"SYTYCD" Season 7, Top 6 Performances (Part Deux)

Guess what? It was a Wednesday performance show on “So You Think You Can Dance” and no one was injured. Miracle of all miracles! Now Cat, please be careful bounding up and down the stairs in those sky-high heels (which look amazing with that slinky, one-shouldered snakeskin-patterned dress).

You know what doesn’t look amazing? Adam Shankman’s chest. Button up, sir.

Each dancer performed three times last night: once with an All-Star, once with another finalist and once in a solo.

Kent and Anya kicked off the evening with a Jean Marc Généreux and France cha cha. Apparently, Anya was a teacher and Kent a naughty schoolboy. What about Anya’s outfit says teacher? The white oxford t-shirt? When worn over barely-there ballroom threads (fishnet bodice!) I think the shirt loses any suggestion of a matronly schoolmarm. Oh yes, the dancing. Kent seemed confident and precise and guest judge Toni Redpath says he’s more grounded than in his previous cha cha. Mia calls the piece “crunchy”—and then Cat asks what we’re all thinking. Mia says she means “it didn’t flow.”

Robert and Kathryn performed a Stacey Tookey contemporary piece about a couple saying goodbye as one of them heads off to war. The partners spent most of the number tangled up, with Robert doing a lot of lifting. Though he did a lovely job supporting Kathryn, we didn’t really see him dance much.

Oooh, oooh, oooh, oooh! Cat says tickets for the next “SYTYCD” tour go on sale this Friday! She, perched on a pedestal, then looks down at the crowd around her and says, “You’re quite excited about that, aren’t you?” The floor is almost entirely filled with screaming teenage girls, but Cat happens to direct her question at the one, slightly out-of-place male. He nods unconvincingly. Awkward moments on live TV, my favorite. (Also, do the people on the audience floor really have to stand throughout the entire taping? Strange.)

Back to the show. It’s Adéchiké and Courtney in a Tyce Diorio jazz number to “Manteca” by Dizzy Gillespie. The music is infectious, a roiling, Latin-influenced jazz piece and Tyce created choreography that perfectly matches the tone: sexy, playful and explosive. There’s quite a bit of social dancing in the mix, which reminds me of watching Dirty Dancing and thinking, “How is it that Johnny Castle and Penny move like that?” While I agreed with the judges that Adéchiké could loosen up, I loved this number, from the opening leap to the final, cheeky almost-kiss.

Jose and Comfort got a Marty Kudelka hip hop number. Kudelka’s assistant/partner is Dana Wilson, and in the rehearsal footage, her outfit reminds me of Molly Ringwald in Pretty in Pink—which is funny, because the song is Otis Redding’s “Try a Little Tenderness.” Intentional? Who cares, as long as the choreographers keep using this amazing music catalogue. The choreography is sparse, giving Jose lots of room to fill the stage with Kudelka’s signature swagger. But he can’t quite make it happen. You know he’s trying, and he’s still charming. And it’s painful to watch his face go all sad puppy dog when the judges tell him he missed the mark.

Lauren and Allison do a Tyce Broadway routine to “Who’s Got the Pain” from Damn Yankees. The judges claim they can’t even critique the performance because there’s nothing to critique, though I thought both dancers puttered out toward the end. But the real story here is that Nigel referred to the show as “American Idol.” You know how you can make it up to us, Nigel? Bring on the wee Ryan Seacrest for a cameo and make him stand next to the towering Cat Deeley.

By the way, does anyone else think Lauren looks like Meg Ryan circa When Harry Met Sally?

Throughout the evening, each dancer performs a solo. Generally, these were solid but unsurprising. Billy’s solo, however, showed his choreographic capabilities. In a mere 30 seconds he gives us dynamism and style, and still manages to sneak in an envy-worthy extension. I particularly loved the shift from low, powerful opening to a pulled up passé, Billy’s hands gently tapping the air twice in a moment of suspense.

Later, Billy danced a Stacey Tookey contemporary routine with Ade. In the rehearsal footage, Tookey describes how the piece is about a homeless man and a business man and they’re lives are so different and blah, blah, blah. This sounds cliché and boring to me. Then Billy and Ade dance the piece and my brain explodes. Billy plays the downtrodden character and commits completely, washing away my jaded cynicism. And the choreography does a much better job of showing the differences between the two characters: Billy’s body flails, Ade's follows rigid patterns. And there are beautifully quiet moments (Billy extending his cap for a donation; both dancers pulling away from each other like two pendulums swaying). I’m sitting on my couch thinking, “Billy is better than this show,” and then Mia basically says the same thing. Mia, stop channeling me.

I’ll make the rest quick. Here are five word reviews of the finalist partner routines:

- Jose and Kent, Spencer Liff, Broadway: Athletic throwback à la Gene Kelly.
- Lauren and Adéchiké, Jean Marc and France, Fox Trot: Smooth, sensual but not ballroom.
- Billy and Robert, Nakul Dev Mahajan, Bollywood: Smiling, bouncy goofballs on parade.

Two dancers will be sent home tonight. Nigel made it clear he thinks Jose is going home. And all the judges said they think Lauren and Kent will battle it out for the title. What do you think?

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