While I have been enjoying this season of So You Think You Can Dance, I have been underwhelmed by most of the couples. I am excited to see how the introduction of all-stars next week will breathe new life into some contestants who have been hindered or overshadowed by their current partners. Now that we’ve had a chance to get to know the remaining couples pretty well, and since they will be split up starting next week, I thought I’d take a moment to rank them from best to worst. These ranking are based less on individual talent, more on the chemistry and stage presence of the couples.
- Melanie and Marco – They are this season’s powerhouse couple. (Previous seasons’ power couples include s4 Katee and Joshua and s6 Ashleigh and Jakob.) I don’t think anyone would argue that they aren’t the current frontrunners. Yes, they’ve had some help from the cameras, the lighting, and the judges’ gushing praise, but even without all that they are both phenomenal dancers who light up the stage every time they perform. I haven’t loved every one of their routines, but like Sonya said last night, they always perform with a confidence that enables the audience to sit back and just enjoy the dancing. Their success from this point on will depend on which all stars they are paired with, and whether or not they are able to sustain the same performance quality and chemistry as they have had with each other. Those will be difficult standards to live up to, but I know they are capable.
- Caitlynn and Mitchell – Based on their presence in the bottom three couples more than once this season, this pair isn’t super popular with most viewers. But they are actually my second favorite. They are both beautiful people and dancers, and they work well together. Caitlynn really seems to trust Mitchell, as he has been able to toss and twirl her around the stage with ease every week. Like this week’s guest judge, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, I didn’t “get” the message of their first performance last night, but that wasn’t their fault. And while their second performance was fine, I was almost embarrassed to watch it, since Caitlynn looks about 15 to me. Her costume and choreography just seemed a little too “adult” for her. My favorite of their dances this season has been last week’s Mandy Moore contemporary. I’m not a huge fan of Celine Dion’s overdramatic pop ballads, but their dancing was beautiful and believable.
- Jordan and Tadd – Jordan and Tadd are this season’s “cute couple.” (Similar to Neil and Lauren several seasons back.) Most of their performances have been pretty bubble gum: sweet, cute, but not much substance. This may be to cover up the fact that Tadd is not as versatile and talented (outside of his own style) as most of the other contestants. The vulture, the princess, the other princess one… Most of their routines have showcased Jordan’s talents, while Tadd has been an also ran. But let’s be honest, on this show, even a sub par male dancer can survive if he dances without his shirt on (Neil’s shirtlessness almost carried him right to the grand prize!). Since that happened last night, I think he’ll be safe for at least another week. With new partners next week, Jordan has the potential to do really well, but Tadd may struggle.
- Clarice and Jess – I don’t have much to say about Clarice, but I must admit that Jess is growing on me. Even though his obnoxious personality initially prevented me from enjoying his performances, I can’t deny that he is an extremely talented dancer with natural charisma. He will be perfect for Broadway, and he has surprised me more than once in other styles this season. Their contemporary performance last week was enjoyable, last nights’ jive was entertaining, and I even bought the lyrical hip hop/artist routine (although the huge creepy portrait of Clarice was unnecessary and distracted me from the performance there at the end). This couple is a clear case of mismatched talent. I don’t want to be rude, but Clarice is not even close to the same level as most of the other girls. I’ve asked myself more than once what she’s still doing here. I think she will be in big trouble next week when she doesn’t have Jess there to carry her. But as long as Jess doesn’t get stuck with ballroom, he could hang around for awhile.
- Sasha and Alexander – These are both great dancers, but here is a classic case of greatness being squashed by an absolute lack of chemistry. When I watch them dance together, I feel like I’m just watching them go through the motions of the choreography. There are occasional glimmers of power and talent, but there’s a definite emotional disconnect that inhibits both of them. If they are still around next week (their security is definitely in question), I think they could both benefit from new partners.
- Ryan and Ricky – Oh, Ryan and Ricky. Such wonderful alliteration, but somehow it hasn’t worked out nearly as well for them as for Melanie and Marco. She’s too tall, he’s too skinny, when it comes to chemistry, they don’t have any. (I couldn’t resist the urge to go poetic – theirs is such a tragic pairing.) I really enjoyed their zombie fashion show performance last week, but all their other performances have been almost painful to watch. Based on their solos, they are both talented dancers. But I think that neither of them is completely comfortable with the idea of being on national television. (Reminiscent of some past contestants, including season 6’s Channing.) They always seem to hold something back, unlike the “all-in” attitudes of dancers like Melanie and Marco. I have a feeling that Ryan will be going home tonight, and maybe Ricky as well. They may keep him around another week to see how he does with another partner, but it may be too late for both of them.
So that’s my opinion of the Top 12 Couples. Agree? Disagree? Leave your comments below. Check back next week for my rankings of the top ten contestants. (Oh, and fingers crossed that Pasha and Mark are among the all-stars!)