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‘SYTYCD’ Eliminations: Ashley To Ashes, Max Gets Maxed Out

Lyndsey Parker
Reality Rocks

I can already tell this season of So You Think You Can Dance is going to be rough on me. The caliber of talent is so high this season that no matter who goes home, in any given week, I'm going to be bummed. Tonight SYTYCD fans lost two more great dancers, but I suppose, in my opinion at least, it could have been worse.

Of the bottom three couples tonight, one of them was not a surprise to me: Jason and Caitlin. Their hip-hop routine last night was a disappointment: They seemed lost, out of sync, inauthentic, and lacking in confidence overall. They're obviously both fabulous dancers, but last night they just didn't adapt to the hip-hop genre well at all.

Oddly, also in the bottom tonight were Kupono and Ashley, the other couple that danced a Shane Sparks-choreographed routine this week. Apparently Shane's return to the show (after being on America's Best Dance Crew) was a somewhat anti-climactic comeback. While Kupono and Ashley's routine last night was a letdown after their stunning "crash-test dummies" number the week before, and I actually did declare it my third-least-favorite dance in my blog last night, I certainly didn't think it was lackluster enough to warrant either of them actually going home. Plus, Kupono is my favorite male dancer this season, so this result was a little more upsetting, and surprising, to me.

But it was the final bottomed-out couple that surprised me the most: Max and Kayla! Their sizzling pop/jazz number was such a standout last night that Nigel Lythgoe (perhaps prematurely) declared Kayla a frontrunner. Well, I hope Nigel learned from that mistake--it's become a pattern on many reality shows that over-pimped contestants (from last season's SYTYCD darling Will Wingfield to this season's megahyped American Idol judge favorites Adam Lambert and Danny Gokey) almost always lose. Viewers often decide to vote for the underdogs instead. So I couldn't help but wonder...if Nigel hadn't made that remark, would Max and Kayla have been safe? Their splendid performance last night definitely wasn't deserving of a bottom-three placement.

So then it was time for all six contestants to "dance for their lives." Of the girls, Caitlin's solo to Adele's cover of Bob Dylan's "To Make You Feel My Love" was graceful, evocative, and genuinely lovely; Ashley's dance to Coco Rosie's "By Your Side" had darkly delicious goth-burlesque quality to it (that Dita Von Teese-esque '40s onesie and pincurled hair helped her set the mood); and joyously frolicking Kayla was quite literally airborne during her many staggering, gravity-defying leaps to Kerli's "Walking On Air." It seemed an impossible Sophie's Choice for the judges, selecting one of these major talents to send home.

As for the guys, Jason also seemed to defy gravity, flying like a true caped crusader to Robin Thicke's "Superman" (the boy was one-ply-tissue-paper-light on his feet); Kupono let his wonderfully unfurled freak-flag fly to Janelle Monae's "Many Moons," and I happily saluted; and Max did his ballroom-dance shtick to an amusing and rousing song choice, "Footloose." This was an easier call for me: While Max's solo was certainly entertaining, it wasn't anything I hadn't seen before on this show. I was much more wowed by Jason's buoyant grace and Kupono's freaky-deakiness.

So after a Kristinia DeBarge performance so poorly lip-synched even Ashlee Simpson or Milli Vanilli would cringe, the judges returned from their difficult deliberations. They made it clear that their verdict was NOT unanimous, though they kept the division of their votes a secret, as always. But the bottom line, whether they all agreed or not, was that Max and Ashley would go home. While the judges graciously praised Ashley's "Hollywood glamour" and Max's strong work ethic, their decision was still final. Two people had to go; it was unavoidable.

While I am sad to see both dancers leave (particularly in Ashley's case), the one bright side is...now Kupono and Kayla will be paired up next week! Together, I suspect they could be an unstoppable force, THE couple to beat. And so I christen them...Kaypono! I can't wait to see what Kaypono get up to next Wednesday, along with the other remaining eight couples.

And I'm already dreading next Thursday, when yet another couple goes home...

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