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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.

SYTYCD12: Top 20 Take on New Styles for the First Time

Tonight the Top 10 “Stage” and Top 10 “Street” dancers were put to the test as the teams were mixed and matched and some dancers were forced to dance genres they’ve never seen before. Some rose to the occasion and others, as Nigel put it, turned into “yogurt”. After each routine, the unflappable Cat Deeley delivered the results of last week’s vote and, at the end of the show, one “Stage” dancer and one “Street” dancer was sent packing, but we’ll get to that in due time. First, let’s talk about who showed up to play on Season 12’s second week of live competition.

  • The night opened with a dark Pharside & Phoenix hip-hop number that had the Top 20 dressed like zombie bullfighters. The piece set the tone for a great night and gave the Stage dancers a chance to shine (and shine they did) in the opposition’s world. Pharside and Phoenix didn’t dumb the choreography down for them either. An impressive start to the night. | Rating: A
  • Darion Flores, Hailee Payne & Yorelis Apolinario – “Blucutu” (Salsa choreographed by Jonathan & Oksana) – Nigel’s comment that Hailee & Yorelis were spicy and Darion was the yogurt that cooled the routine down (and not in a good way) was pretty spot on. The girls gave it everything they had despite being pretty far out of their styles. I thought Yorelis had a bit of an edge on Hailee just for making it look so effortless, but Darion seemed bored by the proceedings and the little slip early-on was enough to show that he wasn’t in sync with his partners. | Rating: B
  • Ariana Crowder & Derek Piquette – “Cry Me a River” (Jazz choreographed by Ray Leeper) – Minus the creepy mime costumes, I did like the old-school jazz Ray served up with this routine. Ariana, despite being out of her style, made the choreography seem effortless and her under-the-radar partner Derek helped her along. While it wasn’t a stand-out, life-changing, memorable routine, it was decent and, as Paula said, different from what we usually see on the SYTYCD stage. | Rating: B-
  • Alexia Mayer, Megz Alfonso & Virgil Gadson – “Until We Go Down” (Contemporary choreographed by Dee Caspary) – Unlike the judges, I wasn’t surprised that Virgil held his own in this routine. As I’ve said in my previous reviews of the season, the guy has a boatload of prior training and so I expected him to impress and he did. Alexia also stood out as graceful, while Meg, although a little heavy-footed in places, didn’t do herself a total disservice in this. I think the girls may, however, be forgotten by the end of the night because of Virgil’s ability to steal the spotlight. | Rating: B
  • Burim Jusufi, Edson Juarez, Gaby Diaz & Lily Frias – “Dhol Baaje” (Bollywood choreographed by Nakul Dev Mahajan) – Bollywood routines are always entertaining, but also a huge risk because they’re fast-paced, complicated, and don’t drive the audience to vote the way other styles do. That said, I thought the girls and Edson did the routine justice whereas Burim lagged behind in parts, throwing off the synchronicity and timing of the piece, which had the potential to be the most impressive element of it. That said, I don’t think Burim was a total wash, but I think he’ll need to step it up next week. | Rating: B-
  • Asaf Goren, Kate Harpootlian & Neptune Eskridge – “All About That Bass” (Broadway choreographed by Spencer Liff) – I loved Spencer’s concept for this piece – that the three dancers would be instrumentalists but play the music with their bodies – and it played out well enough on stage. I think Asaf’s struggles with the choreography were apparent in the actual execution, but the judges seemed content to give him an A for effort at this point, which might be a sign of frustration or simply because the audience likes him. However, the judges were on point with their critiques of Kate and Neptune. Kate is a thorough technician but, once again, needed to find the right emotion for the piece and Neptune brought it hard this week, breathing his own style into the piece and shaking his “first to be sent home” label like dirt off his shoulders. | Rating: B+
  • Jaja Vaňková & Jim Nowakowski – “No Woman, No Cry” (Lyrical Hip-Hop choreographed by Christopher Scott) – If this season had couples from the start, Jaja and Jim would be one of those pairings that shouldn’t work but just does. Jaja’s sharp ticking combined with Jim’s strong movements made them a good match and when they were smooth, they told the story in a way that I believed it. While normally I’m not a fan of hyperbole on the show, I think Nigel was right to say that this routine showed the magic of what can happen when a stage and a street dancer come together and it just works. | Rating: A
  • JJ Rabone, Marissa Milele & Moises Parra – “I’m So Sorry” (Jazz choreographed by Ray Leeper) – This routine was hyped as one that would redeem the three participants: Moises could prove that he can be a strong, masculine dancer, Marissa could prove she can be sexy without overdoing it, and JJ would show she can perform out of her style and I think all three dancers accomplished those tasks. I agree with the men on the judging panel that the ladies’ expressions seemed to lack the right emotion at the right time, but in terms of technique, all three of them were on point and the piece was pleasant to watch for that reason. I think the emotion will come with more practice in choreographed routines, but I was glad to see they all danced it well. | Rating: A-

By the end of the pieces that America would be voting on, we knew that ballet dancer Darion and contemporary dancers Derek and Moises were in the Bottom 3 for Team Stage while hip-hopper Ariana, freestyler Neptune and waacker Lily were Team Street’s Bottom 3. America got the chance to vote, via twitter, to save one member from each team, but we’d have to wait for those results until after we saw this week’s duelling group routines:

  • Team Street – “Time” (Hip-Hop choreographed by Christopher Scott & Phillip Chbeeb) – Once again, Team Street brought synchronicity, attitude and accuracy to their group routine. Chris and Phillip’s use of the see-saws made the routine all that more impressive and nerve-wracking and, while it wasn’t as flashy as last week’s number, it did leave me wondering how Team Stage would top it. | Rating: A-
  • Team Stage – “Stabat Mater” (Contemporary choreographed by Travis Wall) – But top it they did. Travis hyped the routine to the high heavens before we actually got to see it, but perhaps rightfully so. It was as good, if not a mite better, than Team Street’s offering, turning the Stage dancers into gods and goddesses and making them dance with such enigmatic strength that I just sat in silent awe for the first half of the routine. Despite that fact that I have not connected with as many of te Stage dancers this season, they sure know how to dance. | Rating: A

Cat stands with the Bottom 4: Darion, Derek, Ariana and Lily. [Credit: FOX Entertainment]

And then, the results: Cat told us that based on last week’s vote, Team Stage received a higher percentage of the votes (54% compared to Team Street’s 46%) so they “won the week”, but we’d still have to lose one member from each team. Twitter decided to give Neptune and Moises more time in the competition after impressing in their most recent routines, which left the final decision to the judges. Nigel announced that they would be saving Derek and Ariana after impressing in their jazz this week, which meant waacker Lily and ballet dancer Darion were the competition’s first cast-offs.

So now I turn it over to you. What did you think of the night’s proceedings? Did the right people go home? Were the right people in the Bottom 3? Which routines were the best? And did Team Stage or Team Street win the night? Let me know in the polls and comments below! And tune in tomorrow for the show’s 10th Anniversary celebration!

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