So You Think You Can Dance Recap: The Top 11? They're Pretty Ridonkulous

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Say what you will: I still say this is a talent show, not reality TV == and these dancers have MEGA-talent!

While I'm not sure I'm 100% bought into this "all-stars" partnering scheme, last night's kick-off to the new season of So You Think You Can Dance was pretty stellar.

It was interesting to hear executive producer Nigel Lythgoe say that he was hoping that pairing the contestants with favorites from past seasons would up the quality level -- make people rise to new heights. Sort of a Dancing with the Almost Stars. I'm still a little confused as to what happens to the all-stars. Are they all sort of in the bullpen, and they get paired up as the producers see fit? It must be something like that, since there are 12 all-stars to begin with. (Dominic didn't dance last night.) Or were they planning to also have a surprise sixth girl too, but decided not to?

I'm also wondering if the popularity of the all-stars will rub off on their partner each week, or if people will realize they're only voting for the contestant?

Questions! I have questions. And their site and blog don't answer them all.

So You Think You Can Dance Top 11
Image courtesy FOX/Mathieu Young

But enough of that, let's get down to it. Welcome to Season 7's first recap!!

1. Contemporary dancer Billy paired with all-star Lauren to dance a Tyce Broadway routine

Done to the tune of "Footloose," this was a lot of posing and messing about a set of school lockers, and not a lot of dancing. Frankly, Lauren pulled my attention the whole time. Maybe it was her stellar abs (I'm jealous, so what?) or maybe it's just that she has a frickin' personality!! Billy needs to work on that, because this routine was all about personality and sharp quick moves, and he was all about the "look at my fabulous extensionsssssssss."

Bottom line: After he dropped out so quickly last season due to illness, I think the SYTYCD audience will want to see more of Billy, no matter what.

2. Salsa dancer Cristina paired with all-star Mark on a Sonia jazz routine

This number was also a bit pose-to-pose. Full of staccato moves and kind of cliche snaky moves, if you ask me. But Cristina pulled it off well for a salsa dancer without a lot of this kind of movement experience. I didn't love it, but not sure that was about her.

Bottom line: She might be at risk, simply because the piece itself was a little disjointed and without enough amazing moves to compensate.

3. B-Boy Jose paired with all-star Comfort for a Napoleon/Tabitha hip-hop routine

The judges had this exactly right. When Jose was down on the floor exhibiting his strength and flexibility, it was amazing. When they were dancing, feet on the floor, Comfort outshined him by a mile.

Bottom line: Still, the only B-boy in the competition isn't going anywhere the first week. We all want to see him tackle something other than hip-hop, and hopefully shine! That's why we watch the show, right? And that's why folks like Dominic and Twitch are all-stars.

4. Contemporary dancer Adechike paired with all-star Katherine to dance a Travis contemporary routine

This was some weird office fantasy sequence, and all due respect to the judges, I don't think the routine itself was up to the standard Travis set for himself last season. Yeah, it's really creative to have a hot chick in a red dress and really high heels prance round the stage and writhe about. Now, I agree that Adechike didn't bring and matching chemistry to make that kind of posing and posturing sexy instead of cliche, but I say "meh" to the entire routine, big Katherine fan though I've been.

Bottom line: I think Adechike has had a rough road to the finals, and that may continue.

5. Tapper Melinda paired with all-star Pasha to dance a Tony/Melanie jive routine

Well, this was the clear dud of the evening, IMHO. The judges were all pimping her "performance skills", but I thought she looked freaked out the entire time. And I know she was missing steps, falling behind, not as sharp and winded by the end. Yes, I sound brutal, but I thought this was bad.

Bottom line: Oh, she's gotta be at risk with that one.

When the show was at its halfway mark, I stopped to note that Cat Deeley seemed ot be spending the entire show with one hip popped out at an alarming angle. I mean she usually looks a bit like a Barbie doll, but this was getting ridiculous.

But I digress.

6. Ballet dancer Alex paired with all-star Allison for a Sonia contemporary routine

All I can say is stellar. Truly an emotionally intense journey, paired with stunning technique. All the praise was deserved.

Bottom line: What else is there to say?

7. Contemporary dancer Alexie paired with all-star Twitch for a Napoleon/Tabitha hip-hop routine

Again, the judges nailed it. This was cute. Adorable, even. But sexy? No. Or only in the way that might make you feel a bit dirty, since she came off like jailbait trying to be more mature than she is. Of course the premise of the routine (a suitor sneaking in her window at night) didn't help any with that. Very Say Anything.

Bottom line: Meh. But probably good enough to stay.

8. Contemporary dancer Lauren paired with all-star Ade for a Mandy Moore pop jazz (whatever that is) routine

This was oh, so very cheer team. And once again: Excellent work from the judges. The called her on her playing straight out to the audience without so much as a longing sideways glance at her partner. I may like the Mia/Adam combo best of all -- although I do wonder if assessments of ballroom will be as expert without Mary (and, yes, her surreal laugh). My favorite moment though was when Adam was telling Lauren he was afraid she "wasn't listening to their critiques," and she interrupted him! To tell him just how good she was listening. Um, think you just proved his point, Lauren, and America likes its contestants respectful. Rein it in, chica.

Bottom line: The judges seem to think she's safe safe safe, but we actually didn't see too much of Lauren during the lead-up, and this really was so very Bring It On.

9. Contemporary dancer Kent paired with all-star Anya for a Tony/Melanie cha-cha

OK, you can stop your cougar references right now, you silly judges. We are not amused. (And I don't mean the royal "we," I'm just assuming I speak for EVERYONE who is over cougar references.) He did fill space, he was committed, and yes, he did pull faces too. And moreover: He is this show's Kellie Pickler (an adorable, country-bumpkin American Idol contestant from a past season, for those of you who have more of a life than I do.) And that means that either you're gonna LOVE his personality, or you gonna wanna wipe that adorable smile right of his face! I tend to the latter, which is why I once had the nickname "Blackheart." But that's another story.

Bottom line: Seems pretty safe to me. Rowr.

10. Contemporary dancer Ashley paired with all-star Neil for a Tyce contemporary routine

I don't know about you, but this piece that was supposed to be about the greatest gift, love, seemed more to be about tragedy and angst. I think Ashley might just have been watching and reading too much Twilight. It was well done, but I could have stood to see her show us more extension and more finishing of her lines. (Don't I sound all dancy?)

Bottom line: She's another one we haven't seen much of, and this was weirdly different than one would expect form the pre-dance package, so who now? Could be a bad combo.

11. Contemporary dancer Robert paired with all-star Courtney for a Sean African jazz routine

I thought this was great, probably the second-best routine of the night after Alex. Courtney and Robert had a great connection and great commitment. It was interesting, not your run of the mill contemporary number, and he really exhibited some great moves, and some awesome lines.

Bottom line: We don't know him well, but now we want to.

Bottom line for the Bottom Three:

So who will be dancing for their lives?

My guess is: Melinda, Adichike and Cristina.

And Melinda *should* go home. And probably will.

But what did you think?

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