If So You Think You Can Dance had returned at this point in the competition instead of making us suffer through weeks of crying and scripted commentary, I think I would have been on board. Really, if there wasn’t an actual competition and we could just watch dance for an hour every Monday, I think I would even be ok with that. Tonight there were a lot of good things about our Next Generation, but there were also a few cringeworthy moments. I’ll try to recap without hurting anyone’s feelings.
First off, I need to know how host Cat Deeley looks so gorgeous week after week? But, why the heels tonight? She is already towering over the grown contestants and then they put her in platform heels. Beautiful but awkwardly tall with the tiny dancers running around.
Anyway, opening number was amazing. Dressed in white with stunning lighting as per usual, the All Stars took the stage with their protegé partners in a Christopher Scott piece that reminded me why I love this show. These are group numbers that I’m never tired of. Ditto the All Star routine at the one hour mark choreographed by Mandy Moore. More, please.
First up tonight was season 10 winner Fik-Shun Stegall with Kida Burns and choreographer Christopher Scott. Kida is like a little version of Twitch. He is an animator like Fikshun but he has the personality and stylings of Twitch. Together they do have a perfect big brother/little brother chemistry that works so well. This was a perfect start to the show. Those suits, though!!
Oh, in between each solo and pair performance we have stupid interview questions and a sit down with Cat. I don’t particularly like any of this because it quickly devolves into fart jokes or kids talking about who their crushes are and weirdness. I could do without the filler. And Maddie Ziegler for that matter. I really find no useful purpose for her on this show other than maybe pulling in some viewers. Her comments are pointless and she just stands around in rehearsal rooms watching. For what?
Back on track.
Tate McRae and season six All Star Kathryn McCormick were paired with Tyce Diorio for a contemporary routine that almost brought me to tears. It was hard to tell the girls apart as Tate has an uncanny ability to draw in the audience and pour emotion into every part of her body. She really is spectacular and Tyce did an amazing job working with this pair of outstanding contemporary dancers.
Ballroom standout and Dancing with the Stars troupe dancer Jenna Johnson is paired with young Jake Monreal and here is where my love for the format falls flat. Jenna is full-on sexy and a grown woman with a grown woman’s figure and little Jake’s face hits right at Jenna’s chest. I couldn’t handle the weirdness and the tiny boy with grown woman dynamic. This pair is talented but I can’t handle watching them try to dance together without being awkward. Ditto this comment for all ballroom pairs. I’ll save space.
For some reason, Marko Germar was standing in for season four winner Joshua Allen tonight with hip hop dancer Sheaden Gabriel. I found it odd that the usually informative Cat just skimmed over this replacement with little or no explanation. Inquiring minds want to know where our Josh is. But I love Marko too so I’m fine with this for now. This routine, choreographed by Pharside and Phoenix (do we capitalize or not) was a hard-hitting routine about a tiny Boogie-Man and Marko was a great partner but I think Sheaden needed equally hard-hitting Joshua to really pull this off. Brilliant job by both dancers and a cool concept from the choreographers but Joshua would have pushed it over the top.
Contemporary dancer Jordan Wandick and season eight runner-up Sasha Mallory were perfection and at this point, I didn’t care if one of them was a kid. Like Tate, Jordan might be young but she has so much emotional connection to the work and to her partner. This was my favorite of the night, choreographed by Brian Friedman to The Light That Never Fails by Audra Day, every part of this routine was why I love this show. Also, Jordan is my favorite. There, I said it.
Gaby Diaz, winner of season 12, is paired with ten-year-old tapper Emma Hellenkamp. This pair had some sweet moves but I was so distracted with the fact that Rachel Bloom look-a-like Gaby had to deal with a hanging mic-pack the entire routine that I missed half the tricks and had to rewind later. Amazing routine by Anthony Morigerato that played to all their strengths. Not weird and very talented duo!
Season ten’s Paul Karmiryan is paired with an adorable Ruby Castro and if I have to pick a favorite ballroom dancer, she is my favorite. However, see comment above on my feelings about ballroom dancing kids. On my rewind viewing of this piece, I don’t think these two look as awkward together but this is still a 12-year-old wrapping her legs around a grown man and the chemistry is weird. They aren’t a completely awkward pair like Jenna and Jake but I’m still not 100% on board.
I’m in love with the girl-power team of Tahani Anderson and season four favorite Comfort Fedoke and their can-do attitude (because can’t is not in their vocabulary). This girl turned off her cuteness factor and cranked up her hit-it factor. You know what I mean. With a Luther Brown routine, Tahani and Comfort were unstoppable tonight and together their friendship is already #goals. Also, they are almost the same height, which is funny and helpful. I’d like to take a moment to say that if season four wasn’t one of the best ever, I’d still be scolding people for cutting Comfort way too early!! Can’t wait to watch more of these two.
Maddy still hasn’t said anything that I find useful and we’re almost done.
Ballroom dancer Daniela Avanzini got thrown around so much by partner Jonathan Platero (who I have no recollection of ever) that I was almost sick to my stomach. For no reason other than that, I couldn’t do this routine at all. This was my second least favorite after Jenna and Jake. The age difference is weird and Salsa is suggestive and Daniela is good but this is not my favorite part of the show.
The final piece tonight had me with all the feels after about three seconds. Robert Roldan and his little mini-me JT Church were everything tonight. Mandy Moore and her stupid good choreography and Robert with his smolder face and his tender and protective partnering with JT, who was, of course, adorable but also vulnerable and appropriately youthful, were backed by an anthem about standing in the light and being our true selves. This was one of those moments on the show where you can’t help but tear up. I think sometimes I love Robert too much but we won’t talk about that.
The kids closed out the show with a hip hop routine by choreographer WildaBeast who I am not familiar with but hope to be by the end of the season. They all killed it. I hated nothing about this part!
So, there were a lot of beautiful moments tonight and I think it helps that the majority of the kids are over the age of 12 so they aren’t the horrid kid pairings that I initially feared. That’s not to say the format is without flaws, because there are plenty. We still have to send a kid packing which isn’t going to be fun for anyone and I’m already mad at Nigel for any mean things he says. The panel is, well, lackluster and not interesting anymore (bring back Adam Shankman and Jesse Tyler Ferguson) and the filler stuff is getting old already. The dancing was good and, awkward pairings aside, that’s all that really matters I guess. See you next week when we kick a kid off the show. (#horrible).