‘So You Think You Can Dance’ recap: Vegas, baby!

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I confess that even with “So You Think You Can Dance,” I could take or leave the long audition shows. Been there, done that, for hours and hours and hours. But when “SYTYCD” gets to Vegas, I start really getting excited. That’s when I find myself making up little dance moves on the way to the bathroom and back. Vegas week is what truly sets the contestants on this show apart from any other reality TV competition. The dancers on “SYTYCD” arguably do more just to get on the show than most contestants actually do on the broadcasts of other shows. On Wednesday night’s episode alone, the dancers had to perform a solo, then learn and perform a hip-hop routine, then Broadway, then ballroom, then a group number, then a contemporary dance and THEN another solo. All within two days. I bet if you did that you could burn off at least as many calories as you’d need to eat guilt-free one of those frozen pizza-and-cookie-dough combos.

The episode began promisingly with a solo by ballroom dancer Iveta Lukosiute, whose face should be familiar to anyone who’s been watching the show for several seasons. It was her third time in Vegas and she performed her routine in a suggestive cop uniform to “When You’re Good to Mama.” It was a little silly but I thought it was a good idea: Solo ballroom dancers don’t tend to stand out as much as the other dancers, so it was a fun way for her to grab the judges’ attention. Iveta ended up making it through all the callbacks in the episode.

Bubbly blond Chyna Smith (who I have decided may be that bubbly blond who’s much more than just the bubbly blond, in the Chelsie Hightower vein) had a hard time with hip-hop and took a mulligan on her first run-through of the routine. Fortunately, the judges were kind enough to give her another shot on Tabitha and Napoleon’s dance and she nailed it the second time (along with Iveta, who also needed another chance.) Hip-hop was difficult for a lot of dancers, and in that round we said goodbye to the show’s lone Irish step dancer (thus removing the only vestiges of anything resembling tap this season) and the whirly-armed Princess Lockeroo.

Two other dancers that the episode focused on were Sasha and Natalia Mallory, two ebullient and funky sisters who performed a duet, which can sometimes be risky when it’s time for everyone else’s solo, but their competitive sister act was reminiscent of a Mia Michaels routine. Spiky-haired Sasha seemed to sail through all the rounds, but Natalia, who is a little bit thicker than the typical “SYTYCD” female dancer, had a tough time in ballroom. Initially she was paired with a petite male partner and there was a certain amount of hesitation when it came to the lifts during their jive. She was given a second shot with the hunky Brice “Professor Lock” Johnson and nailed the performance (I think her confident smile had as much to do with her success as her moves). Then, when it came to the group dances (which were much less full of drama than this round usually is), she felt unwell and was tended to by the medic before coming back for a successful routine. Then, during the contemporary round, she went to the hospital and returned only to announce that she might have diabetes (No big deal!). She was given a free pass through the contemporary round and after a heartfelt speech about why she should make it into the Top 20, she made it safely (for now) through Vegas. I was glad: I adored both sisters and hope at least one of them makes it into the Top 20 (I have a feeling Sasha will make it but not Natalia.)


The episode featured many other dancers as well (I was glad, for instance, to see Virgil Gadson do well) but I only have room for so many favorites in my heart. Who did you love in this episode? Who were you sad to see go? (Answer: Amber Williams.) And are you sad that this season we’ll be spared the “Will a tap dancer finally win ‘So You Think You Can Dance’?” rigmarole? (Answer: No.)

-- Claire Zulkey
Follow me @Zulkey