Your guest judges this week are Carmen Electra, who is useless and not even slightly adorable, and Travis Wall, who is so busy trying to be nice that he ends up coming across like a giant kiss-ass, to the point where contestants are actively making fun of his judging while he’s doing it, but at least he’s doing his best to give actual constructive criticism.
(Incidentally, So You Think You Can Dance Canada announced its top 22 this week (yes, a top 22, it’s a repeat gimmick), and for those wondering: five hip-hop, five ballroom, twelve contemporary/jazz (and the bulk of final cuts at the Walk of Doom stage were hip-hoppers). See, it is entirely possible to have a style-diverse cast for this show. You just have to admit that styles other than contemporary are worth performing well, and that training in hip-hop and ballroom is as important as training in jazz and ballet. I’m hoping downloads will eventually show up for the later episodes of the show, because the auditions this year were, as always, insane, and I’d like to do another compilation for the Americans.)
Top seven boys: contemporary. Chris was seriously behind in the unison section for a bit, but other than that this was a really good group routine.
Melanie and Marko: jazz. Technical routine #3 (out of four) so far for Melanie and Marko, and that will be a theme tonight. But this was interesting, because generally so far my opinion of M&M has been that they are excellent dancers dancing choreography that could be better, and tonight I thought the choreography was excellent (Ray Leeper can stick around; he is cool beans!) and Melanie and Marko were both subpar as compared to their previous work. Melanie seemed to be dancing as if she was wearing lead weights for parts of the routine, and Marko was visibly off-balance at several points in the routine. It wasn’t bad by any stretch, but after watching a very strong couple for three weeks I have to say that this was a bit of a stumble.
Sasha and Alexander: hip-hop. Nigel complained that this was basic, and the judges were critical of it, and god knows there’s nobody I trust more for hip-hop criticism than the people who thought Evan could dance hip-hop in season five. I agree that it was pretty straightforward, but it was also charming choreography by Shaun Evaristo (and I hope the whining doesn’t kill his chances for more work, because I thought this was a decent start) and hearing Nigel and Mary complain about a lack of “swag” after jizzing their pants over god knows how many routines that barely had a beat to them makes me just shake my head a lot. However, they were correct that Alexander barely has any style. Sasha was predictably good.
Jordan and Tadd: waltz. Wait, again? I mean, giving all-technical couples jazz and contemporary all the time, that’s just predictable, but giving Jordan and Tadd the waltz twice in the first four episodes? Yeeesh. And this was barely a waltz; Jordan didn’t waltz at all, honestly, she was just doing her contempo-stuff the whole way through, and there was, what, maybe four seconds total of closed hold? Tadd, meanwhile, has really lovely rise and fall and sway, and he is a B-boy. Mary explains that this is American smooth waltz, but even in American smooth waltz you hold your partner for more than four frigging seconds.
Clarice and Jess: contemporary. (Three of four technical dances, again.) Okay, I’m going to admit that Jess has basically completely changed my initial opinion of him, which is that he was a one-note Broadway dancer who couldn’t partner and also had a sort of douchebag aura. This is two weeks in a row where Jess has partnered Clarice excellently, and this was reminiscent of hip-hop, the movements were so sharp. (But only reminiscent. When I complain that a lot of the hip-hop contemporary dancers perform on this show isn’t aces – consider its similarity to this and you start to get the idea.) Clarice was great. Justin Giles’ choreography was excellent and I want to see more of his work on the show, between this and the opening boys’ number. This was just good on numerous levels.
Ashley and Chris: salsa. This was extremely vanilla with occasional flashes of style and flavour, which is more or less how I would describe everything Ashley and Chris ever do on this show: they are technically sound (apart from their hip-hop thus far), but neither of them seems terribly able to really perform (as opposed to executing steps correctly) outside of their comfort zone. (Ashley hasn’t even done an enthralling solo so far.) Travis tries to say “I love you guys” approximately seven thousand times to make up for saying that they were boring and bland, and the crowd goes apeshit with booing because the judges never say anything negative any more and they’re not used to hearing even mild criticism. They should have been eliminated already, but they probably will be this week because literally every other couple got a genre they’d already done well in, which makes me think that Nigel – who is really about as subtle as a lead weight – is trying to fix things as he sees fit.
Nancy Travis Junior and Ricky: jazz. Hey, it’s a new choreographer! His name is Chucky, which I could not make up if I wanted to do. It is a zombie routine. It is a mostly boring routine. The judges jizz over it being “original,” but it is a zombie routine, and I think at this point it must be like the 75th zombie routine in SYTYCD history, and it has all the same ripoffs from “Thriller” that just about every zombie routine has these days; ostensibly this is a fashion-zombie routine, which could have been amusing but absolutely nothing gets done with that concept so: fuck it, this routine sucked. Ricky was predictably decent, dancewise. Ryan was surprisingly mediocre (that last pirouette was just ugly as she came out of it), but as anybody who follows the show-gossip knows, she is a Judges’ Favourite, much like Lauren in s3 (and for the same reason, as she has worked as an assistant for SYTYCD choreographers previously), and that means she gets praised to the moon for wholly unremarkable work and, it seems, for managing to not smile crazily through the entire routine. Indeed, she gets praised for inhabiting her character, but, again, it is a zombie routine: hundreds of people inhabit the character at every zombie march because it isn’t a character, it’s just moving in a certain sort of way and groaning a little, so performing it is not some sort of amazing achievement. Nigel compares it to the classic Wade Robson zombie group routine from season two, which: no, not even a little bit. And come to think, at least Lauren danced numerous styles and showed competence in them: Ryan has had jazz twice, contemporary, and one lyrical hip-hop which was, shockingly, more lyrical than hip-hop. Ryan is not the new Lauren. She is the new Mollee. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED.
Caitlyn and Mitchell: contemporary. The first two-thirds of this did absolutely nothing for me; it was very standard SYTYCD contemporary, your flowing clothes and your paired leaps and your ecstatic expressions, danced very well by both of them and absolutely nothing anybody will remember three weeks from now. The last thirty seconds were some genuinely impressive choreography, though, including a set of lifts that were spectacular and a really nice end position. The judges fall over themselves to proclaim it the Best Routine of the Night, which it wasn’t in any qualitative sense (Clarice and Jess had it all over this), but it was certainly, of all the routines, the most predictably So-You-Think-You-Can-Danciest, danced by a couple who are both technically trained and who between them have danced one routine (last week’s samba) outside of their comfort zone.
Top seven girls: jazz. This was good.
Probable bottom three: Ashley and Chris, Ricky and Ryan, Sasha and Alexander.
Should go home: Ashley and Chris.
Will go home: Ashley and Chris.