You’d think an episode of So You Think You Can Dance featuring a whole slew of my least favorite, most hyperbolic critiques — “One of the best Broadway routines ever!”; “You’re always one of my favorite dancers!”; “It really gets ya!” (as Mary dabs her tear-streaked face like a hysterical aunt at her godson’s trumpet recital) — would be boring and annoying. God, no. I hate putting cynicism aside, but dear lord, we were presented with six incredibly strong routines, zero mediocre performances in the entire lineup, and even some lovable teariness from Cat Deeley, who usually remains Seacrest-strong during work hours. Um, it was flawless? Basically, yeah. Hell, Alex Wong showed up and humped the air for our entertainment. Guest judge Kenny Ortega could’ve been a bit more technical with his fawning contributions, but I don’t super-care about that. This was pure entertainment, the stuff that legitimizes my belief that SYTYCD is the best reality competition on TV. And if you don’t subscribe to that theory, at least we can agree that the worst reality competition is sports.
And now, onto the reviews. Pardon when I get a little gushy, because I’m 4% Mary Murphy (on my most hysterical aunt’s side of the family).
Hayley and Nico: Squeals of Fortune
I was already in a hyper-libidinous mood because Nico is Mormon sexy and Mentadent fresh, but then his wheaten-haired hotness kicked into high gear when I realized he was dancing to music from The Kiss of the Spider Woman musical. You see, Kiss of the Spider Woman makes me think of the ’85 movie of the same name. That movie featured Raul Julia. If you didn’t know, Raul Julia once had a steamy threeway with Frank Langella and Jill Clayburgh. In conclusion: shocking hormonal bliss. Thankfully Nico lived up to this obvious sexual connection I made and drove home the nastiness with broad, possessed acting skills. O-faces everywhere. Hayley played the part of a fortune teller who wanted his soul, and she set about obtaining it using the insanity of dance. As the judges noted, there were two almost-unthinkable lifts, including one where Nico reached behind his head, gripped Hayley’s extended leg, and basically slammed her over his body using, uh, strength? It made no sense. He is an 18-year-old scout leader or something. Chicanery is afoot, because this was impossible. Maybe mirrors were used? I thought I saw Lance Burton peek out from behind a scrim. Anyway: Tastefully broad Broadway routine, zealously acted. A real success story for this first-time pairing.
Malece and Alan: Come Flop With Me
I’m just going to say it: Dancing to Michael Buble music is a really good way to ensure that no one will remember you. His voice is an old-timey affectation that forgets even to feign charm, and here, Malece and Adam had to shimmy and grin to a lite-jazz offering that reminded me less of Ella Fitzgerald and more of the Sex and the City theme. Cute, I thought! And yet, Nigel slammed the hell out of the performance, and I assume it’s because he knew those two were going home later in the evening. I wanted to agree more with Kenny Ortega, whose ebullience I appreciated, but he compared Malece to “a young Judy Holliday and Goldie Hawn,” and that’s incorrect. He is confusing blonde hair for entire female identities. Truth is, Malece is a dead ringer for a young Betty White, and Alan is a dead ringer for a male thing I’d enjoy seeing naked. Sorry to see these two dynamos leave the competition, especially after Alan’s amazing, leg-swively solo routine.
Jenna and Alex Wong: Wench in the Gears
So, the moral of the story: Kill your assigned partner so SYTYCD’s producers can replace him with a bona fide legend like Alex Wong. I was sad to see Tucker Knox relegated to the sidelines thanks to a “knee infection” (f*cking ewwww), but I was overjoyed to see the season seven all-star back on screen complete with flawless moves and a nicely waxed ten-pack. Indeed Alex held up his end of this sly, saucy dance, but it was Jenna with her swishy, heart-pounding verve that made this paso doble a triumph. Aside from a couple of points in which Jenna’s speed dropped slightly, she worked her wench dress with the kind of swervy movement I haven’t seen since Dorothy Malone in Written on the Wind. Oscar-winning swishiness, guys. Rock Hudson didn’t even have that.
Makenzie and Paul: Gaga for Each Other?!
Ugh, how boring is it to agree with Nigel? That happened for me, and now I’m basically comatose. Makenzie and Paul’s wonderfully balletic, outstretched movements in this contemporary piece matched the melodrama of Lady Gaga’s “Edge of Glory” live recording, and while I often feel that “emotional” dances are too hammy and insincere to be enjoyed, I really felt Makenzie and Paul connected and boldly interfaced throughout the routine. Did I mention it was also sexy? I’ve overused that term today, but Raul Julia came up, so you have to understand. Paul’s understated prowess makes him the Chehon of this season, and not just because those two share a passing resemblance. Makenzie is unstoppable. And together, to quote the celebrated wit of Anna Kendrick, “they should have babies together.”
Amy and Fik-Shun: Balls to the Waltz
Knowing that Fik-Shun is precisely the opposite of a waltzer, I hedged my bets on this one. Bad news, me, because I found this routine entirely stomachable even though it was set to a maudlin-ass, not-quite-Colbie-Caillat ballad. In fact, the song was by Christina Perri, the woman who infected SYTYCD a few seasons ago with that odiously phony ballad “Jar of Hearts.” Ugh! That song! For crybabies whose feelings don’t matter. I’m mad now! I want to get an actual jar of hearts and start tossing them one by one off a roof at pedestrians. Thankfully, Fik-Shun and Amy’s chemistry superseded both the lame song and the technical issues Fik-Shun had. But the fact that Nigel didn’t mention a damn thing about Fik-Shun’s issues just proved that — indeed — he was overplaying Malece’s problems earlier and underemphasizing Fik-Shun’s to advance the agreed-upon narrative of the season. Unnerving! I’m dumping the whole heart jar in Nigel’s bed.
Jasmine and Aaron: Hippy Longstocking
Jasmine has spent the majority of this season proving she has the longest, leggiest legs since that time in another universe when Cyd Charisse produced offspring with Manute Bol, but now she’s worthy of another Guinness book distinction: the most blazing automatics ever loaded into a pair of hips. Seriously, this hip-hop routine was all about the M16 action of Jasmine’s hips and pelvis, which throttled like grenades from start to finish. Every thrust was a sonic boom, every hip-pop a choke-slam. Aaron worked it as well, but it’s hard to watch anything else when gritty warfare is occurring at navel-level over on Jasmine’s bod. Now she needs to win the season. Needs to. I’ve enjoyed other dancers and I’ve reveled in their work this season, but Jasmine — with her unabridged skill set and haircut stolen from either Kelis or Tami on The Real World: Los Angeles — is a SYTYCD sensation you can feel. Girl got it.
And the winner for best group routine is…
The gents’ lyrical hip-hop piece set to Joshua Ledet’s (of American Idol season 11 fame) version of “It’s a Man’s Man’s Man’s World” was so tough, sexy, and brooding that it sort of felt like we’d encountered an entirely new set of dancers. They’ve always been hot, but this was angry hot like the sweaty slaves in the “Express Yourself” video. Nigel was right to acknowledge the spellbinding speed of Alan’s opening spins. That was ridiculous, like Morticia’s wild rotations in the ballroom scene from Addams Family Values (which also starred <3 Raul Julia <3 ). I dug the ladies’ routine set to “Young and Beautiful” by droning valium empress Lana Del Rey, but I prefer the impact of my dances to feel like IMPACT. Glistening machismo is the victor in this case.
What’d you think? Stellar episode, no?