SYTYCD: Vegas! (Season 8 Episode 4)

Cat Deeley warns us that Vegas has long been the breaking point of many a talented dancer and this year will be no exception. 160 dancers have come to Vegas this year and this “week” they will be narrowed down to 20. Adam Shankman/Jason Gilkinson, Robin Antin, Debbie Allen, Tyce Diorio, Mary Murphy, and Nigel Lythgoe will be judging today.

The dancers will be working through styles such as broadway, ballroom, hip hop, contemporary, and a group round. But first, we have a solo round for the dancers to impress like they did in their city auditions. But they have no bad dancers to hide behind and ballroom dancers have no partners to use. There is no feedback in this round, leaving the dancers to wonder if they actually did well enough.

Ivetta Lukosiute has made it to Vegas twice now. You may remember her as the ballroom dancer in the frilly red get up. She has a very different look for Vegas: stripper policewoman. It’s not a bad idea, since the dancers trained in partner dancing usually have a hard time with doing solos. The routine is fun though I can’t say I am particularly impressed by her actually dancing. She does have good lines and flexibility and the crowd seems to be enjoying.

Marlon Pelayo comes up in a crazy arsty unitard thing. The dancing however seems to be missing something. Such as dancing perhaps. Nigel cuts him off fairly quickly.

Montage of excellence for a bit and then we hear about the reviews for the first fifteen. This will be the first cut decisions. Seven are called up, including Marlon but not Ivetta, and not surprisingly, they are cut. Debbie Allen tells them to consider the full package (outfit for example). The others move on.

That blonde who needed to work on her facial expressions is among the next batch of cuts. (She doesn’t even warrant a name this time around so I don’t recall who she is.)

B-boy Wadi Jones impresses with an odd but interesting slow motion set up tricks. He is one of a group of talented dancers (apparently one pair was allowed a ballroom duet?). Among these talented dancers was that girl who looks like Ginnifer Goodwin, Melanie Moore.

Lastly, we get Sasha and Natalia Mallory (who always seem to be last) who have once again chosen to perform together. It’s not massively impressive but it isn’t bad. The older sisters seems to have a bit more in the moves and extension department but you almost worry that the show will get called out for body image issues if the bigger sister is sent home. They make it through.

114 make it on to the next round, which is Hip Hop choreography. (46 have already been cut.) Nappy/Tabs will be the choreographers, who immediately warn that the routine is hard and fast. SWAG WANTED. Wadi Jones is suddenly in pain at the end of the round and we’re left to wonder if he will perform.

Chyna Smith, the blonde contemporary dancer, struggles with the routine to the degree where the judges say “what is she doing?” Adam says they are giving her a chance to re-perform it and do better. She says she panicked and went blank. But surprisingly, hers is not the worst performance. Hero Macrae, Pattie Anne Miller, Mary Kate Sheehan, and Princess Lockeroo are all early favorites among the group sent home. (I’m a little surprised about Hero, isn’t this more or less her genre? Maybe she’s only ever done freestyle.) 19 more dancers are sent home in short order.

Wadi Jones is up, despite his cramping pains. He is clearly stiff and uncomfortable during the dance and judges pick up on his limping. He gets through anyway and Mary advises that he drinks some water. Some better groups get up now and lot make it through including the Mallory sisters and .

Chyna and Ivetta are among the eight dancers asked to try again Chyna seems to have picked it up this time around (eliciting a “YES!” from Nigel). Can’t speak for Ivetta since we didn’t see her earlier audition, but she and Chyna, along with the others make it through this time around.

Now the contestants must learn Tyce’s Broadway routine, where the girls’ character is a good sort of trash (?). The guys aren’t sure what they are supposed to be doing.

Overly sexual Jordan Casanova is paired up with Wadi Jones and they take the stage with the minature pair, Jessica Wattanabi and Lil O. Throughout the two couples’ performance, Nigel can be heard continuously saying “I love her.” Jessica and Lil O are quickly sent through. Jordan is told that she owned it and goes through, along with Wadi.

Chyna Smith, the Mallory Sisters, DC Chapman and others are sent through too. I think Alexis Mason (Jeanine’s sister) gets is among this montage of successes.

Rebecca Hart, who has been to Vegas four times, is partnered with another Vegas veteran Jeremiah. I’m a little unimpressed with the pairing. Debbie Allen points out that Jeremiah’s timing was off, but he made it through anyway. Rebecca didn’t bring her personality and isn’t going to be making it through so she begs to dance for her life. Tyce says she’s got to be a pro after all of her experience. Nigel suggests she become an assistant choreographer somewhere to gain experience.

14 more dancers are cut by the end of this round and now it is time for Jive, taught by Jason Gilkinson.

Matalia Mallory and partner Josh Williams are having problems because she is not a small body type, which will make it hard for her to be lifted. Forgetting even the lifts, the entire routine feels a bit slow and labored. Nigel decides to have them redo it with different partners so that she can get a stronger partner. She is partnered with Professor Lock who is clearly a better match. (She just needs Joshua!) It’s enough to get her through.

Sasha Mallory and Ryan Ramirez are the next round and I love Ryan’s smile here. She really looks like she is enjoying it. Sasha did enough to make it through despite dancing with her knees too far apart. Ryan makes it through too, along with Melanie Moore.

The last group left includes Alexis Mason and no pressure on her when Tyce tells her they want her to come alive. There isn’t the flare they were hoping for here and the routine ends on a bit of a stumble. Tyce says they question her maturity and they ask her to dance for her life with a solo. She’s only 18, so even if she doesn’t make this round, she’s got time. I enjoy it and the crowd seems to as well, but it is hard to say how the judges felt about it. She only needs three yeses right now. Nigel tells her to stop being angsty in her solos and says No. Mary agrees but she appreciate the technical side and gives her a Yes. Tyce agrees because he sees something so Yes. Debbie Allan thinks she’s beautiful and would like to see more, so Yes. Alexis takes the critique well and says she at least knows what to work on.

39 guys and 35 girls are left (74 total) moving into the group round. They will be looking for creativity, innovation, and entertainment. The groups of 4-5 will get randomly assigned music. As always, things start out well, but slowly but surely, tension spreads through the groups. (We get very little of this and it makes me wish we had gotten two nights of this so that we could see more of everything.)

Natalia Mallory starts feeling sick and Sasha runs to get her help. She worries about having the chills (though this isn’t crazy since she is sweating from all the working out). Her group doesn’t want to perform without her but they seem to be pretending that they would not go on if she can’t. That seems unlikely.

First up: Bridget, Caitlynn, Ricky, Clarice, and Wadi who likely their music instantly. They felt good about their routine and everything came along quickly. This never ends up as well as it would seem to indicate but in this case it actually seems to be going well. They incorporate everyone’s style and it is well choreographed (not up to SYTYCD’s regular choreographers, but still good for a contestant). One of the best routines Mary has seen in years. They are all through.

The next bunch of groups seem to be doing well too as we get a montage of good things and laughing judges. Only seven dancers were cut, and only one group is left: Natalia’s. Arielle Coker is also in this group and I’d really like her to make it through. DC Chapman, Dashe Mitchell, and Jordan Casanova are among the group. (DC had been having some issues with the routine because he felt like it was all contemporary and not at all hip hop. Arielle gets a little “why me” here that makes me like here just a little less.) Despite all their issues, the group seems to perform well (“I like this!” Tyce declares.) Robin likes that she could watch the music through the choreography. Nigel likes that Natalia can keep up with the other girls without problems. All of them make it through.

The final choreography round has arrived: contemporary. Lots of tears in the round that is always considered extremely difficult and something of a “bloodbath”. In comes Travis Wall, assisted by past contestants Robert and Jamie. Travis says this is a routine he’d do on the show so this will be a very good indicator. Ryan Ramirez has such bad back pain that she has to talk off and Cat tells her to stop if it really hurts. Ryan might have broken her tailbone and Nigel wants to get her checked first. She might miss the rest round (but I think they won’t make her leave even if she does, she’s been doing well and they know how good she is).

Natalia is also still struggling and she too heads to the hospital. Sasha is upset when she learns and goes to check on her. Sasha doesn’t seem to understand (“that’s stupid, she’s a dancer!”) but Natalia tells her to stay and perform. She is paired with Professor Lock. They seems to struggle to stay in time with the others and be graceful at first (the judges do not have happy faces on) and though they pick it up a bit near the end, I am not certain it will be enough. She makes it through anyway, along with her partner. Robert Taylor Junior, Wadi Jones, and Lil O are some other hip hoppers that make it through.

Ryan Ramirez returns with pain but no serious injury (bruising and swelling mostly). The assistants help her review quickly but it may not be enough time for her to learn it all. She is paired with Robert (so she’s got a solid partner) and despite a couple moments of stiffness, she seems to pulled it off quite well. They liked her passion and determination and she goes through.

Our final set includes DC Chapman, Jeremiah Hughes, and Arielle Coker. Jeremiah and Arielle are the major veterans who can never seem to make it passed this round so they are particularly desperate. DC Chapman doesn’t quite seem to have the smoothness of the routine though I think Arielle looks pretty great. Arielle is told they are wondering what she will deliver as a contestant (huh?) and has therefore been cut. She’s too stunned to even react. (BOO JUDGES!) Jeremiah makes it through. DC has been cut. (He breaks down in tears and Debbie Allen says she will make sure he can get the training he needs to improve.)

12 more dancers are cut, including Chyna Smith.

Natalia returns from the hospital and it turns out they think she might have diabetes. She gets a free pass through contemporary (which seems unfair since it is so hard) and they have her just do a solo. Her first true solo really because for once she is not with her sister.

Final solos continue and we get a montage of dancing. Clarice Ordaz is a jazz dancer who does something to more of a ballroom song but whatever. The judges love her.

More cuts. Natalia is asked to explain why deserves to continue. She gets Mary crying and even Nigel tearing up a bit. She does make it through, along with her sister.

Chase Thomas (you know who he is, the naked boy), Amber Williams, and some other early favorites are also sent home.

Alexis Mason‘s solo is a bit more of a powerful performance than we have seen from her (though she does the trouty mouth thing a bit). They tell her to come back next year. Sad, but I’m not terribly disappointed because I think she can improve rather than get a throwaway shot at the show (where she gets cut the first week because she isn’t quite ready).

What do you think about the cuts? Anyone you think should have stayed? (Arielle Coker!)

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