Wednesday, November 25, 2009

So You Think You Can Dance, Season 6 - Top 12

The stakes are certainly high going into tonight's results show, and last night you could tell. The dancers seemed to really step it up, delivering the best episode of Season 6 so far. I think I knew it was going to be a great night as soon as I saw Ryan not wearing high-waisted trousers during the intro, a definite sign of improvement. I also noticed a few new camera angles and less distracting lighting - the new stage did not bother me nearly as much as in previous weeks. In less-than-stellar news, we were still subjected to Megan Mullally's "Turn the Tub Around" commercial. Seriously? Make it stop!!!

Each couple performed two routines last night. I'm going to break the night down couple by couple to keep it simpler, and because that's how I organized my notes. I wrote down who I would vote for after the first round of dances to see if it changed after the second round. It didn't. But I'm pretty set in my ways.

Ryan and Ellenore started the show off with the return of the Lindy Hop. Carla Heiney choreographed a high energy, fun routine to "I've Got to Be a Rug Cutter" that allowed the dancers to shine. The whole thing reminded me of the dive bar scene in A League of their Own when Madonna takes over the dance floor, coffee grinders and all. The judges were right on about this couple - as fantastic as Ryan was, Ellenore stole the spotlight. She was absolutely gorgeous and a joy to watch. Their second piece was a Spencer Riff Broadway routine to Chicago's "Razzle Dazzle." This was by far the strongest Broadway piece of Season 6, with a perfect blend of story, character and choreography. Ryan brought great strength along with his menacing character, and Ellenore was wonderful as quirky puppet. And can we talk about that flexed-foot extension?! This is a couple I will be sad to see separated. They have definitely benefited from this partnership, delivering several memorable routines.

Kathryn and Legacy's first routine of the night was a Sonya jazz piece to Hot Chip's "So Deep." Where Sonya succeeded in this routine was in showcasing the individual talents of her dancers - we saw Kathryn's incredible flexibility and Legacy's killer hip hop skills. To me, it was a bit disjointed and choppy (unlike Sonya's other piece last night, but more on that later), but the dancers made up for it in their performance. Who knew Kathryn could be so saucy?? And I think it might be a new rule that Legacy take his shirt off for every routine (but is anyone complaining?...didn't think so). Overall, I wasn't terribly impressed with this routine, although the judges certainly felt differently. I couldn't have been more excited for their second routine, as it welcomed back our long lost ballroom dynamic duo, Jean-Marc and France Généreux. And what a triumphant return it was. I'm actually surprised our choreographer-praise-crazy judges didn't compliment them more. As far as choreography is concerned, the Viennese Waltz to "Your Guardian Angel" was gorgeous and floating. Kathryn had an incredible commitment to her character and performance. She really jumped out at me this week, and I'm glad to see her continue to grow in the competition. Now, just so you know I have a heart - I really loved Legacy's remark about hope and dancing and how the routine connected with his own story. That really is a big part of what SYTYCD is about, so it was great to hear it come from one of the dancers after such a beautiful piece (Note to Nathan: that is how you should react...with humility). All that being said, I could not get past Legacy's ultra-concentration face and his shoulders (really...does he have a neck?). The rise and fall of the waltz was extremely lacking, and basic overall technique. Even after tugging at my heartstrings, I couldn't forget those shoulders. Sorry, Legacy fans, but, as Nigel reminded us, it's all about America's favorite dancer, and I just don't think Legacy fits the bill.

With new partners and a new lease on life, it was Karen and Victor's week to show us all they have and prove their worth in the competition. They began with a Tango by Tony Meredith and Melanie LaPatin that was meant to represent lust, romance, desire and tension. I had definite mixed feelings about this routine. Victor looked a little cold, and although it worked for his character, it reminded me of the face he makes pretty much every week, so I'm not sure if it was really intentional (Juno moment: "I doubt she gave you the stink eye. That's just the way her face looks."). Karen, wearing a gorgeous black gown, exuded a more sophisticated sexuality than we've seen from her before ( least I didn't say "sensuality" in a creep-o way like Nigel). Despite Victor's swayback, I thought the routine was danced well, but I'm not sure it will be a vote-getter. Unfortunately, that's exactly what this pair needed - votes, votes and more votes. And if I was thinking that after the tango, just imagine my thoughts on their ability to get votes after their second routine, a Laurie Ann Gibson hip hop routine to Usher's "Moving Mountains." Although she is great in front of the camera (her best quote this week was "The moves mean nothing without the purpose"), Laurie Ann's choreography coupled with forgettable music was less than stellar. Not only that, but it wasn't performed well either. Victor and Karen had several moments when they weren't in sync, and seriously lacked serious chemistry. And poor Victor tried to man up with his "I'm bad ass and doing hip hop" scrunch face, adding to the ridiculousness. I will certainly not be surprised to find this pair in the Bottom 3 Couples tonight...they are going to have to fight to get into the Top 10. Side Note: as much as I didn't like Laurie Ann's choreography, I would never say it to her face or on national television. I'm pretty sure the judges are going to get knifed in the alley.

If there was ever a defense for breaking the couples up halfway through the season, Mollee and Nathan are it. They are waaaay overdue for new partners, and I can't wait for next week when that finally happens! They started off with an Alexander Bell/telephone-inspired hip hop routine by Jamal Sims to the Black Eyed Peas' "Ring-a-Ling." I can't possibly be the only one who felt WAY uncomfortable watching these two preemies grinding all over each other. It wasn't nearly hard-hitting enough, and felt like a watered-down Disney version of a hip hop routine. Lucky for them, Routine #2 went much better. Delivering the first ever Can Can on SYTYCD, the couple paired up with our chin-strapped Tyce Diorio. Finally, Mollee's cutesy playfulness worked well in a routine, although Nathan's goofiness still felt misplaced. This fun and exciting routine was by far Tyce's best of the season. Mollee really impressed me, especially considering her ankle injury. That aerial was out of this world! Also, thank goodness she was wearing underwear, and I really wish Nigel would stop being such a creepy perv. Nathan did not impress me as much - the boy can turn like the best of them, but it just wasn't enough for me this week. I have no doubt these two will be in the Top 10, and I look forward to seeing their new partnerships.

One of my favorite couples of the night was Noelle and Russell. No matter what routine they are performing, they always dance with incredible passion and always look like they are enjoying every moment on stage. They started with a Tony and Melanie Samba to (shocker) "Hips Don't Lie." Okay, let me get this one out of the way: their hips didn't lie. Okay, I feel better now. Moving on - this was a much better Samba than the one we suffered through with Phillip and Channing earlier in the season. They had high energy and charisma, and Noelle looked like an absolute star. I'm don't have much technical knowledge when it comes to Latin ballroom, though I love hearing Mary critique it, but I certainly enjoyed this piece. Their second piece, a Tyce contemporary routine, made me sad for the impending breakup of this wonderful pairing. Dancing to the beautiful "Case of You" by Diana Krall, Noelle and Russell displayed commitment, strength, passion and total abandon. The concept and choreography were fantastic - it's nice to have Tyce back on track! Now if only Nigel would stop making comments about the female body and sex, we would be all set.

Do you think the producers could make an exception to the Top 10 rule for Jakob and Ashleigh? I just want them to dance together forever! They are by far the best partnership of Season 6, joining the ranks of Season 4's Joshua and Katee and Season 5's Brandon and Janette. Their lyrical jazz routine, choreographed by Sonya, was everything they hoped it be - airy, breathy, light and absolutely gorgeous. In spite of his tragic purple pants, Jakob showed incredible strength. The word I kept thinking throughout the routine was "serene" if they were just gliding across the stage. Their Cha Cha was no less stunning. Ashleigh was finally able to show off her own style, and in her element she shone. Jakob, for the first time at a disadvantage in the partnership, was again brilliant. The two dancers shared an infectious chemistry that I am heartbroken to see separated. In the words of our ever clever Nigel, "That may have been a cha cha, but they are waltzing through to the Top 10."

So what do you think? Who impressed you and who fell short? Most importantly, who do you think will have a little less to be thankful for tomorrow?
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