Although there was much to like about Season 6, it’s clear to me that it is the start of the true decline of this show after the high of Season 5. For one, they permanently moved theaters and I think that as much as they gained in stage size, they lost in intimacy and relatability. This wasn’t helped by the fact that Season 6 came immediately on the heels of Season 5, scrunched in between baseball and Christmas. The fatigue showed.

This is where contemporary essentially pulls even with ballroom and the choreography all starts to blend together in my mind. Although there were many good dances that I liked at the time, very few stand out in my memory. The names of some of the best contemporary dances that I saved to DVD conjure up nothing distinctive (Bianca & Victor in “Wasted Time” by Travis Wall, Kathryn & Legacy in “2 Steps Away” by Stacey Tookey, Kathryn & Jakob in “At This Moment” by Dwight Rhoden & Desmond Richardson).

And, sorry to the Russell fans out there, but he is perhaps the least worthy winner ever. Lots of posturing from that one. Don’t agree? Name one great dance he was in. Oh, that’s right, you can’t. Don’t get me wrong, he’s no Cyrus, but Cyrus didn’t win. Russell simply pales in comparison to most of the top talent in this season, which included two of my favorite female dancers, Kathryn and Ellenore, and also Jakob, who doesn’t really do it for me but who I acknowledge has fabulous lines and is one of the best male dancers this show has produced.

All the same, Season 6 starts off with a bang, tapping into my Tarantino love with a Top 20 Dance to the tune of “Comanche” and choreographed by Wade Robson.

One huge improvement in this season is having people not named Tyce Diorio choreograph Broadway numbers. I haven’t mentioned this style in the past, even though by Season 4 they were pretty much assigning it once a week, because I really don’t have any interest in it. And, while they could still completely nix the category as far as I’m concerned, Season 6 had a few fabulous Broadway numbers including “I Wan’na Be Like You (The Monkey Song)” by Andy Blankenbuehler as well as “Choreography” and “Razzle Dazzle” by Spencer Liff.

With two ballroom dancers (married to each other no less!) in the final six, we were bound to have a few memorable ballroom numbers. And we did.

First, a sexy Argentine tango from Ellenore & Ryan, where Ellenore performs incredibly given that her dress is caught in her heel for much of the dance.

Next came Ashleigh & Jakob with an explosive cha-cha to rival Janette & Brandon’s from Season 5.

And finally, from Mollee & Jakob, one of the few modern waltzes I’ve ever liked.

If you’re a fan of ballroom, you might also want to check out Ashleigh & Jakob’s Viennese waltz (“At Last”), Ellenore & Jakob’s quickstep (“Four Brothers”), Mollee & Russell’s jive (“Land of 1000 Dances”), and Kathryn & Nathan’s rumba (“Walk on By”).

Hip-hop was fairly lackluster in Season 6, but two edgy yet cute numbers were “On & On” by Dave Scott with Kathryn & Legacy and “Ice Cream Paint Job” by Napoleon & Tabitha with Karen & Kevin.

As for contemporary and jazz, the best numbers came from Sonya Tayeh and Travis Wall. Sonya produced the very quirky, very Sonya pieces “Arcadia” and “Tore My Heart” but also the exquisite “Time Flies,” sadly somewhat ruined by the effects of whatever crack the costumers were smoking that week. Meanwhile, Travis used Ellenore to perfection in “Your Ex-Lover Is Dead” and the best table number since “Sweet Dreams” back in Season 3—“Machine Gun,” inspired by Mr. & Mrs. Smith (no, not the Hitchcock one).

And with that I leave you as we began, with Wade Robson turning Tarantino soundtracks into cool jazz:

To be continued…

For previous posts in this series, see The Best of SYTYCD: Season 1, The Best of SYTYCD: Season 2, The Best of SYTYCD: Season 3, The Best of SYTYCD: Season 4, and The Best of SYTYCD: Season 5.