SYTYCD- Top 20 Performance (Season 8)

Now that we have our top 20 and have seen them dance in what is more or less their own genres, it is time to watch our dancers compete in pairs. I love how Cat doesn’t even finish her sentence. It is now, “Ladies and Gentleman please welcome your…”

Tonight’s judges are Nigel Lythgoe, Mary Murphy, and Megan Mullally. Megan, who you will recognize most as Karen from will and Grace. She has a background in dance, it turns out. Not one so illustrious as our other panel members, but she has done a few Broadway shows and danced in a few dance troupes when she was younger. Plus, her squeaky voice is so funny.

Someone seems to have replaced Cat’s cue cards with tongue twisters because she can’t seem to say any of her lines without making an attempt or two at it first.

One of the Top 20 has already been injured (No another cursed season!), Mitchell. He will be resting tonight, which automatically places him in the bottom 3 tomorrow. I don’t remember him well enough to know if I want him to stay so maybe I will have to look back on last week’s dances for a moment.

The dancers will have eight seconds (it is season 8) to tell us about themselves (shorter than last year’s 11 seconds since there are 9 more of them) before their routine.

Jordan wants to be a Pussycat Doll. Of course. That is all I got out of her rush. Her partner is Tadd who was once a dancing taco. They receive Afro-Jazz, which Jordan is completely clueless about. The choreographer is Sean Cheesman (that last name sounds like a joke). The piece is inspired by volcanoes which could be really cool. Hopefully they can erupt not implode. They both do a good job but I can’t tell if the choreography or the dancers are at fault for them seeming to slow. Maybe the music just isn’t the greatest match for the dance because it is way faster than they can go, but this dance didn’t quite capture the explosiveness I would expect from a volcano.
Judges say:
Nigel- You exploded on stage, tremendous. Fantastic power. Jordan was in her element. Taad picked it up so well that it bodes well for his future.
Mary- Did you feel the floor shaking! Jordan was so much more in character than expected and Taad, my goodness. Is he really a b-boy?
Megan- That was amazing Tad. So exciting, such precision and power. Jordan beautiful extensions, Taad showed a lot of strength. (Is it strange that the least experienced judge had the most technically specific commentary?)

Sasha likes purple. She is paired with Alexander, who may or may not speak Spanish. They get a Travis Wall (yay Travis Wall!) contemporary routine about his conscience haunting him for his poor behavior in a past relationship. Though perhaps not his most emotional piece, this was, excellent as always from Travis. And we’re off to a good start with the season eight performance because there was nothing really wrong or critique-worthy in that one either.
Judges say:
Mary- Another really great routine by Travis. Sasha holy smokes you are so strong and dynamic, your extensions and center…Alexander also super strong. Didn’t feel the connection between the two of you but still fabulous job.
Megan- I loved it. Sasha is coming in as a favorite, great storytelling. Alexander was very strong but there was a little bit of a disconnect with the facial expressions. It could have been a little more.
Nigel- Bold, exciting, and strong as expected form Travis. Sasha is like a modern day Amazonian princess. Alex needs to give more emotion while dancing with these amazing girls. (The guys as a whole need to come up to that level.)
**This may just be me, but does anyone else think there is something about Alex’s look that makes him look a bit sleazy?

Clarice who got no screen time but a lot of judge attention is sort of shy. She is partnered with Jess who makes funny noisy and specializes in Broadway (which the show translates as nerdy–what?). They are choreographed by Tyce Diorio for a Broadway Routine. He wants a showy piece for this duo. Jess has been on Broadway three times (when/as what?). I never enjoy the Broadway routines as much as I enjoy Broadway shows and I wonder if it is because of the songs they choose and the over-exaggerated styles that go along with it. Like with this one where they spent the entire think with stupidly enormous smiles on their face. It was appropriate for the routine, but it annoyed me anyway. I didn’t see anything technically to complain about though.
Judges say:
Megan- I loved everything about it, pure joy. Jess is a showman. Clarice is sexy and sassy with beautiful legs.
Nigel- I enjoyed Tyce’s choreography. Clarice is beautiful but will need to work hard to keep up with Jess who is a wonderfully gifted performer. This style is in every pore of his body. Jess outdanced Clarice in that routine (it was his style so that doesn’t say much). Jess will be a favorite tonight.
Mary- Amazing celebration of dance. Jess was perfection tonight. Clarice should not be in any danger soon.

Ryan seems to have healed from her bruised tailbone just fine. Ricky, her partner (aw, Ryan and Ricky), is a cheerleader. They picked hip hop and Chris Scott is their choreographer. The dance is about Ricky remembering his love for Ryan after she’s left. Ryan is one of my favorites (she has one of those light up the room smiles). I think Ryan has the hip hop swagger just a little bit better than Ricky. This isn’t my favorite of the slower hip hop number we have gotten, but it was still pretty good.
Judges say:
Nigel- I love the rhythmical feel to the piece. Be careful of your facial emotions. I loved the dancing. Ryan is superb and stands out in a see of girls that are so talented. Ricky was good too.
Mary- I was pleased. Ricky stayed in character and he is one of the most talented guys and Ryan is one of the strongest girls. Brilliant, fluid dancing.
Megan- The piece was very effective. I felt the story though I was a bit confused with the story. Beautiful.

Caitlyn who loves green. She is paired with the injured Mitchell who loves orange. Their genre is jazz with Sonyah Tayeh (Sonyah!!). It is about accomplishing things without fear. Mitchell is very sweaty, making him slippery. Since he is injured, Caitlyn will be dancing with Robert of Season 7. Lucky girl. There are some really great lines in this routine from both dancers. Caitlyn may have actually been at a disadvantage here because Robert is such an excellent and experienced dancer.
Judges say:
Mary- Wow, sister, WOO. You’re lucky for having Sonyah who produces such long, powerful movement. Great legs and extension. Brilliant.
Megan- I loved the message. That was amazing and impressive.
Nigel- Caitlyn, you had some extraordinary choreography. Ten for performance and technique.

(Most random thought about the show–what is with their font that the letter “I” is always a small lowercase while the “A” though lowercase, is as big as a capital letter?)

Miranda sleeps with a nightlight. She is partnered with Wooman Robert who loves fired food. (Sorry Miranda, he’s annoying.) Jason Gilkinson will be choreographing Latin dancing for them. Miranda has problems with being sexy so everyone tries to teach her how to be sexy. It was weird to watch since the music and outfits were so not Latin style but the steps obviously were. It was actually kind of cool to see it so modernized. I don’t normally like Ballroom/Latin dancing but I found myself really enjoying this. I think Miranda could have lifted her feet more when doing the footwork. (At the end, Megan cannot give her critique because of the loud cheering.)
Judges say:
Megan- You’d have to be in a coma not to like that one. Miranda is a bit goofy. Robert is her crush for being such a bright light. There was one moment that was off but still very impressive.
Nigel- Robert has got the biggest personality which could help or hurt him. Now learn to point your toes. It was fun but not technically sound. Miranda needs more confidence, she was sexy. She needs to do more to stay up with the other girls.
Mary- Fun fun fun. Miranda was clean and sharp. Robert stole the show because he had the jibe going through the entire performance. Woohoo!

Miranda likes her fridge, Australians, and Jamaican accents. She is paired with Wadi who loves Japanese culture. They get jazz with Sean Cheesman. Pandora’s Box has been opened and demon versions of themselves have escaped. There is a lot of jazz happening this week but there is no complain here because this routine was excellent. I expected them to be a bit more evil-seeming (a little too much happy smiling from Melissa and seriousness from Wadi) but I think dancing wise it was tremendous. Sean incorporated Wadi’s hip hop skills which is always nice to see.
Judges say:
Nigel- What’s so exciting this year is that the dancers are inspiring the choreographers. This is Sean’s best work ever. Missy is without question one of the “beats of the girls” for her technique and performance. Wadi picked up the style so quickly (more so than hip hop dancers in seasons pass). I pray he sticks around.
Mary- If you think you looked like sexy demons, you’re right. How could you not? Phenomenal. Wadi, I never knew you had that in you. Your partnering skills are the best I have ever seen.
Megan- Not only was that amazing but Wadi has never partnered before which is insane. Missy is a powerhouse.

Melanie collects nail polish. She is partnered with Marko who always sounds like he’s lost his voice. They get a contemporary routine with Travis Wall about statues that come to life at night and attempt to become one statue. This dance is more elegant and smooth flowing. They might have been angels as much as statues really. All they were missing were halos and wings. I love the jump in tempo at the end that really helped the routine culminate into a really strong moment. Standing O from the judges–Mary might be crying.
Judges say:
Mary- Every once in a while a number comes along that is so magical…amazing chemistry and technical level and choreography, etc. You had us at hello.
Megan- Chills, crying.
Nigel- First week and already we might have an Emmy nominated routine. The chemistry is fantastic. Marko still has a bullet in his shoulder but it doesn’t show. It wasn’t always perfect but it shows that there’s a tiny bit of growth left. Melanie is the queen of the beasts. We have never had a better girl dancer on this show.

Ashley loves waffles. She is paired with Chris who is from Texas. They get a Chris Scott hip hop routine where the couple learns they are both cheating on each other. Chris was once cheated on before so this routine was close to his heart. This performance is one of the weakest of the night because they were a lot of moments where the dancers seemed to slow down because they were struggling. You could see the preparation from one move to the next. Ashley in particular was lacking the sharpness of hip hop.
Judges say:
Nigel- Will they go for fun or technical prowess? Marko has never done this old school hip hop style. And Ashley is a ballerina.
Mary- Pure entertainment. Ashley had swagger when she threw Chris down. Chris always dances with heart.
Megan- I thought you were both great.
**I think the judges are just goofy about the start of the season so they are super positive this week. We’ll see if things change over the course of the season.

The final pairing of the night is Iveta who wants a monkey. She is parntered with tapper Nick. They get ballroom with Jason Gilkinson who teaches them a quickstep. Iveta plans to work him hard. The quickstep is always a tough one on this show, but if anyone can pull it off, it is probably Iveta and Nick (Nick is used to quick foot movement and Iveta is a pro). I don’t love this style but they seem to do a good job of it. Nick doesn’t seem out of his depth or behind Iveta, so that’s a good sign. Another standing O.
Judges say:
Megan- That was amazing, Nick is a tap dancer! I love how Iveta finishes everything with your arms.
Nigel- Nick must have thought, “oh great, dance of death.” Fabulous feet Nick, danced with the world champion and was up to scratch.
Mary- The first American representative to win all ten dances is Iveta and Nick ROCKED. Woo!

I know they say this every year, but this was definitely one of the strongest nights on the show in years, possibly the strongest opening night ever. There was not much to criticize and I can’t help but wonder who I want gone. Jordan? Ashley? Wooman? What do you think?

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