The top 20 dancers were back for round two Tuesday night as the second week of "So You Think You Can Dance's" live shows kicked off.
Last week's energetic hip hop opener was replaced by a contemporary piece by Tyce Diorio. The top 20 played dolls come to life and incorporated a twin size bed and giant billowy curtains into the ethereal routine.
The peaceful mood came to an abrupt halt, though, as host Cat Deeley announced the show was switching up its format by eliminating contestants at the top of the program and having them come back to perform with their partners later in the show.
The bottom six--Mackenzie, Alan, Mariah, Jade, Brittany and Carlos--were pulled out of the group and placed at the mercy of the judges. In another twist to season 10, the judges are now allowed to save two of the bottom six dancers automatically, and the judges, joined by guest Christina Applegate, chose to save Mackenzie and Alan.
So krumper Mariah, contemporary dancer Carlos, ballroom dancer Brittany and animator Jade were left to dance for their lives, each in their respective styles. Before making final cuts, judge Nigel accosted the dancers for not bringing enough passion and meat to their solos. Ultimately, it was Carlos and Brittany who were sent home.
Before any tears could be shed for the newly axed dancers, it was time for the remaining contestants to actually get down to business and dance.
The show kicked off with Hayley and Curtis's explicit and leather clad jazz routine. Hayley carried her sexy character from last week over as a powerful dominatrix trying to take over Curtis's bad boy persona. The duo were applauded for throwing themselves into the routine's sensuality, and tapper Curtis was praised for making the judges forget he wasn't in his style.
Following them were a favorite couple from last week, Jasmine H. and Aaron. The duo rocked a hardcore Sonja Tayeh jazz routine in the first live show and were challenged with a Napoleon and Tabitha hip hop routine. Aaron played a wayward musician who seduces Jasmine, although she tries to resist. Nap & Tabs are known for their outstanding lyrical hip hop routines, and this week's routine was no exception. Jasmine's commitment to her role in the routine was noticed by the judges, and Aaron, who originally did not make the top 20, was called out by Nigel as a major asset to the show.
After a weak solo performance, Jade joined partner Maleece for an energetic (and thoroughly bedazzled) Bollywood routine. Maleece received generally positive reviews from all judges, but Jade was encouraged to put more effort into his performances in the future. Christina recommended he learn as much about these new styles as possible in order to deliver the best performance possible.
Alexis and Neko, one of the only couples panned last week, came back with a Stacey Tookey contemporary routine. The routine was a sequel to another Tookey routined, performed by Kathryn and Robert in season 7. While Kathryn played a woman going off to war, Alexis filled her shoes as a woman returning from home to her lover. Although Alexis was admittedly anxious to take on such a large role, the judges loved that, as a tap dancer, she was able to pull of many of the technical aspects of the routine. All in all, a step up from their performance last week.
The first of the eliminated dancers, Brittany, performed a Broadway routine with her partner, animator and Dragon House crew member BluPrint. The duo played young loves meeting in a library, but BluPrint was unable to commit to the emotional level Broadway requires. The judges stressed the importance of emoting to storylines within the routines, but this isn't the first time BluPrint has been called out for lack of performance. My guess is one more weak performance, and it's goodbye BluPrint.
The first of the night's ballroom routines was next, performed by Jasmine M. and Alan. The duo were praised for their chemistry in last week's beautiful Travis Wall contemporary routine, and the chemistry was there again in their tango. Alan played a womanizer who seduces an innocent young girl, played by Jasmine. The judges were shocked that Alaon found himself in the bottom, but with a performance like that, they doubted he'd be there again.
It seemed like sex was the theme of the night, as Mackenzie and Paul took on a jazz dance in which Mackenzie transformed into a sexy "fembot." Again, the judges seemed surprised that Mackenzie didn't win over the audience with her work in last week's waltz, and they pleaded for America to realize her star potential. Paul was praised as well, although Christina suggested he focus on letting go of his ballroom carriage in certain styles.
Mariah said goodbye to her partner, Carlos, with a contemporary routine, once again from Stacey Tookey. They played a couple reeling from a traumatic car accident in which Carlos' character loses his memory, Mariah's goal was to show people her serious side, and she succeeded. After a standing ovation from the judges, she was praised for her emotion and brilliant storytelling as Carlos' loss was mourned unanimously by all the judges.
One of the judge's favorites already, Amy and Fik-shun took on the night's second Nap & Tabs routine. They played bellmen who were more interested in having a good time than doing their job. The performance was all cheese, and the judges loved every minute of it. Nigel said he loved seeing the two of them on stage because they let their personalities light up the stage. He went on to echo his prediction from last week, that they would find themselves in the finale.
The night ended with a cha cha routine from Tucker and Jenna, choreographed by SYTYCD alum Dmitry. In her native style, Jenna shined and was hailed by ballroom expert Mary as a star and a chameleon. While the duo were praised for putting everything they had into the performance, Nigel called out the choreography for being too muddled in multiple styles. He said that the show is rooted in throwing the dancers into bold, new styles, and the choreographers need to stay true to the genres.
Stay tuned for next week when two more dancers are given the boot and the top 16 perform for your votes live!