TV Time: SYTYCD Season 10 “Top 16 Perform”

Well that was a bit of a letdown.

Up to this point, I’ve been pretty impressed with the quality of both the dancers and choreographers this season on So You Think You Can Dance. Two weeks ago, I could already see some chinks in the armor, but this week I can’t just be polite and say the show simply faltered a little.

It was a bad episode, as bad as I’ve seen from this show in a long time.

I had a bad feeling about what was to come when I saw Carly Rae “Call Me Maybe” Jepsen on the judging panel, and I’m sad to say my initial doubts about her were spot-on. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a guest judge on this show who was so uninformed about dance and couldn’t even fake it. As someone who takes dance and—by extension (for better or worse)— this show very seriously, I felt insulted that Nigel and Co. would make me sit through two hours of critiques from a woman who spoke as if she’s never watched a dance routine before in her life. It was laughably bad. At least get a guest judge with some knowledge of dance vocabulary next time—that’s all I ask.

The eliminations this week were the only thing I felt was right about the show. It was time for BluPrint to go home, and Mariah’s solo this week felt like a rehash of what she did in her last solo. I like both dancers, but their time had come. Mackenzie’s solo was gorgeously fluid, Curtis’s solo was very strong proof of his skills as a tapper, and Alan’s solo was simply…WOW. That’s the kind of male ballroom solo I’ve always wanted to see on this show—powerful, commanding, strong, and precise. His work with the cape was brilliant, and I loved his stage presence throughout.

It’s a shame, then, that Alan had so much trouble with his partner routine this week. I will say this, though; I actually found him more interesting to watch in that dance than Malece. Maybe it’s because I was already factoring in his pants as a major disadvantage (Side note: Those need to go away NOW.), but I thought he had a better “groove” to his movements than she did. Some dancers just aren’t built for hip hop, and I think Malece is one of them, even though the judges clearly wouldn’t agree with my assessment.

Alan and Malece weren’t the only ones who had a rough night. Alexis and Nico’s jive was labored and flat. BluPrint and Mariah’s jazz was a victim of over-theming (but at least we got to see Brian Friedman again!), which seemed to be a problem with a lot of routines this week. I thought Travis’s “ropes routine” for Jenna and Tucker was painfully obvious and literal, and the prop was more of a distraction than a way to remember the dance. Curtis and Haley’s “ladder dance” was also more of a showcase for the prop than it was for the dancers. And speaking of Curtis, it made me uncomfortable to hear the judges scolding him for his shoulders with such vehemence. I understand that every dancer has their technical flaws and his is a big one, but he might be trying to fix it and having trouble undoing a lifetime of dancing with his shoulders like that. Bad dance habits are hard to break, so maybe he’s not the stubborn, untrainable dancer they’re making him out to be.

I thought only a few of the dances were anything worth remembering this week, which is a shame since we had to go a week without the show. While I enjoyed Amy and Fik-Shun as much as ever in their “hobo jazz” routine, I have to call Tyce out for some serious choreography stealing. The theme, music, and style of jazz had all been done before—and done better—by Jesús and Sarah back in Season Three. I will say that Amy and Fik-Shun were incredibly entertaining, but I couldn’t get past Tyce’s attempt to impersonate Wade Robson. Mackenzie and Paul are another couple I have really grown to enjoy, and I found their hip hop to be sexy and smooth—just the right mixture of classy and dirty. While the storyline may have been a bit strange, there’s no denying those two have chemistry.

And speaking of chemistry, once again Aaron and Jasmine stole the show with a dance that could have been disastrous. (Which leads me to ask: If the quickstep is so bad, why do they have these dancers do it at all? The whole “kiss of death” thing is getting old.) Those two have personality to burn, even in a dance style that no one on this show seems to be comfortable with.

Standout Performers: Aaron, Jasmine, Paul, Mackenzie, and Alan

Favorite Routine: It’s rare for me to pick a ballroom dance as my favorite, and it’s even rarer for me to pick a quickstep. That’s one way to judge just how entertaining Aaron and Jasmine were. It’s not that I don’t like the quickstep as a style; it’s actually one of my favorite dance styles to watch when it’s done well. When I watch a quickstep, I don’t want to see two panicked dancers trying to race across a stage. I want to see the personality, confidence, and fake-it-’til-you-make-it attitude that only the best dancers can pull off. Jasmine and Aaron had all of those things in spades. I found myself not caring one iota about their frame or their technique because they just looked like they were having such a gosh-darn good time out there.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: These two exude maturity and class; they’re a man and woman among boys and girls in terms of how they carry themselves onstage. There was something so endearing about seeing them tackle such a difficult style with such enthusiasm and also such poise. They looked every bit the glamorous couple the routine called for them to be. Aaron’s facial expressions were flawless, Jasmine’s smile was radiant, and they both displayed a combination of real trust and enjoyable playfulness I haven’t seen from another couple yet. And what other pair could have pulled off that last lift so effortlessly?


5 thoughts on “TV Time: SYTYCD Season 10 “Top 16 Perform”

  1. Paging Wade Robeson, come in Wade Robeson, we can’t find the newspapers for Tyce’s rip off hobo number…

    But I digress. I agree whole-heartedly about last night’s show. It was a definite low for the season and as for Carly Rae, I have to assume that Nigel has sold his soul to the devil (powers that be at FOX) to keep the show on the air. Otherwise there is no excuse for the nonsense 3rd judge.

    So many of the routines were prop heavy needlessly. For me Travis’ was the worst offender, because it actually got in the way of enjoying the dance. And this is coming from the girl who loved the number with the white wall (Sasha & Kent), chairs (Danny & Neil), the door (Twitch & Katee). When they were off the ladder I actually liked Curtis & Haley’s number, but Mackenzie and Paul’s was my favorite of the night. They were out of their genre and in odd attire for the style they were dancing in but they sold it from opening to close. It was the first time I really noted her and Paul, so they were my winners last night. I went back and rewatched both dances and I don’t know what they saw in Malece. I thought she just missed the point, she wasn’t grounded into the routine and it was all very upright. Unlike Mackenzie, Malece had the benefit of costuming to support her routine and I still think Mackenzie mopped the floor with her. Side by side the two routines don’t even compare. Mackenzie and Pauls syncopated rhythmic movement was head and shoulders above Alan and Malece, but I suspect only Alan will suffer for it.

    I like quick step a whole lot as well and while I am riding the “Aaron for the win” pony all the way to the finale that quick step was a mess technically. Yes they sold it well and created character where they lacked technique and I love them both for it, but it wasn’t good. But for all the reasons in your final paragraph alone they should get a pass on into next week.

    As for who should be working on their solos this week, my money is: Alexis, Jenna, Alan, Haley, Curtis, Nico. I think unless they do something tremendous with their solos we are losing two tappers next week.

    • “Mackenzie and Pauls syncopated rhythmic movement was head and shoulders above Alan and Malece, but I suspect only Alan will suffer for it.”

      This is a fantastic summary of the two hip hop routines, and I think it’s true about Alan. I can only hope his solo is as good as this week’s.

      I see what you mean about the quickstep being a mess technically. I think I’m just one of those people who’d rather watch a less-than-perfect dance with tons of personality and joy instead of a technically flawless routines with no stage presence.

  2. Oh gosh… Carly Rae Jepsen. Come on. Were they desperate and had noone else? Just a bad decision all round. It did seem a bit lack lustre, didn’t it? I can’t even put my finger on it. Aaron and Jasmine made me rethink the quickstep, I freaking LOVED that dance! And Travis Wall. OMG. What a dance..

    Pretty lacklustre comment by me I must say 😛

    • I can’t really put my finger on what was wrong with it either. It just felt so mediocre compared to what this show can do when it’s at its best. Hopefully tomorrow’s episode makes up for what we had to watch last week!

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