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?