December 9th, 2009
09:46 AM ET

Crunch time on 'So You Think You Can Dance'

Ryan and Kathryn perform a sizzling cha-cha
Ryan and Kathryn perform a sizzling cha-cha

As our judges reminded us Tuesday night, this is it: America's votes determine who will be in the season finale of "So You Think You Can Dance" next week. In fact, they implored us so many times to vote that I half expected Diddy to show up. After the top eight took the stage for the last time of the night, it was tough to decide which two would be cut before next week.

Last night's episode was also brought to you by celebrity DJ Samantha Ronson, whose remixes were featured in two performances: Kathryn and Ryan's disco and Jakob and Mollee's Broadway routines. The first one was great, aside from Ryan's ballroom-esque posture, as pointed out by Nigel, but not quite up there with routines we've seen in this style in the third and fifth seasons.

However, Jakob and Mollee's dance to "Easy Street" was a real highlight for me, and as much as it pains me to say it, not being the biggest Mollee fan, that could have sealed her place in the finale. Both of them were quite synchronized (unlike their Viennese waltz, which didn't impress me nearly as much as it did the judges), and Jakob made her a better dancer, the same way he had with Ashleigh.

Speaking of Mrs. Ryan Di Lello, she injured herself during rehearsals on a Bollywood routine with Russell, so her fate is completely up to the audience based on her past routines. Despite a touching moment where Ryan pleaded for his wife to remain in the competition.

This followed another underwhelming solo from him which ended just after it got going. Lucky for him that his cha-cha with Kathryn "sizzled, boiled," to quote Ryan himself, and set the place "on fire," to quote Mary Murphy, who gave them both a ticket on the Hot Tamale Train. That was high praise, considering that tickets have been harder to come by this season. It didn't hurt either that the routine got a standing ovation.

Meanwhile, Kathryn followed up last week's incredible solo with another one. It wasn't flashy compared to many of the others, so hopefully the cha-cha was flashy enough to get her through...

... Which brings us right back to Ashleigh, looking more and more like an unfortunate victim, after such strong performances by the other girls. Judging by the short clips we saw of her rehearsals, things were going swimmingly in her two routines with Russell, who once again had to hit the floor with a pair of choreographer's assistants.

It was no surprise that he hit hard on Shane Sparks' old-school hip-hop routine, but he really shined doing Bollywood, and most importantly, he really sold it. As always, his krumping solo was "bucc," (apologies to Lil' C), but I could have done without the Santa Claus suit and the business with the toy (bah, humbug). Kudos, however, for working through having lost his shoe two-thirds into it.

Leave it to "SYTYCD" alum Travis Wall, however, to once again steal the show with a "War of the Roses"-inspired number that was the perfect marriage between choreographer and dancers.

Everything that was great about Ellenore and Legacy was shown off here, and I still can't get over his simultaneous leap over, with her roll under, the dinner table. (On the other hand, it's unfortunate that, that had to be followed by their alien hip-hop routine by Tabitha and Napoleon ... NappyTabs, leave the overly-weird stuff to Wade Robson.)

As for the rest of the solos ... Legacy marred an otherwise stunning solo, with a cheap trick involving a phone. (Unless your name is Twitch, enough with the props.)

Jakob was amazing, as usual, but he hasn't really stepped it up. Compare this with Brandon and Jeanine last season. Well, there's always next week for him, as I think he is definitely safe. Ellenore (surprisingly) and Mollee (unsurprisingly) did nothing for me.

So if I were a betting man, who would I say won't be going to the finale next week? I'd say Ryan and Ashleigh Di Lello will be eliminated together. (However, I'd still like Old St. Nigel to grant my Christmas wish to see them dance together one last time before the season ends.)

Who had your vote Tuesday night? Did Ryan's pleading sway you at all? Tell us who deserves to be on stage for the finale on video, or in the comments below.


soundoff (29 Responses)
  1. alex

    nice job

    December 15, 2009 at 6:25 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Mary E.

    There's one other consideration with the Ashleigh situation that I haven't seen mentioned yet (unless I missed it). The finals show needs 3 female dancers to match up with the final 3 male dancers. If Ashleigh had been dropped from the competition because she could not dance, then Ellenore, Kathryn and Mollee, the 3 remaining women, would have automatically gotten in to the finals without going through the voting process. There'd be no purpose in voting for them. That doesn't seem fair to the men, who still had to go through the ordeal of being voted on.

    I watched last season's final show this weekend, and I doubt this season's finals will match up to it, but still, I'm looking forward to tomorrow night's performances. Though I'm not too crazy about having 6 dancers in the finals, I guess it will all work out.

    December 14, 2009 at 8:46 pm | Report abuse |
  3. ginny

    I have to agree with Amy, the judges comments go on waaaaaaaaaay too long. I now tape the show and fast forward through everything but the dances and a little of the comments. It's a good thing the show will be going to once a year, or is that just a rumour?
    Yes, there are dancers technically better than Russell, but our enjoyment of watching includes a captivating personality on the dance floor and he certainly has that!

    December 14, 2009 at 2:09 pm | Report abuse |
  4. themo

    This show is, to say the least, the BEST. I agree, this season wasn't as captivating as the last one.

    I do think Jakob is the clear winner here. When he dances it seems like time just stops for a brief moment. Mollee was robbed, I agree with another emailer, if she/he gets injured you lose. Ryan sure played the sympathy act, not fair.

    Anyway, Nigel should be proud of his show he has done a tremendous job.

    December 13, 2009 at 11:25 pm | Report abuse |
  5. RJ

    It's time for a rules change. As Susan says, "If you can't perform, you can't continue". Ashleigh should have been the one to go, not Mollee. I was not a Mollee fan while she was dancing with Nathan. They were both too juvenile. But, since she been paired with more mature dancers, she was moving up fast. I loved her waltz with Jakub. Technically far from perfect, but for her, a huge leap.

    While Legacy has no formal training, the fact that he was able to pick up most of the choreography thrown at him shows that he has a lot of potential. And, part of the show is about who grows the most during the competition.

    Ryan... eh.

    Russell. WONDERFUL! Talent, personality, ability. Complete package.

    I do, however, have to wonder how much rigging there is behind the scenes. I couple of weeks ago, I was trying to vote. It was less than an hour into the "lines will be open for at least 2 hours", and I got a recorded message that voting for my time zone was closed. Say what? That tells me some one is watching the call volume and turning lines off when a dancer is getting too many votes.

    And yes, WHERE'S MIA?

    December 13, 2009 at 3:30 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Carol W.

    I am disappointed that Mollee was not voted in. I thought that "Easy Street" was her best performance of the season. The hip-hop that Ellenor and Legacy did was lackluster. Ellenor was not good in her hip-hop routine with Ryan either. However, neither one of those routines were choreographed well in my opinion. I am glad that Ryan
    and Ashleigh made it through. I thought that his plea for Ashleigh was touching. Maybe I'm just a sucker for that sort of thing. I think that Russell was outstanding and the fact that Ashleigh was unable to perform with him may have helped him, because it added to the drama. Not to mention that his performances, especailly in the Bolleewood routine, were great. I would like to see either Russell, Jakob, or Catherine win it all.

    December 12, 2009 at 1:53 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Mary E.

    I'll have to respectfully disagree with the negative assessment of Russell's Bollywood performance. I've been supporting Jakob and Russell from the start of the season, though I appreciate different aspects of their dancing.

    The funny thing is that "street" dancing has been getting co-opted by choreographers working in more established genres of dance for several decades now, and the choreography seen on this show for the past few seasons is a perfect example of that. Much of what has passed for hip-hop is more like a contemporary/jazz/hip-hop fusion, probably so that the contemporary, jazz and ballroom dancers can handle it and still look good. The choreographers have to work with the dancers they get.

    So it's probably not surprising that when a hard-hitting krumper like Russell comes along, his dancing looks "raw" to people used to seeing the softer, "dancier" hip-hop. The old-school hip-hop routine he danced on Tuesday night was the genuine article: no modern-dance moves or jazz steps thrown in, no concepts or storylines, or Nascar props, or masks, and for my tastes, he hit it right on the mark. It was positively refreshing to see.

    I liked Mollee, and thought she did an excellent job on the Broadway number, but she was not universally popular: some viewers seemed to have taken an early dislike to her, as shown by the number of times she landed in the bottom three. So her ousting doesn't really surprise me.

    December 11, 2009 at 12:54 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Amy

    I have been waiting all season for Mollee to go home. I cringe every time she does an interview. She's a great dancer, but she's incredibly annoying. Honestly, I think she got voted off because the judges were pulling for her so much more than anyone else. As for her going home before Ashleigh, it was put up to a vote and Mollee just got fewer votes. I think that's fair.

    I think that Jakob is by far the best dancer on this season, but I sincerely hope he doesn't win. He has 0 personality. Every time he gets the same compliment from the judges "you're the best on this show!" he acts surprised, as if he doesn't hear it after every performance. His fake modesty really gets on my nerves.

    I wish the show allowed the choreographers of each piece to give a short comment. All three of the judges go on and on and on, and the show is more judges than dancing. I think the show could be improved by shortening the rehearsal videos, limiting each judge to 10 seconds, and allowing a short comment from the choreographer.

    December 11, 2009 at 12:33 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Nora

    Russell's Bollywood was not so good, sorry folks. He's still a bit rough around the edges. How can anyone compare what he does to what Jakob does? Yes, Rusell is good, I love his personality. I still cannot accept street dancing as a dance form for this show. It's like saying improvisation is an offical dance form – throw in some odd steps and it's equal to ballet. Nope...can't do that at this point. Maybe some day in the future. Mollee was the best female dancer on the show. Why she was voted off is a mystery. Maybe the judges want to make the show more interesting and they had a hand in this? I don't know, but it makes no sense to me.

    December 11, 2009 at 3:47 am | Report abuse |
  10. wrensis

    Whole season zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz. I believe that Mia might have cancer. Her replacement needs to stop talking and talking and talking. Hurry back Mia, you are missed.

    December 10, 2009 at 10:54 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Susan

    Maybe the judges shouldn't make comments like: Mollee - You should go straight to Broadway. Next thing we find out - she is cut from the final show. No wonder she was having a hard time keeping the tears back - You build her up and then she is completely rejected. I think the rules should state: If you can't perform - you can't continue in the competition. Personally, I don't care how Ashleigh does dancing with Ryan. I will be surprised if she can dance at all.

    December 10, 2009 at 9:40 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Bryant

    Russell's been training since he was 3 years old. He went to high school at the Boston Art Academy, which is Boston's local arts high school. He's not a ringer; he talked about his training during his audition. However, Nigel's been pushing the idea that Russell is some sort of savant street dancer ever since. When Nigel says "it's amazing what you can do without training," he's just trying to make the story sound better for the audience.

    December 10, 2009 at 8:29 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Jay

    Absolute travisty that Mollee went home and Ashleigh got to stay!!! Now, she is a great dancer, but Mollee has been strong if not stronger the whole way! She had the best night of the show Tuesday night! And Eleanor....no no no. She should not have made it through. At first I thought that the results had been read wrong...and you could see on her face the same thing! Mollee, you deserve to be in the finals! Lagacy going home was no surprise. Great B-Boy dancer, but just not strong enough in other genre's. He has a great stage presence though and will make it in his career. Overall, I think a great dis-service was done to the show. Mollee should have stayed and Eleanor should have gone.

    December 10, 2009 at 7:59 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Smokepole

    After the cut, I'm glad to finally see Mollee go. She is a great soloist, but lousy at dancing with a partner. She's the opposite of Ryan, who is a lousy soloist but a brilliant partner. Kathryn stole the show this week, in a large part because she was partnered with Ryan. We'll have to see how he does dancing with his wife next week, or how Ashleigh does dancing with him.

    Legacy really needed to go; the voters got it right this week.

    I don't know what it is about Ellanor. She is great technically, but she leaves me flat.

    I'm a real Russell fan, because he doesn't know what he is doing but does it anyway. He's so good that either he is a monumental natural talent or he is a ringer.

    My predictions for the most popular: Kathryn and Russell. Jakob is a better dancer, but Russell projects a better personality.

    December 10, 2009 at 7:16 pm | Report abuse |
  15. J H

    Russell all the way. And krumping is dancing, even if you want to call it "street dancing" how is that any less difficult than "inside dancing?". Lets see any of the others go out there and krump, they will fail. I think legacy was doing a great job, some weak performances but all in all handled majority of things thrown at him. Ashleigh should have gone home, this far in the game if you cant perform you should be out. And Ryan needs to go quickly I hate that guy his solos are cheesy and so is he.

    December 10, 2009 at 6:08 pm | Report abuse |
  16. Mary E.

    The lack of a "settled" partner may have helped Russell. It certainly didn't damage his position. Successfully adjusting to three new partners in one week, and two different partners in one day, is quite a feat. And, for all the emphasis put on partnerships throughout the season, this is the point where dancers need to separate themselves from the rest. Also, it didn't hurt that he didn't have to share as much camera time with a partner. But none of this would have mattered if he didn't meet the challenge, and surpass it.

    Ellenore, Ellenore . . . she makes me want to pull my hair out sometimes. So much talent, yet she hasn't fully figured out how to make the most of her talent and skills, not consistently. At least last night's solo was the "better Ellenore," and she was back to form. It helped to erase the memory of her Tuesday night solo, which she seemed to be improvising on the spot. Nothing can erase the memory of the alien-invasion performance-art-dance, the weirdness of which she seemed to fully embrace, and that didn't help her. Her quirky expressiveness is much better used in Sonya Tayac pieces.

    December 10, 2009 at 5:40 pm | Report abuse |
  17. Mary McClendon

    Mollee should have been in the finals–hands down. I think Ellenore is a strong dancer but the second dance–the so call "hip-hop" sucked. But blame that on the choereographers. For the last two weeks, Ellenore's solo routines have been bad-bad. It appeared that she did not spend much time in preparing for them. Too bad! Now Ashleigh, I do love you, but it was not fair that you did not compete on Tuesday and still got in the finals. There should have been a taped rehearsal some time before the accident that we could have judged-but then again, Russell may not have peaked until Tuesday night. I think that yound man was the star of the show. Who else could have taken two different partners and looked as good as he did at the last minute?

    December 10, 2009 at 4:12 pm | Report abuse |
  18. Pandagirl

    I am outraged that Ashleigh made it through without dancing and Mollee, who has been better than Ashleigh all along went home! Did you see Adam's face? I think the judges were also pretty shocked! I personally tried to vote for Mollee for 2 hours and could not get through even once!!!! And the fact that the two best female dancers ended up at the bottom this week is shameful.

    December 10, 2009 at 9:42 am | Report abuse |
  19. E.V.

    Season 5 was decent, but not up to par with Seasons 3 or 4

    December 10, 2009 at 4:38 am | Report abuse |
  20. Nora

    Last night's show had two of my favorite routines – both danced by Jakob and Mollee. Amazing people couldn't see it, but the judges did. I think Russell is good at his own style – but it's not really dancing, my in opinion, it's street dance. It should not even be in this show. It cannot be compared to the other styles. Kathryn hasn't yet found herself, and she is not a star, still movies sloppily. Praise of her is waayyy overdone and she's overrated. She's just growing, as was expected. Ryan and Ash are great dancers and I don't know why people put them down. Let's see YOU do what they can do, eh? Ash has more than proven she can do any style and do it with class, maturity, and is a pleasure to watch. Ellenor and Mollee are outstanding dancers. Ellenor does exude joy, so does Mollee. I think they deserve to be in the finale, and why Mollee and Nathan were voted off tells me once again that maybe the younger voters have a very limited exposure to real dance. At least with Jakob there is some hope, as he is a superior dancer to the rest on the show. But, if things continue the way they are going, it wouldn't surprise me to see Kathryn or Russell win this show – which will be the last time I watch it, thoroughly disgusted. A complete arts education is so vital starting in elementary schools in America! There is a good reason why Mollee was told she could go straight to Broadway – she's THAT good, folks.

    December 10, 2009 at 12:55 am | Report abuse |
  21. bribri

    I'm so glad i'm not the only person who thinks season 5 was so good.. and these past few. just not up to par. I might start letting it go like i did american idol back in the day.

    December 9, 2009 at 10:15 pm | Report abuse |
  22. bribri

    Is it just me.. but I keep watching sytycd waiting for the magic of two seasons ago. the last season was a dissapointment and this season without mia.
    But overall I would say Kathryn is my favorite female dancer. I would love to see her and legacy together again. and ellenore with Jacob was really great. Mollee is good. so glad she got rid of her 1st partner. and I hope ashlee makes it despite the shoulder. She can really kill the hip hop but her poor husband. lol. And where is wade this season. Oh and that loud mouth choreographer... umm Loreanne gibson. I think she is a bunch of talk. her routines dont ever do it for me. like that moving mountains. oh my goodness. horrible song choice. who even likes usher anymore since his unclassy divorce anthem.

    December 9, 2009 at 10:10 pm | Report abuse |
  23. na_dweeb

    JudyL, I miss Mia too but she quit the show. She recently did some work for SYTYCD Canada – you can find it on youtube.

    December 9, 2009 at 8:24 pm | Report abuse |
  24. LorettaK

    I do not think this season is "up-to-par;" however, I thought Russell did a tremendous job with the last-minute switch in partners. I also thought Kathryn did a great job. I am not impressed with Legacy or Ellenore. I like Ashleigh and Ryan and think they are superb together; however, I expect them to be cut this week.

    December 9, 2009 at 8:16 pm | Report abuse |
  25. Mary E.

    Maybe Ryan's pleading for his wife was motivated just a little bit by a desire to "keep things happy on the home front"? I don't know if Ashleigh will make it through to next week, but he's stood up for her, so he covered his bases either way.

    I thought the choreography on last night's show was fairly good, with the except of the Napoleon and Tabitha alien-invasion "hip hop" whatever-it-was. The choreography was almost dull, and if Ellenore was supposed to become more "street," while Legacy became more "weird," I never saw it. They didn't give their performances the extra edge that would have been needed. Time to give NappyTabs a time-out for the next season. They've been very unevenof late.

    I don't know what happened to Ellenore, but this is a bad time of the season to turn in a couple of lackluster performances. At least she has the Travis Wall routine, which I didn't particularly like, but which she performed well. I actually think she's in the danger zone tonight. Count me as another person who's scratching her head over Legacy's appeal, at least as a dancer. As a stage presence, he's strong and dramatic, but for my tastes, what he does on stage ends up looking more like gymnastics than dancing. I give him credit for his progress since the auditions, and maybe he's just popular enough to win it all, which will cause me to scratch my head even more. So what do I know?

    For me, Shane Spark's hip-hop routine was the best one of the season, and yes, Russell hit it just right. Between that, and the Bollywood number, he was the star of the show for me. Which is kind of sad for Ashleigh, but he didn't really need her. The Bollywood dance was challenging, and I was impressed that he coiuld work out the lifts with a substitute partner acquired that morning.

    Jakob and Mollee's Broadway number also dazzled me, but I'm so used to being dazzled by Jakob that it was Mollee who drew most of my attention. Yep, Broadway is where she should point herself.

    For all the attention drawn to the remixes by Samantha Ronson, I thought they were unremarkable. (I particularly didn't like the way she remixed the opening minutes of "Last Dance.") But as she is a "celebrity DJ," I guess the show has to draw attention to them.

    December 9, 2009 at 7:16 pm | Report abuse |
  26. JudyL

    Season 5 was much better than this season.
    My favorites this season, however, are Legacy, Ashleigh and Russell.
    I don't know who will win this year; last year I had no trouble picking the winner; this year not so much.
    Love the show. I also miss Mia as a judge and choreographer. What happened to her? Does anyone know?

    December 9, 2009 at 6:34 pm | Report abuse |
  27. cclovely

    First of all this season no where near blows out season 5! Season 5 had AMAZING dancers and I think it will be very difficult to top them anytime soon! With that said I think the most talented dancer the shwo has right now is Jakob, however, unfortunately this is about the most popular dancer, skill aside. I beleive that is why Legacy is still around. I like him but he is not the most talented or shoul dhe still be here. I love Russell, Ellenore, Jakob and Ashleigh as the final four. I would love to see Russell win as he has a great personality and is very humble. However I don't think he will win and honestly I am not sure who will take it. It will be interesting to see. Additionally I miss miss miss and love the old choreographers like Mia, Mandy Moore, Travis Wahl and I also loved the African routine the guys did last season. AMAZING stuff! BRING THEM BACK SYTYCD!!!!!!!

    December 9, 2009 at 5:57 pm | Report abuse |
  28. kstar

    couldn't agree more, pericles...it's ridiculous how many no-talent idiots made it this far. i was shocked to see nathan go–who, while still young and all, is a FAR better dancer than ryan–and nauseated by the judges' love affair with ashliegh and ryan. they SUCK, let it go. russell is great, kathryn and, surprisingly, mollee have done solid work, and jakob is a beast no matter what style he's given. it's funny that mia said this season was going to blow 5 out of the water...what happened to that? and what happened to the other judges? why are we saddled every week with adam shankman? and what happened to all the old choreographers? i was happy to see shane sparks back–wonder how much they had plead to get him to do a routine–but haven't been impressed with all the new choreographers this season. love sonya, travis, wade robsen, and shane sparks...too bad lil c couldn't have choreographed russell this year–would have been HOT.
    hope ryan, and ashleigh get booted off, and legacy shortly thereafter.

    December 9, 2009 at 5:23 pm | Report abuse |
  29. Pericles

    Where do I begin? Ryan. Technically, he is a good dancer – not great – good. As far as passion and depth are concerned, there is none. It is too bad too, because I think if he could get past his own love of himself, he would really be a great dancer. His plea for his wife at the end of the show was a prime example of his lack of depth – crying with no tears, his eyes were not even a little teary. He figured it worked for Legacy so why not try it. Which brings me to Legacy. Never has SYTYCD had someone who is completely without talent go so far. I know people seem to love him. He is very sweet and does work hard, but he has no technique, no lines, no ability to move with grace. His war of the roses number was nothing more than him jumping around doing his tricks again – shoulders up, face contorted. Every number he has danced has been dumbed down to his limited abilities and no one seems to be calling him or the choreographers out on it. Shame, shame, shame. He couldn't even pull off the hip hop number last night – again. And, rather than really take him to task over it, the judges blame NappyTabs, rather than admitting that he should never have gotten out of Las Vegas in the first place. Elenore's solo was very weak and I think will send her home. I hope that Legacy or Ryan join her.

    December 9, 2009 at 12:22 pm | Report abuse |

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