So You Think You Can Dance recap: SYTYCD Top 14 performance night recap |

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So You Think You Can Dance recap: Virgin Territory

A bevy of choreographers make their 'SYTYCD' debut, but fresh blood doesn't always mean fresh ideas


BREAKING FROM THE MIDDLE: Along with partner Caitlynn, Mitchell made a powerful impression with a Mandy Moore contemporary routine

(James Dimmock/FOX)

So You Think You Can Dance

Season 8, Ep. 12 | Aired Jul 06

That Cat Deeley is a wily one. Standing upon the So You Think You Can Dance stage in a stunning frock that resembled a finely crafted paper kimono (and an incongruous beach-blanket-high ponytail), Cat introduced the judges on last night’s episode as an “eye-popping panel of experts.” That description, “eye-popping,” can mean so many disparate things. It could express delight at standout choreographer and season 2 runner-up Travis Wall’s presence on the panel as a judge willing to give dancers a genuine, constructive critique – or profound covetousness for his delicious velvet blazer. (Adam want. Adam birthday soon. Adam fiancé read recap. Adam subtle.) One could also easily describe as “eye-popping” Mary Murphy’s significantly and suddenly sun-kissed skin. Nigel Lythgoe’s cornball attempts at humor – really, Nij, you’re gonna make a Child’s Play joke about the choreographer named Chucky? – were perhaps more of the “eye-rolling” variety than “eye-popping,” but close enough.

And then there was celebrity guest judge Carmen Electra. I mean, what wasn’t ”eye-popping” about her? Her obvious beauty? Her plunging neckline? The use of the term “expert” with regard to her ability to judge a dancing competition? At the start of the show, she avowed she’d majored in ballet and modern dance at the School for Creative and Performing Arts in Cincinnati, won something called “Miss Dance Ohio,” and that “thrashing” (i.e., “moshing”) is her favorite “style” of “dance.” Oh: “And Pussycat Dolls” – which is, it seems, self-evident. Ms. Electra neglected to mention her performances as “Carmen Electra” in the Paris Hilton movie Pledge This!, ”Carmen Electra” on the NBC sitcom Joey, and “Carmen Electra” in the 2006 American Idol satire American Dreamz – but I’m sure there just wasn’t enough time to cover everything. She spent the rest of the evening serving as a way station of nonspecific adjectives like “strong,” “ridiculous,” “trained,” “beautiful,” “okay,” and “energy.” Without fail, I completely forgot she was even on the show the moment she finished speaking, so whenever Cat threw to her again, it was like a sparkly and wrinkle-free slap in the face. But as my snark demon Smirkelstiltskin yapped, “Hey, at least Tyce was nowhere to be seen.”

Point of fact, there were barely any familiar faces on last night’s show, which was staffed instead almost exclusively with brand-new choreographers. The infusion of fresh blood was manifestly welcome – Sonya Tayeh, NapTab, Stacey Tookey, and Jean-Marc Généreux are all inspired choreographers, but their constant presence on the show was running the risk of feeling stale. That didn’t always mean, however, that the rookies came with fresh ideas.

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