So You Think You Can Dance – Episode 1-7 Review

About halfway through the first performance episode of So You Think You Can Dance this season, Nigel said he was “relieved that this format is working”. The format he’s speaking of is bringing back former contestants, the “All-Stars”, and matching them up with the new hopefuls. It’s quite a change for the show, typically they’ve randomly matched up competitors and they would dance with each other in different styles for about 10 weeks. This attempt to switch it up has the new contestants pulling the name of an “All Star” out of a hat, each “All Star” represents a particular Dance genre so that name dictates what dance style the contestant will be tackling that week. As a huge fan of the show, it wasn’t clear that the new style would work out and even when Executive Producer Nigel Lythgoe made that bold statement, it really wasn’t “working”. Before the slightly overrated Sonya Tayeh contemporary routine with Season favorite Alex and “All Star” Allison (the performance that initiated the first of two similar comments about the new format), the pairings were just OK. There was an apparent lack of chemistry between the partners in a lot of routines (Billy Bell and Adecheke specifically), and honestly some of the choreographers were not giving us their best work. After Alex’s routine, that got a standing ovation and forced Mia Michaels to proclaim it was the best routine Ever in the history of the show (*rolls eyes, it was Great but I think she went overboard), the show started to pick up.

For last night’s episode the new format did end up working, or worked well enough not to detract from the greatness of the show, it’s still probably the only show that exposes so many different cultures through dance. One of the best performances (imo) was Robert and Courtney’s finale of African Jazz which was just introduced to the show last year, and Robert (and Alex)are emerging as the ones to beat this year. However the viewer isn’t really who will be affected by this change of format, it’s the dancers. And there might be signs of how it affects them as the season progresses.

It just seems like it would be helpful to new contestants to have a constant partner who is going through the struggles of the competition and the various genres together. With this new format the contestants will change partners every week, which can be detrimental because it is basically like the contestant is doing it all on their own. Especially knowing the “All Stars” are some-what expert in their genres, while the contestant may not be too familiar. They won’t have anybody there that can really sympathize with their difficulties in picking up a routine. Also, since the “All Star” has no worry of being sent home, they don’t really have the same concerns every week that their partner will.

It is also nice for the viewers to see a partnership reach its peak, for instance the lone Hip Hop guy this season Jose looked like his partnership with Hip Hop “All Star” Komfort would make for a dynamite duo throughout the season. They really had a great chemistry, even though their Tabitha and Napoleon routine was not a favorite, their commitment to each other and the routine was what made the routine salvageable. The same can be said for Ashley and Neil who did a contemporary routine from Travis Wall. It’s sad to think they might never be partnered up again.

This season will be an interesting one, and you can definitely say for the dancers it will be one of the toughest challenges in the shows history. Whoever does emerge as the winner this year will truly be someone who is technically great, and can roll with all the different punches the producers have to bring. It’s too early to tell if the format officially “works”, but it’s going to be great to watch.

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