The First Cut is the Deepest: #SYTYCD Says Goodbye to Daniela

It was as painful as I expected. After a night of reasonably great performances, Nigel and team had to choose one from the bottom two vote getters to send home. During the commercial break, they decided on Daniela Avanzini, the 11-year-old ballroom dancer from Atlanta, Georgia. Yes, there were a lot of tears.

I can’t say that she wasn’t the right contestant to go home in 10th place but that doesn’t make it any easier to stomach this format. I’ll say it again, I’d be happy if they could just perform each week for 10 weeks and then everyone does a big finale and we wrap this mess up until next year when we bring back adults. These kids are talented but this still doesn’t work!

To quickly recap the night, each of the top ten kids was paired with another contestant and then they drew styles out of  the magic hat. Each duo performed twice and each contestant did a quick duet with their coach. It was a night full of dance but this seems like a lot to put on kids for one week. Here we go:

Jordan and Ruby paired up for a Sean Cheesman African jazz routine and then later, a Dee Caspary contemporary number. These two are so talented and were a great match for each other. Ruby seemed sharper and more direct in her movement but Jordan has the emotion and the raw talent that moves the audience. I loved both of their pieces tonight and Ruby, without her weird ballroom coach pairing, is actually a force to be reckoned with.

Tapper Emma and ever-adorable JT were given a NappyTabs story about a candy maker and a chocolate bar. I love NappyTabs and this was hard-hitting awesomeness but slightly wasted on tiny bodies. JT and Emma didn’t really disappoint but hard-hitting kids is still a new thing for me so I have to take some time with this one. Their second number was a West Side Story inspired Broadway routine from Spencer Liff which seemed more suited to both kids. Nothing bad to say about these two, but they didn’t stand out this week as much as last week.

I was slightly disappointed in the pairing of Tahani and Jake only because I love Tahani and I am not in love with Jake (see, I don’t even like to say that). They worked it out, though. Their first piece, a Bonnie Story contemporary number about bullying, brought both kids to tears. It was a pretty standard routine but the kids were in it and they stayed pretty connected to each other. They followed with a Jive, choreographed by Emma Slater and Sasha Farber, which was high energy and worked for both of them.  I still don’t know how I feel about Jake but tonight didn’t hurt him. Tahani is a firecracker and her personality is infectious. Maddie says firecracker a lot so I thought I’d try it out.

Oddly enough, Sheaden and Daniela were paired together tonight and they both ended up in the bottom two. Fishy. During rehearsals Daniela was crying because she was struggling to catch on to choreography in her specialty and by the end of the night, she was going home. In any case, ballroom isn’t Sheaden’s thing at all but in their first routine together, he didn’t let her down and kept up with her pretty well. Their second, a Fosse-esque number from Spencer Liff was actually really cool and Sheaden again kept up with his well-trained and very leggy partner.

I’ll take a moment to point out that the best numbers and those that seem to resonate with viewers (me) are those that are being performed by the oldest contestants. Coincidence? I don’t think so. Also, before I forget, Twitch was on the guest panel tonight – Yay! And we also learned (through the grapevine) that season four winner Joshua Allen is actually in some legal trouble stemming from alleged domestic violence charges. Odd that he would be allowed to even be in the earlier episodes but there it is. Sad news for such a great talent.

Finally, Tate and Kida showed us why those few extra years of experience matter. Watching these kids is almost like watching adults. So far Tate hasn’t stumbled and Kida, although pretty lucky tonight with hip hop and jazz, hasn’t disappointed either. Their first number, another NappyTabs story about farmers and turnips, was cooler than it sounds. Riding in on tiny tractors, dressed in overalls and boots they turned it up (turn-ip up…ok no jokes). Their second routine was a brightly colored jazz number from Nick Florez and RJ Durell. It was expected that Tate could keep up with jazz choreography but Kida surprised again by bringing his swag to both styles.

In between the duets they pushed the new Ice Age movie pretty hard and each of the kids did a quick duet with their coaches in their own styles. If there were fart jokes this week, I missed them because I honestly skipped through all the filler. The All-Stars also did an amazing Romeo and Juliet inspired group number. It was probably awesome but I was completely distracted by one of the dancers wearing a chainmail mask the entire time. Who were they hiding? Rather, who would agree to wear that the whole time?

My opinions haven’t changed much from last week to this. I still have a few picked out that will undoubtedly rise to the top but for that to happen, we’ll have to suffer through the cuts. I have to give it to Cat Deeley for agreeing to do this and holding those kids together all the while keeping it professional. She does not have an easy job this season.

All I ask is for a little heads up before JT goes home. I don’t think I can take that one.

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