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Andrew is a staff writer at the “The Hudsucker”. He is a 28 year old lawyer living in Ottawa. Besides legal jargon, his brain capacity is taken up by reality show trivia, video game walk-throughs and room escape strategies. Andrew is also happily in a long-term, long-distance relationship. Follow him on Twitter as @sublymonal.

SYTYCD10: Top 16 Performance Show – Not So Sweet Sixteen

After a week’s hiatus thanks to the All-Star Baseball game, SYTYCD is coming back on Tuesday night, so I thought I’d refresh your memory with my recap and, hopefully, get you excited for the next performance show.

It seemed after the outraged that poured out on twitter following last week’s dampening results, which started the performance show for the first time in the show’s ten year history, Nigel and the producers went back to the drawing board and changed everything. The new format has Cat announcing the bottom three guys & girls at the top of the hour, then the judges can choose who to save, leaving the others to dance solos. After that, everyone performs their routines, then cuts are made. Seems like a change for the better, no? Well, let’s talk about who was in danger…

We found out right away that Animator Jade Zuberi was injured and that his fate in the competition was question. He, along with tapper Curtis and fellow animator BluPrint found themselves in danger. Due to the extent of Jade’s injury, he was sent home and the other two boys were automatically safe. That left the girls. Jazz girl Jasmine, ballroom girl Jenna and tapper Alexis were the bottom three. The judges had all three perform their solos, then things really got started. I won’t review each solo individually, but I think given that the judges didn’t feel the need to make any scathing comments about their lack of quality, agreed with me that they were better this time around. I think Alexis gets the award for the most interesting solo simply because tap dancing, especially female tap dancers, have been sorely lacking on the show. That said, I enjoyed Jasmine and Jenna’s solos as well. I certainly had no idea who to cut after those performances alone.

Also, I think it’s pertinent to mention that it was good to see Paula Abdul on a judging panel again. Even if she isn’t the most coherent judge, she’s a nice person and she does have the experience to make her qualified. Also, Nigel managed to snag Fox sportscaster Erin Andrews for the panel. While she was a pretty, likeable addition to the panel, I’m not sure if she won me over with the kind of good balance between intelligent feedback and humour that Jesse Tyler Ferguson or Christina Applegate bring to the panel.

1. Group Number: “Pretty Face” (Jazz by Chris Scott & Sonya Tayeh) – I have to say that I loved the prop in this piece. It was like a big rock formation that the contestants kept climbing and leaping into the top, then disappearing and reappearing on stage. If nothing else, it was great for the optical illusion, but I also think they danced it well. Again, there was a bit of the “playing to each dancer’s strengths” aspect to this piece, but depending on whether you like that or not, you’d have liked this piece. I have to say though, Sonya and Chris do, at the very least, make a very interesting combination of choreographers and I’m not upset that they continue to collaborate.

  • Rating: B+

Credit: Fox

2. Amy & Fik-shun – “Tactical Dominance” (Paso Doble by Jean-Marc Généreux) – Well, it was nice to see these two get a style outside of either one of their own genres. I think they both handled it well. Was it the best I’ve seen a non-ballroom dancer handle ballroom? Certainly not. Was it good enough to make it not seem like a trainwreck? Yes. I think the music was a bit more epic than the routine itself, which kind of made it feel out of place for a paso. They had all the grit they needed, but since it was the first go around on the ballroom train, I’ll forgive them and I think so will the voters. Even with going first and dancing an iffy ballroom routine, I can’t see them being in danger this week.

  • Rating: B

Credit: Fox

3. Jasmine H. & Aaron – “They Just Keep Moving The Line” (Broadway by Spencer Liff) – Wasn’t it just last week that I was saying that this show had been lacking some solid broadway routines in the last couple of years. Well, I think the tides turned a bit with this smart, plot driven routine by Spencer. Sure, the song didn’t exactly line up with the story he was trying to tell, but Aaron and Jasmine’s maturity in telling the story, their connection and their strong dancing made this piece one of the better ones for the night for me. I have to say, these two are definitely moving up in my books. I was ready to write them both off as fodder, but the more they excel, the more I think they’re ready to crack the Top 10 and dance with some all-stars, which might be when one of them truly peaks.

  • Rating: A-

Credit: Fox

4. Makenzie & Paul – “No Day But Today” (Contemporary by Lindsay Nelko) – Another one of the better routines of the night came to us from a brand new choreographer to the U.S. show. It’s always exciting to see new choreographers – after all, Sonya, Nappytabs, Travis and Chris Scott were all once little fledglings taking their first choreographed steps on this stage, but I think if Lindsay continues to choreograph the way she did tonight, she might join Stacey, Mia, Travis and Sonya in the ranks of elite contemporary choreographers that can make routines that just seal the deal for contestants. Lindsay chose a beautiful rendition of a tune from the broadway musical Rent and Idina Menzel’s voice on the track was perfectly heartbreaking for the story that Makenzie and Paul were intending to tell. I think, if I had to critique anything, I would say I wanted more heart from the two of them so I would buy into the story, but otherwise, Paul surprised me in this and Makenzie’s technique was just stellar. Their another couple that I’d be sorry to see leave anytime soon. They just work together.

  • Rating: A

Credit: Fox

5. Jasmine M. & Alan – “Veins” (Jazz by Sean Cheesman) – Hopefully this doesn’t spoil the routine for anyone, but I’ve seen this routine done previously on the third season of the Canadian show. That said, the two contestants who danced it could not have been more different from Jasmine M. and Alan, so I won’t let the fact that this was recycled choreograph sway me. After all, some of the best pieces on the show have been recycled from other countries version of the show. Anyway, I think Nigel was right when he said that they needed a bit more quirk here. I didn’t really feel like this piece was super memorable, which would be why it required the two of them to really nail the choreography but also perform the heck out of it. I think I was missing their personalities, but that said, it was still just in the middle of the pack for me. Maybe middle to low.

  • Rating: B-

Credit: Fox

6. Jenna & Tucker – “Dangerous” (Hip-hop by Keone & Mari Madrid) – I think this is a piece that you either got or you didn’t. I will say that I’d be totally down for the Madrids’ style of Michael Jacksonesque hip-hop, as Paula Abdul so dubbed it. That being said, this piece felt a little stiff from both Jenna and Tucker. I felt like it never really got going and I kept waiting for the real grit of hip-hop to kick in. I also found it funny that Nigel was a bit more forgiving about this piece leaning into jazz than he was last week with this couples Cha-cha. I think, because this piece was so polarizing (and almost confusing) it might leave the voters cold about one or both of these two. However, I will say that these two do continue to surprise me with what they can handle. If they can keep dancing well, but bring up the chemistry and personality, then I think they might be able to become frontrunners again.

  • Rating: C+

Credit: Fox

7. Malece & all-star Marko – “In The Embers” (Contemporary by Sonya Tayeh) – This was another piece that, for me at least, was hard to judge. I think we can all attest to the fact that Malece probably would not have shone so bright if this piece had been done by her and her original partner Jade, but due to his injury, we got someone who specialized in this style, Season 8’s top male Marko, and ended up with a much more effective piece. All that said, I think Malece’s lines were gorgeous. She really felt the mood of this piece and Sonya gave her some solid choreography so I think, after two kind of wishy-washy routines, she’s got back in the saddle this week and because of that, I think she’ll survive and it will be interesting to see what her and her new partner do next week.

  • Rating: B+

Credit: Fox

8. Hayley & Curtis – “Straight To Memphis” (Samba by Jean-Marc Généreux) – The judges were quick to jump on Curtis as soon as this routine ended and I kind of don’t blame them. As I’ve said before, I think the kid’s days are numbered on the show and now that Aaron is pulling ahead as the token male tapper, they are in a hurry to get rid of him by making sure he’s in the Bottom 3 again next week. That being said, Hayley kept her cool and performed a pretty solid samba for a contemporary dancer. Again, I didn’t feel like this was Jean-Marc’s best bit of work, so it made it hard to salvage a truly memorable piece out of it but I think if Hayley does join her partner in the Bottom 3 next week, the judge’s will see this piece as a minor victory for her, rather than a stumble.

  • Rating: C+

Credit: Fox

9. Alexis & Nico – “I Put A Spell On You” (Jazz by Spencer Liff) – I might get a lot of flack for what I’m about to say but as a blogger, I feel like I have to be honest. I’ll start by saying that Alexis and Nico are one of my favourite couples. They’re cute together and, individually, they’re great dancers, but something isn’t clicking with them. Maybe it was the choreography again or maybe it is just their own dance styles, but the synchronicity in this piece felt off a lot of the time and I just didn’t get the punch I was expecting to from this piece when Spencer first laid the plot out for us. That said, considering they went second to last and Nico has a strong fanbase, he’ll likely be safe.

  • Rating: B-

Credit: Fox

10. Mariah & BluPrint – “Bring the Noize” (Hip-hop by Luther Brown) – Well, we had to know that when they two lost their partners last week and would be coming together as a couple this week, that they’d get hip-hop just to show everyone up and Mariah definitely did that. I thought she was killer in both the hard-hitting, technical aspects of this routine and in the personality department. She really is all that and a bag of chips for a female hip-hopper and if she doesn’t crack the top ten and join the all-star rotation after this season like Comfort, I won’t even know what to do with myself. The judges were quick to point out, however, the BluPrint’s personality still isn’t coming out like his dance buddy Cyrus’s did every week. Nigel was right when he said that you need impeccable technique, a warm personality, or both to succeed on this show. Hopefully BluPrint can find that in the coming weeks, but I think with his Bottom 3 stint and getting hip-hop, he might squeak himself into safety anyway.

  • Rating: A-

So after all was said and done, it was time to eliminate, either Alexis, Jenna or Jasmine M. I can’t imagine it was an easy decision for the judges because I, like them, was quite shocked by this Bottom 3 and even up to the last second, wasn’t entirely sure who the judges would cut. I’m still a little sad that we had to say goodbye to Jasmine Mason so soon because I really thought she was great in her first two pieces and not terrible this week, plus her solo impressed me. Personally, I probably would have cut Alexis just to see what Nico was capable of doing with a new partner but I think I would have been upset either way so, now it’s time to talk about this week’s potential eliminees.

  • Likely Bottom 3 Guys: Curtis, Alan, Paul – Eliminated: Curtis.
  • Likely Bottom 3 Girls: Jenna, Alexis, Hayley – Eliminated: Alexis.

Like I said, I still think time is running out for at least one of our tappers, and if they get rid of two of them in one fell swoop it will let Hayley (who’s showing potential) join fan-favourite Nico in what could be the partnership that will carry both of them to the Top 10, but we’ll see come Tuesday night when Canadian Idol cutie Carly Rae Jepsen is our guest judge!

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