From the looks of it, there’s been an internal shift on So You Think You Can Dance: Ballroom routines are now judged on showmanship; hip-hop ones get critiqued for technique. (It used to be the other way around.) Regardless, the one consistency is that when dancers do contemporary, they better drop the “beauty pageant” smiles and tap into something a little less external. Case in point: Dominic Sandoval sheds his image as a one-trick pony who can spin on his head by stripping his psyche instead of his shirt off in some choreography by Mandy Moore (not the pop singer, alas). If his emotionally raw performance — “I’m scared.” — felt a little overly earnest at times, you had to love his inner sixth-grader for stepping to the fore.
We were actually even more tickled by Jessi Peralta’s cuckoo performance in their pseudo-Afro-ornithological shtick which got even loonier when she ended up with a loose feather stuck to her lip. Other things that stuck? Cedric’s stiltlike legs, Faina’s ice-cold stares, Danny’s hands, that assistant choreographer’s clown-red hair, and Hawk’s ass. Final word on Lauren and Neil: They’re cute, but they rob every move of any sexuality. We think they’re robots exiled from Battlestar Galatica. And we suspect they have a plan. —Drew Pisarra