Last night’s show was crazy.
At first I thought it was going to be the episode when the season hit its stride. We saw several solid, undeniably awesome routines. The dancers, as a whole, were looking great. Even the costume team was on fire. Things were on the up-and-up.
But then we witnessed a shameless act of “So You Think You Can Dance” thievery. And when I saw the way the judges reacted to it, I almost lost my darn mind.
I went into this episode feeling a little “meh” about the whole “SYTYCD” enterprise. I came out of it a screaming-at-my-TV mess. Yay?
OK. I’ve had the night to simmer down. Now that I can type coherent sentences again, here are my Top Five Moments:
1. The opening number became an interesting experiment in perception. On my TV, at least, the show started out with no sound. (Some poor tech crew was not having a good time last night.) What did I see? The Top 16 in Lady Gaga-y getups and face tattoos, doing rough-and-raw choreography that depicted what appeared to be a tribal ritual involving Jasmine as a sacrifice. Based on all that, I assumed the music would be propulsive, aggressive, even scary. But then the audio kicked in (yay!), and lo and behold—it was swoony and moody instead. The dance took on a totally different tone. Nifty, right? It almost made me want to play the routine over and over on mute, setting it to different songs each time. But I’ll leave that to you guys:
2. Travis Wall’s piece for Jenna and Tucker demonstrated the proper way to use props. OK, yes: The song he chose is called “Hangin’ By a Thread,” and we started out with Jenna literally hanging from the ceiling by red threads. Travis Wall, master of subtlety. But those tethers ended up adding a beautiful aerial dance component to the piece, and what could have been a run-of-the-mill contemporary routine became something pretty great. I think “SYTYCD” choreographers often do better when they give themselves a prop that’s actually a “problem”—that complicates a routine instead of just decorating it. It keeps them from falling into old, stale habits. And Jenna was just gorgeous, as usual.
3. Along those same lines, we had Dee Caspary’s “ladder” piece for Haley and Curtis. Like Travis’ routine, it felt like a circus hybrid, and I mean that in the best way. The ladder that terrified the pants off Hayley (I don’t blame her—that thing did not look stable) ended up being just as effective as Travis’ tethers. Props like these could be considered gimmicky in another context, but we’re dealing with two-minute routines here. They need gimmicks if they’re going to achieve any sense of coherence in 120 seconds.
4. On the other end of the spectrum, we had Makenzie and Paul’s gimmick-less Dave Scott routine. Well, OK, the whole 1920s theme could be considered a gimmick. But (fabulous) costumes aside, this was just a good old-fashioned, well-choreographed hip hop piece. There wasn’t anywhere for Makenzie and Paul to hide, and they didn’t need to. They were fantastic. Especially Makenzie. How does that girl keep ending up in the bottom? VOTE, people!
5. Tyce Diorio ripped off Wade Robson, and I wanted to punch everyone in the face.
Let’s begin at the beginning here.
When, before the break, Cat cheerily announced that Amy and Fik-Shun would be doing a “hobo jazz” routine, I thought, Oh, cute—shades of Wade Robson’s hobo-y “Cabaret Hoover” routine from Season 3. Unconcerned, I went back to reading about Will and Kate’s baby on trashy gossip websites.
Then the piece started, and
HOLY CATFISH IT WAS ACTUALLY SET TO A SONG FROM THE TRIPLETS OF BELLEVILLE SOUNDTRACK, JUST LIKE WADE’S PIECE.
And the costumes were kind of the same. And—gulp—a few of the movements might have been, too.
My jaw literally dropped. I kept trying to think of ways this could be OK. I mean…I guess Amy and Fik-Shun were sexy hobos, if that’s a thing, as opposed to Wade’s unhinged hobos? Or maybe this was Tyce’s loving tribute to Wade? The overlap seemed so blatant that I was sure the judges would give some kind of explanation (or make some kind of accusation) during their critiques.
I was wrong. They went crazy. They said it was the greatest thing Tyce had ever choreographed. They stopped one step short of praising his originality. And I started yelling unprintable things at my television.
Look: Amy and Fik-Shun are two of my favorites on the show, and their performance of the piece was great. I don’t know what else to say except that I hope they’re still around after next week, which it seems like they will be, so that’s good. But just how short is your institutional memory, “SYTYCD?” (Also, I miss Wade.)
In the end, BluPrint and Mariah went home. That’s about right, I guess. I wasn’t really processing thoughts well by the time their names were announced.
How do you all feel about the elimination? And what did you think about the hobo jazz piece? Am I totally overreacting? (Probably.)
Tune in next week, same time, same place, for our recap of the Top 14’s performances!