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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: Trimming The Fat on the Top 20

If you read my SYTYCD reviews last season, you’ll know I save discussion for the eliminations last and dive right in to talking about the routines. Before we get to that, let’s talked about the second of our Top 20 group routines. I thought the Broadway routine from the new choreographer (Joshua Burgasse) did a much better job of showcasing all the dancers than Sonya’s offering last week. I feel like Broadway, like Ballroom, often gets a bad rap on the show as being a style that won’t garner votes for a contestant, but I love a good Broadway routine and this was certainly one of them. Hopefully Nigel takes this as a sign and let’s Joshua choreograph some pairs routine and gives Tyce a break for a season…

Anyway, now that that’s done, let’s see how the Top 20 faired this week with new partners and new(ish) styles. (I say newish because there seemed to be a trend of most of the routines being the “style” of one of the two dancers except for #7 and #10)

Rudy + Tanisha get jazzy, Credit: FOX

Pair #1: Tanisha & Rudy (Jazz) – This truly brought out another side of Tanisha and, like I was saying in last week’s article, showed off her versatility like I hoped it would. Her poise was reminiscent of some of the greatest dancers the show has seen like Courtney Galiano and Kathryn McCormick and I think if she keeps that up, she could sneak by some of the more obvious contenders. Rudy, as always, was strong and waist deep into his character and, outside the routine, he was his charming, goofy self. Despite going first, I’m not too worried about either of them.

Ricky + Valerie pair up with Travis Wall, Credit: FOX

Pair #2: Valerie & Ricky (Contemporary) – Truthfully, I was disappointed that Ricky was still in his style, even if it was with Travis. I really wanted to see him doing something else, but as always he was breathtaking and I can’t fault Misty (who was a fantastic judge all night, just as a sidebar) for telling Valerie to learn from Ricky’s complete commitment to everything he does. Valerie’s likability factor remained in tact and she, like Jessica, benefitted from dancing with Ricky and looking damn good doing it.

Emilio + Bridget bump and grind, Credit: Fox

Pair #3: Bridget & Emilio (Hip-hop) – Sigh. The judges pointed out the discrepancy between this couple in this style, but let me reiterate. Emilio was hitting his marks, feeling every beat and doing what a good hip-hopper should. Bridget was like limp, overcooked asparagus – barely giving the moves the gusto and attitude she needed to. I really wanted more from her, given that she won me back last week in her contemporary number, but this just fell way short of past contemporary girls attempting hip-hop.

Jessica + Nick swing together, Credit: Fox

Pair #4: Jessica & Nick (West Coast Swing) – Admittedly, West Coast Swing isn’t exactly the best style to get on a night where, for Nick, he needed to blow the judges away to lock up a spot in the Top 18. That said, I’m not entirely in disagreement with the judges when they repeated yet again that Nick lacks that necessary connection to his partner. Jessica, although great last week, seemed a little stiff and lost in this routine but, like Nigel said, it was a tough style for someone who’s probably just scratched the surface of what it means to dance ballroom.

Serge + Carly dance contemporary, Credit: Fox

Pair #5: Carly & Serge (Contemporary) – In contrast to Nick, Serge got exactly what you’d want to deliver you into next week: an emotional contemporary number and he was wonderful in it. He partnered Carly so well and made me forget about the ballroom hip shaking styles he calls home. Carly, as was to be expected, was gorgeous and is fast becoming one of the most interesting females in this competition. With Serge by her side, I don’t doubt that she’ll conquer ballroom just fine in the future too.

Teddy + Emilio work their chemistry, Credit: FOX

Pair #6: Emily & Teddy (Hip-hop) – And the award for most muted praise goes to… Teddy who stole the show in the number with the sexual chemistry in his face and the sheer fluidity in his body. Emily faired better than contemporary cohort Bridget in this style, but those leopard-print pants did her no favours. I found it hard to keep my eyes on her for more than a few seconds with Teddy next to her, so I’d say she needs to work on that, even if it is his style. If Teddy is in danger next week though, I blame the judges. At least Misty gave him some love.

Malene + Stanley take the call for Broadway, credit: FOX

Pair #7: Malene & Stanley (Broadway) – So apparently Nigel didn’t get the memo about better quality Broadway routines and instead slapped his ballroom beauty and contemporary technician with one of the strangest routines I’ve ever seen. It felt like there was very little “dancing” involved in this routine and it was no wonder that it left the judges cold afterwards. Poor Malene, like Nick, got stuck with an unideal routine on a night when she needed a knockout.

Jourdan interrogates Marcquet in this jazz number, Credit: FOX

Pair #8: Jourdan & Marcquet (Jazz) – I was kind of confused why the judges praised Jourdan like she had done well out of her style. Jazz and Contemporary are both rooted in classical Ballet so it really wasn’t the much of a stretch for her and besides, I felt like Marcquet outshine her despite it not being his style whatsoever. I agree with the judges that part of Jourdan’s shortcomings were her inability to emote the way the routine required but, all in all, I wasn’t sold that Jourdan was safe come elimination time based on this.

Brooklyn + Casey tango together, Credit: FOX

Pair #9: Brooklyn & Casey (Argentine Tango) – And the award for most overpraised routine of the night goes to… I was really surprised by the judges love of this routine. I felt like Casey’s footwork was stiff and sloppy and, while Brooklyn coloured within the lines stylistically, I didn’t get the passion or emotion of a tango from either of them. A tango should, if done right, take your breathe away and I was kind of left shrugging after this routine, but based on the feedback they got, knew the judges would preserve their status in the competition.

Zack + Jacque pair up for a colorful African Jazz number, Credit: FOX

Pair #10: Jacque & Zack (African Jazz) – Sean Cheesman is one of my favourite choreographers to make the leap from Canada’s wildly successful version of the show, which only had four seasons, despite great ratings. But Sean’s African Jazz routines always standout and he brings dancers into his crazy, animalistic world in way that really gives them a chance to shine. I, like the judges, thought Zack outdanced Jacque by a bit here, insofar as he was just committed to the routine, but Jacque was good too and I won’t be surprised if they both sail on into the Top 16.

After all was said and done, the judges predictably cut Nick & Malene after a lackluster showing, sending the other for members of the Bottom 4 (Serge, Brooklyn, Casey and Jourdan) back to safety. Although it wasn’t my ideal cuts, I can’t really fault them given Nick’s inability to connect with his partner’s and Malene’s shortcomings outside of her style. I appreciated Nigel’s honesty that Malene’s looks had been what kept her safe when she couldn’t keep up and so, we move on to next week. But not without a few heartbreaking tears from Nick’s bff Rudy.

Before I get to next week’s cuts, I have to give a shout out to the group, the Syncopated Ladies who killed that tap routine to Beyoncé’s “Flawless” with some amazing musicality and synchronicity. I’d be okay with seeing a few more tap routines set to Beyoncé, if I’m being honest.

As for next week’s cuts, I predict Stanley, Casey and Teddy will be there for the boys and Emily, Bridget and Jessica for the girls with, unfortunately, Emily and Teddy saying goodbye. I hope I’m wrong because both of them were far from the worst this week, but this show isn’t always about that, unfortunately. Until then, sound off in the polls below and vote for your favourite routines.

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