When the show starts, Cat is speaking but I can't hear nothin'. I try to adjust my TV, but it's not me it's them. My DVR always freaks out right at the beginning of SYTYCD making me miss the first few seconds of the group dance before it settles down, but this was on a new level of dysfunction. They had sound issues two weeks ago as well. C'mon Emmy nominated, Show. Get it together.
Opening number choreographed by Stacey Tookey and Peter Chu. Music: “New World” by The Irrepressibles.
We get lots of Jasmine Harper special moments as she's lifted into the air by the boys. Very red costumes get ripped off in favor of beige costumes. Fik-shun stands out here as well. It's a fun opening number. Maybe I expected a little more after two weeks away. I do love the group shot posted above though!
This week's judges: Nigel, Mary and Carly Rae Jepsen. Guys, she's a total waste of space tonight. I actually don't mind the third judge being a non-dance celebrity, because I feel like if they are fans of the show they can still talk about performance and connection and storytelling. But Carly Rae has nothing to add all night. Big swing-and-a-miss having her here. Where the hell is Debbie Allen this season??
Nigel and Cat take a moment to delight in the show's 7 Emmy nominations - One for the show, one for Cat as host (seriously well-deserved), 4 choreography noms - Travis Wall, Mandy Moore, Tabitha and Napoleon, and Stacey Tookey and also I believe lighting design. (All-Star Alison Holker got a choreography nom for her work on Dancing With the Stars which is also totally rad.)
Forging ahead, we have the reveal of the Bottom 6. Who even remembers what happened 2 weeks ago except for Jasmine being sent packing as a result of #BandageGate? Anyway, the bottom 6 are: Alan, BluPrint, Curtis, Jenna, Mackenzie, Mariah. Really America? You love Alexis THAT MUCH? Nigel explains that he knows Dance For Your Life solos aren't as dramatic at the beginning of the show as he'd want them to be, but they're still a useful reminder of how good the dancers are in their home styles, and maybe someday someone WILL try to kill themselves during the solo and all of Nigel's wishes will have come true. Jenna is immediately saved (and seriously voting public, what do you feel she hasn't been giving you??). No guys are sent to safety, so we get five solos. I thought they all did well here, especially Mariah, Mackenzie and Alan. So for the girls it might just come down to who really nails their routine this week. I think it's a close call. For the guys, I think it's between Curtis and BluPrint. Time to get to the dances!
Alexis and Nico - Jive choreographed by Tony Meredith and Melanie LaPatin. Music: “Mayhem” by Imelda May.
I feel like they are trying to make the jive too complicated right now. I wish there were less lifts so the dancers could just focus on nailing the footwork. I can see the concern in their faces leading up to these crazy lifts. There's an awkward bit where Alexis wraps her arms around Nico's waist and he steps over her. I don't know, the routine is fine. I think I'm just eager to scrutinize Alexis since she's safe again tonight. But there are some wonky connections on Nico's part. He seems tentative in his positioning. Nigel wasn't particularly impressed saying they lost momentum halfway through and tells them their early placement in the order is going to make this really forgettable to voters. Mary is kinder, telling them they did a good job, especially on a very difficult lift that they executed well. CRJ is still sitting at the table with them and that's all there is to say about her.
Jenna and Tucker - Contemporary by Travis Wall. Music: “Hangin’ By a Thread” by Jann Arden.
These two finally got contempo! AND Travis doing the choreo. The show decided to throw them a bone. The concept is that Jenna is a puppet who draws strength from Tucker. In performance (as opposed to rehearsal) Jenna is hooked up to four elastic straps, two on each arm that stretch into the rafters. It's a little like when Phillip gets turned into a human marionette in Nightmare on Elm Street 3, except not horrifyingly gross and scary. Throughout the number Tucker starts undoing the straps. In the end she needs a couple unhooks her last strap, which is a nice touch. The routine gets a standing ovation. Mary is emotional and thinks these two FINALLY had a moment on the show. Woohoo!
BluPrint and Mariah - Jazz by Brian Friedman. Music: “Fall Into the Sky” by Zedd & Lucky Date feat. Ellie Goulding.
This concept is about a Greek goddess falling for a mortal man. It's sharp and fast and Mariah is locked into it. This is when she's dancing for her life. BluPrint is just not elevating the routine to something really special. I'm still losing his face. He almost drops Mariah on the last lift and she is forced to shift her weight and brace herself to save it. Oof. Not the image you want to end with considering the rest of it was really solid if not transcendent. Nigel's like "well, that was pretty good for the more part. Let's see what Curtis and Mackenzie do before we decide who's leaving." Mary basically echoes that sentiment. Unfortunately they didn't really do a lot here to secure their safety later tonight.
Alan and Malece - Hip hop with Dave Scott. Music: “Bassline” by Chris Brown.
Hip hop aliens! In rehearsal it's made clear that these two have stylistic differences when it comes to hip hop. In performance, Alan just seems a little off. They put him in horrible drop crotch pants. Alan's a strong dancer, but he's too smooth and dancer-ish when it calls for some harder-hitting moves. Malece is much more in tune with what Dave Scott is going for here. At the end, Cat calls her a "badass tinkerbell." Nigel talk to Alan about putting on the right character for each style of dance. I feel like Nigel liked his solo best tonight, but wasn't wow'ed by the routine. Everyone agrees the pants are awful, but not something that's Alan's fault. Everyone loves Malece. Like Maria and Bluprint before him, I don't think he did enough here to definitely secure himself against getting cut. Hmm. Interesting.
Curtis and Hayley - Contemporary by Dee Caspary. Music: “Don’t Let Go Yet” by David J. Roch.
There's a big ladder they are climbing. But they have no ladder in rehearsal. So I really don't know how they actually rehearsed. Seriously, how do you mark something like hanging off a ladder 10 feet in the air? The routine is very pretty. They don't seem particularly timid about the actual ladder so I guess they got enough practice on it at some point. I don't know if they two really bring out each other's best qualities as dancers. Mary thought it was very creative and interesting and liked the transitions, but then she unloads on Curtis about pulling down his shoulders, a note she's given him before. Cat tries to get Curtis some bonus points by mentioning how he took Hayley out for sushi to work on their connection - and picked up the bill. Curtis laughs and laughs in a nervous response. Nigel kills the mood by telling Curtis the whole routine was ruined by his shoulders AND he didn't like his tap solo earlier. So now all the guys in danger sorta underperformed for the judges tonight. I really don't know who they'll cut at this point!
Amy and Fik-shun - Jazz by Tyce Diorio. Music: “Under thé Bridge (Sous le pint)” from The Triplets of Belleville soundtrack.
Okay, so let's get this over with. When they announced it was Hobo Jazz, I was like "Okay. Done before. But it's not like we haven't seen 80 routines about a couple breaking up, or a couple flirting or animals attacking each other, so we can do two routines that are hobo jazz. But then the music is triplets of Belleville. And this is um... a rip off. Wade Robson did a hobo jazz routines to the same soundtrack in season three that's considered among the classic routines on the show. And that routine (as a routine) was better than this. See it here:
Now I'm a little torn, because Fik-shun and Amy KILL Tyce's routine. As a performance, it's my favorite of the night. I don't mind choreographers stealing from their previous work, or being inspired by the work of others, but something about using the same soundtrack to the same style of music is just too much for me. The actual choreography isn't stolen, but it just feels icky. Pick different music! Distance yourself just a LITTLE BIT. Obviously long-time fans of the show are going to notice. Blergh. I think it's Tyce's best routine, but I don't think it's as original or creative as the judges claim it is giving everything I've said above. I can't fault the dancers, who were fantastic, but it'd be nice if the show had a better memory of some of its signature routines.
Mackenzie and Paul - Hip hop by Dave Scott. Music: “Pretty Lil’ Heart” by Robin Thicke feat. Lil’ Wayne.
Mackenzie is a 1930s model and Paul is her photographer. It's all smooth sexiness at the beginning and Paul and Mackenzie are all over it. Then the beat kicks in and it gets harder hitting and it's still totally in the pocket. The partnership here is great. Mackenzie totally secured her place in the competition for next week. Nigel notes that the dance and costumes are really 20's and not 30's but he absolutely loved it and put them on his own Hot Tamale Train. Mary gives us the cute expression "soul in the bowl" referencing Paul's ability to successfully hip grind. I really thought this was a stand out performance for them.
Aaron and Jasmine - quickstep by Tony Meredith and Melanie LaPatin. Music: “Pencil Full of Lead” by Paolo Nutini.
The dreaded Quickstep! The style has a bad reputation on this show, but I'm not worried for these two because at this point I believe they can sell us anything. They are such an amazing pair of dancers together. It's like the opposite of Curtis and Hayley - Aaron and Jasmine bring out the absolute best qualities in each others as dancers. I can't believe Jasmine's back story was once just that she was Cyrus's ex. She's so phenomenal. That back story undersold her. Cat tries to get Mary to say that we've broken the Quickstep Curse, but Mary isn't paying attention to what Cat is trying to serve up to her. Mary loved how they went for it, there were some technical quibbles, but the overall performance was stellar. Nigel acknowledges they chiefly put them together for height reasons and thank the lord they did because I swear none of the other guys could've shown off Jasmine and her spectacular leg work like Aaron does.
Now it's time to cut some folks from the show. Mariah knows Mackenzie outdanced her tonight, but the guys have no sure things. Nigel loved Alan's solo but didn't care for his partner routine. Curtis is told the choreographers keep having to give him the same note about his shoulders. BluPrint's got the ongoing problem of showing off his personality in his dance. Ultimately, BluPrint is going home.That makes sense. And for the girls, Nigel just comes out and says they're not going to cut Mackenzie after her fantastic solo and couple routine, and sadly it's time for Mariah to go. I'm bummed about that, because I think she was worthy of Top 10, but there was no other choice to be made here. So we say goodbye to Blu and Mariah. The couples remain the same for next week. We're getting close to the point where we can see a top half and bottom half forming in the voting public. It will be interesting to see who's in the bottom next week as all the routines this week were pretty strong. I assume we'll see Curtis and Aaron in the bottom again, but who will the third guy be? And could it really be Mackenzie and Jenna in the bottom again when their work this week was so strong? So many questions to be answered!
Here's a rundown of this week's routines in order of my personal preference:
Amy and Fik-shun's Jazz
Mackenzie and Paul's Hip Hop
Jenna and Tucker's Contempo
Aaron and Jasmine's Quickstep
Curtis and Hayley's Contempo
Alexis and Nico's Jive
Malece and Paul's Hip hop
No All-Star break this week, so we'll be back on Tuesday! Until then, Dance Fans! I hope you enjoyed National Dance Day!