Thursday, July 22, 2010

So You Think You Can Dance, Season 7 - Top 6

Photo courtesy of FOX

Okay, but seriously. This is getting ridiculous.

On last night's So You Think You Can Dance (the show's 150th episode), the Top 6 became the Top 5 after the Top 7 became the Top 6 last week and the Top 8 became the Top 7 the week before that. Confused? So am I. As my nightmares of Melanie LaPatin dancing with Russell constantly remind me, injuries are not new to the SYTYCD stage, but there is definitely something strange happening this season (and, yes, I still have an eye on Adechike as the culprit).

The good news is it seems Billy Bell will be able to recover from his knee injury before next week, meaning he won't be automatically eliminated tonight. The bad news is we were left with only 5 dancers last night, though they danced quite a lot anyways. Let's get to it...

The night started with a bang as Lauren and Twitch channeled the Wild Wild West in a Nappy Tabs hip-hop routine. It was a rootin' tootin', rip roarin' hootenanny full of tremendous partnering and great character work. Lauren is quickly becoming one of my favorites from this season - did you see those "tumbleweed rolls"?! Guest judge (and choreographer extraordinaire) Kenny Ortega summed it up best: "Save a horse, ride a cowboy." And that's exactly what Lauren did at the end as she rode off on Twitch into the sunset (...and into our hearts? Too much...?).

As Lauren's momentum in the competition continues to grow, Jose's has just about fizzled to nothing (or a donut hole, as Mia would say). The judges are completely over him, huh? In my opinion, his Sonya Tayeh contemporary routine with Allison was one of the most captivating and unique of the night. The pair stayed on the edge of the stage, slowly moving their way across as they conveyed the development of a relationship. I am always a big fan when the choreographers use the stage in an interesting way (I immediately go back to Mia's "duet on the diagonal" for Kayla and Jeanine in Season 5), so I wasn't so caught up on the fact that Jose wasn't doing a lot of actual dancing, though that fact cannot be denied. Smart on the choreographer's part? Absolutely. But it's not going to help him much as he competes against the remaining dancers.

Before we talk about Robert and Lauren's Tyce Diorio jazz routine... let's pause for a moment to discuss Robert's birthday. His twentieth birthday. Was I the only one surprised to find out that last week Robert was a teenager? Okay, good, glad I'm not alone. Now, moving on... what exactly was this piece? Pure jazz? Sure. A great way for Robert to show off his technical abilities? Definitely. But couldn't those things have happened with a piece of music that didn't put me to sleep and with costumes that didn't look like they came out of a leather bondage store? Absolutely. Not one of Tyce's strongest moments, but 20 year-old Robert danced it magnificently.

Sonya returned for a second piece, this time for the adorable duo of Kent and Kathryn. This jazz routine to Janelle Monae's "Tightrope" was such a departure for Sonya that I spent half of the routine wondering if she actually choreographed it. Like Mandy Moore's bedazzled Converse routine last week, this piece was fun and bouncy and generally pretty smiley. And if you're Kent, this routine was a little too smiley. Those jazz faces started to creep out again and we lost the sophisticated and mature dancer that emerged in last week's chair routine. Is Kent once again becoming distracted by the dancers and (annoyingly loud) screaming girls in the studio? Let's hope not.

From light and bouncy to heartbreaking and heavy, up next was a lyrical hip-hop routine (which could only come from the masterful Nappy Tabs) performed by Tanya Harding Adechike and Comfort. I have to admit, the first time around I wasn't exactly sure why everyone ended up crying, but since everyone seemed to be an emotional wreck I rewound for a second viewing and started to understand. Though perhaps not as powerful as "No Air" or "Bleeding Love," this routine proved once again why Nappy Tabs are some of the best in the biz when it comes to bringing raw emotion out of hip-hop dancers. And while Adechike was certainly impressive, I think more praise should be given to Comfort, who has come leaps and bounds since Season 4 to prove week after week why she is All-Star. I might watch this routine a third time just to watch her dance again.

After two hip-hop routines, two jazz routines and a contemporary routine, it was time to mix things up a bit. Enter (from in front of the stage) Lauren and 20 year-old Robert with a Dmitry Chaplin samba. After a cha cha with Pasha and Tahitian with Mark, it came as no surprise that Lauren's hips were on fire. Seriously, is there anything this girl cannot do? And for constantly being critiqued for being too light, Robert was grounded and powerful throughout the whole routine. My favorite part, of course, was the explosion of shimmies in the middle - so fun! Not bad at all for a pair of contemporary dancers.

In what was arguably the worst routine of the night, Jose and Adechike came together for a unique Paso Doble choreographed by Dmitry. Traditionally, the Paso Doble tells the story of a matador (the male dancer) and his cape (the female dancer). But with two male dancers, this routine was meant to be an intense battle of the matadors, an explosion of testosterone and masculinity. Unfortunately, it was just a dud. Neither dancer really stepped up to the plate, beginning with some cape flailing that felt more like a bad colorguard show than a ferocious battle. And it didn't get much better from there. Yes, Jose and Adechike slapped on their best "mean face," but, as Nigel said, it simply was not enough.

We couldn't, of course, end the night on such a bad note. Luckily, we were treated to a Chuck Maldonado step routine with Kent and Twitch, who "stepped in" (hahahaha...get it?!) after Billy Bell's injury. I have always had a sweet spot for step and secretly wished that I could learn the style myself, so this was a great treat for me. I was nervous the a cappella sections wouldn't be as effective on television as they would live (similar to how tap has suffered on this show), but the duo pulled them off brilliantly. I'm not quite sure why Nigel was so sad that Billy Bell wasn't able to perform this routine; after watching him Krump, I'm pretty sure this would've been a hot mess disaster. Non-stop and energetic, this routine was no doubt a success due to the addition of Twitch. Let's be honest - Kent was certainly good (much better than expected), but the whole thing was brought to another level by Twitch, even down to the small details, like him screaming "Let's go!" during the first a cappella section. It's become clear that dancing with Twitch is almost a surefire way to have a great night on this show. Can an All-Star win this season...?

It's hard to believe there are only six dancers left. Don't forget, last season's finale featured the Top 6 dancers! And at this point, it's pretty clear who my favorites are: Kent, Robert and Lauren. That leaves Billy Bell, Jose and Adechike to tonight's Bottom Three. If Billy Bell's injury can heal as quickly as Nigel said, we're most definitely looking at a Jose elimination tonight. That is, of course, if he even ends up in the Bottom Three. What do you think, fellow judgers? Are you sick of all these injuries, even if this week's meant you didn't have to watch Billy Bell attempt step? Were you as shocked as I was to learn Robert's actual age? And wasn't it nice to have Shanks critique first so he didn't have to just repeat the other judges' comments? Sound off below!
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