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SYTYCD: The work episode

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The Top 20 dancers opened the show performing a Broadway style Jazz dance to “New York, New York” from On the Town. The performance looked so easy (which means it was absolutely not) and joyful. The choreography was created by Josh Bergasse who is currently reviving the show on Broadway. This year’s winner of So You Think You Can Dance will actually appear in the Broadway production!

Tonight’s guest judge was the fabulous Misty Copeland. If you have not seen the episode it is definitely recommended you do so simply to hear her wonderful, constructive criticism throughout the show.

The judges began the show decked out in baseball jerseys tonight as a tribute to the baseball All-Star game. Apparently Cat Deely had been asked to throw the first pitch at Dodgers’ Stadium and it was a little off plate so the producers made sure SYTYCD fans saw it during the show.

As the six dancers in jeopardy were announced, Nigel quoted a great inspirational saying from Winston Churchill: “Success is not final. Failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.” The bottom six were Brooklyn, Casey, Jourdan, Nick, Marlena and Serge.

The couples from last week were completely different tonight. Each dance was prefaced by a silly 10 seconds where they interview each other.

Tenisha and Rudy were up first. They danced a Sonya Tayeh Jazz dance to “You Need” by Bengsons. The best word to describe this dance is “angry.” Once they got warmed up this couple was a very powerful force. Rudy actually caught Tenisha in a full center split without flinching!

Valerie and Ricky were next in a Travis Wall Contemporary piece to “Oh Darling” by Gossling. Ricky is a fantastic partner. In one great moment he balances Valerie on his thighs as she bends backward toward the floor. The two were well-paired and Valerie did a wonderful job of remembering to point her toes.

Luther Brown created a Hip Hop dance for Bridget and Emilio to “Work” by Iggy Azalea. There was no doubt that Emilio would outshine Bridget. It seemed she knew this as she appeared a tad uncomfortable. She did a very passable version of the choreography, however, and Luther Brown brilliantly gave her a series of backflips to restore our confidence in her abilities.

Benji Schwimmer from Season 2 gave Jessica and Nick a West Coast Swing dance to “Respect” by Aretha Franklin. Jessica dislocated her shoulder during rehearsal and it appeared that some of the choreography had been changed at the last minute. Even though the lifts looked pretty good and fairly complex, a lot of the performance looked entirely out of their realm of expertise. The best part was the second half of the dance where the tempo picked up a bit.

For Carly and Serge Sonya Tayeh had a Contemporary piece to “Latch (Acoustic)” by Sam Smith. Serge is an incredibly strong partner and obviously able to project the passion necessary for a piece of this caliber. Carly was quite good but easily outshone.

Emily and Teddy danced to “Don’t” by Ed Sheeran in a Hip Hop routine by Dave Scott. There were a couple of moments of great connection between the two but they still were not terribly comfortable with each other. Teddy was the most successful with the choreography as a whole showing great fluidity. Emily was proficient in the faster footwork but finding that strength required for Hip Hop escapes her for the moment. Overall, it was a fun “fluff” piece of a dance.

Choreographer Spencer Liff choreographed a Broadway dance to “I’ve Got Your Number” by Nancy Wilson for Marlena and Stanley. The dance was a great nod to 60’s musical theater but yours truly had to agree with Mary’s assessment that the phone props (on long, dedicated cords) probably should have been abandoned halfway through the dance to build some cohesion. There was no connection between the dancers and they may as well have been dancing in separate stages because they were tied to the phones. Maybe this piece would have worked great for a split screen scene in a remake of Pillow Talk.

Jourdan and partner Marcquet worked with Sean Cheesman for a Jazz performance to “Work Work” by Britney Spears. Jourdan played a sexy military interrogator trying to get some sort of information out of Marcquet. The moments that these two were dancing in unison were the only ones that actually seemed to “work.” They both danced hard, however, and showed good stage presence with Jourdan’s great flexibility. Sean’s addition of a fun arm wrestling moment was a nice touch.

Miriam and Leonardo returned as choreographers of an Argentine Tango for Brooklyn and Casey. They danced to “Gallo Ciego” from Luis Bravo’s Forever Tango. Placement of the holds was great overall and these two cultivated great personas on stage. There was a distinct lack of connection to the floor for Brooklyn as it always appeared her steps were a little too far off the ground. Casey was fairly sharp overall but both danced the best in their upper bodies.

Jacque and Zack had a fierce warrior African Jazz dance to contend with from Sean Cheesman. They began as two spandex-clad dancers blending with a colorful painting and quickly helped the audience to forget they were watching a ballet dance and a tapper. These two had great synchronization and a wonderful sense of character as the attacked this aptly chosen show closer.

This season a series of dance crews will be competing for a coveted spot in the finale show. Tonight Chloe Arnold’s Syncopated Ladies performed a rousing tap routine to Beyonce’s “Flawless.”

At the end of the night, however, it was down to business with the eliminations. Marlena and Nick were sent packing after some kind words from the judges.

Albuquerque viewers can catch So You Think You Can Dance Wednesdays at 7 p.m. (MST) on Fox Channel 2. Everyone can vote for their favorite dancers (including favorite dance crew) via the show website or the smartphone app through Thursday at 10 a.m. (PDT). Each voter gets 20 votes to divvy as they see fit.

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