SYTYCD S6: Top 16

November 30, 2009

Last night marked an important milestone for the SYTYCD-ers: It was the first time this season that America got to vote. And as Nigel said, it was a sobering night for the dancers, who suffered through a slew of mishaps and missteps. Still, it was exciting to see the group challenged by three talented new choreographers–and we loved that the Season 5 finalists were cheering them on in the audience! Here’s our weekly recap of the show’s memorable moments.

(What did you think of Cat’s reptilian ombré dress, btw? We can’t decide if it was fierce or a little too Spiderman-y…)

Karen and Kevin
Hustle; Choreographer Maria Torres

We’ve been obsessed with smokin’-hot Karen this season, but last night was the first time we weren’t totally in love with her. We thought her performance was a bit understated (it’s the hustle! go all out!) and her footwork a little sloppy. Kevin, on the other hand, impressed us by unexpectedly busting out a double pirouette and a couple of polished classical jumps. And we have to give the couple some credit for saving that nearly-disastrous lift at the end!

Verdict: Taking a Later Train

Ashleigh and Jakob
Jazz; Choreographer Mandy Moore

We LOVE us some Mandy Moore! Her Zoolander-esque pas de trois–for Ashleigh, Jakob, and a cane–was one of our favorite routines of the night. Jakob (who’s besties with Jeanine! so cute!) was amazing as always, evoking Wade Robson with his intense attack and powerhouse jumps. And though we still think that Ashleigh is riding his coattails, we felt that the sharp choreo grooved well with her Latin ballroom style (and that she rocked those spandex pants OUT). Props to the couple for managing their small prop blooper so well–we barely noticed it.

Verdict: Booked on the Hot Tamale Train

Pauline and Peter
Quickstep; Choreographers JT Thomas and Tomas Mielnicki

We have to admit: Our hearts sank a little bit when we saw this routine’s South Pacific-inspired costumes before the commercial break; we wondered how that story would ever translate into a quickstep, of all things. But newcomers JT and Tomas managed to win us over with their perky, super-cute routine (we couldn’t stop typing “adorable! adorable!” in our notes). We agree with Adam’s complaint, however, that the couple got a bit too wrapped up in the characters and that their quickstep technique suffered for it. (Side note: We LOVE it when Mary gets all technical with her comments, talking about “top line” and “body connection”! Sometimes we forget that, when all the screaming is done, she really knows her stuff.)

Verdict: Taking a Later Train

Kathryn and Legacy
Broadway; Andy Blankenbuehler

Andy. Andy. ANDY! As if we didn’t love the In the Heights and 9 to 5 choreographer enough already, he had to go and choose music from The Jungle Book (one of our favorites!) for his upbeat, swingy Broadway routine. Legacy was pitch-perfect as the beer-swilling “king of the jungle.” This guy is really growing as a dancer–and really growing on us. But Kathryn’s performance was underwhelming (or maybe we were just “whelmed”). Where was the “look at me” sass her character needed? We know she has it in her–we saw some serious attitude when she danced Dave Scott’s hip hop piece two weeks ago!

Verdict: Taking a Later Train

Channing and Victor
Contemporary; Choreographer Stacey Tookey

While we thought Stacey Tookey’s “toxic relationship” routine was beautifully fluid, if not totally memorable, we were a little disappointed in contemporary fiends Channing and Victor. They’re both gorgeous technicians (Victor! holy pirouettes, Batman!), but where was the soul? Still, we give Channing, in particular, points for effort: We like that she added a bit of softness to her usual steely strength. (Anyone else think she looks like Laura Linney, btdubs? Slash, love her because she used to race lawnmowers??) We’re looking forward to seeing where this new couple goes.

Verdict: Taking a Later Train

Ellenore and Ryan
Hip Hop; Choreographer Lil’ C

Ah, how we love Lil’ C’s way with words. As Ryan struggled with some hard-hitting choreo, C remarked, “[Ryan’s] swag’s on the run, it’s kind of evading him, but he’s definitely on his swag’s heels.” Unfortunately Ryan never quite caught his “swag,” and neither did partner Ellenore. While we dug their awesomely weird paratrooper/bank robber outfits, the couple was out of sync for big chunks of the routine, and wasn’t able to master C’s low, dirty moves. But they were obviously trying so hard to “swag it out” that we couldn’t help rooting for them.

Verdict: Missed the Train

Mollee and Nathan
Salsa; Choreographer Gustavo Vargas

Young’uns Mollee and Nathan have been the couple to beat up until now, and we were excited when we heard they’d be tackling a salsa routine by newcomer Gustavo (a.k.a. “Gu-suave-o”). But though they were shooting for “sabor” (flavor), they ended up a little bland for our taste. After starting out on the wrong foot (literally), the couple never quite got back in step, their performance marred by sloppy footwork and awkward partnering moments–missed hands, etc. And while we loved Mollee’s bright yellow bandage dress, it couldn’t quite transform her into the hot mama she needed to be.

Verdict: Missed the Train

Noelle and Russell
African Jazz; Choreographer Sean Cheesman

We can’t gush enough about new choreographer Sean Cheesman’s fast-paced, aggressive, AMAZING routine! He made Russell the frog to Noelle’s African princess (Disney reference much?), and though that sounded a little weird at first, we ended up loving every minute of it. (We may be totally wrong here, but did anyone else see the roots of Russell’s krump moves in these steps?) Once again we were wowed by Russell, who was right on top of the syncopated beat; he’s definitely one of our picks for the top 10. Noelle, who sported an awesome ‘fro, held her own. And hello, unexpected makeout at the end! The couple rightfully earned Mary’s only scream of the night.
Verdict: Booked on the Hot Tamale Train

So, who’s going home tonight? We think Ryan’s slick ballroom moves (and killer biceps) will keep him safe, but will that disastrous hip hop routine put Ellenore in danger? And will the “dream team”–Nathan and Mollee–make it through after their not-so-spicy salsa? Check back tomorrow for updates!

Margaret Fuhrer