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Review: So You Think You Can Dance - Top 14 Perform

by Jason Hughes, posted Nov 18th 2009 1:44AM
Ashleigh Di Lello(S06E15) After last week's lackluster performances, I was starting to wonder about the vaunted strength of this season's Top 20. But the 14 remaining dancers came back very strong this week, with improvements across the board. There was only one dance that completely disappointed me, but throughout the night, I cannot easily see the Top Ten dancers we're working toward.

One thing that's a little frustrating when we get down to a smaller number of dancers like this, and they're only performing once ... we get a ton of filler. The judges went on and on about each contestant. Maybe FOX should consider shortening the episodes to an hour-and-a-half during these weeks and give us more episodes of some of their great sitcoms like 'Til Death or Brothers.

Hmmm -- maybe I can handle the rambling judges after all.

Ashleigh & Jakob (Hip-Hop w/ Napoleon & Tabitha D'umo)
"Whatcha Say," Jason Derulo
I was worried about this number going in, despite the fact that this couple hasn't really disappointed us yet. Still, I didn't expect Ashleigh to have that much storytelling capability in her, much less the ability to hit those steps that hard. They were together brilliantly throughout, and are quickly telling me that this is a couple that could take it to the final four. Dare we say Ashleigh is really coming into her own as an all-around dancer? She dominated Jakob in that performance.

Karen & Kevin (Broadway w/ Spencer Liff)
"If My Friends Could See Me Now," Sweet Charity (2005 revival cast)
Wow, did that number look uncomfortable for both of them. It was the first time that Karen really looked uncomfortable; I certainly wouldn't say that Karen was drawing my eye, as I found myself wanting to look away to spare the both of them. It was a juvenile performance in that you could see them counting the steps and working through the lifts, as if they were just learning. Of course, they are but the point of the show is to not expose yourselves so badly. It was labored, lacking any of the high energy or joy the number required, and painful to endure.

Noelle & Russell (Foxtrot w/ Edward Simon)
"Baby (You've Got What It Takes)," Michael Buble and Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings
There was something very sweet about the mellow foxtrot we saw, and it was more than just because it was nice to see Russell finally get to perform one with his partner. I thought they had a very charming chemistry in the number, which was enough to overlook some stuttering footwork and missed cues. It wasn't a particularly challenging routine, but both of them were performing the number with impressive technique considering their disparate backgrounds.

Channing & Victor (Jazz w/ Tyce Diorio)
"Blackbird," Bobby McFerrin
I think Tyce may have finally been too weird for me. It was well done technically, but it was a very strange thing to watch. The music was a bit distracting, as well, actually pulling me out of the performance. When I did force myself to pay attention, I found great control of body and movement. The requirement of acting like birds was definitely achieved, as their movements were hardly human, darting around the stage like maniacs.

Kathryn & Legacy (Paso Doble w/ Tony Meredith)
"Pursuit," Ka (Cirque du Soleil soundtrack)
Okay, so they botched the ending, but before that I was pretty impressed. Certainly both of them found the intensity of the performance they needed. I saw moments of impressive footwork, but there were also moments where both dancers were a little off getting to some of the dramatic poses. Much like I'm becoming a fan of Ashleigh, I've become a reluctant supporter of Legacy as well; he's really shown a lot more than I thought he had.

Ellenore & Ryan (Contemporary w/ Travis Wall & Jaimie Goodwin)
"Your Ex-Lover Is Dead," Stars
I think Ryan's carriage was again a bit of an issue, but he did loosen up noticeably at times. I loved the choreography and story of the piece, and thought Ellenore was simply stunning. The conviction with which she threw herself into Ryan's arms over and over again showed how much faith she has in her partner. Ryan's strength was a tremendous asset to the choreography, in that Travis had Ellenore off of the floor almost as much as she was on it.

Mollee & Nathan (Pop-Jazz w/ LaurieAnn Gibson)
"Bad Romance," Lady Gaga
Oddly enough, I thought Mollee and Nathan danced very well, but I wasn't as impressed with the choreography. They hit their marks with the right intensity and sold me on what they were doing, but there were some moments in the dance where I was a little flummoxed by what they were doing. If there is any fault in it -- and it was a bit boring -- I can't place any of that on the dancers. They gave everything they had to choreography that I thought was inconsistent at best.

Easily, it was Karen and Kevin this week with a disastrous Broadway routine. Other than that performance, there were things to enjoy about most of the numbers, so perhaps it may come down to failing to connect with the audience like what happened with me and Channing & Victor's "Blackbird." Or maybe awkward choreography will send Mollee & Nathan to the bottom. That's right, Nigel; in their case, I say it's the choreography.

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I loved loved loved Ryan/Elenore's Travis Wall piece. That song and dance will be on repeat for me for a while. Ashleigh is growing in my book, but her facial expressions still throw me out of the dance at times. For who I think is going home this week and more, check out my blog: http://toointerestingfortwitter.blogspot.com/2009/11/so-you-think-you-can-dance-top-14.html

November 18 2009 at 1:25 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
The Deej

They used to shorten the show but I think season 3 was the last time they did that. Hooray for DVR's and time shifting so I can just skip all the filler.

November 18 2009 at 12:31 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I've been a fan of Ashleigh from her audition and I am so glad she is continuing to get stronger and stronger. She is my favorite thus far. I also am a big fan of her partner Jakob, as well as Russell and Elenor and Ryan. I want to root for Channing as she is kinda a local to where I grew up, but so far she seems bland. I cannot connect to Karen and Kevin at all so maybe their terrible performance last night will send them home. However if I could wave my magic wand I would "poof" Mollee and Nathan. I'm all for young and percocious ... but these two just grate. Unfair perhaps, but just my honest opinion.

November 18 2009 at 11:12 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

My Fav to least fav. . .
Kathryn&Legacy - Total Commitment.
Ashleigh&Jakob (okay, I might be an Ashleigh convert.)
Noelle&Russell - Complete Joy to an Outdated Style.
Channing&Victor - the Quirkier the Better.
Ellenore&Ryan - liked the choreography better than the dancers themselves doing it.
Mollee&Nathan - I want more commitment out of Nathan.
Karen&Kevin - Kevin looked so out of place!

I think the bottom 3 will be:
Ellenore&Ryan (maybe Travis fans will save them)

IF that happens, I think Kevin and Channing should go home. . .

November 18 2009 at 10:20 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

i am not feeling LaurieAnn as a choreographer... but it was very smart to put the cutest kids in a dance number with music by Lady GaGa.

November 18 2009 at 9:52 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I am another Ashleigh convert, she's very, very good and matches the virtuoso Jakob beautifully- call me surprised but pleasantly.

Wow kudos for Travis' choreo for Ryan and Ellenore -when it was over I started to cry - I think we all have a love that got away and they really pulled that emotion to the surface for me.

Noelle and Russell made me happy because they really looked happy - lot of joy and it projected right through the TV screen.

November 18 2009 at 7:49 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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