The Newest Summer Hit: SO YOU THINK YOU CAN MIME

Look, I’m nobody’s excuse for a dancer (well, there was all that square dance I did in fifth grade PE, but it’s not like I went pro in it or anything). Anything I have to say about dance is going to be solidly within the framework of that old artistic chestnut of not knowing much but knowing what I like.

But even someone with two left feet like mine can see that choreography does not have to be limited to acting out the words of the song to which you are dancing. Maybe the choreographers we most often see on So You Think You Can Dance don’t want to use up their best work on a reality TV show, or maybe they’re overworked. Or maybe they just think we’re stupid and can’t understand art. But while there were a couple of standout performances tonight, too many of the choreographers seem to be painting with an overly literal palette that relies too much on boringly conventional “romantic” relationships. Even Wade Robeson–and God bless his Goldfrapping freakazoidness–was stuck in boy-meets-girl land. I’ll watch Phillip Chbeeb do just about anything, but making him a) dance a routine about a feuding couple who makes up so they can go to bed that is b) set to a Ne-Yo song called “Bed” that c) warbles “I don’t wanna go to bed mad at you” is trying my patience. We’re at a really exciting point in the competition, where the dancers and the partnerships are fresh, so we’d love to see some fresh ideas from the creative minds behind the dances, too.

Until then, we’ll let Cat Deeley console us. Since the Emmy nominaton ballots are out now, here’s hoping voters don’t forget Ms. Deeley’s charming, sympathetic turn as timing martinet and dancing cheerleader. Maybe there will be a routine next week that is as riveting as she is.

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