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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: Sweet 16 Makes It Hard To Cut

The title of my recap for this week is slightly misleading. I personally think the judges were making it seem like the decision on who to cut from the Bottom 6 was a difficult one when really the decision America made was absolutely the right one. I’ll go on to talk about why after discussing the performances we saw, but our Bottom 6 tonight consisted of ballroom dancers Serge, Marcquet, Tanisha and Brooklyn, contemporary dancer Bridget and tapper Zack.

A Mandy Moore group routine opened the show, which seemed quite obvious based on her decision to use a classic Annie Lennox track rather than a more recent tune, but as Cat herself pointed out after the performance, the whole routine felt like a very elaborate baptism, with flourishes of the costumes and great leaps. I actually thought it was one of the more cohesive group routines we’ve seen this season and it did truly show off all the male dancers, even if the women seemed to blend together in one indiscriminate blur. That’s something I wish choreographers would take into consideration because I do think it can help or hurt a dancer.

sytycd top 16

The Top 16 from last week, Credit: FOX

That said, let’s talk about the real deal breakers: the pairs routines:

Pair #1: Valerie & Ricky (Bollywood) – Flat out: Bollywood does not get votes, so Nigel & Co. must feel very secure about Ricky’s place in this competition by putting him first and giving him this style. However, I’m going to have to disagree with the judges on this and say that it was Valerie, not Ricky, who sold this piece for me. She was sharper and had more personality that him. He seemed to fade into the background and I don’t know whether it was his clothes or his own movements, but it just didn’t have the same quality of movement as his jazz and contemporary numbers. If Ricky truly is the inevitable winner of this season, I’m going to need him to step it up. At least last season’s inevitable winners (Amy & Fik-shun) justified their wins with some great routines, both in and out of their styles.

Pair #2: Bridget & Emilio (Contemporary) – Bridget needed a moment to remind the judges of her place in this competition and it could not have come at a better time for her to get her style, but truly, Emilio kept up all the way and tricked me into forgetting he was a hip-hop dancer at all. He brought it with the technique and sold it with the emotion. My sister compared this to Mia Michaels addiction piece back in Season 5 featuring Kupono and Kayla, and I can’t say I disagree with that comparison. It truly did bring Travis back up to the usual high-level we’ve come to expect from him.

Pair #3: Tanisha & Rudy (Hip-hop) – In probably the most unexpected moment of the night, two non-hip-hop dancers sold this routine in every possible way. Tanisha is just mesmerizing and the fact that she was in the Bottom 3 makes me question how people are voting. I’m starting to believe that she might just sneak her way into the Top 4 once she’s paired with the all-star because she truly has the ability to steal the spotlight. Rudy is an equally lively character and the two of them together just made this routine real. The filled in the spaces between the dance steps with their personality and that was what made it so great.

Pair #4: Jessica & Marcquet (Foxtrot) – The judges didn’t hold back the criticism on this one, but I can’t say I disagreed with them. Marcquet danced the routine well, but I never felt a connection between him and Jessica. He had that same problems Nick Garcia from a few weeks had and it made the routine less than what it could have been. The judges, unable to harvest some good feedback from this routine, could only compliment Jessica’s hair and makeup. Sure, she looked good, but will that be enough to keep her out of the bottom for yet another week after a lackluster routine? I don’t know.

Pair #5: Carly & Serge (Contemporary) – I was kind of disappointed to see that these two had contemporary again in a week where Serge was, once again, in the Bottom 3. I was really hoping they’d get ballroom which would allow Serge to prove his worth, but it seems the judges want him to avoid the Bottom 3 and make it clean into the Top 10. That said, Carly stole the show in this one. Serge was, as the judges said, a good partner. He was a prop for her to show off her technique which happened in their last contemporary number as well, so I was hoping for a bit more content from him. Still, while it was a pretty routine to watch, it didn’t move me the way Emilio and Bridget’s did.

Pair #6: Emily & Teddy (Salsa) – Once again, I felt like the judges didn’t give Teddy enough credit for how well he handled this routine, which was completely out of his element. Sure, Emily slipped at the beginning and recovered well, but her technique wasn’t as on point as his. Like I said with Rudy and Emilio, Teddy sold it in his body language and I couldn’t take my eyes off him. A few weeks ago, I might have been worried what would happen if Teddy got paired off with someone else, but not anymore. I truly hope he makes the Top 10 because, like Tanisha, I think he’d steal the spotlight from any all-star he’s paired with.

Pair #7: Jacque & Zack (Jazz) – Guest judge Misty Copeland did not shy away from pointing out that Zack outdanced Jacque in this one, despite being much further out of his element. I think Zack did a good job of balancing “good partnering” with showing himself off in the process, whereas Jacque felt a little stiff. I think in the process of trying to get rid of the “pretty” that Sonya is so opposed to, she failed to find another emotion and while this routine was good, I’m worried more for her than for him.

Pair #8: Brooklyn & Casey (Hip-hop) – Normally I’m critical of the judges for minor lapses in their critiques, but her I was flat out stunned by what I was hearing. The judges praise of Brooklyn baffled me and, as I said before, I can only explain it by them wanting to make it seem like a tough decision on who to cut, but truly Brooklyn felt short on every level in this routine. Casey faired mildly better, but at the end of the day, I’d still relinquish him to the Bottom 3 next week.

After the eight routines, we were treated to a duelling pair of group routines. Sonya gave us a bizarre contemporary set to Bjork about the brokenness of humans, while Travis gave us a driving jazz piece about outlaws escaping the city. I think both routines were good and which you liked better comes down to personal preference. I think the look and feel of Travis’s number felt better with me, but maybe you disagree. If so, let me know in the polls below.

After all was said and done, the judges returned to the decision on who to cut and made the right one by sticking with America’s Vote. Marcquet’s charismatic personality had been waning the past few weeks and Brooklyn, as I said, failed to make an impression in that hip-hop or really any routine these past few weeks. So far, so good with the eliminations, but all of that could change come next week’s dreaded double elimination…

But before that, let me know which three routines you liked best. See you next week!

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