TV Time: SYTYCD Season 10 “Top 12 Perform”

Now it’s getting good.

We’re starting to reach that magical part of each season of So You Think You Can Dance where I genuinely respect every dancer who’s left. We’d already reached that point in terms of the male dancers before this week’s eliminations, so it broke my heart to see Alan go (although he—along with Tucker—is probably the weakest link among the guys). And with Malece gone (I’m sorry—I could never warm up to her and grew tired of the unwarranted praise she often received from the judges), I really do like all of the girls left, too. Jenna may not be my favorite—and I am frustrated with the judges constantly saving her at this point—but I definitely respect her versatility.

I was going to format this like my usual SYTYCD recaps, but I have way too much to say about this week’s dances. I’d been waiting all season for an episode like this—a week where the choreographers were at their best and the dancers were, too. Besides one less-than-stellar routine, I enjoyed all of the routines we saw last night.

This week, I’m going to break down the episode dance-by-dance before picking my favorite dancers and routine of the night.

Nico and Haley: Broadway
This was a fantastic way to start what was a fantastic episode. While I am getting tired of the “Haley is sexy” shtick, there’s no denying that the girl has a sensual magnetism about her movements and presence that was perfectly suited to the choreography. (Also, does anyone else think she looks like Rachel Bilson?) She and Nico brought the best out of each other as many thought they would; I was especially impressed with the lifts the pair effortlessly executed, including the one where Nico flipped Haley over his back using only her leg. It wouldn’t crush me to see either of them go home in the near future, but this routine was proof that they both deserve their places in the Top 10.

Alan and Malece: Jazz
Sometimes, for a variety of reasons, a dance just doesn’t work. This was one of those dances. I don’t think the choreography or music choice was all that inspired, but where the routine really faltered was in its execution. Neither Alan nor Malece really managed to capture the easy elegance of Old Hollywood or the chemistry of two people in love. The entire time I was watching that dance, I was wishing Aaron and Jasmine were dancing it instead because they would have been brilliant. I think this pair’s lack of maturity really hurt them here, even Alan, who I usually like. I think a lot of my bias against this routine started when he said he’d never seen a Gene Kelly movie. That’s inexcusable for a dancer of any level of expertise. And it has nothing to do with age—I started watching his movies when I was a little girl because I wanted to learn as much as I could about the best dancers. In my mind, Alan deserved to go home for that comment alone.

Jenna and Alex: Paso Doble
Before I get to talking about Jenna in this routine, let me just say ALEX FREAKING WONG! Is there a way he can just win every season of this show to make up for the fact that he had to leave his own season so early? Because his versatility continues to astound me. The man is a ballet dancer, but he managed to pull off this style with power, precision, and great partnering. He really let Jenna take center stage, but I’m not so sure she really embraced that as much as I wanted her to. I thought she was obviously very good, but I didn’t think she had the sense of attack that makes for a truly great and memorable Paso Doble. I remembered this dance for Alex rather than Jenna, and that’s not how it should be.

Paul and Makenzie: Contemporary
All of a sudden, this couple has become one of my favorites, and this dance absolutely blew me away. I love contemporary dances that are about the joy of being in love rather than the angst of it, and this routine captured that joy exquisitely. Paul is so focused on Makenzie when they dance together; their chemistry is a beautiful thing to behold. It’s innocent but also intensely passionate, and they glowed with a special kind of warmth in the quiet moments of this piece (I especially loved the beginning). And when they did their side-by-side section, I actually started crying. They were so connected even when dancing apart, which is one of my favorite things to see. The way they reached for every note along with Lady Gaga was breathtaking; both of them danced with a controlled abandon that radiated from their fingertips and with a gentle intimacy that sparkled in their eyes—a truly winning combination from a truly stunning partnership.

Fik-Shun and Amy: Viennese Waltz
This dance could have (and maybe should have) been a disaster, but, gosh darn it, those two adorable kids made it work. Their technique certainly wasn’t perfect, but they were both graceful and fluid (especially into their lifts, including that gorgeous final one). I was incredibly impressed with Fik-Shun’s arms throughout the routine. To be honest, though, the technical aspects of the dance mattered less to me than perhaps they usually would because these two dancers created a truly special moment on stage together. You could feel their sweet, joyful chemistry in every smile and every look. It wasn’t so much a victory lap as it was a celebration of their friendship, and I bought it hook, line, and sinker. Maybe it was the song; maybe it was the way they toned down their cutesy personas to a softer level, which made their connection feel so genuine and lovely. Whatever it was, it worked, and it made me surprisingly emotional in the process.

Aaron and Jasmine: Hip Hop
WOW. No other couple could have pulled this routine off and made it so thoroughly entertaining. It wasn’t just about the insane musicality needed to pull off so many sections of this routine (although the way they aced that breakdown was ridiculous in the best possible way). It was about the kind of heat that needed to sizzle between them in order to take this routine from fun to instantly memorable. This was a dance for grownups. Paul and Makenzie’s chemistry this week was all about the innocence of love; Aaron and Jasmine’s was all about the ferocity of lust. They both attacked this routine with so much gusto and commitment; their incredibly stage presence as a unit really paid off in this performance. Aaron hit every movement with precision and sold the hell out of his character, but this dance belonged to Jasmine. Her isolations were perfection, and she exuded a confidence that we haven’t seen from any dancer before her this season. The moment when she slid into a straddle split over Aaron was absurdly sexy, and it was one of those little moments of electricity between the two of them that made them my favorite partnership and the one I’m saddest to see split up next week.

Top Six Guys: Hip Hop
This dance was so intense and powerful; it was overflowing with strong, masculine energy. I have to single out Aaron for his captivating solo section and Paul for his impressive work throughout, but this was a stellar showcase for all of these talented men.

Top Six Girls: Contemporary
Gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous. The “fountain of youth” concept was brilliant, but the real brilliance here was the dancing done by each of these women. Their fluidity, grace, poise, and strength has never been more evident. I loved the way they worked together, and I think I might have to agree that this is one of the best groups of girls this show has ever assembled—especially when it comes to contemporary.

Standout Performers: Aaron, Jasmine, Paul, Makenzie, Fik-Shun, Amy

Bottom Four Prediction: Tucker (automatically in the bottom) and Nico; Jenna and Haley

Favorite Routine: Because they’re so incredibly different, I can’t choose between Paul and Makenzie’s contemporary and Aaron and Jasmine’s hip hop, so I’m going to just call it a tie.

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