November 25th, 2009
09:14 AM ET

Highs and lows on 'So You Think You Can Dance'

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After the loss of star choreographer Mia Michaels, how lucky is "So You Think You Can Dance" to have Sonya Tayeh? Both of her routines ranked among the best of this season. But those weren't the only highlights, and despite some really rough patches, this top 12 performance show really delivered.

The combination of Kathryn and Legacy, who have yet to make a wrong step all season, with Sonya's best piece since "The Garden" made for an explosive performance. This really highlighted what my favorite couple does best, together and separately (that backwards crab walk!). I had to watch it again right away. They followed up with a Viennese waltz which more than made up for what it lacked in technique with a beautiful performance. It will be a real shame to see them go their separate ways next week, and I hope Nigel is wrong in saying that they might be in danger.

As for Sonya's second routine, was there any doubt that Jakob would nail it? His partner Ashleigh once again surprised once again by keeping up with him every step of the way. I have a feeling we'll be seeing this one again on the finale. For this couple's second dance, Ashleigh was right at home turning in her best performance to date, while Jakob showed he could cha-cha with the best of them. I breathed a sigh of relief seeing this, after the sub-par samba from Russell and Noelle, and Mollee and Nathan's monstrosity from two weeks ago.

Not to be outdone, Ryan and Ellenore brought the Lindy hop back in style after three long seasons, and despite some amazing "coffee grinders" (thanks for the terminology, Adam Shankman), it was nothing compared to their "Chicago"-inspired Broadway routine. The pair were perfectly in character and in sync, and Ellenore especially was a "rock star," as Adam described her.

After having a tough time with that samba, Noelle and Russell ended the night on a better note thanks to a Tyce Diorio contemporary routine, which was a literal work of art (with paint and everything). Will this save them from the bottom three? All signs point to no.

Despite so many high points, the night certainly had its share of lows. Two more couples who aren't strangers to the bottom three will likely return there: Karen and Victor, whose tango and hip-hop routines lacked chemistry, and Mollee and Nathan - though admittedly, their can-can was a lot of fun. On the other hand, a hip-hop routine based on Alexander Graham Bell? Seriously?

Do you agree with me on the bottom three? Are you jumping on board the Sonya train (not to be confused with the hot tamale train)? Which of these couples will you miss the most next week? Share your thoughts on video or in the comments below.

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soundoff (8 Responses)
  1. Mary

    I would love to see more ballet: I enjoyed Melissa's presence on the show last season, and she did quite well in the competition. (She came in fourth, I think?) But I doubt ballet will have more than an occasional presence in the competion, given how demanding it is, and how much training it requires. It's not a style that a dancer can pick up decently well (or even learn to fake) in a week, and that's all the contestants have. Too bad.

    November 30, 2009 at 6:22 pm | Report abuse |
  2. pugtastic

    I agree with Jim a few comments down. Choreographers who show more than one a failure in their dancers should get the boot. ALL dancers should get a chance to show their top stuff no matter the style or choreographer. It just seems unfair to some of the fabulous dancers they have on the show that the same choreographers stay while others go (Mia Michaels for one). Where is the ballet in the competition? Tap?

    November 26, 2009 at 1:38 am | Report abuse |
  3. Kathleen

    I'm not a fan of either Nathan or Mollee – and I don't think the voters are, either – they've been in the bottom three many times, and Nygel loves them and keeps saving them. When he saves them again tonight, it won't be long before they're voted off.

    Mollee is adorable, though, and should go to college – her tumbling and boundless energy has "cheerleading scholarship" written all over her.

    November 25, 2009 at 4:39 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Lady Nell

    I do agree with your bottom three. I love Russell and feel he's come so far, but he is now competing with well trained dancers and it is starting to show. I do believe he has a great dance career in front him, and I will miss him whenever he leaves the show. As for Mollie and Nathan, they are good dancers but lack the experience that the other dancers have. And, unlike others, I thought their can-can number was terrible. While there were a couple of good moments, their timing was off much of the time and they looked like jumping jacks. My pick for the two finalists will be Jacob and Ashleigh.

    November 25, 2009 at 4:13 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Mary

    Sonya's two routines were outstanding. Tyce Diorio also had a great night. His duet for Noelle and Russell was the highlight of the evening for me, and I was impressed by his bold introduction of the can-can. I never realized it was originally a couple's dance. All in all, I truly enjoyed the assortment of dance styles in this week's show.

    The only couples who I feel are safe this time around are Ryan and Ellenore, and Jakob and Ashleigh. I'm not exactly sure which of the other four will land in the bottom three. This is the first week where I feel Legacy isn't safe, mainly because of his so-so technique in the Viennese waltz. The fact that Mary and Nigel both commented on it wasn't a good sign. His overall technique has steadily improved since the early weeks, but he faces strong competition. His crying before the judges is also starting to bug me: I've always been impressed by his determination, intensity and dramatic stage presence, and I recognize that he's going through an amazing personal journey, but he's expressed his feelings before the judges' comments one time too many, for my tastes.

    But, rather than dwelling on the negative, I'll think about possible pairings when the couples are reorganized next week. Here's what I came up with (a list made as though no one is eliminated this week):

    Jakob and Mollee. Yes, Mollee. I first thought of Ellenore and Jakob as a dream team, because of their shared strong technique, but high-energy Mollee may push him in a new direction, while he may give her more polish and finesse.

    Ryan and Noelle: I would like to see Ryan paired with a lyrical contemporary dancer, given the success of Ashleigh and Jakob's partnership. After a slow start, Noelle's strengths are emerging, and an experienced performer such as Ryan could help her develop.

    Legacy and Karen: Tons of intense, smoldering stage presence. I'd actually prefer to keep Karen and Victor together, after their impressive tango, but alas, that's not possible. Legacy and Ashleigh would also be an interesting partnership. Definitely, I'd pair him with one of the ballroom dancers so that he could broaden his experience.

    Russell and Ellenore: Russell could benefit enormously from Ellenore's technical strength, while she would be challenged by a partner with as much star quality as herself.

    Nathan and Kathryn: I usually wouldn't pair two contemporary dancers, but their styles are different enough to provide some contrast. Although Kathryn is only a year older than Nathan, she demonstrates a graceful elegance that will make him a more consistent performer. And she will only grow stronger if paired with a dancer who shares her technical skills.

    Victor and Ashleigh: like Noelle, he would benefit from a partner who is an experienced, polished performer, as we saw this week with Karen. Though Ashleigh will probably outshine him, which won't be such a bad thing for her.

    November 25, 2009 at 3:51 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Jim coleman

    Like previous statements I would like to see choreographers who fail to provide routines that challange the dancers kicked off along with the dancers. It has become normal to put a "Story" with every dance which is stupid.

    choreographers need to be judged along with the dancers.

    Look at how many dancers have fallen into the bottom just because their routine is poor.

    Lil C is not only a poor choreographer he speaks only to hear himself and other think he is much more than reality.

    November 25, 2009 at 3:38 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Dial

    I just need to say, why do they keep inviting Laurie Ann back?!?! Her routines are never good, yet she feels the need to scream and yell at the dancers like she's making a masterpiece that she doesn't want them to destroy. Her routines are not nearly as deep, dramatic, interesting, or as good as she thinks they are.

    November 25, 2009 at 3:19 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Jaimie

    My thoughts are somewhat the same. I am actually not as excited about any of the dancers this season. I do feel the winner will be a male this time around and see the only two real contenders being Jacob and Russell. As far as the girls go, Ellenor has really made an impression on me and Ashleigh is growing like a fungus up my likable meter. I am afraid though that, like in the past, a more likable dancer (Nathan) will slip into the finals because of the teen vote.
    We can always cross our fingers though for the best in the competition to actually make it to the end.

    November 25, 2009 at 2:14 pm | Report abuse |

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