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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: The Top 8 Hope to Be Great

It’s hard to believe that just over a month ago was the first time the Top 20 took the stage and now, we’re staring down the barrel of the finale with only six contestants left after tonight. But even the harshest critics of the show’s new Stage vs. Street format have to agree that the six contestants we end the night with were talented in their own way and even the two who went home had some great moments, whether in group routines, solos or other routines, during the run. But before I talk about who went home, let’s talk about the night’s proceedings and who might have earned themselves a spot in the finale after tonight…

  • The Top 8 from back left to front right: Neptune, Derek, Megz, Virgil, Gaby, Jim, Jaja and Hailee [Credit: FOX Entertainment]

    The night opened with a creepy Tyce Diorio Jazz routine that had the Top 8 dressed like member’s of the Addams family and dancing in a mock library. The costumes and makeup on the girls were so great that it was hard to tell them apart until the camera got close, but beyond that, Tyce gave them a routine that felt very reminiscent of some of Wade Robson’s best stuff like Ramalama Bang Bang. I found it hit really hard in the beginning and seemed to peter off near the end but still, a solid routine to show off their personalities. | Rating: B+
  • Virgil Gadson & Jasmine Harper – “Kintamani” (African Jazz) – I loved Nigel’s quote about Virgil “punching above his weight”, but I took it to mean something else. To me, Virgil is always a surprise. He’s small but mighty and his personality is always larger than life and that, I think, is what has gotten him this far, in addition to some good dancing. I think his broadway background really has helped him shine in style’s that other street dancers seem to fail at. Tonight, he kept up with Jasmine. Cat pointed out that Jasmine is “the perfect all-star” and tonight it certainly felt like she was the perfect one for Virgil. She gave Virgil a great canvas to paint his “evil” story on that Sean wanted from him. The only flaw, I’d say, was that Jasmine had a bit more liquidity and looseness in her movements, extending them to the ends of the earth, whereas – in places – it felt like Virgil’s height held him back and it shouldn’t have. Short dancers can dance tall, as we’ve seen on the show, so I’d like a bit more of that from Virgil, if I have to choose something. | Rating: B+
  • Derek Piquette & Jaimie Goodwin – “Never Dreamed You’d Leave In Summer” (Contemporary) – If you compare this to Edson’s routine with Jaimie last week, it just left me feeling a little bit like a drought in summer. The dancing was beautiful as Tyce’s routines usually are but, to me, Derek got upstaged by his all-star. He had moments where the emotions felt real and authentic and others were it felt put on, like desperation more than longing. I think Derek has the same problem as Jim, the problem is Jim’s technique and personality outside of his routines is more memorable and, therefore, he is the more memorable contestant of the two. I think what Derek would need to do is show off more personality outside of his routines and find a personal connection inside of the routines to match his dance ability. | Rating: B-
  • Hailee Payne & DuShaunt “Fik-Shun” Stegall – “Let It Go” (Hip Hop) – Luther has a certain kind of hip-hop that requires more attitude and swagger than anything and I think that that was the part of this dance that Hailee really owned. There were parts where Fik-shun upstaged her on the dancing front, but she fought back by giving the audience so much face that I hardly noticed, which is something Hailee has done all season. She can really sell a routine, which is why I think choreographers probably like her. It’s almost the reverse of what happened to Alexia in the “sexy fish” routine a few weeks ago. The choreographers don’t have to worry about Hailee mastering every single step when she can tell the story and still leave the audience liking her at the end of the day. It wasn’t a bad routine by any means, in fact I really like what Luther gave them, but it was definitely made better by Hailee’s attitude towards it. | Rating: A-
  • Megz Alfonso & Paul Karmiryan – “Blade of Blood” (Paso Doble) – I both agree and disagree with the judges on this one. The judges said that Megz biggest problem was that the routine exposed a lack of technique on her part, but that she sold the intensity and passion of the routine. I think that while the technique wasn’t spot on, that was to be expected, and that Megz could have benefited from a bit more fire and intensity in this routine to take it to another level. I think the worry showed on Megz face about whether she was hitting everything the way she needed to be and I wonder if Twitch told her, during rehearsals, to focus on technique instead of passion. Unfortunately, in my opinion, the audience is more likely to vote for personality over technique so I think Megz might have something to worry about after this one. | Rating: C
  • Neptune Eskridge & Kayla Radomski – “Infinity” (Jazz) – It’s hard not to get upstaged by a gorgeous dancer like Kayla, but Neptune does a good job of capturing the connection with her that seems to draw him into her world. His technique is also surprisingly good for a street dancer and the routine is low key, but still captivating. If anything, I wish Neptune sold it a bit more in his face but that being said, the routine was a good reminder of why Neptune has been a bit of a dark horse this season. | Rating: B
  • Jim and Comfort were anything but stiff in this Medusa-themed hip-hop [Credit: FOX Entertainment]

    Jim Nowakowski & Comfort Fedoke – “Hey Mama” (Hip Hop) – Travis reminded us right off the bat the Jim’s biggest problem is his ability to connect with his partners and, as if setting up that premise to knock it down, Jim came out and deliver a hip-hop that knocked his previous efforts out of the water. It certainly helped having comfort by his side, but Comfort can and has outdanced her partners many times. With Jim, the discrepancy felt less noticeable and while there was still some hints of ballet technique in there, it wasn’t so noticeable as to detract from a solid routine with a solid story thanks to Pharside and Phoenix. | Rating: A
  • Gaby Diaz & Robert Roldan – “Angel” (Contemporary) – Like Travis said, the stars aligned for Gaby in this routine on the choreographer, song, style and all-star front. Gaby just needed to live up to the hype. And she definitely did. Every time she dances, I remember that she was girl who had to audition twice and that fire and fight has carried here all the way here. There were some moments and movements in this piece (like when Robert spun Gaby with her toes pointed and dragging on the floor, or when Gaby literally went mad at the “madness” line) that just took this routine to another level and made Mandy’s comeback one to remember. I think Gaby may have just secured herself a spot alongside Jim in the finale. | Rating: A+
  • Jaja Vankova & Ricky Ubeda – “Let’s Face the Music And Dance” (Broadway) – There’s such a stark contrast between the Jaja in her solos and the Jaja in her routines and that, more than anything, is what makes her compelling to watch. She can sell a character well and in this routine, she had to because broadway is all about character. But on top of that, her movements were graceful and effortless in ways you wouldn’t expect from her. My only critique would be that she could have been a little looser – it felt like her shoulders were tensed up almost the entire time but, like Hailee, she’s capable of owning a character and hiding any minor imperfections that way. | Rating: A

By the end of the night, we know the Bottom 4 consisted of Derek and Hailee from Team Stage and Neptune and Megz from Team Street. It is, perhaps, a testament to how talented this Top 8 is when you can find reasons to disagree with every member of the Bottom 4, especially after seeing the solos tonight. I think Jaja and Gaby’s were the best of the solos from their respective teams – proving they’ve both got some fight left in them. Before we talk about who got eliminated, let’s talk about the group routines:

  • Team Street – “Finna Get Loose” (Hip Hop) – Dave Scott gave these four dancers a great routine that, perhaps for the first time during Team Street’s routines, had a good balance of showing off their own styles and giving them some choreography to dance together and distinguish themselves. I thought in the synchronized parts, Jaja and Neptune shone the most, which was unexpected, especially since Virgil is rarely one to end up in the background, but Neptune just made things look effortless and cool while Jaja brought her signature likeability to everything. | Rating: A
  • Team Stage – “Give Me Love” (Contemporary) – Tessandra’s choreography is a different breed of contemporary choreography. It’s staccato in parts and almost brings a different emotional quality to it in that way. I think this routine lent itself to the girl’s being front and centre and they were. The parts where Gaby and Hailee were asked to tell a little more of the story on their own were the most memorable and captivating parts and while Derek and Jim’s technique shone in some of the leaps and bounds, I think the girls were the real story-tellers in this one. Overall, a beautiful routine, just not as cohesive as Team Street’s. | Rating: A-

After both routines were through, Cat delivered the final results: Team Stage’s eliminee would be Derek this week and Team Street’s Neptune would be joining him. I, personally, would have swapped dark horse Neptune for Megz, but I think either way, the remaining member of the Bottom 4 is going home next week. Based on the routines tonight, Jaja, Jim and Gaby are sure bets for the final and, if Virgil’s fanbase is powerful enough, he will likely join them and give us a Top 4 where literally anyone could take the crown. It will certainly be a fight to the finish, but there’s still another week to go.

So until then, let me know what you thought of the routines, solos and eliminations in the comments below and I will see you with another recap next Monday!

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One Comment on “SYTYCD12: The Top 8 Hope to Be Great”

  1. HEA TV reality (@HEABachelor) August 29, 2015 at 2:23 pm #

    I totally disagree and think Jim is not top 4 material. A great technician does not make a great dancer. He is lacking maturity and most of all personality. Jaja is doing the same body language and facial expression in each routine no matter if it is jazz or broadway or HH. I guess she does not bring anything new on the table and for me it is not a sign of versatility and not a star material. Virgil although very talented did not have this wow routine that people will remember and make them vote just like Gaby. Gaby on the other hand is bringing every different nuance and we never know how she will deliver besides incredible. She has this aura around her that say loud and clear: star material! I will be surprised that Megz go thru although for me she was the true star of the street routine along with Neptune. We can put Jim on a pedestal because of his technique but cute or adorable or wow are not associated with him and this is why IMO he will probably go bottom and go. Nice review even if you are a bit too gentle with some ;)

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