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'So You Think You Can Dance' recap: Cha-cha with Debbie anytime!

June 23, 2011 |  7:43 am

_MG_4476-1 While it’s lovely to see the “SYTYCD” contestants excel in their own genres, I was happy to see the dancers leave their comfort zones more this week. Not only is it it easier to pick out who may be in danger Thursday night, but it’s also easier to start selecting favorites,  because the most fun times on the show are when we’re pleasantly surprised (remember Josh and Katee doing Bollywood?).

My favorite surprise of the evening was Miranda, who played a woodpecker, of all things, in a Tabitha and Napoleon hip-hop routine (it sounds much weirder than it looked). Robert is a hip-hop dancer so it was no surprise that he looked great in the routine, but Miranda hit her moves harder and possessed way more swagger than I would have anticipated, and even did a backflip! Nigel complimented her by saying she was the best contemporary dancer they’ve had perform hip-hop on the show, and perhaps paid Robert, who never once said “Woo!” the ultimate compliment by saying he put his dancing where his mouth is. Guest judge Debbie Reynolds liked the dance so much she performed an eerily accurate impression of Woody Woodpecker.

Tabitha and Napoleon choreographed another noteworthy dance Wednesday night, “Coming Home,” in which Alex portrayed a soldier coming home from war to his wife, Sasha. I never knew that Napoleon was a veteran, which explains why he and Tabitha have choreographed so many nuanced dances about soldiers over the seasons. One element I like about those dances is that it’s never just about a strong guy and his fainting wife (last season they choreographed a dance where the female was the soldier), and Wednesday night was no different. I think I preferred the first part of the dance to the second, when the music picked up a little, but overall Sasha and Alex had great chemistry, and Sasha got to display her strength and character. Nigel addressed the coincidental timing that the show was delayed a bit for President Obama’s announcement about his plans to withdraw troops from Afghanistan.

Though she’s not my favorite contestant, I find myself rooting for Iveta, I think because she’s a few years younger than I am but in terms of the show she’s an old crone. She and Nick performed a Bollywood dance, and while it wasn’t as great as Joshua and Katee’s, it was nice to see Iveta kick off her shoes and look a little more natural. She took pretty well to the genre, though she could have exchanged a tiny bit of ladylike grace for a bit more soul, perhaps.

I thought everyone else was great Wednesday night. Unless you’re going to force me to pick out a few couples who may be in danger. Oh, all right then.

Even though Missy spiced up her cha-cha with Wadi as best she could, it was clear they were fish out of water. The judges were fairly forgiving considering how far out of their genre they were, but Wadi took it pretty hard, and I think his lack of confidence may hurt him, actually. His consolation though is that Reynolds wants him to be her boyfriend.

I also agreed with Nigel that a little something was lacking in Clarice and Jess’ Stacey Tookey contemporary dance about a commoner marrying a royal. There wasn’t a lot of chemistry between the two, and while I think Stacey is usually great, I don’t think the storyline was really that evident in the dance itself. Maybe it needed a Pippa?

Finally, even though the judges loved it, I didn’t quite buy Ryan and Ricky’s raunchy “Addicted to Love” Mandy Moore routine.  The dance was definitely hot, but I wasn’t sensing real chemistry between Ryan and Ricky -- not to be crass, but I didn’t get the feeling that they wanted to make babies together (Ryan’s nonstop grinning, which is pleasant but not exactly sexy, didn’t help). I thought maybe I was crazy until I caught Caitlynn and Mitchell’s fabulous chemistry in the next dance. Even though she was nice about it, I don’t think Reynolds quite knew what to do with Ryan and Ricky’s performance, or the tape on Ryan’s breast.

While I have become fixated now upon the idea that the judges won’t eliminate anyone until the last week of the show and then just eliminate 18 1/2 couples, somehow I don’t think that will happen Thursday night. Who do you think will be going home. (And who do you think SHOULD be going home?)

-- Claire Zulkey

Follow me @Zulkey

Photo: Miranda Maleski and Robert Taylor Jr. perform a hip-hop routine choreographed by Tabitha and  Napoleon Dumo. Credit: Adam Rose / Fox      
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