So You Think You Can Dance review: Season 9 – ‘The Top 20 Perform, Part Two’

Courtesy of FOX

The top 20 perform again this week on So You Think You Can Dance, as the results are folded into the performance episode, finally showing us how things are going to work for the rest of the season. So what’s the verdict? Is cramming everything into a single episode a good move?

Let’s take a close look after the jump.

I would describe the all-in-one format as follows: Not the most ideal situation, but the show works well with what it’s given. The results weren’t given until the end of the show, which meant we saw dancers who were already eliminated perform. It was a bit awkward, especially when Cat was giving out phone numbers, knowing that four of them wouldn’t even make it to the voting period itself. But again, considering that they had to work with this new once-a-week format, I don’t know what choice the producers had. If anything, it gives the booted off-ers (yes, that’s the technical term) the bliss of ignorance and the joy of learning and performing another routine.

We start with another group number, which tells me that we’re thankfully going to get one every show. I’m definitely happy about that. As for the Nappy Tabs, weird “in the dark garden,” Marilyn Manson routine we were treated to this week: it was just okay. It didn’t blow me away where I wanted to rewind and watch it over and over again (as I did with last week’s Christopher Scott routine). No one aside from Cyrus really stood out, (and that was only because he was given a distinct character role) which was kind of a bummer, as I like to pick out dancers who are given their little “moments”. Generally, the group numbers start to get really amazing when the number of competitors is reduced to about 10 dancers. 20 dancers is a large group to keep in check, so I found it to be a bit cluttered and unruly throughout this routine. But still, it takes a lot for me to not love a group number, so bravo nonetheless.

Courtesy of FOX

Speaking of Christopher Scott, I was slightly excited to find out he would be choreographing the first number with stand out couple from last week, Lindsay and Cole. Unfortunately, this number was one of the weakest of the night. It was choppy and uninteresting and the props were completely distracting and overly complicated. Poor Lindsay looked so incredibly uncomfortable and out of place. There was a moment when she was dancing on the dentist chair and was wobbling so much to keep her balance, not even clever camera work could save it. I think Scott is amazing at choreographing the group numbers, but perhaps two dancers just isn’t enough for him to play with. Cole oversold his character as the stereotypical nerd and thought it would be funny (or advantageous) to stay in character into the judges’ comments (it was also implied that he stayed in character all week long). I was getting increasingly annoyed with it just during the comments, so I can imagine how vexed Lindsay would have been had he kept up with that during the week. Perhaps this affected her performance? I will say this: Cole might have been smart keep to acting as to remain memorable in the minds of the viewers. Next to Lindsay, he definitely had the advantage because of this little ploy. I hope he’s smart enough to know that it’s only going to work for him one time. Prediction: Lindsay is headed for the bottom three for sure. Cole might be in danger or could be saved depending on whether or not his little stunt worked. At the end of the day, both will be safe from elimination, still riding the coat tails of their first performance.

Courtesy of FOX

Amelia and Will are up next with a beautiful Sonya Tayeh routine. I completely agree with the judges that Tayeh has really stepped up as the choreographer of the season. I’ve liked some of her routines in the past, but she wasn’t nearly as consistently brilliant as she’s been this year. This piece was gorgeous. I loved how quick the clip packages were this week to keep things moving. We got such a succinct descriptor from Tayeh – “[The dancers] are carrying the right of the world on their shoulders, searching for the light at the end of the tunnel.” If you watch the routine with that in mind, the piece completely delivers. In fact, all the routines should be that unfettered and simplistic. Too often high concepts and props that don’t let the dancers shine distract us. I didn’t like Amelia’s facial expressions through most of the piece, but when I watched the routine over again, consciously avoiding that aspect, I absolutely loved it. She’s an amazing dancer and I would love her if she could just fix that small quirk. Prediction: Both are safe and will be for a while.

Courtesy of FOX

Nick lucks out again this week drawing another routine in his style – the tango. But even though he’s made leaps and bounds with his facial expressions this week, it’s not enough to save him. We learn later that Nick is out of the competition, but Amber managed to save herself from the bottom three entirely. I said last week that I predicted a showdown between Amber and Alexa, but ultimately felt Amber was the better dancer. Judging by this routine, I was spot on if I say so myself. Nick totally faded into the background and Amber took over the floor triumphantly. She had just the right amount of personality, playing perfectly into the role. And can I just say something about the power this woman has? You can see that core strength during some of those crazy hard moves! Her legs would be going a mile a minute but everything above the waist was so perfectly still. Amazing. Prediction: Amber is safe for another week.

Courtesy of FOX

One of my favourite couples, Audrey and Matthew were up with a complete departure from the loving routine they gave us last week. Still in the contemporary realm (lucky for them) they performed a killer Sonya Tayeh routine that was reminiscent of her earlier work. Tayeh described it (again, succinctly) as the “robotic struggle between male and female”. Again, bang on and really helped to set up the piece. The dancing was amazing – perfect musicality, athleticism and precision. There was such synergy between these two, I particularly loved the moment when he spinned and she followed, a fraction of a second afterward before falling into him. The perfect mimicking of the twirl was like watching it on rewind. I also agree with Nigel – the “stank walk” was another great element. Both futuristic and mechanical, but simultaneously primal and organic. How is that even possible? It is. Loved this routine. Prediction: Yeah, these two are going to be safe for a long time if they keep going like this.

Courtesy of FOX

Janelle and Dareian are up next with another Christopher Scott routine, and I hate to say this about one of my absolute favourite choreographer, but Scott fails to deliver once more. The routine was just too simplistic and sickening sweet, again, with a distracting storyline and props. The judges were right: it is a character piece and Dareian was far more believable than Janelle, whom I really disliked this go around. She just seemed completely inauthentic (read: fake) which is something you just can’t be on this show even for a moment. Consider the ending of the piece when he looks frantically through his jacket for the engagement ring and she’s holding. That scene was all of half a second, but to me, felt like an eternity. I was chanting “For the love God, please just end before my teeth fall out from all this sugar.” Even Janelle’s dress was overly precious. Baby doll dress with crinoline? Dancing to “My Girl?” Way too much. I will say that Dareian’s smile throughout was what saved it, as well as some of his impressive moves and jumps. I really hope he’s able to stay next week because he’s capable of so, so much more. Prediction: Both are in the bottom, and Janelle I think should be cut. But I think she’ll avoid it and get a pass for being “different”. As for Dareian, it will all depend on who he’s up against, but I think he’ll stick around for another week.

Courtesy of FOX

Janaya and Brandon are up next with a Broadway routine. I knew Janaya was a total goner based on last week, and after this routine, I can’t say I’m going to miss her. The concept was two people reading on a bench, the woman reading a saucy romance novel (Side note: any bets that this was a wink to the horrendous Fifty Shades of Grey phenomenon?) I loved the Sean Cheesman’s choreography in this routine, and Brandon absolutely killed it with his performance. I loved his acting throughout; I honestly didn’t even care about the dancing. Janaya was equally committed, (boy did she ever play crazy well), but it was distracting to me rather than just the right bit of over-the-top. I know Broadway is supposed to be campy, but Janaya’s performance just cried out bad-first-year-drama school acting. I absolutely loved Cat Deeley’s summation however, which was, and I quote: “She cray cray!” Hilarious! Prediction: I hope Brandon will be safe but I’m not sure if “America’ loved him as much as they should. But the good news is that he’ll be paired with Amber next week which will likely result in a stellar performance that will ultimately save him from elimination. (Side Note: I really hope he shows us his stepping skills in a solo.)

Courtesy of FOX

Eliana and Cyrus are up next with a jive. We all knew it was coming – Cyrus was going to get a style that he couldn’t smile his way through and this was it. Although I will say that he did give a valiant effort and the lifts were amazing. If Eliana hadn’t been so frickin’ stellar, I perhaps wouldn’t have noticed Cyrus’ technical deficiencies. But, as the judges pointed out, it seemed like he was waiting for her a lot of the time, neglecting to “fill in the blank spaces”. Eliana is indeed my pick to take ‘girls’ portion of the competition, but ultimately not pairing her with a partner at her level will hurt her eventually. I’m not convinced that she was brought down in this routine, but I can see it coming down the pipe. However, with the lack of personality and chemistry that the judges were griping about all night, these two could teach a master class to the rest of the competitors. If you just look at these two smiling, you just can’t help but enjoy what they’re doing even if it’s a hot mess. Then again, I’m not sure how they would fare in a more serious piece. Time will tell and I believe these two will have it. Prediction: I do think both will make it through safe this week just based on personality and gumption. But as the number of dancers widdle down, it’s going to be harder and harder to bank on that alone.

Courtesy of FOX

The “blonde” couple, as I affectionately refer to them, Alexa and Daniel are up next drawing a contemporary routine. The choreography was just gorgeous and difficult, but unlike last week, it came off effortless this time round. Despite the judges griping that there was no connection or chemistry, I had to disagree for this particular piece. I thought this routine was amazing and I totally bought into the sensuality. Personally, I wasn’t distracted by lack of chemistry. I do agree, however, that Alexa continues to struggle with “connection”. In all honestly, and it sounds so nit-picky, but I think it’s her mouth! It never closes which conveys a disinterested expression and takes her out of the piece. As some one who suffers from “perma-bitch face” myself, I totally feel for her. Both Daniel and Alexa were cut from the competition based on last week performance. I was slightly surprised again, considering the amount of time that was invested in Alexa, but I understand it as she’s had sufficient time to work on her “connection”. Daniel, as predicted, would go up against Chehon, and I knew one of them had to go. If it weren’t for Chehon’s Bollywood performance in this episode (which I’ll get to shortly) Daniel would have been saved. Alas, we must say goodbye to both of these hot blondes.

Courtesy of FOX

My guy favourite George is up next with Tiffany in a foxtrot. Personally, I thought this routine was delightful whimsical, transporting me back to a classic era in the very best way. These two effortlessly gilded over the stage and the costumes were perfectly en pointe. Even with the judges boasting similar comments, will viewers pick up the phone and vote for these two? I sure hope so. Ultimately, as much as I love George and this couple, I don’t think they’ve done anything thus far to really come to forefront and blow people out of the water. They’ll need to so something huge next week if they’re going to stick around until the end. Prediction: I think they’ll be safe this week, but much like Eliana and Cyrus, their safe days are numbered.

Courtesy of FOX

Bollywood is up next with Witney and Chehon, who are both saved from elimination come results time. I credit their amazing work in this routine as a huge part of that save – for Chehon in particular. I was very surprised to see Witney in the bottom, as I thought her samba last week was enough to save her. But it was painfully obvious that she would not be going home considering how both nights had played out. The athleticism in any Bollywood number always astonishes me; I break a sweat just by watching. You need some damn good core strength and leg muscles to pull this off with the kind of ease that these two did. I did think Witney could have gotten deeper into the ground, and done a bit more with the performance aspect, but considering the difficulty and intricacy of the moves, I can’t fault her too much. Prediction: Despite all the great things I’m saying, I’m still thinking these two are in the bottom! I know crazy, eh? But honestly, only one save can be squeezed out of this number and I don’t think the judges can save these two again. They’ll ask both to perform again, and Witney may be saved once more based on her solo if Janelle flounders but I think they’ll keep Janelle around because she’s the first and only belly dancer.

After the performances we were treated to a preview of Adam Shankman’s new film Step Up: Revolution, which I believe is the reason why we didn’t see any of the bottom six give us a solo (i.e. not enough time). I won’t go too much into Step Up aside from saying this: based on the clip package and performance the dancing looks amazing and the acting, horrendous. Katherine may be a beautiful dancer, but an as an actress who is required to speak? She is not. Those bits of dialogue we were treated to… YIKES. *shudder*.

To summarize for all your So You Think You Can Dance Pools, my predictions for how things are going to go down next week (for what they’re worth…) are as follows:

  • Girls: Lindsay, Janelle, Witney (cut)
  • Guys: Brandon, Dareian and Chehon (cut)

What did you think viewers? How did you like the all-in-one-format? Were you shocked by any of the bottom three? Who do you think will be in the bottom next week? Let us know in the comments section.

So You Think You Can Dance airs Wednesdays at 8:00pm EST on FOX.

About tvangie

Angie is a TV addict currently pursuing a PhD in media studies. A freelance researcher and writer on the side – she really misses talking about her favourite shows because none of her friends watch them. Help her out.

3 thoughts on “So You Think You Can Dance review: Season 9 – ‘The Top 20 Perform, Part Two’

  1. I totally agree with your summaries, and I wasn’t shocked by the results. I also loved the “blonds” in the bathtub, but Daniel’s facial expressions were too hard to decipher for a mainstream audience. Sure, he didn’t come off quite as vacuous as Alexa, but he’s a difficult read. During the judging and eliminations you could see deeper emotions bubbling away behind his forced smile, but those emotions needed to have been displayed more transparently in the performances if the judges were ever going to back him. I think Chehon was saved because he managed to break through his ballet discipline and convey some real emotion in the Bollywood number.

    Regarding the men: I think Cole’s and Cyrus’s days are numbered (especially as the routines get trickier); I’m happy Nick is gone (he creeped me out); I love watching Dareian dance (but he needs a better partner!); and this week I finally understood why Will was in the Top 20.

    As for the women: Hopefully Cyrus will get booted sooner rather than later so that Eliana can shine; I desperately want to see Amber do something other than ballroom; and week after week I’m forced to love Amelia, despite how much I loath her anachronistic personal styling.

    • I never really minded Daniel – I never paid attention to his facial expressions. To me, it was all about the dancing when it came to him, which was pretty darn good. (although the red-suit routine was just not good…) I think if he was given more of a chance, he would really have emerged as a contender.

      I totally agree with you about Dareian – especially when Janelle was whining about having to kiss him and pretend to love him. How is that supposed to help the poor guy?! Even if she was joking…not cool.

      It’s interesting that you think Cole’s days are numbered. I think he’ll stick around because he’s definitely exploiting the performance aspect. What he’s not realizing is that it’s likely making it harder for Lindsay.

  2. Keith, it was my understanding that since there will be one man and one woman crowned the winner, they are only competing against their own gender this time. For that reason Cyrus shouldn’t hold Eliana back unless they continue to be partners rather than being switched up. I foresee everyone getting new partners, but we have to wait another week to find out. I was exposed to SYTYCD by my Dish co-worker who recommended it last year. The difference this year is that I can watch commercial free with Auto Hop on my PrimeTime Anytime recordings. That is a huge time savings that I use to watch another show that night with my family. We really enjoy TV, and now we get to enjoy it even more, with more shows.