'So You Think You Can Dance' Recap - Top 20/Top 20 Perform Again

So I know what you’re all thinking: “Hey idiot, the last episode of So You Think You Can Dance aired four days ago and it seems you haven’t done a recap in the last few weeks? What gives? Who writes a recap a week and a half late?”

OK, those are valid points. I have an excuse involving my participation in a musical that no one will care about, so I’ll leave it at this: I’m sorry, dear readers, and I promise to recap the rest of the season in a highly timely fashion.

But because the last two episodes were quite crucial to the show, upon actually watching them I decided that publishing a recap was important. If nothing else, it will help later on look back at all the performances this season and will give you a sense of where I stand with the Top 20.

Note: Although I missed recapping the Callbacks episode, there wasn’t enough there to devote a full article to. Sure, there was some good dancing and a few memorable moments (mostly involving Ricky’s solo and some poor guy’s tooth getting chipped), but the whole episode was rushed and produced in such a way that I never got attached or interested in any one person too much.

Note #2: The format you’ll see here is the same I will use for each week of competition. I will write a recap of each dance and give it a rating of zero to five stars. Feel free to comment below with your favorite/least favorite routine of the night.

Meet The Top 20:

Brooklyn & Serge, Cha-cha – * * ½
The good news is that Brooklyn has gorgeous legs that go on for days (boy, isn’t SYTYCD the only show where you can use that sentence in a recap and not sound like a complete creeper?). The bad news is that parts of Brooklyn and Serge’s cha-cha felt clunky and a bit under baked. Perhaps it’s the fact that Dmitry Chaplin choreographed the routine, but I couldn’t help but think that their dance was a little too DTWS.

Emily & Casey, Contemporary – * * * ½
Emily and Casey’s routine was textbook Travis Wall, which means it was a beautifully rendered, intimate duet. But because Mr. Wall has such a high standard to uphold this routine felt just a little too safe and by-the-numbers. It wasn’t bad but any means, but it didn’t grab me as much as some of his previous efforts…but perhaps I’m just thrown off by the fact that I went to school with a girl named Emily Casey. So there’s that.

Valerie & Zack, Tap – * * * ½
I just love the art of tap. It’s such a lost style and one that I love seeing get national attention on Dance. Anthony Morigerato’s sleek and stylish routine looked incredibly difficult (my calves burned just watching it) and the two performed it very, very well. Well Zack did. Valerie looked at the floor and seemed to concentrate a bit too much. She’s a great dancer but just needs to relax into the movement more.

Bridget & Stanley, Contemporary – * * * * ½
Bonnie Story’s emotional and beautiful duet showcased two amazing dancers, whose technique and emotionality were top-notch. While Bridget is a beautiful dancer, it’s hard to not be overshadowed by Stanley, who might just be a SYTYCD all-star in the making. His legs and elevation are just incredible.

Jaque & Jourdan, Ballet – * * ½
I’m no ballet expert. I’m not even a ballet novice. I’ve seen Black Swan twice, that’s about it. But something about Jaque and Jourdan’s routine felt off. I don’t know if it’s that the girls’ technique fell off the wagon at times and felt a little too labored. The routine was very difficult and there were moments of beauty in the routine for sure, but I just wanted a little more ease and glide in J and J’s movement.

Malene & Marquet, Samba – * * * * ½
If they ever make City Of God: The Musical I hope the producers will call Malene and Marquet right off the bat. Their Louis Van Amstel samba had amazing energy, some great technique and two firecracker performers. What fun!

Carly & Rudy, Contemporary – * * * *
OK SYTYCD directors, we need to talk. Please stop with the constant spinning and panning in your camera blocking. This is a dance show and I actually want to watch the contestants DANCE, which is hard to do when the camera keeps swooping all over the stage. Sometimes static shots are OK. We won’t get bored. Besides, camera pans are amazing if used for a specific reason. Oh, what’s that? You want to know what I thought of the dance? It was simple but simply beautiful.

Emilio & Teddy, Hip-Hop – * * * ½
Continuing the trend of SYTYCD routines based on employees goofing off at work (a la Fik-Shun and Amy’s amazing bellhop routine from last year), Emilio and Teddy’s duet was enjoyable but lacked the technique and fire that Fik-Shun and Amy brought to theirs.

Jessica & Ricky, Contemporary – * * * * *
Is it presumptuous to give a routine five stars on the first night of live shows? Perhaps, but Jessica and Ricky’s Sonya Tayeh was about as flawless as I’ve seen in many, many seasons of the show. Jessica and Ricky are now frontrunners and I cannot wait to see what they will do on the show. Their debut was absolute perfection. Besides, with a musical score that minimal, I can imagine how difficult the routine much be to follow. Yet it seemed so effortless.

Tanisha & Nick, Cha-cha – * * ½
Cha-cha routines should just ooze sexiness but Louis Van Amstel’s sputtered due to the dancers’ complete lack of chemistry. It was like they were more interested in the camera than each other. I mean, it was fun but fizzled where it should have sizzled.


Top 20 Perform Again:

Tanisha & Rudy, Jazz – * * * *
I wasn’t a huge fan of either Tanisha or Rudy in the last show (why wasn’t she in the bottom six? But more on that later) and the soundtrack to this dance was just a notch above dentist drill when it comes to mind-numbing sounds. That being said, the pair did a very strong job with a grimy, sexy Sonya Tayeh jazz number. Did they totally redeem themselves? Not quite. But it’s a huge step in the right direction.

Valerie & Ricky, Contemporary – * * * *
I both feel super bad for Valerie and think she hit the jackpot by being paired with Ricky who is clearly the best dancer of Season 11. Valerie’s a good tapper but lacks finesse and emotional depth, especially when stacked up to Ricky in Travis Wall’s routine. Valerie did step up more than I expected, but still wasn’t quite up to par.

Bridget & Emilio, Hip-Hop – * * *
Luther Brown choreography was entertaining to watch but I kept waiting for Bridget and Emilio to get more down and dirty. While I’m thinking about it, let me also take a moment to say how wonderful it is to have a literate, smart and knowledgeable guest judge in Misty Copeland. She’s a wonderful addition to the show.

Jessica & Nick, West Coast Swing – * *
I wanted to like Benji Schwimmer’s scarily fast swing number but the dancers felt awkward, clunky and a half second behind all throughout. The pair managed to mug and underperform at the same time. I love Jessica and hope she manages to find surer footing soon, but this wasn’t a great showing for either.

Carly & Serge, Contemporary – * * * * ½
In what was clearly the best routine of the night (so far), Carly and Serge (who were not my front-runners going into the episode) rose to the top with an emotionally honest and very demanding routine. The chemistry was great and the technique was very solid. Very, very good work.

Emily & Teddy, Hip-Hop – * * * *
No, this wasn’t down and dirty, grubby, hard-hitting hip-hop. But it was incredibly fun to watch. Two pair brought a bubbly, flirty energy to a routine that made the two dancers move like little, boneless Gumby dolls.

Marlene & Stanley, Broadway – * *
I gave this three stars but that is mostly to do with Spencer Liff’s tepid choreography. The phone concept felt shtick-y and dated and resulted in a routine where the two danced on the same stage but never really together. They are both wonderful dancers and delivered it fairly well, but this was a surprising dud.

Jourdan & Marquet, Jazz – * * *
Marquet was one of my favorites in the last episode due to a fiery samba but this time his jazz routine felt surprisingly clumsy and pedestrian. It wasn’t the worst of the night – Misty was right it was fun – and Jourdan was surprisingly confident for a ballerina doing jazz, but I won’t remember this number by the next episode.

Brooklyn & Casey, Argentine Tango – * * * ½
The pair may have been technically spot-on but I wanted more of the dark, sexy Argentine tango spark between them. A routine like this could have been a disaster and it wasn’t. In fact, it was quite good. But it could have been a lot better.

Jaque & Zack, African Jazz – * * * *
Yes, the costumes were hideous. It looked like a Sherwin Williams store threw up on them. It looked like if the Doodlebops performed The Lion King. That being said, the duo sold the routine quite well. Yes, Jaque out-danced her partner but the whole thing was surprisingly fun and technically sound.

Bottom Six:
Brooklyn, Casey, Jourdan, Nick, Marlena & Serge

Who Should Have Gone Home:
Jourdan & Nick

Who Actually Went Home:
Marlene & Nick

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