Witney and Chehon: samba. That opening pirouette by Chehon made me think that they were aiming for a redux of Lacey and Danny’s samba from season 3, but unfortunately Chehon isn’t quite comparable to Danny’s level when Danny did ballroom: he dropped in and out of the samba basic repeatedly and the hip movement wasn’t there, and given that this entire routine was choreoed at beginner level half-speed (as compared to other SYTYCD ballroom routines, e.g., the good ones) that does not bode well. On top of that, Whitney and Chehon have very, very little chemistry together. Witney was excellent, of course, as expected, but not enough to carry this to what it needed to be. Disappointing opening.
Tiffany and George: contemporary. Quite a lovely piece of work from Sonya here as she avoids her usual tics and had some really brilliant moves worked into her piece (the paired kicks en pointe while hand in hand? Daaaaaaamn). The only criticism I can make here is a minor one: George’s sense of balance is a bit lacking (he tends to fall out of his pirouettes and overcompensate on his aerial spins). This is a very, very minor criticism, however. This is a good pairing so far.
Janaya and Brandon: hip-hop. Oh, a Tabitha and Napoleon piece about a man overcoming his addiction to alcohol in the name of true love? Been there, done that – and it was better choreo and better dancing the first time. Nigel actually mentions that NappyTabs choreoed the thing so that it was much less hard-hitting than traditional hip-hop, which is to say “like most hip-hop on this show.” Brandon was fine. Janaya was acceptable but nothing special. Meh.
Alexa and Danny: jazz. I’m gonna go ahead and say the artistic decision by Sean Cheeseman to choreo a piece using scaffolding was kind of a bad idea because about a quarter of the piece was, uh, climbing – and when they first came down off the scaffolding, they were off the beat for at least another five or six seconds until they recovered. I suspect if they had been on time for the entire routine I would have been “kinda liked it,” because their dancing was quite good when they were in sync. But they weren’t, so I didn’t.
Amber and Nick: Viennese waltz. So I guess they’re going for the “first week, every non-contemporary dancer gets their own genre” plan again? (Oh, poor Cyrus.) Anyway. The rise and fall in this (and I think good waltzes live and die by the rise and fall) was a little bit inconsistent – I would have liked to see a tiny bit more, particularly from Nick – but the spins were both incredibly ornate and perfectly executed, and the general grace of the piece was there. Nigel references Dance Moms in his critique, which – don’t do that, Nigel.
Amelia and Will: hip-hop. Never mind, then: they’re letting people dance out of genre – oh, wait, no, this is just a jazz dance with a few brief hip-hop sequences thrown in. Granted, it was a fun routine, and Amelia and Will danced well (although they did not dance hip-hop well – they danced through the isos and there was no pullback where it needed to be) and have excellent chemistry together, but good lord, this show will call literally anything hip-hop, won’t it? If they had just called it a jazz or Broadway routine I would be less irritated. I mean, even Nigel said it wasn’t hip-hop, and Nigel has praised some of the least hard-hitting hip-hop I’ve ever seen as being exemplary of the genre.
Janelle and Dareian: Afro-jazz. This felt lacking. Both dancers hit all their marks and in time, but for me it lacked energy, especially in the middle – I like Afro-jazz when it feels wild and barely contained, and this was just not that thing. Perhaps it was too intricate for the pair of them, perhaps they were taking it easy of Janelle after her rough start and her injuries – but I was very meh on this. Good chemistry between the two of them, though.
Eliana and Cyrus: Broadway. Actually, I’m glad to see Cyrus not dancing hip-hop, because he’s not a classic hip-hop dancer and when he didn’t murder it he would get shit on for not dancing well “in his genre.” Instead, he gets to dance a boring Tasty Oreo Broadway and the judges go apeshit over it because… I have no idea. Eliana was really quite good. Cyrus was at the bare minimum of acceptable and I suspect he got pimped more than he deserves so that the judges don’t have another Cedric in season 3 situation on their hands.
Audrey and Matthew: contemporary. Very meh choreography which the judges pimp because it’s Travis and they can’t say their golden child is boring, after all, and they praise Travis for doing things like “choreographing kicks to the cymbal crashes” which is sort of like praising him for setting a routine to music, when you get down to it. Audrey and Matthew are perfectly good. But yeesh.
Lindsay and Cole: paso doble. I wasn’t terribly wild about Jason Gilkison’s choreo in this (even he can have off nights – I felt the choreo didn’t build to a climax as effectively as a good paso routine on this show should), but other than the choreo not being quite what I would have hoped for, this was basically – well, Lindsay and Cole danced somewhat imperfect choreo perfectly. Flawless chemistry and I really am looking forward to see what this partnership can continue to produce.
Probable bottom threes: BOYS: Chehon, Danny, Nick. GIRLS: Alexa, Janaya, Amber.
Should go home: Chehon and Janaya.
Will go home: Chehon and Alexa.