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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: New Stars Emerge as 16 becomes 14

I’m going to start off this week’s recap with a very philosophical statement about this show. What makes it so different is that, since the judges have such a strong hand in choosing who goes home of the Bottom 3, we often come to resent them for it, especially when we would make different choices. That’s why I was left shaking my fist after our infallible host, Cat, announced the Bottom 6: BluPrint, Curtis and Alan for the boys and Jenna, Mariah and Makenzie for the girls, and the judges chose to save, of all people, Jenna. Don’t get me wrong, the girl is likable and it’s about time the show had a successful ballroom dancer again, but her journey before tonight has been so lackluster that I would have had her dancing alongside Mariah and Makenzie for a spot in the Top 14. Alas, I am not the one calling the shots on this show and maybe there is some deeper, bigger plan (as there always is) at play here.

Credit: Fox

Tonight we welcomed Canadian Idol alum and “Call Me Maybe” singer Carly Rae Jepsen to the panel. I will say that as sweet as the girl is, she felt slightly out of her element and left me longing for the days of “dancers only” on the panel. Surely Nigel has a few of those up his sleeve for the coming weeks of competition. Either way, there’s very little not to like about Carly Rae, so at least she brought some life to the panel. But, let’s return to tonight’s proceedings. As always, I’ll review every routine, then talk about the results:

1. Top 16 – “New World” (Jazz by Sonya Tayeh & Chris Scott) – As always, this pairing delivered another epic routine that had the Top 16 moving so fast and in sync that I couldn’t tell them apart. Our only Jasmine got a taste of the spotlight and, I think, showed yet another facet of her personality in this routine. I really think she could be a dark horse in this season and I think the choreographers are starting to back her to. The piece had a very regal feel to it and the mid-routine costume change actually gave me chills because it just stripped the piece down to the dancing and that was a great reminder that when it comes down to it, these kids can really just dance.

  • Rating: A

Credit: Fox

2. Alexis & Nico – “Mayhem” (Jive by Tony & Melanie) – Well, jive has proven to be a tough routine and putting them first with a routine like this isn’t going to make their lives any easier come Tuesday night. It’s pretty clear they want Alexis to go home, but I don’t think either of them were terrible in this routine. As the judges said, they could have been better in the technique department, but for a first effort from two non-ballroom dancers, it wasn’t offensive, just not very memorable either.

  • Rating: B-

Credit: Fox

3. Jenna & Tucker – “Hanging By A Thread” (Contemporary by Travis) – Travis always has a knack for getting right to the heart of a story and this one was beautiful. Like Nigel said, there were a lot of great little moments in this piece that I still remember. When Jenna leapt with perfectly pointed toes, when the two of them fumbled to remove her bonds, it was a piece with heart, which is what really gets to us, even with the aside that Jenna showed surprisingly good technique outside of her style and Tucker finally got to show off what he does best. I think this was their best routine to date and they needed it.

  • Rating: A-

Credit: Fox

4. Mariah & BluPrint – “Fall Into The Sky” (Jazz by Brian Friedman) – We haven’t seen Brian for a while, but he always gives dancers very strong, physical routines and this was no exception. I think Mariah is a real power figure when she dancers. She carried the air of a goddess very well and BluPrint’s dance skills were on point for the first time in weeks. I don’t know if I felt the chemistry between them all the way through, but the song was so epic that I definitely felt the anticipation that Brian wanted to come across.

  • Rating: B-

Credit: Fox

5. Malece & Alan – “Bassline” (Hip-hop by Dave Scott) – I had high hopes for this routine because we hadn’t seen them do hip-hop, but admittedly I was a little nervous. However, I was nervous for Malece. Turns out, I didn’t have to be. She slayed it. She got down and dirty and had me believe every movement but Alan, like the judges said, struggled a bit with this style. His movements were tentative and his costume only added to the charade. I think, if he gets this style again, he’s just going to have to let loose and give it all he’s got. I don’t think this was a great time for him to slip up, but Malece is definitely peaking at the right time to secure herself a place in the Top 10 amongst some pretty talented ladies.

  • Rating: C+ (If I even out the B I would give Malece and the C- I would give Alan)

Credit: Fox

6. Hayley & Curtis – “Don’t Let Go Yet” (Contemporary by Dee Caspary) – Dee is actually one of my favourite choreographers because his pieces are never predictable, but I have to admit that the ladder felt more like a gimmick than anything. I think I would have preferred a small ladder or something else to give the same impression. As the judges said, again it felt like Curtis was just going through the motions while Hayley was giving it a bit more. My theory is still that they want to pair her and Nico up at some point but more on that later…

  • Rating: B-

Credit: Fox

7. Amy & Fik-shun – “Under the Bridge” (Jazz by Tyce Diorio) – And then, like a summer storm from out of the blue, came the best conclusion to a show we’ve had in ages. Suddenly we got three amazing routines in a row and it all start with this unexpectedly quirky routine from the cutest couple left and still the biggest contenders for the title. Tyce was in need of a piece like this, one that gave in to their personalities and let them fill in the spaces between some solid choreography with a bit of heart and silliness. I totally got this routine, it resonated with me, and when it was over I was clapping and cheering along with the judges because it really was one of those numbers that just came out of nowhere and won me over.

  • Rating: A+

Credit: Fox

8. Makenzie & Paul – “Pretty Little Heart” (Hip-hop by Dave Scott) – With Makenzie in the bottom two, these two needed a great routine to pull her back into the competition, but I don’t think anyone expected timid little Paul, the guy who won SYTYCD in some faraway country, to suddenly flip a switch and deliver one of the best hip-hop performances by a guy this season. He killed every movement and won me over instantly. I even think he might have taken the lead as my favourite guy. Makenzie was good too, looking gorgeous in her twenties get up and keep up with Paul, but if I’m being honest, I think she got overshadowed by her partner in this.

  • Rating: A-

Credit: Fox

9. Jasmine & Aaron – “Pencil Full Of Lead” (Quickstep by Tony & Melanie) – All night Cat kept reminding us of the dreaded quickstep, which was almost foreshadow that these two would deliver an extremely viable piece from a style that isn’t always well received on the show. Like Amy and Fik-shun, Aaron and Jasmine filled in the gaps of this routine with oodles of personality that had me grinning. I even think their technique was quite commendable for two people who don’t call balroom home. Getting the last spot in the show and pulling this piece of so well might just be enough for them to shake that quickstep curse.

  • Rating: A-

After all was said and done, it was time for results. I figured I knew what would happen: after the criticism the judges lobbed on Curtis, he would be sent packing and Mariah, who couldn’t top judges favourite Makenzie, would also be shown the door. But the judges gave me a bit of a surprise by sending home BluPrint over Curtis. As I’ve said before, I think think the goal is to pair Nico and Hayley next week before the Top 10, so here’s my theory for the Bottom 6:

  • Bottom 3 Girls: Alexis, Jasmine, Mackenzie. Eliminated: Alexis.
  • Bottom 3 Guys: Curtis, Alan, Aaron. Eliminated: Curtis.

I’m taking a bit of a risk with my picks this week because the bottom groups thus far have been quite unexpected. I think Alan will suffer from his non-performance in his hip-hop, but the judges still like him more than Curtis so he’ll stick around. Jasmine and Aaron will be victims to the “perceived to be safe” vote after Jenna got a Travis Wall contemporary and Makenzie will, once again, find herself dancing for her life considering the rest of the female talent is so strong. It’s not what I want to happen, but it’s what I expect.

So what do you think will happen? Sound off in the polls below then tune in on Tuesday as the Top 14 perform again before two more are cut from their ranks…

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