'So You Think You Can Dance' cuts Ariana Debose, Brandon Dumlao
By Christopher Rocchio, 10/28/2009
Ariana Debose and Brandon Dumlao became the first two finalists eliminated from So You Think You Can Dance's sixth season during last night's results show of the Fox reality series.
Debose, an 18-year-old contemporary dancer from New Bern, NC who currently resides in Wake Forest, NC, and Dumlao, a 21-year-old hip hop dancer from Concord, CA, were ousted from the competition by So You Think You Can Dance's regular sixth-season judging panel of Nigel Lythgoe, Mary Murphy, and newcomer Adam Shankman.
"This journey has definitely taught me that I really can do anything if I put my mind to it," said Debose during a video montage that proceeded her elimination. "I gave everything I could have given and just having the opportunity was amazing."
Dumlao's So You Think You Can Dance journey was extremely brief. On Monday, Fox announced he was to be a replacement for Billy Bell -- an original Top 20 sixth-season finalist who was deemed unable to continue in the competition due to an unspecified illness that Us Weekly subsequently reported is mononucleosis.
"When I'm moving around on stage and I'm dancing, I feel like I'm on cloud nine," said Dumlao in a video montage after his ouster was revealed. "Dancing is my life. It's what I breathe, it's what I eat. I feel like this is my calling."
Debose and her partner Peter Sabasino, a 22-year-old tap dancer from Philadelphia, PA, had performed a hip-hop routine choreographed by Napoleon and Tabitha D'umo earlier in last night's broadcast.
"You weren't dancing like each other, which was a little bit weird. It was a little rough for me, so I wanted you to dance a little more similarly," commented Shankman. "You guys can't let the choreography be more evocative than you... There wasn't quite enough tension."
Murphy said she "loved" the beginning of the routine.
"To me in the middle it got a little bit sloppy," she added. "Then at the end I thought you were back on key and brining it on. I loved the feel. But I do agree, it got a little bit sloppy -- especially in the middle for me."
Lythgoe said he didn't feel as though Debose and Sabasino "ever found it."
"We're dealing with a contemporary dancer and a tap dancer here. So they were both out of their element," he added
"I think Peter got a little bit closer than Ariana tonight, which surprised me a little bit. I was disappointed. It was the first time from either of you that I've been disappointed. So you need to find a little more to bring to us next time."
Dumlao and his partner Pauline Mata, a 19-year-old jazz dancer from West Covina, CA, had performed a smooth waltz choreographer by Jason Gilkison during the broadcast.
Shankman said it was "hard" for Dumlao and Mata to perform considering the lack of rehearsal time they had together.
"Given that [Mata] lost your partner in the middle of the week and [Dumlao], you didn't know what was happening to you. You just got thrown in how many days ago?" he asked.
"A day-and-a-half," answered Dumlao.
"Brandon the stuff that you need to concentrate on as a dancer in general, you're a hip-hop dancer so when you're doing contemporary stuff and ballroom, you have to open up from your back," continued Shankman. "I think that you did yeoman's job in a difficult task."
Murphy agreed with Shankman.
"It is really difficult to come into a situation like this," she said. "As far as the chemistry is concerned, it's such a short period of time. It really was very dynamic and it really was very believable from the two of you. The actual dancing of it, not necessarily the best Brandon. You have to really expand."
Lythgoe said he had to critique the routine without the knowledge of how Dumlao made the Top 20.
"It felt a little bit to me like a prom couple," he said. "It was beautifully done -- it was beautifully laid out... It wasn't strong enough for me at all I'm afraid... Whether it is strong enough in this competition this year, I'm not sure."
In addition to Debose and Dumlao, Mata and Russell Ferguson, a 20-year-old hip-hop/krump dancer from Boston, MA, were revealed to be the other two members of the bottom four as determined by Lythgoe, Murphy and Shankman.
Ferguson performed a foxtrot with choreographer Melanie LaPatin because his partner -- Top 20 sixth-season finalist Noelle Marsh, an 18-year-old contemporary dancer from Sanford, NC -- suffered what Lythgoe described as a "terrible accident" that prevented her from performing this week.
"She's done something to her knee. We don't know what it is yet," said Lythgoe at the beginning of last night's broadcast.
"She will not be able to dance tonight. She's sitting in the audience with her leg up. What's happened in this situation -- it's happened before and it will happen again -- [is] her choreographer Melanie will step in for her tonight. Hopefully, Noelle will be back with us next week. If she isn't -- she can't dance -- then unfortunately she must leave the competition."
Although Debose and Dumlao both were booted from the competition, So You Think You Can Danceviewers may not have seen the last of either one.
According to Us, Debose will return to So You Think You Can Dance and replace Marsh if she's not able to recover in time for the next performance episode.
In addition, Lythgoe revealed after Dumlao's elimination that he will use his pull as So You Think You Can Dance's co-creator and executive producer to make sure Dumlao's short-lived stint on the sixth season doesn't cost him a chance to compete on the show again.
"It's an unfortunate sequence of events that has led you here tonight. We didn't put you in our original Top 20 because we thought you still needed room to grow, and to learn and to smooth some of the rough edges that you have," said Lythgoe to Dumlao.
"The rules of the competition state that once you come on the show you cannot re-enter the competition if you make the Top 20. I personally am going to talk to Fox. I'm going to ask them if we can change the rules under the circumstances to allow you to come back into the competition next season. I keep my fingers crossed that they'll let you do that."
So You Think You Can Dance's next sixth-season episode will air on Tuesday, November 3 at 8PM ET/PT, with the Top 18 finalists performing again for the judging panel -- which will eliminate two more finalists at the end of the two-hour broadcast sans home viewer votes.
Home viewer voting has been cut from the first two week's of the sixth season because So You Think You Can Dancewill be preempted by Fox's broadcast of the 2009 World Series on October 28 and November 4.