Top ten week! New partnerships! No new judges! Mollee still inexplicably present!
Noelle and Ryan: hip-hop and smooth waltz. And once again, Tabitha and Napoleon choreograph what’s pretty blatantly a jazz routine, throw in a couple of chest-pumps and HEY IT’S HIP-HOP NOW. It not being hip-hop aside, both Ryan and Noelle danced this quite well. Noelle’s facial expressions were not so nearly over-the-top as they were previously, and Ryan hit his beats much better than he did for that L’il C hip-hop a couple of week ago. (Then again, this was, as I have said, not really hip-hop.) This was okay for top ten, but it made me miss Shane Sparks. This show needs a hip-hop choreographer who will properly beat the shit out of their dancers.
The waltz was really lovely with one exception: Noelle was back to total show-face. She has this incredibly insincere dance-face that she just seems to drop into all the time, and it’s not anything like her normal smile, and it is maddening because it’s this horrific “ahhhhh” face that almost always jars with her performance. (Compare to Kathryn’s facial expressions from last week during her waltz, which were so naturalistic one could not be blamed for thinking she and Legacy were really IN LURV.) However, Ryan’s technique was absolutely flawless in this and he had the bulk of the hard work, and other than her danceface Noelle carried her end of the load.
Noelle’s solo: Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.
Ryan’s solo: Why didn’t he and Ashleigh just “solo” together?
Ashleigh and Legacy: contemporary and hip-hop. The contemporary – which was tremendous – reminded me of two moments from the first season of So You Think You Can Dance Australia. It reminded me of one routine Garry Stewart choreo’d for Demi and Jack, which was just as brutally tough and visibly difficult, and it reminded me of something Jason “Best SYTYCD Judge Ever” Coleman said of a Demi/Henry contemporary routine, where he astutely observed that Demi and Henry were both untrained dancers and that this meant that their tandem untrained leaps were perfectly in time with one another. I already thought Legacy could live up to this kind of pressure: I’m surprised that Ashleigh did as well as she did. I really liked this.
The hip-hop was one of Dave Scott’s more noticeable flops, choreography-wise, and the judges were right to criticize it. Of course, this had more dancing than a lot of the routines certain dancers got in past weeks (COUGH COUGH NATHAN AND MOLLEE COUGH COUGH WHEEZE), and any number of choreographers have bombed worse than Dave Scott did this time out, but Legacy and Ashleigh were probably supposed to be quick eliminations rather than lasting dancers (read: contemporary) so can you really blame the judges for taking this opportunity to push their agenda?
Ashleigh’s solo: Yeah, why didn’t she and Ryan just “solo” together? This would have been the perfect opportunity.
Legacy’s solo: Holy shit, that was fucking artistry right there. Goddamn. That was a tiny slice of brilliance.
Kathryn and Nathan: Broadway and rhumba. Hey, they split up Nathan and Mollee and gave them the most popular partners each of them could get! I am shocked. Cynicism aside, though, this was actually pretty goddamned great: Nathan finally entertained me for the first time all season (heck, finally convinced me he deserves to be on the show) and Kathryn was as good as she always is. And their chemistry was great, Nigel Doesn’t Know Fuck-All About Chemistry Lythgoe. Just because Kathryn is not blonde with big tits doesn’t mean she doesn’t connect to her partner.
The rhumba was… yeah. Technically okayish for Nathan, thoroughly decent for Kathryn (not her best performance but nonetheless a good one). But I was amazed when Nigel not only criticized Tony and Melanie for a boring routine, but also pointed out that Nathan had his lips pursed bizarrely through the entire routine, making it look like something out of an SNL sketch or something. Shankman (who loves everybody!) explains that Nathan is a “polarizing” dancer because he is “young” and “a bit out there.” No, Adam, Nathan is a polarizing dancer because he spent the first five weeks of the show dancing mostly badly and getting applause from you for it.
Kathryn’s solo: Perfectly acceptable contemporary solo, nothing new under the sun but nothing bad.
Nathan’s solo: Dynamic and exciting and frankly really impressive, and if he survives tonight it’s because of this solo.
Ellenore and Jakob: quickstep and jazz. I didn’t quite get the praise for the quickstep that the judges felt the need to heap on it. It was okay, sure, but there have been many better quicksteps and this one reeked of the boringness Tony and Melanie so often bring to their non-Latin choreo. Technically proficient, about as thrilling as mayonnaise. Jakob and Ellenore were both fine in this, although I didn’t get much chemistry from them: they both danced well and partnered well and Jakob especially seemed to not care whom he was paired with.
The jazz was fucking brilliant, even if once or twice it felt a bit Sonya-ish in a predictable way. Nuff said.
Ellenore’s solo: Distinctive and cool, albeit a bit sloppy in parts, but the ending was neat.
Jakob’s solo: Fantastic, but every choreographer uses everything he did in that solo, so it lacked novelty.
Mollee and Russell: jazz and jive. At some point Mandy Moore will escape the 80s and I will no longer have the opportunity to make fun of her for that, and I will be sad. Now that Mollee is paired with someone who can actually, like, lift her worth a damn, she looks a lot better all of a sudden, but the thing to watch here was Mollee’s total lack of performance: she was doing moves, nothing more than that. Good moves, to be sure, but moves, rather than dancing. Not that this stopped the judges from tonguebathing, or Nigel from once again pretending that Russell is some untrained caveman fucking stop that shit Lythgoe. (Russell was really quite good, both in technique and performance quality, but Jesus Christ am I sick of this shit.)
The jive was good choreo plus good dancing from Russell plus a log. Guess who the log was. Seriously, in a routine with a supposedly trained contemporary dancer and a krumper, who would you think would do a side aerial? It was Russell! But seriously: Mollee was stiff for good chunks of this routine and didn’t have nearly as much to do as her partner did. Nigel gets the biggest laugh of the night when he claims Mollee is a good “performer.” Whatever, Nigel.
Mollee’s solo: She’s usually given good solos if nothing else, but this was terrible: frenetic and desperate and sloppy.
Russell’s solo: Fucking tremendous. Seriously. Holy shit, that was a goddamned dominant solo. No better way to describe it than that.
Should go home: Mollee and Nathan.
Will go home: Ashleigh and Nathan.