This week the Top 18 brought their best efforts to the stage and two of them even fell in love! Just another week on America's most heartfelt reality competition.
When you watch a reality competition—particularly one in which the contestants are young and presumably spending all their time together—how much time do you spend wondering what their lives are really like behind the scenes? Like, we get to know these kids for two hours a week and we only see a fraction of the insanity they're presumably living through. Former So You Think You Can Dance contestants have confirmed that the experience of being on the show is akin to a 10-week college education and constitutes the hardest work they may ever do in their entire careers. Obviously the contestants all face grueling schedules what with learning all that choreography and perfecting it in mere days, but add to that the instant fame, the live tapings, and the general pressure of competition and it really makes you marvel at what a performer can endure.
So what's it like in the quiet moments? Probably the extremes: unbridled joy, tears, physical pain, drama, and crushes—oh, the crushes. It's rare that those things leak onstage like they did this week, but who among us wasn't totally compelled by the unveiling of Rudy and Jacque's burgeoning romance? Cute and camera-friendly (and vote-mongering) to be sure, but did it represent merely the tip of the iceberg of how much these kids' emotions are running the gamut backstage? Makes you wonder!
Hard to complain about any episode of So You Think You Can Dance, but this episode seemed slightly off to me. Like, maybe it was my fault? Perhaps my apartment had a gas leak or something and everything felt slightly slower and floatier than normal? But after a decidedly slow start it wasn't until halfway through that I REALLY started enjoying the show. Ironically it was the newbie choreographers who really stepped up to make this a great show, while one veteran in particular nearly ruined everything. Let's get into it!
PERFORMANCE OF THE NIGHT
Valerie & Ricky's Viennese Waltz, choreographed by former contestant Lacey Schwimmer (!). There's a lot about that sentence that surprises me, considering Viennese Waltzes are almost never fun [EDITOR'S NOTE: Overruled! — JR] and almost always torpedo a contestant's chances with voters. But this was amazing. Also, wow, Lacey Schwimmer. You are a VERY good choreographer. [EDITOR'S NOTE: Lady's good with a waltz —JR] Either that or you just got two of the best contestants in the game, Ricky and Valerie, whose poise and austerity up there gave me chills. And while I'm not super into Jason Mraz as a person or concept, the modern song choice here was very nicely juxtaposed with the classic visuals. [EDITOR'S NOTE: Not the first time Jason Mraz has been made unusually palatable on this show, but agreed. —JR] Just so, so good.
CHOREOGRAPHY OF THE NIGHT
Bridget & Emilio's jive, choreographed by Pasha and Anya. I'm not 100% into Bridget and Emilio as contestants, but they nailed this jive routine (again, wow, I liked a jive routine?). A lot of that had to do with dreamy Pasha and hot-like-fire Anya's choreography, which was fast and complex and absolutely joyful. And I just like seeing those two onscreen. Come back often and always?
Casey & Brooklyn's jazz routine choreographed by Bonnie Story. The judges were absolutely right to rave about Casey here. It was truly shocking when he was in last week's Bottom 6, but I really think that was a case of the audience taking a frontrunner for granted. Here he was essentially flawless in a routine that had everyone, including Cat, marveling at how exhausting it all looked. Also this routine was what coined the term of the night, "technique face," about which I can't stop laughing. (Also, I did not know that Bonnie Story choreographed High School Musical. Seems right!) [EDITOR'S NOTE: On the topic of "technique face," though, did it seem to anyone else that at some point Bonnie just told Casey to default to a giant smile as a stopgap? Like, good for him for taking that baby step, but that big plastic grin was an obstacle for me and this routine, I gotta say. — JR]
Rudy & Tanisha's Broadway routine, choreographed by Warren Carlyle. This was a pretty run of the mill, cane-and-tux Broadway number, but man are Rudy and Tanisha fun to watch.
FINALLY, the first group number I've actually loved! This was some kind of weird, creepy chess-themed number scored to some District 78 dubstep (obviously). The craziest twist? It was choreographed by newcomers, and members of the Academy of Villains. Yes, that was one of the teams introduced by Justin Bieber during the audition rounds. So You Think You Can Dance's hiring practices remain so mystifying to me, but continue to nonetheless pay major dividends. Because again, this number was very good and fun.
After last week's surprisingly talented Bottom 6, this week's was much more reasonable: Bridget, Emilio, Emily, Stanley, Jourdan, and Teddy. In fact, they were so reasonable that Nigel claimed the judges didn't even need to disagree with America had voted, and sent Stanley & Jourdan home. Jourdan's elimination was probably a good call in that she never really clicked for me, but I felt kinda bad about Stanley. This is a particularly talented group of boys and his technical expertise maybe didn't set him apart enough? Who knows.
JUDGING THE GUEST JUDGE
Uh, SOMEBODY must have cancelled at the last minute, because here was Misty Copeland again! Guys, I appreciate that Misty Copeland is a legit expert and can easily articulate what a dancer is doing right or wrong, but I'm just not sure she's very engaging. Don't get me wrong, I love this show's newfound commitment to dance technique—both Mary and Nigel have given more technique-based critiques this season, in addition to the now-regular dance lesson segments—but Misty Copeland's critiques haven't added a whole lot. Again, I don't know. Just a preference probably. But seriously, who do you think cancelled at the last minute? [EDITOR'S NOTE: If it was Jesse Tyler Ferguson, I'M GOOD. — JR]
Once again, in my opinion the best host of this week was Cat Deeley. And big congratulations to her for getting yet another Emmy nomination for Best Host, not that we're going to get our hopes up that the world is ready for Cat Deeley to win an Emmy finally. It would make too much sense. Anyway, also, we got the return of what's looking to be a season-long bit: Cat's struggle to pronounce "Shazam." She is the best.
... It's now an annual tradition that the first episode after Emmy nominations are announced Nigel mentions it on the show in surprisingly humble terms. I really wish they would've shown clips of the performances that were nominated for Emmys, that would have been nice.
... Do we need to talk about Tyce Diorio? We don't, right? This is a show we love and it's more fun to talk about the parts that are great than the parts that are terrible and smug and TV poison? That being said, Tyce Diorio's magic carpet routine this week was borderline racist and not even well-choreographed. After all those audition rounds and two weeks of performances without even a mention of Tyce Diorio, his sudden reappearance last night was an unpleasant surprise. Sorry. [EDITOR'S NOTE: That said, my theory that someone behind the scenes decided that Tyce is no longer allowed to choreograph Broadway style remains intact. Who do you think made that call? I'm sure if you asked Tyce he'd say he did. — JR]
... Misty to Emily after her contemporary routine with Teddy: "Do you speak French? Your body does." And then I threw up for four days.
... Man, I REALLY wanted to like Serge and Carly's Luther Brown hip hop routine. I am a sucker for skeleton-face, especially a skeleton wearing hoop earrings. Serge and Carly evoked fond memories of Les Squelettes from Telefrançais, but the song choice was pretty bad. Oh well. [EDITOR'S NOTE: The song reminded me at times of the excellent Kayla/Jason/Shane Sparks routine from season five. — JR]
... The end credits dance party returned! It's true that Stanley and Jourdan handled their dismissal with much more good humor, so that was probably the kids' cue that end credits dancing was appropriate. Either that or they weren't much-liked. Who knows? Speaking of which, and not to revisit old wounds, but did you see this extended post-credits footage from when Nick was kicked off last week? It just may ruin your day!