So You Think You Can Dance Recap: Solo, You Can't Get Under It

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Spolier alert: I’m not going to complain about Nigel Lythgoe taketh-ing away So You Think You Can Dance‘s crucial “fight for your existence” solo round during tonight’s Top 20 performance episode (Part Deux).

Granted, I reserve the right to kvetch, moan and grumble about this questionable omission until at least the end of July, but for now, allow me to focus on the positive and give the executive producer props for giveth-ing us the greatest guest judge in So You Think You Can Dance‘s 11-season history: Misty Copeland.

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No, that’s not exactly high praise — not for those of you who remember wilted Canadian lettuce leaf Carly Rae Jepsen’s monosyllabic inanity on the SYTYCD panel last summer. But Copeland, an American Ballet Theatre soloist, brought not only true technical knowledge, but a Ginsu-sharp focus on all 20 contestants’ strengths and weaknesses, from neck and shoulder positioning to facial expressions to emotional intent.

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Her barrage of carefully considered constructive criticism couldn’t have come at a better time, considering that few members of the Top 20 — taken out of their comfort zones and paired with partners from different genres — managed to live up to last week’s exhilarating initial live show.

But that was kind of to be expected. And so, without further ado, let’s hand out awards for the night’s 10 routines. (Fair warning: I won’t be providing detailed reviews like I usually do, only because tomorrow morning is Emmy Nominee Announcement Mania — which means early to bed for this recapper):

DANCE OF THE NIGHT
Carly Blaney and Serge Onik (Contemporary) — Gorgeous, emotional and physically demanding. I’m so happy Serge got saved, and so psyched for Carly that she’s emerging as a front-runner.

RUNNER-UP
Jacque LeWarne and Zack Everhart (African Jazz) — The costumes were daft, but the duo sold it like Charlize Theron repping Chanel No. 5.

MOST SURPRISING
Tanisha Belnap and Rudy Abreu (Jazz) — a lot of heretofore unseen heat and maturity for this pair, no?

WORST OF THE NIGHT
Jessica Richens and Nick Garcia (West Coast Swing) — I didn’t care for the routine itself, but Nick once again mugged too hard and didn’t focus on his partner, while poor Jessica just looked overwhelmed throughout.

WORST CHOREOGRAPHY (No Fault of the Dancers)
Malene Ostergaard and Stanley Glover (Broadway) — Can’t we vote off Spencer Liff for delivering a tepid Broadway number that kept two lithe individuals on a leash from start to finish?

MOST OVERPRAISED
Jourdan Epstein and Marcquet Hill (Jazz) — Misty was right that Marcquet completely forgot his face, while Jourdan came across as more lumbering than authoritative. I’m not sold on her skills yet.

MOST OVERPRAISED (RUNNER-UP)
Brooklyn Fullmer and Casey Askew (Argentine Tango) — I lllllllllove me an Argentine Tango, but didn’t feel even a hint of tension between Brooklyn and the tentative-footed Casey. What did I miss about this routine that the judges seemed to adore?

MOST UNDERPRAISED
Emily James and Teddy Coffey (Hip-Hop) — Emily was so effervescent (and flexible!) and Teddy so rubbery that I couldn’t help but wanna boogie down with the two of ‘em. Yeah, this wasn’t as dip-it-low as most hip-hop pairings, but Dave Scott seemed to be choreographing to the tall twosome’s strengths, and I loved it.

HARDEST PERFORMANCE TO JUDGE
Bridget Whitman and Emilio Dosal (hip-hop) — Emilio’s a bit of a stealth force in the competition, but Nigel was right, that outfit was distractingly hideous. Bridget, meanwhile, was better than expected, but her face still read a tad pageant-y for what she was being asked to do.

BIGGEST MISMATCH
Valerie Rockey and Ricky Ubeda (contemporary) — Valerie clearly pushed herself to match the incredible Ricky in his own style, but I got no depth of emotion, no sense of longing, in her performance. Ricky continues to paint incredible portraits with his form, but he’s not gonna go all the way if he has to carry Valerie to the finish.

And now, let’s get to results.

BOTTOM SIX (ANNOUNCED RIGHT AT THE BEGINNING OF THE EPISODE)
Brooklyn
Jourdan
Malene
Casey
Nick
Serge

ELIMINATED (ANNOUNCED AT THE VERY END OF THE EPISODE)
Malene — Did the judges forget how incredible she was last week???? URGH!
Nick

Phooey! I’d have eliminated Jourdan or Brooklyn before Malene, but Nick was the right man to go.

What did you think? Take our poll below to vote for your three favorite routines, then hit the comments with your thoughts on the performances, the guest judge and eliminations!

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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138 Comments
  1. Selma says:

    I totally agree. Little tween girls need to get over the fact that he got voted off. He was a horrible partner during that dance and last week he wasn’t strong enough compared to the other two.

    Marlene didn’t deserve to go, she got stuck with BAD, BAD choreography. Jourdan is a ballet dancer that can’t even pointe and then you have one of the best ballroom dancers next to her. And the comment from Nigel was the most ridiculous, sexist and idiotic comment ever. She only got that far because of her looks?!! What the hell?

    • GTS says:

      Nigel’s comment says more about him and the show, supposedly allowing a dance to get by on her looks alone.

    • Mytake says:

      Malene and Stanleu are both amazing dancers and that pitiful choreography cost her her spot on the show. The judges clearly recognized how badly the choreography highlighted both dancers abilities (there really wasn’t any dancing in that number. It was more like flailing around and striking poses) so in my opinion they should have cut Malene a break based on what she’s shown in her previous dancing. They know there are worse female dancers than her. Thankfully they did get it right with nick. However once again for some unfathomnable reason they refused to point his ridiculous mugging for the camera instead of paying ANY Attention to his partner. Funny how the judges keep spouting off to other couple about their connection yet mention that lack to the one dancer who leasts connects with his partners. Oh well at least he’s gone

      • Mytake says:

        I meant Failed to mention the lack of connectivity at the end of my post.

      • MC says:

        Nigel should have chosen his words differently during the elimination segment. However, I noticed that Nigel critiqued Malene on her “lack of flexibility” immediately after her dance tonight. Nigel apparently thought that her lack of flexibility was so glaring that she didn’t deserve to remain on the show. I know that Malene was also victimized by bad choreography, but Nigel thought that her lack of flexibility would be an ongoing issue.

        • CINMG says:

          Nigel’s comments about Malene were off-base and ended up being an indictment of the judging process to get to the top 20.

          • PIMB says:

            Agree. Basically he admitted they chose her because she was gorgeous and now she was leaving because he felt her beauty exceeded her talent. Malene had the misfortune of being in the bottom (I don’t know how) and then having a bad week. A sure death blow. But she had no chance to win so no harm done.

        • Mona Cattanach says:

          Malene is certainly beautiful and talented in her style, but I’m not surprised she was the first girl to go. Okay I am way older than her, so I am not in any way implying she is old, but she was, I believe the oldest of the girls, and very elegant and mature in her personality and demeanor. Couple all that with her stunning, slightly exotic beauty and she seemed an odd pick to me for the top 20. I wondered from the first if the show’s younger viewers, you know those girls screaming in the back ground, would be able to relate to her. While I agree that Spencer Liff’s choreography did nothing to help her, I normally love his dances-but not this week, and Nigel’s comment-misunderstood or not-was inappropriate, I think what put Malene in the bottom to start with was that she just is not what a big part of the audience is looking for.

          • Mona Cattanach says:

            One last thought that I forgot to include above. I have rewatched the call back episode, I like to see just how much coverage each eventual top 20 finalist did get, and in more than one round Marlene was singled out by the judges as being weaker than the other dancers, so I do think they had concerns with her dancing all along. If that is the case, shame on them for giving her a spot in the top 20.

      • NayNay says:

        Malene and Stanley were liffed. That choreo was just bad. They are both great dancers although I think Stanley was better than Malene, just a more well rounded dancer. But, she looked amazing last night. And that is why y’all chose her, right Nigel?

    • Daniel says:

      Malene for sure deserved better, and that comment was completely unwarranted. Got by on her looks? Did Nigel forget the praise that he himself heaped on her for her intensity and focus in the samba just the week before? So upset about that. I felt she could have been Top 10 material, easily — she just got screwed by the votes and a bad routine this week.

      At first, I wanted Nick to stay in because I’m a big ballroom fan (and ballroom dancer myself) and his ballroom skills are top notch, but by the end of the show last night, I agreed that it had to be him. He did *not* come across well in the package, and he did dance very much for himself and didn’t take too much care of his partners, neither Jessica nor Tanisha last week (though I’m not Tanisha’s biggest fan).

  2. LADY_in_MD says:

    I really liked Serge and Carly tonight I’m glad he was saved
    I didn’t like that the solos were taken away
    Nick was the right guy to go home
    Zack really surprised me tonight
    Loved Ricky and Valarie too
    The telephone routine and west coast swing were terrible

    • LADY_in_MD says:

      I also liked the tango Brooklyn was great and I didn’t really notice Casey until tonight

      • PIMB says:

        Hello other lady in MD. Loved Tanisha, but not feeling Rudy. Didn’t feel Brooklyn and Casey. Overall this week was mostly a let down for me.

        • Mona Cattanach says:

          I also really like Tanisha, have from her first audition. Kudos to her for having the drive to study other styles and incorporate them into her ballroom. She’s not the flashiest personality there, but seems genuine and likeable, as does Valerie who is just too next door neighbor cute to be anything but genuine. I hope both of these ladies go far in the competition.
          I was also a little mystified by the praise heaped on Brooklyn and Casey. I think they did the steps well, though I am no expert on Argentine Tango, and based on that, Casey rightly stayed over Nick who did seem to struggle with his dance.
          Maybe it was just me or it didn’t translate to TV, but I got zero connection and smolder from Brooklyn and Casey. They both seemed very young and just didn’t capture the sultry that the dance demands.
          Even Brooklyn’s costuming seemed a bit juvenile to me. Sorry costume department, it was pretty but seemed like a slight variation on the side slit full skirt she always wears. I appreciate thinking outside the box and trying something new, but a tight fitting dress like we normally expect with this dance might have helped them bring the sultry.

      • CINMG says:

        I agree about Brooklyn. The tango seemed to suit her dancing style. I didn’t really care so much about whether there was tension or not, I thought her moves were flawless.

        • LADY_in_MD says:

          This week was a little but of a let down to me too
          But I’m going to say its because this was the first week that they are with new partners and new dance styles hopefully it will get better in the next few weeks

  3. Elena says:

    I agree with the top two dances listed here. Serge is one of those dancers who excels technically and emotionally, not to mention comes with a great personality. He, Zach, and Rudy are three of my favorites this year. I love Ricky as well but wasn’t really thrilled with the dance tonight because the gap between him and Valerie was really noticeable. Not that she did a bad job, but she was dancing outside her style while he is so amazing that there is such a visual disparity between the two of them. Also, loved that African Jazz routine even though I was expecting not to like it (not normally the biggest fan of Cheeseman/African Jazz), but Zach and his partner really sold it.

    Just a random thought, but does Teddy remind anyone else of Grant Gustin from the Flash?

    • Emily says:

      Completely agree with you about Serge, Zack, and Rudy. I absolutely loved Serge tonight. I was impressed with Carly last week when she danced with Rudy, and again tonight, I was totally wowed by the passion she puts into the dance. and it was mirrored by Serge. They were fantastic…And I love Ricky, and I want to see how Valerie will do. As you pointed out, there is a huge difference between the two, especially in the contemporary routine. But, I am a huge fan of tap, so I do like her. But, I want to see what she can do.
      Also, Teddy totally looks like Grant Gustin!!

    • Aprilcot says:

      I think Teddy looks like a young David Bowie!

  4. bkes216 says:

    As much as I liked Nick…I understand the decision. However, Casey needs to mature real quick because in my opinion Brooklyn walked (danced) all over him. Thought the same thing last week when he was in own style with a contemporary partner.I was surprised by Nigel’s praise of him. Still sad for Nick though. And oh Rudy, he was destroyed. That kid wins the charisma contest this year. I see Rudy and Ricky going to the end because of it.

    Also, I totally missed the change back to 1 winner instead of 1 male and 1 female. I’m rooting for a contemporary male, haven’t had that winner since the early years. However, does that mean there won’t be a tour this year if the winner is on Broadway this fall? There are budget cuts everywhere for the show this year…

    • Mona Cattanach says:

      Glad to find someone else that liked Nick, and no I am not a tween girl, further from it than I would like to admit! I do ,however, see why Nick was sent home, after his lack luster West Coast Swing. What was Benji thinking? I normally love his stuff, but that slow start? Anyway, I have rewatched it and though Nick was no where near as smooth as Benji would have been, I have to put the bulk of the discomfort in the routine on Jessica. Of course her fate wasn’t in question, but I thought the Nigel glossed over her problems to harp on Nick. Can’t say I agree with you on Rudy though, I’m over his histrionics and would be glad to see the last of him.

  5. GTS says:

    Why do you dislike Valerie so much? She’s not the best, or my favorite, but you were rather harsh last week, and I’m assuming you will be this week, too (although maybe you loved her, just not with Ricky… maybe).

  6. David4 says:

    Misty Copeland was the best thing this show has done in years. Just fire the other judges and only have her, she was awesome.

    • MC says:

      Yeah, Misty was great. She should be great considering her credentials. However, it would be crazy to expect any insightful technical commentary on dance from Carly Rae Jepsen. To my knowledge, Carly is not an authority on dance and knows very little about it. There is such a thing as unrealistic expectations. Should she have been invited to do the show? Probably not, but Carly Rae didn’t invite herself onto the show.

      • David4 says:

        Oh I know. The show whores itself out so that it can get renewed. I’m just happy that is the 10 years the show has been on we finally had one useful judge.

  7. twbattles says:

    I would’ve eliminated Casey over nick…that Argentine tango was one of the flattest performances I’ve seen on that show. They both looked like awkward teenagers…and he needed a much stronger presence. Just weak overall.

    And I couldn’t be more please to have real dance represented in this show by misty copeland. She is a class act and a delight to watch!

  8. MaxiMoo says:

    I for one am not sorry to see Nick go. As the judges said last week, he didn’t even try to make a connection with his partner….different partner, same result tonight. Then after his elimination tonight Malene kept trying to commiserate with him and he wouldn’t even look at her. Just rubbed me the wrong way.

    I loved Serge and Carly’s dance…. so fluid and beautiful. I enjoyed most of the other dances but nothing really stood out for me this week. Hoping as they get more comfortable the dancers will start to wow me a little more!

    • The Costume Department says:

      I think he was concentrating so much on not crying that he was a little frozen. He’s young. I thought it was funny that Malene’s powerful beauty (which got her all the way to the top 20 allll on its own) could not break through. (Nigel: pfffffft.)

      • Mona Cattanach says:

        I agree with The Costume Department, I think Nick was just in shock and trying not to cry. I was rooting for him, but agree, of the three in danger he was the best choice to go. I try not to judge them for their reaction when they are cut. They work so hard to get there it must be a horrible blow to be sent home.

    • NayNay says:

      I agree, she tried to hold his hand and he just totally ignored her. And he looked pissed, not like he was tryin not to cry.

    • Mona Cattanach says:

      I won’t argue about Nick’s ability to connect with his partner, but will throw this out there. Just rewatched the callback LA show and the judges reprimanded Jessica for not even trying to connect with her partner in the hip hop round and make her dance for her life. I’m just saying maybe fault on both sides this week.

  9. Percysowner says:

    Marlene and Stanley were thoroughly HOSED by that choreography. I liked Marlene and I really like Stanley. Well I threw votes Stanley’s way because I think he has real talent and I want him to stick around.

    • Sugar says:

      I did not think that dance did Stanley any favors. Malene’s legs just stole the show and made Stanley look like a prop for her. I like him too, so maybe next week?

    • AngieD says:

      Stanley’s one of my favorites, too. While the # could have been performed better, they were leashed by that phone which was the fault of the choreographer.

  10. Paulo says:

    Very upset with Malene’s departure. She was one of my favorites this far. Also rather upset about Jessica’s pairing with Nick tonight. I hope she won’t face the bottom any time soon…

  11. My Alter Ego says:

    Dear Mr. Slezak,;

    I live on the West Coast. When I began this message, the show hadn’t begun to air here yet, but it doesn’t matter since I’m such an early riser, I can’t stay up to watch it. I follow a blog for the info (you probably know the one I’m referring to), but I haven’t actually seen the dances yet (am looking forward to that).

    However, I did want to say that I love(th) the Elizabethan language form that you included in the above review, and, and adore(th) your overall reviews. Therefore, because I, so, love(th) both, when you included those (eyewink)- “ing” additions, I’m willing to overlook it. Cuz — well, — we both know that suffix wasn’t a part of Elizabethan language. But it was cute.

    There is one other item, and while I apologize for the way I’m conveying this message, you need to know a couple things about me: a.) I’m unwilling to engage in certain types of social media (FaceBook, Twitter, etc.); and b.) I can’t find a direct email address to point this out. Thus, I’m going to use this message to address it. I’m almost certain that the following message has not been updated since you joined TVLine:

    “Michael Slezak has exhaustively covered the past seven seasons of American Idol, recapping hundreds of episodes,”

    The emphasis needs to be on “seventh.” I’m somewhat what of a newcomer to paying attention to both AI and more recently SYTYCD (AI was Season 10; SYTYCD was Season 9 – although I hugely kick myself about not being engaged earlier), but when I trace back on your history with AI, I think it might be more than 7 seasons

    Just a suggestion that you might want to check that out –and that I’m completely comfortable about you deleting my message..

    • Thanks for playing- go home. says:

      someone please do. this is the most absurd, pretentious comment i’ve ever read on tvline.

  12. Babybop says:

    I thought Marquete and Jourdan’s routine was awful. I thought it looked really bizarre. Same goes for Emily and Teddy – it just didn’t look right. No doubt Nick should have gone home though, he wasn’t good enough.
    The routines were just okay tonight. They all sort of blended into one another. Just a blah night to me.

    • CINMG says:

      I agree regarding the routines. Nothing really horrible – other than the phone dance – but nothing really stood out.

      • PIMB says:

        Phew. I am not alone. Disappointed with a lot of the routines/dancing. Liked Tanisha. I am going to get booed by the masses but I didn’t think Ricky did all the great either, except for a few moves. And he was pretty much in his own style. Briget and Emilio, another meh. Here is where Mary’s cleavage crept in. Jessica and Nick, glad Benji had no theme, but Jessica seemed to slow in this routine. Loved her dress. And did you see that SHOULDER?!?!?!?! Carly and Serge, well done. Emily and Teddy. I couldn’t take my eyes off of those horrid mom hippo meets leopard pants. Malene and Stanley. Malene was gorgeous but both looked weak. Jourdan and Marquette. Marquette did not have enough dancing. Brooklyn in Casey, great costume, did not feel the dance. Jaque and Zack. Loved it but she needs to lose the rainbow merkin.

        I wish they would have sent that pretty stoned girl Justine Beiber home instead of Malene.

        I NEED SOME DISCO!!!!! hahahahaha

  13. Mytake says:

    I was really disgusted with Nigel’s comment that Malene had only made it this far based of her looks and from what he said, she wouldn’t have made it past Vegas week otherwise.
    |
    We tend not to be really shocked by such statements because unfortunately women have since the beginning of time been held to different standards and judged differently than men.
    |

    But let’s switch things around to demonstrate how utterly sleazy Nigel’s comment was. Picture Mary saying to Nick “we really should have cut you in Vegas but we kept you these past few weeks because we were in awe of your enormous penis!”
    |
    The fault in either case is simply because the DANCERS are not being judged on their dancing ability and THAT is the fault of the judges.

    • C Tilburg says:

      I have never responded or posted on a web board (though I have watched SYTYCD since Season 1) but I fully agree with your comment. Nigel has no idea AT ALL where the lines he is stepping over are. It was utterly inappropriate.

  14. Margaret says:

    I’m definitely a Sean Cheesman fan, and he redeemed himself with the AfroJazz, but the jazz piece felt like a strange, unpleasant mashup of Sabra/Neil’s epic table dance from season 3 and Kathryn/Robert’s broadway piece to “Cool” from West Side Story…I’m a fan of Marcquet but I wasn’t a fan of that number.

    • Aprilcot says:

      Oh my gosh, YES! I couldn’t place what was so off about the jazz piece, and that’s exactly what it was. I’m normally a Sean Cheesman fan also, but that jazz was a hot mess. Loved the AfroJazz though!

    • Mona Cattanach says:

      Could not agree more Margaret! Loved the Afro Jazz, not the Jourdan/Marquet number. Sean said it had to be smooth as butter or it could look like a mess. Afraid I have to go with mess. It seemed to have big gaps where there should have been transitions. Not sure if Sean didn’t choreo transitions, or the dancers just missed them but it was really choppy and didn’t hang together well for me.
      Also, at one point I think Marquet went to sit back down in the chair and it wasn’t there. I’m a big fan of Marquet, but this number really didn’t do him any favors. As for Jourdan, I think she’s lucky Malene had such a bad night or she could have gone home. I’m sure she’s talented but her ballet the first week was lacking and she seemed slow and sort of lagging in this number. Her long legs an toe points were impressive, but overall it didn’t work for me.

  15. Tina says:

    To let Malene go was Wrong! Maybe if she was a teenager she would have had a chance. Talent not just beauty Nigel… shame on you!
    just

  16. Sammy says:

    Why are they not having a guy and a girl winner this year?…was it ever mentioned?.

  17. Garcia says:

    As usual, Nigel was sexist, rude, vulgar and disgusting.

  18. Lana says:

    Nigel was totally out of line with the comments he made to Marlene, she is gorgeous,but she really can dance and for him to say she only made it was because of her looks was very, very wrong. By the way Jourdan is the one who should have left. I agree Nick was the one who should go. The actual dance steps of the West Coast Swing were awesome but they were not executed well by the dancers. Jessica was way too slow in every movement and the Swing is fast. Benji may have made the steps too hard, but no one complains when Travis gives extremely hard steps in fact he is praised for doing so. If you get a chance to see Benji and Lacey do the West Coast Swing together you would see how much fun it is.

    • Sara says:

      I agree that the West Coast Swing was choreographed well and that it was the dancers’ fault for not executing well. That was really shady of Nigel to once again throw an alumni under the bus for choreography, especially for something as ridiculous as “making it too hard.” Umm, what?! Aren’t they supposed to be testing the dancers’ boundaries?

    • Mona Cattanach says:

      I agree Lana that Jessica was way to slow in the West Coast Swing. Looking at her with her blonde hair, I couldn’t help but think of Benji’s cousin Heidi and expecting great things. Sadly, Jessica is not Heidi!

  19. Terry says:

    OK, so you call Emilio’s outfit distractingly hideous but you don’t say anything about Emily’s pants? Seriously? LOL!

    • PIMB says:

      I want the Costume department drawn and quartered . Please add Rudy’s unispender S and M diaper mess. And Mary’s cleavage.

  20. Sandy Bell says:

    What if Malene what indeed non-flexible and all, and the choreographer had to work around that? After all, they need outsiders, too, in that great top 20. Stanley wouldn’t’ve been voted off not even if he had danced all wrapped up in that phone cable…I am just saying, I feel sorry for Malene, she is exquisite…

    • Sharantyr says:

      This brings up a good point. In the past, they have relied on feedback from the choreographers to make these decisions. Wonder if she was getting bad feedback for the last two weeks, which could perhaps explain the “skating by” comment? I do think it was obvious that both she and Nick weren’t “going for it” as hard as the others in the bottom, and that’s a death knell on this show. Whatever you think about the routine, Jourdan was very obviously committing to it and giving it her all, as was Brooklyn.

  21. Sarah Wilde says:

    Brooklyn and Casey were by far one of the best dances of the night! There were a lot of awful performances, thank goodness for the Argentine tango redeeming the night! Brooklyn is the best ballroom dancer and can’t wait for America to see how well rounded she is!!!! }

  22. I was thinking ‘But Rudy is gonna be devastated his bestie is going home!’ But of the bottom three guys, Nick was the right choice. Michael said ‘but he’s not gonna go all the way if he has to carry Valerie to the finish’ about Ricky and Valerie, however, I immediately think about Eliana and Cyrus from season 9 and how that worked out. I think between the tween and the ‘holy crap he’s amazing’ votes, Ricky will probably be ok till the top 10, when he can break free with all stars. Valerie is no Cyrus, though, in terms of personality, so she better hope she grows exponentially very quickly, because the voters seem to have no problem breaking up couples. My concern now is, except for Serge and Carly, there was barely any couple chemistry. Usually that’s apparent right off the bat. Stanley will pair with Jessica next week, which hopefully will be good for both of them.

  23. Corie says:

    I want to kvetch and moan too. Great recap Michael – was also so thrilled with Misty Copeland – finally a guest judge who has the technical knowledge to both critique the dancers in a meaningful way and offer suggestions to help them improve. Was so disappointed in the show tonight – for the most part the choreography (other than Sonya’s – and the African jazz routine – although I’m not crazy about that genre) was terrible. When you’re choreographing a dance for a show like this, if your artistic vision can’t be executed by the dancers in a way that showcases them – then I think it’s your responsibility to make modifications. Also cranky that Ricky got paired with the weakest female dancer. I’m afraid it will cause the choreography given them to have to be dumbed down to her level and we won’t get to see everything he is capable of. I think it was a tie for worst choreography between Spencer and Benji. Benji’s choreography was dreadful and the dancers suffered for it. Didn’t care for either of the hip hop routines either. I think tonight showed just how important the choreography and your partner is – Jessica who danced beautifully last week with Ricky as her partner and Sonya choreographing a stunning number – was less than impressive tonight.

    • Tamara says:

      Totally agree with being annoyed at Ricky being paired with Valerie, she is absolutely one of the weakest female dancers in my opinion too. The producers must really want to shove her onto us if they’re pairing her with Ricky (probably because of Nigel’s unreasonable determination to try and get tap dancers as far as possible) and it’s just so unfair to Ricky. From some spoiler boards, people had worked out wrongly that he might be with Jacque or Brooklyn and any of them would’ve been better partners than Valerie.
      I’m annoyed because I’m remembering the Eliana-Chehon season, and how for the first 5 weeks I didn’t really ‘get’ how great Eliana was (sorry! I loved and voted for her in the end, promise!) because she was being dragged down by Cyrus, and looks like that might be happening with Ricky too, which is such a shame. And at least Cyrus had a personality and was hugely impressive in his own style, Valerie is not even the best tap dancer in the competition, Zack danced circles around her last week.
      UGH. Feelin cranky is right.

      • Cynx says:

        The only reason I’m OK with Ricky being paired with Valerie is because if he had been paired with one of the better dancers, they would have turned into a power couple and been difficult to beat. Although I enjoy those types of pairings, I also think they’re unfair sometimes.

      • Corie says:

        Tamara – your making me laugh – I was obnoxiously cranky – and writing comments about it all the time when they paired Eliana with Cyrus. Think everyone was sick of my complaining. And totally agree with you – Zack seems to have had training (and has skill) in dance genres other than tap – and he did outshine her by miles last week. Glad someone else is cranky too – misery loves company.

        Cynx – replying to you here because it’s so hard on this site to scroll down and write comments. I don’t like admitting it – and am still really upset over the pairing – but you have a good point about how unfair it might have been pairing Ricky with a better dancer. My problem is that I watch the show for the most awesome dancers and then get upset when they are given so-so – or awful – choreography, or a partner that won’t allow the choreographers to take full advantage of their skills.

    • SLS says:

      And don’t forget Jessica was also injured during practice and it seemed to me she was favoring that shoulder during the routine.

  24. CINMG says:

    Although I don’t quite share Slezak’s enthusiasm about Missy Copeland, I agree that she was a very good judge. The show was really thinking outside of the box on this one. A non-blonde dance professional as a dance judge. Who knew?

  25. CINMG says:

    Random thoughts from an early morning maniac….
    I’m not a big Tanisha fan, but I thought she really nailed her performance – hit it very hard and made all the moves look easy. I thought that the most overrated performance was the African jazz number. I loved the bright colors but I thought the dance lost some energy as it went on. Or maybe that was just me losing the energy. Other than seeing Malene as sort of a sex kitten, I thought that the phone dance was awful choreography. And why did Nigel criticize Jessica for “pulling her face around” when that’s pretty much the style her choreographer (Benji) employs? Emilio’s great, but my jury’s out until I see him dance outside of hip-hop. Very surprised that Malene was the one to go. I was sure it would be Jourdan. Not surprised at all about Nick.

    • PIMB says:

      Tanisha is one of my favorites. I think she is the total package. Hope her partnering works.

      • Carolyn says:

        Going into tonight, Tanisha didn’t overly impress me. But wow, I am now a big fan. Her moves were so liquid, yet sharp and elegant. I am definitely in her corner.

  26. PIMB says:

    DEAR COSTUME DEPARTMENT: WTF!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! What was with the leopard mom pants. The girl looked like a cross between Alice Kramden and a dancing hippo. And the Cabaret EmCee unispender??? All he needed was a ball gag. What was up with that psychedelic robo MERKIN!! And if I need to see droopy cleavage I can just look down. Mary deserves better. I will give you a pass this week but lay off the LSD. On the other hand Cat was purrrfect. Marlene was gorgeous. I loved the white dress, the red dress and the pleather cut-out pants. Focus please dear CD.

    • CINMG says:

      PIMB, Wow! I see you’ve had your caffeine this morning. Thanks for providing an uplifting start to my day!

    • The Costume Department says:

      If you knew how long it took us to tape Mary’s…assets…out of the way you wouldn’t say that. We liked the color on her, though.

      And I guess we overplayed our hand with…cheetah pants. We don’t like her. We don’t know why!! It’s a mystery.

    • Iheartseattle says:

      I COULD NOT AGREE MORE!! Did the costume department turn over? In past seasons, I was always amazed at how well the costumes complimented the specific dance and dancers. This year, from the beginning, the costumes, hair, and makeup have been waaay off – to the point of distracting. Seriously. WTF??

      P.s. The pairings are so disappointing – I’m actually sad…

  27. Julie Anderson says:

    Well, I’m clearly in the minority, but I really liked the telephone routine’s choreography. I found it fun and interesting the way it created various lines visually.

  28. The Costume Department says:

    Methinks we had a bit of an off night. We really can’t explain Rudy’s Fred Mertz pants. Apparently we hate him (we actually don’t).
    And Valerie’s dress – was that made out of crepe paper?
    We take absolutely NO credit or responsibility for Tanisha’s Jude-Law-In-AI hair. Yikes.

  29. JR1234 says:

    I think they could have given Marlene another week, she at least looked the part of a 60s dancer. I don’t think its her looks that have gotten her this far, she’s not that pretty to me. Truthfully, all the girls are running together to me at this point, none of them are all that distinctive.

    I had a feeling from the beginning that Nick would be going. In fact, I had that feeling last week. He just comes across as less about the dancing and more about the “look at me” aspect…but then, so did Benji (and he still does).

    Each season, I wonder more and more, “Why does this show have to be live?” I’m not sure what that buys them.

  30. The Costume Department says:

    We actually love Valerie, and Zach. What we dislike is the disingenuous exclamations at people doing well outside of their “genre.” Wow, you’re a tapper AND can dance contemporary. Stop it.

    • PIMB says:

      I din’t think Valerie was so bad and i did not think that she really held Ricky back. He after all had his genre and was less than stunning. One week does not a let down make but I think he is not the runaway winner that some people think he is. On the other hand, while she is talented, Valerie does not have a snowballs chance.

    • Aprilcot says:

      Thank you! As a tapper myself, it makes me *cringe* when the judges make those comments. They were constantly throwing that backhanded praise at Aaron last year. The kids at my studio work their butts off in every style, and just because they are accomplished tappers, they are no less talented as contemporary or jazz dancers.

  31. Julie Anderson says:

    I totally agree about the leopard pants! I found them so distracting! I couldn’t believe how an awful choice in waist height could make an attractive girl look awkward and boxy.

    Costumes should complement the dance, not distract from it.

    • The Costume Department says:

      And we say that the costumes should be the things on stage shouting LOOK AT ME. I am eating the person wearing me alive…

      • PIMB says:

        That costume said “I eat way too much to be dancing right now”. :)

      • Mona Cattanach says:

        Hey The Costume Department-I’m relatively new to this blog so I’m going to assume that you are in fact the SYTYCD costume department, or at least a reasonable facsimile there of and ask you a couple of questions I’ve been pondering. And yes I know what happens when we assume : )
        How much input do you get from choreographers as to what the costumes should be? Also I know costumes include shoes for the dances that call for shoes. What about tappers and ballet dancers on point. I assume, yet again, that the dancers wear their own tap and point shoes since I guess they need to be broken in. Also I noticed Valerie danced in her own red tap shoes the first night of competition, yet Zach was wearing black and swing style tap shoes in the practice footage, but danced in solid black during the live show. What’s up with that?

        • The Costume Department says:

          You know, we find we only have so much control. Some choreographers have input and some just gesture and we’re supposed to get something from that. Between Nigel’s demands (“more cleavage! More!”) and one choreographer’s insistence that ALL of the dancers wear a paper cut out of their own face, we have our hands full, and sometimes things slip through the cracks. Frankly, the audience is lucky most of the dancers end up in pants. And shoes. Simultaneously.
          Costume Department needs a drink.

          We had serious love for Zach’s wing tip tap shoes. Not sure how they didn’t end up in the number on the show. We might have taken them to keep them and fawn over them in private. We mean, it’s a mystery.

  32. The Costume Department says:

    We love Serge!

    And the multi-colored, epic-neon, nausea inducing unitards STILL couldn’t take away from the fact that the dance was super difficult and they nailed it. We can only think we were exacting revenge on our instructor in college, who made us wear what is only referred to in code now as “the episode of the golden diaper.”

    • PIMB says:

      Thank goodness you gave that girl (Carly) double strength panties. She had so many crotch shots I wasn’t sure they would survive! Great dance!!!

  33. The Costume Department says:

    We enjoyed the feedback that Misty gave. But after a bit we muted the sound every time she spoke. We must be cranky that poor Emilio’s pleather/garbage bag ensemble was criticized. What exactly is wrong with looking like a hobbit?

  34. jo says:

    I agree where were the solo performances. Although Nick was a good pick As you said not convinced about the women

  35. Loni says:

    Offing Marlene was a huge mistake because she has such charisma and is an enjoyable person to watch, not just because of her looks. But then when Nigel made those comments about her making it because if her beauty, that was just so low and rude. So irritating.

  36. sarah says:

    I agree with not having the dance for your life Solos, I thought it was really odd and would have preferred to watch that than the tap number that I fast forwarded through!
    I also agree that Misty Copeland was a great judge!
    I predicted Malene and Nick would be sent home and I was right and I am fine with that.
    I agree too with everything you said about all the dances, except I like Valerie and I thinks she did well in her dance with Ricky. I also like Bridget and Emilio’s hip hop. I really like Teddy and Emily.

    Next week bottom 6:
    Jacque, Jourdon, Tanisha
    Rudy, Casey, Stanley

    • Sera says:

      I agree that you agree. And how in the world could you have predicted Malene would go home. After their raves last week it is amazing she was in the bottom 3.

  37. AngieD says:

    Other than Marquette and Stanley and Serge, I don’t have everyone names matched to faces, yet. This was definitely a more typical week 1 as compared to the real week 1 since just about everyone was pushed out of their comfort zones with new partners. Some became restricted by the choreographer (Marlene/StanleY) and others just didn’t execute as well as hoped. No one is really standing out as a front runner as compared to prior seasons (i.e. Benji/Donyelle, Melanie/Marco, Fikshun/Amy, Jasmine H). However, there’s plenty of time for some of them to grow (or even be better partnered – i.e. Travis Wall, Sabra Johnson)

  38. Ang. says:

    Guess I’m the only one who liked the Broadway routine. I thought Marlene did great with the phone prop. That’s rough and she handled it beautifully. I was bored by the tango – could not believe the praise those two got. Merle Davis a figure skater did a better tango than these two. I thought it was awful. Also liked the West Coast Swing. Just wondering if maybe the slowness was in deference to Jessica’s injury. The first week out of their styles the dancers usually have a few issues and overall I think they handled them well. Sorry to see Marlene go. Glad Serge is still around.

  39. Emma says:

    My pick to go home next week are Emily and Stanley

  40. lar says:

    Did they choose partners differently this year? I thought last year they were matched up–mostly because of the varying sizes of the men vs the women–and then they did the hat draw with the top ten. I like it better when it isn’t from a hat to begin with–you get a variety of styles and more compatible body types. I think the draw didn’t do a service to either Ricky OR Valerie. I like Valerie, but putting her with one of the best male dancers only highlights that she is tapper-trained. And Nigel, the comment about Malene’s beauty was absolutely horrible, demeaning, and sexist. My opinion, of course!

    • Percysowner says:

      My impression was that partners were assigned, but the dance style was drawn from a hat.

    • SLS says:

      Totally agree with your comment on Nigel’s comment. I wrote that too before I read yours. He’s such a sleaze at times.

  41. The Costume Department says:

    Did anyone else notice that the Sycopated Babes or whatever their name was seemed to be dancing to pre-recorded taps?

  42. Jeanne says:

    Nigel, you said yourself, you were surprised that Benji’s choreographed WCS was so advanced for a couple coming from different dance genre. Mary said only Benji could perform that WCS, Isn’t the choreographer’s job to show the dancers to best advantage or merely showcase his/her own talent. Shame on you Nigel and Benji. Nick was set up to fail by being given that outrageous routine and this early in the top-20 competition. Can you fix this egregious mistake? JLO

    • Corie says:

      You’re right about a choreographer’s job. And it wasn’t only that the choreography might have been difficult (I personally think that term was used in order to not be too harsh on Benji in the TV spotlight) but it wasn’t appropriate choreography to showcase dancers when the majority of the audience aren’t all that knowledgable about dance and was viewing the performance on their TV screen. He should have made adjustments to his “artistic vision” when he saw how the dancers performed in the studio. Even if performed well it was not a piece with any drama or large movements that would have captured the TV audience.

  43. cindy says:

    I was shocked to see Marlene eliminated. Could not believe it! I thought she was great! Her dance last week was amazing!. All I could figure out was maybe the judges thought she was not well rounded enough to do other genres of dance. SO DISAPPOINTED.

  44. Ann VerWiebe says:

    I think it’s interesting that so many of the bottom six were ballroom – and they did great last week! Definitely shows an audience bias for other styles.

  45. SLS says:

    I thought Nigel’s comment that Malene’s beauty was what saved her last week and in the callback choreo rounds was condescending. Who’s fault was that then putting her through. Certainly not hers.

  46. CWS says:

    Love the Show but sick of choreographers. Where are Tyce, Mia, and others?

    • Oaklandrater says:

      I would be very disappointed to see either Mia Michaels or Tyce Diorio return to the show. Both demonstrated pettiness, outright nastiness (and in Mia’s case, racism), which have no place on SYTYCD. Mia was truly vile to Brandon, who was a fine dancer. BTW, is anyone else bothered by the fact that you have to “go public” (and set yourself up to be direct-marketed) in order to vote this season?

  47. Amy says:

    I was so sad to see Marlene go. How dare Nigel suggest that they only kept her around for her beauty. Did she not dance exceptionally in the first week? She could only perform the choreography given, which sadly was poor, but my eye was still drawn to her. I so wish they would give her another chance. BRING MARLENE BACK!!!!!!!!!!!

  48. Denise says:

    Just wanted to say that Nigel’s comment about Marlene was not only unnecessary, but just low. He essentially said, “You were never really good enough, but we kept you here because you’re really pretty.” That is a poor reflection on the judges, not Marlene, and unfair to others they sent home that may have been better dancers than she is, but not as beautiful. It is possible that she does not dance well enough outside of Latin ballroom, *but* I think we needed to see her with better choreography. If that choreography was what it was to accommodate Marlene’s limitations, then her going home was fair. But Nigel’s comment was not!

    I felt bad for Nick because of Rudy. They do have a great friendship and I know one of them not making it (which was inevitable, but not so soon) has got to hurt. I was surprised that Casey was in the bottom 3, but thought the praise of the Argentine Tango was oddly enthusiastic. Truth be told, I skipped parts of it as it did not hold my interest at all. It’s possible that the judges are trying to help the audience see the quality of things that won’t immediately appeal to them, I suppose.

  49. Mona Cattanach says:

    Every week I become more and ore of a Zach fan! He has great skills and is a wonderful performer. Can’t wait to see what he does next!

  50. Mona Cattanach says:

    We saw so many contemporary girls in auditions, many that look a lot alike so none were really standing out for me when the top twenty were named. However, Carly is really beginning to separate herself from the pack for me. I liked both her dances so far and she seems to have partnered well with Rudy (personally not a fan) and Serge (becoming more of a fan). I think Carly may be the dark horse to watch this season and could go very far.
    Coincidentally Carly reminds me vaguely of Tiffany Maher who sort of came from no where to be the female runner up of Season 9

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