'So You Think You Can Dance' recap: Spellbound

sytycd-season-9.jpgPreviously: WHAT did I tell you about text-message-voting and spelling challenges? Ugh. Four dancers eliminated tonight.

The opening group dance is a Cyrus-centric affair, to the point where his face is spookily superimposed above the stage as a kind of "mirror mirror on the wall" type thing, with his face half-skull-painted. He's the centerpiece of the entire routine, too -- a hip-hop piece set in the same enchanted forest as last season's "Roman's Revenge" with Melanie and Twitch. It's some impressive stuff, by Tabitha and Napoleon and set to Marilyn Manson's "The Beautiful People" (remember when we had a Marilyn Manson??), but the overt propping up of Cyrus is a bit distracting, I can't lie.

Cole and Lindsay: Hip-Hop (Christopher Scott)
With everything crammed into this episode, the training packages are quite short, so we only get a bit of the concept: Lindsay is a vampy dentist preying on an ultra-nerdy Cole. On stage, they're using a dentist's chair as a prop. Hrm. I don't know quite what to make of Christopher Scott. His group routines are dynamite, but his pair dances seem WAY too precious, and this falls into that category (it's set to Lady Gaga's "Teeth, which... so on the nose!). Though I'm very happy that FINALLY Jennifer Aniston's role in Horrible Bosses is getting the dance treatment it deserves (the fact that Adam Shankman soon steals this joke from me doesn't diminish it at all). Cole hams up the nerd thing like whoa, both in routine and after, to the point where he starts honestly unnerving the judges. Nigel says he's been in character all WEEK? Is that possibly true? Adam finally is like, "Dude, let it go!" but Cole remains creepily steadfast. Nigel notes that Lindsay felt "immature" in the routine and was playing too much to the audience, which I have kind of always felt was the case with her. She's needy. Meanwhile, Cole's overcommitting to the gag has me turning against him. It's a goofy hip-hop dance, man; nothing about this calls for Andy Kaufman.

Amelia and Will: Contemporary (Sonya Tayeh)
These clip packages are so brief, we don't always get to see the style of dance spelled out. I've been around the block with this show long enough to pick up on it, but think of the newbies! This show taught me so much about dance, let's not shortchange anyone else. The dance is a dark, almost gothic-looking tale of romantic co-dependence or some such, and Sonya has wisely chosen to cast Amelia against type. I love that after months of auditions and everyone saying they couldn't wait for hipster-china-doll Amelia to work with Sonya, and Sonya resisted the temptation to indulge in her own reputation for oddness. Not that this isn't odd, but Amelia's grungy-haired grasping girl is a far cry from the silent-movie wannabe we've seen. Will, meanwhile, is kind of a marvel of nature. How he makes that big frame look so light is a wonder. Meanwhile, both dancers are taking the opportunity to work out their leg extensions, which are INSANE. The judges all seem to praise Sonya first and foremost, though Nigel's the only one who calls Will and Amelia "lucky," which is a strange way to praise them. Adam stands up to applaud them and lets them know they "stepped it up," then acknowledges the movie plug he just made. Dude, you're getting 15 minutes of precious show time later on; relaaaaaax.

Amber and Nick: Tango (Miriam Larici and Leonardo Barrionuevo )
The watchwords in rehearsal are "one body," in that the dancers are supposed to meld into one being, but I'm not sure they fully succeed. Nick, despite being a ballroom specialist (and getting that specialty two weeks in a row) looks stooped in some of these maneuvers; meanwhile you can see Amber efforting through an unfamiliar style. But man, her legs are kicking in this thing! Still, the overall dance seems more mannered and over-determined than the best tangos. But what do I know? Mary says it was a difficult routine that was danced quite well. "It didn't look like work," which was basically the opposite of my take, but I GUESS you should agree with the expert in ballroom dancing. She then calls out a specific pivot move that Nick did that's supposedly super difficult. It's good praise, because the other two judges thought Amber looked brilliant and left Nick an afterthought.

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