I’ll start this recap with a confession: I cried a lot during this episode. A LOT. Read my tweets from last night, and you’ll see what I’m talking about. It wasn’t because of the “Who inspires you?” stories each contestant told (although those were sweet and some were truly touching). It wasn’t even because of the contestants for the most part.
It was the All Stars who left me wiping my eyes after nearly every performance. There was something so profoundly moving about watching their reactions to getting praise from the judges they once stood in front of as dancers. They all looked so genuinely appreciative of each compliment given and each kind word said. Those kinds of humble reactions are so rare on reality TV, and we saw it eight times last night.
And those compliments from the judges were well deserved; the choreography we saw was excellent. I also felt the All Stars did a fantastic job of showcasing their partners—much better than a lot of the regular choreographers when it comes to working with All Stars and contestants. It was exciting, entertaining, and a breath of fresh air to see these dancers come into their own as choreographers. The show felt different last night, and I mean that in the best possible way. It hummed with a new energy, and I loved every second of it.
In fact, the only thing I didn’t love was having to see someone go home. By the time the elimination results came, I wished both girls could have gone home instead of one of the guys. Don’t get me wrong; I don’t dislike either Jenna or Haley, but I like both Fik-Shun and Tucker so much more. I was ready for it to be Jenna’s time to leave, but it broke my heart to say goodbye to Tucker after two weeks in a row of truly beautiful dancing.
Now, let’s get to recapping; we have an outstanding bunch of routines to talk about!
Aaron and Chelsie: Jive
Before I start, I would just like to remind everyone that Aaron was dancing with a shoulder injury, quite possibly a torn labrum. I’m not totally sure why this wasn’t brought up since Aaron and Chelsie both tweeted about it, but it frustrated me to hear Mary critiquing his shoulders when that was where he was injured. However, I was impressed with his professionalism and determination to dance as well as he could. I thought his jive technique was solid, and his performance level was off the charts. While I did think some of the turns and lifts looked awkward, I was thoroughly entertained, which is what I’ve come to expect from this consummate pro and showman.
Fik-Shun and Allison: Contemporary
I love Allison. I love her relationship with Twitch. And I love any and all versions of “Skinny Love.” Needless to say, I would have loved this routine no matter who was dancing it with her. But there was something special about watching Fik-Shun raise his game in the presence of such a talented dancer. I thought Allison was smart for using Fik-Shun’s unique skills in her choreography (I also wonder if she was inspired by her fiancé and his ability to blend genres, as well as her own work with many different styles). While I couldn’t take my eyes off her while they were dancing apart (Allison is just ridiculously captivating), I was so pleased with his work in the side-by-side section. In fact, that was one of my favorite moments of the whole show last night. His technique is raw and imperfect, but he matched her beat for beat and put his whole heart into that section of choreography—and the result gave me the best kind of chills.
Tucker and Courtney: Contemporary
This is where I really started crying. Courtney was my favorite during her season because she wasn’t a perfect technician but she was a great performer and had so much passion when she danced. I’ve known about her MS diagnosis for a little while, so it was very emotional to watch her dance her heart out and do it so well. I thought her choreography was excellent and brought some much-needed energy to the contemporary genre as it’s depicted on So You Think You Can Dance. When the music picked up as she and Tucker began their side-by-side dancing, I got the biggest smile on my face because it felt so different and fresh. Their synchronicity was perfect, and I thought she did a great job of letting him shine. And don’t even get me started on Tucker’s dad or Nigel (and everyone else) giving Courtney a standing ovation for her bravery and spirit in the face of such a horrible disease…I’ll just start crying again.
Paul and Comfort: Hip Hop
WHERE DID THAT COME FROM? Yes, this routine warrants an all-caps reaction. But seriously, where has that Paul been hiding? I’ve loved him for a few weeks now, but this routine solidified his place as the other man I want with Aaron in the Top Four. He hit that routine so hard but still made it look effortless, fun, and cool. It never looked like he was trying too hard; in fact, it looked like he was having the time of his life. Comfort should be brought back to choreograph ASAP because this routine was so enjoyable to watch, but it was also incredibly challenging. It was all about the dancing rather than a story, and she must have been one hell of a teacher because Paul nailed every bit of the dancing he was asked to do.
Haley and Dmitry: Rumba
This was probably my least favorite routine of the evening. Don’t get me wrong; I think it was sexy, and it told a story really well without making the dance too focused on the story. I also think Haley did a solid job with the technique she was asked to showcase. However, I wished there had been a little more actual technique, a little more hip action. It was a good rumba but not my favorite one I’ve seen on this show (that would be Courtney and Gev’s in Season 4). On a night of marvelous routines, this one was a little forgettable for me.
Jenna and Mark: Jazz
Oh Mark, how I’ve missed you and your quirky style. This routine demonstrated everything that was right about bringing the All Stars back as choreographers: It was unlike anything we’ve ever seen on this show before; it was a great showcase for the contestant; and it felt like Mark was so genuinely honored by the standing ovation and the praise from the judges. This dance just felt like fun. It was so stylized and intricate while still allowing both of their personalities to come through. It didn’t need a story to captivate me; I was hooked from the start just by watching how perfectly together they were. They were so in-synch, and I loved how well Jenna picked up Mark’s style and owned it. This was definitely her best dance, and it was one heck of a swan song.
Jasmine and Twitch: Hip Hop
My dream team! Seriously, my hope almost from the start of the season was to see this season’s “woman” dance with SYTYCD’s ultimate “man.” Out of all of the girls left, Jasmine is the only one who could keep up with Twitch and match his charisma with her own. I didn’t love this routine as much as I’d hoped (a little too much acting rather than dancing at the beginning and end), but it was still so much fun to watch. Twitch may be the master of stage presence, but Jasmine held my attention through nearly the whole routine. She looked like she was having such a good time, and she went toe-to-toe with Twitch in his exact style and came out looking just as good as he always looks. Jasmine is such a natural entertainer, and I really think she’s been the best female competitor from the start—no one is as versatile, charismatic, or engaging as she is every time she takes the stage.
Amy and Travis: Contemporary
What Travis brought out of Amy in this routine was nothing short of extraordinary. She danced like a woman—controlled and grounded and deep and honest. Somehow Travis managed to tap into a maturity I wasn’t sure this teenager was capable of having let alone showing. The musicality in this routine was brilliant. And speaking of brilliant, this was such a great reminder of why I fell in love with Travis all the way back in Season Two. He dances with such poise; everything looks easy when he does it. He’s another one who created a piece that really highlighted his partner, and I think he was as inspired by Amy as she certainly seemed to be by him.
Standout Performers: Paul, Jasmine, Amy
Bottom Four Prediction: Haley and Jasmine; Aaron and Fik-Shun
Favorite Routine: Paul and Comfort’s Hip Hop