Up until the Wednesday night live performance episode, viewers didn't really know how the producers of "So You Think You Can Dance" would handle the results of the previous week's voting and eliminations of the dancers. Not having a results episode required some creativity, but it is doubtful that anyone complained about how it was ultimately accomplished.
Fans of "So You Think You Can Dance" discovered early on that Fox Television had cut the results episodes of the show. However, nobody knew how the eliminations fromt he previous week would be incorporated into each succeeding show. Until the Wednesday night's live show from Los Angeles, that is. After the Top 20 performed a hip-hop group number choreographed by Nappytabs and set to the music of Marilyn Manson's "Beautiful People," executive producer and judge Nigel Lythgoe explained how they had decided to do it.
The New Rules For Elimination
As it turns out, although dancers would be eliminated each week, they would not be sent packing until the end of the live performance shows, which would give the viewers another chance to see the departing dancers do at least one more routine. So instead of watching eight routines by the sixteen remaining contestants, all of the Top 20 performed, just as they had on the previous show. The four eliminated were told at the end of the show and their vote numbers were removed from the list.
All in all, a very satisfying way to combine the results with the competition -- because sixteen dancers would move forward to next week's show -- and actually give the eliminated dancers more time to showcase their talent.
On hand for the first elimination/competition (the "SYTYCD" Top 20/Top 16 live performance show?) as guest judge was famed director/producer/choreographer Adam Shankman. Along with judging, he was there to plug (as much as possible, as it turned out) his latest movie, "Step Up Revolution," which he co-wrote.
First up was Lindsay and Cole, who performed a fun hip-hop routine put together by Christopher Scott to Lady Gaga's "Teeth." Although Lindsay might not have pulled off her vamp dental assistant to perfection, she did well. But Cole was fully in character as the dentist-averse nerd. In fact, he annoyingly stayed in character until the pair exited the stage. Nigel said he'd been in character for days, and Shankman, while critiquing, told him to "give it a rest" because he was "freaking [him] out."
Second: Amelia and Will took a Sonya Tayeh-choreographed contemporary piece and made it a beautiful work of art. It moved, it flowed, it worked perfectly with the haunting music of Olafur Arnalds' "3326." It very well could have been the best performance of the night.
Following Amelia and Will was a difficult task, but it was Amber and Nick's to do. They had an Argentine Tango to perform. Amber was all lines and crisp moves, stunning to watch. In fact, she made it difficult to notice that Nick was doing a great job as well. The judges certainly enjoyed it, but the music, "Tanguera" by Sexteto Mayor, seemed a bit distracting (or maybe it was just that unexciting piano accordion sound that kept intruding on what would have been a great song without it).
The fourth pair to hit the floor was Audrey and Matthew. It's another well-performed Sonya Tayeh piece, but this time it's a jazz routine set to Steed Lord's "Hear Me Now." Not as good a routine as Amelia and Will's but still very nice. Sonya seems to be the choreographer to watch this season.
The fifth spot was taken by Janelle and Dareian, who performed a lyrical hip-hop routine composed by Christopher Scott. Set to "My Girl" by The Temptations, it was a flowing, pristine, fun piece that told the story of a guy trying to propose to a girl. Very 1950s, 1960s. The judges, who seemed to be disappointed, didn't think it was challenging enough for the dancers. Undoubtedly they see things the audience misses (they are all dancers, you know) and what might look great to the untrained eye isn't all that memorable or difficult in the eyes of those with technical expertise. (Besides, the writer must provide the disclaimer that dancing is an enjoyed art form and not something for which he has practical or technical knowledge.)
Sixth: Janaya and Brandon go Broadway. This Sean Cheesman-choreographed piece was not only fun but very athletic. Lots of movement, a little push, a little shove, and great dancing -- around a park bench. This girl-chases-boy story was set to Linda Eder's "Bring On The Men."
Eliana and Cyrus followed, performing a jive routine put together by the team of Tony Meredith and Melanie LaPatin. The pair danced to Jack White's "I'm Shakin'." It's fun to watch and, although it is obvious that Cyrus is out of his depth on this, he still does an excellent job of being there for his partner, something noted by the judges. Cyrus has got to be the underdog favorite in the competition (he's a popping/animator with no formal dance training) and his determination and natural talent shows in the quickness with which he learns. Eliana is considered perhaps the dancer to beat among the females of Season 9 and she's done a great job of making Cyrus look good as well.
Up next: Alexa and Daniel. There's something missing in this piece and it isn't in the choreography, which was masterfully put together by Dee Caspary. A contemporary routine, the dancers were captivating. But even the judges couldn't quite place what was wrong. Perhaps it was the languid piece of music, Yanni's "So Long My Friend." But it could have been the fact that the prop was an old-fashioned bathtub and perhaps viewers -- and the judges -- couldn't get past the feeling they were watching a very artsy Cialis commercial with one of the bathtubs missing.
Next to last was Tiffany and George, performing the foxtrot. Set to Sinead O'Connor's "I Want To Be Loved By You," there seemed something choppy about it, something totally amiss. But if there was, the judges didn't see it. All gave the second routine by Tony Meredith and Melanie LaPatin rave reviews and Nigel Lythgoe even said it reminded him of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers and dance routines that had inspired him to learn to dance.
The last dance was performed by Witney and Chehon, a Bollywood routine choreographed by Nakul Dev Mahajan. The pair do a great job of prancing, bouncing, and flowing, keeping their feet and hands moving to the intricate traditional dance style. It was great fun to watch and the judges said so.
With the dancing out of the way, the "Step Up" dancers hit the stage for a live performance to promote the upcoming film "Step Up Revolution," not that guest judge Shankman hadn't shamelessly plugged the movie throughout the show (sometimes with the help of fellow judge Mary Murphy). Among the troupe were "So You Think You Can Dance" alums Twitch, Kathryn and Phillip, none of which the cameras gave enough time. "Step Up Revolution" is the fourth movie in the "Step Up" franchise and will hit theatres nationwide on July 27.
The Voting Results and The Eliminations
Finally, it was time to see who would stay as part of the Top 16 and who would be leaving. Host Cat Deeley named off the three male and three female dancers that had received the fewest votes after the Top 20 performance episode. They were: Alexa, Janaya and Witney; Nick, Daniel and Chehon.
Nigel made it clear that the talent on the show in Season 9 was phenomenal and that the voting in no way reflected on their dancing. He noted that "So You Think You Can Dance" was as much a personality contest as it was a dance competition. He said, "We don't vote anybody off, we only save people."
After placing the elimination of the dancers firmly on the "So You Think You Can Dance" viewing audience, he told Cat Deeley that they would not be seeing anyone dance for their life and would simply proceed to the elimination.
Witney and Chehone were saved to dance another day. Next week.
Did America get it right? Possibly. With so much dance talent in so many styles, it is difficult to say which dancers are actually best or more versatile (except for maybe Cyrus, who is a bit handicapped by his lack of formal training. But his spirit is infectious, his will to learn inspiring, which may be why the likable Atlanta dancer is Safe and moving on).
The Top 16 perform once again next week when "So You Think You Can Dance" returns. The show airs at 8:00 p.m. EST on Wednesday evenings on Fox Television.
(photo credit: Romina Espinoza, Creative Commons)
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