So You Think You Can Dance: Magnificent Seven?

Puttering around Facebook this morning, I find that I wasn't the only one disappointed in last night's performance episode of SYTYCD. Friends who watch the show decried the amateurishness of the choreography, the strangeness of the costumes and the huh? choice of Carmen Electra on the judges' panel. Still, there were a few nuggets in last night's episode: SYTYCD alum Travis Wall was also on the panel and gave an emphasis on technique the panel has been lacking, Mary and Carmen made a Buckeye joke that fell flat and Alexander gets sent to swag camp.


The show kicks off with a routine based on the seven stages of grief starring the top seven boys. It starts off as a restrained, piece, each boy performing his moves separately but in sync with the others. Then they all come together in a giant piece of human clutter and it starts to look a little, well, ridiculous.

Melanie and Marko are the first couple to perform, and they take on a Latin jazz piece with a Romeo-and-Juliet backstory choreographed by Ray Leeper. They nail the moves and everything, but between Marko's red pajama bottoms and the fact that absolutely nothing about this choreography says "feuding families," "star-crossed lovers" or "elope," I'm not entirely sold on this routine. The judges are, though.Travis says it was an amazing way to start the show, Carmen says Melanie's legs are ridiculous, Mary calls Marko domination man and Nigel says the technique matches the performance.

Sasha and Alexander are up next with a hip hop routine choreographed by Shaun Evaristo (sidenote: I really want to live in Sasha's house, where it looks like there's a family reunion/jam session/kegger every afternoon). This couple has struggled throughout the season with forming a connection between themselves and the audience, and tonight was no exception. I liked the choreography and their execution, but, as the judges were quick to point out, the "swag" just wasn't there.

Jordan and Tadd team up with Toni Redpath for an American-style waltz, and the story here is that Jordan is a siren luring Tadd to his death. At first, I'm turned off by the smoke machine and Jordan's long skirt (they both obscure the legs). But the skirt actually adds a remarkable, flowy, watery effect during lifts and rondes. The judges praise the way Jordan uses her arms (probably because they couldn't see her legs), Tadd's versatility, Nigel compliments the choreography and Travis thinks it could have been a little tighter.

Clarice and Jess get a Justin Giles contemporary routine about a really bad breakup. They execute the precise, jerky (Nigel uses the word "staccato") movements, but the facial expressions convey perfectly the angry emotions this story requires. They pretty much nail it, actually. Travis says its his favorite dance by the couple all season and compliments their honest, believable execution. Everyone on the panel agrees.

Ashley and Chris fall victim to some meh choreography with their Liz Lira salsa routine. Their costumes and movements echoed something out of Dancing with the Stars--it was predictable, boring and more or less in the same spot on stage the whole time. Travis says it didn't pop, Carmen thinks they were hesitating when the salsa should be hot, on fire, passionate, Mary says Ashley had her moments of Latin swagger and Nigel praised the lift sequence but felt Chris "wasn't there" for Ashley all through the performance.

Ricky and Ryan get a jazz routine choreographed by Chucky Kapow in which they play a couple of zombies. Recalling last week's zombie mess with Ashley and Chris, it worried me a little. Then I realize they're dancing to David Bowie's "Fashion." This routine is way less dark, much more colorful and actually kind of funny (hot pink hair extension-fringe on Ricky's jacket? Yes please). The judges go crazy for it. Mary and Nigel love the quirkiness of the routine and Carmen says they rocked it.

Finally, Caitlynn and Mitchell work with Mandy Moore on a romantic contemporary routine that is flawless except for the Celine Dion music choice. They get a standing ovation from the judges. Mary and Carmen say it's their favorite number of the night, Nigel praises their leaps and lifts and Travis says he's trying to catch his breath.

The night closes out with a sultry/weird/evil number by the girls about women trying to rid the world of evil men. Or something like that.

Tonight: Two more dancers go home

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