We are down to the Top 10 dancers for Season 9 of So You Think You Can Dance, so to mix it up, they’ve added in the All-Stars. I love this part of the show! Nothing like seeing some of my old favorites to make me like the newbies a little bit more. And to help me get over the issues that have come up with the new format…

Check out my recap after the jump…

Before we get into it, a brief word about the format, since I just mentioned it. I’m done complaining about that. Am I happy about it? No. Do I wish they could/would go back to the old way next year? Yes. The thing of it is, Nigel, if pressed, would probably answer the same way. I know that, we all know that. And getting upset isn’t going to fix it. Hopefully it goes back next year, but for now, I’m just going to enjoy the dancing!

Also enjoying the dancing (hopefully) tonight: Guest judge Benjamin Millepied. I’m thinking that he will make an excellent judge. And not just because I find his eyes entrancing and I have a girl crush on his wife.

But first the opening number…

The opening number is a tribute to Gene Kelly, and while I loved it because I grew up watching his movies, I wonder what people who aren’t as familiar with him thought of it. The mix of Singing in the Rain, An American in Paris, Anchors Aweigh  and On The Town was a lot of fun. Every dancer did a great job and faded into their roles. Except Eliana who stood out as a gorgeous Cyd Charisse. Actually, they so faded in that I didn’t even notice until the last half of the routine that the choreographer of the piece, Tyce DiOrio, was performing to help out an injured Cole!

 

Tiffany Maher & All Star Brandon Bryant (S5)

Doriana Sanchez – Disco

I’m already hopeful for this because one of the most memorable dances in these 8 1/2 seasons of SYTYCD is Brandon and Janette’s disco choreographed by Doriana. In a show that often makes me cry from just gorgeously moving routines, that disco made me smile endlessly. I loved it. So I was curious how tonight’s would go, since not all discos have fared as well.

This dance has 11 lifts and when executed well, that can make for a wonderful disco. While the first turn seemed to be a little shaky, the two got into it. I think Tiffany is kind of made for this style as she is a bundle of energy so she handles the frenetic energy of disco well. I will say that the lighting was almost too frenetic that I had a hard time staring at the screen for too long! But my goodness, that was a lot of fun, she did it well and it made me smile – what more can you want? Apparently nothing – all three judges loved it too!

Witney Carson & All Star Nick Lazzarini (S1)

Travis Wall – Contemporary

For those who watch All The Right Moves on Oxygen (like I told you to do), you  know that Nick Lazzarini, the first winner of SYTYCD, is one of Travis’s best friends and they started a dance company together. This should help Witney just with the fact that her partner is so close with the choreographer. Witney is meant to be a little bit sexy this week which, judging from her rehearsal footage, is something she’s been dying to do.

There wasn’t too much of a story from what I could tell, but that didn’t seem to matter for me. They both danced it gorgeously. It was amazing to see Nick dance on here because you can tell he just so genuinely enjoys it. And Witney did a great job living up to him. Benjamin was able to give his first real critique of the night (what is there really to say about disco?) and it was a good one – he commented on their technique, and Nigel and Mary just exclaimed how great Witney is. Can’t disagree!

 

Cole Horibe & All Star Anya Garnis (S3)

Dmitry Chaplin – Ballroom Cha-Cha

Anya, Anya, Anya. You are the best. Every female ballroom dancer on the show wants to be Anya. I was very hopeful that Cole could handle himself with her, because she a lot of woman to keep up with on this stage. Mary, the ballroom judge, started out loving it and then found a lot to critique so it seemed to downgrade as she went. Benjamin enjoyed Cole’s performance, which we’ve come to expect from Cole. And I agree he was good in that respect. The critiques all seem to be about his lines and his connections with Anya. I felt they were all very fair. Cole and Anya had very little connection. But she was gorgeous and Cole is so good, I really don’t feel he is in any danger.

Lindsay Arnold & All Star Jakob Karr (S6)

Spencer Liff – Broadway

I love Jakob. He has some of the best technique of anyone on the show and I think he’s going to make a great partner for Lindsay who is one of my favorite girls on the show. And Spencer’s concept seems very interesting based on the rehearsal. And it turned out the concept transferred well. Their shadow/dancer portion at the start was so well done, I was really in awe. The rest of the dance was kind of flawless too. I mean, as Nigel hinted at, dancing with Jakob kind of showed where Lindsay could be, but she isn’t too far off. Benjamin’s critique was fantastic. (Oh, his accent is getting stronger as he gets more into the dances! So sexy.)  I like how he pointed out the crescendo to the performance itself. It is my favorite routine so far tonight.

Will Thomas & All Star Kathryn McCormick (S6)

Nakul Dev Mahajan – Bollywood

Kathryn, fresh off a starring role in the latest Step Up movie, is back for Bollywood. She was always great at these unusual dances. And Will has that sort of goofyness and shockingly good technique that helps him with routines like this. Especially one with the funny story like this. That kid is seriously growing on me week to week.

And he did not disappoint me at all. His movements were big, he was charming and Nikul seemed to be really happy. Benjamin admits he’s been watching the show (furthering my weird need to imagine that he and Natalie watch Wednesday nights in bed) and finds Will engaging. Nigel admitted that he needs to back off of the need to tell Will to calm down. Sure, Will is a bit crazy, but it has yet to really hurt his dancing, I feel. As Mary pointed out, his movements were so controlled when they needed to be. And, frankly, the kid is just fun to watch and I want to give him a big hug. Vote Will everyone! (Or, you know, vote for whomever you like. I’m just getting caught up in all the Will love!)

Cyrus ‘Glitch’ Spencer & All Star Jaimie Goodwin (S3)

Travis Wall – Contemporary

Again, Travis got one of his best friends as his All Star, which I think will help out Cyrus. She is a very strong dancer, and I’m hoping she can help to pull Cyrus up. A lot of people are upset he is still here (and I wish Matthew was still on) but I still love how much Cyrus is just genuinely enjoying dancing and learning these new things. Should he win? No. But I still love him.

Now this routine will be a big test for Cyrus. I honestly think it’s the first time one of the choreographers hasn’t held back and made him really partner. Travis doesn’t pull punches and that’s what I love about him. I’ll admit that a good portion of the time I was just caught up in what Jaimie was doing because she is such a dynamic performer, but when I took a moment and watched the two of them, I was so proud of Cyrus. Again, I don’t think he should win, but this was his first real test and I think he proved he is up to the task to learn. I hope people can learn to appreciate what he represents – desire, passion and honesty in dance.

Chehon Wespi-Tschopp & All Star Lauren Gottleib (S3)

Dave Scott – Lyrical Hip Hop 

I’m so nervous for this one because Chehon doing a Dave Scott routine can seriously end up being a hot mess. And Lauren is one of the most popular female all stars for a reason so it’s a lot to live up to. As it turns out, I didn’t hate it. It was actually kind of nice to see Chehon seem so much freer. Or as Nigel said, without the stick up his ass. Nice. There were still a lot of hints of “Chehon the Ballet Dancer” in there, some on purpose, some not, which means on some level it wasn’t what it should have been. But overall it was pretty good. Better than I expected out of Chehon in this style. The judges seemed to like it for the same reason – he’s good and he wasn’t being completely himself. That sounded meaner than I intended it to… let’s just move on.

George Lawrence II & All Star Allison Holker (S2)

Tyce DiOrio – Jazz

Alrighty…. Allison is my favorite. There is no denying that. And I thought she was fantastic in this routine. And while George danced it well, I didn’t feel any connection between the two at all, mostly on George’s part. I think Allison was giving it all she had, but George just wasn’t connecting with her. Which is disappointing considering what Tyce was hoping for.

Mary and Benjamin both thought it was good, but Nigel agreed with me about the performance. George was dancing, he wasn’t performing. I’m super curious what you guys thought of this one since the judges (I’m including myself right now… I have that power.) were split.

Eliana Girard & All Star Alex Wong (S7)

Stacey Tookey – Contemporary

Yay Alex Wong! One of my favorites ever. I remember being on vacation visiting my BFF and her new baby the day it was announced he tore his Achilles and had to withdraw from the competition. I was devastated. I’m so happy to see him dancing.   Plus with Stacey choreographing and Eliana’s pure talent, I have super high hopes for this routine.

Side note – the song Bang Bang by Nancy Sinatra is one of my favorite, so automatically in love with this routine. And I loved it even more with how Stacey used it. If you paid attention, at every “bang bang” there was this subtle movement to go with the beats. The performance and the technique were both perfection from both of them. It was deceptively simple and layered. OH! Benjamin loved the song! My crush on him has increased as the show has gone on. Can you tell? Sigh… Moving back to Eliana – she was gorgeous. I’m glad to see her doing well. And let’s be real – how excited was she to have a partner like Alex after weeks of Cyrus?

Audrey Case & Stephen ‘Twitch’ Boss (S4)

Dave Scott – Hip Hop

I’m not sure about how this one will go. Audrey has been good, but we haven’t seen her take on anything even remotely close to hip hop and for her first attempt to be with Twitch…. well, that’s quite a first outing! He is the master of all things on this show. And frankly this looked more like Dancing With the Stars than SYTYCD to me. Twitch was perfect in all aspects. He hit every beat exactly right and his performance was so charismatic.

Benjamin put it really well – Audrey was really good, but Twitch is this all encompassing presence. He comes on stage and the entire audience goes “TWITCH” and you have to look at him. She did well, but I think she could have hit it all harder and made herself stand out more. Mary thought she was great, but Nigel agreed with Benjamin. He also professed his love for Twitch, or if you like, Titch. Silly Ballet Boyz.

Now it’s time to learn the bottom 2 girls and guys, ironically with the casket for Audrey’s routine still on the stage:

Bottom Girls: Audrey and Witney

Bottom Guys: George and Chehon

Nigel seems to not even care about the solos and left it up to the audience if we see them. I think it’s because he probably has decided who he wants to go already. That’s sort of the problem with the judge knowing before the night’s dances who is already in the bottom – he’s watching them with a little more of a critical eye.

The solos were actually all really good this time. I kind of adored the fact that Audrey danced to “And I’m Telling You I’m Not Going” because just how perfect is that? I wished the Chehon’s solo could have gone on forever. It was perfect. I think it served also as an audition for Benjamin’s company, just in case something didn’t work out with one of the people in it already… Based on those solos, I couldn’t guess who would be eliminated.

Before the eliminations, there is a guest performance by LA Dance Project, choreographed by Benjamin Millepied. I love the cut away to him as Cat introduces them, because he looks so excited and nervous to have them perform. It’s so adorable. The piece was gorgeous. Just utterly beautiful. The simplicity of it was just moving and entrancing. I loved it.

But now, after the possibly unnecessary solos, it is time to elimiate two of the dancers. And they are:

Audrey & George – based on the night’s dances, I can’t say I’m all that surprised.

What do you think? Did the right dancers go home? Who is going to be in trouble next week?

You can find Melissa on Twitter @serrae. Her recaps and reviews for other series can be found at Small Screen Scoop where the lovely Jessica also writes about SYTYCD.

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