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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.

SYTYCD11: Speed Dating The Top 20

Before we lose two of them tonight, I thought I’d give you a run down of each contestant. Who has what it takes to win or at least crack the all-important Top 10 where they get to pair up with the uber-talented all-stars? Their showcase routines gave us a little taste of who is good enough in their own style to garner the votes, but diversity is the hallmark of a true dancer on this show, even if the most diverse dancer isn’t always the winner. So I’m going to talk about each routine in turn, then assign each guy and girl a rank out of 10 based on their odds on winning (#1 has the most potential and #10 has the least).

In terms of the group routine, I thought it was kind of a muted way to start a season with so much potential. Sure, it gave Sonya a chance to showcase Ricky, the obvious favourite to win this season, but other than that, I found it hard to identify more than 3 or 4 people from each respective gender. Sonya is capable of better, in my opinion.

As far as guest judges go, Jason DeRulo had a few moments of clarity but, for the most part, he isn’t someone I’d file in the “call them back” books. I’m still a little unclear why Nigel hasn’t just made Season 4 alumni Twitch (or other past contestants) a permanent judge…

Serge & Brooklyn dancing the Cha-cha, Credit: Fox

Pair #1: Serge & Brooklyn (Cha-cha) – The judges, for once, hit it right on the head for me with this one. Serge is into it, he seems to live and breath dancing, whereas Brooklyn felt a little stiff in this one, which is something I’ve gotten from her since the audition rounds. With that in mind, I think she’ll rank lower on the totem pole, whereas Serge, with the right partner, could do decently well.

  • Rating: Serge: #6/10, Brooklyn: #10/10

Casey helps show off Emily’s technique, Credit: Fox

Pair #2: Casey & Emily (Contemporary) – Like the last pair, I felt a bit of a discrepancy between the partners in this routine. Emily got to showcase her lines and that delicious technique that made me fall in love with her the second she auditioned, whereas Casey kind of fell by the wayside, which isn’t something you want to do when you’re going second, paired with Travis Wall and pretty much tween girl bait amongst a strong crowd of men. Emily gets the upper hand in this one.

  • Rating: Casey: #9/10, Emily: #4/10

Valerie & Zack tapping away, Credit: Fox

Pair #3: Zack & Valerie (Tap) – The discrepancy in this routine was far less visible, but the judges did allude to the fact that Zack seemed more comfortable gliding up and down the steps, whereas the need to focus registered on Valerie’s face and she broke character for a moment – something that isn’t easy to hide with the cameras right there. I still have faith that both of these guys could be dark horses, especially after this strong start, but Valerie is going to need to pull up her socks.

  • Rating: Zack: #5/10, Valerie: #6/10

Bridget & Stanley in perfect harmony, Credit: Fox

Pair #4: Bridget & Stanley (Contemporary) – Unlike Casey & Emily, I felt like this pair really showed each other off. It was clear that Bridget was meant to be the star, given that she was out front the whole time and has been given more screen time than most of the other women in the Top 20, but Stanley’s technique is nothing to sneeze at and given his propensity for strong solos, he could be one to watch as well.

  • Rating: Bridget: #2/10, Stanley: #8/10

Jourdan and Jacque as swans, Credit: Fox

Pair #5: Jourdan & Jacque (Ballet) – It’s sort of unfair that these two got stuck with a style that requires such technical perfection and synchronicity on the first week, but that is the style they call home. That said, the routine did nothing to hide said weaknesses and Jourdan in particular, who appeared to be a front-runner coming into the Top 20, slid several notches in the eyes of the judges and perhaps the audience. Deemed canon-fodder Jacque faired slightly better.

  • Rating: Jourdan: #9/10, Jacque: #8/10

Malene and Marcquet shaking it, Credit: Fox

Pair #6: Malene & Marcquet (Samba) – Our mature ballroom couple certainly set the bar for their style high this season. Of the three ballroom routines tonight, I think there’s were technically the best, but I worry that their maturity (despite Marcquet being only 18) will prevent the audience from connecting with them in the same way as the younger, cuter ballroom dancers. Still, objectively, they’ve got the talent.

  • Rating: Malene: #7/10, Marcquet: #3/10

Rudy + Carly having a moment, Credit: Fox

Pair #7: Carly & Rudy (Contemporary) – Rudy’s goofy demeanour in the pre-performance videos will help him win votes, but combine it with an ability to drop that act and adopt a more mature character and he could be a serious threat. Carly, another sure-bet for fodderdom, rose above that title and glided along the stage in a routine that did plenty of favours for these two in placing them high on the ladder going into next week.

  • Rating: Carly: #3/10, Rudy: #2/10

Teddy + Emilio get groovy, Credit: Fox

Pair #8: Emilio & Teddy (Hip-hop) – In an unexpected twist, the previously-invisible Teddy stole the spotlight in a routine that required more smooth swagger than technicality. Emilio’s personality still shone through and he was given a chance to show off what he does best, but it will be interesting to see if the voters latched on to the dancer who, arguably, performed better in this routine or will they buy into the “comeback kid” edit for Emilio?

  • Rating: Emilio: #4/10, Teddy: #10/10

Ricky hoists Jessica into the air, Credit: Fox

Pair #9: Jessica & Ricky (Contemporary) – As if these two needed any help placing their flags at the peak of Mount SYTYCD, but Sonya’s solemn style of contemporary routines certainly skyrocketed them into judge’s & audience favourites. I agree with the judges that it will be interesting to see if they can do the same with different partners, but whoever gets these two technical, emotional beasts can probably buckle down for the longhaul.

  • Rating: Jessica: #1/10, Ricky: #1/10

Tanisha & Nick show off their moves, Credit: Fox

Pair #10: Tanisha & Nick (Cha-cha) – Despite getting the all-important last spot before the lines opened, a keener eye would have noticed Nick’s inability to connect with his partner. He certainly can dance, but if he can’t find a way to channel that connection, the audience will be left cold after his performances. Furthermore, I feel like Tanisha has yet to really stake her claim in the way some girls have. Maybe her versatility will be the key to that.

  • Rating: Tanisha: #5/10, Nick: #7/10

To recap, here’s how I ranked them:

  1. Ricky & Jessica
  2. Rudy & Bridget
  3. Marcquet & Carly
  4. Emilio & Emily
  5. Zack & Tanisha
  6. Serge & Valerie
  7. Nick & Malene
  8. Stanley & Jacque
  9. Casey & Jourdan
  10. Teddy & Brooklyn

I’m a little stunned that we have to vote 2 of them off after such a strong showing by most of them, but that’s the name of the game. Even harder is choosing a bottom three but I’ll say Teddy, Casey & Serge and Jacque, Jourdan & Brooklyn. Ideally, I’d send Brooklyn & Casey home, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the result differs.

Agree? Disagree? Sound off in the comments and vote for your favourite guys & girls.

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