SYTYCD Season 10, Week 2: Don’t Be Cruel

image courtesy of 19 Entertainment and Dick Clark Productions

image courtesy of 19 Entertainment and Dick Clark Productions

It’s the start of week 2 where things get real fast: at least two dancers are potentially going home tonight (unless hope springs eternal like in Season 8 where no one went home, but faced a double elimination the following week). Let’s see what’s in store for us tonight….

Top 20: Opening number
OK, weird, twisted and fantastical—either Mia or Tyce. Mm-hmmm….Tyce. I’m getting good at calling his numbers.

Guest judge: Christina Applegate

Introducing the judges before the dancers—interesting. Maybe that was actually a live performance and not a look-live….ahhh, bottom 3 reveal at the top of the show, with imminent elimination. AAAAND the eliminated contestants have to still perform with their original partners. Yes, as a matter of fact, that decision DOES blow. At least they get to dance for their lives.

Makenzie (saved)
Alan (saved)

Both were immediately saved by the judges and spared the solos under pressure, though the mere announcement has to have done a number on their confidence.

The four remaining contestants were called to the dance floor right then and there:

Mariah
It would be foolish, IMO, to cut the only girl krumper the show has ever had. But I also think her Season 9 audition was stronger than this dance for her life.

Jade
Still smooth as hell. Hope it’s enough.

Brittany
Very versatile solo—she might have the edge over Mariah.

Carlos
Power-packed solo—may or may not be enough.

Nigel was disappointed in the solos, and announces Carlos and Brittany’s departure. So Mariah has a bittersweet victory as she dances her last with her partner and will be paired with Brittany’s former partner BluPrint next week. I did figure he would make that particular call, though.

Let me state AGAIN for the record how colossally bad of an idea this is; not only do you throw the ones that have been eliminated off-kilter but you get in the heads of their saved partners. This here some bullsh….. (Thankfully, enough fans raised enough hell for Nigel to change his mind…a little. At least the buzzkill cut announcement no longer stains the remainder of the show.)

Anyway, after that major downer, the competition for the evening actually begins.

Hayley/Curtis
Jazz – Ray Leeper

Hayley doing damage to poor Curtis again, with his silly behind trying to be hard. Sweetie, I love you, but I can’t even look at that baby face without expecting the words “What you talkin’ ’bout, Willis?” to come out of your mouth….

Didn’t we do this costume concept with Caitlynn and Mitchell already? Though I would try to rock that outfit (after a round of Insanity and a couple sets of Spanx)….Curtis, bless his heart, really did try to infuse that bad boy attitude, but Hayley ate him up. He is getting more comfortable with the hands and the closeness thing, though.

Nigel thought it was sexy and well danced, and that Hayley was the main draw. Well yeah, a see-through/pleather leotard and ho boots will do that for any man, but she did crank up the sexy even more tonight. Mary needs to stop encouraging Cat to do the “Munchkin happy dance” (‘cause that’s what it looks like), but apparently is in agreement with Nigel. And she was impressed with Curtis’s bad boy persona. Christina makes three and suggested focusing more on balancing dancing to the words as well as the beats to more fully bring the mood across and increase the audience anticipation. As a liturgical dancer, I can see the merit in that suggestion—you often have to depend less on even counts and more on the singer’s message to fully convey your theme.

Jasmine H./Aaron
Lyrical Hip-Hop – Tabitha and Napoleon Dumo
Jasmine and Aaron are worried about getting the chemistry and connection down; with Aaron playing a musician, I wonder if he’s going to channel his dad….

Aaron really is a big dude, and that’s really obvious when he tries to do smooth moves like that. Not that he wasn’t hitting them and keeping good sync with Jasmine, but it’s hard not to think of the term “lumbering” with some of the steps. Plus I think, as least on this first pass, that he was more smiley than seductive. That taking the shirt off move was well-practiced, because I didn’t see it coming even AFTER it happened. Looking again, if I were Aaron I would have lingered a bit on those last moves–stared at Jasmine a beat more, a slower stroke of the hat brow, and a slightly more stretched out turn and walk away, just to heighten that “rambling man” persona. Those few nuances might have made the difference between the good that it was and the great that it could have been.

Mary bought the chemistry, though, and praised Jasmine’s acting ability (which really is good, as we discovered in the Vegas contemporary round) and Aaron’s sex appeal. Christina praised Jasmine’s star quality, called them the couple to beat and tossed her dress rehearsal notes out the window (I’m going to guess they were working at 50% and turned it up to 150% for the show.) Nigel thought there was great honesty in the chemistry and once again commented on the blurring of the tap lines as he did previously with Curtis. He even dubs Aaron a “major asset” to the show, and considering he almost wasn’t on, that’s pretty high praise. (Yeah, he’s 23, but I’m no cougar; thus, he’s still jailbait. I will try to look for the sexy, though)

Are they changing the phone numbers every week? Just noticed Aaron and Jasmine H.’s number were 02 instead of 08. They really want to make sure you’re watching and paying attention, don’t they?

Malece/Jade
Bollywood – Nakul Dev Mahajan

Silliness reigned at the rehearsal—and for someone who’s afraid of clowns, Jade sure talks about them a lot….

This one was sloppy. More hip-hop infused than most of Nakul’s other creations, and Malece was up and down with her energy. Not sure if they were supposed to fall into that end pose like that…. Jade gave me shades of Joshua there.

Christina enjoyed it and thought it was fun; commended both for doing this dance so far out of either’s style. Took the time to admonish Jade for his “laid back” approach to his bottom 3 performance and said he should immerse himself in everything as much as he could and pull out all the stops to stay. Nigel was drawn to Malece and shocked that Jade picked up Bollywood as well as he did. Mary was pleased with their prowess and energy. I will take Mary’s note about the heaviness of Malece’s headdress into account regarding my perceptions of her energy…she did get some good jumps in there….

Alexis/Nico
Contemporary – Stacey Tookey

Stacey’s doing the sequel to Season 7’s war story with Robert Roldan and All-Star Kathryn McCormick; Alexis takes over Kathryn’s role and is coming back home. Nice move on Stacey’s part to bring the original two in to help…at least I THINK that’s what they were there for.

There will be the inevitable comparisons to another war-themed dance—the “Coming Home” lyrical hip-hop with Season 8’s Sasha Mallory and Alexander Fost. The chemistry between Alexis and Nico, once they actually connected, was believable; I’m a little lost as to why Nico just moved the duffel as if he’d already seen her come in and then showed surprise, though–probably blocking to clear stage space but thematically it didn’t fit for me. This should be a redeeming number for them, though, and considering their fan base kept them completely out of the bottom 3 after last week’s lukewarm hip-hop, they should have an easier time of it.

Nigel thought they were lovely and that both need to continue working harder every week; Mary love watching them and was moved by their uninhibited abandon; Christina is really following her dress notes and complimented Nico on a simple technique change he made in the choreography and thinks Alexis has an extraordinary quality about her.

Brittany/BluPrint
Broadway – Spencer Liff
Late night cram session in the library – a la Cyrus and Tiffany alone in the parents’ living room “studying.” That plus Broadway made the song choice obvious.

The first of our split couples to perform—the side by side section was really nice. This number highlighted Brittany more than anything, which along with BluPrint’s fan base, will be very helpful in saving him again next week. Too bad her fate was already sealed.

Mary thought it was fun and is really sorry to see Brittany go, but called BluPrint out on working on his lines and staying in the moment, asking him to dig deeper. Christina thought he was wonderful as well, but gives him the advice to just let go and tell the story in Broadway rather than focus so hard on the technical. Nigel agrees and also laments Brittany’s departure.

Jasmine M./Alan
Tango – Miriam Larici and Leonardo Barrionuevo

That’s a really short dress for her to be tangoing in….Jasmine plays the innocent as Alan is the “evil” luring her. Tables turn this week as Alan dances his own style. There’s lifts in it, so unless it’s show tango, I’m assuming Argentine.

Cat says it was like Dracula and his prey. Alan was a very strong presence but I got more of a “skeevy old lecher” vibe than pure evil. Jasmine’s inexperience did show, but she hit some of those tango forms and flicks well.

Christina thought they stepped up to last week’s performance; Nigel was also duly impressed and thought Alan did just as well as he did last week and was nonplussed at his appearance in the bottom 3, and praised Jasmine for her intensity; Mary thought the passion level was off-the-charts crazy and was also pleased with their mastery of the level of difficulty in the routine, particularly the last lift sequence.

Makenzie/Paul
Jazz – Sean Cheesman
Mad scientist creates sexy fembot…uh-huh. Paul’s next up to bat in the “drop the shy boy” sweepstakes.

Weird Science, the dance number. Paul kinda looked like Napoleon there. Did a good job hanging in but some of those tricky spins and connections were not as smooth as they could have been. Makenzie makes a good vamp.

Cat, stop stealing my lines–I said Weird Science first! Nigel loved it (and clearly Sean did too) and was very impressed with Paul’s prowess. (Took a sidebar to point out a very pregnant Melissa Sandvig, the naughty ballerina from Season 6 who with one week to go is out and about at SYTYCD. My feet would SO be up on my couch at home—hope the emergency bag’s in the trunk of the car….) Mary thought it was terrific and was also impressed with Paul. Christina makes three and sees a young Patrick Dempsey (pre-McDreamy) in Paul (yeah, I can kind of see that), pausing to give him a small note to lose his practiced carriage a little in loose, free-moving numbers like this. All three judges were baffled at Makenzie’s appearance in the bottom 3, and unless her fan base fights for her, the panel is going to have to keep saving her for as long as they can.

Mariah/Carlos
Contemporary – Stacey Tookey

Carlos as an amnesiac accident victim and Mariah as his beleaguered love. At least he gets his own style to go out with, and the early elimination may just add to her performance anguish—if something good was to come out of that asinine decision by the producers.

Mariah is STILL broken up by this—and as expected, she used it in her movement. Carlos, naturally, was fantastic.

Mary’s flabbergasted and thinks Carlos’s absence will be America’s loss, and was truly impressed with Mariah’s passion. Christina also thought America got it wrong and thought their connection was the tightest and strongest of the evening. Nigel make it a unanimity about Mariah’s passion and wished Carlos well.

Amy/Fik-Shun
Hip-Hop – Tabitha and Napoleon Dumo

They’re dressed as bellhops. Oooookay……Amy’s in Fik-Shun’s territory this week and feeling a little out of her depth. It’s set to be a fun routine, so hopefully, that’ll loosen her up.

Get yo’ swag on, Joey Potter! And unless they weighted that luggage rack a little, those are some tricky buggers to keep swinging on and through, so they both get props for THAT prop. Granted, the crawling “booty pop” section was a little off, but even I can’t do it, and I’m a big-booty black girl.

Christina loved it, and had to praise them for last week as well. Nigel was uplifted by their personalities and is still calling finals for both of them. Mary was just as enamored with the total package.

Jenna/Tucker
Cha-Cha – Dmitry Chaplin

We’re in Jenna’s world this week and she’s bringing Tucker along for the ride. Team Tuna works with Captain Shirtless to be the sleazy club guy and the sassy upstart. Given Tucker’s adorably clear dorkiness, this ought to be interesting.

He held character well….I’m not absolutely sure about the ballroom form, at least what little actual form Dmitry put in there for him. Clearly, this was Jenna’s spotlight all the way.

Mary praised Jenna’s ability but extended that praise to all forms of dance she’s seen from her since auditions and Vegas, calling her a chameleon; called out the precious few moments of actual form for Tucker but praised his partnering. Christina was thoroughly entertained and drawn into the story, praising Tucker for picking up as much as he did as a contemporary dancer. Nigel plays Debbie Downer and basically cracks on Dmitry for lack of cha-cha content. As nice a story as it was, I have to agree. He should well know this from his season on here as well as the many criticisms on DWTS about too much freestyle content and not enough classic form.

OK, so again, depends solely on dance critique, these dancers could land in the bottom 6:

Tucker
Jenna
Malece
Jade
Mariah
BluPrint or Nico

I can’t read the fan support yet, so more than likely, maybe two of this list will actually BE in the bottom 6. If social media follows are to be believed, Makenzie and Jade have the most to fear. No one has made an actual misstep yet; however, it is a competition and someone has to go whether we want them to or not. Hopefully, whoever falls into the bottom will bring their best, breakneck, kick-ass solo to convince the judges to keep them.

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