So You Think You Can Dance: Lessons Learned From the Top 20 Announcement Episode
‘Fik-Shun’ May Not Be a ‘Shu-Inn’
The night’s opening hip-hop routine from choreographer Luther Brown felt a little rudimentary, but the judges rightly pointed out that krumper Mariah Spears dominated her more hyped male partner. To be fair, both dancers brought a playfulness and humor to the dance, but Fik-Shun was like a piece of bread pulled out of the toaster at the halfway mark — floppier than what I was hoping for.
Contemporary Kids Are Gonna Drop Fast (Not in the Hip-Hop Sense) in the Coming Weeks
Nigel noted he wasn’t as emotionally engaged as he’d hoped by a Stacey Tookey routine performed by Makenzie Dustman, Jasmine Harper, Nico Greetham and Tucker Knox, though perhaps the vagueness of the choreography — “four individuals reaching out for connections” was the take-home message I got — was partly to blame. Nevertheless, his harsh comment proved that in a season loaded with contemporary contestants, there’s not going to be much in the way of coddling. The cynic in me thinks Tucker broke out the tears too soon, and that Makenzie might’ve gotten a tad more praise than she deserved. Jasmine, meanwhile, appeared stronger and more elegant than her Vegas snippets had indicated. Girls (and a lot of boys) are gonna love Nico.
They’d Better Not Screw the Tappers
I still haven’t recovered from the untimely ouster of Season 8’s gone-before-he-shoulda-been Nick Young. And that makes me nervous for Alexis Juliano, and even moreso for ebullient Curtis Holland and hunky Aaron Turner, the latter of whom got cut during the Green Mile, but was invited back when hip-hopper Emilio Dosal had to withdraw due to injury. (I thought the inclusion of Aaron’s comment about not being right for the competition put him at an early disadvantage with voters.) The trio put on a fleet-footed, joyous exhibition (choreographed by Anthony Morigerato) on Tuesday, although it must be pointed out that Curtis did struggle to hold his final pose.
Animators Jade Zuberi and BluPrint benefited from a spectacular Christopher Scott routine that imagined them as stylish mannequins come to life and getting jiggy, although Jade’s comical facial expressions made him the star of the routine. Like Twitch told him during the Green Mile, BluPrint needs to take down the “facial wall” or wind up as the No. 2 animator of Season 10.
The Simultaneously Over-Hyped/Over-Criticized Female Dancer Has Been Identified
In the tradition of Ryan Ramirez (S8) and Alexa Anderson (S9), we now have Malece Miller, who’s received an inordinate amount of screentime compared to her rivals, and yet drew Nigel’s scorn for dancing too immaturely during a Mia Michaels routine — set to Rihanna’s “Stay” — about a scoundrel refusing to choose between his two lady loves. To be honest, I didn’t get the judges’ criticism of this dance — the dancing was so staccato in places, I wondered if the producers were using some kind of strobe-y special effect to achieve it. I loved Carlos Garland’s final, sinister pose, and Hayley Erbert was absolutely sublime. She might be the Season 10 dark horse, in fact.
Should Season 10 Be Dubbed Dancing With the Stars Pro Training Camp?
Holy hell, if Alan Bersten and Jenna Johnson were any hotter during Louis van Amstel’s routine, my TV set would’ve burned a hole in the floor and landed on my downstairs neighbors’ dining-room table. Brittany Cherry was pretty compelling, too, but poor Paul Karmiryan really faded into the background — and not just because he hasn’t had any real face time since the audition rounds. Unless he’s got a major trick up his sleeve, he might be a good bet for “first guy out” in Season 10. (Alan, meanwhile, is definitely going to score some added sympathy votes for having his Green Mile victory sullied by the elimination of his brother Gene. Dude left tears on Cat Deeley’s cheek!)
The Producers Might Want Melanie-Vs.-Sasha 2.0
That Sonya Tayeh routine to Bjork’s “Enjoy” — starring Jasmine Mason and Amy Yakima — gave me weird flashbacks to the Season 8 finale with Melanie Moore and Sasha Mallory, and I’m not mad at anybody about it. Their final wide-stance walk with chicken-like torso thrusts was so good I had to rewind and watch it again. (And I rewound one more time when Nigel questioned Jasmine’s technical abilities — not getting that at all.) Still, isn’t it a little early to be dubbing Amy as the Season 10 “beast”?
Season 10 Could Be the Year of the Guys
Yeah, the Top 10 gents benefitted greatly from a very, very cool Christopher Scott routine that found them playing with piles of sand. But I saw a lot of impressive individual moments in the thrilling overall mix: Aaron Turner (who looks a lot like Graceland‘s Daniel Sunjata) proved wickedly fleet-foooted for a big fella, Nicco repeatedly caught my attention with his graceful lines, and BluPrint’s opening walk was hypnotic, too. Even better, nobody stood out as a potential weak link while executing the difficult footwork. “When I die, I would like you to dance with my ashes like that,” said Nigel. And honestly, I can understand why.
Don’t Underestimate Your Local Krumper
Mariah Spears not only held her own outside her comfort zone, but she actually kept drawing my eye even when she was on the outskirts of Ray Leeper’s mod-inspired routine. On a totally random note, who knew there was a version of “Let’s Have a Kiki” by anyone other than Scissor Sisters? And how cute was Cat’s “I think you let them have it!”
A Random Observation
Sonya’s closing routine with the entire Top 20 was expectedly dark and challenging, but am I the only one who wished the dancers had remained in eerie single file from the start all the way to the end? Also, if you had to give an MVP prize for the routine, who would you give it to? I’d learn toward Tucker and Jenna, though it must be noted that Sonya gave that pair a lot of the better moments.