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The So You Think You Can Dance Top 16: Routine of the Week

So You Think You Can Dance S09E09: "Top 16 Perform"

There have been some whispers of discontent that perhaps it's not fair that the judges have full knowledge of the bottom six vote-getters before they even perform. I suppose that's a valid complaint, but only if you assume reality competition judging has always been fair. For example, does anyone think that the judges' panels on Top Chef or Project Runway could ever overrule the producers' wishes for who goes and who stays? At least in the case of So You Think You Can Dance, Nigel Lythgoe IS the producer, so the fact that he states up front that he has knowledge of the previous week's vote is actually a pretty honest and transparent compared to most other shows. This is in contrast to, say, Lythgoe's OTHER competition series American Idol where he keeps most voting results to himself; we never know, for example, just HOW many fewer votes anybody gets, but we can be darn well certain those numbers affect how the singers are presented to us the following week.

The reality of SYTYCD Season 9's voting system is that the secret bottom six are actually dancing for their lives all night. It means that the judges are most likely paying extra special attention to those dancers, and their critiques should be interpreted as foreshadowing or, at the very least, explanation of, the judges' impending decision. It's possible that the people hurt most by this system are the dancers who aren't on the chopping block: The judges giving a glossed-over or half-hearted critique might de-motivate viewers to vote for that person later in the night. But this all may be too soon to tell. At least from a results standpoint, this week's Top 16 round certainly made the case that the current system works just fine. It also saw the return of one of my favorite SYTYCD elements of all, the Dance For Your Life segment:

There's just something so frantic and beautiful about these brief, improvised snippets from each dancer's skill set. Each of the bottom six did a terrific job of reminding us who they were as individuals and the two dancers sent home at the very least went home after triumphant solos. No shame in that.


ROUTINE OF THE WEEK

Although I love this season so far, I'm worried about the lack of originality in some of the routines we've seen. Matthew and Audrey's Cha-Cha was fun, but their traditional sequined outfits were like something out of the Dancing With the Stars Lost & Found bin. And while the judges went nuts for Chehon and Witney's contemporary "shirtlessness & big leaps" routine, to me it felt like cheating that it was set to Whitney Houston's "I Will Always Love You." I don't know, that song is just so loaded on its own that it'll overpower ANY accompanying visuals. So it was surprising to me that after Tabitha and Napoleon had unleashed the night's worst routine (George and Tiffany's bizarre day-glo Hip-Hop child-rearing thing), they went on to choreograph my favorite one—Cyrus and Eliana's robot-meets-ballerina piece. Oh, and their intros were insane:

I'm partial to weird, so for me this was the one routine I watched twice. As guest judge Christina Applegate pointed out, Cyrus was SUPER lucky that he got this routine as it was smack-dab in the middle of his specialty area. But if we're being honest, the TRUE routine of the night was this one, a special performance by the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater:

Holy moly was that amazing. I've honestly never seen anything like it! Captivating stuff, seriously.


WHO WENT HOME

The bottom three boys were contemporary dancer George, stepper (!) Brandon, and tiny hunk Dareian...

...while the bottom three girls were contemporary dancer Amber, ballroom dancer Lindsay, and ballerina Eliana.

Ultimately (and after repeating his new favorite mantra, "This is so hard!"), Nigel opted to send Brandon and Amber home. Though both dancers had had a fantastic night (and excellent solos), I think I agreed with this decision. Brandon can presumably console himself with the knowledge that he's already IN the new Step Up movie. You've made it, Brandon!


JUDGING THE GUEST JUDGE

Christina Applegate was one of last season's best celebrity judges, and she was even better this week. She obviously has a great, low-key personality perfectly suited for a circus like this, but Applegate also takes the judging role pretty seriously. Her critiques were surprisingly thoughtful, specific, and not always positive. The fact that she had professional dance experience as a child probably helped, but I just found her to be a likeable, mellow, and thoughtful presence on the panel. Bring her back!


ETC.

On the subject of the panel, apparently Nigel thinks that Emmys are the same as Oscars? And did you catch Mary calling Witney 'Lindsay'? Oh, you interchangeable blondes. But anyway, big congrats to Cat Deeley for her Emmy nomination! One of the biggest pleasures of this show is how fun and in-the-moment Cat is, while still able to rattle off entire paragraphs of call-in information like it's no big deal. Give this woman tons of Emmys, Emmy givers!


What was YOUR favorite routine of the night?

Comments (17)
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My comment has absolutely nothing few episodes, I had to quit. Why?? Because Murphy's mouth drove me away. She honestly, truly hurts my ears. IMHO, her mouth has turned this show into a circus. Wish they would get rid of her, or at least clip her cords, so I can watch again because I really used to enjoy it.
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I'm not sure about this season, one of the best female dancers "Amber" was sent home...boggles my mind. I didn't understand why the ballroom girl didn't have to dance for her life. She's not that great and I keep getting her mixed up with the other blonde head 16 year ballroom dancer. The Hip Hop routines seems watered down. Seems like a contemporary dancer will win yet another season, unique dancing like steppin' I think is only included so the show can say they have a diversity of styles.
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I couldn't believe Janelle wasn't in the bottom. She was awful last week. I do think that they were ready to send Dareian home until his solo with which he saved himself. I also do not understand how you thought Christina Applegate was a good judge. Don't get me wrong, she's no Zooey Deschanel, but as the night went on she spewed some serious nonsense and clearly had trouble coming up with things when she didn't have Nigel or Mary's comments to help her out. I don't really get the whole random celebrity judge thing anyway unless it's someone hilarious like Jesse Tyler Ferguson or NPH. I'd much rather have someone who is a full time professional dancer or choreographer than someone who dances sometimes or kind of danced when they were younger. I agree that the routine you picked was the best of the night, but I also think you're being too hard on the Whitney Houston routine. Yes, the song is loaded, but the routine was amazing.
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Sorry, but Christina was vastly better than many of the previous guest judges last season. I immediately noticed how she picked up on smaller things that other judges would have missed, and she wasn't afraid to let dancers know they had messed up. Her previous dancing experience makes her a better judge than simply saying "I thought you guys were awesome" over and over.
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This week was terrible. I rewatched precisely zero routines. Extremely dissapointing show heading into a two week hiatus. I guess they'll be re-airing top 20 and top 16 over the next two weeks and I'll get to be super dissapointed all over again.



The guest routine was messed up too. I couldn't even finish watching it.

And Brandon's solo was awful not triumphant, Dareian's solo blew it out of the water in the first 5 seconds.
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I don't know about "best" routine, but I know which ones I didn't care for. Would not be sad if either Tiffany/George or Darien/Janelle went home next, or all four of them.
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WHITNEY AND CHENON was the best routine of the night that makes 3 awesome weeks for them, IMO just keep Christina, more importantly what did she say to get censored plus CAT was censored as well!!!
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What bugged me about the Whitney/Cheyon routine was the camera/lighting placement. That big "flying leap jumping thing" (or whatever the judges called it), probably was very cool, but between the lights and the specific camera angle it was pretty much leap-instantly blinded by bright lights-landing. I wanted to SEE it.
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Nigel Lythgoe said in previous seasons that he knew the results early in the day so it is nothing new.



What I mainly do not like about the new system (imposed by the network who cut off the result shows) is that the routines that we see the results for are far away in our memory... and it will be worst the next time after a 2 weeks break. It was kind of fun and thrilling to try to guess the judges decisions during the "result show".



The opening piece by Tyce Diorio was superb!

Also, stunning work by The Alvin Ailey ensemble.
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bmill2, I so agree. I thought the music last night was just awful--- totally distracting.
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Eliana in the Bottom 3, are you kidding me?! She has the weakest partner and still she delivers stunning routines. Don't get me wrong, I like Cyrus, but he's simply not there with the others. Even George was better. Eliana outdanced Cyrus in Hip Hop which should be kind of his genre. What will happen when Cyrus picks a Waltz or a Samba? That's a trainwreck about to happen.

Anyway, I thought the Eliana-Cyrus-routine was the best of the night, too. I'd have liked the contemporary piece better if it hadn't been for the Whitney song. The choreopgraphers should stick with the odd choice in music. I have found some wonderful artists after watching SYTYCD.

The Alvin Ailey ensemble was freaking awesome! I never had the chance to see them so it was a real treat. So when's the next show? Kat mentioned a sporting event. Duh. :(

P.S.: Have a great National Dance Day!
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Have to remember that this isn't America's Best Dancer, it's America's Favorite Dancer, and Cyrus has personality in spades. I honestly keep hoping that he will be in the bottom 3 every week just so I can see his solo.
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Sometimes it is just bad luck of having a routine which doesn't make you shine as much as the others... or the opposite: like Cyrus was pretty lucky this week.
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I really like Christina Applegate. I liked her last year and I like her now. She IS a dancer, and even if she doesn't always have the vocabulary (can you make it more soupy) I definitely agreed with her on most points. Which brings me to the slagging on Whitney and Lindsay. These two girls did yeoman service on a very different genre from their own. And while contemporary dancers schelp through ballroom and most times make me cringe with their spongy legs instead of sharp stacatto, these two actually pulled off the emotive vibe. Cheon and Cole are exceptional dancers, and finally we have Ballet and Martial Arts giving a lesson to the contemporary dance scene. Nice to see. These 4 are so far the most versatile, and while I love love Amelia with Will, it will be interesting to see what she does out of contemp and jazz.
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My favorite couple again was Amelia & Will. Despite the negative feedback I think they have the most amazing chemistry, they're always sharp, and their timing is impeccable. Love!
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One thing that has been disappointing this season has been the music choices and this episode highlighted it in the worst way. Usually I can rely on the (I assume) the choreographers to expose me to unique artists and beautiful songs that are as artistic as the dances. Prime example is the whitney and cheon dance. It was so beautiful but I couldn't really enjoy it as much as I could've if the song was not so distracting.
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There's was not as bad as whoever it was that got stuck doing Latin dances to "Call Me Maybe" that was pretty much The. WORST. music choice I've ever seen on a reality competition show.
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