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So You Think You Can Dance: Vale

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cover art by Opalsong

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Credits in Notes


cross posted at amplificathon, my journal, and AO3

Opening Spiel

I hope you're ready for the fourth elimination round of So You Think You Can Dance Vale. I know how much you enjoy watching me froth at the mouth. And WHOO BOY! What a doozy this week was. There was happy froth, sad froth, and the furious froth of a thousand exploding suns. Not quite sure what happened to my metaphor there. What I'm trying to say is that this week delivered everything we love (and love to hate) about So You Think You Can Dance, and this season in particular. Will Ruby and Weiss continue to be a train wreck of a partnership? Can I love Ren and Nora any more than I already do? Will Cardin finally be eliminated? Buckle up. We're about to find out.


Opening Dance

Top16, Hip Hop, 'Time to Say Goodbye', choreographed by Dave Scott.

A good start to the week with this upbeat group routine. I (mostly) appreciate how the choreographer let each dancer get a turn as principal dancer, instead of just Pyrrha all the time. There is a downside to this through, giving us more of dancers we'd rather STAY in the background (*coughCardin*). But ultimately, it was the perfect opening dance for this week: every dancer giving their all. This high energy dance did its job and got me excited.


Most Improved

Ruby and Weiss, Broadway, 'What is This Feeling', choreographed by Spencer Liff.

Wow. Just wow. What happened?? I was so worried for this routine. I mean, a contemporary dancer like Ruby and a ballerina like Weiss shouldn’t have trouble with a broadway routine, but for the last three weeks the partnership between Ruby and Weiss was giving me dangerous levels of second hand embarrassment. And suddenly... this happened. This routine was a close runner up for best of the night. And no, the irony does not escape me that it was during a routine about two people loathing each other that these two finally connected as partners. I have a good feeling these two won't be in the bottom six any more.

Also, can we pause and talk about this weeks 'fun facts' segment? I'm usually neutral to the 'tell the audience something about your partner' gimmick. But we had some real gold come out of this week. Weiss' disbelief as she told us Ruby once tried to mail her dog was only matched by Ruby's disbelief that Weiss had never slept in a bunk bed. Never change!


Best Story

Pyrrha and Jaune, Bollywood, 'Psych Bollywood Credits’, choreographed by Nakul.

It never gets less hilarious that Jaune doesn't know how famous Pyrrha is. She could be on the judge’s panel! Jaune’s fun fact that Pyrrha was on a cereal box was so cute. And the image of tiny Jaune learning to break-dance from his grandpa is too adorable for words. But it was the story that really made this routine. ‘Flailing Tourist Falls In Love With Indian Princess’ was perfect for this pair. Pyrrha's flawless execution of fast paced incredibly complicated hand gestures was a glory to see. I don’t think I breathed at all for the second half of the routine. I was worried when the rehearsal footage told us Jaune and Pyrrha would have to dance in total sync for a portion. Pyrrha might be a dance goddess descended to earth, but Jaune’s... let’s call him a diamond in the rough. But he didn’t miss a beat in the synchronised portion! I have no doubt he and Pyrrha rehearsed the crap out of that sequence outside the dance studio, and it really paid off!


Most Steamy

Blake and Yang, foxtrot, ‘Alors on Dance’, choreographed by Dmitry.

Is it hot in here? It’s definitely hot in here. Someone open a window. Like Ruby and Weiss, Blake and Yang’s partnership really clicked this week, combined with a smooth foxtrot the results definitely raised the temperature at least ten degrees. I’m not sure that’s what the choreographer was going for, but that’s definitely what they got. Who’s complaining? Not me, that’s for sure. It was nice to see Blake owning it in her own style, and for someone who auditioned as a krumper, it looks like Yang’s got a knack for ballroom herself. The fun facts for this pair were pretty great too. Yang taking Blake to a dance club sounds like a great time! (Can I come too?) But I can’t say I’m surprised that Yang’s been banned from several clubs. Let’s be real, it’s probably for making the other patrons look bad.



Cardin and Russell, contemporary, ‘Heterosexual Man', choreographed by Travis Wall.

No. Nope. Stop.

I cannot believe that Nigel liked this routine. Everything about this dance was excruciating. The dancing? Bad. The song? The worst. Sorry, that’s wrong. CARDIN is the worst. I feel for Travis Wall. It’s clear from the rehearsal footage that Travis meant the song to be playful and ironic. Trust Cardin to miss the point completely and dance it totally straight. And Russell? I dunno, he’s got hair. You want a fun fact? I got one for you: Cardin’s a douchebag! Someone tell that a-hole to stop wiggling his eyebrows at the camera. I can only throw up so much before I will literally die.


Best Sell

Sun and Neptune, lyrical hip hop, ‘Run Boy Run’, choreographed by Tabitha and Napoleon.

I don’t know if dancing after that monstrosity is a blessing or a curse. On the one hand anything would look amazing in comparison, but on the other hand I’m a little distracted by the murderous rage I’m in right now. But that’s not fair to these contestants, so I’ll try to focus. This dance wasn’t a stretch for these two, really. Sun was dancing his own style and as a jazz dancer, Neptune wasn’t far from his either. It was the choreography that elevated this routine in my opinion. A high concept story piece about a boy getting sucked into a dimension of monsters could have crashed hard but Sun and Neptune really sold it.

The fun facts for this pair were great too. The best trivia is when we actually learn something that illuminates a new facet of our contestants. It doesn’t have to be anything big either, just a little fact, like that Sun really, realllllly, loves bananas, is enough to make him seem more real. And, I admit, I think it’s hilarious that Neptune has never been seen without his goggles. They’re permanently glued to his head. That’s my headcannon and I’m sticking to it.


Most Forgettable

Melanie and Militia, contemporary, ‘Ghost’, choreographed by Stacey Tookey.

Did a dance just happen? I can’t remember. No, seriously, I can’t remember a thing about this routine. There was... music? Maybe? You’d think two identical twins dancing in their own style would leave more of an impact, but nope. I can’t even remember the fun facts! They’re twins, they should have great facts about each other. Maybe they did? Upon, like, five minutes of meditation, the only thing I can recall about watching this routine was that I ate a cracker. My unsalted cracker was more memorable than this dance, I guess that says something.


Most Off the Mark

Emerald and Mercury, paso doble, ‘Somebody Told Me’, choreographed by Jean-Marc Généreux.

Not a song I’d associate with ballroom, but Jean-Marcis known for his unconventional choreography choices. Don’t get me wrong, I love this song! But this routine... didn’t quite work. It almost worked, almost. And I think I figured out what was wrong. It felt like Emerald was leading the whole time. If they’d been aiming for that, it could have been amazing, but they clearly meant for Mercury to be the leader. I can’t blame them, really, Emerald is a lyrical hip hop dancer, and Mercury does tap. Ballroom is about a far from their styles as you can get. And I can’t forget to mention their fun facts. The most surprising thing was how much I wasn’t surprised to learn that Mercury went to juvie or that Emerald is actually a kleptomaniac. It’s ok, I still want to be your friend!



Nora and Ren, hip hop, ‘Holiday’, choreographed by Lil' C.

A tapper and a contemporary dancer walk into a hip hop rehearsal. Sounds like the set up to a joke, doesn’t it? But there was nothing funny about this ass-kicking routine. Everyone has their own favourites, but I’m throwing in my vote for Nora and Ren right now. I think it's because at first glance they both seem like dancers who wouldn't get very far in the competition, but as soon as they start dancing they blow those expectations away. This routine fits that description to a tee. This dance was so good for me, I’ll hear no criticism. And those fun facts? Ren once ate 30 pancakes in an hour on a dare? Nora drank an entire bottle of syrup not on a dare? Bless these two. Even if they don't win this season, they've already won my heart.


Let’s Talk About Those Solos


Melanie, contemporary, 'Lucy Fears the Morning Star'

A better showing than her duet at least, but it wasn't mind blowing. Unfortunately, it needed to be in order to overcome Nigel's weighty favouritism of Cardin.


Militia, contemporary, 'Nikki Don't Stop'

I think it was a good choice for Militia to pick a different sort of song from her sister. The 'twins' gimmick can only carry someone so far in a contest with only one winner. But was it unique enough?


Ruby, contemporary, 'Red Like Roses'

Now this is how you do a contemporary solo. Ever since her standout audition performance, Ruby's been on my radar. If she can hold her own against Pyrrha (that's a pretty big ‘if‘) she's got a chance at not only being the youngest contestant on So You Think You Can Dance ever, but also its youngest winner.


Weiss, ballet, 'Mirror Mirror'

Weiss is always breathtaking in her own style. It’s too bad ballet requires too much dedicated training (and torturous footwear) to be regularly featured on this show. Mind you, that would only be worth it if every dancer was as graceful as Weiss.


Cardin, Ballroom, 'Look Good in Leather'

Get off the stage Cardin. At this point, Cardin is dangerously close to going past the event horizon of just being a gross dancer and coming out the other side as a kind of embodied nightmare of liminal insanity.


Russell, contemporary, 'Improper Dancing'

I don't give Russell much attention, and maybe this is unfair, but my desire to punch Cardin right in his smug face is very distracting. So how does he fair as a soloist? Good question. I can't decide if his exuberant, flailing version of contemporary combined with this particular song choice condemns Russell or redeems him. But if it got rid of Cardin, I'd happily see Russell go too.


Penny (special guest), animation, 'I Am Not A Robot (Greg Taylor remix)'

That was one face-meltingly good solo. I'm just in awe of everything Penny right now. The special guest dancer this week, Penny is the So You Think You Can Dance winner alumnus from Atlas, and I think I want to move there if they could teach me to dance like that. It should be criminal irony that a song about celebrating imperfections should be danced to so flawlessly. Also, Penny, I'm not sure I believe the claim that you're not actually a robot. And I do not care! My only regret is that this dance couldn't go on forever.


Closing comments

I am so mad, so, so mad that Melanie and Militia were eliminated, not Cardin and Russell. Nigel, you can only carry that sac of dead weight for so long before he's gone. The people demand it! I guarantee those two will be in the bottom again next week after the barf-fest I just witnessed.

Cardin aside, I can't deny that Melanie and Militia's duet didn't do them any favours, and they're solos were only passable. But this is So You Think You Can Dance, and just passable isn't enough.

Fortunately, the bad this week was matched and more by the good. I can't wait to see what we get next week from Ruby and Weiss now that they've connected as partners. Ditto for Blake and Yang. Pyrrha is always a delight to watch, and I'm enjoying the transformation we're seeing in Jaune under her tutelage. And then there's Ren and Nora. They should get their own spin off show. With Penny! I hope she'll come back for the finale. In fact, I anticipate we'll be seeing at least one of these dances again in the finale. Until next week, it’s a crazy dance world out there, take care of yourselves!