Sorry for the delay in my recap this week, everyone! I went on a little long weekend getaway, but now I’m back and ready to talk dance with all of you.
After being very impressed with the diversity and overall performances in the first week of live So You Think You Can Dance competition, I’m sad to say I found myself less than impressed with what we were presented this week. There weren’t any truly terrible routines, but there wasn’t anything groundbreaking either. I was sad to see Malene and Nick go because I liked both of their performances last week, but their work this week wasn’t nearly as memorable.
The biggest thing I took away from this week was the difficulty these partners seemed to have connecting with each other and sometimes also with the material they were given. There were more than a couple of routines where one partner seemed far more emotionally invested in the partnership than the other half of the duo. Valerie was so focused on her (surprisingly graceful) technique in her contemporary with Ricky that I felt nothing coming from her emotionally. Jessica and Nick seemed too labored in their West Coast Swing routine to create the fun atmosphere Benji Schwimmer wanted. And in perhaps the most egregious lack of connection this week, Emily was almost comically pandering to the audience and cameras instead of trying to create a connection with Teddy.
Many of the routines suffered from looking too much like routines we’ve already seen done and done better on the show (a common complaint I have after watching since the show’s early days). All of Sonya Tayeh’s jazz pieces feel the same now, and the same can be said for many of Travis Wall’s contemporary routines. All Argentine Tango routines will be measured against Allison and Ivan in Season Two, and all West Coast Swings will be measured against Sara and Pasha’s from Season Three—and the two we saw this week simply weren’t as good.
However, there still were some standout performances on the stage this week—especially from dancers excelling out of their given styles (with the exception of the brilliant work Ricky did in his contemporary routine, of course). Tanisha’s power and flexibility surprised me, as did Zack’s jazz technique (although the rhythmic nature of African Jazz works perfectly for a dancer with a tap background). And no one blew me away like Serge did this week. He was a bit of a disappointment last week, but his maturity and partnering abilities served him so well in his contemporary routine.
Standout Performers: Serge, Carly, Tanisha, Zack, and Ricky
Favorite Routine: I like being surprised by SYTYCD dancers, and Serge completely surprised me this week in his Sonya contemporary piece with Carly. Nigel was right when he said Serge dances from his heart. There was something so genuine about his performance, and I think it brought something deeper out of Carly than she would have found with anyone else in the competition. As is true for most male ballroom partners, he let Carly shine and was there for her in every lift and trick. I feel like that steady presence allowed Carly to find an impressively fluid kind of strength to her movements. They were one of the only partnerships on the show this week where I could feel real trust between them.
Serge’s maturity gave this piece a lovely, unforced kind of tenderness. Nothing felt overwrought, which can happen sometimes in SYTYCD contemporary pieces. Instead, it felt honest; it felt grounded. Carly’s technical precision elevated Serge’s technique, and Serge’s emotional honesty elevated Carly’s performance. That’s what good partnerships are all about, and I love that this partnership surprised me with just how good it was.