Earlier this season, the producers and judges of So You Think You Can Dance made a really big deal about there being three tap dancers in the season 6 top 20, a SYTYCD first. So it was odd that last night--when the public voting was preempted AGAIN due to stupid, boring baseball--the judges chose to send home two of the tappers, Bianca and Phillip, so soon.
I kind of understand their decision. While I respect tap dancing as an art form and a skill that takes years to master, and Bianca and Phillip are definitely masters of tap, they did struggle with other dance styles this week. And in my opinion, tap dancing just isn't all that interesting to watch. I knew when the three tappers--Bianca, Phillip, and Peter--did that ho-hum tap number on the "Meet The Top 20" episode that they sadly would not last long on this show. And now there's only one tapper left standing--or tapping, specifically--and that's poor Peter.
I do feel bad for Bianca and Phillip, however. I found Bianca's solo last night to be dull, but enjoyed her Southern church dance with Victor; conversely, I cringed when Phillip nearly dropped partner Channing like a "sack of potatoes" (Nigel Lythgoe's words) during their clumsy samba, but I was entertained by his solo. Plus Bianca had been dreaming of being on SYTYCD for ages (she auditioned three seasons in a row for making it on) and Phillip lost his father only a week and a half ago. This was a tough elimination night.
But what's done is done--so with that out of the way, here are my assessments of last night's nine couple dances, listed in order from (in my opinion) best to worst:
Kathryn & Legacy: Contemporary
I've been hard on B-boy Legacy in the past, and I've even questioned his inclusion in the top 20 at all. But all my doubts were silenced after his stunning star turn in this gorgeous, Stacey Tookey-choreographed routine to Patti LaBelle's "Steps Away." The man gave me Deeley chills. I had no idea this street tough had the ability to be so tender, so emotional, so sweet, so capable of pointing his feet, yet still so strong. Kathryn of course held her own and danced like a dream--but that was to be expected, as she's a contemporary dancer by trade. Legacy, however, was the revelation here. Judge Adam Shankman described the routine as "incredibly special" and called Legacy a "different man" who'd "turned a corner." Adam was even beaming as he declared, "There are no words to describe how proud I am." Fellow judge Mary Murphy declared Legacy's growth on the show to be the fastest in the series' history, said the routine raised the hair on her arms, and praised both dancers' total "abandonment." And Nigel Lythgoe likened the piece to Kupono and Kayla's Mia Michaels-choreographed "Addiction" piece from last season, and said this was the routine that would ensure that Kathryn, one of the season's more overlooked contestants, would never be under the radar again. I concur: Legacy and Kathryn were my favorites last week and this week, and they are both definitely ones to watch.
Mollee & Nathan: Bollywood
The cutest, and youngest, couple on the show went straight to Molleewood last night with the help of choreographer Nakul Dev Mahajan, and they dazzled like a true leading man and lady. Nathan's dizzying and seemingly endless spin while brandishing a sword was like something out of an Olympic ice-skating routine, and his flat-back collapse, something that could almost paralyze a lesser dancer, was executed faultlessly. Little blonde spitfire Mollee smoldered like a sexy mature woman, not a teen girl, and she most definitely brought the drama. Adam called them "such an exciting couple" and said Mollee "came into her own," embracing stillness and maturity. Mary understandably whooed a lot, and Nigel described the routine as "tremendous." Yes, a tremendous dance by a little couple.
Karen & Kevin: Hip-Hop
Choreographers Tabitha & Napoleon always know how to create a hawt routine, but this one was REALLY smoking. In this car-shop hip-hop number set to Dorrough's "Ice Cream Paint Job," Karen surprisingly stole the show from hip-hop dancer Kevin, looking like the kind of pinup model who'd be lying across a race car in glossy photo straight out of a calendar on a grease monkey's wall. Damn! She danced as good as she looked, too. Adam was floored, literally, when he shouted, "Ah-oooo-ga!" and fell off his chair--twice. Mary put both of them on the Hot Tamale Train (woo woo!), and told Karen she had the "It Factor." And Nigel likened Karen to an invertebrate due to her rubbery undulating talents. Karen just may be this season's Janette, after this sexy number.
Ellenore & Ryan: Argentine Tango
Ellenore = Elegance. Seriously, look up "elegance" in Webster's and you'll likely see Ellenore in her Jazz Age flapper dress and gamine hairdo (Nigel compared her to the legendary Cyd Charisse), making this Miriam Larici & Leonardo-choreographed Argentine tango look effortless and graceful even after her flapper dress caught in her heel. She and her partner, ballroom dancer Ryan, just kept on dancing, and honestly I didn't even realize such a wardrobe malfunction had occurred until the judges pointed it out, praising them for not breaking character, concentration, or the "laser-like connection" between them. As Mary (who gave them a standing ovation) put it, they "made it work." Did they ever!
Pauline & Peter: Contemporary
A zany Van Gogh-inspired routine created by Wade Robson, in which Pauline and Peter portrayed figures in a painting come to life, I personally felt the dancers were a bit too restrained here, not quite zany enough. Mary was a bit underwhelmed too, saying a dance like this would not take the couple anywhere in this competition, and Nigel criticized Peter's high, tight shoulders (apparently buff Peter works out too much). But Adam praised Peter for being "1000 percent committed"...and as the only tapper who survived eliminations last night, he obviously did all right.
Bianca & Victor: Broadway
This is the Tyce Diorio routine that sent Bianca home and put Victor in the bottom four, but I honestly don't think this was the worst dance of the night. Set to "Maybe God Is Tryin' To Tell You Something" from musical production of The Color Purple, this was a church revival number that required Bianca and Victor to cut loose and give themselves over to a higher power--the power of God, the power of dance, what have you--and yes, like Pauline and Peter, they were a little too reserved. This dance didn't quite have the judges shouting, "Hallelujah"! Adam admitted they danced it well but they didn't "lose it"; Mary said the routine "didn't go there" and there was not enough "abandonment" in their dancing; and Nigel griped that their characters not strong enough. It's too bad, because this dance did have potential, as did Bianca.
Ashleigh & Jakob: Viennese Waltz
In this Tony Meredith & Melanie Lapatin-choreographed wedding dance to "At Last" by Etta James, these two demonstrated such sweet, natural chemistry that I might have assumed Jakob was Ashleigh's real-life husband instead fellow semi-finalist Ryan, to whom she's actually married. (I wonder if Ryan was jealous at all?) This was a lovely routine, if not too memorable, although Mary called it "absolute perfection" and Nigel said Ashleigh was quickly proving all doubters wrong (Ashleigh was an alternate, not originally chosen for the top 20). I agree with Nigel: Ashleigh is growing on me, too.
Noelle & Russell: Hip-Hop
Krumper Russell is one of my favorites this season, and I'm still furious that he was in the bottom four last week. He wasn't in the bottom this week (although his partner Noelle was), but if he had been, it would have made more sense, as this gimmicky Jamal Sims routine really fell flat. However, that was neither Russell nor Noelle's fault. This routine was a depiction of a feisty tennis match, and it was just too literal for me, with their tennis-racket props distracting from their talents and getting in their way; both dancers fared much better when they were able to set their rackets down for a bit. Adam said the characters and choreography overwhelmed them, and Nigel said they never quite got hold of the quick steps. The only bright spot was that Noelle, who'd been sidelined with a knee injury last week, had recovered enough to return to the competition, and Mary said Noelle danced so well that her weakness was undetectable. But that still wasn't enough to keep Noelle out of the bottom four.
Channing & Phillip: Samba
Ooh boy. Well, Channing looked hot, but overall this routine was one hot mess. The whole dance was awkward, especially whenever they tackled tricks; I held my breath and prayed for Channing's safety every time Phillip lifted her in the air and seemed on the verge of dropping her headfirst onto the stage floor. This was very tough routine, filled with advanced lifts and spins, and this couple was just not cut out for it. Their struggle was very obvious, and they didn't even deny this to the judges. Adam praised their teamwork--they got through it together, somehow--but that was not enough. In the end, only one of them, Channing, got through to the top 16.