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.