So You Think You Can Dance recap: The Top 20 Take Flight

Season 9's live shows kick off with a ridiculous number of memorable routines
Ep. 07 | Aired Jul 11, 2012

THAT GIRL IS POISON In tonight's fiery paso doble, Lindsay tries in vain to restrain the mighty Cole.

Fox

Oh brother. Tonight gave me a major case of Jazz Hands.

LOVED this episode. It was our first night of competition with the shiny, new top 20, and everything in SYTYCD-land just sparkled. Not only was the evening brimming over with phenomenal dancing and choreography, but there are just so many lovable faces in this bunch. So many great smiles! So many dancers I want to smush like Play-Doh and stick in my tote bag! Plus, there was Cat looking like sunshine itself in that warm, golden-flecked dress, and Kenny Ortega, the choreographer/producer/director along for the ride as guest judge. I always forget about him but it's possible he's the loveliest of the bunch. No, he does not call people child, but here is a reasonable man speaking in consistently smart sentences about dance and life. I'll take it. Plus, nobody puts baby in a corner.

The night started off with a Mad Men-esque office themed group piece by Christopher Scott. Glitch was in front which made me glad, because I've been prepared to get grumbly if it seemed like choreographers were planning to spend the season hiding him in the back. Dareian's thrilling pirouettes and the piece as a whole provided an explosive kick off to the show. Christopher Scott's is another face I want to hold in my hands.

Micro-solos! They're back. Man, I got excited when these came on. A genuine shiver of excitement. It's like being enveloped in a warm hug, or seeing an old friend. In the spirit of keeping it real I'll mention here that sometimes for the These are the girls... And here are your guys part, my husband and I like to chassé -- in our own styles -- across the living room. Too much information? Well. There it is.

So before we got to the couples, Nigel announced that next week, the bottom 2 girls and the bottom 2 guys will be sent home. I appreciate the swift clip at which we're moving! I do wish, though, that we could take a little more time to get to know the dancers, especially since personality is so important as Nigel is always reminding everyone. The Nine Second Bio from each dancer can go, as far as I'm concerned. Who cares what everyone's favorite color is or which insect they're afraid of? Give me 30+ seconds or give me none!

Our first couple, Witney and Chehon, "drew" a samba choreographed by Louis van Amstel. Seeing the rehearsal footage really made me nervous. Chehon claimed he couldn't move his hips and indeed that did seem to be the case. But the piece came together tonight, largely because Witney is a dazzling meteor. She is so technically skilled and also just so watchable, like on a human being level. And I love the way she looks so alive and plugged in when she dances but never employs dance face. Chehon is a perfectly sexy drink of water and did a great job being that and looking strong and competent even though he didn't really achieve the samba thing. Nigel's feedback for Chehon was to relax and enjoy it more, to "give in to it," which I think was meant to be encouraging but came off as dismissive. It's silly, really, because it wasn't that Chehon was being stiff; he's just trained in a different genre and has a completely different set of physical skills. Mary put Witney on the hot tamale train  -- again -- but this time it was a first class ticket. Champagne (or sparkling cider) and an eye mask for this child! Kenny commented that Witney was hotter than Marilyn Monroe in Some Like it Hot. So true. She does have a Marilyn Monroe bombshell look and vibe.

NEXT: Down n' dirty

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