Here’s your Top 10, City Kids! The SYTYCD season has flown by so quickly, it’s hard to believe there are now only five women and five men left. Each time the dancers were introduced or recapped, it seemed too short.
Whoa, now. Let’s slow down and discuss what happened. First, we watched the show live in the studio and got to see the dancers up close (yet ironically not as close as watching on television). We were also privy to some entertaining moments during the commercial breaks, watching Cat Deeley and the judges, not to mention Cory the warm-up guy, flirt with audience members. What a fantastic way to see a show—live in person.
Booty shaking came to Bollywood in Nakul Dev Mahajan’s relentless opening group number. Amy shone, her bright smile beaming all the way to the back row. She was clearly having a blast. Tucker, however, was strangely absent.
Cat revealed that Tucker is the latest casualty in this particularly injury-ridden season. An infection in his knee (huh?) prevented him from practicing the routines though he was featured in the package for his duet with Jenna. This show has always been excruciatingly difficult for the dancers, but what on earth is happening this season that there are so many injuries? Should we start calling the dancers e-limp-inated?
Cat introduced the judges: Mary Murphy and Nigel Lythgoe, of course, and guest judge Kenny Ortega, choreographer of Dirty Dancing and director of Michael Jackson’s This is It, among other things. She also introduced the dancers. Judging by the piercing screams from the ladies behind us, the favorites remain Paul and Makenzie (mostly Paul) and Aaron and Jasmine, with a little love for Nico and Hayley. Alas, Nico was one of the six in jeopardy, along with Malece, Alan, Jenna, Tucker, and Amy. It’s shocking to see Amy there, but with only 12 dancers remaining, it’s getting to that point where the favorites are no longer infallible. It’s not surprising that Alan fell to the bottom again, but it remained to be seen whether they would send him home or spare him because of Tucker’s injury.
The judges saved Nico and Jenna immediately. Hoorah for the former but reasons for the latter remain unclear, and they’ve saved her before. The four remaining—including injured Tucker—performed incredible solos, garnering kudos from Nigel. With Jenna saved, the writing on the wall was clear: The judges sent home Malece and (finally) Alan. Perhaps the outcome would have been different if Tucker weren’t able to perform his solo.
It’s unfair that anyone should be as gorgeous as Cat Deeley; if you think she’s beautiful on television, you should see her in person. She twinkled as brightly as her sequined dress. Even when eating a Twizzler and picking her teeth, both of which she did during the commercial break, she’s still stunning.
New partners Nico and Hayley set the bar extremely high with their Sean Cheesman Broadway number set to the title track from “Kiss of the Spider Woman.” Hayley played a gypsy fortune-teller trying to steal Nico’s soul through an evil kiss. That great waltz music set the right tone but the acrobatic choreography and expert execution raised it levels above. Holy Mother of Pearl. Hayley sliding through Nico’s legs and flipping him over. That incredible one-legged lift over Nico’s shoulder, dropping Hayley into a backward somersault. Unreal. It’s unfortunate these two weren’t paired up before now. Talk about a power couple.
Malece and Alan danced Mandy Moore’s sweet Gene Kelly-inspired jazz routine. The almost French flair—An American in Paris, anyone?—and Malece’s yellow hair was reminiscent of Meg Ryan and Kevin Kline in French Kiss (it was on cable last night). The judges were split. Mary was undecided, Kenny told Malece that she sparkled, but Nigel had harsh words—probably because he was going to send them both home. It’s great to see Mandy Moore back again though.
Jenna danced a Jean Marc Genereux Paso Doble with all-star Alex Wong, who filled in for injured Tucker. People often describe Paso Doble as the dancers representing a matador and his cape, but rarely do you see the woman literally, and beautifully, wielded as a cape, the way Alex did with Jenna. Like Hayley, Jenna also played a gypsy in the pirate-themed number. Just as we were wondering what was piratey about the routine besides the costumes, the tune “He’s a Pirate” from Pirates of the Caribbean revealed itself in the music (you can’t always see the song titles in the live audience). Loved Nigel’s pirate joke, too. Arrgh.
Warm-up comedian Cory had introduced Billie, a lovely and very pregnant audience member, and her soon-to-be-born daughter Lulu, before the start of the show. He flirted with her again during the commercial break, and Nigel shocked everyone by asking her if it was Simon Cowell’s baby. Oh, Nigel.
Paul and Makenzie worked with Mandy Moore for a contemporary piece that grew beautiful and powerful, despite a slow start. The gorgeous catch into an assisted handstand and that beautiful reach, which Nigel pointed out, were both stunning. There’s often so much chaos from fast moving tricks that it’s important to have those moments of stillness. Little movement can often be very moving.
Amy and Fik-Shun commemorated their final dance as partners with a lovely Jean Marc Viennese waltz. His pre-waltz choreography had some odd moments: Fik-Shun walking away from Amy after their lift (simply because Christina Perry sings “watching you stand alone”), and then Fik-Shun waltzing with Amy straddling his back. The actual close-hold waltzing was quite lovely though we wanted to see more shading of the shoulders. Amy is exquisite and was clearly very emotional.
For the evening’s final duet, Jasmine and Aaron performed a NappyTabs Wild West hip-hop. Ka-pow! Jasmine is all thrust, very sexy and sexual, but so killer. Loved the stepping and hamboning mixed in with the booty shaking.
Cory flirted with a zumba teacher from Glendale, and Nigel and Mary showed off their stationary zumba, shimmying their shoulders while seated in their chairs. Cory also took an Instagram video of the crowd. If you look carefully… eh, forget it.
Before the eliminations, we were treated to two group numbers: The men danced a NappyTabs not-quite-hip-hop with an iffy concept and a long rope prop, and the women performed Stacey Tookey’s breathtaking contemporary Fountain of Youth routine. The men executed the rope dance beautifully, proving the concept better than anticipated, and the women were as commanding as ever. We couldn’t tell whether Malece and Amy’s spill was intentional or not, and Jenna’s backward somersault into an inverted split gave a glimpse into why the judges save her week after week. Malece said she could relate to the piece because “all girls want to be beautiful.” Too bad these women are all so homely. Ha, ha.
So to recap, here’s your top 10: Amy, Fik-Shun, Jasmine, Aaron, Paul, Makenzie, Jenna, Tucker, Nico, and Hayley. Next week we welcome the all-stars, and only four dancers will be in jeopardy, rather than six. In the meantime, promote live performance, and see a show today. You can even see your Top 10 live on the upcoming SYTYCD tour.