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Andrew is a staff writer at the “The Hudsucker”. He is a 30 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: Top 18 Improves On Last Week

Photo Credit: FOX

Photo Credit: FOX

One complaint I had about last week’s show is that, despite such a strong cast of kids, I felt like the routines were lackluster, stale and recycled. I felt like Nigel heeded my call this week and brought back refreshingly honest guest judge Misty Copeland (who’s back again next week, so kudos for that) and brought in a few new choreographers to give us some routines that didn’t play off the same clichés. The result was, what I felt, overall an improvement for the dancers upon their performances last week. Included in my calculations is the group routine, which brought a board of chess pieces to life for a strong hip-hop number. While it felt a little cluttered with all of them on the stage, I think the choreographers will learn to cope with that in the future, but the foundations of the routine were there to build on.

Now, for the routines:

Pair #1: Jacque & Zack (Hip-hop) – Keone & Mari Madrid are a welcome addition to the SYTYCD choreographer pool. Their style of hip-hop was modern and different and to do it to that Sam Smith track was so unexpected and ingenious. There was a moment in this number where Jacque and Zack reached for the audience and that was when I really got the routine. Their chemistry is great, they both look so good when they dance. I really thought both of them were destined for an early boot, but after a second strong week out of both of their styles, I really do think they could be contenders.

Pair #2: Jourdan & Marcquet (Contemporary) – Following this routine, I got up and hugged my TV when guest judge Misty Copeland said the exact words I said to my mom only a few seconds earlier. There was a lost connection here. I didn’t get what they were trying to sell with this routine. Jourdan was smiling and Marcquet was serious and while usually I love Dee’s choreographer, it just did nothing for me. Misty said something about Jourdan having the physical aspect of being a dancer, but not quiet the emotional aspect and that was exactly what she needed to hear.

Pair #3: Jessica & Stanley (Jazz) – I released a bit of a groan when Tyce told us about the concept of this routine. A magic carpet ride? Really? In the end, it wasn’t as bad as I had feared, but once again, Misty said everything that needed to be said. Both of these guys have technique for days, but I’m still not feeling that magical spark that I got from them during the showcase. I will, however, say that part of that might just have been the routine. Tyce is capable of great routine (see two numbers from now) but this wasn’t a winner.

Pair #4: Bridget & Emilio (Jive) – I will agree with the judges that I was pleasant surprised by Bridget’s newfound personality over last week and both contestants ability to sell this routine, but I would have liked to see more jive content, but that’s Pasha and Anya’s fault. I constantly felt like I was waiting for the jive to start and so I’m still not entirely sold that they can dance ballroom, but maybe they were choreographing to their strengths. Still, Emilio’s stint in Hollywood doing Salsa with popping krumper Jaja was a better indicator of that, but still, I agree with the judges that it was a fun, entertaining routine and I hope it keeps them safe next week.

Pair #5: Emily & Teddy (Contemporary) – As soon as the music struck up, I knew this one would be a winner. There’s something about Teddy that just draws me in. The guy has it. He’s committed to his craft and, like Aaron Turner from last season, he’s determined not to be dismissed as fodder and I like that, a lot. Emily, as expected, was great in her style, but I was really sold by the emotion they poured into this and just how good of a routine it was from Tyce. Definitely a standout from the night and if either of them are in danger next week, I’ll be shocked.

Pair #6: Brooklyn & Casey (Jazz) – I like Bonnie Story, so when I saw that this pair, which I had yet to connect with, had her I thought maybe now would be there time. But no such look. The two of them had so little chemistry that it almost felt like Casey was dancing alone and, whereas Emily seemed to help Teddy into her world, it felt like Casey left Brooklyn to starve on the side of the proverbial SYTYCD highway. The judges were right about her been stiff and falling in and out of character and, overall, it just made for an awkward routine that I think both of them should have gotten more flack for, despite Casey generally dancing it well.

Pair #7: Valerie & Ricky (Viennese Waltz) – Also in the realm of overpraised is this routine. Sure, Valerie’s dress was gorgeous, but I’m quite convinced it was put there to hide the fact that she awkwardly stepped through every turn that she should have glided through. Mary somewhat address the technical issues for both dancers, but it was quickly swallowed up by vague praise from Nigel and even, unfortunately, Misty. I get it, Ricky’s the golden boy, but everyone can benefit from a little constructive criticism now and then and these two needed it. As a sidenote, I was super happy to see Season 3’s Lacey Schwimmer back choreographing. She created a beautiful routine, it just wasn’t executed quite as beautifully.

Pair #8: Carly & Serge (Hip-hop) – Despite the awkward timing of Nigel’s feedback, I totally felt what he was trying to say. Hip-hop, in recently years on SYTYCD, has not been a vote-getter and even though both of them danced it surprisingly well for it not being their style (especially Carly), I feel like it could get lost under the contemporary and jazz routines that people seem so found of. Even Jacque & Zach’s simplier hip-hop might standout more at the end of the night. I hope I’m wrong, I hope America will see that these two danced some pretty tough choreography from SYTYCD Canada alum Luther Brown and made it look good.

Pair #9: Rudy & Tanisha (Broadway) – And what a closer it was. Rudy’s completely commitment to his character stole the bloody show with this one. Tanisha’s light make-up made it hard to read her face while she was dancing, but like Nigel said, she was perfectly in sync with Rudy and I thought did a great job, just like last week. But Rudy took this routine from another fresh new choreographer to another level and I thought that was just incredible on his part. I’m not really sure while Nigel keeps prefacing his feedback for Rudy with comments about his lack of technique because, thus far, I haven’t noticed any such problems… but maybe that’s just me.

As for the eliminations, I held my breathe when Nigel said they were deferring to the public’s vote with Teddy, Emily, Emilio, Bridget, Stanley and Jourdan in the bottom 3 and two of them having pretty strong showings tonight, but in the end, the public chose the right two people: Stanley and Jourdan. Both of them brought such strong technique and power to each movement, but the emotional connection just wasn’t there so, in the end, I agreed with the judge’s decision.

Next week, I expect a Bottom 6 of Marcquet, Casey and Serge (unfortunately) and Brooklyn, Bridget and Valerie. Maybe I’m entirely wrong on some of those selections, but I think Casey and Bridget have to be the two to go after their weak showing for the past few weeks. The other 14 contestants are just too strong to lose any of them at the moment, but next week’s routine might reveal some cracks. we’ll see.

That’s all I’ve got for you this week. Now it’s your turn. Tell me which 3 routines you enjoyed most in the polls below!

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