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‘So You Think You Can Dance’: And then there were six

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Allow me to be crabby (or crabbier than usual) for an evening. I’ve struggled to find the same emotional connection to ‘So You Think You Can Dance’ this season that I had with last season, when I was rooting for so many dancers: Twitch Boss, Joshua Allen, Katee Shean, Gev Manoukian, Mark Kanemura, Chelsie Hightower -- I loved them all. This season, though, I’ve hard a hard time connecting with any of the dancers. Last week I threw my lot in with Janette and Jason, and I turn my back and they’re eliminated? Maybe it’s just not my season. Then again, even Nigel Lythgoe noted that nobody’s really popped so far.

So perhaps I was still annoyed that my favorites were gone, but I had a hard time finding a groove with tonight’s episode, with a few exceptions. I did love Sonya Tayeh’s guys’ number. She said it was inspired by ‘Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory,’ and I could see the creepy inspiration of the oompah-loompahs in the guys’ moves. I especially enjoyed their weird, halting march.

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The first duo of the night, Jeanine Mason and Ade Obayomi, danced a Louis van Amstel samba. I liked Jeanine’s sexy feathered costume, but while the couple was supposed to summon sexy, I mostly saw a lot of groping and pouty faces by Jeanine. The judges didn’t like it that much either: Mary Murphy thought it seemed novice and guest judge Lil C felt ‘let down.’

Next, Melissa Sandvig and Evan Kasprzak performed a Tyce Diorio-choreographed Broadway dance set to ‘Get Me to the Church on Time.’ I was really rooting for Evan to shine in this number, since it’s his element, but the dance seemed a little, well, cheesy. It was so frantic and cartoonish and hammy that I couldn’t appreciate the dancing. Again, the judges seemed a bit underwhelmed. Lil C pronounced it ‘good, not excellent,’ and even after Mary shrieked ‘Get me to the finale on time!’ she admitted that they could have put a little more out there.

A colleague of mine noted on Facebook, ‘It was very helpful of SYTYCD to pair the two best dancers tonight. Brandon and Kayla clearly outclassed the competition.’ I can’t disagree with that statement but, again, I have a hard time loving Kayla Radomski and Brandon Bryant. Maybe it’s because, Mia Michaels’ criticism of Brandon notwithstanding, both contestants have basically received the judges’ blessing the entire season. I can’t deny that they danced Stacey Tookey’s contemporary routine about a married man and his mistress beautifully, and that the choreography was excellent, but it just left me somewhat cold. Mary said that Kayla’s ‘never taken a wrong step’ (she said that about just about all the girls on the show, though). But Nigel reassured me that I’m not insane by noting that he didn’t think the pair had quite enough time to cement their chemistry. Ha! Vindication. Of course, he also noted that their technique was brilliant, which I can’t disagree with.

Jeanine and Ade’s second dance was a Tabitha and Napoleon D'umo hip-hop routine about two roommates being evicted, so it involved a bunch of prop boxes. It was hard to focus on Ade, since his hat was pulled so far over his head you could barely see his face, but Jeanine looked great to me, especially the ‘double dutch’ she danced through Ade’s legs. The judges enjoyed it, although I was confused when Mary said, ‘How many people here have been evicted?’ as if that happens to everyone.

Melissa and Evan’s second dance was ‘the dreaded quickstep,’ as choreographed by Louis van Amstel. I liked it fine: Evan looked dapper and they made the dance look fun and not the nightmare it apparently is, although I thought I caught their energy flagging a teeny bit during part of the dance, and apparently Nigel saw that too. Mary didn’t find that the dance lived up to her expectations.

Brandon and Kayla danced again, this time a RIDICULOUSLY fast-paced disco by Doriana Sanchez. They could barely keep up with the dance, which means that it really must be too difficult for anyone but the most seasoned of disco professionals. The two were obviously dying at the end, they were panting so hard. Lil C was so amazed by their performance that he spun an uncontrollable metaphor involving unfamiliarity, darkness, comfort zones, seeing music with your ears, pockets and getting between musical instruments. Got that? He did praise the two for being extreme athletes, which is an accurate compliment. Nigel Lythgoe occasionally likes to get all Mary Murphy in his judging, so after Lil C’s blatherings and Mary’s screaming, he said, ‘Let me critique this professionally,’ and then jumped off his chair, screaming and gyrating and waving his arms and generally going apestuff.

For the final group number, Sonya Tayeh arranged a piece for the girls portraying superheroes. It was a fun piece with a lot of ‘clear pictures,’ as the judges would say: capes being thrown off, fists on hips, determinedly set jaws. I sensed that Melissa was fading into the background a little bit, but Mary felt that Kayla had the hardest moves of them all. Lil C complained that the girls were a bit too ‘courteous’ in their moves, and to retaliate Mary, either on purpose or by accident, called him ‘Lil Buck.’

And there you have it. A night of perfectly fine dancing with a few very good moments in it (Brandon’s and Ade’s solos included), but not eliciting the kind of emotion I’d hoped for at this stage in the season. I suppose I’ll predict that Evan and Melissa will go home tomorrow night.

-- Claire Zulkey

(art: FOX)


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