So You Think You Can Dance: Season 9 – ‘The Top 8 Perform’

Courtesy of FOX

Well dance fans, we’re heading into the home stretch. With only three more episodes left for the season, the Top 8 really had to bring it this week on So You Think You Can Dance. Have you seen our two winners emerge from the pack?

Let’s bitch it out.

This week we saw another change-up in the format. All of the top 8 dancers did solos throughout the show in addition to their All-Star partner routines. I think this was a good move as it didn’t feel like “time filler’ as it might have in the past. There also was no special presentation from a professional dance troupe tacked on to the end of the show. Again, I think in the interest of time, this was a good move. I trust we’ll have plenty of the “special presentations” in the season finale coming up in a couple of weeks. This also marked the last time that judges decide to “save” some one from the bottom three. Moving forward, it is all up to America. As a result, I will no longer be offering my predictions after each routine write-up. It’s in “America’s hands” now.

We still, however, got a brand new group routine to open the show: a beautiful Chinese fan dance. In addition to being elegant, it felt fresh – I couldn’t put my finger on who the choreographer was. And rightly so because it was later revealed to be new addition, Peter Chu. I also couldn’t help but notice Cyrus’ lack of technical ability. As the group gets smaller and smaller, these things really start to stand out, even becoming distracting. All the guys were meant to blend, dancing together in sync, with the girls. Unfortunately, Cyrus stuck out like a sore thumb in this routine, despite being relegated to the back for much of it. In group routines, his personality and exuberance just doesn’t seem to be enough.

On to the competitors!

Courtesy of FOX

Witney was up first, paired with tWitch in a hip-hop routine. As I said last week, partnering with tWitch is in and of itself a challenge. Throw in some equally difficult choreography and you BEST be stepping it up. Luther Brown (Canadian, and former So You Think You Can Dance Canada judge – HOLLA!) gave Witney quite the challenge, too. I was out of breath just watching this number! Witney was right there in it with tWitch, bringing the street and getting down and dirt-ay in her MC Hammer/Diaper pants. She didn’t necessarily bring anything to further elevate tWitch (for this, please revisit Alex FRICKIN Wong’s Outta Your Mind routine) but I thought she did very well indeed. I totally agreed with Nigel when he said he was waiting all season for a hard-hitting, killer hip-hop routine. This was definitely the best in the genre so far this season.

Courtesy of FOX

Cole was up next with Allison as they danced a Sonya Tayeh routine set to a Björk song. Could we ask for a more perfect all around pairing? Allison can do just about anything, so she was fabulous in this routine, but really, this kind of weird movement is where I think Cole fits best. We learn that he’s supposed to play a “soulless man” which was very similar to his character in Mia Michaels’ “Addiction” routine. Here, however, he fares much better. Theatrics were a must and both dancers used it well to further punctuate the dancing. I absolutely adored the freezes and pauses in the lifts – they were fascinating to look at. Cole still remains my least favourite dancer in the competition, but he really excelled in all aspects of this number.

Courtesy of FOX

My number one favourite dancer, Eliana, was up next. And oh lord, she was tasked with the “dance of death”, aka the quickstep. She danced this with All-Star – and extremely photogenic – Ryan (Remember him? He and his wife Ashleigh were featured in Season 6 aka the most ZZZZ-worthy season in the history of the series). Although both dancers, I’m sure, danced this routine impeccably, it didn’t do it for me. I don’t know enough about quickstep to be an adequate judge, but as a viewer, I got bored. I also totally didn’t buy into the “story” – it starts off with a wife who wants more attention and husband who would rather read the paper than give her the time of day. Even when she kicks the chair out from under him, he doesn’t waiver. But all of a sudden they end up in a “closed-hold” and dance away the rest of the routine. Say wha? The opening concept was too distracting for me that I couldn’t really enjoy this routine (despite the dazzling smiles of the dancers) The only moment where I perked up was the “waterfall” trick near the end where they essentially back-flipped over each other. That being said, overall there wasn’t enough for me to hang onto.

Courtesy of FOX

Lindsay was paired with Alex FRICKIN Wong (AFW) for a Sonya Tayeh jazz routine set to Gotye’s “Somebody That I Used to Know”. I’ll admit when the track started I was a bit weary because it has a memorable music video and is completely overplayed at this point. Personally I like coming into a routine where the music isn’t so top of mind for me – I find it easier to see the musicality of the dancing without the burden of a familiar song. But…I was surprised. Once the routine started there was this weird, choppy movement to the ‘tinny’ sounds of the xylophone that was quite effective. Unfortunately for Lindsay, I was primarily watching AFW. The dancing was again, technically perfect, but I didn’t sense a connection or story, especially in comparison to AFW’s routine with Eliana last week. This was more interesting when looking at the movements in isolation. As a routine, it didn’t feel like a cohesive whole. The judges echoed my thoughts, which immediately told me that Lindsay would be leaving the competition at the end of the show.

Courtesy of FOX

Hip-hop was up next as Will and All-Star Lauren tackled a Christopher Scott (swoon) routine. This routine suffered the dreaded high-concept syndrome, which I’ve griped about before. I was completely distracted and hung-up on the concept that ultimately distanced me from the dancing and the performance. Will is supposed to be upset about something and Lauren represents “that part” of his mind that encourages dancing his problems away. We see Will frustrated over some small pieces of crumpled paper, and call me nitpicky (because I know I am) but I couldn’t stop thinking about what the heck those little pieces of paper were. Receipts? Love letters? Overdue library notices? Before I knew it the routine was already half done. Additionally, I couldn’t relate to the girl in a white dress who pops up out of nowhere and tells you to dance. Perhaps it would have been more effective if the All-Star had a similar stature to Will? It might have been easier for me to buy into it. It also made me wonder if head-honcho CEOs have similar experiences in which a cute little brunette in a short skirt pop up in their minds to “dance the pain away”. The dancing was adequate despite the concept, but again, I had a hard time latching on to this one. I thought Will’s more serious attitude was just okay in this piece, but he definitely shines when he’s all smiles. Unfortunately, Will was cut from the competition based on last week’s  Bollywood piece (which I personally, loved). It seems that the seriousness came one routine too late.

Courtesy of FOX

Cyrus was up next with last season’s champion, Melanie. They danced a Mandy Moore jazz routine that both playful and unique. As much as I enjoy Cyrus, I literally could not stop looking at Melanie throughout the entire routine. Seriously could not take my eyes off of her! She has a charisma that puts Cyrus to shame. I didn’t even care about the “steps” in the routine, as Melanie’s facial expressions and her performance was captivating enough. It wasn’t even an emotional piece, but she was like a magnet that completely dominated that dance floor. It completely reminded me why she took the whole thing last season. The accompanying camera work also showcased Melanie over Cyrus (she had two very obvious close-ups, while I’m having trouble recalling if Cyrus had any at all). Perhaps this was a deliberate attempt to cover-up Cyrus’ technical deficiencies?

Courtesy of FOX

Chehon, who I incorrectly predicted would be gonzo, was up next, and boy am I ever glad I was wrong. He danced a tango with Anya and oh my goodness was it ever an amazing routine. I love me some tango, but this felt miles away from what we normally get, in a great way. This was like a mini movie. There was an amazing sexual tension between the two (it felt like it was being emitted from the screen), which is key to a successful tango. Then midway there was a moment where that tension broke and shifted into to completely believable sensuality. I felt as if I were watching two people deeply in love and completely enthralled with each other. All of this in under two minutes. Chehon was ah-mazing in this routine; he just emulated strength and brooding masculinity. The perfect complement to Anya. This pairing was simply magnificent and proved to be the best routine of the night by far.

Courtesy of FOX

Last on the docket was Tiffany paired with All-Star Ade (WOOT!) in a Mandy Moore contemporary number. This routine – set to an epic Celine Dion song – just felt like a series of difficult lifts, one after another. Unfortunately I thought there were buckets of untapped potential. I love Tiffany – she’s one of my favourites to win – but I didn’t connect with her at all in this piece. Ade was as strong as ever, but it seriously just looked like he was throwing Tiffany around. There was a maturity missing from Tiffany’s performance, which Ade had in spades. Additionally, Tiffany was smiling throughout the routine and that really irked me. The grandiose nature of the choreography and the music allows for more contrasting layers of passion and sensuality. To me, Tiffany felt like a teenager in an adult piece. Nevertheless, it’s impossible not to be impressed by her athleticism and technical ability throughout, so I’ll still give her kudos for that.

Courtesy of FOX

Bits and Bites:

  • Chehon delivered one of the most breathtaking solos I’ve ever seen on the show. I’m so glad he’s stayed in the competition long enough for me to witness it (despite my incorrect predictions). He even shed a few tears after dancing it, likely dedicating it to his parents who sacrificed so much for his happiness. Not only did he deliver the best routine of the night, he gave us the best moment of the night. I’m more than happy to concede I got this guy wrong
  • Side Note: Chehon’s parents look like the coolest parents ever.
  • Is it just me, or did Will’s mom resemble Jaclyn on ABC’s trash-fest ‘Bachelor Pad’?
  • A note about the guest judges: With the exception of Zooey Deschanel (who appeared on the “Top 20 Showcase”) I believe all of the guest judges this season have been great additions to the panel. It happily reminded me of early seasons when I didn’t have to fast-forward through the inane comments of celebrity judges who shouldn’t have been on in the first place. The guests this season have all contributed productive and constructive comments, or at the very least, have been entertaining, such as this week’s guest, Jesse Tyler Ferguson.
  • REJOICE everyone! Mary Murphy is wearing normal rings again. It looks like she has finally rid herself of the perilous rhinestone insects that had leached onto her fingers the past couple of episodes.
  • I loved how Chehon had no idea what the hell the “hot tamale train was and just looked utterly confused when Mary put him on it. It was almost as priceless as when the BalletBoyz utter the infamous words “I don’t know who this ‘titch’ fellow is…”

What did you think viewers? With only two episodes left of the season, who are your predictions for the winners? I choose Eliana for the most favourite girl, and Cyrus for the most favourite guy. Place your bets in the comments section below!

So You Think You Can Dance airs 8:00pm EST, Wednesdays 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: Season 9 – ‘The Top 8 Perform’

  1. Love your review! I thought this episode finally returned us to the excitement I used to feel in seasons past. Last year was a let-down for me. Like you, I was mesmerized by Chehon and Anya. And by Chehon’s solo. I knew that he had urged his mom to come this week instead of waiting until he “made the finale” because he was convinced he was going home and didn’t want her to miss it. Her presence must have shoved over that inner wall that kept him holding back.

    Even his post-show interviews (with his good friend, Cole) show a different, more relaxed Chehon. I hope it continues into next week.
    Just in case, here are links to a couple of interviews. The second on is kind of hilarious:

  2. I absolutely loved Twitch and Witney together in that Hip Hop routine. Witney really is versatile and she did outstanding in that not-so-easy routine. In some parts of it I felt she even outdid Twitch! I’ve had my Hopper recording the entire season so if I’ve missed something I can always go back. I work at Dish and after testing the Hopper a few months ago I knew I had to upgrade. I loved Eliana’s performance in the quick step with Ryan. She looked so comfortable and she looked like she was having a blast. She is definitely some competition to keep an eye on.