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'So You Think You Can Dance': Russell Ferguson, your table is ready

December 8, 2009 | 10:40 pm

Top8IMG_0734Now is the time I can finally admit this: For me, Russell Ferguson had never really popped this season the way I had wanted him to. I think the first time we met him, we all could tell that he was something special: a krumper who could take on different genres like it was nothing. But I was waiting for him to really light up the stage, and while he had done a good job before, he never blew me away.

Tonight he finally brought it.

I loved the old-school Shane Sparks hip-hop routine he danced (sans Ashleigh Di Lello, who was injured). You could tell from the very start that this was going to be his dance; he brought a swagger to the performance that he never showed before. It was easily my favorite hip-hop routine of the season. It was nice just to see the genre be itself, without a bunch of story and gimmick. Then, he took on Bollywood and you'd think he'd done it all the time. Judge Adam Shankman summed up what was so great about it by saying that Russell blew joy out of every pore during his performance. Let's not forget his solo, too: The Santa routine was too cute and too cool to resist. Yay Russell!

It was a strong episode too aside from Russell. Kathryn McCormick and Ryan Di Lello formed a solid partnership. Like Nigel Lythgoe, I didn't adore their disco routine quite as much as I wanted to, but their cha cha cha was extremely sexy. Kathryn is really starting to dance like she wants to win this show. Who would have thought she was the little squeaky-voiced crier at the beginning of the season? Kathryn had the other solo of the evening that made me take notice: I loved her moves but especially noticed the poise she maintained throughout it, her head held high.

Mollee Gray and Jakob Karr got a Viennese waltz from Jason Gilkison that I think most waltzers on the show wish they'd receive. He made it contemporary with Mollee's non-costumey skirt and the choreography (like Jakob gripping Mollee by the wrists). She looked light as air. And while they're not my favorite partnership to date, it was undeniably beautiful. They also shined with a Joey Dowling Broadway routine. It looked, for lack of a better word, professional. I could have seen them on a Broadway stage, easy.

Legacy Perez and Ellenore Scott got everyone going with a sexy and dangerous contemporary routine from Travis Wall that recalled "Mr. and Mrs. Smith." It was tough and dramatic and Ellenore especially got into the character. It was one of the most exciting performances of the evening. However I completely agreed with the judges that their second dance, a Tabitha and Napoleon D'umo hip-hop routine, fell flat. The moves weren't up to the level of the rest of the episode, and it was overhyped as well: I was promised something incredibly quirky and bizarre and didn't get much of that. The annoying speaking in alien voices didn't help either. Also unnecessary? The "special remixes" of the songs the contestants danced to.

The contestants at this point I'd have the easiest time letting go are Mollee, Jakob and Ashleigh, not because I dislike any of them but just because I haven't gotten to the point where I root for them as people and as well as dancers. We'll see if Ryan helped save his wife tonight with a heartfelt plea for callers to vote for her. Part of me thinks that might have helped him more than her, but I'm not complaining.

-- Claire Zulkey

Photo: (back row, from left) Ellenore Scott, Legacy Perez, Mollee Gray, Jakob Karr and Russell Ferguson. (front row, from left) Ryan Di Lello, Kathryn McCormick and Ashleigh Di Lello. Credit: Mathieu Young / Fox