So You Think You Can Dance: Top 16 Perform
July 24, 2014 5:32 AM - Season 11, Episode 9 - Subscribe

The Top 16 Perform, with judges Nigel Lithgow, Mary Murphy, and guest judge Misty Copeland. Guest performance by Lucy Hale.

Bottom 6: Bridget, Marcquet, Brooklyn, Serge, Tanisha, and Zack

Top 16: Take Me To the River (Annie Lennox) - Choreographed by Mandy Moore

Ricky and Valerie: Bollywood - Dilliwaali Girlfriend, Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani (soundtrack) - Choreographed by Nakul Dev Mahajan

Emilio and Bridget: Contemporary - The Leaving Song, Chris Garneau - Choreographed by Travis Wall

Rudy and Tanisha: Hip Hop - Good Kisser, Usher - Choreographed by Dave Scott

Marcquet and Jessica: Fox Trot - I Put a Spell on You, Nina Simone - Choreographed by Dmitri Chaplin

Serge and Carly: Contemporary - Foolish Games, Jewel - Choreographed by Mandy Moore

Teddy and Emily: Salsa - Bruk It Down (Soca Remix), Mr. Vegas, feat. Alison Hinds - Choreographed by Oksana and Jonathon

Zack and Jacque: Jazz - Back to Black, Beyonce, feat. Andre 3000 - Choreographed by Sonya Tayeh

Casey and Brooklyn: Hip Hop - Hustle Hard Remix, Ace Hood, feat. Rick Ross and Lil Wayne - Choreographed by Will "Willdabeast" Adams

Group 1: Contemporary - So Broken (Live), Bjork - Choreographed by Sonya Tayeh

Group 2: Contemporary - Love Runs Out, One Republic - Choreographed by Travis Wall

Eliminated: Marquet and Brooklyn

Next week, 4 dancers are eliminated.
posted by ChuraChura (13 comments total)
Ummmm.....where can i acquire Tanisha's costume from the Dave Scott piece? I needs it.
posted by Dorinda at 8:47 AM on July 24, 2014

Other thoughts:

- Carly was the head-and-shoulders standout for me this week, though she's never really pinged my radar before this, and despite the fact that she had to perform a typically over-wrought Mandy Moore piece. She's incredibly strong and controlled. So well trained and in total command of her considerable facility.

- My star pony Ricky had an off week, I thought. He and Valerie looked like they were in over their heads with the Bollywood routine, though they pulled off the usual trick of overcompensating for mediocre dancing by smiling REALLY REALLY BIG and being adorable

- OMG stop with the props Travis Wall. Just stop. Please.

- For being a "ballerina", Jacque is consistently unimpressive technically. Jazz technique really should benefit from a strong ballet foundation, and a strong ballet dancer should find the transition to jazz relatively comfortable technically (if not stylistically/aesthetically) but Jacque looked really blah/weak/boring/shaky in Sonya's piece. She needs to go home soon.

- Why are the choreographers on this show incapable of making anything that is not a hetero love story?? I understand that they're making duets for a largely non-dance audience, and that they maybe feel like hetero love stories are the easiest things to convey to a narrative-seeking viewership, and I know asking them to queer it up every once in a while is sadly asking too much of network television, but couldn't they at least give us some depiction of the human experience that exists outside of the realm of love/desire/angst/lust? Or at the very least depicts that realm in a new/interesting/different way?? There are SO MANY things to make dances about (including pure, abstract, non-narrative movement).....why are these choreographers so single-minded?? Duets don't have to be about "love" and relationships. Two people sharing space can relate to each other in so many interesting ways, and NONE of them are ever explored on this show. It gets so bleakly tiresome. Blah.

- Tanisha was fab in Sonya's group piece.

Also, a PSA for the general viewing audience of this show:
SYTYCD is by no means an accurate depiction of what contemporary/modern dance looks like in any other world than the crazy competition/studio world of this show. I get that choreographers like Travis and Mandy Moore and Stacy Tookey et al are working in a very specific genre (i.e. dance competition "contemporary jazz"), and are doing that as well as it can be done....but I really really wish that they would every so often hire some other choreographers that are working in different and (I would argue) more relevant contemporary dance idioms. I get that this show isn't trying to be "concert dance" or anything other than pure entertainment/commercial dance, but wouldn't it be oh so lovely if the dance lovers who run this show could use their massive platform to bring some exposure to some of the truly amazing work that is going on in modern dance, in America and across the world? Bringing on legit dance goddess Misty Copeland as a judge was a step in the right direction (and I'm so sad she's gone next week) if they would only shake up their choreographer pool just a little....someone in the vein of Eduard Lock seems like they would be a great fit for the show, for example (though sans pointe shoes, of course). Not exactly cutting edge, but his style of work is just far enough outside the SYTYCD comfort zone to be fresh and challenging to its audience while remaining physical/entertaining enough to not alienate them entirely. Obviously there are reasons why work like this doesn't appear on the show ("serious" choreographers aren't interested; the incrediby short format of >3min pieces makes it near impossible to say anything with any subtlety; the competition format demands that choreographers either flaunt their dancers' "tricks" or doom them to be sent home; etc)....but I still think they could do more to prevent the dreadful samey-samey-ness that has come to characterize the show, and the "contemporary" style especially. I'm not suggesting that SYTYCD pretend to be anything other than the pure entertainment/physical spectacle extravaganza that it is (that's why I watch the show, after all), but a nod every so often to the wider dance world would be nice, methinks.

/pointless ranting
posted by Dorinda at 9:47 AM on July 24, 2014 [3 favorites]

Emilio really impressed me this week in his contemporary piece. Often I feel like the choreographers allow the men who are not contemporary dancers to kind of coast during their contemporary routines by putting in lots of moments where they are just holding the woman or lifting her, but in this piece he had to actually demonstrate good lines and he did that.

I agree that the Bollywood piece was not a standout, but Ricky absolutely killed it in the group piece. I remarked to my wife several times that he was extremely compelling to watch.

For me the other real standout this week was Tanisha. Although I thought she was good in the hip hop number, it really seemed like the outfit did half of the work for her. But I thought she was stunning in the group number. Both her performance and her dancing were absolutely incredible.

I agree with a lot of your rant Dorinda. I can't say I know what the "real" dance world is like, but I do wish for more variety from the choreographers (or just different choreographers). This is why I miss Wade Robson. He had a way of coming up with pieces that it felt like I had not seen before, and were also not just another love story. I also think it is telling how much more interesting the small group numbers were than the respective contemporary or jazz duo routines. I think they allowed the choreographers to think outside of the love story idea.

One of my favorite videos this year has been Sia's Chandelier and I keep wishing for something like that on the show.

Finally, although I didn't totally disagree with Marquet being cut, it did feel like a foregone conclusion. I thought the criticism of him was really over-the-top based on the actual dancing. I think the judges often have a preconceived notion of who they are going to send home and then they make sure their critique reflects that.
posted by bove at 11:10 AM on July 24, 2014 [1 favorite]

I thought Ricky did mostly fine in that Bollywood routine, but there was something off about Valerie's feet throughout. I'm not sure if it was just that I'm used to seeing the anklets with the bells on Bollywood dancers and her movements looked unbalanced without them, or if there was actually something weird going on with her technique there. I mean, I'm not expecting dancers to have mastered the intricacies of the kathak styles Bollywood is partially based on, but there was definitely something off there.

Also, I agree with you Dorinda that SYTYCD has come to lean way too heavily on hetero love stories in dances. All those contemporary dance love stories start to look really, really samey, outside of a few standouts. Like Mandy Moore's choreography tonight was well danced, but I'm not going to remember that routine at all in a few weeks' time. I'd really like to see more of the likes of Wade Robson's routines, which even when they were still a love story of sorts, were unique and compelling beyond the standard contemporary choreography we're used to. The Flower and Hummingbird routine he choreographed for Jaimie and Hok still stands out as one of my all time favorite SYTYCD routines.
posted by yasaman at 12:38 PM on July 24, 2014

Yes! Wade Robson was a highlight of earlier seasons for me. Thanks yasaman and bove for reminding me that he used to be part of the show. If my memory serves me correctly (and it often does not), I seem to remember Nigel in particular frequently thinking that his choreography was too "weird" and being unfairly critical of Robson pieces, which doesn't give me much hope that he or someone of his aesthetic might be coming back...but maybe my memory is being uncharitable to Nigel?
posted by Dorinda at 12:47 PM on July 24, 2014 [1 favorite]

I went back to re-watch the Rudy and Tanisha hip-hop routine and there is no official Fox Youtube version of that one. Weird. I was able to find it, but it makes me wonder if it was a music rights issue (it was to an Usher song).

I do think sometimes Nigel had a hard time understanding Wade's routines. I can't recall if that affected the voting or not. But he just had some amazing stuff. Even Mia Michaels did a good job of not just always having her dances be about love stories. For a little while it got to the point where I would groan a little bit when the dance had a theme because often that theme was something like cancer, and so I thought that would affect the judging. It is hard to criticize dancers who are doing a dance based on the choreographer meeting her dead father up in heaven. However, those theme dances were often really memorable and powerful.
posted by bove at 1:23 PM on July 24, 2014

It's nice to read some of the comments about the same-ness of some of the choreography. I thought maybe it was just me, since my sense of what "modern dance" is/can be was shaped by some pretty cutting edge stuff. A friend of mine became a choreographer in college and still does some really amazing stuff, often with political themes, usually incorporating spoken text combined with movement.

When I first started watching SYTYCD and heard the phrase "contemporary dance" as a genre I was expecting that would be the source of some interesting stuff, even if I knew a show like this wouldn't be doing the sort of super-edgy stuff like my friend does. What "contemporary" means to me is, you have the entire vocabulary of every form of dance available to you, so mix it up and see what happens. Instead, most of the time on this show "contemporary" is just a code word for the most cliched, overdone scenes of relationship angst. The reaching out arms with the pained "don't leave me" expression. I find it so boring it's sometimes hard for me to even see the dancing; my brain just goes "oh, this again" and disengages.

I'm not the most dedicated viewer of this, but I've been watching quite a bit and my favorite by a long shot is Ricky. I just feel like he's got a skill level that's way beyond the rest, and I would LOVE to see what could happen for him out in a real-world serious dance company. I didn't love that Bollywood piece last night, but for me the problem was in the choreography not the performance. (Maybe I have a wrong or outdated idea about Bollywood dancing but I thought India takes a very conservative view of how much touching goes on in their movies, so the bit where they had Ricky "playing bongos" on her bum seemed wrong to me?)

My other fave is Zack, the "tap" dancer who did amazingly well in that jazz piece last night. (I loved that handstand move he did).
posted by dnash at 1:39 PM on July 24, 2014

Obligatory link to Contemporary Eric for those who notice a certain sameyness to SYTYCD contemporary routines.

That said I loved Travis's piece with Bridget and Emilio. I've been quietly impressed with Bridget, who I didn't rate in the auditions. I still wouldn't call her a favourite, but there is more to her than I thought.
posted by dumdidumdum at 3:44 PM on July 24, 2014 [4 favorites]

Obligatory link to Contemporary Eric


Thank you. That is pretty much exactly what I was talking about above.
posted by dnash at 5:59 PM on July 24, 2014

I am a new SYTYCD watcher thanks to my housemate and I am surprised by how much I have enjoyed it. I agree about the contemporary sameysame. At our house, when we see the scenes of the choreographers working with the dancers, we holler "drink!" as soon as they say "connection" because obviously the heteronormative love thing is the only form of expression. It is boring.

My favorite piece so far this season might have been the "Night Shift" one from a few weeks ago. Not a romantic piece but a lot of fun.

Ricky is the house favorite along with Tanisha. Carly, Teddy, and Rudy ( to my surprise) I'm also liking a lot.
posted by pointystick at 5:54 AM on July 25, 2014

Yasaman, thanks for reminding me about the hummingbird and flower routine! I remember being wowed by it when I first saw it and it still has the same effect. Funny that Wade was 'too weird' but that doesn't seem to be a problem for Sonya, does it?

Dorinda, that Eduard Lock video was cool, too, thanks for sharing. I don't know much of anything about the dance world outside of what I've seen on the show so it's nice to see something current that's not meant to be mass-consumed.
posted by BuddhaInABucket at 7:06 PM on July 25, 2014

I'm feeling the contemporary fatigue as well, and most of my favorites in the past years have been ballroom or jazz or broadway, not Mopy Lyrical. Although I did like Travis's bedframe dance, which surprised me - he's been on my fastforward list for a while now.

For those of us who started with Season One and want to reminisce, or who haven't seen it and wonder who all these dancers that are never mentioned on the show might be, someone on the forums has compiled a giant list. Artem/Ashle Paso Doble!
posted by PussKillian at 7:35 PM on July 25, 2014

I agree that the contemporary dance on this show is incredibly boring; it's to the point where I wonder if I'd like it anywhere else or just hate the style. I thought the Bollywood number was poorly done -- they always seemed ready to take off when they should have been connected to the earth.

I loved Rudy & Tanisha's number -- it was fun choreography and they did it well.
posted by Margalo Epps at 8:13 PM on July 25, 2014

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