OMGoodness, City Kids! The bar is set so high on this first night of “So You Think You Can Dance“ competition—the series’ 200th show. It’s going to be quite a feat to pick just one favorite from this season’s stellar group. I’m sad that two dancers will already be going home next week.
Nigel Lythgoe and Mary Murphy are joined by guest judge Jason Derulo, who, while an entertaining judge and lovely to speak with (check our YouTube channel soon for interview footage), performed his latest hit, a ridiculous song that’s not just dumb, but offensive. (I do like some of his songs, like Whatcha Say, but that’s in large part because of Imogen Heap.)
But “You know what to do with that big fat butt”? And Snoop Dogg growling, “Damn baby, you got a bright future behind you”!? Please. I assume it’s Derulo’s attempt at a Baby Got Back-type hit, but I could do without it. It seems to serve no purpose on the show other than to promote Derulo’s album, and I’m sad this is the direction pop music is going (well, we’ve been here for a while, but it’s still sad).
Fortunately, the rest of the evening is spectacular, with one amazing dance routine after another. It’s going to be tough, all season, to pick only 5 to highlight.
Aw heck, I’m going to go ahead and do a Top 6:
Emily and Casey win the choreographer lottery, working with audience favorite Travis Wall, and none of the three disappoint. The routine is beautiful and touching, matching well with the great choice of music. The dancers handled Wall’s choreography expertly, from Emily’s forward flip over Casey’s shoulder, to that gorgeous assisted layout, to the inventive slides up and down their partner’s limbs. The intriguing ending hinted at sexuality without being too overt.
Ho-Ly Crap, ya’ll! That was totally brills! Zack, who is a video gamer, and Valerie, who used to think she was Hermione Granger(!), danced a completely kick-butt tap routine, choreographed by Anthony Morigerato. They recall the great Bill “Bojangles” Robinson, the grandfather of tap, for this number, dancing up and down a five-foot tall staircase. Brilliant choreography and difficult, scary material—pullbacks, backwards down the stairs?!—that the dancers pull off beautifully, with gigantic smiles. Absolutely amazing.
I wasn’t going to include this number, but I have to call out Stanley, who dances with Bridget in a Bonnie Story contemporary piece. It’s gorgeous choreography and she also dances wonderfully, but he is just so beautiful, with massive jumps and long lines, and the way he stands vulnerably on stage while she walks away at the end is heartbreaking. They seem to be a perfect pair too: both weepy.
Chris Scott (two first names) is one of my favorite choreographers on the show, and his inventiveness, intricate use of props, great music choice, and ability to showcase the dancers’ best features all show up in this routine. His “Night Shift” tribute to his father, a janitor and air conditioner mechanic at his school when he was a kid, challenges the dancers, Emilio and Teddy, who play a security guard and a janitor, respectively. “I think it connects me to him,” Scott told me after the show. “I’m very grateful for the people who bust their butt to provide for their families, and this is my way of directly providing a service to them and giving them something they can relate to.”
The choreography is great, and performed well—and not just the complicated prop work. Emilio pulls out his best tricks, and Teddy, a tapper, even gets to do a little footwork (I bet he was jealous of Valerie and Zack’s awesome stair dance). I also love the rhythmic moonwalk—how has it taken so long for someone to do that?
Dream Team Jessica and Ricky dance an absolutely gorgeous Sonya Tayeh piece to music by Meredith Monk. What challenging choreography and risky music, but it pays off, big time. The room is completely silent, as Nigel points out, as the normally screaming audience is intoxicated by the dancers on stage. I get a very strong Khaleesi vibe from the way Ricky carries Jessica on his shoulders, and he’s so long and flexible, it’s just beautiful to watch. I feel pretty sure that Ricky will end up in the Top 4, if not take the competition completely.
Louis Van Amstel from “Dancing with the Stars” returns to SYTYCD to choreograph two stellar ballroom pieces in this very ballroom-capable Top 20. While both fantastic (Marcquet is particularly eye-catching), I chose Tanisha and Nick’s Cha-cha for my Top 6. Nick is adorable and charming, as well as a sexy and exciting dancer, and Tanisha’s simply stellar. That one-legged death drop is gasp-inducing—not to mention that sexy kiss that, while choreographed, seems to take Nick by surprise.
More thrilling for me, I actually had a chance to dance with Louis, and with Dmitry Chaplin, after the show. Check our YouTube channel for footage soon.
So what did you think, City Kids? How do you size up the competition this season? Are you sad to see some of these pairings break up next week, not to mention already losing two dancers? Who do you think it’ll be? Cast your votes in the comments.