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New Show Recap: So You Think You Can Dance, “Top 20 Perform”

In this week’s episode of our beloved SYTYCD, lots of dancers danced and Tyce choreographed two routines I didn’t hate. It’s a jazz hands miracle.

First, an apology for misspelling both Cat Deeley’s and Sonya Tayeh’s names in the previous installments of this column.

We open with a whole group number, choreographed by Chris Scott. It’s a contemporary number which appears to be making a statement about the corporate world. It’s a neat routine, and nearly every dancer has a chance to shine in it. It’s not my favorite group performance of all time, but I enjoyed it.

Cat vamps with the judges, including regular guest judge Kenny Ortega. Nigel explains how this season will work differently, due to the show only appearing one night per week instead of the performance AND results shows of previous seasons. Next week, after America voted on Wednesday night, four dancers will be eliminated out of the six with the lowest votes. I’m not sure how it’s going to work in subsequent weeks, but I’m assuming each show will start with an elimination. SYTYCD has a habit of throwing stuff at the wall to see what sticks, which is something I’ve always admired about the show. They aren’t afraid to take risks, and they aren’t afraid to kill what isn’t working.

To the dances!

Everyone has been paired up, and I’m pretty impressed with how they coupled the dancers. There does not appear to be a pre-arranged “super couple” this season, ala Melanie and Marko last year, so we should see a lot of growth across the board. During this week’s show, each dancer got a whopping 9 seconds to talk about themselves. That goes about as well as you’d expect.

Whitney (ballroom) and Chehon (classical)

These two dance a really hot samba choreographed by Louis Van Amstel. This is already in Whitney’s wheelhouse, but it’s a challenge for Chehon. They both end up doing very well, although at times it seems like Whitney is carrying him a bit. Admittedly, she’s really tearing shit up, so it’d be hard for almost any of the male dancers to keep up with her. Side note: I have samba walked everywhere for the past day. The judges all like it, a lot, and Mary puts them on the train.

Tiffany (jazz) and George (contemporary)

Tiffany and George dance a contemporary routine about soul mates choreographed by Sonya Tayeh. I really hope Sonya doesn’t do a lot of lovey-lovey routines, because she’s better than that. Wait, that sounds mean. It’s a lovely routine, I’m just used to Sonya exploring other issues than boy-meets-girl-they-dance-and-hug. The judges rave about it and call out Sonya for being in loooooooove.

Janaya (lyrical) and Brandon (stepping)

Janaya and Brandon dance a trite and boring “hip hop” routine by Nappy Tabs. The judges don’t like it, so they tell the dancers they’re both going to be in trouble. Both of these dancers would have been fine if they hadn’t been given a shitty routine. The theme is picking your girlfriend over alcoholism, and the dancers are convinced it will change lives. Do with that what you will. My issue with Nappy Tabs is that they re-use the same movements over and over, in every dance they create. In my humble and far-from-expert opinion, they haven’t grown in the many seasons we’ve watched them work.

Alexa (contemporary) and Daniel (ballet)

This is one of my favorite numbers of the night. It’s the most technically difficult of all the dances, and it’s incredibly interesting to watch. Sean Cheesman choreographed the number and made his dancers do all manner of complex moves. Both Alexa and Daniel keep up, to their credit. I’m not sure how America will respond. The voters tend to stay way inside the box when it comes time to pick a favorite.

Amber (contemporary) and Nick (ballroom)

Amber and Nick draw a Viennese waltz, choreographed by Jason Gilkison. Nick is nervous because he drew his style, but they both nail it. It’s lovely and soft and set to a cover of The Moody Blues’ “Nights in White Satin” I’ve never heard and now kind of want in my collection. Viennese waltzes can be a bit plain to watch, but I think this number was just lively enough to keep things interesting. I couldn’t take my eyes off of Amber the whole time.

Amelia (contemporary) and Will (contemporary)

Readers, I groaned when I saw they were dancing in leopard print catsuits to a Tyce routine. I groaned hard. Then I nearly busted a vein in my head when I heard the first few notes of “Lovecats,” one of my favorite songs of all time. How dare vanilla pudding choreographer Tyce do this to one of my favorite songs!?! But then the routine started in earnest, and I freaking loved it. Amelia might be winning me over, too, because she was magnetic in this. I’m still defaulting to side-eye with Tyce, but this was pretty good. Scratch that, it was reeeeally good. I feel dirty.

Janelle (belly dancing) and Dareian (contemporary)

Sean Cheesman is up again, this time with African jazz. I was a little apprehensive at first, but this was another YouTube-worthy routine. Dareian, especially, was very, very, very good. He’s got the right blend of strength and motion to really do justice to the style. Janelle wasn’t quite as good as Dareian, but she held her own. Objectification warning: I really rather enjoy Dareian’s ass.

Eliana (classical) and Cyrus (animation) 

Even after liking Tyce’s earlier number, I was really apprehensive when I heard he was choreographing a routine for my two favorite dancers. Readers, he went two for two! It was really good! Broadway numbers are almost never my favorites, but this was a lot of fun. Cyrus completely owned it, and I may have cheered out loud just a little. Eliana lit up the stage, like she does. I am also incredibly envious of her thighs.

Audrey (jazz) and Matt (contemporary) 

Audrey and Matt dance a contemporary routine by Travis Wall. It’s a number based on the movie Titanic. (I am keeping my snark to myself.) I normally really like Travis, and this is a really pretty routine to watch, but Titanic? The judges love it, the audience is standing, I’m positive America will eat this up. I, however, am lukewarm.

Lindsay (ballroom) and Cole (martial arts dancing) 

Jason Gilkison choreographed a paso doble for this pair, and it is fantastic. I’ve never seen a paso doble as great as this one, even by my beloved Pasha. Cole is made of dynamite, he completely owned the entire auditorium. Lindsay was fantastic as well, while wearing the best boots I’ve ever seen, but this moment belongs to Cole. He’s going to be one to watch.

So that’s it for this week, readers. What did you think of the first performance show? Who do you think will be going home next week?

 

 

 

By [E] Selena MacIntosh*

Selena MacIntosh is the owner and editor of Persephone Magazine. She also fixes it when it breaks. She is fueled by Diet Coke, coffee with a lot of cream in it, and cat hair.

4 replies on “New Show Recap: So You Think You Can Dance, “Top 20 Perform””

Amber looked so pretty in her dress, but I’m just not big on vienese waltzes.

Looooved the paso doble and the African jazz. And I was getting Mad Men realness from that opening group routine. Me likey.

And why did SYTYCD get rid of their actual hip-hop choreographers. The only dance I can remember liking by Nappy Tabs was ‘No Air’ I think. That one was pretty. Or was it the one they choreographed last season that had everyone crying?

I have plenty of shade for Tabitha and Napoleon. (That nickname? I refuse.) However, Tabitha is Teh CUTENESS with her belly.

As far as hip-hop choreo goes, they need to chuck these two and go for actual hip-hop choreographers. One of their two routines wasn’t even hip-hop at all. Or as much Lindy Hop as it was hip-hop. I get the impression that their more lyrical interpretation of hip-hop has been more palatable for the old people watching.

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