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So You Think You Can Dance S11: E9 - Veterans Travis Wall and Mandy Moore shine

The top 16 contestants perform a group dance routine to "Take Me To The River" choreographed by Mandy Moore on SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE on FOX with a special live performance of "Lie A Little Better" by Lucy Hale.
The top 16 contestants perform a group dance routine to "Take Me To The River" choreographed by Mandy Moore on SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE on FOX with a special live performance of "Lie A Little Better" by Lucy Hale.
Adam Rose/FOX

Opening So You Think You Can Dance with the remaining top 16 dancers performing a haunting Mandy Moore Contemporary routine to the Annie Lennox version of "Take Me to the River". Cat Deeley, wearing a stunning silver turtleneck dress, introduced the judges panel with Misty Copeland of American Ballet Theater returning as guest judge again. Can she be considered a guest judge anymore if she shows up three weeks in a row? Hey Anna Kendrick, are you busy next week?

Emily James, Serge Onik, Carly Blaney, Jacque LeWarne, Casey Askew, Brooklyn Fullmer, Teddy Coffey, Tanisha Belnap, Rudy Abreu, Jessica Richens, Valerie Rockey, Ricky Ubeda, Bridget Whitman, Marcquet Hill, Zack Everhart, Emilio Dosal
Adam Rose/FOX

Anyway, they stuck with the same format two weeks in a row announcing who was in the bottom six at the top of the show: Bridget Whitman, Marcquet Hill, Brooklyn Fullmer, Serge Onik, Tanisha Belnap, and Zack Everhart. Again, stick with this format. It works.

Valerie Rockey and Ricky Ubeda dance Bollywood to choreography by Nakul Dev Mahajan to "Dilliwaali Girlfriend" from Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani Soundtrak

This was one of Nakul Dev Mahajan's best choreography showcasing Valerie as a real contender this season and unfortunately also revealing Ricky's weakness. Valerie really nailed her kicks and hand movement while staying in character, while Ricky seemed to struggle with his leg locks, usually his strongest areas, and showing no real connection with is partner. Overall though this was a terrific performance full of the verve expected of a quality Bollywood routine.

Bridget Whitman and Emilio Dosal dance Contemporary to choreography by Travis Wall to "The Leaving Song" by Chris Garneau

Just in case you haven't heard this before from this column, Travis Wall is a God. Wow! Finally we get to see Bridget Whitman really stand out and blow the curtains back. She was so into this character, put so much faith into her partner to be there for her and pushed ever moment as far as her body would allow, a new Kleenex box was opened. We could have done without another Emilio trick thrown in and just let him be known as a strong crutch in this piece, but it cannot be undone. Bridget was breathtaking and all-hail Travis Wall.

Tanisha Belnap and Rudy Abreu dance Hip-Hop to choreography by Dave Scott to "Good Kisser" by Usher

This was an incredibly sexy sultry routine that put Tanisha in the spotlight, but someone needs to remind Dave Scott that he is a Hip-Hop choreographer because this was Jazz. Sorry, but there was nothing Hip-Hop about this routine whatsoever. Hats off to the costume department. Zowie!

Jessica Richens and Marcquet Hill dance Foxtrot to choreography by Dmitry Chaplin to "I Put a Spell on You" by Nina Simone

The judges really explained the reaction to this routine very well. The choreography was very strange, Jessica looked very classic and beautiful and Marcquet fell short of what everyone expected from a Ballroom trained dancer. Pretty, but pretty boring.

Carly Blaney and Serge Onik dance Contemporary to choreography by Mandy Moore to "Foolish Games" by Jewel

Damn you Mandy Moore, you get me every time - and you got me twice tonight. It was impossible to breath at the beginning and very ending of this routine. Even though Serge is still struggling to get grounded and still has to take extra steps to get his footing, he manages to keep up with some really demanding choreography and a partner that pushes his boundaries while giving him her complete trust. Carly reminds me so much of Lindsay Arnold (S9), now in her second season on Dancing with the Stars, because she just dives into every routine and character with reckless abandon simply for the love of dance.

Emily James and Teddy Coffey dance Salsa to choreography by Oksana Omytrenko and Jonathan Platero to "Bruk It Down (Soca Remix)" by Mr. Vegas, feat. Alison Hinds

Oh my. There hasn't been a performance this bad in recent years and it was almost a complete disaster when Emily slipped in the very beginning of the routine, but thankfully she was able to save it and they made it through it. Oksana Omytrenko looks fantastic!

Jacque LeWarne and Zack Everhart dance Jazz to choreography by Sonya Tayeh to "Back to Black" by Beyonce, ft Andre 3000

This routine really showed the literal separation in growth between Jacque and Zack, because she has really grown as a dancer and assumed this character Sonya created for her and just poured her sensual self onto her partner, while he acted aloof and distance while concentrating on getting his steps right. The one thing about Sonya Tayah's choreography, get it right and it can me magical, get it wrong and it really doesn't make sense. This looked like the story of a hooker trying to pick up a gay man, which surely was not the intention.

Brooklyn Fullmer and Casey Askew dance Hip-Hop to choreography by Willdabeast Adams to "Hustle Hard" by Ace Hood, ft Rick Ross and Lil Wayne

This was just not a good night for Hip-Hop. First of all, don't choose a 10 year old song that has half of the words muted for television because it just sounds ridiculous. Second, what happened to the costume department? Sweat shorts, knee pads and bullet proof vests - really? C'mon, either pretend to care or cut the routine from the show. At least the dancers tried their absolute best while no one else seemed to give a shit.

There must have been some budget cuts this year, because it is clear in every episode that only about 50% of the routines get the staff's full attention and they go dumpster diving for the rest. Thank goodness the producers had a spectacular closing planned for the show.

Sonyah Tayeh was able to get complete redemption when she choreographed a piece to embrace her wicked strangeness and that of her favorite singer Bjork with half of the remaining dancers to "So Broken".

Travis Wall worked with the other half of the dancers to "Love Runs Out" by One Republic for a dark androgenic routine that had Nigel and Mary both talking about winning an Emmy for next year already.

Next the beautiful and incredible talented Lucy Hale performed "Lie a Little Better" from the album Road Between

Nigel announced that would go with America's vote again this week, choosing Marcquet Hill and Brooklyn Fullmer as the two dancers to leave this week. It's a shame they didn't have an opportunity to fight harder for their spot this week, but although these are both very strong dancers, they don't yet possess what it takes to win this competition. Nigel did also point out that next week there will be FOUR dancers voted off. Ouch!

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