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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 10 and 8 Performance Shows – The All-Stars Align

Well, I took a bit of a hiatus last week because I was moving from Montreal to Toronto and just didn’t have time to sit down and give you guys a thorough review of what I thought of the show, but let me tell you – I have a ton of thoughts about the last two weeks. First, let’s talk about the Top 10 – the first time the all-stars stepped on the stage. Here’s a quick overview of what I thought of that week and those routines:

We found out at the top of the show that Nico, Mackenzie and Jenna were joining the injured Tucker in the Bottom 4. I had my favourites, but I was reserving judgment until after they performed with the all-stars because I think the all-stars always significantly raise the quality of the routines we get, but more on that later. None of them were asked to dance solos so we dived straight into the routines.

1. Top 12: “The Gravel Road” (Contemporary by Chris Scott) – I don’t know if it’s because Chris isn’t actually a contemporary choreographer but I found this routine to be a little hollow. It was very “pretty” but beyond a few stunning lifts and images, it didn’t feel like it came together as a cohesive whole, which is what I was expected given the dramatic strings in the music – that it was building up to something great, but instead, I think it was rather unmemorable compared to some of the other lyrical group routines we’ve had this season.

  • Rating: B

Credit: Fox

2. Amy with all-star Brandon (Season 5) – “I Will Always Love You” (Disco by Doriana Sanchez) – I have to say that I miss disco’s presence on the show. There was a time when we’d get one or two disco routines per week and now we’ve only gotten our first one at the Top 10. Furthermore, I didn’t feel like this was “true” disco. The song choice from Doriana was awkward, considering the song is quite sad and disco is meant to be happy, lively and bubbly and, what was worse, is that Amy spent half the routine in the air. Since when is disco all about lifts? Where’s the cheesy synchronized choreography? That’s the disco I miss so this routine, while fun, didn’t strike the chord I was hoping it would with me.

  • Rating: C+

Credit: Fox

3. Aaron with all-star Kathryn (Season 6) – “Kissing You” (Contemporary by Stacey Tookey) – Stacey never fails to create gorgeous routines and choose beautiful songs, but at this stage in the game, that isn’t enough. What Stacey needed to do was show off Aaron’s talent and what this routine did, I think, was show off Kathryn’s talent. By putting her in pink and him in black (the same colour as the backdrop) and giving her all the interesting choreography, Aaron was used more as a prop for her and while, maybe the voters didn’t care, I sure did because I know Aaron has proven this season to be capable of far more than that.

  • Rating: B-

Credit: Fox

4. Fik-shun with all-star Melanie (Season 8) – “Feeling Good” (Jazz by Mandy Moore) – Melanie is a very polarizing winner but I think the judges said it best when they said that she can dance really well in her style and deliver a great performance and that charisma of her brought out the same light in Fik-shun. He was great in this and kept up with her every step of the way. It was also the first time in seasons that I felt like Mandy’s choreography hasn’t been cheesy or overcooked and for me, that made for a great routine.

  • Rating: B+

Credit: Fox

5. Paul with all-star Witney (Season 9) – “Live It Up” (Cha-cha by Jean-Marc Généreux) – Finally. Paul has had all of one ballroom routines this season and it was a Viennese Waltz, which isn’t even his style – so when my prediction for a more latin-flavoured ballroom with Witney came true I knew we were in for a good routine and it was good, for sure. One of the best ballroom routines so far this season. I will say, despite my love for Paul, I wanted a bit more abandon from him. I thought his body rolls were a little stiff compared to Alan’s and when Alan did his salsa and tango, there was no taking your eyes off him, but I thought Paul kind of gave the spotlight to Witney at times and, even though she’s gorgeous and super talented, this should have been all about him. Still, I loved seeing him in his own style again.

  • Rating: B+

Credit: Fox

6. Hayley with all-star tWitch (Season 4) – “Locked Out of Heaven” (Hip-hop by Chris Scott) – Nigel might have to reconsider renewing a few choreographers contracts if the show gets another season and Chris is one of them. He’s so inconsistent with the quality of routines and I thought this one, while good in theory, did nothing for Hayley. Hayley looked pretty uncomfortable throughout and next to tWitch, who brings his A+ game every time, it made it hard to watch. I think, considering Hayley has been on a solid upward trajectory since her routine with Leonardo, this was a bit of a hiccup for her.

  • Rating: C

Credit: Fox

7. Jenna with all-star Neil (Season 3) – “I Can’t Make You Love Me” (Contemporary by Mandy Moore) – The judges are right when they say Jenna, for a ballroom dancer, disappears really well into a contemporary routine. She makes it look like it could be her style and that was certainly helped along by Neil, who’s grown substantially since his run on the show and is one of those partners that I’m sure everyone would love to get. I could have done without the cheesy candles in the background, which felt like the old Mandy Moore we all know but don’t necessarily love, but I still thought Mandy gave us a pretty routine, even if it wasn’t super memorable.

  • Rating: B

Credit: Fox

8. Jasmine with all-star Marko (Season 8) – “Blurred Lines” (Jazz by Ray Leeper) – I think this was one of those polarizing routines that you either understood completely and loved or were kind of confused by it and subsequently didn’t know how to feel about it, which had me worried for Jasmine. Ray does have a very cool, throwback jazz style and this piece definitely had that, but I just didn’t get much from it. As good as Jasmine and Marko were in executing the moves, at times, there were also parts where Jasmine was stiffer and Marko was more loose and the difference showed. Personally, I just didn’t think this was the best routine to get Jasmine the votes she needed and deserved to survive another week, but apparently I was wrong.

  • Rating: B-

Credit: Fox

9. Makenzie with all-star Jakob (Season 6) – “Too Darn Hot” (Broadway by Spencer Liff) – Season 10: The Year of Broadway. It’s official, because once again, the broadway genre delivered one of my favourite routines of the season. Makenzie and Jakob was a partnership I also called and for one reason and one reason only: technique. And they had it in spades, those legs… those pointed toes, I was gasping and on top of all that, the sheer joy of dancing was on their face the entire time which I think is what I think broadway is all about. This was one of the best of the night for me, for sure.

  • Rating: A-

Credit: Fox

10. Nico with all-star Comfort (Season 4) – “Get Ur Freak On” (Hip-hop by Nappytabs) – When we found out Nico had Comfort and Hip-hop, I had flashbacks to his hip-hop number with Alexis that was all kinds of wrong, but… well, I think the judges failed Nico miserably on this because all of them should have been lauding him with praise for the growth he showed from then to now. Nico got freaky and down and dirty with Comfort to the point that I couldn’t believe it was the same guy and the minimal storyline in this was perfect for him and her to show off their humourous sides. This was the kind of routine that gets votes, if Nico needed them…

  • Rating: A

Credit: Fox

11. Tucker with all-star Robert (Season 7) – “Medicine” (Contemporary by Travis Wall) – I knew Robert’s return to the stage after his car accident last year that almost took him out of the dancing scene for good would be an emotional one and Travis made sure to hammer that point home by giving him and Tucker, another victim of a near-death experience, this routine about supportive brothers. It was quiet and mesmorizing but the two of them matched Makenzie and Jakob’s ferocious technique throughout. Maybe it’s just me, but I thought Robert outdanced Tucker just a touch, but that could just be experience on his part and my love for him.The judges praise seemed to suggest that this was the best routine ever but, I don’t know if I’d go that far. Still, Travis gave us a beautiful routine to close the night.

  • Rating: A-

If I didn’t know exactly what was going through the judges heads, this bottom four, after the routines that they danced would have been truly suspenseful but the judges seemed to determined to keep what wasn’t working and saved Jenna and Tucker, leaving Nico and Makenzie, who had been improving week upon week, in the dust. Then Cat announced a theme week that I had been hoping for for a long time, but I didn’t expect the producers to ever latch onto: Top 8 week would be the week where SYTYCD Alumni played double duty as choreographers & all-stars. So let’s find out what happened there…

Once again, Jenna and Tucker (who I expected to be safe after closing the night in that emotional contemporary number with Travis and Robert) were in the Bottom 2 and this time they were joined by first-timers Fik-shun and Hayley. Fik-shun’s presence also surprised me because given that he’s the only black male hip-hopper left, I thought he’d be invincible until at least the finale, like Cyrus. This time, the judges had all four of them dance solos and, for me, Fik-shun stole the show with his. Jenna’s was impeded a bit by her skirt, while Tucker and Hayley gave us some pretty run-of-the-mill contemporary choreography. So again, for me, it would come down to how they performed on the night… so let’s see what went down:

1. Top 8 – “Move To The Ocean” (Contemporary by Mia Michaels) – I always try to guess who the choreographer is when the group number starts, but this piece was so freaky, dark and twisted that I almost thought Wade Robson (of Ramalama Bang Bang fame) had returned. It was a bit over the top with weirdness, I thought, even if it gave us some cool, dramatic characters from the dancers but it felt out of character for Mia’s, who’s dancing often speaks for itself without requiring this kind of theatrical performance. Still, it was certainly… different.

  • Rating: B-

Credit: IdolX3 @youtube.

2. Aaron & all-star Chelsie (Season 4) – “Great Balls of Fire” (Jive) – Aaron, once again, got to show off his personality in a ballroom number that demanded it. Chelsie gave him a good routine and glided him across the dance floor well even if he felt a little heavy footed for the style, like Nigel said. I, too, expected a bit more from him in this style as a tapper, but I love his personality so much and a lot of his journey has been so great that the voters may be able to forgive him this week. Still, with no judges save, I’d be worried even with Aaron’s streak of avoiding the bottom group.

  • Rating: B-

Credit: Fox

3. Fik-shun & all-star Allison (Season 2) – “Skinny Love” (Contemporary) – Take note Nigel: Allison is a smart choreographer who choreographed around Fik-shun’s capabilities so she didn’t upstage him and it worked. That combined with the heart wrenching true story of her and her bo, tWitch and the struggles they’ve faced as a mixed race couple made for a really soft, gentle number that I think will help Fik-shun if he can get a boost in votes from his fans who are worried about him landing in the Bottom 4 so close to the finale.

  • Rating: B

Credit: Fox

4. Tucker & all-star Courtney (Season 4) – “Clarity” (Jazz) – Courtney was smart to turn a pretty simple jazz number into a modern day version of Romeo and Juliet, still, I thought it was the “worst” number of the night. It’s hard to pick one, since I love the fresh take that the alumni brought to their choreography and I think Nigel would be foolish not to call them all back again, but this routine just felt very amateurish and high school talent show for me. Sure, their technique was all their but I didn’t really feel their chemistry. I would be remiss not to say, however, that Nigel’s touching speak to Courtney, given her battle with MS, brought me to tears and I, too, was glad to see her dancing again.

  • Rating: C+

Credit: Fox

5. Paul & all-star Comfort (Season 4) – “Dum dum” (Hip-hop) – Count on Comfort to bring us a hard hitting hip-hop that almost didn’t even need the storyline that she seemed to haphazardly give to it. Paul hit it hard and kept up with her all the way. I still don’t believe he’s a ballroom dancer and not a cyborg built to win SYTYCD shows around the world but, if he is human, I can see why he won the Armenian show and why he’s a real contender to win this one in a few weeks time. He’s got charisma to spare and versatility out the wazoo, it’s like guest judge Anna Kendrick said: it’s almost boring how good he is, except it’s not at all, because Fik-shun and Aaron are still giving him quite the run for his money.

  • Rating: A

Credit: Fox

6. Hayley & all-star Dmitry (Season 2) – “Meant” (Rumba) – After the 20 Hail Mary’s Dmitry was told to say after his watered down cha-cha earlier in the season, I thought this number was an improvement. Sure, there was still a lot of “sexy posing” from Hayley and not a ton of dance content, but I still enjoyed it and thought that, for Hayley, it was also an improvement over being overshadowed by tWitch the week before. Will this get her into the finale? Maybe, given that one of the two girls she’ll be competing against had a bit of a slip up.

  • Rating: B

Credit: Fox

7. Jenna & all-star Mark (Season 4) – “I Am The Best” (Jazz Funk) – I don’t think anyone knew what to expect from Gaga’s right hand man when a bright red couch shaped like lips was on stage and portraits of eyes were hanging from the ceiling, but sure enough, it was nothing short of freaky, delicious genius. I think this routine will also be polarizing, but it almost doesn’t matter since the voters don’t get a say, instead we just got to watch Mark deliver some killer choreography with Jenna. Jenna felt a bit stiff in it and didn’t give into it in the way Mark did, but I don’t think I expected her too. Still, it’s definitely a routine I’ll remember at the end of the night and the season.

  • Rating: A-

Credit: Fox

8. Jasmine & all-star tWitch (Season 4) – “The Power” (Hip-hop) – Like Hayley before her, Jasmine suffered from being paired with tWitch in a routine that it was hard for her to become the centre of attention. The superhero storyline kind of slowed the whole routine down and Jasmine felt a little awkward and stiff in this style and, if Hayley landing in the Bottom 2 after delivering a number like this with tWitch is any indication of what the voters though, I think Jasmine could be left out in the cold come finale time.

  • Rating: C+

Credit: Fox

9. Amy & all-star Travis (Season 2) – “Wicked Game” (Contemporary) – I stand corrected: Neil is not the all-star every aspiring all-star would want to pluck from the proverbial dance hat, Travis is. As one of the best choreographers the show has scene, I knew to expect great things from this number and my expectations were met and exceeded. Amy upped her game alongside Travis and Travis made a magnificent partner for her in a story that was made all the more believable by his strength in lifting and dragging her and her trust in him as a partner. This was, by far, the routine of the night and definitely one of the best all season.

  • Rating: A+

Overall, the alumni as choreographers was a success that I think Nigel would be foolish not to repeat next season, if there is one. In the end, the judges finally listened to the voters and got rid of Team Tuna (Jenna and Tucker) before the Top 6 battle it out for the four places in the finale and a 50/50 shot at the becoming the male and female winner of the show. As for predictions on what will go down, here are mine:

  • Likely Male Top 2: Fik-shun & Paul.
  • Likely Female Top 2: Amy & Hayley.
  • Ideal Male Top 2: Paul & Aaron.
  • Ideal Female Top 2: Don’t care, they’re all wicked talented.

So why do I think Team Tall (Aaron and Jasmine) are the likely boots? Aaron went first in a ballroom number (a traditional vote black hole). Even though he hasn’t been in the bottom to date, I think his underdog status might finally run out, even if I don’t want it too. Jasmine, on the other hand, wasn’t great in her number with tWitch. It’s odd because all three girls have been in the bottom group only once, but Jasmine’s stint was long enough ago that the voters may forget about it and her come voting time.

So there you have it, a double dose of my recap. Sound off in the polls & comments below about your favourite routines and your ideal Top 4, because I’d love to hear it.

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2 Comments on “SYTYCD10: Top 10 and 8 Performance Shows – The All-Stars Align”

  1. Eveline Almeida August 27, 2013 at 9:03 am #

    I so love your reviews about sytycd! I just found this site and I read all the reviews. I agree with you, Paul looks like a cyborg built to win everything, but then he wouldn’t be so adorable and charismatic. I confess at the beginning I wasn’t buying him, be he stole my heart with Lindsay Nelko’s routine. Have you seen this interview? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rvZ-U0cfZGQ , he’s so adorable!

    About Mark’s routine, I noticed you described the set. Actually this is brilliant because he was inspired by Salvador Dali’s painting ‘Face of Mae West’.

    About the predictions I so hope you’re right.

    And about Amy and Travis, I can’t even say anything but Emmy!

    Just waiting for your next review and let’s hope there’s a season 11 because I can’t live without sytycd!

    • Andrew Rogers August 27, 2013 at 9:38 am #

      I knew his set looked Daliesque! Thanks for the tip! I’m so glad you enjoy my reviews and that you share a lot of my opinions. Often I feel like I’m being biased, because I do have my favourites but I try to be as open minded as possible – if you impress me, I’ll like you. It’s that simple and Paul has done that week after week. Going into the season, he was my least favourite because he had already won in Armenia and had yet to impress me, but I spoke too soon! I totally agree about Amy & Travis as well, if that’s not Emmy-worthy, I don’t know what is. Thanks for reading and if there is a Season 11 (which I hope there is) I’ll be back!

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