November 18th, 2009
10:08 AM ET

Competition really gets going on 'Dance'

Ashleigh Di Lello and Jakob Karr
Ashleigh Di Lello and Jakob Karr

Just a few weeks ago, who would have thought that Legacy, Ashleigh and Kathryn would be where they are today? Tuesday night's episode of "So You Think You Can Dance" showed astonishing growth from dancers who might very well have been dismissed coming out of the Las Vegas callbacks.

I was a much bigger fan of Legacy than Ashleigh, mind you, but these two are really beginning to shine - though in Ashleigh's case, it certainly doesn't hurt that she has one of the most talented dancers this show has seen, Jakob, as a partner. He's probably been the most consistent dancer this season. Ashleigh has matched his performance for the second straight week with a typically strong Tabitha and Napoleon hip-hop routine. (Last season, it was foreclosures; this season, text messaging ... always of the moment, those two.)

I worried about Legacy's troubles with transitions in his solos but he's really shown he has what it takes for this show, and Kathryn, only known in Vegas as the girl-who-cried-a-lot, showed the judges that she could bring maturity, not to mention intensity, to her performances, as the two of them took on a paso doble every bit as good as last year's "Matrix"-inspired routine with Brandon and Jeanine.

Russell took on the fox trot for the second time, and this time got to perform with his actual partner, Noelle. The judges liked his performance better this week, though I'm still at a loss to see what they didn't like about the first one. Their chemistry continues to improve, but fox trots don't usually make people pick up the phone.

Breaking out of her cage, quite literally, was Channing, in a Tyce Diorio routine where she portrayed a bird with Victor. Nigel Lythgoe's critique that she appeared to be enjoying herself for the first time was all too true. The judges seemed to like Victor's technique a lot, but not much else. However, this was their best routine, so that could be enough to save them.

Fresh off the worst salsa dance ever, Mollee and Nathan went to Laurieann Gibson's pop jazz boot camp, and came out with a lot more determination and synchronization in their dancing, but there's still a long way to go for them. Still, I have a pretty good feeling that they won't even be in the bottom three couples.

Also having a rough time of it last week were Ellenore and Ryan, but they must have figured they were as good as safe when they pulled "SYTYCD" alum Travis Wall's name out of the hat. I still prefer last year's Jeanine and Jason routine but this one was nearly as good. It was certainly in Ellenore's wheelhouse, and Ryan matched her brilliantly. As expected, Mary Murphy teared up, telling Ryan that he inspired fellow ballroom dancers everywhere.

Unfortunately, it looks like Karen and Kevin's number may be up by default, as they faltered with a Broadway routine that didn't allow Karen to smolder onstage. If so, they'll certainly be missed ... all too often on this show, when it comes to ballroom and hip-hop dancers, three is a crowd.

The competition has really started now, but do you agree on who will end up packing it in this week? And are Legacy, Ashleigh and Kathryn surprising you as well? Share your opinion on video, or in the comments below.

soundoff (34 Responses)
  1. Michele Oliver

    I've followed and loved this show since Day 1. The more I watch it, though, the more I see modern dance and ballroom . They brought three tappers on this season and all 3 tappers were booted. Let see other other dancers try tap! Why not? Tap is very challenging but they have street dancers do ballroom! I like to see just how diverse of a group they can get for the tour, not just 2 or 3 styles of dance. What about ballet?

    November 19, 2009 at 9:27 pm | Report abuse |
  2. am

    There are a few things def missing this season... Many of the choreographers are not featured as often as they were, and many are pursuing other projects. I miss choreographers from the 1st many seasons. And not rotating the judging panel is a miss as well. Makes the show so much more interesting with the different personalities mixing. I also think that sometimes there can be 'too much of a good thing'... I use to look forward to it coming each year... I still love watching it...

    November 19, 2009 at 9:01 am | Report abuse |
  3. steven

    I love this show, but this season really sucks. The dancers are not as good as previous seasons, and the choreography is getting worse, mostly focus on gimmick instead of real dance. Judges are more into personality and look instead of skill too! For example last night first hip hop performance by ashley etc suckx! ANd all judges praised them because all 3 of them are not in hip hop area, there is no more hip hop judges!?? I think the couple did an awful job in that hip hop dance especially that guy!

    November 18, 2009 at 8:33 pm | Report abuse |
  4. GigiInAustin

    Interesting idea below from Jim Coleman...says that choreographers whose dancers are eliminated are themselves eliminated from the season! Wow, that is kinda scary and cool at the same time!

    November 18, 2009 at 8:27 pm | Report abuse |
  5. John

    I can't watch the show any longer. The judges and choreographers keep getting more obnoxious by the season. I cringe when Mary Murphy speaks! The judges/choreographers and so in love with themselves and it completely shows!

    November 18, 2009 at 8:26 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Mary

    I'm thoroughly impressed with Jacob, but then again, I really liked Brandon last season and thought he should win. Like Jacob, he is a gifted dancer with outstanding technique who is consistently excellent. Which, curiously, can be a disadvantage in the competition, since the emphasis is usually on the dancers who show the most development. When someone starts out on a level of excellence and professionalism, there's not always as many visible signs of "improvement," and so those dancers risk being taken for granted.

    But, as the judges love to remind us, it's America's Favorite Dancer, not America's Best Dancer. In fact, none of my top choices have won so far, although they've come close to the top. So given my track record, I'm afraid to get too settled on Jacob as the eventual winner.

    I thought the season started out slowly; hoping that last night's performances are a harbinger of greater things to come.

    November 18, 2009 at 6:05 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Stephen

    I have to say honestly I find this season a lot harder to make choices than last season. Other than Jeanette's elimination way too early, most of the choices were pretty obvious last season. Evan was good but held on so long due to popularity, Brandon and Jeannine were very good too, but you mostly had a good idea who wasn't cutting it. This season I find most of the performances have been very impressive–some just for themselves, some both quite good and also that much more noteworthy because several of the guys just don't seem to have the backgrounds to make it possible for them to succeed, yet they still do.

    And the girls, they're all very good. I think Ashleigh is the biggest surprise for me, as I was expecting her limitations and her personality to fail her by now (the facial expressions she kept throwing early on really put me off), but I expect Jakob is helping bring her up to a higher level. And someone suggested Mollee would be gone by now if not for Nathan, because she's immature, but I'm not sure another partner wouldn't actually have helped her, just by adding in the maturity she lacks and helping her grow where Nathan can't. I just wonder what a Mollee/Ryan or Mollee/Jakob piece could do.

    And yeah, last night I really wanted to watch the blackbirds number, as I really like Channing, but it was just so hard to see any of the movement for the distraction of the music. I have nothing against Bobby McFerrin, but it was just so atonal and non-musical there was no flow and it was purely a distraction.

    But I still think one of the biggest winners of the last couple seasons is Travis–I don't think I've seen a single dance he's choreographed that I haven't just loved, that hasn't made the dancers work up to a higher standard. I think anyone who gets a Travis routine and doesn't blow it is going to make it through unscathed. He really seems to bring out the best with just amazing pieces.

    November 18, 2009 at 5:53 pm | Report abuse |
  8. koko

    I miss Mia Michaels!!!!!!

    November 18, 2009 at 5:05 pm | Report abuse |
  9. jay Kay

    What do Rose Marie's comments about Sundays have to do with SYTYCD? i thought these comments were monitored. I think the judges manipulate their comments according to who they want in the top ten, especially for the tour (agree with Doug's comments). I think Mollee and Nathan need to go before the top 10, they are so young in temperament/style that can't see them partnering with the older dancers if one of them goes before the other (Mollee with Ryan perhaps-that would just be kind of creepy).

    November 18, 2009 at 4:50 pm | Report abuse |
  10. rich

    If Jakub doesn't win the whole competition then something is definitely wrong with the voters. Jakub is by far the best dancer this program has showcased in the six years it's been on the air. I wish I could do have the routines as well as he does. BRAVO JAKUB!!

    November 18, 2009 at 4:44 pm | Report abuse |
  11. arianna

    I agree with you mm. I'm also from Canada, and our show has had an amazing variety of styles. The US show has had a lot of the same choreographers for so long, it's bound to get repetitive. (I also agree with you about the judging on the Canadian show....I have to mute it between dances because they're so irritating! And don't even get me started on the host. Leah's got nothing on Cat!) I love that the US show has been bringing in some of the Canadian choreographers to keep things fresh though (Stacy Tookey, Sean Cheeseman, Gustavo vargas).

    And while I've really liked Travis Wall's routines, I'm already tired of hearing the judges rave about him for 10 minutes after each number. What about the fact that Dmitri choreographed one of the best routines of season 3 (the Lacey/Danny samba), a mere one season after he appeared as a contestant? I didn't even really like Dmitri when he was on, but think he's done really well as a choreographer. I've loved SYTYCD since I happened to stumble upon the very first episode, but they've always shown a marked preference for contemporary dancers and routines. Luckily the US voters have diverse enough tastes to keep other styles of dancers around.

    I'm also getting tired of hearing "this is the best top whatever we've ever had!" It's a pretty empty statement when it's said repeatedly each season.

    Despite this little rant, I really do adore this show! 🙂 Still waiting to fall in love with any dancers this season though.

    November 18, 2009 at 4:41 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Doug

    @Chris: SYTYCD is what it is known as in the online community. It doesn't have anything to do with the syllables when speaking it. It has to do with typing. Fox and the show itself use the acronym.

    @Melanie: Adam Shankman was named permanent third judge before the Top 20 performance show aired. They may occassionally add a 4th judge, but Adam is there to stay. Also, from a dance perspective, he offers the most constructive criticism and is the only one of the 3 judges who has an active career in more than one genre of dance or the creative arts. Mary is active in the ballroom world. Nigel is active in television producing. Adam is a producer (co-producing this year's Academy Awards; has produced numerous movies), director (theatre and film – :Hairspray, for one), choreographer and teacher.

    Contestant-wise: There is a LOT Of growth this year, within the contestants. However, let's get real – Legacy and Russell, for all their improvement, have little or no technique. While the show is about "America's Favorite Dancer" and NOT "America's Best Dancer," NEVER has there been a winner who wasn't technically trained. Even Joshua, the hip hop champ from a few seasons ago was technically trained. All the other winners: Nick, Benji, Sabra, Jeanine were superiorly trained. I guarantee Legacy and Russell will end up in the Top 10 – so they can go on tour. After that, they'll be voted off and won't stand a chance of winning.

    November 18, 2009 at 4:21 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Violette

    Rose Marie, about your comment "But would it not be nice to close everything on Sundays so people can go back to family day and going to church?" If you want to go to church knock yourself out. But closing everything down on Sunday is just ridiculous. What about those who keep Sabbath on Saturday? Stupid, exclusionary and not in the spirit of freedom in this country. And don't give me any crap about this being a "Christian" country. Go look up the Treaty of Tripoli, written by those same founding fathers including John Adams in 1797 and unanimously approved by Congress – "As the government of the United States of America is not in any sense founded on the Christian pretext arising from religious opinions shall ever produce an interruption of the harmony existing between the two countries."

    November 18, 2009 at 4:17 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Yasi O

    I think that compared to previous seasons this season is somewhat disappointing. The dancers aren't as good and neither is the material. Last season was AMAZING.

    November 18, 2009 at 3:59 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Chris

    REALLY???? do you need to use letters as the name of the show??? every word in the title is a one syllable word, so using letters does not make it any shorter..... Acronyms are getting out of hand!!... why don't you just call it "dance" that is alot shorter than either option....

    November 18, 2009 at 3:40 pm | Report abuse |
  16. Larry

    While I agree with Lady Nell that Jacob is the best dancer, the show's structure allows the most favorite dancer to be the winner. As such, Russell (who I have had since the beginning as my favorite male along with Kathryn as my favorite female) has a better shot at winning than Jacob due to the resonance with today's youth (a large part of the demographic); the fact that he has such an endearing personality; and the sheer amount of his improvement.

    November 18, 2009 at 3:38 pm | Report abuse |
  17. mm

    unfortunately Mia resigned SYTYCD to pursue other projects. that's huge loss, if you ask me. i'd like to see different styles other than quick step, foxtrot , broadway or slow valse – they are kind of boring when very often (too much of the same thing). some choreographers need a wake-up call. i hope not to see shane again, for example. where's sonya?? i love her! I love the contemporary choreographers. I don't like that lady that wears headphone all the time. i live in Canada – i wish you guys could watch the Canadian version – the judging is pathetic (except when Mary or Mia guest judge). the only thing really good about it is that the styles are much more interesting: they have house, krump, capoeira (brazilian dance/martial arts) and others – very cool.

    November 18, 2009 at 3:31 pm | Report abuse |
  18. Lady Nell

    I have watched this show from its beginning and am amazed at how much better the dancers get with each season! I am 66 years old and have danced since I was 3. I absolutely love Russell, a Krumper who has developed into a beautiful overall dancer. I do think, however, that Jacob is the best dancer on the show. It gets harder each week to know who to vote for.

    November 18, 2009 at 3:00 pm | Report abuse |
  19. Melanie

    I love this show. I have watched it from the beginning. The judges have always been Nigel and Mary every week (and I love those 2)and then rotated other judges thru out the season, but for some reason last season and this one Adam has been there predominantly. Why??? No offense but he talks too much and may be a good choreographer but not my fav judge. What happened to Brian especially????? Mia???and all the rest. I need a break from Adam please!!

    November 18, 2009 at 2:56 pm | Report abuse |
  20. Rose Marie

    All of you have an element of truth to our decline. But would it not be nice to close everything on Sundays so people can go back to family day and going to church?

    November 18, 2009 at 2:35 pm | Report abuse |
  21. Sara

    Last night, the blackout in Manhattan from SYTYCD had to have made a difference in the voting. I'm a fan, but I couldn't see!

    November 18, 2009 at 2:07 pm | Report abuse |
  22. Sara

    What happened to Fox Local in NYC (Manhattan) last night? The screen was black for at least 30 minutes.

    November 18, 2009 at 2:05 pm | Report abuse |
  23. E.V.

    I'm a big fan of this show, but this has got to be the weakest season in memory. Last night's show was filled with more filler than actual dancing, and save for Jakob, none of these dancers are very memorable. I will not give up on this season just yet, as I thought Season 5 didn't really get going until they hit the top 10, but I am worried. The judges overpraise Legacy and Russell, and while they are good they certainly are no Joshua and Twitch. Mollee and Nathan are just too self-conceited to care about and will only make it to the top 10 because of their tween fan-base. Victor and Channing should have been booted off already. Ryan and his wife Ashley have the combined personality of a cardboard box. Karen is o.k. but again overpraised, while her partner Kevin is unmemorable. Both will probably get axed by the judges tonight. Kathryn and Noelle are meh.

    There's been no standout personalities like the sweet and genuine Jeanine from last year or great soaring solo's like those by Brandon or Ade. No great numbers like the Travis Wall contemporary piece or Mia's addiction dance (though if you gave Jason and Jeanine last night's Travis Wall piece they'd have knocked it out). All this, and Season 5 was still considered a disappointment compared to its predecessors. I really hope Season 6 starts to pick up sooner rather than later.

    November 18, 2009 at 1:55 pm | Report abuse |
  24. Ann

    I have surprisingly become a big fan of Ashleigh. Funny, because during Vegas week, I found her extremely artificial. Its strange that she seems to connect better emotionally and be more REAL when she is on stage dancing. It's true that Jakob has a truly amazing talent and so that helps their partnership a lot, but with this week's hip-hop routine, she certainly more than held her own and I think hit harder and sharper than Jakob.

    November 18, 2009 at 1:55 pm | Report abuse |
  25. Cheryl

    I absolutely love this show. I got hooked on it last year and now I am addicted. It is really an emotional rollercoaster each week. I think Russell is amazing, especially with his lack of dance training. He is really a naturally talented dancer. Nathan and Mollee are a hot mess and need to be sent home immediently because they are both out of their leagues. Jakob, Legacy, Ellenore and Ryan are also enjoyable to watch. It is hard to say at this point who will win the whole thing. Each week gets more and more exciting. I also agree that some of the choreography is questionable. Nice to see some different folks added to the choreography team this year. I like how this show handles the voting. I wish American Idol would adopt a similar techique to ensure the most talented people stay in the game while also allowing the audience to participate in the voting.

    November 18, 2009 at 1:52 pm | Report abuse |
  26. Joe

    Nathan and Mollee have the cute factor going for them but they are not the best dancers in the competition – too immature. Karen does smolder and is a great dancer but Kevin will bring her down as he is just not as good as she is or the other guys. Victor and Channing also are good dancers but are uninspiring so far, maybe because of the choreography they've been given. Russell and Noelle have both improved dramatically but again they are not standout performers. I think Ellenore is fantastic but needs more personality to connect with voters. Ryan is way too cheesy and needs to stop milking the bare-chested look, and his dancing is one-dimensional. Kathryn and Legacy are becoming more and more adorable each week. They will stay around for personality sake more than dance skills. Ashleigh and Jakob also connect well as a couple but Jakob is by far the better dancer and should win the whole thing.

    November 18, 2009 at 1:51 pm | Report abuse |
  27. Mary

    Russell and the foxtrot–wow, can anyone remember when a dancer landed the foxtrot twice in one season? I continue to be impressed by him. He should make it through this week's round; hopefully America will agree. Noelle surprised me with her elegant performance.

    I was very pleased to see Ryan and Ellenore get a chance to shine: she is a very skillful and daring dancer, but there's a quirkiness about her that can work against her in some numbers. Ryan was perforrming on a level I haven't yet seen from him, and wow, it was great to see him shine, particularly in the demanding lifts. But yep, I wish he'd put on a shirt.

    Kathryn wowed me too in her paso doble with Legacy, and he impressed me again with his determination and onstage presence. I still prefer Brandon and Jeanine's paso doble–it's one of my favorite dances ever–mainly because Legacy, hard-working as he is, has a way to go before he can dance on Brandon's level. Maybe I should have been able to overlook Legacy's weaknesses in technique, but I couldn't. But I'm impressed with his steady progress.

    I dunno, Tyce Diorio's blackbirds didn't quite fly for me. The music was too distracting: Bobby McFerrin is an acquired taste, I guess. Still, it was the best so far for Victor and Channing. I've got my doubts about them, but I've been wrong before.

    Unfortunately, Karen showed her limitations, as I suspected would happen when she got a routine outside of her comfort zone. It looked as she and Kevin had to concentrate so much on getting through the choreography that they didn't have anything left for the performance. They are both really good in their own fields of dance, but I can't see either one of them developing quickly enough this season to compete with the stronger competitors.

    November 18, 2009 at 1:33 pm | Report abuse |
  28. Jackie

    I totally love Russell. I think he has come along way from his auditions. I look forward to his dance every week and hope he will make it to at least top 10.

    November 18, 2009 at 12:45 pm | Report abuse |
  29. Angelina

    Without a doubt Ellenore and Ryan are my favorite couple in the competition. Their talent is endless. I agree with the comment above in that the judges boost certain dancers because they will lead to a good tour. Mollee and Nathan need to go home. They're talents are best suited for Disney movies (as Mollee's resume proves). Please let America vote for the most talented and not the cheekiest.

    November 18, 2009 at 12:43 pm | Report abuse |
  30. Jim coleman

    More than ever the choreography should be blamed for the scoring of the contestants. It seems some of the judges used to choreograph some of the routeins failed. Provide a list of the choreographers ahead of time and you can select which dancers will be in the bottom 3 before they even dance.

    Choreographers who have had dancers eliminated also need to be eliminated as future choreographers.

    November 18, 2009 at 12:36 pm | Report abuse |
  31. Margaret

    I diagree with the statement about Legacy. I was a dancer for 15 years and I can tell you learning transitions is very difficult. He is coming along nicely each week. His poise is getting better and the transitions are starting to look smoother. I think the only person they are pushing this year is Karen and Kevin. Kevin had no poise in his dance and looked awkward for most of the moves. When you compare Kevin and Russell there is no competition that Russell is clearly an overall better dancer.

    November 18, 2009 at 12:12 pm | Report abuse |
  32. WI

    I love this show! I've been watching since the 2nd season when I found out about it. Love the routines, love watching the dancers all work so hard! I wish they all knew how much enjoyment so many of us get watching their routines!

    November 18, 2009 at 12:08 pm | Report abuse |
  33. SYTYCD Fan

    I think that this is one of the best seasons for the show yet, as it has the most "growing" taking place. I love Russell, for him to learn the things he has as a krumper is amazing. I really wish Ryan would put on a shirt. As for Mollee and Nathan, I do not think that Nathan is up to par with the rest of the dancers. He shows some promise, but never delivers it. But of course, he will be safe because of all of the teens out there. As for Mollee, I think she does have a lot of growing to do, and if she wasnt with Nathan, she would be gone by now. Really interesting season all the same!

    November 18, 2009 at 12:02 pm | Report abuse |
  34. Pericles

    I have enjoyed watching SYTYCD for several seasons now. I love watching the dancers grow – or not – as the choreographers challenge then to every more difficult pieces. However, each season it seems that the judges let their integrity be displaced by the demands to some higher power as they attempt to guide the voting by touting the skills of someone who really shouldn't be there. Such is the case with Legacy. Clearly this is a man who has amazing skill in his own genre – but even there could not master the transitions well at all. However, that is where his skill-set ends. The choreographers clearly don't know what to do with him, so the allow him to stand there and pose while his partner basically does all the work. He has not extension, no poise, no technique, and basically cannot hold his own and yet each week the judges pour praise on him like he is the best thing since Danny or Neil of a previous season. Clearly he does not belong in the company of such amazing dancers, but they relentlessly try to bolster him up by talking about how much he has grown, how dedicated he is. All of this, I think, is because they want a sexy b-boy in the top ten for the tour. This has no integrity to the spirit of SYTYCD, and I for one hope judges put their foots down and start telling the truth – he is a sweetheart, works really hard and he is out of his league.

    November 18, 2009 at 11:44 am | Report abuse |

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