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‘SYTYCD’ Eliminations: We Won’t Always Have Tony Or Paris

Lyndsey Parker
Reality Rocks

know I declare this every season...but I've never been as excited about a So You Think You Can Dance season as I am this year. Just when I thought the Fox franchise might no longer have legs (heh heh), the show has surprised me and returned with possibly its most gifted cast to date. After watching the top 20 compete for the first time last night--creating gravity-defying, spacetime-continuum-distorting, joint-dislocating stunts with their phenomenal bodies that seemingly only CGI'd superheroes ought to be able to pull off with such ease--my own jaw joint was practically dislocated from hitting the floor.

Yes, the SYTYCD talent this year is nothing short of stunning. It's a shame any of them had to go home so soon tonight, on the first elimination episode of season 5. I personally wasn't ready to see any of them leave just yet.

At least I got some relief early in the show, before even the first commercial break, when two of my favorite couples from last night, Evan & Randi and Phillip & Jeanine, were sent to safety by hostess Cat Deeley--along with sexpot samba dancers Max & Kayla, who were also excellent performers (and clear judges' darlings) last night. Phew. I was very excited to learn all three couples would be back to wow me and possibly dislocate my jaw again next Wednesday.

Then I was especially thrilled when my hands-down favorite couple of the season, crash-test-dummy dancers Kupono & Ashley, made it through next. If they hadn't, I might not have stuck around to watch the top 18, frankly. Kupono is my favorite male dancer this year, and the Wade Robson-choreographed routine that he and his worthy partner Ashley had the privilege of doing last night was really genius. It would have been an incredibly crushing upset if Kupono & Ashley had been in the bottom three tonight...although I suspect if they had been, the judges would have readily saved them.

The final remaining couples were Bollywooders Jason & Caitlin, contemporary couple Ade & Melissa, and foxtrotters Brandon & Janette...which meant that the duos in jeopardy were (as I'd correctly predicted last night, three for three) hip-hoppers Tony & Paris, Broadway dancers Vitolio & Asuka, and cha-cha-ers Jonathan & Karla. Ironically, all bottom-three couples were good enough last week that in any given previous SYTYCD season they probably would have sailed through. But like I said, this is a particularly strong season. Being good enough just isn't good enough anymore.

And so, it was time for the six at-risk contestants to "dance for their lives." Of the girls, I was most dazzled by Asuka, who showcased an unexpectedly sexy and sassy side of her personality during her can-can/ballroom solo. Karla and Paris were less memorable for me, but of the two, Karla flashed more adorable personality and "likability."

As for the guys' solos, I was highly entertained by Tony (who was happily back in his element, pop-locking to the Gap Band and sporting a superfly Rerun-from-What's Happenin' beret). And I was absolutely floored by Vitolio--whose solo was so amazing that if I was to look up "Hot Tamale Train" in the dictionary (should such a listing actually exist), I am sure the page would say, "See Jeune, Vitolio." And there'd be a photo of Vitolio in all his high-kicking, high-jumping glory. The third guy, Jonathan, executed some high-difficulty gymnastic tricks to grab the audience's (and judges') attention, but I found the rest of his moves to be typical ballroom-himbo shtick, not as special as what the other two males brought to the stage tonight.

So after a truly terrible performance by Sean Kingston (so you think you can SING, Sean? um, no...) while Nigel Lythgoe, Mary Murphy, and Adam Shankman tackled the unenviable job of debating the dancers' merits, the judges returned from their chambers and, with presumably heavy hearts, unanimously eliminated Paris and Tony. It was a tough choice, but Paris was simply the weakest girl of the three, and Tony, while more fun and zany than Jonathan, just didn't possess the technical skills to continue on in the competition.

Sigh. I guess my prediction that Tony Bellissimo would be "this season's Twitch" was all wrong. Not ALL my predictions are right, obviously...

So tonight marked the departure of one original couple, which means the surviving nine couples will remain intact for now. And I can't wait to see what they all do next. Tune in next week!

Parker out.

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