It was a tough week for hip hop; two talented dancers were sent home last night in light of some incredible routines, as the top 16 danced for America’s votes.
After a week off for the MLB All-Star Game, the dancers were raring to get back on the stage and show their stuff for America. There were some very unique routines, and the break proved to be refreshing for the contestants, as they all danced very well.
America’s bottom three were revealed at the top of the show to be Mariah Spears, Alan Bersten, Makenzie Dustman, Dorian “BluPrint” Hector, Jenna Johnson, and Curtis Holland. The judges love Jenna, and saved her right off the bat. The remaining five, however, had to dance for their lives. They all did very well, but unfortunately, it wasn’t well enough for hip-hoppers Mariah Spears and Dorian “BluPrint,” who were sent home this week.
It was an emotional elimination, as Mariah is very much a crier, and started crying before her elimination was even revealed when they announced that her partner BluPrint would be leaving. BluPrint’s elimination was a bit of a surprise because though he has struggled to show enough personality in his face, and the judges have had their critiques for him, this week they were very harsh on fellow bottom six contestant, Curtis, and it seemed a sure thing Curtis would be going home. He made it through this week by the skin of his teeth, but hopefully next week he’ll be able to keep those shoulders down!
Top 16 Group Performance
The top 16 satisfied viewers’ longing for dance after a week off the air by kicking off this week’s episode with an outstanding group contemporary routine choreographed by Stacey Tookey and Peter Chu. The dancers were all in stiff, shiny, plastic-y red costumes, all dressed identically and indecipherable from one another except for Jasmine, who was a queen-like figure with a red gown and a sparkly design painted on her face.
At first the group was all dancing for Queen Jasmine, but then they all turned to one another and slowly removed those stiff plastic shells. Now blending together in tones of nude and grey, their dance was different as well. The dancing was much freer, and they were holding and helping each other, leaning on one another and lifting each other up. Jasmine’s dress flew off up to the ceiling and she joined her fellow dancers, blending in with the group. It was a beautiful routine.
Alexis Juliano and Nico Greetham
Alexis and Nico kicked off the night with a Tony Meredith and Melanie LaPatin jive routine. Alexis looked adorable in a sparkly silver dress with a flouncy silver skirt that was perfect for the jive. Unfortunately, that skirt didn’t get much of an opportunity to flounce, since theirs was a rather lackluster jive. Judge Nigel said that while they started off strong, they lost their energy and momentum about halfway through, and energy is crucial for the jive. The judges also criticized the pair for their clunky transitions between stunts.
Jenna Johnson and Tucker Knox
Newly Emmy-nominated choreographer Travis Wall put together a stunning contemporary routine for Jenna and Tucker. In this routine, Jenna was a girl who has lost complete control of her life, and has become like a puppet on a string. Tucker represents the hope and light that she’ll be able to get control again.
Travis took the puppet-on-a-string symbolism to heart, ‘NSYNC-style, and Jenna spent the whole dance hanging from straps that were Velcro’ed around her arms and wrists. As the dance went on, Tucker helped free her of three of the straps, and in the end, she was strong enough to remove the last one on her own. It was a beautiful and emotional routine, and both Jenna and Tucker danced it very well.
Mariah Spears and Dorian “BluPrint” Hector
Mariah and BluPrint were both in the bottom six, so their performance in this Brian Friedman jazz routine was very important. In the routine, Mariah was a Greek goddess that has fallen for a mortal man, BluPrint. This was a very fast and intense routine, with tinges of hip-hop, which was helpful to the hip-hop pair. They did pretty well keeping up with the fast-paced routine for the most part, though Mary Murphy felt they lost their momentum a little at the end. Nigel felt the dance was good…ish.
Malece Miller and Alan Bersten
New pairing Malece and Alan took on a Dave Scott hip-hop routine, which was out of both of their comfort zones. The concept of this routine is that hip-hop has been stolen by aliens, and it’s up to Malece and Alan, part of an elite group of finders (Hufflepuffs, probably), to steal it back.
Ballroom dancer Alan had a difficult time adjusting to the hip-hop style. His performance was unintentionally adorable, because it was completely lacking in swag. He mastered the choreography, and technically was fine, but the swag and attitude of hip-hop, which are so essential, were missing. He came off looking too regal and stiff. It didn’t help that he was next to little Tinkerbell powerhouse Malece, who proved this is just another genre she’s able to dominate.
Hayley Erbert and Curtis Holland
Hayley and Curtis took on a unique routine danced almost entirely on a 15-foot-tall ladder. Choreographed by Dee Caspery, the routine represented two people on the voyage to the top, and all the ups and downs they experience along the way. It was a tough routine for Hayley, because she has a fear of heights, but you never would have known it from her dancing. She was climbing and hanging from the ladder with grace and ease. Curtis, however, got in a lot of trouble for not lowering his shoulders enough, a critique he’s received before. Nigel even went so far as to say that the whole routine was ruined for him by Curtis’ shoulders.
Amy Yackima and DuShaunt “Fik-shun” Stegall
Possibly the most adorable couple in the competition, Amy and Fikshun, got to goof off in a hobo jazz routine by Tyce Diorio. In the routine, Amy and Fikshun were, in fact, hobos, but possibly the happiest, most fun-loving hobos on earth. Tyce gave them a lot of leeway and opportunity to improvise in this routine, and that combined with their natural chemistry made for an awesome routine. It looked effortless, like two super-coordinated hobos having the time of their lives, dancing and leaping around the stage, before falling into some trash bags. Nigel praised them as the couple to beat in the competition, and said that this is one of the best routines Tyce has ever choreographed.
Makenzie Dustman and Paul Karmiryan
Makenzie and Paul took us back to the 20’s…or 30’s (nobody seemed sure) with a retro hip-hop routine, in which Paul is a photographer trying to get shy starlet Makenzie out of her shell, and get her to be sexy. Well he succeeded by leaps and bounds, because Makenzie was so hot, Nigel put her on his own Hot Tamale Train. It was a very sexy routine, and a great job with hip-hop from a ballroom and contemporary dancer. A really different and unique style from Dave Scott, successfully mixing the retro theme with the modern dance style. It’s sure to be one of the more memorable hip-hop routines of the season.
Jasmine Harper and Aaron Turner
Jasmine and Aaron were the first of the season to draw the dreaded quickstep. And to add insult to injury, choreographers Tony and Melanie said it was one of their hardest ever quickstep routines. But as one of the strongest couples in the competition, Jasmine and Aaron were once again able to knock it out of the park.
They did a good job mastering the tricky choreography, but what really made the routine shine was their personalities. They are both so animated onstage, and their huge smiles and silly faces make you smile along with them as you’re watching them dance. And since this is basically the Jasmine’s Legs Show, the choreographers threw in a few lifts and moves that showed off those endlessly long legs, which is always a hit with the judges.
Popstar Carly Rae Jepsen joined Nigel Lythgoe and Mary Murphy at the judges table, and proved to be even less helpful than last episode’s guest judge, Paula Abdul. Obviously not familiar with the show, Jepsen had very little to say about the routines, aside from that they were “adorable” or “sexy” or that someone’s dress was pretty. Judges from outside the world of dance are fine, but usually they find someone who’s a fan of the show, or has a really great personality and a lot to say about the routines. Jepsen was kind of a dud.
Judge and producer Nigel Lythgoe did take the time to mention that during the break, So You Think You Can Dance received seven Emmy nominations: Outstanding Reality Competition Program, Outstanding Lighting Design For A Variety Series, Outstanding Host For A Reality Or Reality Competition Program for Cat Deeley, and Outstanding Choreography for regular choreographers Sonya Tayeh, Napolean and Tabitha Dumo, Mandy Moore, and Travis Wall. The show has won previous years for lighting, choreography, and costumes, but in the opinion of this writer, it is definitely time for Cat Deeley to take home the trophy for best reality host.
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