer on his Emmy nod, Paula praises the inventive choreography and Neptune for really showing up and giving it his all.  She calls Kate beautiful — Paula Abdul code for “at least you have your looks” — before suggesting she needs to give more.  It’s always compliment first with her, sweetening the criticism to come after. And then she calls Asaf the most improved before telling him he needs to turn his opposition and make friends with his fear. You’ll never have a chance to learn like this again, she reminds him.  True enough.  Jason agrees, saying that Asaf needs to understand that taking notes has gotten him this far.  He tells Kate she looks like a movie star (yes) before saying that while her quiet confidence is compelling, she could do more.  Nigel too praises her technique, but says that her cool can sometimes come off as a lack of interest.  Huh.  Maybe that’s it.  Neptune looked like a jazz dancer to him (YES!  this guy needs more press!) .  But of course, we spend more time telling Asaf how he needs to fix himself; that he’ll never achieve a positive life with a negative attitude.  Learning all these new things is an opportunity, not a problem.

And that’s when we find out that Neptune is in the bottom. BOO! It’s not surprising — screen time is king — but it’s depressing that it would be him rather than Asaf. I can’t imagine the judges would send one of their 4 street boys home right away, let alone one of the two who can do choreography, but still.  That means either Lily or Ariana will go home (probably Ariana, who had the least time and is always getting those weird not-quite compliments from the judges) just as we’re getting to know both of them.  Not that I ever like seeing anyone go home, but bah. Dislike.

The penultimate routine of the evening belongs to Jim and Jaja, which, wow. That could be my personal top two right there, though it’s hard to decide between Jim and Gaby, and JJ is up pretty near the hip hop top.   Christopher Scott has prepared an animation routine for them about a man truly listening to a woman’s struggles.  Sounds a little confusing as a concept, but I’m certainly curious.  We get some fun as Jaja first oogles Jim’s muscle definition, and then complains that every word she spoke in the first episode got subtitled.  She can too speak English!  Travis tells Jim that he’ll be on him like a hawk, letting him know every time he looks awkward or too balletic.  Humble Jim thinks he could never be an animator, but Christopher Scott disagrees, and tWitch (who as the hip hop half of street/ballet collaborative “Outta Your Mind” should know) goes so far as to predict this could be one of the top routines of the season.

And he’s so, so right.  The dancers are dressed in casual clothes — jeans and a flowery, flowy top for Jaja, jeans and a button down for Jim — and they walk toward each other, Jaja frustrated, Jim patting his heart with his hand, inviting her to open up.  She raises her hands (warding him off?), but he catches them in time to the music, and she looks at him, wondering.  Does she trust him?  “Everything’s gonna be alright,” Bob Marley and the Wailers sing in a live version of “No Woman, No Cry,” and suddenly Jaja does feel empowered to krump out her anger, her aggression, her frustration, her pain.  Jim mirrors it, and in reflecting it mellows it, defuses her by not just listening but by clearly understanding.  Part of me feels like Christopher Scott’s patting himself on the back a little for being such an enlightened guy, but I do like the effort involved, and the fact Jim’s not trying to change Jaja’s movement, he’s just showing her he gets it.

And the tutting.  I like the tutting a lot.  I like that there was a complicated emotional story told entirely by movement, and that it was something outside what we’ve seen before on the show. And also the fact that both dancers kill it.  Jim is entirely credible as an animator, and Jaja as a story teller, and mode we hadn’t seen her in before.

The judges, of course, are standing up along with the whole of the much less picky audience.

It takes a few moments for Nigel to gather himself.  I don’t know if anyone else can understand how much this means to me, he begins, but for me this show has always been about bringing disparate style together, seeing apparently opposing worlds come together in dance the way positive and negative energy combines in a battery to produce power.  This routine is the embodiment of his dream.  In the audience, we see Jim’s mom crying.  Paula praises it as a beautiful routine beautifully executed, noting Jaja’s unaccustomed softness just as Nigel had pointed out Jim’s relaxed posture, both dancers melting into Scott’s design.  The choreography was so frigging dope, Jason enthuses. “I would pay good money to see that,” he adds inevitably.  The two are shining stars.

When Cat gets out the envelope that holds their fates (or Jim’s, anyway, because if you can count to three you know Jaja’s safe), she teases at them before reading it.  What do you think it says, she wonders.  Hmm. If the audience didn’t like Darion in the creepy-leotard duet, could they possibly have looked ill at Jim, too?  Nah. Go sit down, Nigel calls out before Cat gets any further.  And of course he’s right.  They’re safe.

The last group up brings us back to Ray Leeper, who like Dee Caspary took the gender imbalance and though, aggressive women!  Marissa and JJ find out the Moises (again with the silent I — what’s with this season?) has been two timing them, and they’re ready to bring down a world of hurt on him.  Can Marissa control her over the top sexuality to just be a bad ass?  This ought to be perfect for her, Travis says, so we’ll see.  JJ hopes if she can remember to point her toes, she ought to be fine.

Travis and Moises both bring up the fact that Moises has been accused of lacking “strength,” something this routine calls for.  What they mean, but don’t say explicitly, is that Moises isn’t butch or heteronormatively masculine enough.  No one said that precisely about Darion, either, but that’s certainly a large part of the judges criticism of him not being sexy enough or having enough chemistry with the girls.  Most years, masculinity is at the top of Nigel’s qualification list for the guys who make the show, but perhaps because they’ve done away with boy/girl partnerships, the this year’s contemporary and ballet boys don’t fit that mold.  Or maybe they really want a street dancer to win, and think that having less manly guys on Stage might affect the outcome? This might sound strange, but I left last week’s episode feeling like in a way, they were setting Team Stage up as the feminine team, and hard-hitting Team Street (even with its profusion of girls) as the masculine one, what with the Fosse number opposed to the military one.

Okay, sorry, academic rant over.  I’ve just been pretty puzzled by all that.  For the routine itself, Moises sits on a chair wearing slim black pants and a white button down with a skinny tie and a leather strap harness.  The girls have on black dresses with white corsets, and yes, they are definitely fierce and angry.  Moises — hmm.  He’s not really giving us that player character (and he’s not penitent, either), but you can see he’s trying with that sneer, and his dancing’s certainly good. And wow, “I’m So Sorry” by Imagine Dragons is outstanding; I love the stomping vibe of the whole thing.  Early in the routine Marissa knocks over the chair with her toes, but JJ rights it, almost smoothly enough for us not to notice.  I’m not sure Marissa is in character properly, either, as she and occasionally JJ are smiling, but I like the dance itself.  And I love the women’s power in it, and the strength of their unity.

Jason thinks that it was very good, and that Moises’ strength is showing up (he loved the jumps especially) but he doesn’t get Marissa smiling when she’s been cheated on, and thinks that JJ’s frown was one note.  Okay.  Nigel agrees exactly with Jason, telling Moises that he parted the two women like the Red Sea on occasion.  Ha.  He must have been thrilled at the chance to make that Biblical pun.  He also agrees about the smiling.

Paula, on the other hand, thinks that the smiles come from a malicious glee in punishing Moises.  She tells JJ that she’s kryptonite (meaning it as a compliment) and is proud that Moises took their note about being strong.  Since we can all count, we know that either Marissa or Moises is in the bottom three; to my surprise, it’s Moises, making an all male bottom (shut up) for Stage.  Certainly Marissa had the more screen time of those two, but Moises was hardly deficient in that area; we certainly know more of him than we do, say, Kate or even Hailee unless you remember the latter from last year.  Interesting, interesting.

As a little interlude, Cat pulls the two team captains on stage for a look at how last week’s votes break down.  She can now reveal that team Street — to my utter shock — pulled in 46% of the vote.   You can see Travis working it out in his head, concentrating fiercely; if Street got 46%, that means Stage got … wait, almost got it … 54%!  That’s a bigger number!  Along with everyone on the show, I really felt that Street won the opening episode handily, not to mention that it feels like their finalists had more screen time in the auditions, and I’m very, very surprised.

The next number is a routine for the street dancers, their last before losing a member.  Christopher Scott and Phillip Chbeeb have worked together on a routine that will display their love of props – in this case, five see-saws.  Wow!  We’re veering into OK Go territory here, and I’m fascinated to see how it will turn out. The choreographers are excited to incorporate Neptune’s bone breaking skills into the mix.  It seems like tWitch’s pep talk worked a little too well on Asaf, though, because now he doesn’t want to break, when Scott generally loves to incorporate breaking into his routines and has a lot of stuff for both b-boys to do.   Ha.  You’re always getting it wrong, Asaf.

The dancers sport a vintage Scott look, vests and short sleeve button down shirts and ties but with tight long sleeved shirts beneath that give the effect of Maori tattoo sleeves, and we’re back to a Nathan Lanier piece, this one called “Time.”  Jaja leads five of the girls in ticking and tutting with an animator’s precision to the opening clicks of the song before all five lay on the see-saws, tilted in opposite directions.  The lights are low in jungle colors.  The women slide off and five dancers flip the direction of the teetertotters before holding them steady so that Virgil can bound across them as if they were the Quintuple Steps on American Ninja Warrior.  As mentioned, the routine is about balance, and the dancers play with each other and the see-saws, tilting back and forth, often flanked by the two breakers spinning on either side of the stage.  Yes, they get out of doing the choreography, but the fact that there are two of them lends a nice symmetry.  Neptune’s bone breaking adds fun element as well, with the dancers clustering around him and pulling his arms in different directions like waves. All in all, pretty terrific.  As usual with group routines, there’s no commentary from the judges.

And next, we’re going to see the other top ten.  This is a really busy week — three routines for each dancer!  Travis has taken hold of the reigns and will be choreographing his team himself, giving them what he calls the Battle of the Gods.  To my amusement, we find out that Kate is a bit of a klutz, slipping during rehearsals,.  You can see that all the Stage dancers really did feel like they had something to prove, all talking about how they’re down but not out, and Travis most of all, driving them with a tough, action-oriented routine.  It’s stage like you’ve never seen, he promises, as if all stage routines where like Carlyle’s group number last week.

Which no, it’s not remotely stage like we’ve never seen, but it’s certainly a good routine. Woodkid’s “Stabat Mater” brings an appropriately mythological feel, and the dancers are all garbed in shredded earth tones, raggedy and bound in leather but complimented by flowing fabric as well as more burlap-like bits.  There’s a martial but majestic feel to it, lots of rolling, lots of unison, and some huge throws with Jim and Alexia being tosses through the air.  The stand outs for me are Derek, Kate, Gaby and Hailee.  When they finish, Travis actually runs out from the wings to bounce his joy with them.

Cat gives a limited time for fans to Twitter vote live (90 seconds) with hashtags like #saveDarion, and after a commercial announces that the Twitter vote has saved Moises (huh) and Neptune.  Nigel says the judges agree exactly with the Twitter vote, and will be using their save to keep Derek (yes, exactly) and Ariana (wait, what?) in the competition.  What?  Okay, I figured that Darion was toast all episode (and from the dead look in his eyes he did too) but I did not think the judges would take Ariana over Lily.  Huh.  Darion keeps looking like he’s in a fog, but poor Lily has tears streaking down her face.  Is it better or worse that her whole family is there?  I hope it’s better.  I’m sorry we didn’t get know you better and see more of what you could do, guys.  Lily especially didn’t deserve this.

Well, fellow dance fans, what do you think? Did the right two go home?  Are you sad to see them go? Are you surprised that Stage won the first week? Do you think their reign will continue?  Am I right about the weird gender dynamics, or am I making all that up in my head?  Will the b-boys continue to be safe at the expense of more choreography-ready dancers?  I’d love to know what you think!

4 comments on “So You Think You Can Dance, Season 12: Top Twenty Perform, Two Eliminated

  1. MMGF says:

    BOOOOOO to eliminating Lily! I kind of can’t believe she was even in the bottom 2. I thought she was really excellent. And, come on, she’s really worse than Asaf or Burim? Weird that the Twitter thing saved Moises. I wouldn’t have expected that, somehow.

    • E says:

      Moises winning the Twitter vote surprised me, too. He got more screen time than the other two, so maybe that’s how we account for it?

      While I do think that Neptune was worthy of being saved, I’m a little surprised he won the vote over Lily. I don’t know that I would have expected that — and it’s certainly unfortunate for Lily. And I’m SO bummed she’s gone. I’m not super surprised that Asaf and Burim survived the initial vote, but still, it’s galling.

  2. mitchteemley says:

    Jim and JaJa’s piece was flat out brilliant! I jumped up from my couch and gave them a standing O, then rewound and watched it again!

    • E says:

      They really were spectacular! I feel like every time I see it, I notice more subtle details, more nuance. Awesome.

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