Thursday, August 4, 2011

So You Think You Can Dance, Season 8: Top 6

After the non-stop excitement of the Top 10 and Top 8 performance nights, last night's Top 6 on So You Think You Can Dance felt like kind of a letdown, huh? Which isn't to say that we didn't witness some of the best this season has to offer (which we'll get to in a moment), it's just that the overall level just wasn't as high as previous weeks.

Joining the panel last night were Christina Applegate, who desperately needed a comb but was one of the most insightful guest judges to date, and Lil' C, who is too verbose for me to actually pay attention to. Sorry, C, but I'd much rather we bring back Neil Patrick Harris, Lady Gaga or my twin Adam Shankman instead of go through another week of your alliterations.

Eek, it sounds like I got up on the wrong side of the bed. So much complaining... but we're getting toward the end of this season, so expectations are high! Let's get to the point here and break down last night's performances from worst to first...

9. Ricky and All-Star Jaimie - Contemporary (Dee Caspary); "Inside These Lines" by Trent Dabbs
What started out as an intriguing concept—Ricky is the "maestro" of Jaimie's life and tries to contain her within his power—ended up being merely a hook into another otherwise template SYTYCD contemporary routine. The entire middle section lost track of the stick props and concept, made all the worse by the lack of connection between Ricky and Jaimie.

8. Tadd and All-Star Ellenore - Jazz (Sonya Tayeh); "The Gulag Orkestra" by Beirut
I should start by saying that I absolutely adore Ellenore and was so happy to see her back on the show, especially performing a Sonya piece. As we learned in Season 6, she was born to perform Sonya's choreography and Tadd seemed to fit in quite well in that world. Unfortunately, there wasn't much choreography to grab onto in this piece. The swinging from the chandelier was beyond cool, but that was pretty much the meat of the routine. I didn't get much sexiness out of it, and it all went by so quickly that at the end I was left wanting much more.

7. Caitlynn and All-Star Pasha - Samba (Dmitry Chaplin); "Drop It Low (District 78 Remix)" by Kat DeLuna
During the video package, Dmitry said the Samba needs to be sexy, have great music and (again) be sexy. This routine had all of the above, but I still felt a little let down. Caitlynn was definitely holding her own with Pasha—which is a feat in itself—and I would even go as far as saying that her performance in ballroom pieces this season has been better than any of her contemporary solos, but the constant pulling of her face was too much and detracted from how well she was technically performing the dance.

6. Sasha and Ricky - Whacking (Kumari Suraj); "Schoolin' Life" by Beyonce
So many whacking jokes, so little time. I love when they bring new styles onto SYTYCD and after eight seasons I'm amazed that they can still do that. We were introduced to whacking when Princess Lockeroo auditioned earlier this season, and it was great to see how that style could be translated into a duet piece. That being said, the costuming and the music made it feel very cheesy and more like a cheerleader routine. Of course, Ricky's spaghetti arms could have something to do with that. Sasha Fierce, on the other hand, was pretty amazing in this number. She attacked every movement and brought the ferocity we have come to expect from her. I loved the double pirouette into the final pose on the ground at the end, and overall this was an entertaining piece. It's just that they could've whacked it harder. Ba dum ching.

5. Melanie and All-Star Twitch - Hip Hop (Napoleon and Tabitha Duomo); "Roman's Revenge" by Nicki Minaj featuring Lil' Wayne
This was certainly a different take on Little Red Riding Hood, though I strongly protest all this "Little Red Swaggin' Hood" nonsense. We haven't often been able to see Melanie in such an aggressive role and she was up to the challenge, even if it perhaps wasn't the best we've seen her dance all season. It was really difficult to not watch Twitch the entire time—especially with those killer six pack abs that came out of nowhere—but I really loved Melanie's screaming head turn, another example of her taking a small moment and making it special and larger than life. That lift when Twitch's face was in Melanie's crotch, however, was a bit questionable, no?

4. Melanie and Tadd - Broadway (Spencer Liff); "(Where Do I Begin) Love Story (Away Team Mix)" by Shirley Bassey
Spencer Liff hasn't brought his A-game too much this season, but I think he was saving it all for last night. This was his best routine of the season by far. I loved the mirror effect, the lifts and cartwheels over the chair and the connection that Tadd and Melanie brought to the stage. Melanie is obviously a superstar, but I can't believe how good Tadd looked. I know it's said every week, but he's a friggin' b-boy! He shouldn't be able to do these styles as well as he does! The story didn't always translate for me, but I loved the "Center Stage"-ness of it all with the teacher seducing the student. Why wasn't there a motorcycle on the stage?!

3. Caitlynn and Marko - Jazz (Sonya Tayeh); "Heavy in Your Arms" by Florence + The Machine
This was the classic Sonya choreography that we have come to know and love. All the quirkiness and the unique motions that separate her from the rest of the pack. Marko was like a little monkey, flipping and somersaulting all over the starlit stage, all the while connecting with the audience and his partner beautifully. And if anyone needed this routine last night, it was Caitlynn. Going up against Sasha and Melanie to try and get into the finale certainly wasn't easy, but she attacked this routine with a fight that showed she isn't going out quietly.

2. Marko and All-Star Janette - Paso Doble (Dmitry Chaplin); "Zorongo (traditional)" by Antonia Gomez, Ely "La Gambita", Guillermo Basilisco & Paco Pena
I love the Paso Doble and I love Janette and I love Marko. That should be enough to explain why I adored this number so much. The cool, soft, quiet opening lead to a hardcore Paso that was relentless and executed very well. There was some clumsiness with a few of the lifts, but I loved that double cape maneuver and thought Marko had the perfect poise as the matador in this number. ¡Muy caliente!

1. Sasha and All-Star Kent - Contemporary (Tyce Diorio); "Fool of Me" by Me'shell Ndegeocello
All I can say is that I can't wait to see this again in next week's finale. Though the wall was certainly what drew me into the piece (and it was a fantastic way to set the number), it was the perfection of Sasha and Kent that made it one of the best routines of the season. Sasha's legs are unbelievably strong and flexible and she looked like an All-Star last night. Kent was fantastic and certainly had a few featured moments, but Tyce brilliantly made sure to keep our eyes glued to Sasha almost the entire time. Some dancers might have made all of the jumping off the walls seem like a gimmick, but Sasha brought an emotional force to every second of the number that I would watch it again and again and again.

And we're running out of time here, so I will just rank the solos from worst to first...
6. Ricky - "After Tonight" by Justin Nozuka
5. Caitlynn - "What's Love Got to Do With It" by Katie Thompson
4. Tadd - "We Speak No Americano" by Yolanda B Cool and DCUP
3. Marko - "Wonderful World (Acoustic)" by James Morrison
2. Sasha - "Teeth" by Lady Gaga
1. Melanie - "Cracks (Flux Pavilion Remix)" by Freestylers featuring Belle Humble

I think it's fairly obvious who is going to be sailing through to next week's finale: see you next week, Sasha, Melanie, Marko and Tadd! Of course, SYTYCD is known for it's surprises, which Ricky and Caitlynn are probably praying for right around now.

What did you think of last night's show? Were you underwhelmed compared to previous weeks? Were you blown away by Sasha and Kent? And who do you think is going to be going home tonight?

[Image Source: FOX]
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