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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 12 Performances – Down to 10, All-stars Ahead…

The Top 12 results are simultaneously the most interesting and frightening of the season. With half the dancers in danger, we often get a bit of a shock, but it may also let us in the secret of who our front runners really are. That’s why it was interesting to see Malece and Amy in the bottom three alongside Jenna, who has been struggling with the voters for weeks, but the judges made the (questionable) decision to save Jenna right away after a whole host of mediocre routines in the past week, leaving Malece & Amy to dance solos. For the boys, Nico and Alan were in danger again and joined by the injured Tucker. Nico got the immediate save, as expected, leaving Alan to dazzle us with another fiesty salsa solo and Tucker to show off his technique even with a botched knee. If anything, the solos made the Bottom 4 even more difficult to decide on, but alas, the audience and the judges know it must be done to get to the ten that will have the honour of going on tour and having their game raised next week by the introduction of the show’s all-stars, but more on that later. First, let’s get to our routines.

Credit: Fox

1. Top 12 (minus Tucker) – “Pandeyjee Seeti” (Bollywood by Nakul Dev Mahajan) – Ask and ye shall receive! Another non-Sonya-Jazz routine. I will say that the Top 12 wasn’t as spot on as they have been in week’s prior in this routine and I was mildly worried that their hand gestures might be offending someone in another country, but – that said – for a style that none of them have ever tackled, they had the fun and energy required, but I didn’t doubt they would – given that this is one of the most personality driven Top 12’s we’ve ever had. I just wish the synchronicity was there all the way through.

  • Rating: B

Credit: Fox

2. Nico & Hayley – “Kiss of the Spider Woman” (Broadway by Sean Cheesman) – Did I not just say a few weeks ago that the broadway genre on the show was on an upswing? And sure enough, another good broadway routine comes around to give us more of that Great-White-Way feel. Sure, the set-up for the lifts felt a little obvious, but Hayley and Nico’s partnership in this (compared to Alexis and Nico’s hypnotist jazz a few weeks ago) felt far less creepy and more showy, the way broadway should be. Do I think the praise from the judges was a bit too vocal? Yeah, but considering it’s the only and only week these two might dance together, it was surprisingly great.

  • Rating: B+

Credit: Fox

3. Alan & Malece – “Come Dance With Me” (Jazz by Mandy Moore) – Well, I liked the idea of this piece. Seeing as I’m an old movie buff and I love watching Gene Kelly and Fred Astaire dance with Cyd Charisse and Grace Kelly… but this was, well, it didn’t quite come across the way old movies do. When the aforementioned actors dance, it feels effortless and the spontaneousness of it all isn’t cheesy or uncomfortable. Regardless of how well the characters know each other at that point, it just works. For Malece and Alan, their chemistry they had seemed to build in the salsa took two steps backwards and we were left with a very hollow imitation of what Mandy intended it to be. Maybe her hopes were too high for these two but, either way, this just didn’t work. Was it cool? Sure. Was it perfect? Not at all.

  • Rating: C

Credit: Fox

4. Jenna & Season 7’s Alex Wong – “He’s A Pirate” (Paso Doble by Jean-Marc Genereux) – Well, we’ve all been itching for Jenna to dance in her genre again since her cha-cha with Tucker failed to really take off and tonight we got… well, an interesting routine. First of all, it felt odd to have Alex as an all-star for this routine. Yes, Alex proved to be surprisingly versatile back in Season 7 before his injury, but still, it felt like we were robbed of a master class in ballroom, even if it kept Jenna on the same level as everyone else before next week’s all-star introduction. That said, I liked Jean-Marc’s pirate concept just as much as Nigel did and I think it made for a dark and cool routine. The fire in Jenna’s eyes was back and I definitely felt like she was willing to put up a fight to prove she deserved to be saved by the judges and, in the end, it was a commendable effort.

  • Rating: B

Credit: Fox

5. Makenzie & Paul – “The Edge of Glory” (Contemporary by Mandy Moore) – I often say that when a choreographer gives us two routines in a week, one if good and one is, well… go back and read my review of Alan and Malece’s routine, because this routine was executed far better. Makenzie and Paul told a story with their movements, exactly as they were intended to do. Sure, Makenzie was in the spot light, but Paul was still tremendous and the two of them seemed to move as one at times. I’ve never really loved Mandy’s choreography the way I love Sonya, Mia, Stacey or Travis’s contemporary choreo, but this was definitely one of the better, if quieter, moments of the broadcast.

  • Rating: A-

Credit: Fox

6. Amy & Fik-shun – “Thousand Years” (Viennese Waltz by Jean-Marc Genereux) – Jean-Marc could have easily given them the “cute” characters again in this piece, but he didn’t, so I applaud him in that. This routine was still a good reflection of them as a couple though and a decent ballroom effort from two dancers that don’t call that genre home. Like Mary said, they weren’t always where they needed to be, but I think having Amy land in the bottom group will boost both their votes going into next week anyway, regardless of how flawlessly, or not, this routine was executed. Still, I enjoyed this routine too, so Jean-Marc kind of overcame the double routine curse.

  • Rating: B-

Credit: Fox

7. Jasmine & Aaron – “Gold Rush” (Hip-hop by Nappytabs) – Here that sound? That’s the sound of the smoke alarms going off the second Jasmine walked on stage and killed this routine. Her hips, her legs, she was hitting everything so hard it felt like a punch to gut, the kind that winds you and Aaron was right there with her, the grit and dirty snarl on his face and giving it his all. Nappytabs gave them a sick routine and when it was all over, I wanted to stand up and cheer right in my living room. If it wouldn’t have woken my family, I might have, but instead I just revelled in the glory of another great routine for them – their last as a couple, unless they both land themselves a spot in the finale.

  • Rating: A

Credit: Fox

8. Top 6 Boys (minus Tucker) – “It’s A Man’s, Man’s, Man’s World” (Hip-hop by Nappytabs) – I loved the concept of this piece. Maybe it was a bit misogynistic, but it was still cool to see five of the six super talented guys battling it out on stage with the ever present rope looming in the shadows. Once again, I thought each of them proved their versatility in this, with Paul, Aaron and Fik-shun catching my eye most. Nico’s getting there and Alan was better than his effort with Malece, but all in all, I thought Nappytabs gave us another creative routine for the boys.

  • Rating: B

Credit: Fox

9. Top 6 Girls – “Young & Beautiful” (Contemporary by Stacey Tookey) – You had to know, with Stacey, since girls, and a concept as enthralling as the girls as starlits trying to reclaim their youth from the Fountain of Youth, I knew right away that this piece was going to get to me, and it did. It was the first piece to borrow from Lana Del Rey’s haunting voice and the six girls seemed to borrow energy from each other. None of them eclipsed the other and, even Jenna who didn’t call contemporary home like the other 5, gave me everything I needed. I think my only complaint would be that I think it could have been more meaty, the way Travis’s pieces sometimes are, but maybe that was deliberate with the theme of vanity. Who knows when Stacey’s brilliance is at work.

  • Rating: A-

After the routines were said and done, the judges had to make the toughest cut so far this season, but the comments had kind of already foreshadow what their decision would be and when they opted to keep Amy and the injured Tucker over Malece and Alan, I can’t say I was surprised even if I would have preferred Jenna to be the girl, give her repeat appearances in the bottom group and lackluster performances, minus her Travis Wall contemporary number, in recent weeks.

Now, for my predictions for next week. We already know Tucker will be in the Bottom 2 boys since they didn’t give him a number for voting, but who will join him? I’ll say Nico again. We know Broadway isn’t a strong vote drawer. That, combined with the fact that he went first, will leave him dancing for his life. As for the girls, I think Jenna’s a sure bet giving her stint there over the past few weeks, and after Amy being in the bottom and Jasmine performing the heck out of her routine, I think Makenzie might be the only other option. It’s harder to pick eliminees because so much is riding on how they perform with their all-stars, but I’ll call it as Nico and Jenna, unfortunately.

Now, with the all-stars in tow, it’s time to rank the Top 10 once again in terms of the odds of winning. Once again, I’ll be ranking by gender, since we’re getting a male and female winner – plus I’ll discuss my ideal all-star pairing for them with the ten names we know:

Credit: Fox

  • Season 3’s Neil Haskell – Likely genre: Broadway, Contemporary or Jazz
  • Season 4’s tWitch – Likely genre: Hip-hop, though he’s done Krump, Stepping and Animation as well.
  • Season 4’s Comfort Fedoke – Likely genre: Hip-hop, but could be Vogue, Krump, Waacking or anything of that nature.
  • Season 5’s Brandon Bryant – Likely genre: Contemporary, but could be Jazz, Broadway, Bollywood or even Disco!
  • Season 6’s Kathryn McCormick – Likely genre: Contemporary, but maybe Bollywood, Broadway or Jazz too.
  • Season 6’s Jakob Karr – Likely genre: Contemporary, but maybe Pas De Deux/Ballet, Broadway or Jazz.
  • Season 7’s Robert Roldan – Likely genre: Jazz, but could do Bollywood, Contemporary or Broadway.
  • Season 8 Winner, Melanie Moore – Likely genre: Contemporary, but could be Jazz or Broadway.
  • Season 8’s Marko Germar – Likely genre: Contemporary, but could also be Jazz or Broadway.
  • Season 9’s Witney Carson – Likely genre: Ballroom or bust!

Credit: Fox

First, let’s talk about the guys…

Credit: Fox

5. Tucker – He’s got the technique, that’s for sure, but he like Jenna has suffered from some lackluster routines and now that he’s on his own, it will be up to him to steal the spotlight from his all-star. Hopefully his personality will come out more in the coming weeks, otherwise I have a feeling his knee injury won’t be the only threat to his lifespan on the show.

  • Ideal All-star Pairing: Kathryn McCormick – Technique, charisma and she’s great at letting her partners shine. I think Kathryn and Tucker would be an ideal pairing in week one, regardless of the genre.

Credit: Fox

4. Nico – Judging by his twitter followers, this guy has a huge online fanbase, but I think his partnership with Alexis, as cute as they were, kind of hurt him. After a week with Hayley, we saw that he’s still growing and hopefully the all-stars will take him to another level and help him avoid elimination for a few weeks. After all, he definitely has the teen girl vote.

  • Ideal All-star Pairing: Melanie Moore – Melanie came in, like Nico, as the pretty but kind of “surface” rather than a dancer with depth. By the end of the competition, at least in my opinion, she sunk her teeth in and got dirty. That’s what Nico needs to do and maybe with her, he can do it.

Credit: Fox

3. Aaron – The underdog tapper that could… Aaron’s potential seems limitless since he went from an afterthought to a front runner, having never landed in the bottom group and had a solid repertoire of routines going into the finals. He’s the first tapper to make this many weeks deep on the America show and I’m intrigued to see if he can extend his run even further with his charisma and willingness to learn.

  • Ideal All-star Pairing: Neil Haskell – Well, who better to give a same gender all-star to then the tapper. Aaron can tap, Neil’s been on broadway, it’s a match made in personality-galore heaven.

Credit: Fox

2. Paul – Well, he’s already proven he has the charisma to win this thing in Armenia and week after week, Paul has been the biggest surprise. He’s yet to get his style of ballroom again since the showcase and I think when he does, watch out. The competition will really be on. But so far, he’s proven he has versatility out the wazoo in hip-hop, contemporary and jazz. So here’s hoping he won’t let me down as my favourite dancer left in the competition.

  • Ideal All-star Pairing: Witney Carson – Like I said, Paul’s time to show off his ballroom chops is now. Witney has the fire and sex appeal to bring the best out of him and I think they’d be a winning, last-spot-of-the-night kind of combination.

Credit: Fox

1. Fik-shun – Unlike Amy, Fik-shun didn’t land in the bottom group last week and maybe that’s a testament to the extra punch this kid has over her. Sure, he probably shares a handful of voters with her, but he’s got that black male hip-hopper voting black all to himself and he isn’t earning the kind of resent the Cyrus did last season for a journey full of missteps. He’s had some great memorable routines, even if his ballroom technique leaves much to be desired. But as I said with Amy, I still think the voters are more forgiving with him in that category and he’ll be fine atleast until the finale.

  • Ideal All-star Pairing: Comfort Fedoke – Who better to complement Fik-shun’s personality and dance style than the stylish and sassy Comfort. Comfort brought the best out in Cyrus and I think she could easily do the same for Fik-shun.

And now, the girls…

Credit: Fox

5. Jenna – Well, she’s the only ballroom girl in the Top 10, but I’m not sure if that’s going to be enough to save her. She’s shown she’s good in contemporary-type routines, but her hip-hop outing a few weeks ago left voters cold. That, combined with the fact that she’s been in the bottom and been given plenty of second chances by the judges, makes me think that her chances of winning are slim to none.

  • Ideal All-star Pairing: tWitch – Jenna needs to redeem herself in hip-hop, but a good hip-hop. And who better to help her do in than tWitch, who’ll make people forget all about that wimpy routine with Tucker a few weeks ago and help Jenna find her footing again.

Credit: Fox

4. Makenzie – The judges have certainly developed a penchant for this girl and her technique and I can see why, but Mackenzie, despite having good routines, hasn’t been able to maintain the same popularity and success as her partner, Paul. She’s going to need some real winning routines to scrape her way through the next few weeks with such stiff competition, but maybe now that Malece is gone, she’ll get a bigger share of the contemporary female vote.

  • Ideal All-star Pairing: Jakob Karr – The judges keep going on about Makenzie’s technique, and I agree, but if you really wanna show it off, put her with the master – Season 6’s jack of all trades – and we’ll get some real art. Problem is, Makenzie has had all lyrical, all the way through so… hopefully they give her something a little different.

Credit: Fox

3. Jasmine H. – Jasmine hit the bottom a few weeks ago after a stellar contemporary number, so there is a crack in her armour, but other than that, she’s been an unexpected surprise this season and seems to be coming out of her shell more every week. Her hip-hop tonight proved that she’s not to be overlooked or dismissed as just a notch in better girl’s journeys on this show. I think, if she rises to the occasion in the coming weeks, she could be the one of the two girls standing in the finale.

  • Ideal All-star Pairing: Marko Germar – Marko kind of had the same journey as Jasmine – part of a power couple, but the quieter personality. Still, he finished as Season 8’s top male, so maybe he can help Jasmine find that dark-horse factor and deliver another stunning routine like he did with Malece only a few weeks ago.

Credit: Fox

2. Hayley – How did this girl go from fodder to the number two girl on my list? Well, it started two weeks ago when her partner Curtis was injured and she finally had a chance to shine on her own in that tango with Leonardo then, this week, she proved herself again with in her clandestine partnership with Nico. I think, once she’s thrust into the spotlight with the all-stars, she shine even brighter and, don’t forget, she’s the only girl still standing that hasn’t been in the bottom. A mysterious feat that last season’s runner-up Tiffany pulled off as well.

  • Ideal All-star Pairing: Brandon Bryant – Brandon was polarizing and disliked by many at the start. I think Hayley, given her underdog status has the same problem, but Brandon can also be stellar and deliver a good performance. I think a fun disco with these two would be just the ticket to make Hayley more likeable to the undecided voter.

Credit: Fox

1. Amy – Why, despite her recent appearance in the Bottom 3 do I think she’s still the front runner for the female title? Well, don’t forget that last season’s female winner, Eliana Girard, hit the bottom group as well, as did past female winners, Sabra, Jeanine and Lauren. It’s not uncommon for female winners. Only Melanie, an all-star this week, has managed to do it scoff-free. But the truth is, Amy has the same magnetic quality as Melanie. You can’t help like her, even if the judges and choreographers cater to her, she still pulls everything off effortlessly and, going into the Top 10, I feel like the voters remember all her good routines and have chosen to forget the bad. Plus her fans will be voting for her extra hard now that they know she could slip out of their grasp at any time.

  • Ideal All-star Pairing: Robert Roldan – Well duh. Robert was Sonya’s quirky go-to guy in Season 7. Amy is her go-to girl this season. The two of them were practically built for each other in Nigel’s Evil Dance Factory of Doom. (Note: this probably doesn’t exist, but if it does, I have a few requests for next season, Nigel…)

And now, for the polls… I want to hear your take on the guys, girls and routines – as always.

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