If you read my American Idol series over the last few months (or even if you didn’t), then I’m glad to have you back again because So You Think You Can Dance might be an even bigger reality TV passion of mine. I’m not a dancer by any means. My sister is, but I’ve watched so much of her dancing and this show that I feel like an expert now. I know when someone flubs a ballroom lift or isn’t pointing their feet correctly in a contemporary number, but most of all, I know when a dancer isn’t connecting with me on an emotional level, whether it’s the sorrow of a beautiful Pas De Deux or just plain fun with a Disco number. Anyway, I hope you enjoy my review of this tenth season of the show. I think it’s a fantastic show because it brings dance to people who otherwise would have never seen it and I wish the show all the success in the world in this season and the future.
Now, with that out of the way, let’s get right down to the exciting Green Mile Showcase show. I think whichever producer came up with the idea to merge the heart-stopping Top 20 reveal with a showcase show which demonstrates their abilities in their own style before they’re thrown into the chaotic world of other genres, was a genius. This is by far one of my favourite nights all season and the routines we got to see demonstrates why. I’ll discuss the top 10 guys and 10 girls separately (since there will be a male and a female winner again this season) based on my perception of their odds of winning (not personal preference), then I’ll move on to ranking and talking about the routines. Ready? Let’s go.
10. Curtis Holland (Tap) – Curtis benefits from the fact that we saw him a few times before the green mile. That being said, it wasn’t all good. We mostly saw him crying which doesn’t always play in someone’s favour because it comes across as whiney. That, plus he doesn’t really have a fanbase to himself. The African-American male vote is probably going to go to the hip-hoppers and the tap vote is probably going to the better of the tappers after he showed a few signs of weakness in the group number. Still, apparently he was good in the rounds where he was outside his style, but we’ll see. It all depends which girl he gets partnered up with, I guess.
09. Aaron Turner (Tap) – Aaron got the underdog edit. We’ve seen him plenty in Vegas over the past few seasons, but considering he was #11 on the judges list and replaced injured hip-hopper Emilio, he’s probably not going to get a big chunk of their love every week. I think he’ll be fighting an uphill battle, but he did show some impressive skills in the tap number and the two group routines, so I have some faith in him.
08. Paul Kamiryan (Latin Ballroom) – The resent has already begun for this guy who won a season of SYTYCD in Armenia. Rumour has it that that isn’t such a big feat since the quality of the dancers in Armenia is far weaker, but I’m kind leaning in the direction that his spot should have been given to someone who hasn’t had a shot at the title before (like fellow ballroomers Gene Bersten or Serge Onik). That, combined with the fact that the judges rightly pointed out that he wasn’t fully finishing his moves in the ballroom routine makes me think his days are numbered.
07. Alan Bersten (Latin Ballroom) – He’s the more likeable of the two ballroom boys, in my opinion. He was better than Paul in the group number and he has the sweet brotherly love backstory with Gene. I’m intrigued to see who he’ll be partnered up with and what he’ll do in the weeks to come, but I have a distinct feeling that if the judges really wanted competition from the ballroom boys this season, they would have put through his brother and they didn’t so…
06. Jade Zuberi (Animation) – When Nigel said at the open of the show that they put through a few contestants that they weren’t sure would be able to handle the choreography, I think Jade was definitely in that category. The guy is great in his solos, don’t get me wrong, and has a personality to charm, but from everything we saw in Vegas, he can’t handle a single style outside of his own. I think that may draw a few people to resent him making it over more deserving guys in the weeks to come, but for now, I think he’s got some fans.
05. Tucker Knox (Contemporary) – This guy already has two strikes: his atrocious haircut and his crying, both of which I’ve seen people buzzing about online, which isn’t good. But most of those people can also admit that he was on point in every number tonight. He’s a sharp-shooting contemporary technician and, in season’s past, it’s been guys like him who go from overlooked fodder, to frontrunners with the right female partner and a few good routines. So we’ll see…
04. Dorian “Bluprint” Hector (Animation) – Nigel was spot on when he said that “Bluprint”, as he’s called (though I prefer the “Blue Devil”, given his haircut) has been devoid of emotion during his run on the show thus far. This show is just as much about emotion as it is about technique and part of the reason Bluprint’s dance mate, Cyrus “Glitch” Spencer, made it so far last season was because of his personality which allowed people to overlook his sometimes questionable routines. Nigel may have been setting us up for a storyarc of how Bluprint comes to terms with his emotions, but I think if he can tap into them, he could harness Cyrus’s powerful fanbase all for himself this season.
03. Carlos Garland (Contemporary) – We didn’t see a ton of Carlos in Vegas, but it almost doesn’t matter because the first thing we did see of him was in a killer Mia Michaels routine. Carlos has that “it” factor that a few dancers from past seasons (Danny Tidwell, Will Wingham, Marko Germar, George Lawrence) had that made the judges give high praise with the right partner and right routines. I think because he’s one of the stronger boys, he’ll probably get a good partner in hopes of helping her shine as well.
02. Nico Greetham (Contemporary) – Nico got shown a lot in the background in Vegas, but we did get to see his audition and that’s partially what has me ranking him this high. He’s the cutest of the guys this season, which matters to much of the shows female fanbase, and based on his performance last night, he’s a stronger dancer than any of us expected, both in and out of his style. I think he’d be a great partner for a girl that the judges want to make sure sails to the Top 10, even with the new individual voting.
01. Du-Shant “Fik-shun” Stegall (Hip-hop) – And the most highly praised of the boys gets the number one spot on my list. I think it’s quite clear that the judges love him, despite the criticism he got in his hip-hop number with Mariah. He’s the most likeable of the hip-hoppers and I think that will help him suck up a good majority of that fanbase, and steal more and more of those votes as the season goes on. Hopefully he’s as good out of his style as he is in it, otherwise he may be on the receiving end of the same resent Cyrus got last season, unless the judges give him the critiques he needs to grow.
10. Jasmine Harper (Contemporary) – Don’t get me wrong, Jasmine was fantastic in her Stacey Tookey contemporary number on Tuesday night, but I think she kind of faded to the background with the judges heaping high praise on Makenzie. She also shares her name with another girl in the Top 20, which could cause some confusion. I think she needs to stake her claim fast in next week or risk getting swept under the rug by the judges and voters alike.
09. Hayley Erbert (Contemporary) – Hayley didn’t exactly get a favourable edit coming into the Top 20. All we know about her is that she called her own dancing “oversexualized” which probably doesn’t play well with the voters. That said, she got a great start to her journey with that Mia Michaels piece that I think made people sit up and take notice of her. If she can do a little more of that, she can put that edit behind her and make sure people remember her as more than just “the girl who thought she was too sexy for the show”.
08. Jasmine Mason (Contemporary) – The other Jasmine, again, suffers from the fact that she shares a name with another female contestant. But, I will say that she got a bit of a better edit coming out of Vegas. I’m a fan of Megan (the girl she was up against for the last spot) and I don’t resent Jasmine for getting her spot because she dances well, not to mention she got to start her season with Sonya and fan favourite Amy, so there could be more than meets the eye with her.
07. Brittany Cherry (Latin Ballroom) – Brittany suffers from the fact that the producers like to pretend they were showing us her all along, when really we only caught a brief glimpse of her audition with her partner Serge (who got cut on Tuesday). She did, however, show some fireworks in her ballroom number and the judges heaped praise on her and fellow ballroom girl, Jenna. It’s clear the judges are hoping for some non-contemporary female talent in the Top 10 this year, the question is whether she’ll be splitting votes with Jenna (who’s, arguably, better and has had more screentime). If so, and she doesn’t establish herself as the better of the two girls, or at least a strong matchup, then she might find herself in danger.
06. Malece Miller (Contemporary) – Malece got plenty of screentime after getting hurt in her jazz round rehearsals in Vegas. That whole ordeal got her some sympathy votes, but she also showed she can emotionally and physically execute a routine with Mia’s number. The question is whether people are buying into her story. If not, then the judges lukewarm feelings towards her may spread to the audience and leave her out in the cold before Top 10.
05. Mariah Spears (Hip-hop) – The judges said oh… only ten times that we haven’t had a great female hip-hopper in a while and Mariah certainly is that. Everything we’ve seen of her thus far has been hard-hitting and fantastic. She may proved to be the best female hip-hopper we’ve ever had, right up there with Season 4’s Comfort Fedoke. I think, however, she’s going to have to drop a bit of the tough exterior to get middle America to open up to her, so if the producers truly want her to succeed she’ll get some softer contemporary and ballroom numbers in the coming weeks to help her show that other side of herself.
04. Alexis Juliano (Tap) – I think this girl is fun, fierce and great at what she does. Tappers have had a notoriously bad run on the show. Most of them get cut in the first few weeks, regardless of the talent. For some reason, America just doesn’t appreciate them the way other countries (like Canada and the UK) do. I think if any of the tappers succeed this season, and the judges seem thirsty to prove that one can, it will be her. I can see her getting one of the better male partners so she can prove that she can kill a few routines and finally get a tapper to the top ten.
03. Jenna Johnson (Ballroom) – Jenna got plenty of screentime in Vegas and she proved in last night’s ballroom routine that the hype wasn’t for naught. She’s a strong, fierce, gorgeous ballroom dancer and, since ballroom is the downfall of many dancers on this show, I think that will help her a long way. So long as she can tackle contemporary and hip-hop like she did in Hollywood, I think she’ll do just fine. It’ll be interesting to see what boy they pair with her because whoever it is is going to have to be able to hold his own next to this firecracker of a lady.
02. Makenzie Dustman (Contemporary) – The judges heaped high praise on her in night one and I don’t blame them. Her audition left me a little cold, but last night I understood what the judges meant when they say she’s “so So You Think You Can Dance”. Her pretty face, her lines, her flowing brown hair, she’s got the look and she’s got the talent. She’s one to watch and she definitely fits the profile of the past dark haired, female contemporary winners.
01. Amy Yakima (Contemporary) – Also fitting that profile is Amy and Amy has had the most screentime of any of the ladies other than, perhaps, Malece. The difference is, her screentime has all been shots of her killing the choreography she’s handed. I’m glad she got a Sonya routine for her first moment on stage because it fits her to a tee. Moreover, she was front and center for both group routines. I can even see her killing some hip-hop and ballroom. If she lives up to my (and the judges) expectations, there may just be no competition for the girl’s title in a few months time.
Now, let’s talk routines. Which did I think did the dancers favours going into the voting rounds and which did I think weren’t the best possible start to the journey?
Routine 1: “Ball” (Hip-hop feat. Mariah & Fik-shun, Choreographed by Luther Brown)
As a Canadian, I have a certain love affair with Luther Brown. I think his hip-hop choreography is a little harder hitting and more mature than what the U.S. audience is used to with Nappytabs. Which was probably why Mariah outshone Fik-shun in this. Nigel said it best when he said that Fik-shun’s happy-go-lucky personality won’t be enough to carry him through every week. It’s something I think he refrained from saying to Cyrus last season, so it was good to see him actually giving critiques. Overall it was a great start to Mariah’s journey, I think.
- Rating: B+
Routine 2: “Go On And On” (Contemporary feat. Makenzie, Nico, Jasmine H. and Tucker)
Stacey is another amazing Canadian choreographer. I’m so glad to see the Canadians getting work after our version of the show was unjustly cancelled a few years back. Stacey gave these dancers some beautiful, elegant and quiet choreography to work with. It was almost like her choreography took a back seat to their skills. I think Makenzie was the more noticeable of the two girls and, like the judges said, is just stunning. The boys were both strong on their own and as partners. I think Jasmine faded to the back a bit, but she’s definitely great, there’s no denying that. The piece did move me, just not as much as some of the judges and a certain contestant…
- Rating: A-
Routine 3: “You Really Did It” (Tap feat. Alexis, Aaron and Curtis by Anthony Morigerato)
God knows I love me some good tap dancer (but clearly not grammar). Anyhow, I thought it was great to see Alexis front and centre. She tapped it out and proved why she earns such a high ranking on my list. Curits didn’t finish every movement, which is what had me questioning his lifespan in this competition, but Aaron (aka Boy #11) proved he’s here to fight. Great to see a new choreographer too. Hopefully this means we’ll get a little tap duo on the show this year (with Season 8’s Nick Young as an all-star? Yes please)
- Rating: B+
Routine 4: “Trigger” (Animation Hip-hop feat. Jade & Bluprint by Chris Scott)
This routine was borderline creepy with the moving mannequins in the background, but both boys had a chance to show what they do best and they were great. Chris Scott is a jack of all trades when it comes to hip-hop and somehow he always manages to bring the best out of everyone. Again though, having them side-by-side just reminded us that the judges were right about Jade having the personality that Bluprint is lacking. It will be interesting to see how that factors into their journey on the show.
- Rating: B
Routine 5: “Stay” (Contemporary feat. Haley, Carlos and Malece by Mia Michaels)
Shut everything down because, as always, Mia Michaels brought us the routine of the night. No introduction required and yet we got a very Mad Men-esque story from these three. The betrayal that the two girls portrayed as they found out that Carlos was cheating on both of them and Carlos slinking into the darkness at the end just said it all. I didn’t really buy into the judges criticism that they weren’t “emotionally perfect enough”. Sure, there’s room to grow for all three of them but if I was going to be on the show, I couldn’t think of a better way to start my journey that with a angsty, but brilliant and current Mia Michaels piece like this.
- Rating: A
Routine 6: “Wings” (Samba feat. Alan, Paul, Brittany and Jenna by Louis Van Amstel)
Louis is kind of known for the middle of the pack ballroom routines that get people sent home. I think he proved, tonight, that he’s stepped up his game though. He picked a current, catchy song about feminine empowerment and put the two girls front and centre and, rightfully so. I think the judges were spot on when they said that Jenna and Brittany (the former moreso) stole the spotlight from our boys tonight, whereas the boys (especially Paul) weren’t quite filling out all their movements. Yeah, I know they’re both fairly tall and this was a fast-paced number but, come on, this is your style. I still think our ballroom boys are fodder at this point, but the two girls are definitely in the running now.
- Rating: A-
Routine 7: “Enjoy” (Jazz feat. Amy & Jasmine M. by Sonya Tayeh)
As I said, I was really glad Amy got paired with Sonya tonight because that’s where she feels most at home. She was creepy and electric in this. Jasmine was good too, but I felt like she got outshone at times with Amy. I think if Jasmine can be put front and centre with her male partner, she may shine brighter than she did in this. Admittedly, it wasn’t Sonya’s best bit of choreography, but it did have a very familiar Sonya feel to it which, if you like her, was a good way to bring us back into the SYTYCD zone.
- Rating: B-
Routine 8: “Sand” (Hip-hop feat. The Top 10 Guys by Chris Scott)
I loved the concept of this routine. I wasn’t sure the sand would work, but once they had it trickling from their fingers and making clean, streamed lines of it, I couldn’t take my eyes off it. The judges pointed out that Chris gave the contemporary boys a chance to show their stuff (especially Nico) and the ballroom boys a chance to do the same and I agree, that was the great thing about this routine. I actually think, for once, the boys routine might have grabbed me slightly more than the girls routine which is most interesting because I definitely think the girls are the stronger group this season.
- Rating: B+
Routine 9: “Let’s Have A Kiki” (Jazz feat. The Top 10 Girls by Ray Leeper)
I love this song, I loved Ray’s 60’s Mod concept but at the end of the day, there was much choreographic meat to this piece for this ten ridiculously talented ladies to grab onto. Adam said it best when he described it as “fun”. It was a great celebration of the female talent we have this season, but I don’t know if Ray showed it off as best as he possible could. Still, I enjoyed seeing them all together and being reminded that there really isn’t a weak link among them as they were all so in sync.
- Rating: B-
Routine 10: “Ghost of Sky” (Jazz feat. the Top 20 by Sonya Tayeh)
My father was talking over Sonya’s explanation of this piece, so excuse me if I seem a bit behind but this number reminded me a lot of an elaborate chess set with the girls in one colour and the guys in another. Sonya, as always, made an epic piece with bodies moving every which way. Somehow she turns what could be chaos into mesmerizing dance magic and by the end, I definitely had chills and was just as excited as the judges and dancers to finally be breaking that big stage in. I can’t wait to see what they all bring next week.
- Rating: B
Alright, now that I’ve given you my take, I encourage you to vote in the polls below for your favourite guy, girl and routine from tonight. Feel free to leave me a comment too if you have more to say!
Remember, next week they’ll be paired up and given styles that aren’t their own for the first time. Eliminations won’t take place until the week after, once they’re performed two routines for the judges to consider, but I will post a review after every performance show with my ratings and predictions. See you after next Tuesday’s show. Check your local listings!