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Destination 'So You Think You Can Dance': It sure ain't rigged

July 25, 2008 |  1:16 am

Cat_u1h0453_2Some people lost their faith in the American public when George W. Bush was elected president. But not my friend Melissa. Melissa lost faith in the American public tonight, when a majority vote sent "So You Think You Can Dance" hero Will Wingfield packing.   

After seeing the carnage firsthand at the "Dance" studio this evening, I was afraid to call Melissa. After dodging two of her calls, however, I received a text message I could not ignore: "Call me or die." And so I did. Over the course of the 42-minute, 4-second phone conversation that then ensued, I tried to calm Melissa down, reminding her that, after all, this was the search for "America's favorite dancer," not "America's best dancer," and that even if Will was the best dancer on the show, he still had to connect with the general public in order to win the competition.

"Then why is it called 'So You Think You Can Dance'?" Melissa shot back. "It should be called, 'So You Think You Can Dance? Then Don't Try Out, 'Cause You'll Lose.' "

I have a feeling I wasn't the only person talking a dancer friend off of a ledge tonight. The trouble is, as a dancer, Melissa appreciated Will's flawless technique in a way the average viewer did not.

From what I could tell, even the remaining contestants seemed to think that the best dancer on the show went home tonight. The respect they paid Will was bigger than the respect one pays a fellow fighter. It was tinged with guilt for outlasting him. Here's how the dramatic elimination went down at the studio.

Classy dude

When Will was revealed to be in the bottom four, his humble nod spoke volumes about his character. 

Let's just say he didn't turn his back to the audience and fall to the floor in shock or anything … cause ya know, it would be pretty weird if somebody had done that, right...?

Oh Comfort. How I'll miss you.  Again. 

Before Cat Deeley revealed Comfort's fate, Comfort's gesture summed up her emotional state perfectly: She smiled broadly and gave a long, slow shrug.

'WHAT!?!'

Mark Kanemura had the agility of a tin man while he waited for his verdict.  He was frozen with an "eek!" expression on his face, ready to hear his doom announced to the world. When things didn't go that way, Mark said what everybody in the theater was thinking: "WHAT!?!"

When he walked down the stairs, where fellow safe contestant Katee Shean waited, Mark repeated his sentiment to Katee.  "What! What?" he exclaimed.

Finally, we see her flinch

As Chelsie Hightower approached Cat Deeley, she looked like she was going to be sick. Perhaps the revelation of Will's fallibility put her on edge.

Chelsie stared out into the audience, petrified, while her video played. Then, at the last possible second before the camera hit her, the newly 19-year-old ballroom queen plastered on a heroic smile. 

Lone soldier

After hearing the news that he was in the bottom, the visibly upset Twitch Boss walked down the stairs in a daze, without even making eye contact with Mark, Chelsie and Katee, who stood collected in the mosh pit.

A quiet Cat

Even the typically gregarious Cat Deeley knew that something peculiar was happening in the studio tonight.  She was far more quiet and introspective than usual and opted not to joke around during the breaks.

A futile attempt

"Ooh, it’s the Snuggle package, everybody!" announced stage manager Debbie Williams, in an attempt to lighten the mood.  But in that moment, a computer-generated dancing bear just seemed gauche. 

If it helps, Melissa…

When Will came out for his solo, he was calm.  He was smiling.  Even if Mark, the judges and much of the audience were uncomfortable with his position in the bottom two, Will appeared to be at peace.

And just for the record

If Will's position tonight proves anything, it proves that this show is not rigged. Based on their critiques this season, it's safe to say that Nigel Lythgoe and Mary Murphy would have sacrificed their first-born children in order to save Sir Wingfield.

A fitting exit

Comfort's solo was playful and defiant, just like her. Comfort even stuck out her tongue ever so slightly while she danced. At the end of her routine, when she pantomimed powdering her nose in a compact, even Nigel erupted with laughter.

An inopportune time for a questionable bit

After Will's solo, the warm-up dude emerged to announce, "We have some Canadians in the house. Where the Canadians at?" "Anybody from Kentucky?" he continued. We are about to bury a legend here; have a little respect!

Wow, what was that?

Tonight, Courtney Galiano's solo was her best 30 seconds of dancing on the show thus far.

Now if we could only convince Court and Katee to abandon that whiplash-inducing move where they swivel their heads through their arm…

A winning loser

Next time you get dumped or fired (or kicked off of "So You Think You Can Dance," for that matter), recall the way Comfort Fedoke dealt with her ouster tonight; with selflessness, joy and grace.  She blew kisses to endangered contestants Will and Twitch, cracked up during her farewell video, and gave Cat Deeley a nice long hug. 

Also…

Next time anybody has bad news for me, I'd like Cat Deeley to be the one to deliver it. I think it would help.

Something you should know about the audience at "Dance."

The audience at "Dance" is programmed to make two sounds: "Woo" and "boo." Thus, tonight, when faced with the sight of crowd-favorites Twitch and Will awaiting their fates, we became panicked.  None of our sounds seemed to match. So we booed them.

The final farewell

When Will was finally cut, Twitch bowed his head, seemingly ashamed to look Will in the eye. Then, Twitch respectfully removed his hat and exited the stage.  There was no happy dance there.

"Show 'em what you got" Will instructed the remaining contestants after hearing the news.  From their safe place in the mosh pit, Joshua Allen and Twitch nodded in solidarity, their eyes glued to the fallen contestant.

The most beautiful moment of the evening came next, after the news had sunk in.  The remaining six contestants mounted the stage, and instead of taking turns hugging the two fallen dancers, all eight united in a group hug that must have lasted 30 seconds.

For once, stage manager Debbie Williams didn't demand that everybody clear out.  Instead, she said what everybody was thinking: "That sucks."

-- Stephanie Lysaght

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