'So You Think You Can Dance': Alex Wong blows the judges away

sytycd-top11-320x180.jpgThe competition on "So You Think You Can Dance" has begun!

The episode starts off with the top 11 dancers showing off their best styles. Is it just me or is the camera work bad? It's weird to only see 11 and not the usual 20. The stage looks sparse.

Cat Deeley spells out the rules. Each finalist drew a name of one of the all-stars, then meet with the choreographer for a routine. After they perform it, the bottom three finalists will face the judges in tomorrow's elimination episode.

Performances:

1) "Footloose" by Kenny Loggins
(Broadway; choreographer: Tyce DiOrio; Billy and Lauren)

In the rehearsal footage, we get a sense the routine is going to be insanely fast. And when Billy Bell and all-star Lauren perform it, what everyone said on tape holds true. it is a cool high school-set performance and the choreography is interesting, but I couldn't help but focus more on Lauren, since I knew her better. Even though Billy is a highly-skilled dancer, I didn't picture him as the guy who was the "tough guy." When the judges give their critiques (I guess the all-stars won't be onstage for that portion), Nigel brought up a great point about how the finalists are going to have to have chemistry with their partners quickly since they're moving on to a new one next week. Mia says that Billy needs to start dancing like a man the rest of the season, an observation I agreed with.

2) "Starstruck" by Santigold
(Jazz; choreographer: Sonya Tayeh; Cristina and Mark)

It's a unique routine, but I'm not sure Cristina is really killing this style. Doesn't really help that Mark is probably the best at this type of dark, twisted stuff. But the judges disagree with my observations, telling her she did tremendously. Maybe the criteria has been lowered? Maybe they're judging a little bit based on who these people are partnered with and how well they do? It'll be interesting to see how America votes tonight.

3) "Beautiful Monster" by Ne-Yo
(Hip-hop; choreographers: Tabitha and Napoleon Dumo; Jose and Comfort)

So Jose gets lucky and is able to dance in his style (sorta). Seconds in, he's already the most natural performing his routine and you can tell he knows his stuff. In the tape, we see that Jose isn't the scariest-looking dude, but at the end of the routine, he encompasses his character pretty well I'd say. Nigel lays down a line: "Instead of 'True Blood,' we have 'True Hood.' " Oh boy. The judges give good reviews, with some advice on how he can improve. So far, they've liked what they've seen.

4) "Addicted to Love" by Florence and the Machine
(Jazz; choreographer: Travis Wall; Adechike and Kathryn)

Woohoo, Travis! The routine is an office daydream that a man has and suddenly an attractive woman appears. Let's see is Adechike can take off that dreaded shoe at the right moment. Yup! He did! Score. Nigel gives it straight: He didn't believe that that was Adechike's fantasy. Yikes. Mia is even harsher, telling him that he absolutely brought nothing to the performance (empty technique?). I agree with the judges. There was no sexual chemistry at all.

5) "L.O.V.E." by VV Brown
(Jive; choreographers; Melanie Lapatin and Tony Meredith; Melinda and Pasha)

Who knew Melinda was on "As the World Turns"?! Back to the topic at hand. Remember that awesome swing routine from Pasha's season? This performance isn't quite up to that standard but it was so fun to watch! I feel like a broken record, but it's much easier watching the all-stars dance and not the actual competitors. Sorry guys! The timing on some of the steps were a little off, but you have to remember, it's only the first week. Nigel thinks Melinda might be dancing for her life tomorrow. She takes the criticism well, thanking the judges for their comments. If she doesn't get votes for that, nothing is right with the world!

6) "Hallelujah" by Jeff Buckley
(Contemoprary; choreographer: Sonya Tayeh; Alex and Allison)

I love this song. The routine is choreographed beautifully and danced extremely well. We all know Alex is a fantastic technical dancer, but honestly this was the first performance where I felt both partners were on equal footing. This might be my favorite routine of the night so far. Some of the judges and the audience give a standing ovation. Nigel sings high praise and Mia does as well, saying that that was the best routine ever danced on any "SYTYCD" stage! Sonya's stock is going up, up, up!

7) "Butterfly" by Jason Mraz
(Hip-hop; choreographers: Tabitha and Napoleon Dumo; Alexie and Twitch)

Tough following the magnificent performance by Alex and Allison but someone's gotta do it. Great musical choice for a sexy perf. I like it, but I feel like it could've been a little sexier. The judges say that it was just a cute little dance (and yup, agreed), and it seems like they're comparing how the dancers do with their all-stars. Is that 100% fair?

8) "Oh Yeah" by Yello
(Pop jazz; choreographer: Mandy Moore; Lauren and Ade)

Great to see Mandy Moore back! It's a sexy routine and that's communicated by the dancers' performances (and also the music). It's a cool performance and I was a fan. They sold the performance on presentation, but still not a favorite of the night. Adam dishes out the harshest advice, telling her that he's worried she's not digesting everything that the judges are telling her because of her responses to their critiques. Hm.

9) "Lady Marmalade" by Diva Invasion
(Cha-cha; choreographers: Melanie Lapatin and Tony Meredith; Kent and Anya)

This is going to be hilarious. Pretty certain Kent's never danced with an older woman like Anya before. When the routine begins, Kent looks older than his 18 years, but not by much. It did seem like Anya was doing a lot of the work. At least Kent had a fun time doing it!

10) "For All We Know" by Roberta Flack & Donny Hathaway
(Contemporary; choreographer: Tyce DiOrio; Ashley and Neil)

The routine, like a lot of them tonight, is about transcendent love. (Rare to see Tyce do choreography for a contemporary performance.) Not sure I liked the routine, but Neil and Ashley did well with what they got. For the most part, the judges enjoyed the routine.

11) "Norweg" from Cirque de Soleil's "Saltimbanco" soundtrack
(African jazz; choreographer: Sean Cheesman; Robert and Courtney)

Eh. Didn't have a strong reaction to it, but also didn't hate it. The judges are in the same boat. This performance had me missing the old stage. Nigel believes Robert is a dark force in the competition; well yeah, he wasn't featured during the audition stages! Mia and Adam seem to like him too. Adam even tells Robert that he's one of the best contemporary dancers that "SYTYCD" has had. Hm.

First Impressions:

A good overall episode, but only one routine really stood out and that was Alex and Allison's amazing contemporary performance by Sonya Tayeh. The others were OK. Curious to see who the bottom three are. (Also, to the people in the front rows: Please stop screaming the dancer's names during the routines. It's getting a bit annoying.)

What are your thoughts on the routines this week? Who do you think will be in danger tomorrow? Discuss below!