TV Time: SYTYCD Season 10 “Top 14 Perform”

I feel like I should be more upset than I am about the results of last night’s So You Think You Can Dance. I’m a tap dancer. Yes, I’ve trained in many other styles, but tap will always be the one closest to my heart. I cried when Nick Young got eliminated way too early in Season Eight. But this time, I watched two tappers go at once and felt strangely okay with it. I’ll miss Alexis and Curtis, but it was time for them to go. They’re both great tappers, but they just weren’t Top 10 (or even Top 12) material—and even I can admit that.

Strangely enough, I felt the loss of Curtis more than I did Alexis. I think it’s because Curtis just seemed like such a genuinely sweet guy (not that Alexis didn’t seem lovely, but there was something so adorable about Curtis and his enthusiasm). And I think the final image of Curtis holding a crying Haley got to me a lot more than I was expecting. Maybe there was more to their partnership than just that one sushi date.

Also, I ended up hoping Alexis would go home because my favorite female dancer would be eliminated if she wasn’t. Whatever happened that led to Jasmine being in the Bottom Three needs to never happen again. That girl is a one-of-a-kind mixture of grace, strength, stage presence, and personality. The only good thing about her place in the Bottom Three was her solo, which had the best musicality I’ve seen in a solo this season and truly looked like she was “dancing for her life.”

Besides the mini heart attack over my favorite female dancer being in jeopardy throughout the episode, this week’s show was a big improvement over last week. First of all, Anna Kendrick was a credible and fun guest judge. I adore her and think anything is better when she’s a part of it (especially the Twilight films).

The dancing itself was vastly improved, too—with some minor exceptions. I thought Tucker and Jenna’s hip hop was immediately forgettable if not just plain awkward. The style did not suit them at all. Alexis and Nico’s contemporary was well-danced and emotional, but the running in place made me laugh instead of get chills—a rare misstep from Sonya Tayeh. And I couldn’t find anything to really latch onto in Malece and Alan’s salsa. The tricks were cool (and I loved seeing Jonathan Platero from Season Five and his gorgeous eyes again!), but I thought Malece had no real feel for the style. Alan lietrally and figuratively carried her through most of that dance, but once again he was criticized by the judges while Malece was praised. The obvious favoritism towards Malece is stating to get a little old.

Something else that’s starting to get a little old to me is watching Fik-Shun and Amy dance the same kinds of pieces over and over again. With the exception of their Paso Doble, it seems like choreographers can only create cute routines with a lot of fluid hip hop flavor for them to perform. I think both of them are great at embodying charismatic, downright joyful characters, but, like Nigel, I’d like to see them try something different. That’s not their fault, but it’s starting to affect how I rate their routines. I think I would have loved this hip hop had I watched earlier in the season, but this felt a little “been there, done that” to me. I think they can do more, and I want to see them be challenged so that if they do win, it feels earned.

Someone who certainly seems to be rising to challenges in this competition is Paul, who continues to impress me every week with his versatility. While his jazz piece with Makenzie felt a little familiar in terms of its choreography (I love Sonya but sometimes all her dances start to look the same), there was nothing boring about its execution. The two of them together were sharp, sexy, and impressively in-synch. I loved the music choice, and the way these two dancers inhabited each beat of that music was really impressive. I don’t know why Makenzie keeps landing in the bottom (but I don’t think jealous girls have much to do with it, Nigel), but I hope she sticks along for a little while longer.

My favorite partner routines of the show were the ones I felt were the most mature and compelling. Jasmine and Aaron’s contemporary was so unique. I was initially disappointed that they didn’t get a big, emotional story to tell (because they would have KILLED it if they had a dance like Alexis and Nico’s), but then I realized no one could have pulled off such a nuanced dance like this partnership. Haley’s tango benefitted from a little professional help (after Curtis’s shoulder injury), but she still held her own with a poise and powerful stillness we hadn’t seen before from her.

I also thoroughly enjoyed both group routines. Spencer Liff’s Broadway was all kinds of sexy, slinky fun. It felt like a number from an actual Broadway show, but a lot of that could probably be attributed to Liff’s presence in the routine. Like the judges, I couldn’t look away from him (and I didn’t want to). The “anti-bullying” contemporary was beautiful, and it didn’t even need the hype the show was trying to put around it. Those dancers told the story well enough on their own, and it was great to see some of them (Amy, Jasmine, Tucker) really get a chance to show their technical abilities.

Standout Performers: Aaron, Jasmine, Paul, Makenzie, Amy, and Alan (and Spencer Liff)

Favorite Routine: I know that Nigel said Fik-Shun and Amy are the couple who are miles ahead of everyone else, but I think that title should go to Aaron and Jasmine. Each week, these two have danced very different routines, played very different characters, and excelled. I love Fik-Shun and Amy as much as the next viewer, but Aaron and Jasmine are the couple of the season in my eyes. They’re the ones I dread seeing split up when Top 10 Week rolls around. It feels like a new layer to their chemistry is added each week, and it’s a beautiful thing to watch.

Their “giving tree” contemporary routine was all about the little details that they executed perfectly: the beautiful beat when Jasmine hit her arabesque in Aaron’s arms and their eyes met; the perfect musicality of their staccato movements; the moment when Jasmine is kneeling on the ground and looks from Aaron back to the apple with so much sadness but so much grace; the eye contact; the acting from their faces to their fingertips; and the way even their breathing in this piece seemed to be in unison. This wasn’t a “sexy” dance or an “illness” dance or a “breakup” dance; it was a dance that told a different kind of story, and I liked that originality. It called for a partnership with real trust and synchronicity, and that’s what Aaron and Jasmine have become. I especially have to give credit to Aaron; when he’s onstage with Jasmine, it’s as if she’s the only thing in the world, and that adds an intimacy to their routines that elevates them above a lot of the other partnerships.


4 thoughts on “TV Time: SYTYCD Season 10 “Top 14 Perform”

  1. 1) Yes (on Tucker & Jenna) yes (on Jasmine WTF?) and yes (Anna Kendrick)
    2) As a good Puerto Rican, I’ve gotta call you out Malece and Alan danced a salsa.
    3) I hate agreeing with Nigel, but he was spot on about Amy & Fik-shun. I grow less impressed by them as time goes on and it’s because they haven’t been given the ability to stretch/grow out of their skill set.
    4) Is it wrong that I was glad Curtis was hurt, because there is no way he would have pulled off that tango?
    5) Nigel condescendingly telling us the story of The Giving Tree just made me cranky. As did his oversell of the bullying theme. His own grandeur and self importance took away from a beautiful performance that was technically wonderful to watch.
    6) Jenna, Tucker, Nico, Mackenzie, Alan and possibly Haley should probably be prepping solos for next week. Although I wouldn’t be wounded if Malece landed there.

    Overall I have struggled with this season. This week was an improvement over last week for sure, but there is still something that leaves me wanting during the show. Outside of the group numbers I have found myself just marking time for Aaron and Jasmine’s routines because I know they are going to give me the full package regardless of the style they dance. Perhaps they need to break the couples up sooner. But they definitely need something to freshen up the show, much like when they made the move to bring in all stars. Not sure what it is, but I feel like the show is running a bit on auto pilot this season when it isn’t being gerrymandered by Nigel’s ego driven rants.

    • 1.) For all my worries about possibly needing to vote for Aaron, I guess I really should have been sending some calls/texts Jasmine’s way. I’m keeping my fingers crossed for her this week because she really has become my favorite girl in the competition.
      2.) Thanks for finding that little mix-up! I should have known better because I was in love with Jonathan back in Season Five. 😉
      3.) I agree with everything you said about Fik-Shun and Amy, I want to love them, and I did love them at the start. But I think they need to be pushed more. This week I actually rolled my eyes at their dance because this song should have been reserved for something ridiculously sexy rather than cutesy.
      4.) As much as I liked Curtis, I totally agree.
      5.) Ever since his ramblings about Danny Tidwell’s “attitude” back in Season Three, I’ve hated when Nigel gets on his high horse about things. And now with the idea of Emmy nominations in his head, his overhyping routines that don’t need it only makes it worse.
      6.) I agree with this Bottom Six except I’m really hoping it’s Malece in the bottom instead of either Haley or Makenzie. She’s my least favorite girl left in the competition, and I’m getting tired of the constant praise or glossing over her issues (like the “It’s okay because you were tired” comments after the group number) when I think she’s the weakest contemporary girl.

      I’ve been struggling with the show for a few years now (I barely watched any of last season). There have been some strong routines this season and one couple who makes me tune in every week, but there has yet to be a “wow” moment for me. I’m hoping that comes with the All-Stars in a couple of weeks.

  2. (I just discovered this blog and really look forward to more of your SYTYCD recaps!)

    So I don’t think I watched much of the show’s last season, and when this season started I hoped it would be like a fresh start, clean slate, and I could get back into loving this show as much as I had seasons before. By the time we got to the top 20 I was just so underwhelmed by a lot of the dancers, it was unbelievable. But there were a few dancers that stuck out for me right from the start and two of them were Jasmine H. and Aaron. They bring so much maturity and grace to the show this season that I really almost gave up on the show and turned my TV off when Jasmine was in the bottom… I almost couldn’t handle such an injustice lol. The Giving Tree routine was phenomenal, and though at first I was worried about that prop, almost as soon as the music started I forgot about it. I mean, it’s Jasmine and Aaron! They got this! I know so many people think the two of them are “boring,” but I don’t think that just because they aren’t so quirky and hyper as some of the other contestants should label them as the old, boring couple. Yeesh.

    Amy and Fik-Shun were early favorites of mine as well, but I’m so scared that the people watching at home will get bored with them since the choreographers don’t seem inclined to branch out too much. (And as we know, the only way they’ll grow is if they aren’t continually given the same fun routines every week, and if they want to criticize Fik-Shun’s lack of growth, they better recognize that he isn’t totally to blame there.)

    And I felt bad that Curtis was injured, but Hayley did such a great job that I wonder if it would’ve been anywhere near the same had Curtis been able to perform with her (I think not). I hope this hints to good things in her future, but the last time I thought this kind of situation would work out for the better (I’m thinking about when Malece performed with Marco instead of Jade) I ended up still disappointed with Malece in episodes to come. But I think Hayley’s a far more interesting dancer than Malece, who I’ve frankly been bored with since her first audition.

    • I’m so happy you found NGN! I love talking to fellow SYTYCD fans.

      I also didn’t watch the majority of last season, and I’d hope to be captivated by this season—only to find myself underwhelmed more often than not. But I will say that if I can find even one couple to root for, then I will usually deem the season a success. And this season I am completely in love with Jasmine, Aaron, and their beautiful partnership. They’re the reason I tune in each week. I also adore Fik-Shun and Amy even though I do feel their routines are getting a bit stale. That isn’t totally their fault, and I hope people realize they can only dance what they’ve been given.

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