Mia Michaels, This Is Your Life

The choreographer is spotlighted as four more leave.

Mia Michaels, This Is Your Life

So You Think You Can Dance emerged from its Olympics hiatus with an unusual idea, one that was unprecedented for this show: a night that celebrated allegedly iconic SYTYCD choreography from one person, Mia Michaels.

The problem with this idea is that a bunch of kids we’re still just getting to know can’t hold a candle to performances and dancers that are a treasured part of fans’ memories. As the show was drawing to a close, Nigel Lythgoe even admitted the night had been a disappointment, something rarely heard in the hype-filled halls of reality TV (interestingly, the same thing happened on Tuesday, after a disastrous night of America’s Got Talent).

Many of the spotlighted dances came from the talent cornucopia of Season 4, and seeing them again mostly served to make me wish that Joshua Allen, Katee Shean, Mark Kanemura, Chelsie Hightower, and Twitch were on this season instead of that one. And it likewise didn’t help that the night’s guest judges, “Ballet Boys” Michael Nunn and Billy Trevitt, admitted they hadn’t watched any of this season and essentially had no familiarity with SYTYCD history.

Despite all this negativity, there were some highlights. Both Nigel and Mary Murphy correctly called the night’s final performance as its best, a reprise of the Season 5 “addiction dance” with Lindsay Arnold and Cole Horibe. If he’s done nothing else this season, Cole has proven he has plenty of acting chops, and Lindsay was able to overcome her desire to be “pretty,” as Mia put it. She has adapted nicely to contemporary material.

The other blonde ballroomer this season, Witney Carson, got excellent marks also after she and Chehon Wespi-Tschopp had their take on the Season 2 “bench dance,” which is apparently about Mia’s impossible love for a gay man, something I’m guessing happens a lot in her field. Chehon managed to show off his technique while still handling the needed emotion, though Mary Murphy believed he can loosen up even more. Witney had less to do, but made her usual strong impression.

The other five dances, however, all lacked a little something. In the case of Eliana and Cyrus, and their repeat of the Season 4 “door dance,” it’s the fact that Cyrus, lovable as he may be, isn’t up to the standard set by Twitch four summers ago. Eliana is never less than fierce, though, and she can handle more personality-driven dances too.  George Lawrence and Tiffany Maher were pretty solid on the Season 4 “hometown glory” dance, though Mary thought Tiffany was a little too over-the-top. My reaction to this pairing is somewhat different: they rarely make an impression on me that lasts for more than a few minutes.

SYTYCD Season 9 Amelia Will

Amelia Lowe and Will Thomas had been pretty much judges’ pets to this point, but the response to this dance was the first sign that the honeymoon might be over for at least one of them. They got to perform the Season 5 “butt dance,” which led to a long discussion of Amelia’s anxiety about having to show off that body part to a national audience. Well, she is still just 18. I actually liked her on this quite a bit; it was the first time her cutesy-poo persona hasn’t bugged me. Will, however, was beyond irritating with his theatrics. He got called out for going too far, and Amelia was dinged for being too reserved, so it’s no surprise these two looked a little confused as they were being judged.

Janelle Issis and Dareian Kujawa, easily the most endangered pair coming into this night, had the Season 4 “bed dance,” which is memorable but not really the ideal piece to show off your chops. Janelle in particular had little to do, which was unfortunate since she said she had a recent breakup to draw upon for inspiration; and it wasn’t a positive that the new judges immediately noticed Dareian’s foot issues, which he’s only been knocked for all season long. Audrey Case and Matthew Kazmierczak had the Season 3 “Time” dance that was a tribute to Mia’s late father. Audrey shone throughout, but Matthew was just sort of there, a point that the judges made during their critiques (foreshadowing!), and he looked stricken afterwards.

On to the eliminations, which awkwardly, were based on votes cast three weeks ago. We were also informed that four would be going home this week, which would reduce the field to the ten who are going on the SYTYCD tour. There weren’t too many big surprises here, aside from the continuing safety of Tiffany (who I simply don’t find memorable) and Cyrus (who is technically not measuring up). The endangered women were Amelia, Lindsay, and Janelle; while George, Matthew, and Dareian were the men in trouble.

After a solo from each of the six, which allowed Janelle to belly dance again and which Dareian really killed, it was on to the bad news. Once Nigel said that the performances tonight were a key determining factor, it was obvious what the calls would be, and they were the right calls: Lindsay and George were saved; Dareian, Matthew, Janelle, and Amelia are leaving.

Did you agree with the calls the judges made? And what about the one-choreographer format?


  • Eileen

    Absolutely did NOT agree! There is no way that Matthew should leave before Cyrus. That’s just ridiculous. And Tiffany should definitely have left before Amelia. The whole premise of this episode just sucked. And this 2 week haiatus was just WRONG. My hope was that Audrey and Matthew would win the whole thing. Now I can still root for Audrey at least. :(

    • Tinakeheley

      Eileen I agree with everything you have said. Please read my comment and see how I feel

  • Gridlock Manifesto

    Is it just me or was the “butt dance” a bit over-the-top representation of S&M? We also had a routine in bed, so there was no reason to turn on Cinemax After Dark, (JK). The opening number was interesting too with the ropes; definitely more acrobatic than usual. I couldn’t wait for my wife to watch with me so I watched the show yesterday morning. Since I can watch commercial free now with Auto Hop on my PrimeTime Anytime recordings, I get the show viewed in 1.3 hours rather than the boring two hours with commercials, which would make me late for working at Dish. Now my wife can watch the show too while I’m at work, and we’ll lament over Darian and Janelle’s departure.

  • Snowflake

    Love SYTYCD ,however have to say Nigel went too when he blabbed Mias’ history behind the bench routine…honestly will this man stop at nothing for ratings…I was completely shocked he would go this far, poor Mia looked grief stricken.
    I feel the whole concept was off ..those were some of the most treasured routines ever… how can you possibly recreate brillance..I think Nigel needs to stop messing with the format..and could Cat please stop fiddling with her finger tips..she is really beginning to bother me..

  • Tinakeheley

    I feel the votes are rigged. Clearly Cyrus is not a dancer. If you observe, he is always given the easiet steps and moves in the group dances and in the back lines during the performances. On occasiion he will be seen up front doing a move he is familiar with. I only feel like he is being kept so he can draw a crown on the tour while in Atlanta where he is from.

    This only shows the producers are not interested in giving us quality dancers who have trained for years and years. We have always gone to the shows on tour but not this year

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