'So You Think You Can Dance': The top nine finalists take the stage

sytycd-top11-320x180.jpgThis week, the top nine dancers on "So You Think You Can Dance" take the stage with the all-stars. This time, there's a theme: It's all about who inspired them to dance.

When Cat introduces the nine dancers, it's obvious the audience prefers the guys.

Immediately after last Thursday's show, the dancers pick their partners for the week. There are some fantastic pairings (like Alex and Twitch!) so we'll see how they fare. In addition to those performances, the finalists will also be dancing solos.

Performances:

1) Adechike and Lauren G., "Hot-N-Fun" by N.E.R.D. feat. Nelly Furtado
(Hip-hop; choreographer: Dave Scott)

Adechike's inspiration: Desmond Richardson. Adechike and Lauren are dressed in old-school, '50s attire and things start off tight and conservative until the two loosen up (literally). In the tape, choreograper Dave Scott says the routine is all about having fun, and if that was their goal, they achieved it. Adechike definitely looked like he was enjoying himself during the performance so kudos. Adam Shankman even gave a standing ovation.

2) Ashley and Ade, "Cosmic Love" by Florence + the Machine
(Contemporary; choreographer: Dee Caspary)

Ashley's inspiration: dance teacher Rebecca Minert. Fantastic routine by first-time choreographer Dee Caspary. The concept was beautful: surrending one's self and trusting someone to be there to catch you. It might have also been the amazing song but I completely bought the performance from beginning to end. I hope we more of Dee this season. It's amazing to me how Mia Michaels can use the word "ew" as a compliment! Everything just worked. So far, my favorite performance of the night.

3) Robert and Courtney, "XXXO" by M.I.A.
(Jazz; choreographer: Sonya Tayeh)

Robert's inspiration: mother. First reunion pairing of the season already. Like they said in the tape, the routine is crazy, creepy and weird, but it's entertaining to watch. Not sure if I bought the pairing, but the judges do.

4) Melinda and Pasha, "Magdalena, Mi Amor (Quimbara)" by D.L.G.
(Salsa; choreographer: Fabian Sanchez)

Melinda's inspration: Dr. Harold Cromer. The routine is not my favorite. It just didn't seem very well-executed by the pair. Sure it was red-hot, but I wasn't buying Melinda as a salsa dancer at all. There were several moments where her feet weren't pointed and her posture was quite unattractive. Even Pasha didn't do so well. It's too bad. I was hoping that Melinda's Colombian background would help her. Mia and Adam both regret sending Cristina home last week.

5) Lauren and Neil, "Let Me Entertain You" by Debbie Gibson
(Broadway; choreographer: Joey Dowling)

Lauren's inspiration: student council advisor Ms. Stockwell. The routine is about a mid-century paper boy who reads in the newspaper about a Hollywood starlet and begins to daydream about her. Lauren's totally right, it's not very difficult to seduce a dancer like Neil. Absolutely adored the performance from beginning to the end with the near wardrobe malfunction, though it did feel like it featured Neil a bit more than Lauren. Adam even likened her to a young Cyd Charisse. One of the best performances so far tonght.

6) Billy and Katherine, "Jar of Hearts" by Christina Perri
(Contemporary; choreographer: Stacey Tookey)

Billy's inspiration: Legacy from sixth season of "SYTYCD." Probably one of the night's most beautifully choreographed pieces and danced extremely well. The story, of a girl who is picking up the pieces after her boyfriend leaves her but returns just when she's ready to move on, was communicated almost to a T. On the panel, Nigel didn't quite believe the partnership.

7) Jose and Anya, "Long Time" by Shakira
(Samba; choreographer: Dmitry Chaplin)

Jose's inspiration: Bruce Lee. The first dance with a huge table prop. Even though Jose is a breaker, he is quite dynamic. The dance didn't have that fire that is often in samba. To me, it was just a mediocre routine. Nigel says that Jose has the indefinable factor that can keep a competitor around even though they might not be the best technical dancer.

8) Kent and Allison, "Heartburn" by Alicia Keys
(Jazz; choreographer: Mandy Moore)

Kent's inspiration: older brother Jared. It's hilarious watching Kent learn how to walk like a man in the tape. Oh Kent. Watching the routine, it's hard to buy Kent as a grown man, but he tried and his partner Allison definitely made it a harder goal to accomplish. The judges go tough on Kent (and as they should). They warn Kent to keep the integrity of the dance, instead of getting caught up in hamming it up for the audience.

9) Alex and Twitch, "Outta Your Mind" by Lil Jon and LM*AO
(Hip-hop; choreographers: Tabitha and Napoleon Dumo)

Alex's inspiration: Edward Villella. This performance was the most anticipated of the episode and of course, it had to be last. And holy crap, did Alex and Twitch DELIVER. Hands down, one of the most memorable routines of the young season. It was fun watching Twitch and Alex battle; Tabitha and Napoleon even incorporated Alex's ballet into the routine. FANTASTIC. The judges and the audience give them a standing ovation and it is well-deserved. The crowd even chants "Alex"! (Nigel backs the current format, sort of telling those who don't like it a "toldya so." Also, Adam has a crazy screaming breakdown!)

Solos:

1) Billy, "Something Bigger, Something Better" by Amanda Blank
2) Jose, "Super Bad" by James Brown
3) Kent, "Down (Candlelight Remix)" by Jay Sean
4) Alex, "Rule the Planet" from "Planet of the Apes" soundtrack
5) Ashley, "Royal T" by Crookers feat. Roisin Murphy
6) Robert, "Hold You In My Arms" by Ray LaMontagne
7) Melinda, "Empire State of Mind (Part II, Broken Down)" by Alicia Keys
8) Adechike, "Ruthless Gravity" by Craig Armstrong
9) Lauren, "Unchained Melody" by Cyndi Lauper

All the solos were good. Of course they were, they're all in the dancers style! Though it was obvious (again) that the crowd cheered the loudest for Kent's. He even reminds me a little bit of Neil with his gymnastics-infused contemporary dance.

First Impressions:

I am so on board the Alex train.

What are your thoughts on the top nine dancers' performances? Who do you think will end up in the bottom three? Discuss below!

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