All Top Eight contenders on So You Think You Can Dance Season 11 paid tribute to Michael Jackson on this week’s show. But none better than Rudy and All-Star Allison, who grabbed the first standing ovation of the night. Anybody who couldn’t get to their feet for that dynamic number was either in a wheelchair or asleep. It was like a roller-coaster ride, such an exciting dance routine by Ray Leeper. The song was Michael Jackson’s “Dirty Diana”, about a woman obsessed by a man who belongs to someone else.
All-Star Allison Holker was beyond remarkable. She was so quick and sharp I don’t know how Rudy held onto her. She was like a Flying Wallenda without the wire, or maybe Rudy was the wire. He never missed and he stayed in character. “Allison, you’re not normal,” said the stunned guest judge. Jenna Dewan-Tatum. Mary Murphy called it phenomenal and didn’t see how they kept from getting whiplash. My sister Katie said, “They nearly made me have a heart attack and I was just sitting here.” I couldn’t breathe too well myself.
Rudy and Allison
Other exciting dances came at us from Casey and All-Star Comfort, and Jacque and Twitch, both hip hop numbers. Choreographer “Farside” did a great take on a fatal attraction relationship to Michael Jackson’s “Escape”. Comfort was a spider whose kiss was toxic and Casey was trying to escape that kiss of death. The scene opens with Casey spread out on a huge spider web desperately struggling — with the black-clad spider/Comfort coming toward him. Great opening. And since hip hop is not in Casey’s ballpark, it was a real challenge for him. He took on that challenge and met it well.
Comfort’s hands and arms even looked like a spider’s at times as she crept and crawled on and around Casey. Gave me the creeps in a real fun way. Mary Murphy commented that Casey became cleaner and sharper as he went along, and Jenna gave them kudos for incredible stage presence and being in the moment. Nigel told Casey, “That black widow was all over you.” — Yep. That was the point.
Casey and Comfort
Twitch told Jacque that, for this number, she had to forget about Ballerina Jacque. She had to be Street Jacque. Well, somehow, that ballerina girl got in the groove to the tune of Jackson’s “Slave To The Rhythm”. She had the head rolls and shoulder rolls and attitude while working that cute, quirky pony tail along the way. She was one buck ballerina. Nigel never imagined a scenario in which he would tell a ballerina she had swag. Mary told her she just “conquered it”, and Jenna said she was gorgeous and funky. What a combination. And, of course, it’s a given that Twitch was awesome. He can’t ever NOT be. It’s just there. Did I mention he’s from Montgomery, Alabama? Oh. Only several times? Okay. Gotcha.
Jacque and Twitch
Ricky and All-Star Jaimie (Goodwin) kicked off the night with a contemporary by Travis Wall. about the best friend who picks you up when you’re down. Jaimie said Ricky would be the positive light in this piece, but from where I sat, Jaimie was the airy sunlight beaming from one end of that stage to another. She was awesome. Ricky was fantastic as usual, but he was the grounded figure who scattered that sunbeam wherever she wanted to go. It was a magnificent performance. Jenna said Ricky was incredible in his technique and extensions. Nigel told him he was no longer the dancer. He was the dance. Mary talked about the incredible moves in that piece, and I have to agree. “Jaimie, you were effortless,” she said. Absolutely. It was breathtaking.
Ricky and Jaimie
Valerie shook it to a Samba with All-Star Ryan — dubbed the Samba King by choreographer Jean-Marc Genereux. They grooved and moved around the floor to Michael Jackson’s “Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin'”. I wasn’t impressed with this dance at first, though it looked better when I watched it the second time around. Valerie did very well in some places, but looked uncomfortable in others. I got the impression that Ryan was having to physically move her in the right direction sometimes. However, the judges seemed to like it very well. Mary said they put that Samba in the oven and it came out well-done. (Cute). Nigel said Valerie looked vivacious, had personality, and they showed us how to dance. Jenna thought Valerie was sexy and on fire.
Valerie and Ryan
Stacey Tookey’s contemporary about love and regret featured Tanisha and All-Star Nick, to Michael Jackson’s “She’s Out Of My Life”. In this piece, Nick is “crooning” for the old days. It was a beautiful routine, the lighting was exceptional, and I was so impressed with Nick Lazzarinni all over again. He was the very first season winner on So You Think You Can Dance. Tanisha is so expressive in her body and movements and, as the judges say, so grounded and strong, and fluid you never worry she’s going to fall or do something wrong. She and Nick made a great partnership. Mary Murphy mentioned this was one of Michael Jackson’s slowest songs — but not slow by any means – and Tanisha’s technique made her look like she was floating. Nigel said her control was magnificent, but needed to show her vulnerable side. Jenna also commented on Tanisha’s strong core and fluidity, but wanted more passion.
Tanisha and Nick
Choreographer Spencer Liff called Zack a pro. He seems to be loved by all the choreographers. Apparently he’s a quick study. He and All-Star MacKenzie did a Spencer Liff Broadway routine to “The Way You Make Me Feel”. I love Zack because he can take anything they throw at him and do it super well. But he still looks so boyish I just can’t quite believe in him as a sexly, manly figure. Sister Katie violently disagrees with me. So sue me, Sis. Nigel always says Broadway is hard if he wants to cut the dancer some slack. Jenna praised his control and showmanship and how he used the whole stage. Mary was impressed with how he threw himself so wholeheartedly in everything he did. Reading between those lines, I think they mean it wasn’t the greatest of his routines to come down the pike, but it wasn’t chop liver, either. You know what I mean?
Zack and MacKenzie
The second standing O of the night came to Jessica and All-Star Will for a Mandy Moore contemporary routine about the earth and mankind, performed to Michael Jackson’s “Earth Song.” But it was one of my least favorite routines of the night. Don’t ask me why. Mary said the passion took her over the top. It was Nigel’s favorite everything, calling it magnificent. Jenna said it really popped with Jessica’s passion and great technicality. But what I think is . . . and this is just me talking . . . you know. Anything “earth” is so utterly politically correct with all the right people, nobody would dare do anything but jump up and hail the piece like a conquering hero. Now don’t get me wrong. I’m earth conscious. I’m also a tree hugger. I love trees. I’m sure some great art in every artistic genre has emerged from our emerging awareness. But this one wasn’t it. I’m sorry. I didn’t agree with the judges or my sister Katie, who also loved it. Ma-a-a-n. I’m striking out with everybody tonight. Maybe my hormonal balance is off. Who knows?
Jessica and Will
Now we come to crying time. Literally for poor Rudy. I didn’t want to see either him or Tanisha go, especially after Rudy’s fantastic last performance. He wanted to get in the finals so bad it broke his heart. The only clue I can eke out of the whole thing is that last week Rudy kept mugging the camera. He was too over-the-top. He doesn’t wear his emotions, they wear him. Although it does make him so loveable, it can get a little irritating at times. Tanisha, as I said before, is so balanced, and strong. Her technique is flawless and she gets across emotion through it. She is a goddess on stage. However, she is a rather cold goddess. The emotion never reaches her face. It is not expressive. And that’s all I have to say about that. From now on, we will keep losing amazing dancers and crying into our root beer. Sigh.