So You Think You Can Dance, Top 12

Filed under: Recaps & Reviews

We've got two performances from each of the six remaining couples tonight, so belt in for a wild ride. Or at least less talking from the judges, if we're lucky. (They wouldn't shorten the routines to a minute just so they could talk more, would they? ...Don't answer that.)

This is also the last week that the original couples will all be performing together. Does anyone else feel like this season's contestants haven't bonded as deeply in their couplehood as in seasons past? Or that these five weeks of Top 20 have felt incredibly short? Why is that?

Top 12 Performances

At any rate, the dancers are telling us their favourite things or what they'll miss about each other, aww. Too bad it's mostly boring so I'm probably not going to bother sharing it with you.

Ellenore (eeeeeee!) & Ryan's first dance is a lindy hop with new choreographer Carla Heiney, and their song is "I've Got to be a Rug Cutter" by the Boilermaker Jazz Band. They are predictably wonderful. Ryan is the limberest tall man I've ever seen -- he flutters around like he's, I don't know, Benji Schwimmer or something. Ellenore is delightful, but looks slightly less comfortable with it than Ryan.

Adam thought it was awesome and adorable; Mary will bet Cat's bippy that she loved it, yes she did; Nigel fakes them out with a "terrible," but he means it's terrible that they haven't had a lindy hop on the show in three seasons. He points out how great Ryan's bounce and groove was for such a tall guy. (See how smart I am?)

Kathryn & Legacy are doing jazz with Sonya Tayeh, yayz! It's a piece about a man who quivers every time he sees his lady, direct quote. The song is "So Deep" by Hot Chip; Legacy's shirtless in crazy-tight acid-wash jeans, and Kathryn's rocking a red leather bodysuit. The piece is typical quirky-jerky Sonya, and akin in coolness to Courtney & Mark's Sonya piece to "The Garden" two seasons ago.

Adam loved it and Sonya's excited in the audience. This is one partnership Adam is really sad to see broken up, and I agree. They are probably the only couple with inescapable chemistry. Mary loved it, especially Legacy's crabwalks but also his growth. Nigel calls it one of his faves of the season; oh, me too, but that's not really a hard line to cross at this point.

Karen & Victor are a new pairing tonight, lucky for both of them. They're doing an intense tango about secret love with Tony and the returning Melanie. Their song is "Montserrat" by Orquesta del Plata, which is one of those songs that sounds familiar because it's used a lot in tv and movies. It's a catchy tune. Their form looks impeccable to me, and I really appreciate the sparse staging and costuming. Surprisingly, I think Victor might outshine Karen in this one.

Adam digs the new partnership and thought they were great even in the quiet moments. Victor surprised Mary (in a good way), and she goes on for awhile about technical stuff and how hard the choreography was. Nigel appreciated their chemistry but calls out Victor's sway back -- overall, though: fabulous and magical.

Mollee & Nathan are starting with a Jamal Sims hip-hop routine about the invention of the telephone to "Ring-a-Ling" by the Black Eyed Peas. As with the tennis routine earlier in the season, it's too conceptual, and personally I'd prefer to see much more straightforward hip-hop. That said, for two little white kids, they knock it out pretty hard, but it's definitely peppy hip-hop like you might see on, well, High School Musical (sorry, Mollee). Nathan split his pants.

Adam thought they sold it and he could tell how much Nathan loves doing hip-hop, but he thought Mollee looking a bit freaked out by it. Mary uses telephone metaphors to say that it got better as it went along. Nigel thinks they will do better with more mature partners, because the two of them together are a little twee. WHO PUT THEM TOGETHER, UNCLE NIGEL?

Noelle & Russell are learning a samba from Tony & Melanie, and the song is "Hips Don't Lie" by Shakira. I fear for them. Noelle is barely clothed, which is nice for her, but the whole thing looks at least 50% awkward to me. There are moments of competence, but let's await the judges' verdict, shall we? (All I know about samba is that this is my favourite dance ever on this show. OH I MISS THE OLD STAGE. And Lacey. And heck, Danny.)

The crowd seems incredibly unenthusiastic tonight. Adam thought it was too sweet and nice, and therefore the character of the, well, nasty samba wasn't there. Mary thought that although they weren't deep enough into the floor, the performance value was wonderful. Nigel thinks Noelle's sexiness isn't organic enough, I guess. And he's still trying to tell us Russell is untrained in non-krump styles. Mm-hm.

Last to dance first are Ashleigh & Jakob with lyrical jazz by Sonya again! It's about a moment of perfect contentedness, and it's danced to "Time Flies" by Lykke Li. Both dancers do great jobs, but to me it really highlights how much less technically proficient Ashleigh is than Jakob. He is truly a wonder. The choreography is incredibly beautiful though, and overall I love the routine, if not the song.

Adam is driven to speechlessness by the beauty of the routine, except he hates Jakob's purple pants. ME TOO. Oh wait, Adam is not speechless at all. Liar. Mary loved it, loves their chemistry, loves Jakob's brilliance, loves Ashleigh's growth, is driven to tears. Nigel says this one is now his favourite routine of the night and he loves Sonya's work, as do we all, I hope.

And now... Round Two! Cat has a mole in her right armpit. Cute.

Ellenore (eeeeeee!) & Ryan are back with a Broadway routine by Spencer Liff again. I love when Broadway isn't by Tyce! Ellenore is being lured into a life of fame and fortune by Ryan; the song is, of course, "Razzle Dazzle" from Chicago. She's playing the part of a doll and he's her evil puppeteer. The costuming, choreography and dancing are all beautiful. Ten points for Spencer Liff. Ten points for Ellenore & Ryan each, as well. Maybe an extra ten for Ellenore and her crazy leg lift she does right at the end, out of which she slams her leg back into the floor.

Adam congratulates young Spencer, and appreciated how Ellenore & Ryan nailed the true Broadway dance vocabulary while filling the stillness with a lot of energy (this is very nearly a direct quote, lest you think I am so eloquent). Adam also noticed the leg lift and says his hamstring ripped just watching it. Mary screams a little bit because they are awesome, you know? Ellenore has IT, she declares. Nigel loved it and tries to convince Mary to try Ellenore's alien voice that she does, because it's so much quieter than Mary's natural voice. HOW MUCH DO I LOVE ELLENORE, SERIOUSLY?

Poor Kathryn & Legacy are saddled with a Jean-Marc Genereaux (LEAVE ME ALONE) Viennese waltz, set to "Your Guardian Angel" by The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus. She does quite well in her beautiful teal sky blue dress, but Legacy is not well served at any point and he looks very herky-jerky. They miss quite a few of their hand connections.

Legacy is crying, oh boy. Do I love that or hate it? I DON'T EVEN KNOW. Adam asks him why, and Legacy is all about hope, man. Adam adores him but does point out his hunchy shoulders and bad feet; Kathryn was gorgeous. Mary says it wasn't the best and picks on a few technical things, but she's very constructive about it; she too loved Kathryn. Nigel loves them even though Legacy wasn't very good in that one; he declares Kathryn has stolen the evening, and doesn't want them to forget that they are not both automatically safe.

Karen & Victor are doing hip-hop with Laurie Ann Gibson, but they don't seem scared of her. I think they like her. Their song is "Moving Mountains" by Usher, and their dancing is good but I'm left untouched. Laurie Ann once again relies heavily on side-by-side work, which is ineffective when overused. Slammin', hard-hitting side-by-sides can be so powerful as a moment in a dance, but when it's like 90% of it? I'm bored, yo.

Adam felt their commitment but thought something was off attitude-wise (like the dancing was too angry for the vibe of the music or something); overall, he thinks they danced great. Mary says it was ok; she noticed the mismatched side-by-side work. Nigel didn't feel their chemistry with each other or with the music, and wishes they had done the tango second to leave that as the memory for the viewers.

Mollee & Nathan have got an SYTYCD first for their next routine -- a can-can with Tyce Diorio. Ok, this I cannot wait to see. Will it be akin to the Russian folk-dancing disaster Phillip & Jeanine suffered last year? Either way, I am delighted. I've always loved a good kickline, whether it's two strong or a hundred. Their song is "Cancan Suite" by composers Offenbach and Ponchielli. It's the one we all know. They are in pink striped costumes, and the balletic components of this dance are so well suited to both of these technically strong dancers. (KICKLINE, YES! "Can can can you do the can-can, sitting on the john-john, eating macaroni, la la la?") Then there's a bit of a breakdown and all this spinning and campiness and IT'S ALL SO FUN. I wanna do it! Adorbs.

Adam thinks they were the perfect couple to do this style. Mary gets all "YES YOU CAN-CAN," as you knew she would. Everybody loves how well Nathan spins. Awkward moment when Uncle Nigel explains to us that originally can-can was very scandalous because the girls didn't wear underwear. Mollee assures us that she did; yes, we know, we saw a lot of it.

More Tyce, this time for Noelle & Russell, and this time contemporary. Katee from Season 4 is assisting Tyce in teaching them. Are Russell and Noelle, like, together-together? Their intro package gets a little intimate, language-wise. Hmm. Anyway, we've got Diana Krall doing "A Case of You" and the dancers in white and beige. Limbs are flung, paint is flung, clothes are ripped, lifts are executed, emotions are high, what have you. It's nice and sort of typical Tyce contemporary (i.e., I would rather be watching a Mia, Travis, or Stacey routine).

Adam liked all the flinging. Mary thought it was beautiful and loved how it flowed. Nigel gets kind of gross again, but the upshot is that he loved their commitment to each other and to the routine.

Ashleigh & Jakob have Jean-Marc & France for a cha-cha, danced to a song about cha-cha heels by some cha-cha people. Cha-cha is Ashleigh's thing, and it shows. Jakob is of course fantastic as well; like you doubted that. He could be top two and I would be ok with that, as long as Ellenore is the other one.

Adam says it's Ashleigh's world and we're all just visiting. Nigel has his face buried in his hands. Adam thinks Jakob made himself seem like a ballroom dancer. Then he mocks ballroom faces for awhile, which is pretty much the highlight of my night. Mary says they blew it out of the ballpark. Mixed metaphors ftw! But she doesn't even scream about it; she uses actual words, you guys. It's that good! Ashleigh has tiny feet. Nigel liked it all, choreography especially (and how straightforward it was), and isn't even gross about Ashleigh's tiny dress.

In summation of the performances: Ellenore & Ryan lindy hopped and Broadwayed, both very well; Kathryn & Legacy jazzed wicked good and Viennese waltzed okay; Karen & Victor tangoed adequately and hip-hopped less so; Mollee & Nathan hip-hopped and can-canned cutely; Noelle & Russell samba'd and it frightened me, but then they contemporaried well; Ashleigh & Jakob lyrical jazzed and cha-cha'd awesomely. Who's gonna go?

Top 12 Results

The group routine is my favourite of the season so far, choreographed brilliantly by Tabitha & Napoleon (we guessed Sonya AGAIN in this house!) to "What's a Girl Gotta Do?" by Basement Jaxx. It's all wild colours and fantastical costumes and Alice-in-Wonderland style. Totally awesome, and way outside their usual style. If you missed it, I'd get thee to YouTube and see if thee can find it.

Cat's in fish scales and giant earrings tonight, and Nigel's not even wearing a suit jacket. In honour of American Thanksgiving, I'm sure.

After a few encouraging words from our judges, we're right into the results. On stage? Ashleigh & Jakob and Karen & Victor. You will recall from a few paragraphs ago what they did last night, so I won't re-remind you. Karen & Victor are in the bottom three; Ashleigh & Jakob are not. Victor is wearing pleather-looking mini-shorts. Hot.

Two more couples: Kathryn & Legacy and Mollee & Nathan. The girls are both in red and Cat is upset that she didn't get the memo. Contain your shock here: Mollee & Nathan are in the bottom two. Adam thinks that if they get through, they'll be lucky to have other partners, as they keep each other at a more immature level of dancing because they're both so young. They nod the whole way through this like they totally agree. Do they even like each other? But seriously -- who put them together in the first place? It was not mere fate what paired them up. He also tells them to watch what they say in clip packages. Thanks for the media training, Mr. Shankman!

The last two couples: Ellenore & Ryan and Noelle & Russell. Again, this is not hard to call: Noelle & Russell are in the bottom three. Wow. I typed that before it happened and I was WRONG. Wrong, wrong, wrong. Noelle & Russell are safe -- what a travesty! Ah well, there's no way the judges will send Ellenore or Ryan home. I wouldn't be surprised if they skewed this one a bit so we could get the will-they-won't-they drama of the husband and wife being split up. Conspiracy!

Pre-solos, we have Paloma Herrera from the American Ballet Theatre performing to "Kitri's Variation" from Don Quixote. She is amazing, naturally. Man... I gotta bust out my Center Stage video. (That's right; I have it on VHS.)

Onward to the solos!

Karen sexys to hip-hop rock ("She Wants To Move" by N.E.R.D.) in leather boots, a bikini top and a fluffy black tutu. Victor does another Brandon-esque solo to "Village Attack" from the Blood Diamond soundtrack. Cheery! Mollee does her Mollee thing to "Bulletproof" by La Roux; she ends with the most amazing flip... thing... I don't even know. Then Nathan gives us some contemporary to a live version of "Going, Going, Gone" by Stars, and there is not nearly enough spinning. SPIN, boy, spin! Give the people what they want!

Commercials, then Ellenore, who awesomes to "Bottom" by Zap Mama. She's not going anywhere. Lastly, Ryan's doing "Baila Baila Conmigo" by Missiego, and fortunately for all of us, he's showing more chest than he did in his last solo. I still miss Pasha.

The judges must deliberate, and we must watch Shakira. Fine by me! She does her new single, "Give It Up to Me," with a lot of backup dancers, and you know, I miss Laundry Service-era Shakira. Would we really call this a career evolution?

And we're back to find out the fates of our dancers! Nigel calls Mollee forward and tells her she fought hard in her solo. Then Ellenore -- she gets a big cheer from the audience -- and Nigel tells her they don't know how to tell her to improve, because she's just as wonderful as she can be. Karen also gets a good cheer and Nigel tells her she's a fantastic performer but tonight it felt like she'd given up. TOAST. She is toast. (No, I'm not wrong this time.)

Now the boys. Victor and his shorty-shorts get a decent cheer and Nigel babbles at him about Kelly Osbourne before telling him his growth has been amazing. Nigel tells Ryan (bigger cheer) that his ballroom solos aren't as impressive as the contemporary guys' are. Nathan (who is panicking because he is the last one called, and so was Karen and now she's gone) is safe, against Nigel's personal choice, and Victor is going home.

Who called it? (Sure, you can follow me on Twitter if you want. I'm fascinating.)

Tags: so you think you can dance, sytycd, dance, recap

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Original Comments Posted (2)

fujitam says...

Thanks Ariana for the super quick recap! Loved seeing Katie from Season 4, I personally wanted her to win that year! I have to admit that it was nice to see Jean Marc back choreographing, and not judging, which means he gets about 30 sec of screen talk time, and not taking about VID, and all that crap :) I don't get how Noelle and Russel keep out of the bottom three, and Ellenore and Ryan stay there? What is the deal?

I totally picked Sonja as the choreographer for the dance number, thought it was amazing! Wonder if they will let Tabiltha and Napoleon choreograph some different styles! Can't wait for top 10 next week, how quickly do you think they will pair up the marrieds?

Nov 26, 2009 11:22am

ariana says...

You're right, Jean Marc is much more tolerable when he speaks less.

I call shenanigans on the Ellenore & Ryan bottom three deal! Hehe, look at me, turning into a conspiracy theorist, oh dear.

Though I do still believe that they draw their partners from this point at random... so unless Ryan & Ashleigh end up paired the first week, I'm sticking to my guns!

Nov 26, 2009 1:12pm

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