There was bad news to start with the announcement of yet another injury. This time Curtis had injured his shoulder and would not be performing this week. However, spirits were lifted once more with the introduction of guest judge Anna Kendrick. Anna was one of the most engaging guest judges of the season.
Jasmine, Alan, Alexis, Curtis, Makenize, and Nico were announced to be in the bottom of the audience votes. None of the guys were asked to dance solos. Makenzie was saved by the judges but Alexis and Jasmine were asked to do solos. Alexis tapped to “Stand By Me” by Ben E. King in a surprisingly serene performance. Jasmine danced to “Endangered Species” by Dianne Reeves with all her extensions in full use.
Jenna and Tucker took to the stage in a leather-clad Luther Brown hip hop routine to “Slight Work” by Wale feat. Big Sean. These two are not really gritty enough to pull this off and you can tell they are trained, technical dancers of another genre. The last thirty seconds of the piece-when they danced on the speakers-were the most convincing and where Tucker and Jenna looked the most comfortable. Luther did give them some theatrical moments that helped overall. It does beg to wonder if a harder beat/different track might have helped them feel the music a little more. Nigel felt it was “unmemorable” and that they were “too upright.” Mary loved that Tucker attacked what he was given and that Jenna was good and cocky. Anna loved their personalities shining through and called them “so loveable.”
A Sonya Tayeh contemporary piece about a relationship falling apart was next for Alexis and Nico. The track was “Ashes” by the Begsons as Alexis played a young woman who could not accept that their relationship was ending. There were a few lovely moments including when Alexis jumped onto Nico’s back and then another when she ran and slid on the floor. The two really seemed to feel the emotion necessary to make the dance mean something. The judges were in agreement that Alexis and Nico danced well. Anna said she almost could not breathe at some points and Nigel commended Sonya for bringing out that level of emotion from her dancers.
Hayley and Curtis were shown rehearsing with Leonardo and Miriam for a Tango. A very lucky Hayley had Leonardo himself as her “consolation partner." (Which made your Examiner very jealous) “Este Es El Rey” by Juan D’Arienzo was the soundtrack to this gripping dance which is the must-see of the evening. Leonardo really served to elevate Hayley’s overall performance. Her footwork was incredibly precise. Anna called the dance “sexy and cool” and commented that she felt if she could have Hayley’s body for a day she could do anything including possibly solve world hunger. Nigel said it was “stunning” but wanted to know why men in Tango always look angry while dancing with beautiful women. Mary called the performance “breathtaking” and “impressive” while really commending Haley on overcoming her learning curve in the Tango.
Makenzie and a shirtless Paul danced an upbeat Sonya Tayeh piece to “You’ll Find A Way” by Santigold. The accents and lifts in the choreography were interesting and a crowd-pleaser. Nigel said they were both “brilliant” and he voiced his surprise at seeing Makenzie in the bottom three girls that evening. Mary commended Paul for his “depth” and “intensity.” Anna called Paul an “MVP” and Makenzie “powerful.”
Choreographer Justin Giles tapped into Shel Silverstein’s The Giving Tree for his choreography to “The District Sleeps Alone Tonight” by Birdy performed by Aaron and Jasmine. The choreography itself was really clever as the pair manipulated each other and an apple as their prop. Any seasoned dancer would have to give them kudos for holding onto the apple for the entire dance. Mary was impressed at their dexterity with the prop which she felt Jasmine really made into a part of her person. She also enjoyed Aaron’s tenderness. Anna felt the performance really tapped into the dancers’ emotions and wants a piggy back ride from Aaron after the show. (Don’t we all?) Nigel said he felt their unconditional love-the theme of The Giving Tree-as a couple.
Amy joined Fik-Shun in his element with Chris Scott’s “SYTYCD Café” choreography to Marvin Gaye’s “Let’s Get It On.” Fik-Shun was a café patron with a crush on his waitress. The dance was fun and cute with some amazingly clever use of the props. Amy took a bit of a spill but in professional form bounced right back as though nothing had happened. It was great to see Fik-Shun look like he was genuinely having a good time. Anna called Amy her favorite dancer and favorite human being. Nigel said the performance was tremendous and felt that these two are one of the legendary couples for the annals of SYTYCD history. Mary called the dance “spectacular” and was sorry to see it end.
SYTYCD alum Jonathan Platero created a high energy “roller coaster” salsa routine for Malece and Alan to “Para Los Rumberos” by Tito Puente. The choreography was almost exhausting to watch with the energy level it required. Many of the lifts and tricks were great including a partnering flip into a split for Malece. Alan was a strong, stable partner for Malece who was in no danger of landing on her head again like Vegas week. She does, however, look like she needs Nigel said Alan was a good partner and told them both “well done.” Mary called the routine “insane” chastised Jonathan for making it so complex. Anna felt inspired to take lessons and suggested that the "cute" couple should procreate. (And you thought this was a family show!)
Spencer Liff’s “Pool Hall Broadway” piece to “Come Together” by Joe Cocker was an energetic, athletic dance for Alan, Hayley, Malece, Alexis, Nico and Jenna. As a treat, we saw Spencer (he is phenomenal) join the group in Curtis’ place which set the bar really high for the other dancers. Anna said “it’s boring how good you guys are.” Nigel said it was hard to watch with Spencer in their midst. Mary said the girls “killed it.”
Choreographer Bonnie Story created an anti-bullying dance to “Tears Of An Angel” by Ryandan for Aaron, Amy, Fik-Shun, Jasmine, Paul, Makenzie and Tucker. For this piece the enormity of the topic eclipsed any technique or lack thereof in your Examiner’s humble opinion. Mary and Nigel both were impressed with the platform for social consciousness and called out Fik-Shun to concentrate more on building his technique. Anna said the piece was “fantastic.”
In the end the two tappers Alexis and Curtis were sent home while Nico, Alan and Jasmine were deemed safe.
Albuquerque viewers can catch SYTYCD Tuesdays at 7 p.m. Mountain Time.
What did you think of this week’s show? Which routine was your favorite?