So You Think You Can Dance Recap: The Top 8: Injuries! Controversy! Cat Deeley Stickin' It to the Man!!
Lots of drama last night, and apparently lots of controversy ensued. And. Oh yeah. Good dancing.
The first thing host Cat Deeley springs on us is that fan and judge favorite Alex Wong is injured. And by all accounts, it sounds not good at all. They're hoping against hope he makes it back for next week, but in the meantime he's automatically in the bottom three this week -- and eliminated if he can't dance next week. And unlike American Idol, you can't exactly say, "Oh he'll be fine, he's gotten his break he can get a recording contract," etc. The dance world isn't quite the same.
I guess we'll find out tonight...but a busted Achilles tendon is not something you snap back from (no pun intended) in a week.
And, leaving a teary Alex Wong behind, on with the show.
Each contestant danced once with an all-star and once with a fellow contestant, and here's how they did:DANCING WITH THE ALL-STARS
1. Lauren and all-star Pasha danced a Jean Marc and France cha cha routine
Well. Wowsa. This girl is stepping it up a notch. This was her most connected, sexy, into-her-partner-not-the-audience, non-dance-team-y performance yet. It was really sharp, really smoldering, really sexy, really impressive. Yes, there were some rough spots in dips; places where I felt there might be a teensy lack of partner-trust. But overall: Excellent.
2. Jose and all-star Lauren danced a Mandy Moore contemporary routine
As Adam very rightly pointed out, Mandy played right to Jose's strengths. Which means he did a little floor work, and he did a LOT of lifts. But what Jose really pulled off was committing himself to the emotion and connection of the contemporary routine. I begin to wonder if it's a little patronizing how the judges are always so shocked and amazed and admiring when the B-boys can show emotion and, as they call it, "vulnerability." What are you trying to say, guys? Are all B-boys and street dancers thugs without a heart? It just really struck me last night that I was starting to get uncomfortable not, so much, with how much they love Jose, but perhaps with why. More on that in a minute.
3. Kent and all-star Comfort danced a Dave Scott hip hop routine
So, letting my petty side rule: I loved Kent's hat, because it hid his annoying facial expressions, if they were indeed on display. His moves were surprisingly good, and I bought the performance to a surprising extent. Way more than Billy's krumping, I'll just say that! Yes, he was a little too fluid. But he exceeded my expectations.
I will add this, though: SYTYCD, listen up! Enough with the fake kissing at the end of routines. It's just creepy. I actually have no idea nor do I care if this is something you choreograph in to try to combat some image of dancers (male dancers, that is). But it needs to stop.
4. Adechike and all-star Courtney danced a Mandy Moore jazz routine
Meh. It was fine, but a little too posey for me. How many times do we need to see these fine young dancers (the women, that is) bend over and stick their butt in the air? We get it; they have some exceedingly fine, tight buns. I'm jealous, honestly. But ...actually, I'm starting to sound like a prude, aren't I? You kids, get that fake kissing and butt demonstrating off a my lawn! I knew Adechike was going to get torn up on this one, although I didn't quite expect Mia's venom about it. More on that in a minute.
5. Billy and guest all-star Katie danced a Spencer Liff Broadway routine
Well, for once, I liked BIlly. This routine played well to Billy's lines and his kind of creepiness (yes, I find him creepy, so sue me). I had a little trouble with the fact that they weren't always synched up, but overall, this was fun and dynamic. PS-All-star Alison aggravated a rib injury, so that's why Katee was called in ... because all six guys are still in the competition, so all 6 female all-stars are used every time. Just in case you were losing track. I'm here to help.
6. Ashley and all-star Dominic danced a Napoleon & Tabitha hip hop routine
This was fun, and her moves were surprisingly good. She could have had a bit more menace when she executed moves like the kick to his groin, but overall, I liked it and her more than usual. Dominic, on the other hand, is still creepy toward Cat. I don't care what anybody says. That is all.
7. Robert and all-star Kathryn danced a Sean Cheesman jazz routine
OK, here is why Robert ends up in the Bottom 3 each week. He keeps pulling these "quirky" pieces. Where quirky really just means weird. And I don't care what the judges say: It doesn't really suit him. But mostly, there's nothing emotional for the audience to grab on to. Nothing that resonates. That's why he ends up in Bottom 3. Yeah, I said it.
(There was no eighth first-round dance, because Alex is injured. :( In case you forgot.)DANCING WITH EACH OTHER
1. Adechike and substitute Marla danced a Nakul Bollywood routine
This was a really mixed bag, it's true. Sometimes Adechike seemed to be running out of gas, but probably he was just saving his energy for the series of standing split jumps he did. WOW. Like his legs were on springs.
Now, here's where the controversy ensues. Adechike was giving this routine his more upbeat personality: smiling, looking good. And yes, it did run through my mind that this routine seemed closer to African Jazz routines I had seen on the show than Bollywood usually does. This didn't strike me as odd. I'm no expert on Bollywood, and frankly it's not like Marla, the choreographer's assistant, approached it wildly differently than Adechike. I thought they were well-matched. In fact, I enjoyed seeing some new moves, and assumed this was just a different flavor of a very hybrid dance style to begin with.
Apparently, that was just me. Because Nigel and Mia, especially Mia, were very disturbed by this untoward display of slightly-more-funky-than-usual Bollywood. And said so in no uncertain terms. When Cat Deeley, my new hero, reminded them of a little bit of lovin' they did on Jose, lo these many weeks ago, when they thought it was just fine and dandy that he "brought his own flavor" to a Bollywood routine. When they couldn't get enough of it. AND GOOD ON CAT for actually saying so. I mean that's not only a good thing to remember and appreciate the difference in opinions between then and now -- but then to think of it in real time and bring it up. Score.
And the judges had nothing to say except to admit the fact is just that they like Jose more. OK, they didn't say that ... they said he had more heart or something. Which probably just means "He's a B-Boy, which means he's a thug, which means any display of additional skillz or emotion/heart is AMAZING and needs to be LAUDED" in what I'm now starting to feel is a PATRONIZING way. I love SYTYCD, but last night's episode was a thing that made me go hmmm.
Just me? Anyway, apparently the controversy raged on via Twitter, with cries of "racism." BlogHer contributing editor Nordette disagrees, so you should check out her reporting on the post-show drama.
2. Kent and Lauren danced a Travis Wahl contemporary routine
Love the song (Howie Day's "Collide"). Loved the choreography. Kent and Lauren did a lovely, fluid, emotionally engaged and engaging job. But, didn't I say this already? Enough of the damn fake kissing. OK, this wasn't so fake, he actually laid one on her. But ew. TMI, get a room, get off my lawn. Is it just me? It was the best night Kent and Lauren have had, though, I will totally give them both that!
3. Robert and Ashley danced a Jean Marc and France quickstep routine
This was executed well enough, but I felt like I could see both of them thinking really hard. So it may have been well done, but it felt like there was no connection, no chemistry. Also, I have to agree that it doesn't really work to have a dark, menacing quickstep. Might as well do a paso doble. A quickstep should be light and frothy. It just should.
4. Billy and Jose danced a Sean Cheesman African jazz routine
Um. Another meh. Not a lot of dancing, but some very nice flailing about. And some cardiovascularly healthy deep knee bends. Not a great way to end the evening.BOTTOM LINE FOR THE BOTTOM 3:
Well, we know Alex is there, that's a given, so:
The Bottom 3 should be: Alex, Adechike and Robert, with Adechike going home.
And I'm guessing that might be how it goes.
So, how about you?
What do you think of the controversy?
And will the viewing public save Adechike?
Images courtesy FOX
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