For a season that started out incredibly strong, last night’s episode of So You Think You Can Dance faltered a little bit. On the positive side: I’m really happy the complaints of many (including myself) were heard, and the results of the elimination were saved until the end of the show. I also can’t really argue with who was sent home. For as much as I loved Jasmine Mason in her opening-week contemporary with Alan, I thought she was less than dynamic in her tango last week, and her solo seemed very generic.
Although I found myself agreeing with the elimination results—and I do like the idea of consulting the choreographers as well—I didn’t like the way Nigel gave both Jasmine and Alexis such public criticism from their choreographers. Those comments felt like they should be said in private to the dancers rather than broadcast to millions. But maybe I’m just being too sensitive…
This week’s judging panel was interesting to say the least. I was beyond thrilled to see Paula Abdul there because if there’s anyone who should be judging these dancers, it’s someone with the résumé Abdul has. Her passion for dance is so contagious, and she’s actually really good at giving constructive criticism as well as praise. However, I have no idea why Erin Andrews was there. Did I mind staring at her beautiful face? No. Do I think she was a good contestant on Dancing with the Stars? Yes. But I don’t think that qualifies her to judge this kind of show in any capacity.
As for the dancing itself, there was no real standout moment this week for me, no routine that I’ve needed to watch 10 times after the show ended. Yes, there were some strong routines. Aaron and Jasmine continue to be my favorite couple; their Broadway routine this week embodied everything I love about their dynamic: It was smooth, mature, and sexy without trying too hard. It was also surprising, especially Aaron’s graceful quality to his movement. Fik-Shun and Amy also surprised me with their Paso Doble, which was much stronger and more intense than I was expecting from those two smiley kids. I loved Mackenzie’s technique and Paul’s gorgeously emotional performance in their contemporary (even if that story has been told on this show before—and told better). And Marko truly brought out the best in Malece, although it was sad to lose Jade to an injury this week.
Though these dances were good, there were far too many routines that dwelt in the land of the mediocre this week. Jasmine and Alan’s jazz dance had great choreography, but, like the judges, I found their performances were a bit lacking. (I especially wanted more from their facial expressions.) I liked Jenna and Tucker’s hip hop, but I didn’t love it. (I was distracted by how jazzy it felt.) Curtis and Haley seemed to have fun in their samba, but their technique (especially Curtis’s) was awkward at times. Alexis and Nico’s jazz was so forgettable I can’t recall anything about it except Nico’s aerial and the kiss near the end of it. And Mariah completely owned her hip hop dance with BluPrint, but he seemed to fade in the face of her glowing stage presence and energetic movement.
All in all, I’ve seen far worse weeks on SYTYCD, but I’ve also seen far better—even from this young season.
Standout Performers: Aaron, Jasmine Harper, Malece, Mariah, Paul, and Jenna
Favorite Routine: I feel incredibly bad for Jade having to leave the show so early because of his torn meniscus. However, his exit made the pairing of Malece and Marko possible, so I can’t be too devastated. Marko was one of my favorite dancers back in Season 8, and he somehow knows how to balance being a brilliant dancer in his own right with letting his partner shine. (It doesn’t hurt that his smile is one of the most adorable smiles in the known universe.)
In this beautiful Sonya Tayeh contemporary piece, Marko’s strength and grace brought both of those qualities out in Malece. I thought she was stunning in this dance, and I think so much of that came from feeling comfortable dancing with someone as poised and talented as Marko. He had her back through all of it, and that allowed her to dance with a remarkable mixture of abandon and controlled power. She’s an incredibly graceful dancer, and for the first time I understood what the “Malece Magic” is all about.