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Season 7: A Look at the Highs (and Lows)

Hi all!! I can’t believe we’re just a few hours away from the last performance show of the season!! I’m here to add my thoughts on the highs and lows of Season 7 SYTYCD. I was reading Entertainment Weekly online last night and they have a post up now, “So You Think You Can Dance: 10 Ways to Improve It”. I’m gonna play off that, plus add some of my highlights and lowlights from the season.

Highlight: The Opening Number
Wade Robson, tragically absent this season, created a visual and aesthetic masterpiece. We were able to see glimpses of the incredible array of dancers and their talents. It was difficult to distinguish who was who at some points, there were 23 dancers on the stage, but it was quite a sight to see.

Lowlight: First three eliminated–all girls
One of the things I was looking forward to the most when I heard about the All-Stars was seeing Twitch, Neil, Ade, Mark, Dom, and Pasha dancing again. Fast forward three weeks, and the likelihood of that happened had drastically dropped when the numbers were 6 male contestants and 2 girls. Alexie, Cristina, and Melinda were beautiful dancers, but they didn’t connect with the audience. I think poor Alexie was done in by less than stellar choreography, and I think the judges may have reached a little putting Cristina and Melinda in the top 11. Nevertheless, it was troubling to see three girls get knocked off so fast.


As host Cat Deeley regularly reminds us, SYTYCD is the search for ”America’s favorite dancer.” So why was America’s voice stifled for so long during season 7? SYTYCD’s old format actually worked perfectly: The judges exerted their control for the first five weeks of competition — ensuring that dancers who deserved a second chance outlasted those unable to measure up — then left the rest up to the audience. But this season, viewers had their hands tied until top four. The judges already have plenty of time to have their say (see: previous slide), so let us have ours again…earlier!

Highlight: Alex and Twitch’s hip hop
File this under the category of WOW. When I heard Alex was gonna be doing hip hop with Twitch, I was nervous for him. We didn’t see him do it in Vegas (I don’t think) so I had no idea what was going to happen. Needless to say, I had to surgically remove my jaw from the floor after watching that routine. Who knew that Alex would have a break out moment doing hip hop?!

Lowlight: Injuries, Injuries, Injuries!
It’s amazing that we’ve gone 7 seasons WITHOUT having a serious injury. Granted, Jessica from S4 did have to leave, but she was able to tour with her season when her rib healed. I felt so sad for Alex, because he was just started to scratch the surface on the show. Our thoughts are with him as he recovers.

From (I sort of agree with this one, not 100%)

With such a talented crop of contestants every year, it seems crazy to ask for fewer dance numbers on SYTYCD. But if season 7 proved anything, it’s that stellar choreographers often lose their touch when faced with the feat of creating a countless number of routines for the contestants. (Can you remember more than one Sonya dance?) And that hectic schedule is not only tough on choreographers, but the dancers as well — executing nearly four routines per week left many season 7 contestants sidelined with injuries. So let’s give them a (non-injury-induced) break, shall we? After all, the show is called So You Think You Can Dance, not So You Thought You Could Dance Before You Got Injured on a Reality Show.

Highlight: Cat standing up for the dancers
As you guys have probably read, I wasn’t AdeChike’s biggest fan, but I certainly liked him as a dancer and he seemed like a really nice guy. He didn’t deserve a lot of the bashing he took this season. Granted, some of it was necessary (Adam’s comments about him needing a looser center for African Jazz, I totally understood that), but some of it wasn’t (Mia: “I’m missing Alex Wong now. Hard). I was so happy to see Cat stand up for him after that Bollywood number, she really shows how invested she is in these dancers, how much she loves them.


Hey, I’ll concede that it’s tough to put on a two-hour show. But it’s also tough to maintain interest in said two-hour program when the majority of the airtime is dedicated to the judges’ critiques. (Especially when the contestants are only on stage for short, two-minute routines.) The dancers are the stars of the series — not a panel of judges more focused on thanking the choreographers than praising the contestants. You know the phrase: Keep it simple!

Highlight: Allison and Kathryn
These 2 girls took on an incredible number of routines this season. They danced almost every week, sometimes twice in one week with different partners. The best thing about them was that you could tell they were always there for their partners, 100%. Even when Allison was dancing with José, who, let’s face, she danced circles around, we could look into her eyes and see her commitment to him. I’m not taking anything away from the other All-Stars, they’re all amazing at what they do and a major asset to SYTYCD, but these two girls are my MVPs.

Lowlight: The judging
What can I say? I fastforwarded through a lot of the comments this year b/c they either didn’t make sense or they just went on FOREVER. Mia’s a great choreographer, but I kinda can’t stand her as a judge. Her noises and made up words made her sound uneducated, like that’s the best you can come up with while praising (or critiquing) someone’s dancing. I can’t believe I’m saying this, but…bring back Mary!!


With all due respect to Mia, the panel already has two industry vets who can wax poetic about technique. What was missing on the panel during season 7 was a healthy dose of crazy. (And what was missing on the stage this year was some Mia Michaels choreography.) Sure, Mary Murphy has all but ensured that SYTYCD fans will give the hearing aid industry a boost in 20 years, but we’ve missed being able to board the hot tamale train. Or crazy train, whatever.

Highlight/Lowlight: Getting reintroduced to the All-Stars via Classic Routines/Not getting to see everyone dance routines
This could have been amazing, and it kind of was. Getting to see “The Garden” “Forever” “Night of the Dancing Flame” and Anya/Pasha’s audition number was fantastic. Not only did we get to see these classic routines again, but we got to see how much these dancers have improved since their seasons. After those routines were over, the dances stopped! What about Ade, Kathryn, Dominic and Allison?! Four incredibly talented dancers who have memorable dances of their own. Why not show the routines on the big screen, then have the dancer do a solo on stage. That way, we could have seen the routines (most likely, “This Woman’s Work” “Fear” or “At this Moment” “Make it Work” and “Why”) but also gotten to see the dancers do a solo.

Highlight: “Boogie Shoes”/”Mad World”
Finally, Billy Bell got a breakout routine!! This was one of my favorite routines of the season and I’m excited to see it on tour. We finally got to see Billy loosen up and have some fun. He got the groove of the dance. With Mad World, everything just came together. Stacey Tookey has really elevated herself into that elite group of choreographers on the show with this number. Billy was fantastic.

Highlight: Robert’s Week 8
My pick for the win, he had an incredible week. Both dances were top notch, and everything just worked. I was so happy to see him make the finale, because his growth over the season is really starting to culminate at the right time.

Lowlight: the stage, again
Getting rid of the annoying screen from last season definitely helped, but not totally. When the camera hit the lights at certain angles, it sometimes washed out the dancers. The solution that really needs to happen…


In 2009, SYTYCD announced two big changes: The series would boast a new fall season — which would take place on a much larger stage. Unfortunately, both ideas flopped. Though the producers wisely ditched a fall season after it proved to be unpopular, the expansive, impersonal stage remains, frustrating viewers who prefer an intimate dance experience. Remember, Nigel & Co.: Bigger isn’t always better!

Here are a couple of other ideas from that I really like:
For every ”The Bench” routine on SYTYCD, there’s a ghastly disco dance. So instead of reaching in order to showcase new choreography, why not allow one contestant a week to perform a classic, well-known dance number? Sure, they’ll never measure up to the legends that made the routines famous. Still, after seeing Kent ace a Spencer Liff Broadway routine this season, who wouldn’t want to see what he could do with, say, Singin’ in the Rain’s ”Make ‘Em Laugh”? gusty, but could be fabulous

Sure, great choreographers like Sonya Tayeh, Mia Michaels, and Wade Robson (who’s been tragically MIA during season 7) already act as mentors by default for the SYTYCD contestants. But the show could use a new jolt of star power. Not only would contestants welcome the weekly guidance of some legendary dancers, like, say, Alvin Ailey’s Judith Jamison (pictured) or American Ballet Theater’s Ethan Stiefel, but any dance fan would also be fascinated to hear icons share their tricks of the trade. And think of the results-show guest performances we all saw how excited AdeChike was to be dancing for Dwight and Desmond, this could be really cool. Plus, Ethan Stiefel is better known as Cooper Nielsen from the dance movie Center Stage, and I, for one, would LOVE to see him on SYTYCD!

okay guys, these are my thoughts. Agree? Disagree? Fire away!!

August 11, 2010 I Written By

Season 7 Cheers and Jeers

Just like I did for Season 6, I’m gonna break down what I feel were the highlights and the low points of Season 7. This is gonna be a doozy since there were so many changes this season.

It might be odd to do the Cheers and Jeers post before the season’s fully over, but there’s a good reason for this. Over the next few days, the writers here at PureSYTYCD are going to do posts focusing on elements from this post, the best and the worst of Season 7, up until the final performance show Wednesday and the finale on Thursday. Maybe we’ll update after the finale if anything in particular calls for it. 🙂

Don’t you hesitate to chime in your own thoughts!!

Cheer: The All-Stars
Who isn’t glad to have the All-Stars dancing on the SYTYCD stage again? I think this is a wonderful bonus of this season, seeing some of our favorites from all the previous seasons back again. It’s such a wonderful idea that I think FOX should do a variety-type show JUST showcasing great dancing every week and have rotating SYTYCD-alum and choreographers each week. No competition. No judging or voting. Just dancing. Just great dances from our favorite choreographers and dancers. They could call it The SYTYCD-Alumni Variety Hour. It could work in the fall because it’d just be one hour a week. They wouldn’t need to find three hours over two days. They could use dancers/choreographers whenever they’re available and they’d basically have a weekly, hour-long advertisement for their summer season. They could even spotlight some routines from previous season AND other countries where SYTYCD airs. What a great way to celebrate the SYTYCD family, yes? Okay, I got a little distracted there.

Jeer: The All-Stars

Yes, this is a jeer too. While I love every single All-Star they brought back (and I wasn’t so sure I would at the beginning of the season), there are still TONS of other dancers from other seasons I’d love to see come back. There are so many great combinations and re-combinations we can try. And as awesome as having the All-Stars back has been, they did distract from the contestants a bit (especially in the group numbers). The biggest way they distracted from the contestants was…

Jeer: No constant partnerships

By eliminating the partnerships that used to exist up till Top 10. It used to be that dancers had the same partner every week (unless their partner got eliminated), so you could really see them help each other and grow together. They brought out wonderful things in each other and it helped us get to know their “personalities.” This season, the partnerships rotated every week. Even though Robert danced with Kathryn so much they might as well have been partners (lol), I think we all missed the chance to see the partnerships this season.

Cheer: Changing partnerships

That being said, it was kinda cool to see everybody dance with everybody (for the most part) from the get go. And I have always kind of wondered what would happen if they changed every week from the beginning. It kinda added a certain element of freshness to the mix.

Jeer: Top 11 vs. Top 20

Bring back the Top 20! It was necessary to lower the number of contestants in order to accomodate the All-Stars, but we got to know fewer dancers this season, which made it hard very early on to lose dancers. The dancers who weren’t already clear favorites going in (Alexie, Ashley to some degree, Robert), didn’t have nearly as much time to win us over and they ended up in the Bottom 3 as fans rushed to protect the dancers they loved (OR had seen in Vegas Week the most). Also, I don’ t know if this should be a separate jeer or not, but I did NOT appreciate that the girls were out-numbered from the get-go this season.

Cheer: Losing one dancer versus two

I’m glad that they decided to go with the one-a-week rather than send one of each gender home because there were plenty of times in previous seasons when I thought it was really unfair that we had to lose a girl and a guy each week, no matter what. What if, in the future a guy and a girl were both eliminated each week up till Top 10, but then after that, only one dancer goes home each week?

Jeer: The same three judges

The last few weeks, we’ve had four judging with a rotating guest judge (Kenny Ortega and Toni Redpath!), which just further illustrated that having the same three people giving their opinions every week gets really stale. I said it in the fall when it was Nigel-Mary-Adam, and it’s no different with Nigel-Mia-Adam. Having three static judges DOES.NOT.WORK. Well, it did on SYTYCD Australia, in my opinion, so maybe it’s just that regardless of who our judges are, they need to find new things to say and new ways of saying them. But mostly, I think the easiest and best fix is having either a rotating fourth seat or ALL SEATS rotating. I honestly wouldn’t mind if there were three different judges every week. Nigel, you’re gonna be so busy producing American Idol again, why don’t you just take a bit of a break? And I wouldn’t mind if they each talked less, either. Especially if we always already know what they’re going to say.

Jeer: The Mia/Mary debate

You know what, having Mary on all the time got stale, just as Mia judging every week has been stale. But having Mary completely gone this season made some people sad (not John) and further illustrated how annoying Mia could be as a judge. I never thought I’d say a negative word about Mia. Looove her choreography when it’s on. And I think she’s good for saying the ballsy things that other people won’t say – i.e. her honest opinion. But I think that she needs to figure out how to be kinder without feeling like she’s sold out or lied. Because she was catty and nasty and just yuck a lot of this season. In the language Mia speaks (aka noises), she was really aarrgggghhhh!

Cheer: Our lovely Cat Deely

Ah, Cat Deely. She spoke a lot more this season! She was funny (and sometimes not, but that’s okay) and she really stuck up for the dancers (i.e. the Jose/Adechike Bollywood issue). The rumor that she may leave the show is a major jeer, but I refuse to believe it because Cat is a major part of why this show works, in my opinion. When all else fails, there’s always Cat.

Jeer: Musical guests

This season, as in the past, the musical guests just kinda take up airtime that would be better served featuring dancing. Some of the musical guests have sucked this season. Notably exceptions were Christina Perri, Debi Nova and Natasha Bedingfeld.

Cheer: All-Stars dancing with the musical guests

But, it’s been great to see the All-Stars dancing with the musical guests, in part because their our SYTYCD All-Stars and in part because these are the jobs they’d really get in the world outside SYTYCD.

Cheer: All-Stars dancing routines from their seasons

Yes, just yes. This was such a great idea and I think we should’ve ditched some of our musical/professional dance performers in order to accomodate this.

Jeer: Not enough All-Star routines from their season

Really, there just weren’t enough. And where were the routines from the All-Stars who were representing their season by themselves? What a missed opportunity to bring back OTHER favorite SYTYCD alum to dance with them. Seriously, whose idea was it to bring Christian TV on instead of showing us more All-Star routines?

Cheer/Jeer: All-Stars dancing in the group numbers

Well, on the surface it’s never a bad thing when the All-Stars dance because we love them and they’ve been polished by their time on the show, as well as the time since their seasons. However, it really distracted from the Season 7 contestants – to the point of not being fair at all. And it was great when an All-Star could step in for an injured dancer, but it just added to the attention that an All-Star got rather than a contestant.

Jeer: Withdrawals due to injury

Just like the static judge thing, the multiple injury thing was also a jeer from Season 6 (go and check). But having Alex and Ashley both have to withdraw due to injury, and then Billy and Lauren also both being injured (and sorta, maybe Jose, if you believe Nigel Lythgoe’s lame excuse for him missing group routines), it’s just too much. Figure out how to fix this one quick, FOX. Yes, injuries happen to dancers. Yet. But. Too many injuries.

Cheer: The return of the hat

I liked seeing the actual footage of the drawing from the hat again. I’d missed it a lot.

Jeer: The clearly assigned dances, despite the hat

Yet, it was clear that the producers were at least occasionally selecting dancers for specific dancers, as a way of maybe helping or hurting them. The biggest example of this is, obviously, Jose dancing a b-boy routine with Dominic.

Cheer: Music!

SYTYCD always has great music, don’t get me wrong, and uses classic songs in new ways. But I really enjoyed the music of this season, I have to say. Even though I wasn’t right about most of my Predicted List (lost a lot of cool points on that one), I’ve discovered a lot of new music, as I always do with SYTYCD AND seen a lot of my favorite songs attached to great routines.

Jeer: Lopsidedness in routines/dance backgrounds

While there were a LOT of great routines from this season, there was a strange lack of ballroom dancing and a lot more Bollywood than we normally see. Which, I actually didn’t mind, myself, because I love Bollywood and the ballroom routines are more likely to fade away from my memory, even if I liked them in the moment. But more than that, we had A LOT of jazz, contemporary and Broadway. Which is funny when you consider that not only did we have a LOT of contemporary dancers in this Top 11, but our Top 3 are all contemporary dancers. Well, Lauren’s listed as jazz, but sorry, same difference. So while I like our Season 7 dancers and I’ve liked a lot of routines, I do find it odd that we had of our Top 11, 7 were contemporary-jazz-lyrical dancers. So I feel like we didn’t see dancers as out of their element as they might’ve been in previous seasons. We started out with great contemporary dancers and ended up with great contemporary dancers.

Cheer: Phenomenal routines

Let me end on a positive note. We did have a lot of amazing routines this season. Look for a top routines post from me soon for more on that, but I’m sure you all have your favorites and can name at least two or three of the ones I’m gonna highlight. 🙂

Look for posts in the next few days from all of us here at PureSYTYCD, which will break down many of the best and worst elements of Season 7 in further detail.

August 9, 2010 I Written By