The top 6 dancers took on three dances each this week, as America’s votes were revealed and we learned which dancers would make it into next week’s performance finale.
The show’s format was different this week, as there was no bottom four, no “dance for your life,” and no voting. Each of the top 6 dancers danced three times: a solo, an all-star duet, and a duet with a fellow contestant. It gave the contestants a great opportunity to show off their versatility, as well as giving a few of the contestants who have never landed in the bottom the chance to show off their solos.
Regular judges Nigel Lythgoe and Mary Murphy were joined by returning favorite guest judge and Modern Family star Jesse Tyler Ferguson. This was Jesse’s fifth time guest-judging the show, and each time he is a hit. His broadway background gives him enough legit background to give informed critiques, but what makes his contribution even better is just how much of a fan he is of the show, and how much he is buddy-buddy with Cat, Nigel, and Mary, onscreen and off.
Jesse had some great soundbites as well, most notably saying he would keep his critique “Carly Rae Jepsen short: It was amazing.” Referencing Jepsen’s nearly worthless contributions during her appearance as guest judge, he only proved how much of a better and well-informed job he has done. He also admitted he struggled to critique tapper Aaron Turner, because he has a big crush on him (Join the club Jesse, join the club.)
It was a no-win situation this week. With six such talented dancers remaining, nothing good could come from this week’s eliminations. Unfortunately for Hayley Erbert and Paul Karmiryan, things did not work out in their favor, and they will just miss out on making it to the season 10 finale. The eliminations were based entirely on America’s votes after last week’s show, with the judges not saving anyone. As the judges were all huge fans of Hayley’s and Paul’s, one can’t help but wonder how things would have worked out if they had had the opportunity to save them.
The amazing thing about Amy’s solos is that she so often picks a dramatic piece of music, and emotional choreography, which results in an emotional or troubled performance. However, off-stage and in so many of her other performances, Amy is so bubbly and cheerful, which makes her solos seem even more heart-wrenching. This classical piece was no different, set to “Anna’s Theme” from The Red Violin, it was an emotional piece of music, that Amy brought to life with her beautiful dancing. Plus, that end pose was strikingly beautiful.
Fik-shun’s solo was amazing. It’s times like these that remind us that a dancer does not always have to be perfect at every style of dance in order to be America’s favorite dancer. Fik-shun is an un-trained street dancer and as such, has struggled with some of the routines he’s had to learn on SYTYCD. However, this is what he does best, and he really brought his A-game for this solo. Chris Brown’s “Look At Me Now” is such a fast-paced and catchy song, and Fik-shun had a move for every single beat. It was outstanding.
If it’s possible for any dancer to not be overshadowed by Destiny’s Child’s version of “Amazing Grace”, Jasmine is that dancer. Jasmine’s body was designed for dance, and it is captivating to watch all she is able to accomplish with it through her grace and those incredibly long legs. The mastery extends to her face as well, where she is so beautifully expressive, she can sell just about any performance.
This was Paul’s first solo we’ve seen since his audition, as he has never landed in the bottom and had the chance to dance for his life. This solo was different from the other ballroom boys we’ve seen this year, who had more dominant and commanding presences. Paul is the epitome of grace and precision, as he has demonstrated in every routine he has danced on SYTYCD. This solo was no different, as he seemed to glide across the floor and fly through the air with absolute effortlessness.
Hayley is another “effortless” dancer, who has basically done no wrong throughout this competition. She is a beautiful girl, and a beautiful dancer. This routine started strong right out of the gate, and barely slowed down for the entire dance. At this point in the competition, where every dancer is so immensely talented, personality and audience connection makes all the difference with the voters. Amy and Jasmine have both managed to reach through the screen and grab the viewer, while Hayley has not consistently been able to do the same. This may have been what cost her in the end.
This was also Aaron’s first chance to show off his solo since his audition, and it was especially great, since Aaron is a tapper, a damn good one, and we do not get to see enough tap on this show. If Aaron has nothing else going for him, he is a fighter. So after getting a tough critique from Nigel for his all-star routine, Aaron came out for his solo guns a-blazin’ and ready for a fight. He tapped with an absolute fury, and when it was all over, he threw his hat into the crowd with an expression that clearly said “WHAT NOW NIGEL?!” Fortunately for him, all three judges were already on their feet for his amazing performance.
Paul and all-star Kathryn took on a Tyce Diorio jazz routine about the need for control and power between a man and a woman. It was a fast routine, and well-suited to Paul’s Latin ballroom background. It started off with a bang, with Kathryn up on a ladder in a giant skirt, before Paul leapt out through the skirt, like the gingerbread children from Mother Ginger’s skirt in the Nutcracker. The routine was sharp and precise, with Paul and Kathryn both looking like pros. Nigel said afterward that while Paul is described as a Latin ballroom dancer in their paperwork, he should be listed as just a dancer, because he’s proven he can do anything.
Season 4 winner Joshua Allen whipped Hayley into shape with a boxing-theme Nappytabs hip-hop routine. Hayley had to let go of so much of her prettiness, and get into the hip-hop groove for this routine, and she didn’t disappoint. Mary said that Hayley showed Mohammed Ali’s level of skill and will to stay in the competition. She definitely proved that she was certainly not afraid to fight her way to a place in the finale.
Aaron and season 8 winner Melanie Moore took on a Spencer Liff Broadway routine about a couple in love that also really loves to push each other’s buttons. Aaron and Melanie started out arguing, and it only escalated from there. Their beautiful synchronized dancing and lifts were interspersed with more arguing and shoving. Unfortunately, it got a little too real when Aaron accidentally missed catching Melanie and she fell during the routine. It was only a small drop, and it worked with their contentious characters, but it was still a tough break for Aaron. Nigel also had some harsh criticism for his shoulders being too high, which Curtis Holland could tell anyone is a no-good omen for future success.
Fikshun and season 9 all-star Witney took on a Jonathan Roberts foxtrot. Obviously a leap for this un-trained hip-hopper, Fikshun impressed with his dance position, but hit some rough spots otherwise. Fik-shun’s irresistible smile makes it impossible not to love him, but the judges felt that Witney pretty much danced over him in this routine. They felt this wasn’t his best, but that his work in previous weeks, and this week’s solo, were good enough to carry him through.
Tyce Diorio choreographed a very dramatic contemporary piece for Jasmine and Neil, telling the story of all of the people and families around the world that have met with tragedy as a result of these hurricanes, tsunamis, and other natural disasters we’ve experienced recently. It was beautifully staged, with a wind machine blowing crumpled newspapers around the stage, and the dancers fighting against imaginary winds and forces beyond their control. It was a battle and a struggle and yet somehow, it was also a dance. It was no great surprise that Jasmine shone like the star in the routine, earning praise from all three judges.
Bollywood is always the most exhausting of dances, and this Nakul Dev Mahajan routine was no exception. As a diva and her servant who are secretly in love, Amy and Alex were full of energy and passion, and nailed what was possibly the hardest Bollywood routine we’ve seen on the show. There were so many knee turns in a row it likely killed their knees, while making those of us at home a little dizzy. But it earned them a standing ovation from all three judges, so none of that really matters.
Hayley and Paul paired up for the first time for a romantic Dee Caspery contemporary piece. Paul struggled a bit with this routine, because it was outside of his comfort zone, and he didn’t want to let Hayley down. It was beautiful to watch the two beautiful dancers portray such a beautiful dance together, so much so that Mary expressed hopes that Paul and Hayley hook up off the dance floor as well. Nigel felt the routine just proved their versatility even further, which is the point he has praised most about both of them throughout the competition.
Amy and Fik-shun were reunited for a Dave Scott hip-hop number, and it felt so good. It was great to see them take on another fun routine together, because Nigel pointed out, they really bring out the best in each other, performance-wise. In this routine, Amy was putting on her own sexy fashion show for Fik-shun to show off some new purchases. This was right in Fik-shun’s wheelhouse, and Amy can do no wrong, so the routine was outstanding.
Jasmine and Aaron teamed up for their final competitive routine, and they reminded everyone why they have been one of the top couples all season. This Sean Cheesman jazz routine was insane, with Aaron in love with the creature from inside the mirror: Jasmine. The dance was so fast-paced and intense that you couldn’t tear your eyes away. And if you didn’t scream when Jasmine over-extended her already super-long leg as, like Jesse Tyler Ferguson said, a protractor, then you have clearly been watching the wrong show.
The group routine didn’t serve as the cold open of the show like it usually does, but the top six did dance together a little bit later, after their introductions. It was a African jazz routine from Sean Cheeseman. The dancers were dressed very simply in white: the guys with no shirts on, and the girls with big flowing skirts, and backless tops. It was very cheerful, happy dance, and it was wonderful to see our favorite dancers looking so happy dancing with one another. It was a beautiful thing to see them still so tightly bonded even at this tense point in the competition.
Tune in next Tuesday for the So You Think You Can Dance performance finale, where Paula Abdul will return as guest judge to help choose America’s favorite dancers.