So You Think You Can Dance Recap: Hard Eight
We’ve reached that point in the So You Think You Can Dance season where every cut is painful, where any negative critique becomes a larger harbinger of impending doom. It’s times like this when we need a guest judge like Jesse Tyler Ferguson, a guy who’s clearly a fan of the show and of every dancer on the stage, and a man whose lightning quick wit provides a much-needed counterbalance to the sting of losing absolutely terrific competitors like Lindsay and Will.
Whether pointing out the difficulty Witney must’ve had dancing in “diaper pants,” or declaring his need for a cocktail after Cole and Allison’s “American Horror Story promo,” Ferguson is that rare persence on the panel who’s genuinely funny, and yet can provide insightful critique despite mistaking gauchos for nachos. If Uncle Nigel decides to use only Ferguson, Christina Applegate, and Debbie Allen in the “third chair” slot in Season 10 (because there just has to be a Season 10, right?) I, for one, would be perfectly content.
As an aside, I’d also be perfectly content if Uncle Nigel continued to shake up the choreography rotation for the remainder of Season 9. Peter Chew’s geishas-and-assassins opening number was strange and memorable, while Luther Brown and Jonathan Roberts both impressed with their first routines of the season.
Anyhow, without further ado, let’s rank the four gals and four guys based on their non-solo routines this week:
Top 4 Gals
1) Eliana and All-Star Ryan, Quickstep: I know, I know, Mary and Nigel have pretty much been declaring Eliana the Season 9 champ for several weeks running, but just because they’re obvious and manipulative doesn’t mean they’re wrong. Eliana was tremendous as the bored and very sexy housewife in this tricky ballroom routine. That “waterfall” into a back layover was positively eye-popping, and as Jesse noted, Eliana has an accessability that makes you feel like you truly know her, even if you don’t. Plus, her smile has enough wattage to power a small city in the event of a weather-related blackout.
2) Witney and All-Star Twitch, Hip-Hop: Like a Pointer Sister, I was so excited to see a harder-edged hip-hop routine instead of the lyrical shmyrical stuff we’ve been getting all season. And Witney brought an interesting mix of femininity and nastiness to the floor, while nailing every fast, furious arm movement, and never once surrendering focus to her equally magnetic partner Twitch.
3) Tiffany and All-Star Ade, Contemporary: When the routine finished, my husband verbalized the thought that was percolating in my head: “Wouldn’t that routine have been more moving had it not been set to Celine Dion’s ‘Power of Love’?” Not to be all music-snobby, but that particular track just seemed a little too…obvious? Over the top? Cornball? And so while Tiffany flew about the stage with the speed and lightness of a hummingbird, and while it was terrific to see Ade back in the mix, the overall effect left me a little less in rapture than the judges, who rose to their feet with a Standing O.
4) Lindsay and All-Star Alex, Jazz: I hate to put Lindsay at the bottom of the pack this week, especially since I’d say that aside from Eliana, she’s been the most versatile, consistent performer on the women’s side overall. And frankly, I’m not even sure it’s Lindsay’s fault that she was fourth out of four this week. The stuttery movements and cacophonous connections she was given by Sonya Tayeh seemed destined to be more intellectually stimulating than truly soul stirring. But you knew when the judges started harping on Lindsay and Alex’s lack of chemistry, and then Nigel declared she had “the ability to be a fantastic dancer,” that the show was fixing to axe the girl who’s always been viewed by our panel as the lesser of the two Utah ballroom powerhouses. I just wish Nigel had publicly acknowledged that it was Lindsay’s solo this week was vastly superior to Whitney’s. Anyone else agree?
Top 4 Guys
1) Will and All-Star Lauren, Hip-Hop: Call me crazy, but I thought Will was hands-down the best of the guys this week, articulating Christopher Scott’s tricky “voice in guy’s head comes to life and helps him through a tough time” routine with real passion and admirable precision. Dude proved to be fleet and sharp, and stayed in sync with a woman who wasn’t even in his line of sight for half the routine. How the panel marked him for elimination is a mystery so bizarre, I half-expect it to be the subject of a Nova episode in 2013.