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'So You Think You Can Dance': Wha?

I feel like I’ve been a little shortchanged over the last three Thursdays.  Well, that’s not entirely true: "SYTYCD" results shows have been delivering some wonderful dance performances (and some OK musical performances), but are we ever going to get a regular elimination, one where the solos actually mean something?  

The episode kicked off with a great group number to "All That Jazz" with guest choreographer Kelley Abbey. I liked the Fosse-esque moves combined with the rather grubby, old-fashioned styling and set design of the piece, along with the toned-down version of the song. The dancers reminded me a bit of scrappy street performers, in a good way, of course.

In terms of showcasing American dance at its finest, it was a good episode, first paying tribute to former Ailey School director Denise Jefferson. I confess I wasn’t familiar with her or her passing prior to tonight but I’m grateful to the show for bringing it to my attention -- if it wasn’t for "SYTYCD," I don’t think I would be familiar with the Ailey dancers either.  After that, we saw an exquisite pas de deux from members of the American Ballet Theatre.  I was captivated by Yuriko Kajiya, who was what I think of when I imagine the perfect ballerina, especially as she twirled en pointe, making it look like the simplest thing in the world. She looked like one of those little jewelry-box ballerina dolls, only, you know, happy and alive.  

In a break from the performances, we learned that Robert and Jose made up the bottom three with Billy. Billy sat in the audience and didn’t participate in the group number, so part of me figured he must be going home, but then another part of me thought, "No, they’ll never let that happen for a third week in a row. Maybe Jose will be eliminated and I’ll look really smart because I predicted that Wednesday night."

DJ Smart, a dancer who has auditioned on the show but never made it to the point of the competition episodes, was given some time to perform, which was a treat: He performed to "Say You Will" by Kanye West while wearing shackles on his wrists. It was a gorgeous dance, but I have to admit I especially admired the sheer physicality of the performance, the way he repeatedly used only his legs to get up from a splits position, the point of his toes, the definition of his huge thigh muscles.  

Whoever has been selecting the All-Star dance performances for the results shows has good taste, because I was happy to see once again Lauren and Neil’s "Night of the Dancing Flame" routine as she embodied goodness and light and he the dark side, out to corrupt her. Neil does creepy and seductive well, and I love that Lauren, all in one character, combined an innocent girl, a broken-down doll and a strong woman.

Before the solos, Nigel announced which All-Stars will be going on tour with this season’s dancers, so if you’re a fan of Allison, Dominic, Courtney, Ade, Russell or Kathryn, get ready to snap up tickets.  

As for the solos, I thought Robert’s was fine, but didn’t exactly demonstrate why he deserved to be there above Billy or Jose, while, as Nigel put it, Jose just seems to get better and better with his breaking.

Before we got to the results, Enrique Iglesias (who apparently just goes by "Enrique" now?) performed the song "I Like It," with a brief cameo by Pitbull. Between Enrique, his wallet chain and the auto-tune, and I felt like we were being treated to a review of everything that is not new in music, but I have to admit the song was kind of catchy, and the younger Iglesias is not aging so poorly.

As for the results, Nigel announced that he and the judges "haven’t made up our minds, but we came to a conclusion," which you could argue means the same thing. He told Robert that some of the judges didn’t think he was growing, and Jose that he wasn’t improving enough in dance genres other than breaking. Then Nigel told Billy that he set a precedent on the show for opting not to dance even when the doctors said he could. Here I expected Nigel to tell Billy, "And since you decided not to dance when you could while the others had to perform, out of fairness we have to send you home." But that’s not what happened.

"American Idol"-style, NO ONE was sent home. Got that? Next week two dancers will be eliminated, however. I guess I’m supposed to be excited about this, because hooray, no bad news tonight, but I don’t understand the point of postponing the inevitable. I think the show just didn’t want to have another elimination like the last two weeks, but I don’t feel any less shortchanged. I know I’m not in Billy’s shoes and can’t understand the potential pain or discomfort he’s feeling, but I can’t help but feel that it would have been fair for him to go home tonight. If he had been ordered not to dance but could still perform next week, then tonight’s results would make more sense, but since he could dance but didn’t, I’m not so sure.

As if to provide one more example that the whole competition aspect of the show was a bit of a mess Thursday night, the episode apparently ran a little short, and so at the end the camera lingered extra long on the judges joking around and the dancers frolicking onstage.

So you tell me: Do you agree with the judges’ decision? Am I a horrible person for thinking Billy should have been eliminated? And have you learned the Nappytabs routine yet for National Dance Day?

-- Claire Zulkey

Comments () | Archives (56)

Why was it okay for Nigel to scold Billy for not dancing in the show when Jose has been absent from the company number in the results show TWICE. If he can't dance in the numbers then he should NOT be allowed to stay.

I agree .. I think Billy should have been sent home seeing as how he could have performed but chose not to!

Billy should have been eliminated for 3 reasons: the last 2 weeks, both non-performers were eliminated and Alex had an excellant chance of winning (I guess since Billy might win also, the judges showed their favoritism in choosing this ending to the show).......Billy opted not to dance, giving a week of rest (maybe the show should take a week off for everyone else).......did you see him jumping up and down with everyone in the extended ending? I could swear I saw the "oops, I better not be doing this on TV" look on his face. My winner is, of course, a tie between Kent, Jose, Robert and Billy with the U.S. Supreme court deciding the winner!

I love Billy & I love Robert & I love Jose.....that being said Jose only knows 1 dance style...he is no Legacy, and should have been voted off 2 weeks ago.

I was happy to hear that they didn't send Billy home. Maybe after seeing the other getting hurt maybe got him a bit nervous especially after Alex who had an extreme injury........I don't blame him for not wanting to give it a rest. On the other hand think the judges felt guilty maybe thinking the same thing. Personally I think Jose is great in his style and like Jose we have had other that were not training if I recall Joshua and Twitch who were the top two. I remember Joshua and Katie ' Paso one of the best ever Paso's.

I think that Robert has grown maybe not as much as Lauren but he has grown.......

So I think with the 3 in the bottom and not going home maybe they all had reason to try one more time to prove they are the next #1 dancer

Everyone is commenting on billy. He did what he did, and honestly its not fair to comment on his decision. Its his career, and he made his choice. It might not have been a bad one.

What the judges did, was inexcusable. In a competition, any competition, the rules have to remain. For whatever reason, they decided to break them. They pretended that this was fair by saying two will be cut next week. Here is why it is not fair.

By the rules, one of those three should be gone. If all three have stellar performances next week, they wont be in the bottom. Therefore, someone who had a stellar performance this week, is overlooked. Adichike, for example, had an amazing performance, and what the judges did, essentially rendered it meaningless.

If after next week, Jose, Billy, and Robert are all still there, the the judges have in essence rigged the competition.

In past seasons, they have admitted that they dont entirely decide based on "dance for your life", but they can have their minds changed by it. I can accept that. What I cannot accept is that they are pushing their own decisions above the votes.

There needs to be an expose story by the LA times on the Jose issue. Why does SYTYCD think it is acceptable for a dancer like Jose to not be in the group numbers, make no comment at the time of judging and allow him to continue in the show? It is an issue of artistic integrity that a responsible journalist would want to pursue.

This wasn't really a "shocking" episode for me. I think next week both Jose and Billy will be going home, the latter of which is a huge shame as the level of talent is... something very worthy of making it far, I think. But if we look at the voting, the talent only plays a certain role, not the whole. Is there really any doubt that Kent and Lauren will be the top 2 now? I don't watch a whole lot of reality shows (never watched American Idol) and this is the first time I'm actually watching SYTYCD every week, but once the tween voters has made up their mind, will it change at the finish line? I fail to envision that, but what do I know.

Personally, I'm happy they kept Billy, even if it might just end up being for one more week. If this had been The Apprentice (how lame is it, that this is the one reality show I have seen...) Billy definitely would have been fired, but I'm glad Mr. Lythgoe felt that keeping him on was the better decision even if it might just be postponing the inevitable. I'm not quite sure what the reasoning behind it was, but I guess he must have felt somehow that it would be "fair"?

Also, isn't it weird that Twitch wasn't chosen for the tour? I hope he has better things to do, but still, he's been shining quite brightly lately. And if the top girl and guy (or 'boy' is probably the better word, was I the only one who felt old that Robert JUST turned 20???) from this season will be going, then Lauren was already in last week, no?

Looking forward to next week now, and hoping the injuries will stay at a minimum.

Jose should have gone home. He can't dance.

I also give Billy a pass. Dance is his life and the faint possibility of wracking his knee is cause enough for him to take a pass for mending. Nigel (man, does he take teeth-whitener treatments every week?) was oddly accusatory in his comment about Billy choosing not to dance. Oy...still a great show, tho.

Oh well, another post...kudos to Malia, Katherine should have won last year. Did anyone see what happened to one of the winners (can't even remember his name, stocky-build black dancer) ?????? He ended up as a "pro" dancer on "Dance Your A.. Off!!! Others have made it on Broadway or amazigly fantastic pros on "Dancing With The Stars". Not everyone who wins does it on their merits, the judges have too heavy a hand in results. Like me, I know nothing of dance, it looks great and is entertaining. I have loved 99.9% of the performances this year only to have the judges pick them apart (I love Jose's performances). Who would still be on the show if people voted what they saw, not what the judges critique? And poor Jose, I think a star in his own right, who I think is a good dancer, being told he's not good enough and then being told his solos are spectacular? Just too easy for the judges to pursue the public to what the judges like. And Cat looks spectacular this year!!

BTW, I just checked out the locations for the national tour. Very ambitious and very expensive. Except for 'nose-bleed' seats in these large venues, the tickets are hundreds of dollars. Whew...is there a layaway plan?

I think the biggest unintended consequence of the judges' bizarre decision was to catapult Adichike into the finals (and possibly first place). If, under normal conditions, Jose had been let go by the judges, then next week's bottom three would certainly have been Adichike, Robert, and Billy. I believe the judges would have let Adichike go, since, in spite of the fact that he has demonstrated some spectacular moves, he has consistently failed to grasp the totality of the pieces he has performed (with the possible exception of his recent hip-hop routine). He consistently fails to "connect the dots", that is, to make one movement flow into another forming a unified presentation. (The marvel of Kent, on the other hand, is how gracefully he rounds off his moves and makes them flow from one to the next.) If the judges , as usual, select only a bottom THREE, then they will surely be the same three as this week--which means Adichike gets a pass. AND--if reality-show contest history is any indicator (see Adam Lambert, David Archuleta, etc.), then the judges' prohibitive favorites (Kent or Lauren) may well take a back seat to the "sympathy" candidate.

I was really disappointed in the judges decision to keep all 3 dancers last night. In my opinion, Billy should have been eliminated since he could have danced and opted not to. Although Jose's skills are not quite up to par with Billy and Robert, Jose and Robert at least gave it their all in their dance solos. It seems like the judges weren't happy with the choice given them by the voting audience, so they opted to break the rules to their advantage. I don't think it is at all fair to last night's solo dancers, the first three dancers who made it through to next week, or to the voters! What a rip-off!

I really hope Billy gets the chance during the finale to do the stepping routine he missed so he can prove to everyone he was not scared of performing it. I seem to remember the judges being fairly confident Billy could do the routine well.

I understand the predicament the judges were in this week and support their decision.

Billy. Jose. Jose. Billy.
Pulease. Lets say the truth. Best of Show is Lauren, Kent and Adechike who I believe won't make it. I think its all between Lauren and Kent.
Consistent excellence.

Kat said it best. "We're just making this thing up as we go along." All the soft, fungible rules, the injured dancers, the hodge-podge make-up of All-Stars and competitors, it's a big mess. There's no true competition anymore. It's a game of Survivor. But that's not what I tuned in for. So with each passing week, the stakes get lower and my interest borders on non-existent. Sad, for a show that used to have such seeming integrity in the process.

Still with all the problems this season, I think we sometimes forget the main part of the show. Awesome dance routines.

And in that regard this season has rocked. There have been many good routinies, PLUS, we've got to reconnect with many of our favorites from prior years (I would love to see Josh do something though). So in that respect it's been a great year.

Anyway, yes I think Billy and Jose should go next week. Jose just hasn't picked up the other styles quick enough. And IMO Billy would have blown that stepping routine just like he blew the krump routine.

Billy is a wonderful dancer and extremely talented, but not as great at projecting a personality through the TV screen, which seems to cost him votes. I'm befuddled at why people call him arrogant, he seems humble enough to me.

And Nigel is being completely unfair to him by implying that he could dance just fine, but won't. Billy wants to be a professional dancer. Dancing on an injured knee could worsen the injury and curtail the rest of his career. When a doctor says that he "could" dance on it, it doesn't mean that he's fine. It just means that nothing is broken or torn. It doesn't mean that it's a *good* idea to dance on it, and Billy made the right call for himself.

Sadly, this series has already lost two of my favorite dancers to fairly bad injuries. Alex's could be catastrophic to his career. And Nigel Lythgoe doesn't seem to care that he could be grinding up the rest of his contestants, as well, and is instead insulting them for their injuries.

So I'm finding it harder and harder to follow the series to the end. America's Favorite Dancer? He's now sitting in the audience, with his leg in a cast.

Also, I read on a few different websites that Billy received clearance from his doctors just 3 hours before the show started. Not enough time to be ready to dance. I don't think they said when his injury occurred, so who knows how much practice he got in. Not to mention that he just might not have felt ready to dance on it. Assuming that's true, I think it was very wrong of Nigel to call him out like that. I am really giving Billy the benefit of the doubt on this one.

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