”So You Think You Can Dance”: Let’s put on a show!
Well, first of all, how are y’all? I know it’s been ages since we last gabbed over our favorite TV talent show — me, I’ve been away on vacay, then swallowed whole by Optimus Prime, but I’ve always made sure I checked in with Nigel, Mary, and Co. And before we get to tonight’s show (preview: could Danny be going home this week?), there’s some things I need to get off my chest:
Ricky was totally, utterly, tragically robbed, and maybe even sabotaged, by whoever decided it was a good idea to partner him with a woman who made him look 12.
Cedric has only Nigel to blame for the accusations that he’s the Sanjaya of this year’s SYTYCD — if the Brit had only given the Jell-O-limbed, choreography-challenged kid the boot when he had the chance, we’d almost certainly still get to bask in the light reflected from Jesús’ teeth.
Speaking of Cedric, he is to blame for my least favorite SYTYCD routine ever, i.e., the Mia Michaels I have no idea what to do with this kid, so I’m just going to make him sit on the stage spastic shrug. But Mia’s also the mind behind Lacey and Kameron’s awe-inspiring top 20 routine, one of my all-time favorites, so I guess it’s a wash.
And as much as I thought Jessi was a gimmicky disaster as a soloist, her ouster was so unceremonious I think we all know she got quite the raw deal, especially since she was so smokin’ with her partner Pasha during the results show. The woman who should’ve gone home that week — Lauren ”15 Second Walk-On Intro” ”Misha” ”Questionable Asian Fixation” Gottlieb — should be counting herself supremely lucky that Nigel didn’t decide that his special-exception rule making extended to that 1,000-signature petition to reinstate Jessi.
Phew. Okay. All caught up.
Cat opened the show wearing a dress that guest judge Adam Shankman deemed ”catastrophically cat-tastic,” and though she took it as a compliment, I wouldn’t be so sure. It looked to me as if she had raided her parents’ basement and dug up some leftover wrapping paper from the swinging 1960s, but then later my friend Mimi declared she’d owned pretty much the same dress in the 1980s. What we’re trying to say here, Cat, is that however you are finding these dresses, please, we implore you, do not change a thing. You are far more entertaining this way; once Ryan Seacrest dropped the frosted tips and bedazzled fitted Ts and went all Brooks Brothers on us, a good 25 percent of the fun of Idol was suddenly Dunklemanned. Don’t make the same mistake, Cat. Please keep it up. (Oh, forgot! One change I can get behind: Teaching the audience to say ”jidges.” Brilliant.)
Cat also announced that July 11th is Nigel’s birthday (hey, we’re both Cancers!), but I’m not thinking guest judge Shankman was exactly what he had in mind as a birthday present. The director-choreographer of the movie of the musical of the movie Hairspray did manage my favorite line of the night — while talking about his SYTYCD-watching routine, he blurted, ”I would buy Chinese or Italian or whatever — food, not people” — but mostly Shankman seemed to rub Nigel very much the wrong way, no more so than during their discussion of dancer Danny Tidwell.
Yes, I’m skipping ahead a bit — we’ll get to the other dancers shortly, promise, but since no less than The New York Times chose to feature the lithe, winged Tidwell in its pages this week, I think it’s worth leading off with discussing the possibility that Danny could actually be going home. Unquestionably, Danny is by leaps and bounds (oof — couldn’t help myself) the best technical male dancer this season, but both Shankman and Nigel rightly pointed out that there’s still something missing from his performances. Shankman blamed it on arrogance. Nigel said it was a lack of showmanship spark. Then when Shankman circled back to comment that Danny seemed to be above it all, Nigel barked he was ”talking crap.” Not exactly how I was taught to treat a ”guest,” but then I haven’t made a habit of publicly bemoaning dance ”snobs” and feminine (read: gay) male dancers. (Oooo. I went there.)
The spat almost obscured the all too real possibility that Danny will at the very least be dancing for his life tonight, and could even be cut from the show. Here’s my thinking: Lacey and Kameron’s hustle was solid and sexy, and since some DVR’s are apparently describing SYTYCD episodes as starring ”Lacey & Kameron and the other dancers,” I’m thinking that after that insane final flip, those two are safe yet again. Pasha and Sara’s West Coast-swing routine was filled with pretty much all of surprise choreographer Benji Schwimmer’s signature moves — the shoe slide, the double cartwheel, the camera mug — so, of course, the crowd and the judges adored it. They’re safe too. (Question: Is my TV calibrated wrong, or is Benji orange?) Lauren and Neil got this week’s Make It Through Free Card when they landed golden boy Wade Robson as their choreographer, and though Robson didn’t bring anything to the stage that he hasn’t before, it was certainly the best either of those dancers has ever been. I’m calling them in the clear too.
That leaves Shauna and Cedric, Sabra and Dominic, and Hok and Jaimie, all of whom I think are vulnerable. I know nothing about dance, but to my eye Cedric showed ”growth” with that mambo the same way a toddler shows growth when it makes it across the living room with no one’s helping hand. So I suspect the judges’ adulation of his performance has less to do with his steps and more to do with finally understanding the Simon Effect: The meaner you are to a likable-if-undeserving underdog, the more people will speed-dial in sympathy; the nicer you are, the more likely voters will leave their phone on the coffee table.
Meanwhile, though Shankman is right that Sabra and Dominic told a story with their Shane Sparks hip-hop, I’m not exactly sure how holding a woman in your arms for 15 seconds qualifies as dancing. As my ever-reliable friend Mimi put it during that moment, ”Everybody’s cheering because that was really complicated.” Both dancers were great, but I just don’t know if there was enough there there. Maybe that’s why Mary chose to make her scream a silent one, or maybe Mary’s just finally gone round the bend. (Also, Dom, word of advice: Saying a woman is seven feet tall is not the best way to win her affections.)
And poor Hok and Jaimie. Though I’m not sure the home viewer felt all that bereaved after getting only a few bars of actual waltzing during their routine, the dancing was such a soft sigh that I’m having trouble remembering it outside of Jaimie’s dress. I’d say if anyone was a lock for the bottom three, it’s them.
But so long as Hok and Jaimie pull off the solo routines we know they’re capable of, I can’t see the judges taking such a clearly talented female dancer and a clearly popular male dancer out of the mix just yet. If Cedric and Shauna pull a miracle, make it through, and force Dom and Sabra to prevent their deaths by dancing, then Danny is especially in real trouble. He’s neither unabashedly likable nor any sort of underdog, and he made the mistake of using his getting-to-know-you segment to share his love for designer sunglasses, always the most direct route into people’s hearts and minds. Dom, unfortunate crushes aside, has emerged as this season’s best success story, a narrative more impressive to Nigel than mere technical perfection. Even Danny’s fierce and fearsome partner, Anya — who, didn’t you know, has brains and was a blonde! — could also be hindered yet again by the handicap of soloing in a style that really demands two dancers. All told, I’m suddenly nervous that the dancing equivalent of Melinda Doolittle is not long for the SYTYCD stage.
So that’s my doomsday thinking. Of course, I could always be wrong; the judges weren’t so much feeling Kameron (they never have, really), and I don’t care how many wet kisses Mary and Nigel blew Cedric, the dude’s still first in line for the ”this is your journey” montage. But what do you think? Am I getting all twitterpated for nothing? Is Danny even worth rooting for? And is anyone more attracted to Pasha now that he’s outed himself as a computer nerd? (I know I am.) Do tell!