So You Think You Can Dance Week 7: Can it Be, a Week Without Injuries?

07/29/2010 12:55 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011
  • Tonya Plank Novelist, blogger, ballroom dancer, public interest attorney

Well, almost! Really hoping that whatever happened to Lauren that required her to see a medic at the end of last night's show is not serious. I'm beginning to feel like I'm jinxing people! Whoever I end up favoring as a possible winner gets hurt...

Anyway, onto last night's show. First Kent danced a cha cha with Anya in a Jean Marc Genereux and France routine. I thought this was very good for someone who isn't trained in that style. I didn't think it was anywhere near perfect. It looked way too jazzy, which is how contemporary dancers often look dancing Latin to me. Too loose-kneed, too fluid, and not enough sharpness, not quite enough hip action. I agree with guest judge Toni Redpath who said it was better and more grounded than he's been before. He was definitely better but it still wasn't all there. I loved what he said in response to Mia's "face" critique though: "I'm sorry, I'm trying not to do anything with my face; it just feels good to express myself and I forget." (I'm paraphrasing.)

Next Robert dances a Stacey Tookey contemporary dance with Kathryn. Wow, what a beautiful song (a slowed down version of "Heaven is a Place on Earth") and what a gorgeous routine! One of the best contemporary routines I think I've seen on the show. I loved how original some of the lifts were. That was a dangerous one where she kind of did a somersault over his shoulder. Lots of risk-taking here, both in terms of the dancing and the emotions. Honestly, I couldn't take my eyes off of her; she completely mesmerized me. I really felt for her character, having a breakdown with him going off to war. Maybe that role is more actable for the woman, the one being left, because I felt more for her than for him. I think he was good though; I think he did very well. But it's the same old same old with me - he just doesn't blow me away the way other contemporary dancers have. I like what Mia said here - let the emotions be the catalyst for the movement. Maybe that's what wasn't quite at the highest level for me. Kathryn did that; he didn't. He moved very well, but I didn't think he let the emotions act as a basis for his movement.

I really love watching Jose's solos and if he gets kicked off (and I think he may soon) that's what I'm going to miss about him. He always does something new too. I liked those traveling kind of crab-looking walks where he was flipping himself over this way and that as he moved sideways. I don't know much about b-boying but he seems very original to me.

Next are Adechicke and Courtney doing a Tyce Diorio jazz routine. This was interesting - it was like big band Cuban music that I would expect a kind of old-style Mambo Kings-era Salsa to be danced to; this dance didn't seem to go so well with it. It looked like part modern, part jazz, a little African even. And it seemed like they were dancing different styles, the two of them. I actually liked his style better. The part I loved the best was when he was inching toward her with those snaky, undulating pelvic back and forth moves. You know what I'm talking about? I loved that! And I loved how at certain points he looked like he was doing movement from Alvin Ailey choreography, especially when he'd put one bent leg behind the other and hold it there, striking a kind of weight of the world on my shoulders pose. It was just like something out of "Revelations."

Next was Lauren's solo. Whoa, another excellent solo from her! She's one of my favorites to win this. The way she'd move with speed, then slow way down to draw out the beat and the lyrics - it was perfect for that soulful Aretha Franklin song. She danced that just like Aretha Franklin sang it.

Next were Jose and Comfort dancing a hip hop choreographed by Marty Kudelka and Dana Wilson. I really loved this choreography. I found it very original, and loved the bluesy feel, loved the Otis Redding music. I really liked Comfort, again. Her movement was so much sharper and so much more pronounced than his. I thought he was good in places - like when he did those loose-hipped rolls of the pelvis back and forth and back and forth, rocking on his feet. And I loved how he came toward her at the beginning. It was like he was trying to be all full of bravado at the beginning and then just gave it up and walked toward her sans swagger and started to be all romantic. Again, I really do like him personality-wise and I think he acts the parts well, but I just don't think he's generally a tremendous dancer.

Now Billy's solo. Hmm. Well, it seemed like he was trying to do a slightly different style - like something more hip hop-like with the staccato movement, the isolations of the different body parts. I know he started his dance career with hip hop so maybe he felt comfortable going back to that. But it didn't seem to suit him. I liked the more contemporary parts -- the battemants and developpes, and the wide-legged jump. Nigel had said last time he did a solo that we already know he can do developpes so he needs to stop doing them all the time. Maybe he was trying to show Nigel he was obeying him. But that's what he does best, so why shouldn't he use his solo for what he does best?

Next was Kent's solo. Is it blues night or what? Cute solo. I have a feeling cute isn't what he was going for but that's the word that comes to mind most after watching that. He really did give it a lot of energy, he really did try to go beyond cute. Not sure he did but he gets A for effort.

Next Lauren and Allison danced a Tyce Diorio Broadway routine set to the "Damn Yankees" score. I wasn't in love with this choreography - it seems like whenever a choreographer does two routines a night, s/he really concentrates on one and then the other is lacking. I agree with Adam that Lauren is dancing like a star already. It was like watching two stars. Lauren did all those moves with such pizzazz and such perfection. I agree with the judges, nothing to critique dance-wise here.

Then it was onto Robert's solo, which I really liked. That had a lot of passion, and a range of movement I haven't often seen from him. He really can be very good.

Then Billy danced a contemporary Stacey Tookey routine with Ade. Wow, I found that really powerful, my favorite of the night. Billy's performance almost made me cry, he was so good at bringing that poor junkie to life and making him believable and so sympathetic. How happy am I that the white guy was the poor druggie in need of help and the black guy was the high-powered businessman! Both of them were amazing, but I really couldn't take my eyes off of Billy. So much emotion, so real and so heartfelt. I can't say how much I felt for his character. His dancing was splendid perfection but who cares! That wasn't even the point of it. That rivaled Alex's first routine of the season. I agree with Adam - that was art. And I love how Mia said, win or lose this competition, he's going to be a very respected artist in this industry and that's so much bigger than this one competition.

Now Adechicke's solo. Okay he has definitely studied Lester Horton technique because everything he is doing is looking very Alvin Ailey. Which I love!

Now it's on to the contestants partnering each other.

First on: Jose and Kent in a Broadway routine by Spencer Liff. Kent was pretty good in this. I think these kinds of Gene Kelly-esque, Fancy Free-esque, highly actable comedic Broadway numbers are his thing. I could really see him in a Broadway musical like this. Great acrobatics and great acting it. Jose again was good, worked hard, tried hard. But, again, his movement just didn't have that dancerly quality about it. I would love to see him perform in his own style on a stage full of other b-boys and hip hop dancers. I wish someone would choreograph a touring hip hop / b-boy show.

Next were Adechicke and Lauren in a Jean Marc Genereux and France foxtrot. Well, this was supposed to be a rather jazzy foxtrot (danced to "Fever") and I think she brought that out more. She had a lot more spark and sizzle than he did and she had much more movement in her body, especially her upper body, especially her shoulders. He was too upright, which would be proper for standard ballroom but not this American-style, loosened-up jazzy foxtrot. He danced it as a standard; she as an American style. So it looked unbalanced. I thought he did a great job partnering though - you could tell she really trusted him on those lifts, really throwing herself into them and taking a lot of risk. It's all-important to be able to trust your partner so big kudos to him for that. Anyway, in ballroom the guy is supposed to be the frame; his role is to let the woman be the picture. So, Adechicke came through on that.

And finally a Bollywood routine by Nakul Dev Mahajan for Robert and Billy. That was a lot of fun and I thought Robert really shone in this. It's funny because last week Nigel said the judges thought he wasn't growing anymore, or at least not as much as he had been, but I think the opposite. I'm finally starting to like him. I really really loved him in this. He was just so on with the styling, those hands were perfect, the kicks, the feet, the rhythmic, undulating mid-body movement. And the attitude. So there! I'm surprised; I never thought he would do Bollywood well. The jazz from last week and the Bollywood from this week are my favorites of his performances thus far on the show. Billy was fine; he didn't quite seem as precise and as full-out as Robert. Weird that I'm saying this because I usually feel the opposite about them.

So tonight there will be two eliminations. Here's hoping Lauren, due to injury, isn't one of them.

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