Now that we’re down to the top seven couples on “So You Think You Can Dance,” season six finally kicked into high gear with a beautiful Travis Wall routine that you’ll want to rewind and watch again. And again.
Before we get started with the dancing, we’re treated to photos of the judges from childhood (throughout the episode we’re shown videos of our dancers from way back when). Nigel makes what I think is a pretty funny season four “gang signs” joke, referencing people mistakenly accusing the dancers of flashing gang signs when it was really a “IV Real” symbol they’d made up. At least I hope that’s the joke he was making. On to the dancing:
1. Ashleigh & Jakob
Hip Hop/Tabitha & Napoleon/”Whatcha Say” by Jason Derulo: The routine is about a wife whose husband cheated on her. The song they use samples Imogen Heap’s “Hide and Seek,” which in the context of a fight just makes me think about that “OC” episode and the ensuing parodies. In an attempt to convince us of its necessity, they use the video backdrop to project the text messages that start and end the couple’s fight, but it feels more like they’re spelling out what the dance is about rather than just letting it come to us. There was a great “wow” moment where Ashleigh flipped up into Jakob’s arms, and he definitely cemented his spot as one of my favorites. Nigel is impressed with the rate of Ashleigh’s growth, and Adam says Jakob is “crushing it this season.”
2. Karen & Kevin
Broadway/Spencer Liff/”If My Friends Could See Me Now” from “Sweet Charity”: Kevin, it seems, didn’t start dancing until he was 17. That actually explains a lot – and I’m not saying that to be mean. He struggled in rehearsal, and it feels a little like he’s concentrating so much on his steps that he loses the ease of actual Broadway dancers. Karen’s better, but Nigel says he didn’t enjoy her performance now that she’s not playing a sex kitten (sigh) because her humor didn’t come across. He enjoyed it more than Kevin’s, however, and the judges are in agreement on that. Generally, raves for the choreography from the judges (agreed) and thumbs down for the execution (yep).
3. Noelle & Russell
Foxtrot/Eddie Simon/”Baby (You’ve Got What It Takes)” by Michael Bublé (with Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings)”: Foxtrot? Really? I mean, I get that they didn’t both do it, but still! So…I think we can all agree that it’s either sabotage because the foxtrot isn’t a huge vote-getter and they’ve already drawn it once, OR it’s fixed in their favor because Russell has already had a chance to practice and receive criticism on his foxtrot. I’m an equal opportunity conspiracy theorist. First off, mad props to Sharon Jones for being the awesomest lady to ever awesome. Dance-wise, the routine wasn’t a stunner for me, though Russell has certainly improved since his last foxtrot. I felt like he and Noelle were overperforming a bit (as Cat puts it, they were both “smiling like lunatics.”), but they really did do a pretty good job. And the judges unanimously praise their technique and actually seem to like the smiling.
4. Channing & Viktor
Jazz/Tyce Diorio/”Blackbird” by Bobby McFerrin: Tyce has gifted us with an extremely odd number about two curious blackbirds. When teaching his routines, Tyce is apparently much like those fashion photographers who are all “You’re a lion! Rawr! Let me see your claws! Now you’re a gazelle running from the lion! Leap! LEAP!!!” I’m somehow not surprised. And apparently they took his direction so seriously that Channing pecked Viktor in the face hard enough to require five stitches. Anyway, given the distracting music they had to dance to and the very unusual routine, I’m going to give our dancers a lot of credit for really throwing themselves into it. The judges think this is the first time they’ve seen Channing let go and enjoy herself, but don’t see Viktor improving week to week beyond his already high level.
5. Kathryn & Legacy
Paso Doble/Tony/”Pursuit” from KÀ (Cirque du Soleil soundtrack): Wow, this was a pretty hardcore routine – dark as expected, with much throwing of Kathryn to the ground and picking her up again. Is anyone else beginning to suspect that Legacy is a ringer and secretly teaches dance at Juilliard, or something? Because seriously. Raves all around from the judges for both of them, and well-deserved ones indeed. Okay, I’m going to say it: Favorite couple overall.
6. Ellenore & Ryan
Contemporary/Travis Wall/”Your Ex-Lover’s Dead” by Stars: Ellenore and Ryan play a reunited couple, and first of all, I love a speedy contemporary routine. And I hate to keep commenting on the music (not really), but thumbs up to Stars! The routine is absolutely beautiful. Captivating. The section where they danced side by side, in synch, was particularly stunning. Nigel not only calls Ellenore a brilliant dancer (so true), but says that Ryan is the best ballroom dancer who’s ever danced contemporary on the show. Adam declares that with this routine, this season of SYTYCD “has kicked in just now.” Completely. Agreed.
7. Mollee & Nathan
Pop Jazz/Laurie Ann Gibson/”Bad Romance” by Lady Gaga: Man, talk about a hard act to follow! And it’s pretty good, even though I honestly can’t stop thinking about Ellenore and Ryan’s dance. Nigel compliments them on digging deeper, and recognizes Mollee’s talent and commitment to dance. He doesn’t apologize for being tough on Nathan last week, and promises to stay on his back and force him to grow every week so that he can fulfill his potential to become one of the best dancers ever on the show. Mary says they’re back to golden again after last week’s stumble, even though it didn’t give her chills. I’m not convinced that they were as perfectly in synch as Adam said, but it was definitely a much stronger showing than last week.
Favorite Numbers: Obviously Ellenore and Ryan’s contemporary, as well as Kathryn and Legacy’s Paso Doble.
Stand-out Individuals: Finally, Ellenore was able to truly shine! Kathryn was also outstanding, and it was great seeing Jakob excel at hip hop. Channing also gets some credit for most improved dancer (AKA the “Used to Suck” award, as they called it in high school).
Disappointments: Kevin arrived at the bottom of the pack after several weeks of free fall, and I think he unfortunately dragged Karen down with him this week.
Who deserves to be sent packing? And more importantly, who will be sent packing? And obviously most importantly, what’s the deal with the double foxtrot?