So You Think You Can Dance Recap: Roaring 20

will amelia sytycd catsThere’s a “Closed” sign hanging at the ticket booth for the So You Think You Can Dance Hot Tamale Express, but not because the Season 9 Top 20 isn’t packed with talent. Quite the contrary, I’d say that based on Top 20 Performance Night, there are already a good dozen dancers who’ve scored reservations on the exclusive locomotive (with its crazed conductor Mary Murphy).

The depth of the field — and the lack of unbeatable early front-runners so early in the competition — is good news for fans of the show. The resulting sense of suspense — and the reality that no single dancer can skate by with a weak week — islikely to spur the finalists to dance like there’s no tomorrow. (Yes, that was an obscure Paula Abdul reference. Thanks for asking.)

What’s more, with no results show in the mix, the Season 9 Top 20 will head into next Wednesday’s performance show not knowing which of ‘em are among the Bottom 3 Guys and Bottom 3 Girls — with the judges at least partially relying on Week 2 routines to determine which four dancers will get booted at the end of the telecast. Again, more uncertainty, more suspense, and more reason to “WOO-HOO!”

Let’s break down the Week 1 performances with an eye on separating the pretenders from the contenders, the pimped from those who’ve already been tied to the railroad tracks.

DANCE OF THE NIGHT | Janelle Issis & Dareian Kujawa I know this African Jazz routine didn’t score a pimp slot or a standing ovation, but the speed and complexity of the moves had me seal-clapping from my living room couch when it came to an end. I audibly gasped when pint-sized Dareian cranked Janelle’s leg like the handle of a garlic press, and got another special thrill during the “vogueing” portion of the proceedings. I also loved that move where their bodies momentarily collided and then somehow morphed into one swirling funnel of limbs. As guest judge Kenny Ortega so crazily/accurately put it, the dancers took us on a trip from Africa to Cuba to Paris, Brazil and Polynesia. And all in under two minutes, I might add!

RUNNER-UP | Lindsay Arnold & Cole Horibe Was Cole’s the best male paso doble in SYTYCD history, as Nigel argued? I’d have to give the edge to Brandon back in Season 5, but no doubt Cole was stunning, the way he kicked his leg over Lindsay’s head with almost terrifying power and propulsion, and brought an almost brutal strength to the Jason Gilkison number about a man fighting off a particular brand of ladypoison. To me, Lindsay was equally strong: Her fleeing backwards crawl and that final move where she might have actually been levitating a few inches off the stage floor really moved her up in my Season 9 rankings. Nigel had a great point when he said this performance would’ve fit perfectly in a professional production of Burn the Floor — and have the audience on its feet by the finish.

MOST SURPRISING | Amelia Lowe & Will Thomas When Cat cut to commercial break and Amelia and Will delivered some exaggerated hip-hop foolery to camera, I was convinced we were about to witness something better left inside that giant dumpster at stage right. But much to my shock and delight, She of the Pale Skin and Gently Blinking Eyes and He of the Giant Frame and Fear of Shirtlessness delivered more good vibe with a NapyTabs routine set to The Cure than I’d ever have predicted. I loved their perfect synchronization, and particularly Will’s commitment to the character. When you’re playing an alley cat courting a sohpisticated house cat, all self-consciousness must be abandoned, and methinks self-consciousness is not a phrase in this cat’s vocabulary. (That said, I’m going to humbly ask Uncle Nigel to not set Will and Amelia up with Paula Abdul’s “Opposites Attract” later in the season. You all with me?)

MOST OVERPRAISED (THOUGH STILL QUITE GOOD) | Matthew Kazmierczak & Audrey Case Don’t get me wrong: I generally love Travis Wall, and I enjoyed what Matthew and Audrey did with his routine about a painter and his subject on the Titanic. But was I the only one who felt that the choreography was a little too cluttered and frantic, and maybe wished that Audrey had dialed back just a bit on her perma-smile? The pair has definite chemistry, and they didn’t struggle in the least with some very challenging steps, but the standing ovation and subsequent lavishing of praise felt a little too much like a promo for Travis’ upcoming Oxygen series than a realistic assessment of what had just happened on stage.

“LOOK OUT FOR THE BUS!” AWARD | Amber Jackson & Nick Bloxsom-Carter Let’s see now: It’s Week 1, and you’re the couple with perhaps the least amount of combined prior screen time in the competition. You draw the dreaded waltz, and then your pre-performance package is centered on Jason Gilkison railing against the male half for not excelling in his own genre. Stir together with muted praise from the judges, a scary shot of Disney Villainess Abby Lee Miller in the audience — next time, that should come with a warning! — and you’ve got a cocktail called the Early Elimination.

ODDEST PAIRING THAT WORKED | Eliana Girard & Cyrus Spencer I’m not sure what Tyce was thinking with his painfully literal blackboard scrawlings, but thankfully, Eliana and Cyrus threw so much buoyant energy into the proceedings that I didn’t have much time to focus on the negative. Side-by-side, it was clear Eliana is the vastly superior hoofer — as Kenny pointed out, the woman can kick all the way to the back wall — but what Cyrus lacked in polish and technique, he made up for with performance and joyous energy. I’d be surprised if these two don’t sail all the way to the Top 10 at least.

ODDEST PAIRING THAT DIDN’T WORK | Witney Carson & Chehon Wespi-Tschopp I’m still grappling with the missing ‘h’ in Witney’s name, but aside from that, she appears to be the complete package: The spunky blonde has incredible speed and fluidity that I suspect will translate outside her genre, and a “vote-grabbing” personality to boot. Chehon, meanwhile, proved more perfunctory than dazzling on this samba, and the judges’ “we’re not criticizing, just giving 11 minutes of ‘advice'” feedback won’t help him with voters, either. [Side note: Was Chehon’s exposed right pec while getting judged a carefully constructed reminder that he has the best torso of Season 9, or merely an accidental nip slip?)

MOST FORGETTABLE | Janaya French & Brandon Mitchell To be fair, I’m not a huge fan of choreography that’s heavily reliant on a single, obvious prop, and in this case, Brandon’s literal struggle with the bottle made me wince a little. Just as unfortunate, though, I felt like the couple didn’t really follow through with their movements, didn’t bring the routine to vivid life from start to finish. Their walk toward one another at the end of the number was just that — ambling from Point A to Point B — where it should have been an extension of all the steps that came before it. Plus, Janaya didn’t really punctuate her moves with the edge and oomph needed to convincingly pull off hip-hop.

MOST DISAPPOINTING | Alexa Anderson & Daniel Baker I loved the opening and closing moments inside the scaffold — especially Alexa’s backward somersault with her feet paddling against the ceiling — but the minute Daniel and Alexa climbed down and hit the floor, I felt like they lost just a fraction of their energy, failed to execute their moves with the finesse and fire they’d previously proven capable. And for a pair who’d generated plenty of early hype, this wasn’t a great way to further their momentum with voters.

SEASON 9 DARK HORSES? | Tiffany Maher & George Lawrence II I loved seeing a softer, more supple side of Sonya Tayeh’s meaty choreography, and the way she gave both dancers moments to shine. Nigel was right: This duo dances all the way to their extremeties, making their contractions all the more stunning. George’s slide-crawl across the floor bordered on alien (and I mean that as high praise) while Tiffany’s handstand over her partner proved she’s as athletic as any woman in the competition. I just hope her huge defecit of screen time during auditions/Vegas doesn’t lead to an unfair/premature ouster.

SHOULD BE THE BOTTOM 6
Janaya French
Amber Jackson
Alexa Anderson
Nick Bloxsom-Carter
Chehon Wespi-Tschopp
Brandon Mitchell

WILL BE THE BOTTOM 6
Janaya French
Amber Jackson
Tiffany Maher
Nick Bloxsom-Carter
Chehon Wespi-Tschopp
Daniel Baker

What did you think of this week’s SYTYCD? Who was best in show? Who will and should be in the Bottom 3? Sound off in the comments!

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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76 Comments
  1. Michael, i don’t think season 5’s Kayla was ballroom. ;)

  2. And yeah, I mostly agree with you.

    Also, it’s becoming more and more obvious that the couples don’t “randomly pick a style out of the hat” – al three ballroom dancers got ballroom or latin last night. Nigel should seriously call himself Captain Obvious. Plus, the Abby Lee Miller shtick was so obviously staged. Not even a milisecond after Nigel mentioned her, they cut right to her and she was already making a face to the camera. Ugh, I hate when they pull American Idol-esque gimmicks on SYTYCD.

    • elr says:

      I think it is also apparent that they don’t choose their partners out of a hat either. I mean it was really amazing that Dariean (one of the shortest guys) pulled a short girl, Janelle and that Will got paired with someone tall. Why do they insist on treating the audience this way. Either show the process of them picking their partners and styles, or just tell the truth about how they are given. Michael – I agree with everything you said, but I hope Chehon gets to hang around. He and Cyrus were probably the farthest from their comfort zones.

      • Gxvgxv says:

        Elr, If I remember correctly, I thought Cat said that the pairings were chosen, and then they chose their dances randomly. She never said partners were chosen randomly, just the dances. Obviously it’s easier to have people of similar heights paired for the choreographers and everything. But you both are right about the dances.. The stepper got Hip Hop, The 3 ballroom dancers chose ballroom, and a few Contemporary/Contemporary pairings were given contemporary. It was just so obvious.

      • Partners are chosen strictly by height. It’s not random and they never said it was. As for the mythical “magic hat” that has been suspiciously absent for the last 3 seasons. It’s almost a standing joke now when they talk about “oh, you must have been so glad to pull that out of the hat” I just sigh and shrug it off. At least this week they seemed to be trying to level the playing field. All of the dancers who had less pre-competition air time got really unique routines while the more exposed dancers had kind of blah routines.

        • Sha says:

          I recall partner being drawn out of a hat in seasons 1-3. They actually showed it on camera. Who knows, that could have been fixed too. You never know with “Reality tv” There was a guy Ricky something who was paired with a really tall girl. Even Travis Wall was paired with Marta who was taller than him

    • nickseydiva says:

      What I believe they said was, the dancers were paired and then picked numbers out of a hat. Then, in order of number, they got to pick their styles. So in theory, if the ballroom folks got to pick first, it stands to reason that they would have picked ballroom.

  3. tracyg36 says:

    Kayla was contemporary. Jeanette was ballroom on S5.

  4. Michelle says:

    Yes, I totally agree that the Travis Wall routine was a lot of frantic flailing towards the end. I was getting dizzy. Definitely not worth the standing O.

    • Kim says:

      Too much frantic…was exhausted just trying to enjoy it. Not standing O worthy due to the chory:)

    • Juan says:

      I completely agree, I liked the first contemporary much more , I though it was just ok but then they kept saying it was the best, I don’t think so

    • GMom says:

      Well, I guess I was the only one who thought it was exquisite. However I’m not a dancer. But I just loved it. What a pair!! I agree with pretty much everything else, tho.

      • Rain says:

        GMom, you aren’t the only one. I found the Travis Wall routine stunning and totally worthy of a standing O!

  5. soarin829 says:

    Michael, I can’t remember if in past seasons you’ve ranked the contestants each week leading up to a new episode like you do on Idol or not, but you should! You should also add polls to your SYTYCD recaps!
    And btw, great recap, as always ;)

    • Nigel Is Pervy says:

      I agree. Terrific recap. This looks like it could be a very exciting season.

      • KevyB says:

        I often disagree but I have to agree with ALMOST everything here… except for Janelle and Dareian. Either she was too slow, or he was too fast, but I thought neither danced to the level of the great routine. A friend whose early fave is Dareian said the same and laid the blame on his guy, though I was thinking it was Janelle who was mostly at fault, though he moves his feet way too much before, during and after lifts. The other I would have issue with is Cyrus and Janelle. I don’t care how nice, how energetic, how hard Cyrus tries; he’s still an awful dancer. Janelle did 75% of the dancing, and when he didn’t have anything to do, he just stood there like a lump. I don’t want to see talented dancers cut every week while he gets under-choreographed but makes up for it with “personality”. We don’t need another Jose! So does anyone else think the whole Alexa storyline is going to backfire? “She doesn’t have any chemistry! Oh, look, she has chemistry now, top 20!” Then first week out, NO CHEMISTRY!

  6. Alright Michael I respectfully disagree with you on Brandon over Cole and about the overpraised Travis Wall Routine with Matthew and Audrey, I was at the performance show last night and both of those routines blew the roof off the place. Cole brought so much intensity, where as Brandon (S5) he often had great technique but also often left us a bit flat performance wise thoughout most of that season. There was something untethered in his personality you would often see in his interviews and packages before each dance that made him standoffish and not as much of a fan favorite all technical brilliance aside.

    • I agree. Cole was spectacular in that Paso. So was Lindsay but I kind of expected her to be. Also I think that Cole can give Daniel and Chehon a run for their money in the best torso category for this season.

  7. Anna says:

    My faves are definitely Eliana, Lindsay, Cole, and Cyrus. Eliana is far and away the best female dancer this season.

  8. Anissa says:

    I get the feeling that Daniel will pull a lot of votes this week (from the screams at the begining to the tepid reviews that will make the fans need to protect him). Brandon will likely be in the bottom as a result.

  9. Elena says:

    I’m surprised you didn’t like the “Titanic” number, Slezak. It was my favorite of the night. I just love the way Travis choreographs continual movement throughout his piece so it looks like a fluid storytelling picture. Also, I thought Aubrey and Matthew did a great job with it, and Matthew especially did a great job bringing out the emotion of the piece. Also, that paso was amazing!!! I’m really impressed with Cole and can’t wait to see what he can do with the other styles of dance. Yeah, I was most disappointed with Daniel and Alexa but I think it’s more due to the choreography than them personally. That dance just didn’t really appeal to me. I think they’ll both be fine though because of how good they are and how much screen time they’ve gotten. I’m really interested next week to see how this new elimination process plays out. It should be interesting. Overall, I think we’re in for a good season with these dancers.

    • abby says:

      i agree with everything Elena says here^^^. Travis’ number had me almost in happy tears at the end just from Matthew and Aubrey’s joyous dancing (on a sinking ship, no less). and that paso – breathtaking! this season, every cut is going to be painful – the talent top to bottom is so tight!

  10. Maggie says:

    gosh I wanted to like Alexa & Daniel’s piece, bc I LOVE sean cheesman (who could forget russell & noelle frog price afro jazz piece?!) but this one just didn’t work. It reminded me of ashleigh & legacy’s piece in season 6 where they were both dressed in black, we just couldn’t catch our breaths to enjoy the dance.

    my jaw dropped at amelia & will’s piece, soo not what i was expecting but it was so much fun! they were totally in sync & just went full out with the characters. and I thought will kept up pretty darn well with a dancer who is so much smaller than he is.

    i’m friends with Janaya’s best friend, so I want to root for her, but this opening number did not do her any favors. i feel like the topic & movements were more suited to a contemporary piece, this hip hop felt like it just stopped & started.

  11. PFitzDC says:

    (*Shaking fist in air*) Curses, Fox Network programmers! I hate that I must wait a whole week before we learn the results! Kudos to Uncle Nigel and team if it does reinvigorate the show, but, on principle, grrrr…. And since we do have to wait, how come no more time to vote?

  12. Trevor says:

    My Performance Ranking:
    1. cole and lindsay – this was amazing routine – strong-fluid-exciting
    2. dareian and janell – strong and difficult
    3. amelia and will – fun sexy and entertaining
    4. matthew and audrey – was very good but ranked 4th
    5. George and Tiffany – whoa!

    Others dancers I like that are not in my top 5 pairs:
    1. Witney
    2. Eliana
    3. Cyrus – exciting but one of the weak dancers
    4. Chehon – still can recall his last ballet dance

    Can go home:
    1. Nick
    2. Amber
    3. Brandon
    4. Janaya
    5. Daniel
    6. Alexa – though love to keep her.. she is strong

  13. MA says:

    Here’s what I loved: The paso doble (HELLO!) and the cats. I have no favorites, but Cole and Lindsay are moving to the top of my list. I also really enjoyed the opening number with all 20 of them.
    Here’s what I’m tired of: Contemporary and melodramatic stories. Just frakkin’ dance, already. Art shouldn’t be as literal as “prejudice” (or “tolerance”? I’ve tried to block it out) written on a chalkboard. My favorite dance ever on this show was Lauren Froderman and Pasha’s Argentine tango. It was so simple and so stunning. You don’t need a whole narrative if the dancers, choreographers, and music are good.

    • justjack says:

      I really liked the opening number too, altho it was disorienting to see the group number at the beginning of competition night!!

  14. Bob says:

    The “Titanic” number was weak. Did the audience need to know that? It should have been the “couch” number, and I would have liked it more. It’s strange to have 19th century characters dancing to the Righteous Brothers. And that song is pretty strongly associated with another movie, which muddled things further.

    • vix101 says:

      cough *20th century* cough. But yes song was from almost 50 years later than titanic, though ‘you are my sunshine’ wouldn’t really have worked for this piece…

  15. Sarah says:

    I am surprised no one has mentioned Nigel’s comment about voting last night. This is supposedly “America’s Favortie Dancer” right? That is what they say at least.
    Last night he said that their votes wouldn’t actually mean they would get to stay, they just need to vote to keep the contestants away from the judges. that way they “know who you like” They then said, call as many times as you want or can…
    I guess in earlier seasons they didn’t like their favorites getting voted off by the American public and they didn’t want to risk only having the option to “save” a person. I know last year they did this but they just weren’t so obvious about saying the votes really don’t mean anything.
    The the end, Nigel will choose his favorite regardless of what the American public wants.

    • You do realize that winners are totally decided by votes and the judges don’t get to pick them right? Usually the judges totally stop eliminating after the top ten are decided. From there on out it’s totally up to the voters. If the public wants a dancer then they won’t be in the bottom three for the judges to eliminate them in the early rounds.

      • Not last year. Judges chose who went home from the bottom 3 all the way up until the top 6. It used to be top 10, but they got who they wanted by keeping final say until then, not necessarily going by the lowest vote.

        • ::shrug:: I didn’t like it when they kept eliminating after the top 10 but no matter what, if America wanted them they wouldn’t be in the bottom to be eliminated.

  16. I don’t know what this love affair you have with George Lawrence II is Slezak but I foresee a season of agreeing with everything you say EXCEPT what you say about him. That routine was totally forgettable. I like Sonyeh better when she is weird and angry, lovey dovey doesn’t work for her. It was a series of really complicated moves not a dance and there was absolutely zero chemistry between them. On the other hand you have Eliana and Cyrus who had fantastic chemistry and very limited technique because of Cyrus’ limitations. I really hope he doesn’t hold Eliana back (even though I love him) because she is my favorite girl this year. I was so incredibly impressed with Nigel’s judging last night. It’s the first time in seasons that he was actually giving them feedback and insight and actually trying to help them be better. For the last couple seasons it’s just been inappropriate jokes and schmoozing love fests for the favorites. I really hope he keeps it up.

    • Morris Tanaka says:

      I can’t wholly agree that he gave helpful feedback to everyone. None of the judges picked apart Cole’s iffy footwork on the paso doble and Mary even tried to play the “martial arts planet” card before Nigel surprisingly said something. My friends and I are already calling Cole the “Melanie” of season 9. I hope the show proves us wrong. Melanie was good and Cole is good enough for them to not take the “You are perfection!!” route.

      • Well, I didn’t say he gave every single piece of constructive feedback needed. There were quite a few things in a few different routines that he could have called out but didn’t but he has been getting slammed with Tweets about the inane judging in the past few seasons and it seems like he is trying to overcome that. Yes, they could have pulled Cole apart more but I don’t think he is the Melanie of this season. I think George is. They never have anything even slightly bad to say about him and they just gush pointless drivel every time he dances. He is just another bland contemporary dancer that I’m nervous to see go outside of his genre just like Melanie. The few times they really put her outside her own style she was horrible. I think Cole is so cross trained that he’ll be able to do multiple styles without a lot of problems. I don’t think the same thing about George. I think he is going to have the same ballroom problems that Melanie and a lot of the contemporary dancers have: they dance heavy. It’s like having a good core weighs them down instead of supporting them to dance lightly. I hate it. I always watch audition rounds and yell at the TV “Cut her! She’s dances heavy, she’ll be like lead in ballroom”! Unfortunately they can’t hear me.

  17. BillButron says:

    I was surprised to find that a NappyTabs number was my favorite of the night. At least he’s stopped trying to sell it as hip-hop. Character-pop, he called it? Whatever. Amelia & Will nailed it. Now if they would just find us some real HH choreographers.

    I wondered why Cole added his training in ballroom & ballet as almost an afterthought “a little bit of ballroom and ballet”. He danced with Onium Ballet Project and has competed and won in Latin ballroom in the past. He’s well-trained, so good for him, but he gave the distincgt impression that his experience in those two areas were limited.

    Travis’ piece would have benefitted from some pauses to breath and allow the dancers to connect. I’m not a fan of his more trick-laden routines. Of the contemporary routines last night I preferred Sonya’s. And Sonya! I agree with Nigel…her new look is stunning. She’s a beautiful woman.

    • Sookie says:

      Hush, Nigel doesn’t want us to know this. We can’t root for a “trained” dancer.

      • Morris Tanaka says:

        I agree, that is Nigel’s usual mantra. But in this case, he did give Cole a chance to clarify what Mary said in her gasping critique, trying to give the impression that he was martial arts only. Cole restated what he told us in auditions, that he did have training in several genre (good for him, by the way). However, he tacked on ballroom and ballet as if he’d only dabbled in those areas. If he has done those two things mentioned in the post above, I would think that would require considerable practice and skill to achieve that level of performance. It does strike me as a little disingenuous, but I can’t put that onto Nigel. This time, at least.

        • Sookie says:

          I didn’t know Mary had said that since I always fast forward through her screechy commentary. BTW she looked pretty funny in fast forward banging on the desk while she was screeching her commentary about Cole,

  18. wordsmith says:

    If I hadn’t seen the intro package with NappyTabs, I would have sworn that Will/Amelia cat number was a Wade Robson routine – it was TOTALLY in his style, and really outside the box for Tabitha and Napoleon. In any case, it was awesome!

  19. Karen says:

    My favourite dance of the night was Amelia & Will’s cat/hip-hop routine (along with the group routine – Stunning! Dareian).
    I’d give a vote for those two along with Dareian.
    My other fave routines were: Tiffany & George, Cole & Lindsay and Janelle & Dareian and Audrey and Ryan Gosling (sorry, Matthew!)

  20. Mason says:

    Every year it seems the talent on this show gets better and better. Cyrus obviously has the least technical training, but overall there isn’t a less-than-good dancer in the bunch, and some are phenomenal. Here are my rankings based on last night:

    Girls:
    1. Eliana
    2. Janelle
    3. Audrey
    4. Lindsay
    5. Amelia
    6. Alexa
    7. Tiffany
    8. Janaya
    9. Amber
    10. Witney

    Guys:
    1. Dereian
    2. Cole
    3. George
    4. Matthew
    5. Brandon
    6. Will
    7. Chehon
    8. Nick
    9. Daniel
    10. Cyrus – love the personality, but he’s not at the level of the others…yet

    • Robby says:

      GIRLS:
      10. Amber
      9.Tiffany
      8. Janaya
      7. Alexa
      6. Whitney
      5. Lindsay
      4. Amelia
      3. Eliana
      2. Aubrey
      1. Janelle

      BOYS:
      10. Nick
      9. Chenon
      8. Daniel
      7. George
      6. Cyrus
      5. Cole
      4. Matthew
      3. Will
      2. Brandon
      1. Dareian

      Dareian & Janelle and Matthew & Aubrey were the best

  21. josephvitug says:

    “I’m still grappling with the missing ‘h’ in Witney’s name, but aside from that, she appears to be the complete package: The spunky blonde has incredible speed and fluidity that I suspect will translate outside her genre, and a more “vote-grabbing” personality than a similar ballroom diva like Season 5′s Kayla.” Actually, Kayla’s specialty is jazz/contemporary, not ballroom.

    • Nigel Is Pervy says:

      Whitney is so hot that the “h” in her name went up in flames. Did you see Nigel’s eyeballs pop out of his head while blathering on about this 18 (!) year old “firecracker” from Utah? Despite Nigel, I am very excited for this season!

  22. tewence says:

    after re-watching brandon’s paso doble, you are waaaaaaaay wrong haha. cole wiped the floor with him. he had such control and power that many have to work years for. perhaps the martial arts helps this, but there was a strength that trumps any dance steps he could have done. fantastic job by him. also, the contemporary is getting on my nerves. everything is the dang same, and it’s annoying. george is not that great and his personality leaves much to be desired. his dancing seems very contrived to me. just my opinion, though.

    • Thank god someone else sees it. I’ve been arguing with my best friend who watches this show as religiously as I do and she loves George. To me he is just another bland contemporary dancer. He is the equal of the thousands of blah contemporary dancers they have to weed through to try and give the show some diversity so it’s not completely boring. His personality does nothing for me and all I see is technique when he dances, not performance.

      • tewence says:

        agreed! everything seems so forced by him…there isn’t a natural depth too his performing. i personally feel like the contemporary genre is losing any credibility it had on this show. all the dancers morph into one in my mind, and all the choreography is far too similar (travis/mandy/tyce/even sonya when she does slower things). this is why i think it is refreshing to have eliana on the show, who’s versatility outreaches any of the contemporary girls because she has the strong ballet background that opens up the parameters for what she can do. also, i LOVE that desmond richardson and dwight rhoden are choreographing for the show! we need to lose janaya, tiffany, will, george, audrey, and dareian so we can get to who the different and exciting people are. (i realize that those names are up for debate, i’m just trying to underscore the similarity between these dancers).

  23. MAS says:

    I agree that George has a shot. As Debbie Allen said ‘he was born to dance’. Whether he was born to win….we will see.

  24. Kim says:

    I was not impressed with the “Hairspray” number. Sorry, I can’t remember their names. It just seemed that there were times that they should have been moving but were too still. The moments seemed repetitive.

  25. asherlev1 says:

    George is my favorite. I INSTANTLY fell head over heels for him when I saw him dance last last week. Just. GAH.

    Cole is really great as well.

  26. BethRose says:

    Will and Amelia as cats was the number which I wanted to be in, it was such fun. I loved the titanic number, though the Titanic links was irrelevant, the other contemporary lacked the fluidity and chemistry which “romantic” duets hinge upon (also the song Turning Page – a beautiful lyrical piece which Melanie actually did a magnificent solo to post SYTYCD – was horribly cut u in the edit and lost so much power).
    As far as poor Daniel Baker was concerned, he may as well have been paired with a wooden puppet for all the technique, personality and interest Alexa added to the routine. Really don’t get the hype around her, she’s pretty but she can’t get her leg up or pirouette without hopping and lacks the personality to make her technical flaws forgivable (like Cyrus for example).
    I’d lose Janaya and Alexa (withTiffany rounding out the bottom) and Nick and Brandon (with Chehon also in danger. I think Amber and Daniel would dance well together…

    • Sha says:

      Poor Daniel indeed. I wanted to like Alexa but she really is turning into another Ryan. With girls like Whitney, Eliana, and Linsay, she’s just not strong or charismatic enough. The lack of red lipstick also made me forget who she was for a second.

  27. phillysytycdfan says:

    Hey, remember when Sean Cheeseman choreographed the exact same routine for Missy and Wadi that he did for Alexa and Daniel during last year’s Top 20? And remember when he choreographed the exact same routine for Jordan and Tadd as he did for Janelle and Dareian, also during last year’s Top 20? HE NEEDS TO GO. I’ve never thought his stuff was good, and now it’s just repetitive.

  28. stew says:

    This show really lost a lot of character when they ditched the multitiered warehouse stage for the blitzkrieg-lit blandness of the current one. The phototechnics really detract from a lot of the numbers.

    I was really disappointed a few times when they didn’t comment on the performance committment (or lack thereof) of several dancers, particularly since the incredibly high level of talent this year means that it’s performance rather than technique that separates this crowded and hotly contested season.

    For me the rankings as follows:

    10. Janaya and Brandon – the best I can say is neither dancer did all that badly. Janaya wasn’t bad but her body was too supple for hip hop, and ultimately this rountine failed to reach previous Nappytabs heights (No Air, Bleeding Love, Mad), AND failed to really convey addiction the way Kayla and Kupono did a few years back. Not memorable at all.

    9. Amber and Nick – Nick IMO is the weakest of all the male dancers. Amber was lovely but this is the least exciting ballroom # of the night.

    8. Alexa and Daniel – Daniel is a stud but the red suits and his vacant non-mood appropriate smile, coupled with Alexa’s usually vacant expression were a bad combo. Their choreo also didn’t do them any favours – intricate without excitement. Also we know nothing more about Daniel other than he thinks Americans like Aussie stereotypes.

    7. Dareian and Janelle- I actually thought Janelle was one of the ladies most committed to the performance this week, though her arms were too soft and didn’t articulate a lot of the jazz movements Darian was able to get across. Poor girl nearly broke her back in rehearsal and I’m keen to see her do other things.

    6. Cyrus and Eliana – I completely understand the hate on for Tyce’s routines as I find them super dull (eg. we’re EXCITED and RUNNING AROUND but not actually DOING anything). But until they were usurped by the brilliance of the last two routines these two gave the best performances of the evening. Great commitment, and I was shocked to see how passed over by the judges Eliana was while they mooned over Cyrus. No way Eliana gets cut early though, the judges will save her.

    5. Tiffany and George – very well executed and graceful, but the overall routine wasn’t all that exciting.

    4. Amelia and Will – quirky, not really sure what style it was supposed to be, but these two have the most personality (aside from Eliana) on the show, and it showed. Will reminds me of Ivan from Season 2 – boyish guy with too big frame who makes it work. Fun routine.

    3. Chehon and Witney – as stunning as Chehon is he got caaaaaaaried by the uber-vixen one woman demolition crew that is Witney. Wit was several classes above her partner and it’s hard to see her not making the later rounds of this season. Girl sizzles.

    2. Audrey and Matthew – beautiful emotional connection with these two missing from a lot of other couples, Travis is brilliant and every highlight of this routine hit every part of the music. I have to slot them 2nd because this was really in both their wheelhouses, though I loved it. Matt is future husband material in the extreme.

    1. Cole and Lindsay – I have to say like the judges I thought Lindsay would be playing 2nd fiddle to her pal Witney this season but she brought it. Cole was of course phenomenal and the heat these two brought was great.

    Predictions for next week: Bottom 3 girls Janaya, Alexa, Amber, possibly Eliana, Eliana and Amber would be safe.

    Bottom 3 guys: Brandon, Nick, and Daniel/Darien/George. Nick and Brandon will be going home.

    • I agree with pretty much everything you said but remember, two dancers get eliminated this week. So if Janaya, Alexa and Amber are in the bottom I think Janaya and Amber go bye bye. They’ve spent too much time building Alexa up to let her go in the first cut. For the Boys if Brandon, Nick and George were in the bottom I think we’ll kiss Brandon and Nick goodbye. I refuse to believe Daniel will be in the bottom, partial from denial because I like him a lot and partially because he is super popular with the fans. Darien I think will be safe because his routine was memorable and they raved. I wish George would go home but the judges love him too much to let him go. That routine was a whole lotta blah for me.

    • mariolaw says:

      Although Cyrus needs a really strong partner to carry him through the competition, I thought Eliana should’ve been with a better partner. She’s such a star that it clashes and slightly overshadowed by the Cyrus parade going on this season. Cyrus is great but I don’t want him over the other amazing talents this season.

      P.S. Matthew is the cutest and hottest thing in this show this season so far. That face and his dancing, best combo ever. Haha. He would’ve been trumped by Chehon (and his massive uncontrollable little Chehon that can’t be covered by a lightning bolt or underwear, apparently), if not for his less than amazing performances so far.

  29. mariolaw says:

    I agree partly. My favorite dancer of the night, and on the list of my favorite from the previous week, is Cole. He totally sold that. I mean he danced the hell out of that, but his expression and his portrayal in every single dance so far is beyond the performance of his competitors. Its over-the-top yet so believable.

    I am actually surprised I don’t have a clear-cut favorite this season, which is good since a lot of them are pretty amazing; personalities and dancers alike.

  30. Luke says:

    Wow I am really surprised Michael thought the Janelle/Darien number was the dance of the night. I thought it was weak mostly because of Janelle- I hope Darien gets a new partner soon. In fact, Cheesman himself didnt look thrilled with it when they shot to him. He even gave a little shrug that I didnt read as a positive. I really thought the Cat number was a highlight – I also liked Sonya’s number with George. A lot of strong performances. I think Brandon, Janaya – Amber and Nick might be the 4 to go.

  31. Ellie says:

    I enjoyed the alley cat routine – thought it was very cute. I just didn’t like that it was classified as “hip hop”. I was glad that Nigel called that out.

    • Sookie says:

      Yes, I realy think Nappy Tabs should just give up the pretense and call their choreography contemporary. The first routine was awful with no hitting the beat like I expect from a hip hop routine, The second was very enjoyable, one of my favorites and might have been a little hip hoppy. But not realy.

  32. Luna Maya says:

    I don’t know why Michael didn’t really like Matthew/Audrey routine. For me, I can say the words beautiful muchos muchos more than Steven Tyler on Idol. Most of Travis’ choreography style has romantic quality about it and the routine always works well together with the choice of music and the theme, thus it brings out so much emotion. And I fancy Matthew performance, he reminds me so much of Jacob/Jakob (with “K” I believe) the contemporary dancer from season 6. (runner up)

  33. gazebo says:

    The weakest part of Janaya and Brandons dance was the choice of music: Drake and Rihana! Just terrible. Music choice is SO important to each dance, give them something to work with! I don’t remember who choreographed that one, but shame on him or her.
    As for Cole – never seen anyone quite like him, probably never will. He brings a unique, powerful quality to his dance. I think the Samurai thing has a lot to do with it, it’s in his blood, literally! I think he could win for the men.

  34. Ellie says:

    Guess I’m the odd person out because I loved Nick and Amber’s routine and think Nick is a very strong contender. He was absolutely fabulous with Lindsay and Witney on the exhibition episode and from the clips of Vegas, he appears to be skilled in other genres. I think he will surprise everyone if he is allowed to stay.

  35. Vivi says:

    Honestly, I didn’t even know Travis had a show coming out. I love ya Michael, but sometimes I think you see a liiiittttllleee bit into things.

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