No doubt some of you wish I would shut up about this show, but tough.
Rayven and Jaime: hip-hop. First routine can be tough, but then again Benji and Donyelle got first routine in season 2 and it established their dominance of the show right from the get-go. Rayven and Jaime… do not do that. The judges are being nice tonight, because they always try to be complimentary on the first actual competition episode, but this wasn’t that great; the unison the routine needed just wasn’t there and when they needed to hit a move hard (which wasn’t all of them – Napoleon and Tabitha have a smoother style than, say, the average Shane Sparks number), they didn’t always do it. Still, they both danced with a good deal of enthusiasm. Potential bottom three.
Susie and Marquis: smooth waltz. Smooth waltz needs to be dreamlike; this was practically the opposite of that, with Marquis particularly struggling through even basic footwork. The judges gave it a tonguebath of highly unreasonable proportion, but used the codeword of “so difficult” over and over again to quietly tell the dancers that they were getting first-week props and nothing more. Marquis’s lines were good whenever he extended outward, but when he was, you know, doing steps, this was pretty goddamned clunky.
Kourtni and Matt: jazz. First solidly entertaining routine of the night, cutely done up in black leather ensembles and acting tough. Matt’s probably a bit of a better dancer than Kourtni is; Kourtni is a better performer than Matt is. Good complementary pair; no idea how far they go. I have nothing further to say.
Chelsea and Thayne: cha-cha-cha. The judges gave Thayne all sorts of “you kept up with her” compliments which, to be fair, he only barely managed to do. Chelsea was fantastic in this, oozing personality and flavour. The dance was sold as being extremely difficult, which – look, it wasn’t even the most difficult cha-cha-cha routine ever performed on this show let alone “of all time.” It was a pretty medium-level routine with a few clever tricks. But Chelsea owned it, which is the most important thing.
Chelsie and Mark: contemporary. A Mia Michaels routine on the first show? They liked one of these dancers a whole lot in advance; Mia routines usually almost guarantee an advance to the next round. (Yes, her hippieseque blather and occasional fits of self-righteousness can really make me grind my teeth, but almost all of her routines are spectacular.) Anyway, this was fantastic, as much for the choreography as it was for the dancers’ skill. Mark was better, but he’s a contemporary dancer so that’s to be expected; Chelsie was fine.
Twitch and Kherington: Broadway. “Twitchington?” Oh, Twitch Twitch Twitch, you let your fans come up with the diptych name, you don’t do it for them! But this was thoroughly excellent, and Twitch and Kherington have obvious chemistry as partners (not just “doin’ it” chemistry, but obvious connection to one another as dancers). Kherington impressed me particularly for finally showing off skill and personality I didn’t quite get in the audition episodes. And Twitch is of course Twitch – whatever Nigel Lythgoe might say about there not being front-runners this season, that’s bull, because Twitch is the front-runner and absolutely everybody knows it, and he deserves to be.
Comfort and Chris: jive. Okay, but not A+ fantastic or anything; they didn’t miss any steps or screw anything up, and they partnered well together, but the routine lacked the snap that a good jive routine has; I especially note that on the kicks they weren’t extending their legs nearly as much as you expect when seeing a really top-quality jive. Some of this can probably be attributed to Comfort’s injury and the nature of most choreographers to take it easy on the first week.
Katee and Joshua: hip-hop. It’s always cool when the judges are honestly blown away by a great performance, rather than simply giving obligatory comments, and this was the first time in competition this year that it’s happened, and it was wholly deserved; easily the routine of the night, marrying the energy of a great hip-hop routine with the storytelling you’d expect more from a lyrical piece. And the unison moves were spot-on. And Katee’s solo lived up to Joshua’s (and given that he’s a fantastic hip-hop dancer and she’s not, that’s amazing). And Joshua made it all look easy, which of course it was not. Amazing work.
Jessica and Will: tango. Blaaaaaaaaaand. No fire. Needed a lot more and didn’t have it. Technically, the two of them danced just fine. But the chemistry just wasn’t there for me; good tangoes make the dancers look hungry for one another right there on stage and this, well. This looked like two people thrown together a week ago and given time to practice. Which is what it of course was, but that’s no excuse.
Courtney and Gev: disco. The disco routines on this show are fan favorites, which is weird because there honestly hasn’t been a good disco routine on So You Think You Can Dance since the first season, when there were three and they were all show-stoppers. Ever since then, Doriana Sanchez has come back every season and thrown mediocre disco routine after mediocre disco routine at hapless dancers who would probably like to dance, you know, something good, but no, we get endless Doriana routines with incongruous lifts in place of any musicality or rhythm, because we have to pretend she didn’t peak in the first season or something like that. Nigel Lythgoe savaged these two, which is weird because they did a passable job of turning the boring routine into something watchable.
Predicted bottom three couples: Rayven and Jaime, Susie and Marquis, Courtney and Gev.
Going home: Rayven and Marquis.