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TV Review: So You Think You Can Dance – Week 2

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If all you can make is pizza, don't enter Hell's Kitchen. If all you can sing is "Unchained Melody," don't audition for American Idol.

And if all you can dance is the "street salsa," don't bother showing up for So You Think You Can Dance. (I think I ordered the Street Salsa at Taco Bell last night. Oh, SNAP.)

That's about what it came down to for Susie, the "spicy Latina" who never missed a chance to remind us all just how "spicy" and "Latina" she was. Her gimmick boiled down to a quivering ass and a come-hither, fifty-yard stare into the camera.

That is NOT the stuff of which dance careers are made.

Her solo dance was basically a low-rent Shakira impersonation; her couples dance this week was even the freaking salsa, and she couldn't pull it off. Sorry, Susie; it's back to Miami and your high school classroom. (Maybe it's just me, but does anyone else see a Letourneau situation in her future? She seems the type. Also, can I get sued for saying that? I hope not.)

On the other side of the gender aisle, we lost a strong dancer in Marquis, especially when compared to the untoasted slice of snooze-worthy white bread who stayed behind, Chris. This guy is Nyquil on two legs. Absolutely blends into the scenery, which is why I assumed he'd be going home; he's precisely the type of elimination fodder that you seed a show like SYTYCD with, so as to fill in the early weeks and stretch out a season. Otherwise, this show would have ten dancers instead of twenty, and it'd only kill 10,000 of my brain cells instead of 50,000.

But that was just the results. We also had a choreography-packed competition episode Wednesday night, and if two hours of dance doesn't just get you EXCITED IN A SPECIAL PLACE, I don't know what does. (Okay, maybe I do know. Hookers? Coke? Ceramic clowns? Am I getting warm?)

It's hard to pay attention to the dancing, though, when judge Mary Murphy is dressing up as a hooker from a late eighties Cinemax After Dark movie.

Or as my wife said, "It looks like a slutty cavewoman outfit you'd wear on Halloween. I mean, not that I'd wear it, but…"

When Mary wasn't doing her sexless Sheena the She-Devil impersonation (it's a comic book thing — look it up), the standout dances for me were:

Katee and Joshua's Broadway routine: It didn't hurt that I was actually IN Godspell in high school, and portrayed the Judas character, singing the fast bits of this exact song. (The parts that went, "Some men are born to live at ease, doing what they please, richer than the bees are in honey…" I can go on, but I won't. Judas is actually supposed to be a dual part, where the same actor plays John the Baptist ringing Jesus in and then Judas seeing Jesus out. How's that for theological irony? Our production needed more parts for strapping young boys so the role was split. I got to deliver the kiss of death. Explains a lot, I suppose.) Anyway, it had a real spice to it and was delivered with authority; I like Katee's command of her body, and I admire Joshua for breaking out of his B-boy shell and kicking it Broadway style.

Kourtni and Matt's fox trot: I'm not like some drooling dance nerd (not that there's ANYTHING wrong with that), but something about Matt's style reminded me of a young Tommy Tune – this gangly, gawky creature flailing about in such a way that everything looks absolutely intentional and beautiful. (Whoa — I just channeled Mia Michaels there for a second. In. Sane.)

Kherington and Twitch's Viennese waltz:
Another B-boy who ably pulled off a very different style of dance this week, in service of a routine designed to pay tribute to the daughter of choreographer Jean Marc Genereux. Ephemeral.

I'll say this much for SYTYCD — for all the snark I attempt to summon each week, and all my hopes that it somehow trumps the snark of those paid professionally to snark on sites like EW.com and Television Without Pity, I'm really sitting through this silly slush for the occasional moment of transcendence. These sort of things do occasionally happen on Idol, but are more likely on SYTYCD; it's a more mysterious art form, and not something anyone with a karaoke machine can easily imitate.

When a young dancer with tons of possibility and little experience is able to take a national television stage and move an audience with a routine that until a few years ago would have been relegated to the annual ballroom dancing competition on PBS hosted by Juliet Prowse, I think it's pretty cool. It's reality TV reaching its full potential. It's television itself reaching its full potential.

And as long as it never involves Mary Murphy in a leopard print again, I'm a happy guy.

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