By Sabrina Rojas Weiss
It's got to be a sign of the quality of dancers "So You Think You Can Dance" has amassed in recent seasons that they're no longer judged on how well they execute their steps. Instead, the judges struggle to explain these very intangible criteria: growth, humor, commitment, maturity. It's all so vague, I'm itching to see someone really screw up, fall on their face and drop their partner, just so we have some concrete reason to send them home. Sorry, I'm going to dance-fan hell for that, aren't I? Anyway, here are my own arbitrary categories for last night's episode.
Completely Agreeing With the Judges' Praise For:
Kathryn and Legacy: Once I was able to tear my eyes away from Legacy's bare torso, I noticed that Kathryn was indeed killing it (as Adam Shankman put it). She had fire in her eyes and drama in every movement. And Legacy didn't just pose in that paso doble stance — he threw his partner around like a champ. (And they can't be blamed for Tony Meredith's ridiculously contrived "admiral and concubine" story.)
Ellenore and Ryan and Travis: The judges spent most of their time praising Travis Wall for his choreography, which included excellent storytelling and some gorgeously complex lifts and jumps. I'm still not in love with Ryan, but he certainly was adept at throwing and catching Ellenore, who seems to have wings on her feet.
Noelle and Russell: The fox trot was a bit of a snoozer, but it was excellent to see how much Russell had improved at it in the past few weeks. Plus, as the judges said, they looked like they were having a blast. Side note: These two and Kathryn and Legacy are my prime suspects for partnerships who might be taking that "chemistry" offstage.
Don't Get Why the Judges Were Drooling Over:
Ashleigh: Jakob can clearly do no wrong, but I'm sorry, his partner still looks like a ballroom dancer doing hip-hop. Maybe that's because Jakob is so good.
Mollee and Nathan: Nathan himself admitted to being a brat as a kid, and I think he still is — both a kid and a brat. To be fair, I think Laurieann Gibson's choreography was just too dance-steppy, especially coming as it did after Travis' brilliant piece.
Unlucky Pairs of the Night:
Karen and Kevin: Someone needs to admit that Broadway is not a great genre for this competition. It's never flashy or emotional enough to impress the judges or the voters. But Nigel needs to shut up about how sexy or not sexy Karen is and concentrate on getting her a better partner.
Channing and Victor: I had to watch this piece twice because, like Adam, I was too distracted by the Bobby McFerrin song and remembering this amazing video someone sent me last week. These two are really good — and Victor's pirouettes were breathtaking — but when they're constantly picking their own genre, the judges have nothing to scream about.
What Producers Better Deliver Tonight:
Video of Cat Deeley as a child. I demand it!