June 17th, 2010
10:40 AM ET

'SYTYCD' raises the bar

On the way to choosing this season's top 11 dancers, we saw a lot of incredible technique on display in the auditions and in Las Vegas, and we ended up with a strong group competing for the title of "America's Favorite Dancer."

But as Wednesday night's first real performance show of "So You Think You Can Dance" revealed, many of them have a lot to learn about connecting with the audience as well as their "all-star" partners.

One after another, the dancers were told by the judges that their performance level needed to be improved, whether it was Alexie with her "too cute" version of a Tabitha and Napoleon routine (not to mention the fact that she was overshadowed by Twitch), Adechike's lack of chemistry with Kathryn, or Lauren paying more attention to the audience than her partner, Ade.

Despite all of this, I felt that everyone at least had the steps down, including tapper Melinda, whose jive impressed me more than it did the judges. Unfortunately, it will almost certainly be a choice between her and Ashley on which one is eliminated tonight ("What don't we know" about Ashley, as Cat asked? How about everything? At least now we know she has a great shot at a voice acting gig on "Transformers 3").

Ironically, the dancer who was told most often that he didn't amount to much beyond great technique turned in a performance that judge Mia Michaels called the best one ever on "So You Think You Can Dance." Alex blew the judges, the audience and this viewer away in an emotional Sonya Tayeh contemporary routine with all-star Allison. It gives me chills just thinking about it. It remains to be seen how he will handle going beyond his style, but he certainly took things to the next level, and he won't easily be knocked out of the competition.

As predicted, another one to watch - Kent - truly delivered, and far out of his comfort level to boot. I'll say it again: Kent has the skill and the stage presence to go all the way, and he was every bit the equal to Anya (no small feat) in their cha-cha. I've decided that he's the "SYTYCD" equivalent of Kenneth from "30 Rock," impossible not to like... except I suspect Kenneth wouldn't be able to learn the cha-cha in a few days. I swear, Kent was so good that I wonder if he hasn't had ballroom training (like a certain season six contestant).

There were a few other high points besides Alex and Kent, like "dark horse" Robert, who schooled a lot of the other dancers on what it means to have chemistry with your partner, in an African jazz routine which paired him up with Courtney. Cristina also shined this week, taking on the task of keeping up with Mark in his Sonya Tayeh wheelhouse, and doing so splendidly.

I do worry, however, about Billy and Jose, who both had solid performances, but didn't really wow me either. Jose will probably continue to get votes, but that could change once he tries, say, a ballroom routine.

How do you think our top 11 fared? Are Alex and Kent unstoppable? Are Melinda and Ashley on the chopping block? Share your view on video, or in the comments below.

soundoff (10 Responses)
  1. dm

    I think the new format is terrible. You dont get to learn as much about the dancers, you dont see as many dancers, and I feel like the "stars" already had their chance, and now you are taking away from 10 other dancers that could have had a shot.
    I just think the new format stinks compared to past seasons.

    Now dancers that were good at first are sucking because we didn't weed them out in the top 20....

    June 22, 2010 at 4:20 pm | Report abuse |
  2. tc

    I'm just wondering why there are 5 girls and 6 boys....Mmmmm...already stacking the deck for the men folk?

    June 17, 2010 at 3:18 pm | Report abuse |
  3. kroverstreet

    Kent was awesome. I'm not a professional but compared to every season since 2, he by far delivered the best ballroom number I've ever seen on the show. It was the height of entertainment and if you didn't enjoy it at home, bah humbug to you too.

    June 17, 2010 at 2:35 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Henry Hanks

    Nigel Lythgoe tweeted that he thought "the opening was a mess." http://twitter.com/dizzyfeet/status/16396905899

    June 17, 2010 at 2:12 pm | Report abuse |
  5. TheJudge

    Sorry for the typo's. ( in work) 🙂 By the way, the last performer Robert (o) was spectacular as was the choreo!!

    June 17, 2010 at 1:58 pm | Report abuse |
  6. TheJudge

    Wow....the camera direction on this a nd many other like it should be shot for being inept. How can anyone get a proper view of the brilliant choreography and tremendeous dancing when the camera angles/shots during the performances are such taht you miss have of the moves & performeance. Showing dancers form only the torso up when performing???? cathcing the back of two people running into each other....completely missed the effect of the chreo on that one. It is a disgrace for a professional major network production, hello prudcer, hello director. You ask the general public to judge and VOTE for the best performance/performers when we are getting bits & pieces of fabulous performances. Wake up on this aspect. the camera should centerd & panned out. No close ups are necessary or a lets circle the dance floor. the action is orovided by he performance which is choreographed for center stage viewing. I can't believe Nigel Lythgoe does not get this!!! Nigel trying watching it from your TV and judge it, I am certain it will drive you mad also!

    June 17, 2010 at 1:55 pm | Report abuse |
  7. KittenPuff

    Are you blind? Although I like Kent the person... I thought his dancing was awful. Yes he had fun, yes he fully commited but when you compare his performance with the other dancers his dancing was in the bottom 3. He as a very likeable naive farmboy won't be. Because be honest people you Like HIM because this week his dancing sucked.

    June 17, 2010 at 1:05 pm | Report abuse |
  8. jenn

    where is mary murphy

    June 17, 2010 at 12:27 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Steve

    I just have to comment on the rushed intro to the show, no name plates, no screen graphics, no names for the dancers shown...it looked like the cameramen were running to their cameras at the start of the show as they couldnt seem to get a camera on any of the dancers at the intro.

    Secondly, what was up with Nigel shilling other shows non-stop, or all the chatty-kathy moments with the judges where they would just ramble on for a few minutes not necessarily about the dancing. Just seems like the production values for this show this year have really slid.

    June 17, 2010 at 12:14 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Opa

    Henry, Kent's technique had some problems so to say that he was every bit equal to Anya is a ridiculous statement. Yes, he has natural talent, but he still has a long way to go. Melinda the tapper had a lot of trouble with her ballroom routine as well. Pasha was having to slow down and try to pace it to help her out. She was missing some steps, lacked sharpness, she was too slow, etc. Do you have any ballroom experience?

    June 17, 2010 at 11:51 am | Report abuse |

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