Before I start critiquing the performances, I need to vent a little more. So You Think You Can Dance has missed out on a teachable moment; just like Glee turned around and made Kurt a gay role model for struggling teens by teaching its audience about the effects of bullying, this show could have taught a lot of dancers who are not quite the ideal size 00 that you can still succeed in this industry. Natalia was a total inspiration for many, myself included, because she danced like it was what she was meant to do. She didn't dance like a big girl, she didn't dance like a thin girl, she just danced... and it was beautiful. SYTYCD could have showed young people that you don't need to be a stereotype in order to achieve your dreams by putting Natalia in the Top 20, but alas they did not. And so we have as vanilla a group of dancers as there ever was on this show. What a shame.
Ricky, Melinda, Melanie, Sasha (Contemporary by Stacey Tookey)
Wasn't this piece danced already? It reminded me so, so much of Mia's piece last year in the week Alex was injured (with Ade playing a central angel figure) that I couldn't get past it and enjoy myself. I also wasn't particularly impressed with any of the dancers, aside from Melanie. She was the clear standout, and Stacey must've realize the same thing when she placed Melanie front and center. Ricky just looks like a big ball of awkward to me; he's all limbs and nothing else. He was off-balance (he even fell at one point), and he traveled during his multiple pirouets. I mean, sure it's impressive that he did like six successive turns, but it would've been more impressive if he didn't move so much when he did it. Sasha and Melinda were lost in the background for me, so I guess that means they were passable: not great like Melanie, nor bad like Ricky.
Christopher, Wadi, Robert, Tad (Hip Hop by Dave Scott)
This is a joke, right? Of ten men, four of them are untrained hip hop dancers? And amazing dancers like Chase Thomas are rejected? Ugh. And let me just say that I'm hoping Robert is the first dancer sent home; he's SO. ANNOYING.
I hate B-Boys. I don't think breaking is real dancing, and there's nothing anyone can say to change my mind about that. Do you consider gymnasts dancers? Or cheerleaders? No. They're gymnasts and cheerleaders, not dancers. And this routine perfectly illustrates my point. Aside from the tricks, this choreography was so elementary that I think most people who have taken a few dance classes could probably do it. It was slow and easy and not the least bit intricate. But that's the dancing part. Clearly these guys couldn't handle much else, likely because they're not trained. Or Dave Scott is falling back into season six mode. In either case, I'm not okay with this performance. In fact, I hated it. Sure, their characters and personalities came through... but on a show called So You Think You Can Dance, I'd rather see them dancing well in addtion to having fun personalities. This is not So You Think You're Entertaining. Next!
Iveta and Pasha (Ballroom by Jason Gilkison)
I just can't believe that all of the street dancers above were stronger outside their genres than Lenny, the only male ballroom dancer vying for a spot in the Top 20. So we're left with only one ballroom dancer on the show: Iveta. And I'm fine with that for now, because she's kind of incredible. Iveta is the first contestant I've seen since Anya who can easily match Pasha in stature, talent and poise. She was never lost next to him or completely showed up by him. They worked well together. I'm not exactly sure what style this was supposed to be, since I saw some elements of Samba, Paso Doble and Cha Cha. But whatever it was, I was thoroughly impressed.
Missy, Jordan, Marko, Clarice (Jazz by Sonya Tayeh)
I really liked this routine, but I'm already finding it hard to distinguish the girls. They all look and dance the same, not just these three but the three in the first contemporary number as well. The only one who stood out as slightly lesser than the others was Missy, who looked a little tired. She wasn't quite as sharp as the other girls, and she wasn't quite as flexible either. I really liked Marko, and I hope he'll start bringing a personality to the proceedings too. Right now he's just a good dancer (by far the best male of the night up to this point), so he needs that little something extra to develop, but he's got time to do it.
Jess and Nick (Broadway Tap by Christopher Scott)
What the freaking hell was that? Other than a hot god damn mess, I mean? Where to start, where to start.... how about that heinous choice of music? It made no sense, and I'm not even sure why it was there since the hoofing didn't follow it even a little bit. The mixture of styles should've worked well; tap is a part of much of musical theatre dance. Why was it so awkward then? Not a second of this duet felt like a duet; it felt like two show off douchebags in a dance class doing improv. It was ugly, plain and simple. Jess came off as a total tool, and Nick came off as an overactor and an amateur. His tapping may have been good, but that fact was negated by the sounds not fitting any kind of rhythm. And Jess was not that great dancing his own style. I know Broadway style dancers much better than him. Christopher Scott should be ashamed of himself for allowing this to be his introduction to the world of SYTYCD. It was cheesy, in a really unappealing way; this should have been so much better than it was.
Side Note: "Theatricality" and "overacting" are not synonyms. Let's stop rewarding overacting by calling it theatrical.
Caitlynn, Ryan, Ashley, Mitchell, Alexander (Contemporary by Travis Wall)
Holy shit, there are a lot of contemporary dancers this season. But this was my favorite routine of the night. There was a childlike joy and innocence to this piece that I really liked, and the dancers came across the best of any of the routines as well. There wasn't a story or a throughline or anything, it was just great movement by great dancers. Ryan stood out the most for me, especially in the beginning with her floorwork, and Mitchell did great as well (why wasn't he shown at all during auditions or Vegas?). Overall this was probably the most emotional performance of the night, but for reasons completely different from the usual fare on this show; it wasn't wrenching or heartbreaking, it was joyful.
Top Ten Boys (Hip Hop by Christopher Scott)
The choreography and concept were both interesting for this (and much better than Scott's previous outing tonight), even though it was a little sloppy and under-rehearsed. Nick was the most inconsitent dancer, that I could pick up on anyway. One moment he can barely kick above his waist but the next he's doing foites in perfect time. I don't get it. And again I was impressed with Marko, so let's hope he can keep it up.
Top Ten Girls (Contemporary/Jazz by Sonya Tayeh)
No one does camp quite like Sonya. The concept was ridiculous and ultimately pointless, but cute nonetheless. These girls were damn strong dancers though, and each was showed in a flattering light. I didn't notice anyone who looked off, and that's saying something considering how intense Sonya's choreography is.
Top Twenty (Jazz by Tyce Diorio)
Messy, busy, unfocused. Not a fan, except for those flying leaps toward the end.
So far I've liked Marko, Melanie and Ryan. I've disliked Robert, Jess and Ricky. The verdict is still out on the others, but I'm sure I'll have opinions of them next week when the live shows start.