Category: So You Think You Can Dance

'So You Think You Can Dance': Cheers for the winner! Jeers for the finale?

I dislike excessively dumping on “So You Think You Can Dance” because I always think that even when it’s weak, it’s still a tremendous show when it comes to showcasing and supporting talent that probably wouldn’t receive that kind of exposure elsewhere. But the part of me that’s a TV critic and a person who watched four hours of the show over the last two days can’t help but feel let down by this week’s finale in general.

I wasn’t alone Wednesday night when I said the performance part of the finale failed to live up to its potential, and I feel like I’m probably not alone when I say the results finale also left me a little cold. I’m not arguing with the results, but it all felt rather predictable (although I suppose that’s just voter-based reality TV). At the very least I would have liked to have had more new stuff to watch.

Don’t get me wrong, I certainly enjoy reflecting back on the best dances from the season, especially those from early on that weren’t as fresh in my memory, like Melanie and Marko’s “I Got You” (I loved seeing Melanie, who’s often given serious roles in her dances, playing joyous and lighthearted); Todd and Lauren’s “Another One Bites the Dust”; Ashley and Chris’ “Please, Mr. Jailer"; and Miranda and Robert’s “Break Ya Neck.”  But as great as it is to celebrate the best parts of the season, the episode was also essentially a two-hour clip show. We saw two new routines, Sonya Tayeh’s “Wanna Get Hype” at the top of the show and Jess, Nick and Matt Flint's taptastic “Can’t Buy Me Love.” But proportionally, that’s less new material than we get in our normal results shows.  This is nice entertainment and all but at least make me not feel like I’m sitting patiently for two hours to hear 10 seconds’ worth of new information.

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'So You Think You Can Dance' recap: Slapped in the face?

Oy. I had to agree with Nigel Lythgoe: Wednesday night’s finale performance show was not all it could have or should have been. On a personal level,I was disappointed that my favorite, Sasha, didn’t have stronger dances but overall the night lacked many standout performances. I think the dancers were tired, but they also weren’t given too many finale-ready opportunities to shine. Even the guest judges were weaker than usual. Kenny Ortega wanted to cast everyone in everything and Katie Holmes just offered bland general reassurances that everyone was great.

It’s not like the show didn’t have its moments. I expected a lot from Sasha and Mark’s Sonya Tayeh-choreographed dance and I wasn’t disappointed. The dance was tailored to Sasha’s strengths, showing her struggling to overcome her obstacles (embodied, sexy-creepy as always, by Mark. Wasn’t it funny how everyone involved with that dance had a mohawk?). Strong and emotionally fierce, it was the perfect Sasha dance and I was so happy for her when Mary yelled that Sasha emulated that she was a “champion and a star.”  

I also thought Marko and Lauren had a really special moment in the finale as they performed a gorgeous Tessandra Chavez dance about a failed romance. I love Lauren for always slapping me in the face with how somehow-surprisingly great she is. Marko and Lauren both looked weightless in their performance and I loved how their hands pulled apart at the end. I thought, “Melanie wishes she was in this dance.”

As I’ve disclosed, I’m a full-on Sasha fan now, so I can't root for Melanie the way I used to (I think because I'm just assuming she's going to win.) I suppose her understated and delicate Stacey Tookey contemporary dance with Robert was good, but as always I was taken out of enjoying the dance by Nigel’s irritating habit of pitting the girls against each other. He had earlier said that Sasha threw down the gauntlet with her first dance, and then claimed that Melanie picked up the gauntlet and slapped Sasha in the face with it. Kind of rude, no?

But there were so many dances that were merely "eh" when I expected "wow!"  I wanted a lot more from Tadd and Joshua’s Lil’ C-choreographed routine (I especially just wished we had seen more from Joshua this season). The judges adored Tadd and Melanie’s sassy Ray Leeper routine but I found it a little cheesy (and that it relied too heavily on Tadd’s being nearly nude.)  I wanted to love Melanie and Sasha’s Stacey Tookey routine about the repressed housewives but thought it failed to make a moment (though Katie Holmes was right: The dresses were gorgeous). I thought Marko was hilariously adorable as a dorky uptight waiter in his Broadway routine but wished that it had been kinder to Sasha (who also suffered in a messily-executed cha-cha with Tadd.)  I thought Melanie and Marko’s disco was fun but unremarkable (compared to some of their previous dances together, anyway) and it seemed like Nigel didn’t even feel like criticizing Marko and Tadd after their step routine -- he just informed them that neither of them would win. Oh, OK.

Was it me? Did you love the finale and it’s not the dancers that are tired, it’s me? Who are you voting for to win? And who would you prefer to have had as the guest judge? (A: A thousand Lady Gagas and one Neil Patrick Harris.)


'So You Think You Can Dance': Worst season ever?

'So You Think You Can Dance': The edge of glory

'So You Think You Can Dance': Pick a favorite, already!

--Claire Zulkey

Follow me @Zulkey

Photo: Melanie Moore, left, and Sasha Mallory perform a contemporary routine to "Heart Asks Pleasure First," choreographed by Stacey Tookey. Credit: Adam Rose/Fox          

'So You Think You Can Dance': Worst season ever?

AR6_MG_8885 It was such a straightforward, unsurprising results show that I bet you could accurately guess who went home. Fortunately, for the sake of discussion, though, I happened to read the following tidbit Thursday night in the "What to Watch" section of this upcoming week’s Entertainment Weekly. Under the listing for next week’s "SYTYCD" finale, Jessica Shaw writes,  "The final four vie for the title … but is winning the show’s worst season to date really a victory?"

"Worst season?" I thought to myself. To quote "Clueless," way harsh, Jess.  If anything, I thought last season was the show’s weakest season, as the show and viewers struggled to adjust to the "all-star" system and lack of Mary Murphy. But in general, "SYTYCD" is a show that I don’t think "worst season" can be slapped on as easily as, say, an "American Idol" or "America’s Next Top Model." No matter who’s at the judging table or who’s dancing with whom, we’re still seeing amazing artists and athletes work their butts off in a way that no other show delivers.

It's possible I'm just full of baloney and Jessica is totally right that this is the worst season to date. Let me know what you think in the comments.

Otherwise, like I said, there are no surprises going into next week’s finale and there wasn’t too much tension in the delivery of the results since the decisions were based on votes alone. I felt bad for Lauren and Kent, who danced beautifully (and how about that kiss at the end! They didn’t seem like they were faking it too much) but were introduced by Cat Deeley as performing because "we’ve got a bit of time tonight."

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'So You Think You Can Dance': Pick a favorite, already!

'So You Think You Can Dance' all-Star dancers Kent Boyd and Sasha Mallory. Credit: Adam Rose / Fox

Unlike Nigel, I don’t flip-flop anymore when it comes to my favorite dancer. I’ve had a hard time since the beginning of the competition deciding who I liked better, Melanie or Sasha, but lately it’s become clear to me that Sasha’s who I really want to win the show. Her father summed up what I like about her when he described her as "Peter Pan." My worry, though, is that I tend to favor the underdog, so my liking Sasha makes me worry that that means she won’t actually win. It’s not that I don’t think she deserves to win, but I think the judges slightly favor Melanie, and while Sasha had a good night Wednesday night, Melanie had the edge thanks to a pretty remarkable solo.

I think Sasha and Kent’s dance was my favorite of the night. It was another amazing non-Broadway Tyce Diorio number, this one about a couple whose relationship has hit a wall (literally: the dancers used a wall as a prop.)  The dance itself was gorgeous, with Kent holding Sasha up on his shoulders so her feet were up against the wall above her head, but the emotion was what made it truly special. I loved it when Kent (playing against type) threw Sasha against the ground and then, later when they ran up the walls. The judges praised Sasha for her raw realness and guest judge Lil’ C fought tears after her performance. I have to admit that as the season draws closer to the end, I tune out more when the judges speak. They offer less specific input but more often talk about what they like about the dancers as people. Sasha’s second dance, a waacking number with Ricky, was enjoyable, but for a pre-finale dance I wish she had gotten something a little more substantive (and it made me hope we see a future guest appearance from Princess Lockeroo.)

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'So You Think You Can Dance' recap: The edge of glory

'So You Think You Can Dance' recap: The edge of glory

First of all, I would like to apologize to those I offended Wednesday night by suggesting that Lady Gaga is anything but a genius in anything she does. Might I suggest that you bestow upon me the same gracious point of view that Gagus Christ proffers in her music: God makes no mistakes. Even when it comes to humble TV critics.

Anyway, Lady Gaga performed, and those who read me regularly know I’m a fan of anyone who actually sings when they sing and whose talents seem like they’d be evident even without the aid of costumes, intricate lighting and backing tracks. Actually, I was a little surprised that Lady Gaga’s performance was as straightforward as it was. She performed part of "The Edge of Glory" and "You and I" (the song Haley Reinhart debuted on "American Idol") without much ado in terms of gimmickry or unusual props. In fact, I was kind of coveting the bottom half of her leather-studded dress. Lady Gaga's persona may make me roll my eyes sometimes, but when it comes to talent, she’s the real deal.

She was in good company because all the performances were wonderful. I haven’t been loving the group numbers that much this season but I really enjoyed Tyce Diorio’s circus-themed opening number. First, the costumes, makeup and set were gorgeous, but I especially loved that he decided to really show the people in the circus, including their romantic relationships, instead of just making the piece creepy and weird. It was imaginative and romantic and I liked how it ended as if the lid was being gently closed on a music box.

Can we talk about LXD though? Wow. Their "Bernini’s Angels" dance may have been my favorite guest performance thus far of the season. Everyone was so crisp and cool and I loved how each dancer had something unique to do, from the guys who twined round each other like puzzle pieces to the girl who came out on stage helicoptering her arms. And the flipping! And the guy who slid out across the stage on his head!  It also didn’t hurt that everybody in the group was extraordinarily good-looking. It was an amazing display of talent that just happened to be badass to boot.

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'So You Think You Can Dance' recap: Bad romance


OK, I think that as of Wednesday night’s episode, the celebrity guest judge thing on "SYTYCD" has gotten out of hand. I felt bad for Rob Marshall, who's an acclaimed EGOT (if the "G" stands for "Golden Globe")-winning director and choreographer, but who was totally overshadowed by Lady Gaga's presence on the judging panel.

I know Lady Gaga has some very passionate fans out there, so let me be clear: I like Lady Gaga as an artist (my workout playlist wouldn’t be the same without her) and she seems like a decent and talented person. But whether she meant to or not, Lady Gaga took over the show and sucked the air out of the room. I don’t doubt that she cared about the performances and is an experienced-enough artist to offer some useful advice, which she did at times, but between her outfit and the quipping and the shoe-throwing and the near-constant criticism of the choreographers, she distracted from the actual performances on the show. It got to the point where I was grateful for the fly that landed on her big, dumb red hat at one point because it proved that although Lady Gaga can distract us from what we’re watching, at least something can distract us from her.  

Aside from all that, I don’t think this episode measured up to last week’s. It’s no surprise that Sasha and Melanie had the best night (also? I’m getting sick of the judges telling the dancers who their favorites are. It’s not useful and I feel bad for the dancers who haven’t gotten to hear that.)  My dirty secret is that none of Sasha or Melanie’s dances were close to being my favorites from the season. I thought Sasha and Pasha’s quickstep was charming but, as Rob Marshall said, the genre didn’t really let her light shine. The judges adored Melanie and Neil’s jazz routine, but the more '80’s-themed a Melanie Moore dance is, the less I can get into it (which is probably why I much preferred the dance she choreographed for Tadd and Lauren Froderman). Melanie’s leap into Neil’s arms was pretty amazing, however. And while I’ve wanted Sasha and Melanie to dance together for a long time, I expected so much from their Sonya Tayeh dance together that I didn’t feel like I quite got the transcendent moment I wanted. And then the celebration after the dance just got out of hand.

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Thursday's TV Highlights: 'Project Runway' on Lifetime

Click here to download TV listings for the week of July 24 - 30 in PDF format

TV listings for the week of July 24 - 30 in PDF format (from

Weekly TV Listings and more can be found at:

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Et-lowthcnc-jul28 FASHIONABLE: “Project Runway,” with Heidi Klum and Tim Gunn, returns with a casting special followed by the season premiere at 8 and 9 p.m. on Lifetime.


Biography: Sexy celebs who've hit the big 4-0 are profiled in “Hot, Famous, and Forty” (7 and 11 p.m. Biography).

CNBC Titans: Candy maker Milton S. Hershey is profiled (7 and 10 p.m. CNBC).

So You Think You Can Dance: Lady Gaga and LXD perform on the results show (8 p.m. Fox).

Ancient Aliens: The series probes accounts of extraterrestrials in the Old West in its season premiere (10 p.m. History).

LA Ink: The tattoo-themed docu-series launches a new season (10 p.m. TLC).


Black Tide: Voices From the Gulf: The 2010 BP oil spill is revisited in this new special (9 p.m. Animal Planet).

Derek Jeter 3K: This documentary tracks the Yankee shortstop's pursuit of 3,000 career hits (9 p.m. HBO).

Serving Life: A hospice program for terminally-ill inmates at a Louisiana prison is the subject of this special (9 p.m. OWN).

Who Survives? A life-and-death tale of two hikers stranded in the wilderness is retold in this new special (10 p.m. Discovery).

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Wednesday's TV Highlights: 'The E! True Hollywood Story' on E!

Click here to download TV listings for the week of July 24 - 30 in PDF format

TV listings for the week of July 24 - 30 in PDF format (from

Weekly TV Listings and more can be found at:

This week's TV Movies


Et-l810kbnc A GIRL CALLED SNOOKI: The “Jersey Shore” star is profiled on “The E! True Hollywood Story” at 10 p.m. on E!


Biography Remembers: A special installment profiles the late R&B singer Amy Winehouse (7 and 11 p.m. Biography).

So You Think You Can Dance: Lady Gaga and “Chicago” director Rob Marshall sit in at the judges table (8 p.m. Fox).

Sons of Guns: The crew from “American Chopper” helps give a machine gun a motorcycle-style makeover in this new installment (9 p.m. Discovery).

Primetime Nightline: Celebrity Secrets: The newsmagazine profiles several “Hollywood Moms” (10 p.m. ABC).

Deadliest Warrior: This new episode imagines a contest-of-arms between French heroine Joan of Arc and William the Conqueror (10 p.m. Spike).

Legend Quest: The team seeks the whereabouts of the Holy Lance, also known as the Spear of Destiny, in this new episode (10 p.m. Syfy).


Mob Money: Murders and Acquisitions: It's business, not personal, in this organized-crime exposé (6, 7, 9 and 10 p.m. CNBC).

Meat America: Our nation's longstanding love affair with beef, pork, chicken, etc. is celebrated in this new special hosted by chef Jamie Stachowski (9 p.m. History).

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'So You Think You Can Dance' recap: 10 become eight

_MG_0871 I feel like I’ve been ignoring poor Cat Deeley so far this season. I think I take her beauty and charm for granted sometimes. Didn’t she look pretty Thursday night in her cream-and-black outfit with the lace overlay? Wasn’t it charming when she said the phrase "Khaki army" in describing Sasha, Marko and Clarice (did you wonder, like I did at first, what it was exactly she was saying?) My only complaint is that I wish she would stop trying to do impressions of Mary Murphy. Cat should only be herself.  I liked it, for instance, on Wednesday night when she called Ricky back onto the stage after he had run off prematurely, claiming "Nobody noticed a thing!" 

With that established, it was a pretty straightforward results show Thursday night. I didn’t care for the opening group number, Joshua Bergasse’s "Act One: On Broadway," that much, but I wonder how much of it had to do with the fact that I didn’t like the costumes. The sparkly hats and gold pants looked more show choir than Fosse.

I would say that 75% of the bottom four was predictable. I think both Clarice and Jordan have had and will continue to have a challenge competing against Sasha, Melanie and Caitlynn. Both danced fine on Wednesday night, but neither had the sort of transcendent "moment" either of them needs to have to keep up with the other girls. Mitchell I predicted would be in the bottom because of the unfortunate "Take Off With Us" dance that nobody seemed to like. But I was surprised that Ricky was down there as well: I thought he showed his worth in his dance with Allison Holker. I need to start voting for my favorite boys in addition to just my favorite girl because I personally would rather see Ricky in the competition than Jess or possibly even Tadd.  

I adored the night’s first guest performer, ballet dancer Daniil Simkin, who played what I interpreted as an awkward nerd with delusions of grandeur in his elegant, quirky performance. I loved that it was so unpredictable and had a sense of humor. My husband, the non-dance enthusiast, opined, "He’s so pointy!"

I liked the idea of the next performance more than the actual performance itself. Blush is a band that came together through a reality show called "Project Lotus" that strove to put together the first Pan Asian girl band. I think it's great that "SYTYCD" was giving these performers a national platform, but if I'm being honest, Blush has a ways to go. Aside from the fact that their band name is more 1981 than 2011, their music was forgettable (despite a boost from Snoop Dogg) and their look and stage presence needs some work. (Less winking, to start.) But who knows, maybe tonight we saw the start of something huge.

As for the solos, only Ricky’s truly stood out to me, with his combination of twirls, flips and funky elements. Fortunately, he got to stay: it was Mitchell and Clarice’s time to go home.  I hope for her sake Jordan gets a really awesome routine to dance next week because I fear that otherwise she won’t last that long in the competition.

Did you agree with the judges’/America’s decision Thursday night? And aren’t you glad Gatorade was on hand to tell us that dancers are athletes? I always assumed that, physically, I could do exactly what they do, but just don’t feel like it.

-- Claire Zulkey

Photo: Contestant Ricky Jaime and "Dancing with the Stars All Star" Allison Holker perform Wednesday.

Credit: Adam Rose / Fox      

'So You Think You Can Dance' recap: Breakfast of champions

AR8_MG_9911 I don’t think I realized how uninvested I was in SYTYCD’s Season 8 couples until I finally saw them dancing with the All-Stars. I also never realized how little I expected from the guest judges this season until Neil Patrick Harris showed me how it’s done. Even when the celeb judges take the job seriously (Megan Mullally) or are outstandingly charming (Jesse Tyler Ferguson), I always half-listened to their feedback, figuring that the "real" comments would come from Mary or Nigel.  NPH was entertaining, for sure (like that ribald little joke he made about Mary’s knees?) but he also delivered the serious perspective of a working stage actor and the honest critique of someone who really watches the show and respects the performers enough to tell them what he really thinks. I especially liked how he, as a Broadway colleague, called Jess out on his tendency to mug. Even my husband, who says "I just don’t get dance" when I make him watch my favorite routines, said "He was really good" when Neil spoke, adding, "They should have him on every week!"

My love affair with Neil was ignited when he confirmed that I wasn’t crazy. There was one dance that I simply didn’t like or get that much, and it was Tyce Diorio’s airplane-themed "Take Off With Us" Broadway/jazz number for Mitchell and All-Star Melody. I didn’t pick up on the story from the dance at all, nor that sense of Broadway joy or cool that so often infuses Tyce’s numbers. Plus, the costumes bothered me: MItchell and Melody’s outfits made them look more like stripper cops than anything airline-related. Neil got first crack at the dance and said, "Um ... I didn’t get that at all." I liked that he didn’t sugar-coat the bad news, either, by saying "You know how great I think you are!" first.

But other than that, there was so much more good stuff in Wednesday night’s show than in last week’s. In fact, let me pause before I write about my favorite dance so I can go vote for Sasha...

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'So You Think You Can Dance': Who didn't make the Top Ten?

AR7_MG_9222 In many ways, Thursday’s episode was your typical “So You Think You Can Dance” results show. Exciting opening group number (The Latin-flavored “El Fuego,” choreographed by Kelley Abbey.) Amazing guest dance routine (Jason Samuels Smith & Anybody Can Get It performing one of those group tap numbers that makes tap-dancing look cool.) Mediocre guest celebrity performance by a singer who dances and poses in lieu of actual singing (Nicole Scherzinger. Doesn’t it seem like she’s performed on “SYTYCD” five times already?)

But one thing was very different Thursday night, and it wasn’t just the announcement of the show’s numerous Emmy nominations.

It was that...

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'So You Think You Can Dance' recap: You know I love you, but ...

AR4_MG_9267 I love “So You Think You Can Dance” and I love Jesse Tyler Ferguson from “Modern Family,” but for some reason Wednesday night’s episode just felt extra-long. I figured it was possibly because I was tired of seeing the same couples dance every week with no switching-up, but a Twitter reader offered that maybe it was just “Cuz so many numbers sucked.”

Well, “sucked” is a strong word but it did seem there were more dances than usual that didn’t quite sparkle, despite a return to the tried-and-true choreographers and the show getting so close to reaching its Top 10.

Only two couples got by with two routines the judges enjoyed, and it was (no surprise) Melanie and Marko, and Sasha and Alexander. I loved that Sasha played a semi-androgynous role in their paso doble, in tight pants instead of the typical swirling dress. I’ve wondered before how much Sasha really likes Alex so the love/hate element of the dance was great for them. I didn’t enjoy their “That’s Life” dance quite as much later on in the evening but I agreed with Nigel that for the first time it seemed like Alex wasn’t riding Sasha’s coattails.

As I’ve said before, I can’t always discern what sets certain ballroom dances apart from others but I got that “it” feeling from Melanie and Marko’s tango, and not just because of Marko dangling Melanie off the edge of the stage or their awesome lift at the end. I loved that Melanie was able to look sexy and totally confident and happy in her sex appeal (as opposed to angry-sexy, which seems to occur a lot during the tango).  Their second dance was even better, as Melanie and Marko recaptured the magic they had earlier in the season with the statue dance. In a Dee Caspary contemporary dance about depression, the two utilized a single hanging lightbulb to the ethereal song “Skin & Bones.” Once again Melanie created little portraits with every moment. I love Marko and as a pair but I wonder how Marko will fare without Melanie when the couples get split up next week: it’s not like she’s been carrying him, but I have to admit I almost always look at Melanie more when those two dance. Secretly, I want Melanie and Sasha to dance as a couple.

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