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"So You Think You Can Dance": How to stand out in the crowd?

June 23, 2010 | 10:31 pm
_MG_4438 Once again, tonight I considered my issues with "SYTYCD"'s new format.  I really respect the show's producers for trying to switch things up but I'm not sure this is working out to be a positive change, especially for a show that strives to showcase the talents' personalities.  Without the ongoing story of how the partners work together to learn new genres, I think certain contestants are going to get the short end of the stick if they can't show us who they are in the short amount of time they have onscreen each week.  For instance, I still don't at this point feel like I know much about what Cristina, Alex or Billy are like as people and not just dancers.  Some other performers, like Lauren and Kent, are blessed with strong personalities that are self-evident but especially in Kent's case I'm not positive I need THAT much personality. At the same time it still feels strange to see the All-Stars barely interacting with the show. What has Pasha been up to? What parts of the Broadway dance are hardest for Lauren? What does Ade think of Melinda?  Instead of hearing these things, the All-Stars are sent away mutely. We hear more from the partners on "Dancing With the Stars."  Plus, while I love most of the All-Stars, it is strange knowing that their side of the dances doesn't really...count.

Tonight I thought Melinda, Jose and Lauren stood out from the crowd for their performances. Despite the lukewarm reaction she received from the judges last week, I think Lauren is a favorite, as is Jose, so it's not surprising that their dances went over well. Lauren paired really well with Dominic, I thought, for their Tessandra Chavez lyrical hip-hop routine on abusive relationships.  The judges were especially pleased with the way she approached the dance after what they perceived to be a somewhat unserious performance last week. And Jose nailed Bollywood, which isn't really a surprise: it's a genre that always goes over well with the judges and audiences and seems to be a fairly easy one for dancers with hip-hop background to pick up.

I don't think Melinda is a dancer who has really sold herself yet to America, but she danced beautifully with Ade to a contemporary routine by Stacey Tookey about the perilous state of the planet.  The judges praised her lines and called her a word I don't know how to spell but is pronounced "gorge-wah" (Mia Michaels was a little free-flowing with the English language tonight.) My only complaint was that Melinda's dress, blue silk decorated with flora, was a bit too literal and thus cheesy for me. 

I think the other dancers (with the aid of the show) just need to keep working on convincing us they're more than just solid dancers, that they're contestants we need to care about. I don't think Robert, who at least has a chest and face the audience loves, will have a problem getting votes for now but while he might have the audience's love, tonight he didn't have the judges, with what they perceived to be a somewhat chill-less, stressed-out tango.  Same with Billy Bell, who might get sympathy votes for his valiant attempt to krump tonight.

Who do you see in the bottom three tomorrow night? I'll guess Cristina, Adechike and Ashley.

--Claire Zulkey

Ade Obayomi, left, and Melinda Sullivan   credit: Kelsey McNeal/Fox