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'So You Think You Can Dance': Rewriting the rules of chemistry

December 1, 2009 | 10:52 pm
LegacyashleighContemp091130-0256 I am enjoying this season greatly, but the judges need to quit being so anxious to show their approval for this round of dancers -- how many dream teams, favorite dances and power couples can there be? As one friend of mine says when she's making fun of the judges' comments, "Superlative! Superlative! Superlative!" 

But snarks aside, it was a strong episode, partially because of the shake-ups: A lot of the new couples are very promising, and I for one really liked that the episode did without the "how we put the dance together!" packages before the performances: it was nice not being spoon-fed what the dances were "about." 

The episode got off to a strong start for Noelle Marsh, who had a tough time finding her sexuality while with Russell Ferguson, but established it right off the bat with the hip-hop dance she performed with Ryan Di Lello, sort of a "Secretary meets Flashdance" routine. I have to admit that at times the sexuality of the routine was a tad raunchy to me, partially due to the cliche of the concept -- office sexuality, the ripping-off-of-clothes, the stupid "harassment" joke at the end -- but it was fun and sexy and the judges enjoyed seeing a new side to Noelle. I also liked their smooth waltz. They appeared a little stiff at first, but at the second half of the dance they melted into something out of a fairy tale, which Nigel Lythgoe backed me up on.  (Adam Shankman declared theirs a "power partnership.")

Next, Ashleigh De Lillo and Legacy Perez wowed everyone with a very strong, cool Garry Stewart contemporary dance that, as Nigel Lythgoe pointed out, was noteworthy for the athleticism it showed off in its dancers. The final image, of Legacy standing on his head with Ashleigh holding his ankles, was especially vivid (Adam called it an "Emmy moment"). The judges, however, didn't love their Dave Scott vampire-inspired hip-hop dance, which I thought they were a little harder on than really necessary.  I truly think they would have liked it more if Legacy wasn't wearing a cape. 

I haven't been the biggest fan of Nathan Trasoras to date, but the judges were right last week when they said both he and Mollee Gray would benefit from new partnerships. Nathan was like a whole new dancer next to Kathryn McCormick during their Broadway routine, and not just because his hair was (flatteringly) off his face. Doing "Choreography" from "White Christmas," they were flirty, she was elegant, he was humorous but professional. The judges loved it and Nathan seemed emotional, like he knew he had come into his own more this episode. He seemed so confident he even tried to quell the boos that came after the judges criticized the choreography of their second dance, a Tony Meredith and Melanie LaPatin rumba that Nigel didn't think was rumba-ey enough.

Next, Ellenore Scott and Jakob Karr danced a quickstep: To keep it short, he, with his great posture and dignity, and she, looking elegant, looked like they were made for the dance, and Mary Murphy, as the ballroom expert, strongly approved. The judges and audience lost their minds, though, for their second dance, a Sonya Tayeh contemporary dance that I really liked, especially for the two of them (Ellenore does quirky well and Jakob needs to do quirky more). But it reminded me so much of "The Garden" from Season 4 with Courtney Galliano and Mark Kanemura. Adam Shankman also noticed the similarities. Even though I liked the dance and the performers, I was distracted by how many ways the two dances reminded me of each other, including choreography, song choice, even costuming.  However, Nigel declared it his favorite routine if the season, and Mary called Ellenore and Jakob the new dream team, so what do I know?

There's nothing about Mollee that I actively dislike, but she just hasn't done much dance-wise to stir my heart, and learning that she already has enjoyed a hearty showbiz career (appearing in all three "High School Musical" movies, for instance) doesn't make me root for her more. However, I do really love the song "It Must Have Been Love" by Roxette, so perhaps softened by this, I enjoyed the high-school-romance feel of her lyrical jazz dance with Russell. It was at this point that Mary declared THEM her favorite couple. They delivered again with a very fun jive, aided in part by the fun pouf on Mollee's behind that she shook around to "Land of a Thousand Dances." While they're not my favorite couple to date, I can't find too much wrong in what they did tonight. 

The dancers all also performed solos tonight. My favorites were those by Ellenore (she's the only girl I've seen on the show who truly delivers unpredictable and funny solos), Legacy and Russell. I also have to give props to Ashleigh, who really worked the stage during her ballroom solo. I wish I could say the same for her husband, Ryan -- as much as my enjoyment of Mollee and Russell's dance was enhanced by song choice, I couldn't get over how cheesy Ryan's dancing to "Rock You Like a Hurricane" was.

Who are your favorite new couples? 

-- Claire Zulkey

Legacy Perez and Ashleigh Di Lello. Cr: Kelsey McNeal/FOX
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