The opening number was a burlesque costume clad top eight in a Mia Michaels number to “Move to the Ocean” by Brick and Mortar. The choreography was really quite interesting with some hint of “pop and lock” among the more contemporary movement.
Jenna Elfman-who is actually a classically trained dancer-sat at the judges’ table with Mary and Nigel. This evening the All Star dancers would not only be performing with the top eight, they had also choreographed the pieces. The episode is also worth watching for the sweet tributes to each competitor’s inspiration in life and dance. Just make sure you have some tissues handy!
And right away it was down to the unpleasant business of the evening. Fik-Shun, Jenna, Tucker and Haley were announced to be in the bottom of the group. Nigel did stress that this was the final week where the judges have any say in who stays and who goes. Given this fact, it was determined that all four would dance solos.
Fik-Shun danced to “If You Crump Stand Up by edit and Haley danced to “Skin & Bones by David J Roch. Both used the same motif of a grand plie’ in second position. “Greyhound by Swedish House Mafia was Jenna’s song of choice as she twirled her skirt around the stage. Tucker danced to “Beautiful Child” by Rufus Wainwright.
Chelsie Hightower returned to the SYTYCD stage with a 1950’s style jive for her and Aaron to “Great Balls of Fire” by Million Dollar Quartet. The routine was fun with a lot of tricks and Aaron’s incomparable stage presence but somehow they missed a consistent connection. It was also hard to tell if Aaron’s long limbs were a detriment in the small, quick steps required in a jive or the connecting steps in the choreography was to blame. Mary said the dance was fun but gave Aaron some critiques including raised shoulders at certain points. Jenna told Aaron “when it’s on, you bring it” and encouraged him to continue to grow as a dancer. Nigel was surprised that Jive did not suit Aaron so well as one might have thought-being that he is a tapper-but said Aaron has what it takes to be a finalist.
Fik-Shun and All Star Allison danced a contemporary piece about the clandestine meeting of a multi-racial couple to “Skinny Love” by Birdy. Fik-Shun is an amazing partner and this choreography really highlighted that serious, strong character he is able to embody. There was even a brilliant moment of dance in unison where you could barely tell who the trained contemporary dancer was and who was an animator. Jenna said to Fik-Shun that he is “pure life force” and “can do no wrong.” Nigel called Fik-shun “tremendous” and even if he was not trained as much as everyone else, “there is a quality” with regard to his dancing “that cannot be ignored.” Mary said the piece could not have been so wonderful were it not for Fik-Shun stepping up to the level of a strong partner.
“Clarity” by ZEDD feat. FOXES was the soundtrack for a “Romeo and Juliet” themed jazz dance for Tucker choreographed by All Star Courtney. “Beautifully effortless” is the best description of this dance. Tucker attacked everything from the multiple pirouettes into an a la seconde to the sweeping lifts around his shoulders like a stroll in the park. Nigel praised Tucker for coming back from the infection stronger than ever. He also had some beautiful words for Courtney who had recently faced some hardships of her own including a diagnosis with MS and losing sight in one eye. Mary was moved by a standing ovation for Courtney and said she just “loves” them. Jenna told Tucker he is “so special” with the ability to “move” her.
Hip-Hop dancer Comfort created a graffiti artist-themed dance for Paul and herself to “Dum Dum” by Tadashi feat. Lecrae. This choreography was fantastic and you have to admit that Paul really stepped out of his ballroom roots to “get down” like the amazing Comfort. Mary said Paul is very versatile and he’s “going full steam ahead!” Jenna was impressed and inspired of his ability to take on so many different techniques. Nigel said the dance was “great fun” and said Paul put in a great amount of effort.
An open-shirted (was there any doubt?) Dmitry Chaplin choreographed a Rumba with Haley to “Meant” by Elizaveta. The premise of the dance was Haley discovering that her fiancé was cheating and she was wrestling with breaking off the relationship. It was a little like a scene from the film Dirty Dancing. A nice moment was the finish where Haley wrests off her ring and chucks it at him. Jenna loved the choreography and Dmitry in general (definite Dmitry “crush alert” here) and said Haley can do anything but encouraged her to push herself to “letting go” a little more. Nigel said Haley has not made a wrong step all season. Mary said Haley “got it right” and gave Dmitry “the perfect canvas.”
“I Am the Best” by 2NE1 was Mark’s track for his jazz piece with Jenna. “Holy cow!” is the best description of this dance. It is highly recommended that you watch this one (perhaps twice) if you do not watch any other pieces from the evening. Mark is obviously nuts but in the best sense of a choreographer using motifs from Bollywood, runway walks, strange Asian music videos (which is where the costumes are likely from) and heaven only knows what else. And Jenna was completely up to the challenge. She killed this one! Nigel said the piece was “fantastic” and said Mark should choreograph for Lady Gaga. Mary loved “the crazy.” Jenna (the actress) said that Jenna (the dancer) is a “perfect technician” and thanked Mark for his work.
Twitch and Jasmine were two mild mannered super heroes (hip-hop) battling each other to say the day first to “The Power” by District 78 feat. Cheesa. It seemed a little slow warming up for Jasmine but soon she was holding her own. Mary said Jasmine was “firing on all cylinders.” Jenna loved Twitch’s sense of humor and said Jasmine “owned it.” Nigel said it was a great attempt to “out-twitch Twitch.”
Travis Wall danced his contemporary piece with Amy to “Wicked Game” by James Vincent McMorrow. If you only watch two pieces from tonight’s show, make this one of them! (You can watch it here.) There were so many beautiful little moments in the intricacies of the partnering that really highlighted Amy’s quality of movement. The multiple pirouettes into a developpe', the moment of Amy throwing herself from the floor into Travis’ arms and a gorgeous and very tricky fish dive are now all burned into the memory as some spectacular choreography and technique. Jenna called the choreography “perfection” and Amy “an angel.” Nigel said Amy is “the most beautiful dancer” and that Travis is something spectacular with his creations for the stage. Mary lauded Amy’s “sophistication” and “class.”
Tucker and Jenna were determined to be the ones “going home” (albeit temporarily as the finale is nearly here). Fortunately, we will be seeing them on tour!
Albuquerque viewers can catch SYTYCD Tuesdays at 7 p.m. (MST) on Fox Channel 2. Reruns are also available at hulu.com.
Question of the week: If you had your choice, which SYTYCD cast member (past or present) would you want to have as a partner?