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Dancing for his life -- to no avail

June 21, 2008|Stephanie Lysaght | Times Staff Writer

Looking back on the beginning of the night, I saw no signs that something truly sinister was afoot. When I picked up my press pass from will call on Thursday, I heard no frantically barking dogs; when I handed my ticket to the usher, I felt not a tinge of Santa Anas. And yet, a great atrocity was about to take place in the "So You Think You Can Dance" studio.

Inside, everything seemed normal as well. I found my seat beside reporters from US Weekly and People, while Tommy the warmup guy recruited girls from the audience to dance to Sir Mix-a-Lot. Again.

The lights got low and fluorescent homemade signs glowed in the dark. "Kherington Payne is insane!" raved one.

Along with Chris Jarosz and Comfort, and Chelsea Traille and Thayne Jasperson, Susie Garcia and Marquis Cunningham were revealed to be in the bottom three -- and that last pair was no surprise. Although Nigel Lythgoe disagreed when I talked to him after the show, I see Susie and Marquis as the unwitting victims of criminal pairing. She's a whole lot of woman and he seems very dainty to be leading her. A chance to do a "dance for their lives" solo seemed like a great opportunity for both dancers to show what they were made of. "I hope they dance their hearts out today," announced Mary Murphy.

From the moment that the bottom three couples are announced in the theater, everything speeds up. What? They're all gonna dance for their lives right now? But -- but -- they just found out they were in the bottom. Give them a minute! But there isn't a minute to give.

Chelsea knew she had much more to show, and her performance proved it. The ever-joyful Thayne looked joyful, even while dancing for his life.

Susie, however, did not share Thayne's spirit. Her dance was, by all accounts, just OK. It reminded me of one of the Shakira impersonators who came from the audience to dance for Tommy the warmup guy last week.

Susie's partner, Marquis, however, was positively stunning. During that minute of dancing, there were wails from the mosh pit, and gasps from the typically unflappable reporter section. Marquis had shown what it meant to dance for your life.

"Chris and Susie," announced a vocal "SYTYCD" prognosticator in the row behind me. At that moment, the beheading of Chris and Susie felt so imminent that predicting it seemed ridiculous. "Chris and Susie," he announced. "Duh," I replied inside.

Susie smiled and nodded as though she knew what was coming; then she began to look ill. Awaiting their verdict, the three men came together for a group hug so loving and intense that they wrapped their legs around each other.

Nigel complimented Chris on his passion, and I was sure he was just softening the blow. I was wrong. After stopping time with his 30-second dance routine, Marquis was sent home. And that's when I led my first "boo." In an instant, the whole studio joined me. We booed loud and we booed long and we booed hard. We booed for the voiceless people at home. And we booed for Marquis, who could not boo, because he's dignified. "Thank you," he said. "It's been a really awesome road, and I can't wait to keep going on it."

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