So, um, did you all hear about the new format? (I'm in the blogosphere, breaking your news.)
I've given some additional thought to the All-Stars/pro partner angle. I'm fairly conflicted in standard ways -- it'll be nice to see, for example, Twitch again, but I'll miss the chance to ship the Save the Last Dance couple -- but after the novelty of the new partnering format wears off, I think it'll be a net positive, on the basis that the SYTYCD brand has already seen something similar to non-disastrous, maybe even decent results.
In the first season of the UK SYTYCD, one of the final four was sufficiently injured right before the finale that he had to drop out; in his stead, Nigel brought back the three previously eliminated male dancers to take his place in the final dances (i.e. not in the competition): two were partner dances (lyrical and samba), and the other was a non-partnering hip-hop routine. (I wonder if this experience is where Nigel got the idea for the Season 7 format from.)
Although the samba brought in a ballet dancer (who, predictably, was terrible and sank the actual finalist's chances), bringing in a professional, experienced ringer is an excellent idea for partner dances -- remember Melanie LaPatin subbing in for injured dancers -- because these genres are focused on making the partners look good and thus the ringer can cover/enhance a less experienced dancer. So Anya and Pasha are certainly going to make their ballroom partners look great (and as they're the only ballroomers in the All-Star pool, they're in store for a busy season), as will the passel of contemporary kids in contemporary routines.
However, hip hop might be a different matter specifically because it's not really a partner dance. There's only so much a hip-hop dancer can do to cover for an inexperienced partner -- I can imagine that dancing with Twitch is going to make his partner look terribly unfunky and ungroovy. Not that it'll matter to the judges who'll probably turn an enormous blind eye to their missteps. So, in short: win-win.
Also, Mary Murphy is leaving the judging panel so she can choreograph. So: Win-win.
Indie rating: William Basinski – "Disintegration Loop 1.1"