BWW Recap: SYTYCD Delivers One of Best Routines in Show's History (Updated w/ Pictures & ON THE TOWN news)
It was a rushed audition and callback process, but finally, we are getting into the meat and potatoes of the So You Think You Can Dance season; the live shows. This week's installment is the 200th live show in SYTYCD history, and we finally got to see the Top-20 do their thing.
Tonight, each contestant was paired with a partner in his or her own genre, and got to stay in their comfort zone for the time being. This was a nice way to bridge the gap from the missing extra episodes from FOX's cut down order. Next week the partners will be switched up and they will be thrown into the random genres each week. Since all of the dancers performed in their genre, there weren't many dancers that didn't feel like they deserved to move on, so whomever goes home next week it won't exactly feel deserved.
It was also announced that one of the prizes for this year's winner was a chance to be a part of the cast of the upcoming Broadway revival of ON THE TOWN. This is in addition to what Nigel Lythgoe told me in May about this season's dancers potentially being a part of the recently announced AN AMERICAN IN PARIS revival. Also, ON THE TOWN will show off some of its choreography on next week's live show! With so many SYTYCD alums and choreographers making their way to New York stages, it's nice to see Nigel allowing Broadway to play a larger role on such an important and artistic show (Special Thanks to Steven Cuevas for pointing this bit of news that I some how missed).
One thing I love about this show is that even into its 11th season, they still use the same opening, introducing the contestants individually, and doing the same strut, cross, and pose.
This week singer, dancer, and choreographer Jason Derulo joined the judging panel and performed his new song "Wiggle" along with the D-O-Double G, Snoop Dogg. While he wasn't as worthless as Carly Rae Jepsen, he didn't add really any insight to the proceedings. That being said, he seemed generally enthusiastic and moved by a number of the routines. It also didn't hurt that he brought along his girlfriend, former American Idol Champ Jordin Sparks.
In an interesting change, that probably won't impact the show one iota, all voting this season is done on Fox.com or on the FoxNow app.
Top-20 Group Number
Choreographer: Sonya Tayeh
Song: "Stalker Ha" by Kingdom
Three-Word Review: Whole Buncha Talent
Brooklyn Fullmer and Serge Onik
Choreographer: Dmitry Chaplin
Genre: Latin Ballroom
Song: "Hell Yeah" by Midnight Red
Three-Word Review: Hot, Sweaty Fun
This was a really fun way to start the season. I am by no means a ballroom connoisseur, so I didn't see the technical issues from Brooklyn to start the routine that the judges picked up on. However, these two appeared to have a lot of chemistry, and seemed like they had been partners for longer than a week.
This was a short, simple routine, but it seemed like these two were competing for spots in the finals. The emotion and storytelling was fantastic. It didn't have the power that the longer, more fleshed-out routines will later in the season, but it proved that both of these two deserved to be on My Early, Not At All Confident Potential, Might Turn Into Favorites Down the Road List.
Valerie Rockey and Zack Everhart
Choreographer: Anthony Morigerato
Song: "Sing" by Ed Sheeran
Three-Word Review: Tapping to Top
Like most musical theatre fans, I love tap dancing. However, it's a tough genre to compete against the emotion of contemporary routines. Now that I've got that caveat out of the way, these two proved that they have more than enough technical prowess and charisma to be contenders. Not only were their taps perfectly musical and in unison, but they were able to navigate a nice set of stairs with some fancy footwork as well. I am excited to see how they both translate into other genres.
During his critique, Nigel gave a shout-out to the recently closed AFTER MIDNIGHT, and broke the news that the show's Tony-winning Director/Choreographer Warren Carlyle would be coming to SYTYCD in a few weeks. He seemed to indicate that it was to choreograph a number, and after that crazy Tony Awards performance, I am already looking forward to that.
Bridget Whitman and Stanley Glover
Choreographer: Bonnie Story
Song: "Doesn't Mean Goodbye" by Jon McLaughlin
Three-Word Review: Tender, Technique, Contenders
Last week I really wanted to put Bridget on my Contenders List, but she seemed to be a bit over the top for my liking, but she brought an incredible amount of character to a phenomenal routine. Both she and Stanley seemed so in sync both technically and emotionally. While they will be split up for next week's performance, this seems like the type of pair that could square off in the finals.
Jacque LaWarne and Jourdan Epstein
Choreographer: Marat Daukayev
Song: "Pas de Duez"- Black Swan by Tchaikovsky
Three-Word Review: Not Natalie Portman
I do not come from a pointe background, like Jason DeRulo does; my ballet expertise is limited to BLACK SWAN (the movie, not the ballet), but it seemed to me that Jacque was far more technically sound than Jourdan. The latter ballerina seemed to fall out of turns far earlier than the former and seemed to have a tough time keeping up on some of the turns. Like tap, a tough genre to generate votes, so we will see if they both have a chance in other genres after next week's elimination.
I'm not going to say much about Jason Derulo's performance of "Wiggle" other than, "Huh?" I suppose it's only appropriate that a show that gave Lady Gaga her first American TV appearance to air a performance of a song that is all about a "big fat butt."
Jason did seem like a nice guy, but if he does anything to hurt Jordin, I have a feeling that Lin-Manuel and the rest of the guys from the Heights might just have something to say about it.
Malene Ostergaard and Marcquet Hill
Choreographer: Louis van Amstel
Genre: Latin Ballroom
Song: "Morning Drums" by Gregor Salto
Three-Word Review: Fast, Slow, Sultry
Really cool routine. We are used to seeing Sambas being all about the hyper-speed of the dancers' feet, and while both dancers had that in spades, it was cool to see a few changes of pace mixed in that showed the pair's sultry sides as well.
Carly Blaney and Rudy Abreu
Choreographer: Stacey Tookey
Song: "Take It Easy" by Jetta
Three-Word Review: Dance of Dreams
I don't know if it was the wind blowing Carly's skirt, the haunting music, or the stilted choreography, but there was an ethereal, dream-like quality to this quiet, passionate routine. Jason went out on a limb and said they would both survive the season's first elimination, and I would not be surprised if he was right.
Emilio Dosal and Teddy Coffey
Choreographer: Christopher Scott
Song: "Nightshift" by The Commodores
Three-Word Review: Slow Jam Hip-Hop
There were a bunch of hip-hop moves in the routine, but there were also a ton of hints at the other things that they were capable of. "Nightshift" is definitely not the type of song you associate with hip-hop, but the slower beat allowed the two to show off their different approaches to hip-hop dancing. Emilio is extremely likeable, and given his injury-induced early exit from last year's Top-20, I have a feeling that he was working hard at the show's other genres.
This was entry #2 in tonight's SYTYCD Haunting-Off. Let's be clear, Sonya Tayeh is incredibly weird, but damn is she one heck of a choreographer. This was magical, this was unique, and this was touching. Ricky showed physical strength that I didn't know he had, and Jessica proved that she was capable of so much more than the sexpot routines that the producers have shown us thus far. During his critique, Nigel said two things that I already had typed in my notes. First, that this was one of the best routines (especially early on) in many seasons; and secondly, I had the words "Daniel Radcliffe" already down.
This routine seemed fairly safe and slow, the extended leg death-drop notwithstanding. Other than that last spectacular moment, I kind of felt like it was a first week Billy Dee Williams routine on DANCING WITH THE STARS. Ok, that might be an overstatement, but coming on the heels of the Jessica and Ricky routine, this one seemed timid and a bit of a letdown for a number in the coveted closing spot.
As I said in the intro, there were not many subpar routines, so I struggled to find enough dancers to fill out my Bottom-Three lists. Did I get the right ones? Let me know.
Should be Bottom-Three Boys
Should be Bottom-Three Girls
Should be Eliminated
Best of the Night
Jessica Richens and Ricky Ubeda
So, what do you think now that we have seen the Top-20? What was the best routine of the night? Have you picked your favorites yet? Let me know in the comments below, and on Twitter @BWWMatt.