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.