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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)

Not familiar with Alvin Ailey??? Oh my gosh, it would be like writing about music and not knowing who Beethoven was. The are some wonderful books, videos about the company featuring Judith Jamison, a trailblazer in her own right. Please, if you're going to cover a show that is about the dance world, do some research. You'll enjoy what you're watching even more.

I love the new format that includes the all stars. It ensures that every competitor has a competent partner every week. What I haven't enjoyed this year is the blatant favoritism. Jose's a cutie and he's fun to watch in his own genre, but time and again he skates through on something other than performance and the judges either give him a pass or get weepy because they have to criticize him. He should have gone home last night, but IMO they found a way to keep him around for another week. I can't really begrudge him the opportunity, but when the judges are so nasty to, say, Adachika or one of the others, it dampens things. I can only conclude that they think they need a B-Boy on the show to accommodate some variety in the choreography.

While I'm at it: Love Mia as a choreographer. Don't care for her much as a judge.

AND ....what on earth kept them from selecting DJ Smart as a competitor? He's fabulous!

First of all I don't get the whole Robert isn't growing thing. Just yesterday they were complimenting on how much he was growing. And as for Billy I don't blame him for sitting out with all the injuries going on. For all we know if he had gone up on the stage and tried to dance with the injured knee his career could be over forever. Just Sayin'. Also this kindamakes me sound mean but I was SO disapointed that they didn't elimiate someone. I was so happy because I thought Hose was going. Oh well, there's always next week.

Absolutely, Billy should have remained. How many of us have been hurting yet the X-rays say nothing. You can hardly walk nevermind do all the incredible moves these dancers do. If a dancer pushes themselves and ultimately injures themselves so that they are out 4 or so months, the naysayers will just look the other way.
I love this show and I really like having the All-Stars back.

No, Billy should not have left. He only got the docs clearance 3 hours before showtime with no opportunity to solo. This, from a reliable friend on Facebook. I am appalled at Nigel's behavior last night. First, he should have revealed this fact. Secondly, it was totally unprofessional and hurtful to come out last night and imply that Billy somehow was not manning up to his little injury and dancing through it. By these two actions, Nigel left an indelible imprint on much of the audience that has resulted in demeaning Billy's character, and that is inexcusable in my book. If Nigel truly respected dancers, he would have simply relayed the information about the limited time to prepare, and invited all of us to wish for Billy's speedy recovery. In fact, a very different, ugly tone was set instead.

Meanwhile, not a peep from Nigel about why Jose has not danced in the last two group numbers (with a steady barage of tweets about this as well) with a crazy allowance given Jose for weak to limited dance skills to match. This, on a dance show, which up till now, had mostly called it truthfully about which dancers were bringing it, and which ones weren't. For whatever reason, Nigel has mostly swept under the rug the unavoidable reality that Jose has not brought amazing dancing to the show, either in his own style nor certainly in other genres. When taken along side the diminishing of Billy's performances on the show, it is taking away from the show's credibility and shining a light on Nigel's biases.

I think Billy was BRAVE for making the decision he did, knowing that it could have cost him the show. He weighed the consequences of making his injury worse (thus costing him his career) against the consequences of not dancing Wednesday night (costing him his spot in the show) and chose wisely.
Leave him the hell alone, people!

I'm pretty sure that wasn't the "real" Judith Jamison posting, but it was good for a chuckle! I love that SYTYCD is turning people on to the Alvin Ailey dancers. I have loved them since I got to see them many, many years ago (when Judith Jamison was dancing, which tells you how old I am!) and I also love how the show is just bringing the joy of dance to the masses and getting people excited about dance. Keep up the good writing and don't let the turkeys get you down. It's impossible to know everything!

I really wonder if the votes were split--2 for Billy and 2 for Jose, so they figured they would do this and then next week they could just eliminate BOTH of them in one sweep? What a slap in the face if either doesn't end up in the bottom 3?

This wasn't exactly fair to the contestants who finished on top this week. Had one been eliminated, they'd have had a 1-in-5 chance (20%) of going home next week. Instead they have a 1-in-3 (i.e., 2 out of 6, or 33%) chance of going home.

How is that fair? It means Jose gets through another off week, while leaving the top dancers less room for one. It seems likes the producers are going through contortions to avoid having an all-contemporary top 5.

Hey producers... change isn't always good, and this season and this season isn't working.

The looks on the faces of the three top finalists was telling. Seemed like shock. What? They made it to move on to the top five and still there are six? Seems like a disservice to the nth degree. Am I alone in my thinking? Fair to Billy yes, fair to the top three? I'm not so sure.

Only a few people on here have mentioned it, so I really think not a lot of people have noticed Jose is NOT dancing in the large group numbers, & hasn't for at least the past two weeks. Why isn't this being addressed? Why haven't the judges said anything? Are they hoping we won't notice? I like him, I think Jose is very entertaining, but it's not fair for him not to have to dance in those numbers. Where are our answers??!!

Just because Billy didn't danced doesn't mean he should go home. It should have been Jose, who can't even dance in the group numbers. I think it was good the judges gave them both a second chance because of the unusual situation.

But was anyone else mad about who they chose for the tour? I was so excited there was a show near me, but now I don't think I will go.

do u know anything about dance???

I'm disappointed in the judges comments especially about Adechike. No one else was judged as harshly as he was. There was lot of favoritism. Even though I'm not a trained dancer I don't think they have been judging fairly. Some of the dancers seem just aweful to me and they receive nothing but praise from the judges. After last weeks decision not to eliminate anyone, it was obvious to me and so many others that the person they wanted to eliminate was not in the bottom 3. They should at least be honest. I almost didn't watch this year and I won't watch the next season. It's just very disappointing for me. GOOD LUCK IN YOUR CAREER ADECHIKE. PROVE THEM WRONG.

Billie should have went home for someone who refused to dance in the computation part of the show he was sure jumping around like a monkey at the end and lifting an twirling the girls. This season is making me not like it much any more the judges are trying to sway the votes for the one they want to win and are being extremely crude to Adechica who is a excellant dancer. Mia with her ugly self is a bitch

I believe Billy only found out a few hours before showtime that he was cleared to dance. Considering he'd missed all the rehearsals, and was still in pain and needed to keep an eye on his future, I think he made the right decision.

I was glad the judges didn't eliminate anyone last week, because it would have been Billy for not dancing, and I was really sick of seeing people get cut without actually getting cut.

The necessary cuts were made this week, which I think was just fine.

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