So You Think You Can Dance guest-judge Jenna Elfman must’ve listened to Alanis Morissette’s second album before stepping out onstage, because she could not stop thanking everyone and everything while giving her appraisals. She thanked people for being great. She thanked people for trying. She may have thanked the art of dance itself, for all I remember. She was thisclose to thanking India, terror, and disillusionment. Hell, she thanked the people that Greer Garson forgot to thank. While she wasn’t the most incisive critic I’ve ever seen on the show, I forgive her since most choreography we saw last night was merely adequate, not a terpsichorean miracle like we always get from Sonya Tayeh or Mandy Moore. For the first time ever, SYTYCD gave their all-star dancers the task of choreographing their own routines, and that’s why results were pretty uneven, like Cat Deeley‘s misshapen black ensemble. Droopy day on SYTYCD. It happens.
But these eight routines still merit close inspection and unqualified bastardliness. Let’s offer ’em up.
Aaron (with Chelsie Hightower): Whole Lotta Mistakin’ Goin’ On
Two things you might not know about me: I love Jerry Lee Lewis and the jive. So I’m a little biased when it comes to analyzing this routine, which might’ve been the snappiest and secretly most sexual routine of the night. Boogie-woogie piano is such a perfect fit for this dance, and I loved seeing Aaron and the glamorous Chelsie nailing those hard kicks like they were kicking those ivories square in the jaw. Mary was right when she declared that Aaron missed a couple of key transitions, and that truly sucks, because this could’ve been the feel-good routine of the evening without the noticeable hiccups. Still, a ferocious effort by both parties, and I think Aaron deserves to be in the final over Paul. Unless the final has to do with having perfectly beautiful incisors. Then let’s give it to Paul.
Fik-Shun (with Allison Holker): Arabesque Nights
Face it, you watched Allison the whole time. She was killing every move like a coordinated Andrew Cunanan while managing to squeeze some fierce emotionality and conscience into the work too. Flawless job, actually. Fik-Shun is still affable ol’ Fik-Shun, endearing you with his approach to this unfamiliar dance genre and looking more than passable, at least to this amateur’s eyes. Am I psyched to see him in the final over Tucker? Not really, but I can’t deny that his star quality outshines his competitors’ by a country mile.
Tucker (with Courtney Galliano): Clarity With Sincerity
“Clarity” is an overplayed radio single, but the song gained a new power and coolness when matched with the ebullience of Tucker and Courtney’s jazz work. They blasted off skyward so many times, they seemed like human torches to me, shining harder and brighter as the routine went on. I couldn’t get over the insane (and slightly bobbled?) catch Tucker made when Courtney ran up, threw herself at him, and essentially entwined herself on his shoulders, arms, and body with the slithery precision of a black mamba. These two had a connection — perhaps the strongest of the evening — and I’m downright bummed to remember that Tucker is leaving the competition. Ugh, and of course he’s out during the week his dad appears and talks about how supportive he is of his kid. Ugh, I’m crying for over two reasons now, which I guess is better than my usual zero.
Paul (with Comfort Fedoke): Slay It, Don’t Spray It
Ugh, uneventfulness. I like Comfort and her Patrice Rushen-like visage, but this graffiti-themed choreography just wasn’t impressive or novel enough for primetime. Paul certainly jutted and thrusted like a wonderful, angel-eyed b-boy child, but I kind of winced as he beamed Nipsey Russell-style through all this hard, harsh footwork. I was missing a tonal connection between Paul and Comfort, who wanted to convey both lightheartedness and serious commitment to getting down, but they couldn’t agree on which moments to pick which extreme. Plus, first rule of using prop garbage cans: You can’t just have them onstage without doing crazy Stomp moves on/with them.