Is It About Personality or Performance?

Last night we eliminated another two talented dancers on So You Think You Can Dance. In spite of one gigantic WTF (Kayla and Max in the bottom three?!?) America and I have largely agreed on the bottom three couples. Still, last night's bottom three, especially the inclusion of Kayla and Max, had me wondering what it is that compels people to vote: personality or performance?

So You Think You Can Dance seems to be well aware that they walk a delicate line between reality show and dance/talent competition. After all, most Americans watching the show don't have a vast dance background or the technical expertise needed to judge the contestants on dance ability and technique alone. The fact that the show makes it explicit that they're looking for America's Favorite Dancer, as opposed to America's Best Dancer says that they are well aware that personality comes into play as well as performance.

Take last night's results show for example. The Top 18 Performance show was to a degree, all about the underdogs and unknowns. While pre-season favorites like Phillip Chbeeb and Randi & Evan struggled, little seen dancers like Karla and Jonathan and Melissa and Ade soared. Even though America got it right by putting Caitlin & Jason and Ashley & Kupono in the bottom three for their lack-luster Shane Sparks hip-hop routines; the fact that Max & Kayla ended up in the bottom three instead of poor performances by popular contestants (Chbeeb!) and a dull-waltz that focused on a heart-wrenching back-story rather than the dancing, had me worried. Surely if we are basing our votes on performance, Phillip & Jeanine earned a spot in the bottom three for their awkward, semi-soft tango. Or if not them, in my heartless opinion, Asuka and Vitolio for their waltzzzz.

Most worrisome was, at least with Ashley & Kupono, and Caitlin & Jason, America did seem to be voting based on performance. Both Kupono and Caitlin got a decent amount of pre-show screen time and the audience have been able to make a connection to them, but their Wednesday night performances were decidedly so-so. So if America was voting on performance and not popularity with those two, what the heck were they doing about Kayla and Max? Did America just not bother dialing in for these two? I can see people thinking that with the judges adoration of all things Kayla and back-to-back beautiful performances there would be no way they'd end up in the bottom two. Did you vote for a poorly performing personal favorite instead or were you not as impressed with Kayla and Max as the judges (and I) were?

For me, it's all about performance this early on in the show, so I'm a wee bit disappointed in my fellow voters. As we learned the hard way last night, just because the judges love a dancer and routine, doesn't mean we don't need to dial in for them. Unfortunately for Max, we learned that by sacrificing him. (Curse you ballroom solos!) So I have to ask, what is that gets you voting devoted So You Think You Can Dancers, personal preference and personality or performance?

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