BWW Recap: Did SYTYCD's Top-16 Episode Feature the Show's Sexiest Routine Ever? Updated & with Pictures
Ok, after our Celebrity Guest-Recapper Natalie Weiss was absolutely on fire last week, I figured I had to step up my game tonight. So, as I did last year, I will be live updating tonight's Top-16 Episode of SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE. So, after every routine hit refresh, and I will have details and my Mini-Review for each.
Tonight, American Ballet Theatre's Misty Copeland is back for her third straight week on the judging panel. While you won't hear me complaining about getting to look at Misty for another week, I wish they would either make her an official judge, or return to the rotating third chair. Misty brings an exceptional amount of technical expertise, and an obvious joy for the art form, but at times I feel like she might be nitpicking and being critical, just to prove her worth. I would love to see Christina Applegate, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Adam Shankman, Debbie Allen,
Paula Abdul, Jenna Elfman, Lil' C, Carly Rae Jepsen, or Anna Kendrick return to the panel, even for just one night. Could it be that Misty is just a much cheaper option than the bigger name stars, therefore saving the show money as it continually fights for renewal? (Later Edit: Ok, now we know that Misty is leaving the show this week to do BLACK SWAN in Australia... I wonder if she is playing Natalie Portman or Mila Kunis... So, who are you hoping takes over in the third chair next week? Shankman is busy directing a star-studded production of HAIR for the Hollywood Bowl for a few weeks, so I have a feeling he's out until that's over. Let me know your picks in the comments or on Twitter.)
We are also apparently going to get a performance from PRETTY LITTLE LIARS' star Lucy Hale. While I loved her on the Joanna Garcia-led PRIVILEGED, her country music career has been far less exciting. Again, if this lines the show's coffers, and gets us closer to a Season 12, I can accept it.
Alright, feel free to add your thoughts of each performance to the comments below, or send them directly to me on Twitter @BWWMatt. "Ok, now it's time for a breakdown........"
Choreographer: Mandy Moore
Song: "Take Me to the River" by Annie Lennox
Three-Word Review: Water on FIRE!
Girls in Danger (in order of announcement)
Guys in Danger (in order of announcement)
Valerie Rockey and Ricky Ubeda
Choreographer: Nakul Dev Mahajan
Song: "Dilliwaali Girlfriend" from Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani (Soundtrack)
Three-Word Review: Bollywood Butt-Drumming!
There probably isn't a more fun SYTYCD genre than Bollywood... when it is done well, and these two definitely did that. Not only was the routine energetic and fun, they showed an incredible amount of stamina, and an ability to stay synchronized despite the increasingly fast and intricate movements. Valerie's personality made her one of my favorites during Hollywood Week, despite not being the best female dancer of the group. However, coming from a tap-dancing background, her skill is improving each week, and being paired with early favorite Ricky has given her a chance to go a long way. Misty has almost given up critiquing Ricky, because he is just so good already. It would be an absolute shock if he is not in at least the Final Four.
Bollywood Instructional Video: While there is absolutely no chance of me ever trying my hand at these dance tutorials they are running during the commercials, I think they are wonderful ways for SYTYCD to continue to give back to the dance community, and to contribute to growing the art with younger viewers.
Bridget Whitman and Emilio Dosal
Choreographer: Broadway vet Travis Wall
Song: "The Leaving Song" by Chris Garneau
Three-Word Review: Unique, Striking, Powerful
Much of the judges' critique was on Travis' emotional choreography, and rightly so; it very well could earn him another Emmy nod. However, I do not believe that the execution should be underappreciated. Bridget and Emilio's movements were sharp and abrupt, often leading into momentary pauses that gave the routine a nightmarish quality. As I have said all season, anyone expecting Emilio to only be good at Hip Hop isn't paying attention. After last season's injury, it is clear that he has worked on his weaker genres, and it showed here. Additionally, Bridget continues to improve and some of her slow elegant kicks were very impressive.
Tanisha Belnap and Rudy Abreu
Choreographer: Dave Scott
Genre: Hip Hop
Song: "Good Kisser" by Usher
Three-Word Review: Sexy Slow Jams
Ok, I'm not going to bury the lede on this one: Tanisha was the definition of sexy in this routine. There have been a lot of sexy outfits in the show's history, but this one was on a whole other level. Ok, now onto the dancing: often times we think of Hip Hop as being "hard" or "dirty" or "sick," but this one was "slow" and "smooth" and, of course, "sexy." It was as if we saw a couple's entire night, from meeting at a bar to hitting the sheets. Rudy's personality has carried him pretty far, but tonight, his technical performance was as strong as it has been thus far. The silky undulations of Tanisha's body, especially in that get up would definitely drive any man crazy.
Annoying Cat Cliché #1: Ok Cat, I get it, you think picking on Rudy and Jacque for having a budding relationship is cute, but embarrassing them on national TV about it seems a little gross.
Jessica Richens and Marcquet Hill
Choreographer: Dmitry Chaplin
Song: "I Put a Spell on You" by Nina Simone
Three-Word Review: Don't Understand Critiques
Look, I don't know the first thing about the Foxtrot, but what I do know is story and character, and I was with Marcquet and Jessica from the beginning. The plot that Dmitry laid out in the opening package was fully realized through the pair's performance and moves. While the judges' critique might influence voters, I enjoyed this routine far more than nearly any other ballroom number this season, and I would hate for either to be eliminated because the judges didn't get it.
Annoying Cat Cliché #2: Ok Cat, I get it, you think it's fun to say the word "Shazam" and then tell the audience that you can't help it, but guess what. You can. I don't mind the "Shazam!" thing, but don't try to convince me that it is some Pavlovian response to seeing the word on the teleprompter.
Carly Blaney and Serge Onik
Choreographer: Mandy Moore
Song: "Foolish Games" by Jewel
Three-Word Review: Solid Mid-Season Routine
While I totally got the story in the last number, I didn't see a connection between the set-up and the choreography in this one until Carly's ridiculous ending backbend where Serge calmly stepped over her body after guiding her to the floor with just his foot (I mean look at the MATRIX level stuff in that picture)! That being said, I still loved this performance. It was a really strong number for this point in the competition. It is always interesting to see the emotional and creative heft of the routines improve as the weeks go by, but for where we are in the competition, Carly and Serge gave one of the strongest technical and emotional performances thus far.
Emily James and Teddy Coffey
Choreographer: Oksana Dmytrenko and Jonathan Platero
Song: "Bruk It Down (Soca Remix)" by Mr. Vegas featuring Alison Hinds
Three-Word Review: Slow, Tight Movements
Emily's hips and shoulders didn't seem to have the requisite range of motion that the fast Salsa needed. Also, both she and Teddy seemed to be performing the number at 3/4s speed. I understand that neither is a Ballroom dancer, let alone Latin Ballroom, but this routine, minus the impressive tricks, looked amateur. Now knowing that she dislocated her shoulder this morning makes some of the range of motion critiques make sense, but that shouldn't have slowed down the pair's feet or hip action. I like both Emily and Teddy, but I am afraid this could put them in danger next week.
Jacque LeWarne and Zack Everhart
Choreographer: Sonya Tayeh
Song: "Back to Black" by Beyonce featuring Andre 3000
Three-Word Review: Less Than Sum
I think each of the little pieces in this routine were impressive. The choreography, the characters, the dancing, the partnering was all strong, but for me it never coalesced into a cohesive unit. I felt like I was seeing a bunch of well-done segments from different routines, rather than a fully-formed number. Now, is that an issue with the dancers, or the choreography? Probably a little of both. Sonya is known for having unusual transitions, but it is the dancers' responsibility to tell a coherent story from start to finish. And unfortunately in this story, each chapter was interesting and well-written, but didn't serve the larger narrative.
Brooklyn Fullmer and Casey Askew
Choreographers: Will "WilldaBeast" Adams
Genre: Hip Hop
Song: "Hustle Hard Remix" by Ace Hood featuring Rick Ross and Lil Wayne
Three-Word Review: Pretty Little Hip-Hop (a hyphen makes it one word)
Look, neither of these two are ever going to challenge tWitch or Fik-shun as the show's best Hip Hop dancers, but it at least was a fairly strong effort. While Casey seemed to slip out of character at times, Brooklyn was extremely committed to the hard-hitting vibe. They both looked too long and tall in the moments that should have been more grounded and low, but for dancers who are far more used to being pretty and artistic I thought it was a funky effort.
Mini-Group Performance #1
Brooklyn, Emily, Tanisha, Valerie, Casey, Emilio, Serge and Zack
Choreographer: Sonya Tayeh
Song: "So Broken (Live)" by Bjork
Three-Word Review: Absolutely Freakily Brilliant!
I have absolutely no idea what kind of freakiness goes on in Sonya Tayeh's head, but whatever demons she lives with lead to some of the most breathtaking, mesmerizing, creepy routines I have seen in a very long time. The stage pictures and emotions that she created in this number were haunting in the very best way. A lot of TV shows this year have had to do with people returning from the dead or mysteriously disappearing, and the emotional impact that has on their loved ones, and I felt like this could have been an interpretive dance performance of an episode of RESURRECTION or THE LEFTOVERS. Each dancer had ample opportunity to shine in this number about broken souls, but Tanisha stood out. Given that fact that she was in the Bottom-Three this week, and produced one of the sexiest routines in show history, and followed it up with this chilling performance, I have a feeling she is safe next week.
Mini-Group Performance #2
Bridget, Carly, Jacque, Jessica, Marcquet, Ricky, Rudy, and Teddy
Choreographer: Travis Wall
Song: "Love Runs Out" by OneRepublic
Three-Word Review: MIB the Musical
Unfortunately for Travis, his extremely fun routine had to follow Sonya's, because this was very strong in its own right. There was a certain military precision to the movements that brought to life Travis' story of secret agents. Like the previous mini-group routine, there was one dancer who stood out, and this time it was Ricky. Not that he needs more attention from the judges, specifically Misty, but he certainly deserves it. I hope that all of their constant positive feedback for him doesn't end up having a negative impact and have America spend their votes elsewhere because they think he is safe, especially because once they get to the Top-10 in two weeks, there is no judges' safety net.
Lucy Hale Performance
Song: "Lie a Little Better"
Three-Word Review: Stick to Acting
Country music artists often get a tremendous amount of credit because they almost always sound really good live. Well..... Lucy didn't sound terrible, she just didn't sound good enough to deserve the opportunity to warble through the song on National TV. Her vibrato was so fast I have no idea what the melody of that song actually was. Lucy is extremely cute, and seems likeable enough, but for a show that has helped launch genuine artists like Lady Gaga, Christina Perri, and Great Big World, her involvement seems slightly dubious.
Oh wow, before this week's elimination Nigel announced that they will be losing four dancers next week to get to the Top-10. While I am glad that we are only two weeks away from welcoming back the All-Stars, losing four of these fantastic dancers in one week is going to be tough.
Eliminated This Week
Should be Bottom-Three Boys
Should be Bottom-Three Girls
Should be Eliminated
Jacque LeWarne (sorry Rudy)
Best of the Night
Sonya's Group Routine, but that doesn't really count, so...
Bridget Whitman and Emilio Dosal
Close second... Tanisha Belnap and Rudy Abreu
As always, I reserve the right to reconsider my selections based on further consideration. I will be back with full reviews and photos of each routine later tonight, so check back later tonight or in the morning for the full recap.
So, what do you think about our first eliminations? What was your favorite routine of the night? Are you glad to have Misty's honest technical critiques back for another week, or are you ready for Adam Shankman or Jesse Tyler Ferguson to bring some fun back to the panel? Let me know what you think in the comments below, or on Twitter @BWWMatt.
Photo Credit: Adam Rose | FOX