In true So You Think You Can Dance style and tradition, the show led off with an incredible group number featuring the top 18 contestants performing on a huge chess board, dressed in renaissance costume, to a hip-hop routine choreographed by Academy of Villains director/founder Christopher "Pharside" Jennings and director/choreographer Krystal "Phoenix" Meraz. Does anyone else replay these numbers repeated on their dvr to search out their favorite dancer(s) because it is so hard to tell one from another? Love that aspect of it. There was no mistaking Jessica Richens as the reigning queen and last one standing at the end of this spectacular routine. We might just have to see that one again in the finale.
Gorgeous ballerina Misty Copeland of the American Ballet Theater joined executive producer Nigel Lythgoe and ballroom expert Mary Murphy this week on the the judges panel. Not sure why she is on two weeks in a row when surely there are a ton of celebrities that would die to be on this show, but we can deal with another week of Misty heavily critiquing the female dancers.
Host Cat Deeley jumped right into announcing the six dancers at risk, with two dancers leaving at the end of the show: Bridget Whitman, Emilio Dosal, Emily James, Stanley Glover, Jourdan Epstein, Teddy Coffey. Although it is an early shock and forces the dancers to perform with added pressure, this is actually a really good format for the show, which has always struggled in finding a good balance here and has constantly changed how this news is given. However, this format reminds the dancer it is a competition and gives America the incentive to invest votes and emotion into keeping their favorite dancers on the show.
It took a few times of watching this one to catch everything, so I'm not completely confident that everyone will get this one, but really great original choreography by Keone and Mari Madrid. Both dancers were able to nail the hand movements down pretty well, but Jacque definitely had the locking movement with snap fast reflex expected in hip-hop down better than Zack, to a point where she seemed ahead of him at times. Jacque and Rudy? Really? Does anyone believe that?
Dee Caspary is such an incredible choreographer, it's really a shame that he struggled to get the dancers involved in this piece because it could have been remarkable. This may be another example of pour pairing, because Jourdan put so much into her auditions, yet it doesn't show in her couples routine and it was mentioned before the routine how Dee and Jourdan both were pushing Marcquet to stop holding back. Marcquet is a great technical dancer, but contemporary dance takes so much more than that and unfortunately he may take Jourdan down with him.
This was an original, but strange routine from Tyce Diorio strictly limiting the amount of space for the dancers to perform. Both dancers did really well with what they had to work with, especially Stanley. He really stood out, maximize every inch of that space, but the judges repeatedly pointed out Jessica's weakness of completely unnecessary melodramatic facial expressions. Yes, Tyce was your choreographer, but this was Jazz not Broadway Jessica.
The song still makes you smile and Bridget can certainly light up a room, but this routine didn't really make you feel happy. It was fun choreography, but what Jive isn't? Emilio has got to get out of his head and just enjoy dancing. You could literally see it on his face, "okay, step-kick-swing-twist-look forward-smile to the audience..." Oye! When he was facing Bridget, he looked like he hated her because he was concentrating so hard, but when he looked at the audience he faked a huge smile. Bridget on the other hand, was comfortable, energetic and truly seemed to enjoy the performance.
Tyce Deorio has such a unique perspective into Contemporary dance that pushes the limits of technique and transforms the dancers into storytellers. Emily and Teddy should both be very proud of this performance and their ability to understand the purpose of the constant stop and start movement with posing in between, in order to capture the timeline in their relationship. This could have very easily been ugly, but it was much better than expected.
Love, love, love Bonnie Story! She could help so many of these dancers with their "technique faces". Brooklyn really fell short on this performance, seeking out her partner throughout the routine for the next step instead of coming up to his level. Casey was really confident and reached some incredible height in this routine, catching eyes with his partner during their connections. Great to see Casey growing so quickly, but Brooklyn has some serious catching up to do.
Oh so happy to see Lacey Schwimmer return home after all these years as a choreographer and it was worth the wait, because her choreography made Valerie seem at ease with the Viennese Waltz. Although this is yet another strange pairing, with tiny little Ricky trying to lead tall Valerie, somehow it still worked. No it was not technically sound, but it was beautiful and flowing and worth watching every second. It was nice to see the judges give Ricky some deserved criticism for a change, because he is not a flawless dancer no matter how much they favor him.
Nigel personally controlled the American voting button on this routine. This was a fantastic routine with completely original hip-hop choreography from the incredible Luther Brown and both dancers completely committed to the characters. Even though Misty and Mary defended it, Nigel should be ashamed for sabotaging these two dancers and nearly telling America not to vote for them. Shame on you! Luther Brown rocks! Carly and Serge killed it. Young Moolah baby...
They always want to end the show on a high note and support the performance, so the judges were all very excitable. However, this was not a show-stopping performance, it was a very average Broadway routine at best. Rudy's over-excitable juvenile character does not help, with the girlish squeals and snorts show no control and is completely disrespectful to his partner. Tanisha is a class act that is dedicated to her craft that has trained with some of the best and it shows every time she is on stage.
With no further delay, deliberation or hesitation, Nigel announced they would stick with the American vote. Jourdan Epstein was the female dancer leaving this week, who probably just didn't make enough of an emotional connection with the audience quick enough and not being paired with a strong enough partner. Stanley Glover was the male dancer leaving this week, a very strong technical dancer and left too early. He can blame this on the makeup, costume, set design and lighting people, because America couldn't see him dance last week. Hopefully his modeling career will be successful and we will see him on America's Next Top Model. They got it wrong this week - the wrong two dancers went home.
There is a pattern of untalented male dancers that were given a chance this season because of their unusual character or because they have talent in an unusual style of dance, but little to no other technical training. However, the female dancers this season are all enormously talented technically trained, so it is a huge disservice to not match them with partners that are equally qualified or vice versa. It just seems an easy way to place specific dancers in a favorable light and doom others because America's vote is clearly swayed. If it isn't, you could always have the executive producer just tell them how to vote on live television, but you wouldn't do that. Would you?