Erica: Well, I’m guessing this is the last season. What do you think?
Kate: I don’t know, I keep thinking that, and then the following season comes up with even more changes and shorter air times, and this time around we’re only seeing the top 10 dancers instead of the top 20. Yikes.
Kate: I do remember this rampant sexism, now that you mention it.
Erica: And Nigel has remained so committed to boy-girl pairings and a stale formula for so long that I’m kind of exhausted by it.
Kate: This season’s auditions in particular exhausted me because every single piece of feedback was, like, “You’re not that great but we like you so yay you move on to the next round!” Literally, almost 0 negative feedback. Is this part of the whole everyone-gets-a-trophy movement? Because I have to say, I hate it.
Erica: So we’re not going to be as on top of this as we usually are. Kate is very busy with non-SYTYCD-blogging work, and I am being reminded that having a toddler is even more exhausting than having an infant. So we’ll do our best, and we’re pretty sure y’all are over it anyway.
Kate: Seriously, does anyone even still watch this besides us? Hello?
Cat Deeley’s Ensemble
Erica: I hate to say it, but man, is she looking tired.
Kate: Yup she looked very haggard throughout auditions and academy weeks, this is actually an improvement. I love her long flowy hair, and the color of her dress, but not the style of the dress, and good god whoever did her and Mary Murphy’s makeup should be fired. They look neon!
Erica: Cat’s hair still looks great.
Group Routine (All): Contemporary, choreo by Travis Wall
“Dream State” by Son Lux
Erica: So much sparkly.
Kate: Yes, distracted by the sparkle.
Erica: I didn’t think it was the dynamic, energetic beginning we could have used, but the choreography was lovely and the dancers, for the most part, looked sharp and made some beautiful lines. I haven’t watched anything yet, so I don’t know these guys, but there was one guy, I think Jay Jay, who looked really gorgeous.
Kate: I could tell this was a Travis routine immediately. I enjoyed it because they look a hell of a lot better dancing all together than individually or in pairs, but that’s not saying much with this group.
Erica: So just in case you want a little guidance as to the format, tonight each couple will dance twice, once in the girl’s style and once in the boy’s style. I don’t know if they’ll stay in the same couples for any of the rest of the season. Also, tWitch is a judge, which I’m excited about. Almost makes up for bringing back the Hudge.
Kate: Wait he is a permanent judge, not just a guest for the first episode? Please let that be the case. Hudge is the worst.
Erica: Her voice sends me into some sort of parallel state.
Jensen & Jay Jay: Salsa, choreo by Jean-Marc Genereux
“Mad Love” by Sean Paul & David Guetta feat. Becky G
Erica: No female person who’s not a dancer is named Jensen. So she’s the ballroom dancer, by the way. In case you’re keeping track. Ladies first, it seems.
Kate: And the younger sister of a former contestant, also a ballroom dancer, I think? Lindsey/Lindsay?
Erica: There were some awkward moments — like that last one where she’s sort of sliding down his thigh — but overall, I thought it was pretty good. He didn’t look obviously out-classed. She was a little overly smiley for my taste but I thought not bad.
Kate: They missed a whole lot of connections, which to me is what makes ballroom so cool (besides all the lifts and tricks). The connections should be almost invisible — they should just completely flow together as one, which they most certainly did not. They are both fun to watch separately, though.
Erica: What is with Hudge’s nails? She’s so weird.
Kate: SHE IS THE ACTUAL WORST.
Erica: So, Jensen is Mormon, right? She’s young and engaged. She’s got a big family that also dances. She’s got that adorable blonde cute-as-apple-pie look. Right? I didn’t watch all the auditions and everything.
Hannahlei & Cole: Contemporary, choreo by Tyce D’Orio
“They Won’t Go When I Go” by George Michael
Erica: She seems adorable but now I’m hoping she gets voted out early because her name is going to be hellish to type every time. My autocorrect does not like it. So they’re dancing through the apocalypse, as you do.
Kate: This song felt way too upbeat for the apocalypse.
Erica: I think I like her. I think she’s got a lot of presence and she’s got the acting piece down, as well as being a lovely dancer. I particularly like one of their first lifts, which isn’t so much a lift because she just sort of wraps herself around his torso.
Kate: Was honestly too distracted by the song vs. the theme to notice much of the dancing, so I guess the dancing wasn’t that attention-grabbing.
Erica: He seems fine but he didn’t stand out for me. Oh, and, BTW, they are staying in these partnerships for the duration. Or some duration.
Kate: Right, until people get voted off.
Erica: Hudge is Filipino? Okay.
Kate: Hudge is the worst, is what she is.
Chelsea & Evan: Jazz, choreo by Ray Leeper
“Make Me Feel” by Janelle Monae
Kate: Ok, finally a routine I actually enjoy! I think she’s pretty good, maybe the best so far?
Erica: She pulls a lot of faces, which feels appropriate to a jazz routine, but we’ll see how that tendency plays in other styles.
Kate: I do feel like she could have elongated and exaggerated several movements a little more in this routine.
Erica: tWitch says something about these being the moments they’ve dreamed of their whole lives. And this show has been on long enough that that’s very likely true.
Genessy & Slavik: Hip-Hop, choreo by Luther Brown
“Round & Round” by Fabolous
Erica: Oh, wait, it’s not all ladies first. This is his style. Genessy is also a name you don’t hear outside the reality dance world.
Kate: I really did not like the choreography of this routine and it reminded me that I think I don’t usually like Luther Brown’s choreography in general — it’s like, not enough HAPPENS, you know? GIVE ME MORE, LUTHER!
Erica: They’re pretty cute together. Great chemistry. Hate to agree with the judges, but it’s true.
Kate: Fine, yes, but I need to see a different routine to accurately judge that.
Magda & Darius: Contemporary, choreo by Travis Wall
“Glass Heart Concerto” by Blondie & Philip Glass
Erica: This is also his style first; she’s ballroom. Also, Blondie & Philip Glass? I’m so confused right now.
Kate: I…didn’t pay much attention to this routine. Oops.
Erica: Ooh, she’s playing him like he’s her cello to open. It’s cool. Then he gets the bow. Damn, the choreo is really cool. I mean, I expect it from Travis Wall, but he delivers.
Kate: Yes that part I saw and thought was cool.
Erica: They’re both pretty good, but he’s better. In this, anyway. It is his style.
Erica: Nigel claims they’ll be talking about this routine for many seasons to come, but I don’t believe him.
Kate: Yes, because there may not be many seasons to come. Or any. Yikes!
Hannahlei & Cole: Paso Doble, choreo by Jean-Marc Genereux
“Heroes of Chaos” by Tybercore
Erica: I try not to comment on the rehearsal footage but I can already tell he’s going to irritate me.
Kate: Don’t I also not like paso dobles, usually? I didn’t enjoy this.
Erica: I didn’t love it. And I’ve seen paso dobles that I do like. It’s not an auto-love category for me (like Broadway or Jive), but it’s not an auto-hate, either. I don’t know if it’s because I’ve decided I don’t like him, but I didn’t feel like he was doing a great partnering job. And she was not extending enough sometimes. And they didn’t look like they trusted each other.
Kate: I don’t think these 2 should be in the top 10.
Erica: Oh, and I hate the costumes. Nigel liked them, but he’s wrong. I’m for some reason reminded of that low-budget Supergirl movie from when I was a kid.
Jensen & Jay Jay: Jazz, choreo by Mandy Moore
“Ex’s & Oh’s” by Elle King
Erica: I love this song. I hate their costumes but not as much as I hated the last ones.
Kate: Most exciting routine of the night.
Erica: She’s way smiley. And she smiles at the audience instead of at her partner. Well, she also smiles at her partner. But she needs to interact with him more.
Kate: Yes but she did great in not-her-own style, and they had good (dance) chemistry, and the choreo was great and their energy was great. Finally!
Erica: I think he might be my favorite. We’ll see.
Kate: Yes, he’s great.
Erica: Nigel is criticizing their sexiness? For this song? That’s so weird. Like, I actually think the problem was not that they were too sexy; it’s that she was sexing up the audience instead of her partner.
Chelsea & Evan: Tap, choreo by Anthony Morigerato
“Singin’ in the Rain” by Jamie Cullum
Erica: I feel like this is a style that is really quite difficult for anyone outside the style to do well. And I don’t love this version of this song although it does allow their taps to sing.
Kate: Oh I hated every single second of this. I hated this version of this song, I hated the choreography, and I hated that it was a tap routine with, like, barely any taps! It was just awkward silence!
Erica: Her feet look super heavy. She’s acting the hell out of the piece but it is quite obvious that she is not in her style.
Kate: Yeah, and Nigel said this is the first time they ever made someone whose original style isn’t tap do tap, but I feel like that can’t be true, can it?
Erica: I think it might be. For years, if you came in as a tapper, you were only ever going to tap during your solos. Then they had that season with three tappers. But I don’t think they have ever asked a non-tapper to tap, and if they haven’t, then there’s a good reason. It’s not really something you can just do. I believe converting to any dance style from one you specialize in is probably tough, but tap seems to me to be its own category.
Genessy & Slavik: Contemporary, choreo by Talia Favia
“An Evening I Will Not Forget” by Dermot Kennedy
Erica: Slavik is going to get votes for being the only straight dude here, isn’t he?
Kate: He doesn’t do much for me.
Erica: I think we are both too old for him. So I liked this choreo. It’s your usual emotional contemporary flailing, but it was good. Not gonna change the world of dance, but good.
Erica: I thought they looked a little more genuinely flail-y, and not controlled-contemporary flail-y, but I think that either their amateur movements worked for the piece, or they were actually quite brilliantly performing imperfection. Nigel is totally giving them a spiel designed to make voters think they’re the underdogs and therefore vote with alacrity.
Magda & Darius: Cha-Cha, choreo by Val Chmerkovskiy
“I Like It Like That” by Pete Rodriguez
Erica: Even after fourteen seasons of watching this show (I missed the first one), I don’t feel qualified to talk about the technical aspects of their performance, but I thought the attitude on both of their parts was good. I could have used more sexiness. Nigel felt it was the right amount of controlled sexiness, so maybe I’m just less prudish than Nigel.
Kate: This was much better ballroom than the first one, but I felt like too much separate ballroom rather than partner ballroom, if that makes sense; but that’s the fault of the choreographer. Is he new?
Erica: No. I only know that because I searched our recaps to see how to spell his name. So, I’m pro-Jay Jay. I’m anti-Cole. I have yet to develop a strong feeling about the girls but so far Chelsea might be my favorite, despite the poor tap performance. Genessy is pretty good, too. Thoughts?
Kate: Agree about Chelsea. Let’s see what happens!