For as long as I’ve watched SYTYCD, I’ve had to brace myself for Top 8 week. It’s a time when half the remaining dancers are in danger and so, anything could happen. One routine that isn’t well-received could spell the end for an otherwise great dancer. Such was the case for the now-dynamic all-star, Allison Holker, as well as various others, but I was hoping—just this once—that the rough Top 14 double elimination would have negated the possibility of this week’s tragic history repeating itself.
Let’s find out if it did. The show opened with Cat reminding us that this week would be a tribute to Michael Jackson with all the routines set to his music. I, for one, was excited to see how ballroom, contemporary and hip-hop would translate across these various genres, but if anyone could do it, it was SYTYCD talented pool of choreographers.
The group routine, choreographed by Michael’s choreographer himself was definitely interesting and eye-catching and, as always, a good way to show off the technique of all eight dancers. I definitely did feel, though, like the men outdanced the ladies in this once. Then it was on to the pairs routines…
Pair #1: Ricky & All-Star Jaimie (Contemporary) – A couple week’s ago, Mandy Moore said something about the Top 7 girls needing to be more than just “pretty”. Last week, Nigel wondered why contemporary moved us so much more than other styles and that it just seemed to touch people on an emotional level. Both these quotes explain what this routine was missing for me. Technique-wise, Ricky & Jaimie were stunning. I have always thought Jaimie was underrated and alongside Ricky, they brought out the best in each other, but it did nothing for me. It was forgettable and didn’t make me want to vote for him and maybe Travis is to blame a bit more that, but I also need to attribute it to them too.
Pair #2: Valerie & All-Star Ryan (Samba) – Unlike Tanisha last week, Valerie truly got outdanced by Ryan. I couldn’t take my eyes off him. And while she wasn’t downright awful, she was definitely sloppy in parts that Mary Murphy… kind of pointed out. (Sidenote: What’s the point of having a ballroom expert on the panel if she’s barely going to tell us what they did wrong and, worse yet, she’s not going to give Standing-O’s when routines are as good as Tanisha’s was last week? Great contemporary numbers get Standing-O’s. Just a thought…). Either way, this wasn’t Val’s best foot forward in the Top 8, but I’m not entirely convinced that she’s versatile enough to handle anything.
Pair #3: Casey & All-Star Comfort (Hip-hop) – While I will say that this was a marked improvement over Casey’s last hip-hop, I still found myself watching Comfort the entire time. It’s hard to pull focus from her, given that she’s so sharp, but she did seem to help Casey hit things a little harder. I still just feel like he’s devoid of emotion, which is why I was baffled when Nigel called him “dynamic” and praised him for growing week-to-week.
Pair #4: Tanisha & All-Star Nick (Contemporary) – I’m glad the judges gave Nick some praise, because he truly is an enigmatic performer and this routine was a great reminder of that. Tanisha, once again, shone in a style that wasn’t her own and I truly felt the connection between her and Nick. Maybe judge Jenna wanted more from her, but I felt it all the way through.
Pair #5: Rudy & All-Star Allison (Jazz) – I’m not always a fan of Ray Leeper’s work, but when he gets a little darker, I can dig it and this was plenty dark and twisted. Allison sold the heck out of that crazed character and Rudy’s balanced between “do I want it or don’t I?” was perfect. His athleticism to hold her up and catch her and the way the two of them were in sync was perfect. This routine just felt like it was made personally for the two of them.
Pair #6: Zack & All-Star Makenzie (Broadway) – Makenzie is just classically beautiful and that translates into her dancing and her and Zack were such a perfect fit for each other in this routine. While the overall concept didn’t wow me and I don’t think I’ll remember it come the end of the season, it was a strong showing by both of them and, like Nigel said, another reminder that Zack has a lot more talent than I think anyone expected.
Pair #7: Jacque & All-Star Twitch (Hip-hop) – Honestly, I expected Jacque to be eaten alive in this, but she held her own for the most part. There were times when I would have liked her to get more down and dirty, but after the lackluster effort of Jessica last week in hip-hop, I felt like Jacque put in a far better showing in this genre.
Pair #8: Jessica & All-Star Will (Contemporary) – It’s unfortunate that all of Jessica’s best routines are contemporary routines because it’s doing nothing for her versatility. That being said, this was another good piece from Mandy Moore and it brought two contestants together than I never thought would work well together. The movement felt raw and natural, which fit the “earthy” theme of the piece and might just be enough to propel her to the finale that the judges seem so desperate to get her to.
Cat gave each contestant their results after their routines and after all was said and done, we were left with contemporary dancers Rudy and Casey on the boys side and ballroom dancer Tanisha and ballerina Jacque in the Bottom 2. The girls results baffled me, but the guys results were kind of predictable, but when Tanisha and Rudy went home after strong routines this and last week, I have to admit I was livid. I normally don’t call the show out for it’s antics, but I’m beginning to feel that this season is weighted heavily in favour of one particular contestant and, in the process, the producers have been trying to get rid of any dancers who may pose a threat to him. Unfortunately, that streak continued tonight. Anyway, maybe I’m wrong. Either way, vote for your favourite routines below and let me know what you thought of them or the eliminations in the comments.