So You Think You Can Dance review – Season 9: ‘The Top 10 Perform’

Courtesy of FOX

Well Dance fans, we’re approaching the homestretch as the Top 10 perform this week with the much-anticipated All-Stars. How did this year’s competitors stand up to the past stars of So You Think You Can Dance?

Let’s take a closer look after the jump.

We opened the show with a delightful group number honouring Gene Kelly. It functioned more as a series of vignettes rather than a cohesive group number, which worked for me. Since I griped last week about being unable to see the whole stage in order to fully grasp the effect of everyone dancing in sync, I thought the more personalized moments we got this time round worked well. I especially loved Tiffany as a little Anchors Aweigh Gene Kelly, and Chehon as the slick Kelly from Singin’ in the Rain. I also loved to see the number’s choreographer Tyce Diorio dancing in the number to fill in for a “slightly injured” Cole.

Now onto the All Stars! A quick note about the All-Star format and why it works: not only do our All-Stars bring back fond memories, but they’re also invaluable to the remaining Top 10. They elevate the competitors, pushing them to match their talents. If the competitors succeed, they grow and mature exponentially when it comes to dancing and performance; if they fail, it’s a great way to weed out those less deserving. In other words, there’s no hiding behind gimmicks (AH-Cole-HEM) or riding on coattails anymore. Each dancer has to bring it.

Courtesy of FOX

First up was Tiffany paired with one of my fave SYTYCD alumni, Brandon (So many fond memories of his dancing with Janelle!) The style was disco, and holy mother was this routine ever exciting. Brandon threw little Tiffany around like a wet towel and both made it look absolutely effortless. So many previous disco routines have been too slow for my liking, but this one looked like it was on permanent fast-forward. The starburst filters were out in spades (nearly seizure-inducing) and I loved all the glitter, the hip action and the lifts. It really was exhilarating! Prediction: Tiffany BEST be safe, as she’s quickly becoming one of my favourite girls. I’ll go one further and predict she’ll go head-to-head with Eliana for the SYTYCD crown.

Courtesy of FOX

Next was Witney paired with season one winner Nick. Season one is the only season of SYTYCD that I missed. I remember catching the odd episode here and there (P.S. Anyone remember the dreadful host they had in S1? So glad she went on maternity leave or something because I love me some Cat Deeley). They danced a Travis Wall jazz routine that suffered from the dreaded high concept. Two ghosts playing around in an abandoned club = ZZZZ.  Seriously, I could really do without the story/concept setups. Let me watch the dance and I should be able to figure it out! This one just felt stunted and slow, and I hated the white makeup. There’s no doubt that these two can dance but at this level in the competition – it honestly isn’t just about the dancing anymore. Prediction: Sorry Witney, I think you’re destined for the bottom next week again.

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My least favourite dancer this year is Cole. I think he hides behind histrionics, which ultimately distances me. He’s up next with hot tamale Anya in a ballroom routine that fell totally flat. There was absolutely no chemistry between them, and with a woman as hot as Anya, I found that surprising. How could you not have chemistry with this woman? I likened the pairing to a school teacher and a student- which isn’t meant to be a slight at Anya (who still manages to drip sex even though it’s been quite some time since we’ve seen her). No, what I’m talking about is the lack of maturity in Cole’s performance. It just didn’t work – completely awkward, stiff and uninteresting. Worst of all: it was one-note…one boring note. Prediction: I hope Cole’s in the bottom and ultimately eliminated because it’s time we cut the proverbial fat.

Courtesy of FOX

Next up was Lindsay paired with Jakob (who?) in a jazz routine. I may not remember much about Jakob, but I sure as heck didn’t care once I saw him dancing. He was all I could look at, and although the routine was wonderfully choreographed, it really exposed Lindsay’s deficiencies. Since the two were required to “shadow” each other – and did manage to match one another in terms of timing – all I could notice is how Lindsay couldn’t extend as beautifully, kick as high or perform as well as Jakob. As much as I love her, when she was juxtaposed with Jakob, she didn’t have a chance. Prediction: I think she’ll be in the bottom, which will give us a ballroom twin showdown.

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Will was partnered with Step Up Revolution star, Kathryn, for a Bollywood routine. I loved this number. I don’t know if I just have an affinity for Bollywood (even Smash‘s rendition managed to get me) but I just couldn’t help but smile after witnessing Will infectious energy. Kathryn, of course, was beautiful and seemed to be given most of the crazy difficult moves, but Will’s performance really complemented her well. Gushing with personality, this routine – and Will – was a huge winner. Prediction: Flashing that smile should guarantee Will’s safety for another week.

Courtesy of FOX

Speaking of personality, we have Cyrus paired with Jaimie (one of my girl crushes) in an epic Travis Wall routine about the end of the world. As I’ve said before, Travis Wall’s contemporary (not jazz) routines are pretty much a get-out-of-the-bottom-free card, but Cyrus wasn’t given an automatic pass. His efforts were quite evident but not in a laboured way. His devotion to the show is just inspiring and although he might not be best technical dancer, I totally agree with the judges decision to bolster Cyrus. I was screaming “Yes!” to the television when Nigel mentioned the slow walk at the end of the number. It was breathtaking and encapsulated Cyrus’ ability to really deliver despite his technical abilities. Prediction: Cyrus will be safe.

Courtesy of FOX

Unfortunately we moved from a great routine to another awkward offering. I hate to be a negative nelly, but this hip hop routine with Chehon and Lauren was all kinds of uncomfortable. I will give Chehon props because you could tell he was trying incredibly hard to be footloose and fancy-free. He actually looked like he was having fun, but ultimately the number looked like some creepy guy trying to awkwardly mack on a girl in a club. Prediction: Chehon’s likely dunzo next week, but don’t cry for him Argentina – this boy will never want for work.

Courtesy of FOX

My favourite guy, George, was up next in a jazz routine with Allison. And unlike the first jazz routine we saw, this one was explosive. I absolutely loved it and I’m not even normally a jazz fan. There was such fluidity of movement, gorgeous dancing and musicality I just couldn’t look away. But cranky old Nigel had to throw a wrench into everything, giving the completely unfounded criticism that George wasn’t being “raunchy” enough. I call BS. What Nigel’s comment really exposed is who the judges will eliminate come end of show. We got a hint of this last week when he unfairly went after poor Matthew. I think it’s a way to soften the shock to the dancer for judgment to come at episode’s end. Any time Nigel dishes out the harsh criticism, you can bet that that dancer will (at the very least) in the bottom, or (at worst) be eliminated. You want more evidence? George gave the best solo in “dance for your life” history, yet he still got cut. And so George was sent packing at the end of this week’s episode, much to my dismay. I don’t know why, but the audience just wasn’t latching-on to him. My theory? The porn-stache. Consider yourselves informed, kids.

Courtesy of FOX

But enough griping, because then we got the highlight of the night, or dare I say, the entire season. It was the return of Alex FRICKIN‘ Wong! And not only that, but he was paired with my choice for the girl winner, Eliana, in an absolutely breathtaking Stacey Tookey routine. Anyone who didn’t see this one, needs to book it on over to YouTube pronto, and while you’re at it, check out one of THE best routines in SYTYCD history ever and learn why Alex earns his nickname (Keep in mind he started off as a ballet dancer). I’m personally guaranteeing this will be among the most entertaining minutes of your life. You’re welcome.

Okay, sorry…back to the routine: Alex does not disappoint and Eliana is right there with him. The routine was best of the season by far. I didn’t care about performance, about technical skills – none of that. I was in the moment, completely enthralled. Everything worked as a harmonious whole and it was absolutely breathtaking. Prediction: Eliana is going to win the whole darn thing.

Courtesy of FOX

We then take a 180 as Audrey tackles hip-hop with tWitch. I feel for Audrey, because if you’re paired with tWitch, especially in this genre, you’ve got your work cut out for you. But it goes back to why the All Star format works: you either excel and end up like Alex FRICKIN’ Wong, or you flounder, which Audrey unfortunately did. She has definitely illustrated that she’s got some real talent, but again, at this stage in the game, that’s simply not enough; you really have to Step. It. Up. Much like Lindsay, her movement and performance just couldn’t measure up once she had to perform next to a seasoned All-Star. And it turns out I’m not alone in this opinion because shortly afterwards Audrey is eliminated from the show.

Courtesy of FOX

After we find out that all the bottom dancers (Witney, Chehon, George and Audrey) are set to dance pointless solos (pointless because the judges have clearly already made up their minds), we’re treated to a routine from guest judge, Benjamin Millepied’s LA Dance Project. This dance was the epitome of maturity and reminded me that wonderful dancers need not be relegated to SYTYCD‘s age boundaries. (Side Note: Before I get any angry comments, I do realize there’s a rationale for only casting dancers the ages of 19-29 out of interest for partnerships. I’m just grateful we were shown that there is indeed life after 30).

So that was the Top 10, Dance fans. What did you think of the All-Star routines? Are you as distracted as I am when it comes to Mary Murphy’s heinous, rhinestone butterfly colony? Did you like guest judge Millepied, his dance critiques, or his accent? Sound off in our comments section below.

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.

2 thoughts on “So You Think You Can Dance review – Season 9: ‘The Top 10 Perform’

  1. Not sure how Cole is considered proverbial fat just because he couldn’t find chemistry with Anya. Doesn’t the fact that you keep emphasizing her sex appeal in your blog degrade her into an object? What about her dance ability? And more importantly, what about Cole’s dance ability? Cole had a two day foot injury which obviously hampered on rehearsal time, and he has performed consistently well throughout the competition. At least you didn’t make a pun on his surname, which I was expecting based on the low caliber of your writing. You’re doing your PhD at a state university, right?

    The fact that you’re raving about Cyrus’ acting just shows how limited the dance audience of this show has become. Cyrus cannot dance in any genre outside of his own. The lifts were labored, and the cabriole was awful.

    • I don’t think commenting on Anya’s sex appeal in a number that was clearly meant to showcase it, is unfounded. I did feel that Cole wasn’t up to snuff in that particular number and his propensity for the overacting was a bit jarring for me over his past routines. In fact it has nothing to do with his dancing ability – which I’ve maintained is stellar. My issue is his performance, which I believe, at this stage in the competition, is paramount. As for Cyrus – I like him far more than Cole, but that’s obviously a personal opinion.

      So let’s agree to disagree. Your opinion is more than welcome here, but your personal attacks are not.

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