It’s finally here. After months of So You Think You Can Dance-less nights and weeks of dance auditions that I didn’t really care much about, the past two evenings marked the first competition and results shows for the dancers on season seven of So You Think You Can Dance.
Despite the fact that this season of Dance deviates drastically from its previous six seasons in competition format (rather than starting with the top 20 dancers, they are starting with only the top 11 dancers and pairing them up with the best “all-star” dancers of seasons past), the series maintains its judging and elimination structure – making me wonder when we’re going to get a real crack at which dancers stay and which dancers go.
And I’ve never been more concerned about the fate of the dancers than I am now, after watching in horror as three of the sanest judges (choreographer phenom Mia Michaels, dancer/producer Adam Shankman, and the ever-present executive producer Mr. Nigel Lythgoe sir) botched what seemed to be a very easy decision on tonight’s results show and sent the wrong dancer home.
I guess I should have been more concerned when they changed the show’s format and they couldn’t narrow the male dancers down from six to five (though I will begrudgingly admit that most of the boys are particularly good this year).
The female dancers, on the other hand, are another story. In general, they pale in comparison to the technique and charisma of the boys (it makes me yearn for my favorite female dancers past – Heidi Groskreutz, Donyelle Jones, Lacey Schwimmer, Chelsie Hightower, Janette Manrara, Kayla Radomski, etc…at least Lauren, Anya, Courtney, and Allison are back as all-stars).
That said, it came as no surprise to me that the bottom three dancers in danger of going home this week were girls. Two were shoo-ins: jazz/contemporary dancer Alexie Agdeppa, who performed a lack-luster Tabitha and Napoleon hip-hop with one of my all-time favorite dancers, Twitch; and tap dancer Melinda Sullivan, whose Tony and Meredith-choreographed jive with all-star Pasha was uncomfortably awkward (Mia Michaels pointed out that Melinda came off pigeon-toed – doesn’t get much more uncomfortable than that).
The surprise of the night was salsa dancer Cristina Santana’s presence as one of the bottom three dancers. She executed a twisted Sonya Tayeh jazz routine with all-star Mark terrifically, giving no sign that jazz wasn’t her own dancing style, even if she didn’t have Mark’s maniacal zest.
What can I say – America blew this one: the third spot in the bottom three dancers should have been reserved for contemporary dancer AdéChiké Tolbert, who, after his jazz routine with all-star Kathryn flopped due to his lack of charisma or even wherewithal (Travis Wall’s choreography was, as usual, outstanding), should have been on a return flight home tonight.
Nonetheless, the bottom three dancers were left to dance for their lives in their own style. The weakest dance of the evening belonged to tapper Melinda, who failed to deepen her performance (as requested by the judges), and instead kept the same smile from the previous evening’s jive plastered on her face throughout her tap routine as though she hadn’t absorbed a thing.
Salsa dancer Cristina, who should never have been dancing for her life in the first place, cruised through to the next round, though (as a ballroom dancer always does), she struggled to keep her solo interesting.
And now the real mystery: despite a performance that felt genuine and technically difficult choreography, the judges (in what seemed like an uncharacteristically poor move) sent jazz/contemporary dancer Alexie home.
This writer can only assume that they’ve seen some pretty remarkable stuff from Melinda somewhere else, because at the writing of this article, I sure haven’t, and of the three bottom dancers, she’s the one I’d have sent packing. As far as I’m concerned, she and AdéChiké are both on borrowed time.
And so, with the first results show of season seven of So You Think You Can Dance, Alexie Agdeppa has left the show. Dance is back down to its top ten dancers – though, in my opinion, they could have left AdéChiké out and started out with ten dancers from the get-go.
It might not have saved Alexie, but it would have saved a Travis Wall routine for someone who has the presence to really dance it.