Relocating this show to the fall has brought about several changes I don't particularly care for. The audience was denied voting privileges during the MLB post season, the ratings have dropped significantly amid the tough fall competition, the new stage (which they probably would have changed anyway and which is actually starting to grow on me, but still), and now they're cutting the whole thing short by a week and having a 6 dancer finale to avoid airing during the dismal TV landscape of Christmas week. God forbid they had cut short the auditions and started the actual dancing a week earlier, but whatever.
That said, the season has given us some really fantastic dancers and some genuinely amazing routines and several of those routines happened last night.
Kathryn and Ryan - Disco (Doriana Sanchez)
For disco, it was good. I mean, I still don't understand why they give Doriana so much to do on this show because even Adam hates disco, but it is what it is. Both Kathryn and Ryan danced it great and this one was a little (LITTLE) less lifty than some of Dori's more objectionable routines which definitely helped minimize the suckage of the choreo so the dancers could rock it. Which they did.
Mollee and Jakob - Viennese Waltz (Jason Gilkison)
Best. Dance. Of the night. The best Viennese Waltz in SYTYCD history. Maybe my favorite ballroom routine ever. Easily in my top 5 routines of all time. It's simple math: Vanessa Carlton's "Ordinary Day" + a dreamy country road backdrop + beautifully romantic 1950s Roman Holiday-esque costumes + impeccable dancing + amazing choreography = PERFECTION. It gave me goose bumps, it made me smile and swoon. Adam said he could have watched that for 2 hours, I could have watched it all night. Jakob is always great of course, so it's no surprise that he was fantastic here. And Mollee's early competence has developed into genuine terrificness since the partner shake-ups began pairing her with the more mature and layered dancers last week, so I wasn't too shocked to see her kill it on the floor with Jakob but when I stop to think about her age, her relative immaturity, her non-ballroom background, and the fact that she was dancing next to the best dancer in the competition, I realize this could have been a recipe for all of her weaknesses to put themselves on full display. Instead, with an assist from Jakob's incredibly strong partnering skills, Mollee didn't seem to have any weaknesses at all.
Ellenore and Legacy - Contemporary (Travis Wall)
The dance version of the fight scene from Mr. and Mrs. Smith where they're attempts to kill each other turn into twistedly-hot foreplay. The routine was edgy and dangerous and played up the strengths of both dancers perfectly (which I'm starting to see as a real trend when choreographers get Legacy so I have to wonder if there are some deficiencies in his technique being masked by creative choreography). I caught my breath at least three times because the timing had to be so perfect to avoid actual disaster - and it was. Travis was deserving of the high praise he received and the dancers were equally deserving of the standing O they got. If this routine were danced on a different night than Jakob and Mollee's Viennese Waltz, it would have easily been the best of the night. This was badass from top to bottom.
Ashliegh and Russell - Hip Hop (Shane Sparks)
During rehearsals earlier in the day, Ashliegh dislocated her shoulder and was unable to dance so Russell, once again, had to dance his routines with the choreography assistants. Shane's assistant was terrible but this wasn't about her so I tried to keep my eyes on Russell and he was the shit. Kelly noted that he was born for Shane's choreography and I have to agree. I am usually a fan of Shane and I thought that he had some good stuff in there last night and I liked the really hard hits and stuff which Russell nailed. But I would have really liked to see Ashleigh in that routine and dancing with Russell in general.
Kathryn and Ryan - Cha-Cha (Jason Gilkison)
As soon as I'm done with this post, I'm going to start sending love letters to Jason Gilkison because holy balls was that awesome! There were so many fast, crazy connections and once again he chose a song ("Put Your Hands On Me" by Joss Stone) that elevated it to another level. Thank the good Lord that he was given dancers who were so good with the routine that by the time they ended it with Ryan flipping Kathryn upside down and stopping on a dime I was completely out of breath! Kathryn has absolutely come alive out there the last couple of weeks and last night in particular.
Mollee and Jakob - Broadway (Joey Dowling)
I still think Joey Dowling is a bitch, but it was a good routine. A lot of interesting steps and lifts and spins danced with technical precision and performed with pure charisma from both Mollee and Jakob. I feel like a broken record with my grading tonight, but almost everyone was just so ON it's ridiculous!
Ellenore and Legacy - Hip Hop (Tabitha and Napoleon)
And this is the routine that necessitated my use of the word "almost" in the previous sentence. It is no secret that I find NappyTabs pretty over-rated. They have moments of greatness but most of their stuff is mediocre at best and they've been slavered with undue praise by Nigel and the other judges for too long, so it was a nice change for the judges to let them know that choreography was not up to the standard of the competition at this point. There were a series of moves toward the beginning that were really interesting and then it fell apart into total blahsville. And I don't know what the hell happened to the steps they were showing in the rehearsal package because those looked pretty promising but they never made it to the stage. Ellenore and Legacy seemed to do the best they could with what they were given but they just weren't given much at all.
Grade: Choreo: D; Dancing: B
Ashleigh and Russell - Bollywood (Nakul Dev Majahan)
This is the routine they were rehearsing when Ashleigh was injured and it was pretty easy to see how it happened. Russell again danced it with the choreo assistant and did a good job. Bollywood isn't my favorite because I think it's better suited to large groups rather than pairs but, like the disco from the top of the show, it was good for what it was. Russell did a good job but I did miss seeing some kind of connection between he and his partner - not at all his fault considering he'd danced with the woman for all of 2 hours total, but without that chemistry spark, it was something slightly less than fun.
Best: Kathryn and Mollee are tied for the best and Jakob was a close second
Worst: Legacy and his stupid phone. Russell's insistence on putting his lost shoe back on ruined his routine too.
Bottom Four: Ryan and Legacy; Ashleigh and Ellenore
Should Go Home: Ryan and Ashleigh - Ryan has definitely showed the least growth across the season and while I think Ashleigh's work all season was outstanding, I think the other 3 girls danced their asses off last night and it would not be fair to keep her in when she couldn't dance while someone who could dance and danced REALLY WELL goes home.
Will Go Home: Ryan and Ashleigh