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'So You Think You Can Dance': Wha?

July 22, 2010 | 10:00 pm

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