So You Think You Can Dance's Top 6: Routine of the Week

So You Think You Can Dance S09E13: "Top 6 Perform/2 Eliminated"

One of the more unexpected side effects of this So You Think You Can Dance's new format is what a mind-f*ck it must be for the contestants. Until this week, judges began episodes knowing who would be in the bottom, but could essentially be convinced to "save" dancers based on the routines they would go on to witness that night. But this week SYTYCD did away with judges' saves and simply eliminated the bottom two vote-getters from last week. Which meant that the two people going home had to learn and perform FOUR routines for almost no reason. Can you imagine that? As though competing on a nationally televised reality competition weren't enough of an existential nightmare! These poor kids. These poor, glorious, insanely talented kids.

Anyway, this week's Top 6 installment of So You Think You Can Dance was absolutely jam-packed with performances—17 if you include the visiting dance company—and as you'd expect this late in the game, almost all were uniformly excellent. Generally the presence of tWitch or Comfort would guarantee a routine would be my favorite (and I definitely did love Comfort and Cyrus's Christopher Scott DUBSTEP (!) piece), but for my money the best routine belonged to Mia Michaels.


True story that is boring: Sometimes when I watch a DVR recording of a show that's still on, it'll suddenly catch up to the live feed and skip over about ten minutes. So when I first sat down to write about this episode I realized I hadn't seen Cole and Eliana's Mia Michaels routine! Boy am I glad I went back and watched it. SO GOOD. I laughed out loud when Mia Michaels introduced her concept with "This piece is about hatred." Haha dang, Mia Michaels! But the excellence of this piece was no laughing matter, starting with an opening move that made my heart race while it was happening:

The head-butting! And that part where Cole grabs Eliana's waist and spins her like a music box ballerina. Just such good stuff. Nigel made some jokes during his critique that alluded to his rocky relationship with Mia Michaels over the years (hirings, firings, demotions, quittings), but hopefully whatever happened between them can be put aside so that she can continue busting out more of this brilliance on a regular basis.

Also, somehow in an episode with 16 performances, the producers still were able to fit in this extraordinary piece from an outside dance company:

You know, I'm not even sure WHAT was happening here, but I was absolutely riveted. In his earlier praise of a particularly emotional routine (more on that in a sec), Nigel explicitly praised Fox for allowing SYTYCD to air this kind of material on national television, and I nearly applauded in my living room. It's definitely true: This show, believe it or not, is one of the biggest, most widely watched forums for the fine arts on national television. I am so glad it exists.

Last thing: I know the judges adored Tyce Diorio's broadway routine (Mary Murphy seemed to be fighting back tears), but I thought it was effing ridiculous. I mean...

Sorry. I am probably biased against Tyce Diorio's general phoniness, but this whole thing, from the suitcase to the costumes to the melodramatics, was like something out of a Christopher Guest film. Nope! Just nope. Not for me.


This was the first week in which America had 100 percent of the power, so the judges merely had to observe the voters' harsh wisdom play out on stage. To the judges' credit, however, they mentioned that four of the remaining six had been "saved" from elimination throughout the season. As someone who doesn't particularly love the "America votes" aspect of any reality show, I'm glad this show has given the judges so much power to shape the contestant pool well into the competition. I mean, they know more about dance (and the contestants!) than we do, but in particular they know who makes the best SYTYCD stars. So despite whatever whims the voting public may be experiencing from week to week, it's this balance of power that has ensured deserving people last longer. That two deserving people nonetheless went home this week really just means we're nearing the end of the season...

Goodbye, Witney and Cole! Witney was my favorite girl. Cole was Cole. Both will probably be back as all-stars. Fortunately my favorite remaining guy, Chehon, is still in it, but his chances of beating out Cyrus are pretty slim, don't you think? As for the girls, it could seriously go either way: Both Tiffany and Eliana are pretty well-matched, popularity-wise. It's anyone's game!


All right, who canceled at the last minute? Not that Christina Applegate doesn't deserve to be a regular guest, but TWICE in a season? It was just surprising, is all. But yeah, Applegate delivers the goods when it comes to guest-judging: She's thoughtful, warm-hearted, unsparing, yet hilarious. LOVED when she repeatedly asked Cyrus if she could try to throw her pen through his earlobes. And we already knew Applegate had dance experience in her youth, but this week we learned she seems pretty serious about her dance classes these days, going so far as to take them with beloved SYTYCD alumni Benji (who appeared looking surprisingly buff!). So yeah, clearly Applegate can now be considered part of the SYTYCD family, and although it would've been nice to see the ranks of guest judges expand, I'm not even mad about seeing this cool lady again.


... Forgot to mention it last week, but how cool/adorable is Chehon's mom?

... Loved when Witney told the camera, "Just because I'm an 18-year-old from Utah doesn't mean I want to get married." And how cool was it seeing Marko again? I barely recognized him with the shaved head, but the second he opened his mouth it brought back all those good memories of partnering with Melanie.

... Speaking of All-Stars, where is Sasha? Or NEIL?

... What on earth do you suppose Christina Applegate said during those five interminable seconds during which she was bleeped? Did she let fly a crazy amount of expletives or did my audio just cut out?

... Should District 78 just come on and be a guest-judge already? It seems like they remix EVERY song on this show now.

What was YOUR favorite routine of the night?

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