SYTYCD Recap: Top 20

November 30, 2009

Fox’s “So You Think You Can Dance” kicked its sixth season into high gear this week with its first performance-only show, some last-minute personnel changes, and an unusual elimination round. Plus, it all happened on a brand-new stage, with Adam Shankman taking his first official turn as a permanent judge. It was a heck of a week!

We were blown away by Monday night’s special performance-only show. We loved having the chance to get to know the contestants and watch them show off in their own styles before diving into the competitive rounds. (We were especially glad we got a glimpse of Billy Bell in action! Sadly, the Juilliard student fell ill this week and chose to leave the show just days before the Top 20 hit the stage for their first elimination round. Feel better, Billy!) Not to mention that we’re all for any excuse to watch more awesome routines choreographed by Wade, Tyce, Mandy and the rest of the gang! Hopefully the producers will decide to make that episode a tradition for future seasons.

Tuesday night marked the first time the Top 20 paired off to compete. “Chemistry” was the magic word as these talented individuals from across the dance spectrum came together with their new partners for the first time. In short, some had it and some need to work on it.

Ok, let’s get to the routines:

Channing and Phillip (Jive)

Phillip, one of the season’s three tappers, did a great job of tackling the fast footwork handed to him by choreographer Jason Gilkison. But overall we agree with Mary’s assessment: not bad, but we wanted more.

Verdict: Missed the train

Ashleigh and Jakob (Broadway)

Loved this one! Jakob, already one of our favorites, took Tyce’s choreography and ran with it! As Adam said, Ashleigh might have a tough time living up to her partner, but we think she pulled it off. Our prediction: this couple will go far!

Verdict: Booked on the hot tamale train

Ariana and Peter (Hip Hop)

We adore Nappytabs and we think this routine had great potential. But we agree with the judges, the chemistry between Ariana and Peter just wasn’t there.

Verdict: Missed the train

Russell and Noelle (Foxtrot)

Poor Noelle injured her knee and was forced to sit out this round. Luckily her choreographer Melanie was willing to step in and dance with Russell (remember when she danced with Pasha?). Adam’s assessment that this krumper “continues to defy explanation” seemed on target. We know his performance wasn’t perfect, but we think he still did a decent job dancing such a foreign style, even after losing his partner. We were shocked when he was later called into the bottom four.

Verdict: Taking a later train

Bianca and Victor (Contemporary)

This Travis Wall piece was simply gorgeous. Victor shined in his own style and we think tapper Bianca totally kept up with him. We loved the part where Bianca rolled near Victor’s feet as he walked over her. This couple seemed to connect more than most.

Verdict: Booked on the hot tamale train

Karen and Kevin (Cha Cha)

This routine was so hot that it inspired Mary to invite Karen to be the first Season 6 contestant to board her hot tamale train! We loved the number and were so happy they used a song from “Glee.” Two thumbs up!

Verdict: Booked on the hot tamale train

Ryan and Ellenore (Contemporary Jazz)

Ryan may be married to his real-life dance partner (Ashleigh!), but this performance proved he’s more than capable of forming a believable connection to a stranger. Such a pro! As Mary put it: “the chemistry was just crazy!”

Verdict: Booked on the hot tamale train

Pauline and Brandon (Waltz)

21-year-old hip hopper Brandon was called up to join the Top 20 to replace Billy Bell. According to the show, he had a mere 1.5 days to learn and rehearse the routine. With that in mind, we think he did an unbelievable job! However, the judges decided it was only fair to evaluate the performance without taking those extenuating circumstances into consideration, so we will too. We agree with Nigel’s assessment that the performance “simply wasn’t strong enough.”

Verdict: Taking a later train

Kathryn and Legacy (Hip Hop)

This Dave Scott routine was so much fun! They execution may not have been perfect at every point, but we were thoroughly entertained. We have a hunch that there are great things ahead for this dynamic duo!

Verdict: Taking a later train

Nathan and Mollee (Disco)

This number was a lot of fun and we agree with Adam: they [ital: do] make an adorable couple!

Verdict: Booked on the hot tamale train

This week’s elimination round was handled a little differently than normal because the next night’s results show was bumped off the schedule to accommodate the first game of the World Series. Waiting for viewer’s votes was not an option, so the judges picked the bottom four dancers right away, the dancers each “danced for their lives” in 30-second solos and the judges eliminated two dancers.

Ariana, Russell, Pauline and Brandon were called on the floor and ultimately the judges chose to send Ariana and Brandon home. Nigel said he planned to ask Fox to change the rules so that Brandon might have a chance to try out again next year and we hope the network agrees to it. (Normally any dancer that makes it to the Top 20 is not allowed to audition for subsequent seasons. But since Brandon didn’t make the Top 20 initially, Nigel said he thought the hip hopper deserved the chance to work on his dancing and try again). In the meantime, we wish both dancers the best of luck.

Can’t wait until next week!