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'So You Think You Can Dance' recap: Top 10 time

By Amy Watts

10:51 AM EDT, August 16, 2012

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"So You Think You Can Dance" is BACK, and in the three weeks since the last show I've forgotten who everybody is, which ones I like and dislike, and maybe even what dance is.

The whole show tonight will be the work of just one choreographer -- the Emmy-winning Mia Michaels. So, if you've watched this show as long as I have, all of tonight's numbers will be reruns of a sort.

Cat also informs us that they're cutting four dancers tonight to get us to a Top 10. It'll be a bottom six based on votes cast three weeks ago, so I hope you can remember who you wanted to go home that night.

Judges tonight: Nigel Lythgoe, Mary Murphy, and Michael Nunn and Billy Trevitt, "The Ballet Boys." And for those of you who want the news: Tabitha and Napoleon are proud new parents of London.

And now it's time for group routine with new choreography by Mia. Shoe Alert: the men are in dinner jackets with tails and the women are in evening gowns. Men get to wear shoes and women don't.

It's going to get very self-congratulatory up in here tonight as each contestant is asked about their most memorable moment from watching past seasons of "SYTYCD."

Cyrus and Eliana are doing the Emmy-winning "Door" routine made famous by Katee and Twitch. You know, the one with the door and Duffy's "Mercy."

I dunno about this whole "Let's do the exact choreography done by other dancers" gambit. My favorite kind of cover songs are the ones that tweak an original somewhat. Too faithful and I think, why not just listen, or in this case rewatch, the original?

Nigel says it's going to be difficult to try and disassociate tonight's performances from the originals. Nigel says in real life Eliana would've kicked Cyrus out of the house -- that she was the stronger dancer and character tonight.

Mary singles out Cyrus for praise. Michael confesses that he and Billy have never seen the original routines, which he calls a disadvantage, but I think could make them interesting judges -- no sentimental memories or preconceived notions.

George and Tiffany: George and I share a favorite moment in Wade Robson's group "Rama Lama" dance. They're doing the "Hometown Glory" dance from Season 4, which featured that really cool "assisted run" segment. They don't pull off the "assisted run" quite as well as Katee and Josh did originally, but are otherwise killing this number.

Mary has one criticism for Tiffany, that she might need to be careful about "overperforming." Michael points out that Tiffany was so strong that she didn't need any "assistance" for the "assisted run." He adds that he felt like he was watching two solos, rather than a duet. Nigel thinks tonight may have been George's best performance yet. Nigel agrees that they may have overacted the emotions facially.

Amelia and Will: They get the "butt dance," which Amelia seems less excited about. I think she's perfect for it personality-wise, but Amelia's not getting that, just focusing on her actual, physical posterior.

I also completely love this song -- Koop's "Koop Island Blues." Amelia's wearing one black-topped stocking, which from the front makes her look like she has a support bandage on her thigh. Man, Amelia is just not getting the spirit of this dance at all -- she's being all light and floaty when it needs to be saucy but a touch grounded.

Nigel starts by saying it's one of the toughest to critique because he remembers the original so well.  But then he spoils it by admitting that it's mostly Randi's butt he's been fixated on. Nigel agrees with me that Amelia needed to bring more character to the routine, and points out that she was looking at the floor a lot. Mary liked it, but says Amelia needed to connect with the audience more. Billy liked it, but said there were moments where "a little subtlety wouldn't have gone amiss."

Janelle & Dareian: They get the "bed routine" originally done by Twitch & Kherington. With some of these performances, I think I realize that I liked the dancing as much as or more than the choreography -- which is the case with this one. Twitch was such a charismatic personality I pretty much loved everything he did.

Michael picks on Dareian's feet -- which, mark my words will be why he doesn't win. And then he talks about noticing Janelle's hair more than her movement at times. Ooh, burn. Billy chimes in praising "Hitch" -- which Cat has to correct to "Twitch." See? Twitch was and is a star.

Nigel points out Mia's routines ask the dancers to be performers as well as dancers. Then he goes on to point out that it was almost a solo routine for Dareian, adding that his technique is better than Twitch's. Yeah, ask America how much we care about the finer points of technique. 

Mary points out that they didn't quite get the emotion in the routine just right -- and adds that she couldn't see Janelle's face because of her hair, which masked her emotions.

Oh, I just realized because of the boy/girl pairings tonight, we won't see one of my favorite of Mia's routines: the "Two Princes" with Neil and and Danny.

Audrey and Matt have the "Dead Dad" piece. Which, you know, it's fine, but even at the time, I thought was praised as much out of sympathy for Mia's loss as its actual merit. Shoe Alert: Matt is in a full suit, but no shoes. Since Audrey's dress could double as a nightgown, her shoelessness isn't quite so egregious.

Mary cries because she has a personal memory of seeing this piece for the first time right after her father was diagnosed with lung cancer. And then explains that that's why she was off the show for a year -- she went to care for him. She praises Matt and Audrey's performance.

Billy singles out Audrey's pirouette, and then points out that Matt drops his performance face when he's about to hit a difficult part of the choreography. Nigel makes it a pop quiz about the history of Mia and her dad, which neither of the dancers pass too well. I think it's kind of BS -- the choreography should speak for itself. If I need the liner notes to "appreciate" it, it's not done its job.

Witney and Chehon. They have the "bench dance" which Mia's "tweaking" to give a "facelift." Witney first saw this routine when she was 12. If you need a moment to feel old, do''t worry -- I took one too. Incidentally, this is the routine that won Mia her first Emmy.

The only problem I have with this in comparison to Travis and Heidi dancing it, is that Witney has that sexbomb face and hair, in a way Heidi didn't, that compromises some of the moves and makes them seem more sensual than I think they're meant to.

Now Nigel schools the contestants on the backstory to the choreography -- you know how I feel about that. Mary praises Chehon's technique, but points out that he needs to lose control a little bit more in his dancing. Michael singles out Witney's hometown as being full of great dancers. And then offers Chehon a job. So ...

Lindsay and Cole: They've got the "Addiction" routine. Mia points out that "Lindsay has to not worry about not being a pretty dancer." That's been my concern for Lindsay and Witney all along. Her legs aren't as amazing as Kayla's. Which, if you're going to be doing the exact same choreography, it's hard not to compare. And this is a weird thing to point out, I know, but Kayla's paleness brought something to the staging -- made her look more vulnerable and ghostly, like someone in the throes of addiction.

Billy was "very impressed" with that. He says they showcased their versatility. Mary thinks it was the best of the night. Nigel points out that having to do choreography with which the audience is familiar is something professional dancers encounter all the time. He also thinks this was the best performance of the night.

And now it's time to reveal the bottom six: Eliana and Cyrus are both safe. Tiffany is safe, but George is in the bottom. Will is safe, Amelia is in danger. Janelle and Dareian are in the bottom six. Cat's got three couples left, and only one male and one female will be in danger. Those are Matthew and Lindsay. Audrey, Witney, Chehon and Cole are all safe.

Nigel asks for solos from all six. Amelia is up first and does a very standard contemporary solo. This is a girl who just doesn't know how to maximize her quirk. Janelle has the most defined abs I've ever seen on a bellydancer. Lindsay has to do one of those awkward solo ballroom routines. Nothing looks weirder than a solo samba roll. They never look right. But I can't doubt that she gets saved after tonight's "Addiction" piece.

George is such a beautiful dancer technically -- I can't figure out why I don't connect with him more. Dareian and his terrible feet flail around shirtless for a bit. Matthew does cute boy as well as anyone in this competition.

No shocker, and Nigel even admits it was a lot because of tonight's routines -- Lindsay is saved. Nigel thinks Matthew doesn't connect with the audience and he points out Dareian's feet. And ends up saving George. There's a lot of unhappy girls out there tonight, given how crush-worthy Matt is.

See you next week, when we have a Top 10. I hope the couples get mixed up, like they have in seasons past at this point.

Cat tells me they will break up the couples, but they'll be bringing in the All-Stars. I hope it's not all contestant/All-Star pairings. We'll just have to wait and see.