'So You Think You Can Dance': Finally, no one gets hurt
Miracle of miracles, all six dancers emerge for the opening roll call, meaning all the remaining dancers are healthy for the first time in a MONTH. Billy has a knee brace, but he appears good to go. Cat delivers this news to the crowd and basks in their approval. She also tells us that each dancer will be dancing thrice tonight. Finally, we once again have a fourth judge -- one who will hopefully add a bit more substance than Kenny Ortega did last week. And I expect she will because it's my beloved Toni Redpath! Looking gorgeous as ever.
Kent is up first, and he pulls cha-cha with Anya. Choreographers Jean-Marc Genereaux and Frahhhhhnce note that this is Kent's second cha-cha of the season, and since his first one was so well-received, a lot more will be expected of him. The routine is set to that awful song by 3OH!3 and Ke$ha, but the dance itself is sharp if quite slow, and I'm not sure if that's in the choreo or in Kent's performance. But cha-cha's supposed to be faster than this, I think. Nigel gives a content-free soundbite about how Kent's dancing like a man now. Toni -- who thought this was better than his first cha-cha -- actually has some valuable insight, noting that Kent's attempts to appear macho sacrificed his posture. "You don't need to do that," she says. Mia's one note is that the routine felt "crunchy" (Cat makes her explain that this means "choppy"), and also that he's still pulling faces. Kent ill-advisedly sticks up for himself with a rehearsed-sounding spiel about how he's trying but "it's who I am" and, you know, he'll try to suppress the very essence of Kent if that's what they really want, blah blah. Subtract a few points from Kent for that. Mia stands by her comment and says he needs to be more of a chameleon. Adam says it was great, though he needs more length and to breathe/relax more.
Robert draws contemporary -- yes, again -- with Kathryn and Stacey Tookey. The Big Theme here is a soldier going off to war, which was already done to great acclaim by NapTab in Season 4. Anyway, they dance to a cover of "Heaven Is a Place on Earth," and it's rather beautiful. You know what, America? You don't deserve Robert. Keep not voting for him. Enjoy your inferior Adechike. Nigel loved the connectivity of it (me too!) and the gender twist, and says that Robert is growing even more than they thought he would. Toni said she watched the routine with an eye towards Robert's partnering skills, and Cat asks if they should pose that question to Kathryn, who does her little Kathryn Cry thing about how amazing Robert is. Toni says she'd definitely want to be the woman Robert's dancing with (get in line, you wonderful Amazon). Mia buzzwords: "sacred," "tender," and "mature." Adam was blown away by Robert and Kathryn's support for each other.
On to Adechike! He draws jazz with Courtney, which does not seem like a bad week's work... until we see Tyce is the choreographer. The theme seems to be New York and actual jazz music, making this "real" jazz and not just "contemporary-ish" jazz. The performance is pretty good -- Adechike gets to show off his crazy leg extensions when he leaps. But as usual with Tyce, there doesn't seem to be a whole lot going on, either conceptually or athletically. Adam loved the "balls-out" quality of the dancing, and then makes a big deal out of how you apparently can't say "balls-out" on TV? News to me. Mia flips over the music, but says she needs more style and finesse from Adechike. True! Nigel, similarly, wanted more abandon and fewer lines. Man, Nigel has really come out against lines this season. Get ready for next season's auditions, all you lumpy, hunchy messes!
Jose draws hip-hop, because I guess this is the season of everybody getting to dance their own style. He's paired with Comfort, obvs, on a routine by Marty Kudelka and Dana Wilson. It's all about Jose trying to pick up Comfort at a club, but there's a cool retro vibe to the costumes and the song ("Try a Little Tenderness"). Much like the Tyce routine, there doesn't seem to be much to this, but I have to say that's about as cute and flirty as I've ever seen Comfort. Nigel -- after making some kind of reference to "The Color Purple" that's so weird even Comfort has to be like "check yourself" -- picks apart Jose's loosey-goosey (some might say lazy?) performance. He's just not getting much better. Toni sticks up for Jose, because she hasn't gotten to do that yet this season. Mia gets back to the point: There was no swag to Jose's performance. Adam's still trying to hand out pointers, this time saying Jose should have tapped into the "intention" of the piece, which is kind of a Mia way of saying "get into character, friend."
Lauren draws Broadway and is paired with Allison. Which is adorable and all, but we already have so few opportunities to see the male all-stars this season (whither Ade??), I'm kind of crestfallen at this pick. Or as crestfallen as one can be when they're about to watch Allison dance. It's boring. Are both dancers standing side-by-side and pretty much ignoring each other? Yes. It's just so dull. Adam has no complaints, and neither does Mia, who once again calls Lauren her favorite girl, har har. "Is it the most memorable piece in the season? No." THANK YOU, MIA! Toni loved the sexiness and she compliments Lauren's facial control. Nigel then proceeds to lose his damn mind, saying of the girl-girl pair that it's "the first time we've ever seen it on 'American Idol' this season." Doesn't even notice the Freudian slip until Cat calls him on it. Nigel has the grace to acknowledge that the other show has been on his mind lately. Then he predicts that Lauren will be in the finale, which is a stupid thing to "predict" when you're the one deciding who sticks around from week to week.
Billy gets contemporary and is partnered with Ade (THERE he is!) for a Stacey Tookey creation. The theme is essentially Rich Man, Poor Man (Ade's the former, Billy the latter). The music is "Mad World," though thankfully not the Adam Lambert version. Billy and Ade start off basically in two separate worlds in terms of their respective movements, until they come face to face, which is followed by alternating synchronous movement and dance-fight struggling. Ade tries to lift Billy up, Billy thrashes against him, and the piece ends with Ade backing up and turning his back on Billy. Billy even danced the first third with a knit cap over his eyes. Skills! Cat totally puts Ade on blast for saying, "Work, Billy!" at the end of the routine, which is officially my favorite moment of the night. The judges (except for Nigel) are on their feet, and with good reason. Nigel says this routine justifies keeping Billy around last week, which: whatevs. Toni, who feels like she's catching up on critiques the other judges have given, this time reminding us that some dances transcend steps. Mia says it's her favorite Billy performance.
Kent and Jose pull Broadway with Spencer Liff, and guess what? More dance-fighting! I'll tell you what, Jose and Kent can fight all they want, I'ma be talking to Spencer Liff over in the corner. Hel-lo! They're basically playing two cat-calling blue-collar types fighting for the attention of a girl. Kent shows up Jose at every turn, but overall, it's a lot of fun. Mia says you could see the talent disparity between Kent and Jose, but Jose did manage to keep up. Toni also says the choreo gave Jose an excuse to be less dynamic. Nigel basically says Jose's reached the end of his run, though he says so in the midst of what's essentially a rave. Weird comment. I mean, Jose SHOULD go home, but maybe save that for tomorrow?
Lauren and Adechike pull a foxtrot with Jean-Marc and Frahhhhhnce. This foxtrot is supposed to be sultry and sexy, which I think these two can pull off. The song ("Fever") feels slow-ish, but Ade keeps his posture like a champ, and Lauren slinks and flips all over the place. Nigel felt it was too jazzy, which feels more like a criticism of the concept/choreo. Toni, the ballroom expert, gets into some nitpicky stuff, as she should. Mia compliments Adechike as a partner, but says he lost something when he broke off. Personally, I really value good partnership. Basically, everyone loved Lauren and thought Adechike was merely good.
Last routine: Robert and Billy pull Bollywood. As ever, I have no capacity to be critical about Bollywood. The big concept is two actors fighting for the same role, and we get a cute(ish) fake trailer in the training portion. The routine looks fun, if a bit earthbound, but I think there's more than a little truth in Billy and Robert playing can-you-top-this. Nigel enthuses, Toni compares Robert to a "big, cheesy hamburger" (weirdly, YES!), Mia rejoices that such a hard routine resulted in no injuries (though Billy is definitely working his knee out at the moment), and Adam refuses to choose between them.
SOLOS! Jose's solo is pretty typical b-boy stuff. Reminiscent of Legacy. Lauren, per usual, packs a ton of movement into a short interval. Billy's is more grounded than usual, understandable with the knee and all. He only does one leap and instead goes for a robotic concept that is interesting if somewhat dull movement-wise. Kent manages to overcome my historical aversion to Elliott Yamin, and in jeans no less! Robert is the most beautiful thing on the planet. And Adechike, also in jeans, does the splits, which Mary Cherry would like to remind you, is not Christian.
Cat then tells us that, after all this jinx-baiting talk about no injuries, Lauren's with the medic and not here to dance it out. DAMN IT, what is going on this season. Maybe this is just the medical staff being extra zealous given the circumstances, but regardless: Pull through, Lauren!
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Photo credit: FOX