June 17th, 2010
10:40 AM ET
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.
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