From children helping their mother through cancer, to addiction, to incredible stories of love, So You Think You Can Dance has always produced beautiful performances with powerful messages throughout its 12-season history. And on Monday night's episode we finally saw the story of self-acceptance and love danced by two women, thanks to Gaby and Hailee's contemporary routine. Choreographer (and former contestant) Travis Wall has become essential to So You Think You Can Dance's truly important routines during the six seasons he's been creating pieces, so it came as no surprise that he was able to create such a beautiful, moving piece about self-acceptance and love between people all of ages, races, genders, and beyond. If only some of the judges were able to appreciate the number for what it was saying to the world.
As Travis explained during the rehearsal footage, the number was all about "the fear of not being accepted." Tapper Gaby played a woman struggling to be who she is and Hailee portrayed a woman who comforts Gaby to tell her through dance that basically the two of them can "face the world together." The performance was exquisite and featured some of the best dancing and emoting from both dancers. Throughout the performance, it was clear that Hailee and Gaby both really felt the weight of the message they were portraying — both dancers were crying by the time they faced the judges.
Out of all the judges on Monday's first half of the season finale, Paula Abdul was best at articulating why this piece was so well performed. She accurately stated that it was truthful and special, and said there was a "simple dignity" to the moves that said more than anything mere words could express. And Nigel stated a beautiful truth:
I don't think it matters tonight what we say about this routine. The very fact that the pair of you felt what you felt while you were dancing it was the most important part. And the great thing about Travis is it's not just his choreography, it's his philosophy behind the routine that inspires you as well. And it was beautiful to see the pair of you.
Unfortunately, third judge Jason Derulo was not as eloquent in his critique about the performance, as he made a dumb joke that seemed to question the dancers' sexuality, which spoiled the good things he said about the routine and its message. He said, "It looks like you guys have been doing that for years. Dancing for years! I don't want no letters." Why was that last comment necessary? When it comes to critiquing (in a bad or good way) a dance routine so powerful, why would he want to make an offensive joke about something that isn't even his business and lower that meaning?
This wasn't the first time in season or even this episode that Derulo has made some slightly ignorant and unnecessary comments about both contestants and routines. In another routine with a powerful message earlier in Monday night's episode about women's empowerment, Derulo said he was happy that two women, Jaja and Gaby, didn't need a man for the routine and was rather surprised in the way he stated it. Why make that comment when he's seen so many women dance together on the stage this season alone, not to mention in previous seasons as well?
It's frustrating to have to witness a judge on this show make so many wrong steps in critiques and commentary, especially since So You Think You Can Dance does a beautiful job at providing the world with important stories and messages through dance. In the end, it's best to just shake off these ignorant comments and focus on the matter at hand. The routine was absolutely moving, and the dancers were amazing. As Travis said, "love has no boundaries," and this dance certainly shared that idea with everyone watching.