The first cut is the deepest…
…Or sometimes the first cut is just the most ridiculous.
I hate the new format for the eliminations on So You Think You Can Dance. I mean, I REALLY HATE it. I understand there’s no perfect way to eliminate contestants on the same night as a performance show, but cutting them from the competition at the beginning of the show and then forcing them to still dance with their partner later on just seems all kinds of wrong to me. It is horrible to the contestants (both the eliminated ones and the others who have to dance after seeing partners/friends be cut), and it simply casts a negative light on everything that comes after it.
It was especially hard this week because the wrong contestants went home. Mariah’s solo was terrible, and Jade is nowhere near the dancer Carlos is. I grimaced every time Nigel said that “America got it wrong” this week because America only put them in the bottom; it was the judges who—with no deliberation—sent Carlos and Brittany home. Why even have them dance solos if you’re going base the elimination on last week’s performances?
I think so much of my frustration with the eliminations comes from how well Brittany and Carlos did with their dances this week. Brittany was a firecracker full of stage presence in her Broadway routine (so much so that it made BluPrint’s obvious discomfort in the routine look even worse). And Carlos…Carlos was breathtaking. His performance in his contemporary routine with Mariah was incredible, and it brought out such a fearlessness in Mariah in terms of her emotional honesty (which I think was also aided by her obvious pain at seeing him go home).
There were some very strong routines this week and some that were less so, but there weren’t any that I would classify as bad. I didn’t love Tucker and Jenna’s cha-cha, but I think that was more because of the choreography. No, Nigel, I don’t need it to be a 100% pure Latin ballroom kind of dance, but when you can see the ability present in the dancers, it bothers me when the choreographers don’t trust them enough to handle harder material. Also, I almost always find Bollywood numbers forgetful, and Malece and Jade’s was no exception. I thought both of them looked uncomfortable with the style (or maybe Malece was just uncomfortable in that ridiculous headdress).
I wanted to love Alan and Jasmine Mason’s tango, but I just didn’t feel it (certainly not as much as the judges did). I thought Alan was once again a brilliant partner, but Jasmine’s performance felt a little flat to me. It certainly wasn’t as smooth or as sensuous as some of the best tangos this show has ever seen. I also wanted to love Curtis and Haley’s jazz dance, but it felt too forced for me to really enjoy it. They both seemed like little kids trying to be grownups (as opposed to Aaron and Jasmine Harper’s innately mature chemistry), so, while their technique was good, I couldn’t shake the sense that they were trying to have chemistry instead of just having it.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, I had low expectations for Mackenzie and Paul’s jazz, and I ended up loving it. Mackenzie had a glowing stage presence (as well as INCREDIBLE feet and lines), and Paul’s jazz technique pleasantly surprised me. They went from being a couple I didn’t care much about to being one of my couples to watch.
Speaking of couples to watch…Amy and Fik-Shun continued to impress me. They both have such great energies onstage, and their enthusiasm is infectious. Amy especially blew me away with her sense of attack when it came to each movement and her sassy stage presence. Their dance was—by far—the most fun dance of the season so far. I still smile just thinking about how much fun they both seemed to be having.
Standout Performers: Jasmine Harper, Aaron, Amy, Fik-Shun, Mariah, Carlos (I’m still bitter about this.)
Favorite Routine: Dance is subjective. Everyone has their own criteria for judging whether a routine, pairing, or dancer is successful. Personally, I’m drawn to strong dancers who move with a certain kind of maturity. And if a couple has great natural chemistry, then I’m going to be on their bandwagon.
This season, no couple fulfills all of my criteria as perfectly as Jasmine Harper and Aaron. Their hip hop was a great showcase of what makes this couple so unique already: They dance like adults, not like kids trying to be adults. They both impressed me with the way they eased into the groove of the choreography and the music, but what really sold me on this dance was their connection. It had an effortless feel to it, like they’ve been dancing together for much longer than two weeks. The dance itself had such a natural and easy flow of movement, and Tabitha and Napoleon created a showcase for these two to give everyone watching a chemistry lesson.
Jasmine Harper dances with a maturity beyond her years, and I love that Aaron brings that out of her even more. As individual dancers, they’re both incredibly strong (Her legs! His arms!), and as partners, they’re the true definition of a power couple. I cannot wait to see more from them every week if these first two weeks are any indication of what they’re capable of.
I still cannot believe they sent Carlos packing and not Jade – I really liked Jade throughout vegas week for his showmanship but I’m amazed that he’s stayed in this long. I see MUCH more potential in Mariah than in him so I am thankful the judges decided to keep her but after that contemporary it hurt even more that Carlos was sent home.
I LOVED Jasmine H/Aaron and Amy/Fik-Shun – I’m betting they’ll end up being top four unless something massively changes in the way they dance and partner…but I seriously doubt it!
I love your prediction for Top Four – that’s exactly who I hope will be the last dancers standing!
Have to agree with you about Aaron & Jasmine H. Aaron is a grown-ass MAN (yet cute enough to get the girls texting their votes – he reminds me of True Blood’s Joe Manganiello, yum!) and I’m always happy to see that tap is not the only genre he can do. He & Jasmine are well-matched. Watching them interact is like Woof! Looking forward to seeing lots more of them.
I hate the new way of doing the eliminations too, but there’s not a lot of wiggle room since they took away the Wednesday show. Maybe if they put the elimination at the end? Then at least the judges might be swayed by that evening’s performances, not just the solos. Also, I wish they’d shut the heck up about “America got it wrong”, that’s just weasel talk to say “Oh I wouldn’t have cut YOU…” Well, who WOULD you have cut? You did have 3 to pick from! Believe me, I’m from Detroit & rooting for Jade, but I don’t feel good about the judges trying to keep him around just so it doesn’t look like he got eliminated too quickly. Maybe they want to give him an extra chance because he has to catch up to the other dancers in terms of variety of experience. We’ll see what happens next week. That Bollywood number didn’t do him any favors.
I have to go back & watch the other performances, I had to be jumping up to do other things the whole time the show was on. Missed the opening number for instance!
You are completely correct—Aaron is a MAN! I think that’s how I know I’m getting older; a few years ago I would have been all about Nico or Paul, but now Aaron is much more my flavor. 😉
I wish they would do the eliminations at the end. I know that’s how they did it last season, so I’m wondering why they ended up switching the order of the show.
Apparently you guys weren’t alone.
Thank goodness they changed it!
Yes, Yes, and did I mention YES! I wouldn’t disagree with anything you said about any of the routines. In particular the maturity of Jasmine and Aaron and the lack of it in Haley and Curtis – it’s stark when you watch the ‘clips for voting’ side by side on top of each other. Night. And. Day.
My other quick thoughts:
1 – How is it possible that the both Latin routines were boring? That tango put me to sleep.
2 – Can Christina Applegate replace Mary Murphy as a permanent judge?
3 – I called Aaron first – he’s mine! 🙂
4 – His partner, Jasmine, as good as she is won’t make top 4. You heard it here first.
5 – Mackensie danced to win the competition in that routine.
6 – Anyone who can insert “Can’t Buy Me Love” into SYTYCD is a keeper.
7 – Jade is this season’s Cyrus/Legacy etc. the undertalented, undertrained guy who has all the personality in the world that the judges love.
ON THE DEPARTING: I didn’t think much of Brittney, last week or this week, so I am OK with her going because I really like Mariah. I am not a huge fan of Blueprint either. He’s great in his style but I wouldn’t be sorry to see him leave. Carlos is an entirely different matter. Mariah and Carlos broke my heart – their routine was my favorite of the night and Carlos is the WTF moment of the night. He’s exquisite and a huge loss. My conspiracy theory is that he (and Mariah) were the causality of being the 1st routine of the 1st week and it wasn’t spectacular, so people didn’t remember it. He reminded me of Danny, who I think early on was so good, people assumed he’d get votes and didn’t vote for him as a result. Is it wrong to wish an injury on one of the other guys so they can bring him back? Just a thought.
MY PICKS FOR NEXT WEEKS BOTTOM: Jasmine M , Alexis (because she was forgettable), Jenna – Blueprint, Nico, Alan although Tucker could replace Blueprint in the bottom.
I completely agree with you on both Latin routines—I found them both lacking a memorable element, which is disappointing because I love a good ballroom number. Also, Jasmine Harper is my favorite female dancer so far, but I fear you might be right about her odds of making the Top 4. Looks like I’m going to need to start voting. 😉
I also think your conspiracy theory is right about Mariah and Carlos. That first spot is like the kiss of death for most contestants, especially in the first week before any of them build up regular voters. I’d love to see Carlos come back; he had so much potential!