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'So You Think You Can Dance': The luck of the draw

November 10, 2009 |  9:01 pm
Top16GroupShot_0015 Not all the performances were great tonight, but it felt like the first episode of the season where the partnerships felt solid, not new, which I enjoyed -- it was "I wonder how they'll attack this" instead of "Oh, I forgot they're together."

I thought Karen Hauer and Kevin Hunte's hustle was fine, but I would have liked to learn a little bit more about what to look for in the dance -- it's obviously not interchangeable with disco, but how is it different from other partner dances? I fully admit that I can feel a bit of personal backlash against Karen lately -- the judges love her SO much and she's been able to work her sex appeal so well that I kind of want to see her, as Adam Shankman said, do something that involves a bit of withholding before I buy her as a very good dancer and not just a hot lady. 

Up until tonight I wasn't totally sold on Ashleigh Di Lello, and I wasn't sure she had great partnership with Jakob Karr, but I came around on them tonight during Mandy Moore's contemporary dance which, as Nigel Lythgoe pointed out, certainly had hints of Moore's table routine with Neil and Sabra from several seasons ago.  I didn't think the cane was incorporated, either into the choreography or the dancing itself, as seamlessly as Moore had wanted, but the two exhibited the best chemistry they've shown so far this season, and I loved the styling of the piece to boot: I hope Ashleigh is put in some more androgynous looks to come and isn't always dressed in ballroom attire. 

Next Peter Sabasino ("Peetah") and Pauline Mata attacked the quickstep. I find Pauline more and more appealing each episode: She's cute and charming without being cloying. I agreed with the judges that the story of the dance (she: a tantalizing island girl, he: a happy soldier) helped bring good cheer to the piece, even if it wasn't perfect. 

I totally disagreed with the judges about Kathryn McCormick and Legacy Perez's Broadway number about a girl trying to get her cocky man's attention. The judges loved Legacy but thought Katherine lacked character and maturity -- I thought she was adorable in the number -- sassy and sexy, especially with good eye contact. Sure, Legacy had some cool b-boy moves thrown in, but I certainly thought Kathryn held her own. 

I was back on track with the judges regarding Victor Smalley and Channing Cooke's Stacey Tookey contemporary dance. As a new couple they did a fine job performing a dance about a couple in a toxic relationship. I've been a fan of Victor so far this season and I think Channing could be that one pleasant-looking blond girl who is secretly a super-fierce dancer who seems to pop up every season. Because the pairing was so new (and perhaps because the song, Rachel Yamagata's "Be Be Your Love", seemed like one that had been used on the show before), the dance, as Mary Murphy said, didn't touch her soul, but they did a fine job, and it would be nice to see what comes from them next.

It's sort of unclear to me when the judges decide to throw dancers a bone when they're tackling a new genre and when they judge full-throttle. Nigel was certainly merciless when it came to Ryan Di Lello and Ellenore Scott's hip-hop routine. Personally, I thought the dance itself was a little silly -- the bank robber routine seemed a little cliche and I didn't like that there seemed to be quite a few bars of them running around before they started dancing. I thought Ryan wasn't HORRIBLE but I admit that I just like looking at him, especially paired with Ellenore, so I hope they make it through despite Nigel saying that it wasn't any good. 

Mollee Gray and Nathan Trasoras: not good. I thought the concept of their salsa dancing just being in a club for fun would make their dance youthful and fresh but Mollee especially looked awkward. I thought Nathan came off a bit better but in general the judges missed the chemistry. I still don't agree with Mary that this pair is the "dream team" but she also said the duo was "French-fried," which makes no sense whatsoever. 

It seems as though things could have gone horribly awry for Russell Ferguson and especially Noelle Marsh for their afro-jazz dance, but the judges loved it. It was simply a joyous performance and Noelle threw herself into it, plus the kiss at the end was irresistible -- Mary put Russell on the hot tamale train, where, presumably, French fries are not served. 

What were your favorite performances of the night? And who do you think should go home? Based on tonight's performances I would say Mollee and Nathan, but I am also old and crabby -- not their target audience. 

--Claire Zulkey
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