We’re back again Dance Fans! Have you recovered from the terrible bloodbath that was last week? I'm getting there. Not quite over it, but I'm getting there. We've still got 9 Contempos, 3 Jazz Hands, 3 Hip Hoppers, 1 B-way and... that's it. Sigh. Moving forward! Joining Nigel and Mary on the Judges Table this week are Lil C AND Kristin Chenoweth. We continue the trend of Broadway Ladies guesting on the panel this year. Kristin, as she would tell you is an ACTOR and a SINGER, who dances when the roles requires. So she'll probably go easy on the contestants tonight. She'll fit right in with the others. P.S. Lil C and Kristin both have albums coming out!
In addition to the pairs dancing per usual, we'll get two group dances of eight that split up all the male-female partners, so we get to see them with different people. Also of note: Cat looks lovely tonight in a dress that seems like she's running out of the stage version of Chicago and into the movie version of Great Gatsby.
First Group Number Choreographer: Tyce Diorio, Dancing To:"Hit the Road Jack," Ray Charles It continues to be Girls -vs- Boys this season which again, I say, would be less ridiculous if they weren't currently competing in boy-girl teams of two against the rest of the field. The girls attack the boys throughout the routine with strangely underlit chairs. I like the chairs more than the choreo. Look, I'm no huge Tyce fan, for sure. I really did enjoy his Top 20 routine to Little Bird by Annie Lennox. I don't mean to be a broken record, but his Broadway routines can come across so middle of the road. They look conceptually phoned in, so no matter what the dancers are giving it, there's just not a lot to sink your teeth into. That's how I feel with this one. Marko stands out from the field here, as does Sasha. Nice execution, but I'm not invested.
Sasha and Alexander, contemporary w/ Dee Caspary, Dancing to: "Belong," Cary Brothers. Concept the Ghost in the Piano! Alexander's character plays and then ghost Sasha comes out and they dance. How was this not set to Unchained Melody? Sasha Fierce is all power and ghostly beauty in her movement. Alex is totally there with her technically, but there's not a lot of emotional connection coming from him. Is he just a pretty face and amazing dancer body? If not, dude's gotta dig deeper. The routine ends with Sasha sticker her hands out from inside the piano and it freaks me out. Like her hads could get chopped off or something if that prop piano falls apart. It could. It looks hastily pieced together. When it comes to judging, Nigel and Mary want more from Alexander, but Kristen and Lil C think they both excelled.
Caitlyn and Mitchell, samba w/ Jean-Marc Généreux, Dancing to: "Put It in a Love Song," Alicia Keys featuring Beyonce. Concepts: Hips are your sound system. Shake those speakers! It's a good routinue. It took a couple seconds to really get into it, and I have to say I missed Iveta on this dance, but Caitlyn is giving it her all and Mitchell can really move. It was very fun. I like these two. Mary calls them hot tamales, but no train is in the station just yet. Kristin wants you to shut every door imaginable - the front door, the back door, the garage door. Shut all the doors. She's cute that, Chenoweth. The other judges have praise for them as well.
Miranda and Robert, Broadway w/ Tyce Diorio, Dancing To: "It Don't Mean a Thing (If It Ain't Got That Swing)," Sophisticated Ladies. Concept: Tyce phoning it in yet again. Seriously. Broadway dancing can be so many things! Why does it have to just stay in the realm of jazzy/groovy guy flirting with high-kicking girl to a song from the Great American Songbook? They dance it fine within the context of what they are given. No huge complaints here, but no huge praise either. The judges all think that it's fine. We should commend Robert again for curbing his grating early personally tics and growing into the partnering well, but I swear this routine does nobody any favors when it comes to getting votes.
Melanie and Marko, lyrical hip-hop w/ Tabitha and Napoleon D'umo, Dancing To: "I Got You," Leona Lewis Oooh M&M's doing hip hop! Yay! The Concept: Groom Marko is left at the altar but then comes to the Taylor Swiftian realization that BFF Melanie has been here the whole time as his real true love! Marko's starts the routine SO SAD! His face is all tears and pain. Dang. It only gets better from there. I'm even amused that Melanie is obviously dressed in the bridesmaid dress from hell, as fits her best friend station. The choreo is fresh and fun and the movement is well-synchronized. When it finally hits Marko that Melanie is The One, they have a crazy intense kiss and the tween audience in the house goes apeshit. The rest of the dance is fantastic.
These two are so good. The judges of course love them and announce they are the couple to beat. They are definitely my favorite pair since Katee and Joshua in Season 4. Midway through judging everyone starts making out with each other. Nigel attacks Mary. Mary screams, but never says no. Those two need a safe word. Cat is grossed out. Then as soon as things seem like they might settle, Kristin kisses Lil C. knocking his glasses astray, then Nigel kisses Lil C. knocking his hat off his head. Everyone screams and screams. Cat regains control of the proceedings and then flinches at every double entendre coming at her from the teleprompter as we head to commercials.
Ashley and Chris, jazz w/Sonya Tayeh. Dancing To: "Lights Go Down," Telepathe
Concept: Beetlejuice Zombies. This is a rare miss for Sonya. She's been very consistent lately, but when she first arrived on the SYTYCD scene she was more hit-or-miss and this one reminds me of those early routines that never quite got there. Nothing about it is BIG enough. Especially if you invoke the name of Beetlejuice, you gotta really go for it. It's too small and contained. The music isn't right. Ashley is too pretty in her movements. It's too tame. This has Bottom 3 written all over it. Nigel is first to say it didn't work, and mentions the music being a problem even though he claims he hates when his Am.Idol judges tell contestants they don't like the song instead of talking about the singing. He wants to focus on the dancing but could never get into it. Mary liked the technical aspects to their dancing but doesn't disagree with Nigel either. She says they had sharp movements and good synchronization. Kristin also says it wasn't her thing. Lil C loves Sonya too much to say a word against her so instead he says Ashley is a sleeper cell. I don't think that means what he thinks it means.
Clarice and Jess, foxtrot w/ Jean-Marc Généreux, Dancing to: "Fly Me to the Moon," Frank Sinatra. Such a great song! They are good here, but they are better dancing separately than together. When they come together, it's like they don't fit well together. And he's just a little too short for her to really pull off lifts effortlessly. At judging, Mary says they were gliding, sophisticated, and jazzy. All true. But was it inspiring? I don't know. These two are great dancers but not really great partners.
Ryan and Ricky, contemporary w/ Sonya Tayeh, Dancing To: "With Every Heartbeat," Robyn. Concept: Tangled Relationships! Literally! Sonya redeems her earlier miss with this one. There's a long sash attached to Ryan and it alternately winds and unwinds around her in relation to Ricky. It looks really beautiful and Ryan finally puts away the permanent smile for this routine, but I felt like she then wasn't totally sure what to do with her face. Ricky does several amazing jumps. That kid's got facility. The judges all like it a lot. Lil C says they're another power couple, but that's a stretch. They were bottom 3 last week! Mary thinks the dancing was great and applauds them never getting tangled the wrong way in the sash.
Jordan and Tadd, lyrical hip-hop w/ Tabitha and Napoleon D'umo, Dancing To: "Memories," David Guetta featuring Kid Cudi. Another strong routine this week from NappyTabs! Concept: Morning After College Hook Up Hijinks! It's very light and fun and flirty and makes good use of Tadd's b-boy skills and humor. There's a lot of character and personality on display here from both of them. Jordan seems sweetly embarrassed about the situation throughout the dance, when one might have expected her to go into her sex-kitten mode. This was by far a better choice for her. When it gets to the judges Lil C tells them to push through the movements more, which is fair enough. Nigel is measured in his praise, but Mary liked it and Kristin is back to shouting about shutting all the doors.
Second Group Number, Choreographed by: Dee Caspary. Group B Dancing To: "Poison & Wine," The Civil Wars. Concept: Girls poison boys! I liked this one better than the first group number. Maybe just because Melanie was in it and she rocks. OOH! Suddenly I want to see Melanie dance with All-Star Jakob! Please makes this a reality, Show! The stand outs here are Melanie, Jordan, Caitlynn, Ricky and Jess. There are three other dancers involved, but I don't remember them. Not a good sign for those three!
So my ranking of the routines in order of personal preference goes:
Melanie & Marko's hip-hop
Tadd & Jordan's hip-hop
Caitlynn & Mitchell's samba
Ryan & Ricky's contemporary
Sasha & Alexander's contemporary
Clarice & Jess's Foxtrot
Miranda & Robert's Broadway
Ashley & Chris's jazz
If my Bottom 3 holds up... I don't know who they'll get rid of. It might come down to solos for the girls, who the judges all seem to love and maybe Robert or Chris for the guys. The judges seem way to set on Jess to let him go. If Alexander and Sasha dip into the bottom, expect him to go and for Sasha to get a new partner next week.
RESULTS SHOW! The Top 16 Dance is to The Incredibles theme! Hooray! Except the movement is super slow and totally against the music. Boo! Everybody looks timid and self-conscious. This is one of my least favorite group numbers of all time. Sorry, choreographer. Michael Bruni. "The Incredits" has so much drama and shifting dynamics and I didn't get that from the movement at all.
So moving along, we get a recap of last night's Smoochfest, and then tag the bottom 3 couples. First in danger are Ashley and Chris (not surprising), then Mirandai and Robert (not surprising, TYCE!) and then... Caitlynn and Mitchell! Oh, I thought they would've done well. I'm surprised by this. You can tell they ain't pleased about having to dance for their lives.
While the dancers ran off to get ready we the viewing audience get treated to two members of the AXIS Dance Company, which integrates dancers with and without disabilities, performing a pas de deux where the man is in a wheelchair and the woman is not. I really enjoyed it, but every time they did any sort of move, the whole audience shrieked in support. Sometimes when the music is soft or emotional I really hate that. Why can't they just shut up and enjoy the dance? If it's loud dance music and the routine has lots of tricks in it, then I mind it less. Can't we just take in the beauty of dance sometimes without screaming our heads off, audience?
So then the solos happen and they are fine, but not as strong as last week or the week before. I think Chris does the best and Ashley does the worst. At this point, my money is on Robert and Ashley to go home and Chris and Miranda to be partnered next week.
But first we get a performance from World theatrical ballroom champions Eric Luna and Georgia Ambarian. What? No prerecorded lip-synched music performance this week? Thank goodness. Instead we are treated to a series of some of the most incredibly balanced lifts, spins and holds you'll ever see set to "Calypso" from the Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End score. You wouldn't believe how the dude was spinning one way while the lady was spinning the other way on his head. On his head! And that's just one example.
So then after that, we get to the eliminations. Girls first. Nigel calls Miranda forward. He says last night they gave her such high praise and that she's the most improved and also that she's going home. Oof. Sucker punch to the gut for Miranda. Based on performance this week, it really should've been Ashley, but I guess judging dance is subjective! Miranda is totally composed and eloquent in saying goodbye.
At this point, the writing is on the wall for Robert. But then, Nigel goes and bungles the whole thing. While talking to Chris, he starts talking about Robert's past routines. He brings up Woodpeckers. That wasn't Chris! What's going on?? Ohh, it's so uncomfortable, I actually got up and left the room. Finally Nigel pulls it together and eliminates Robert. He's cool about it too, like Miranda, and gives the audience one final "woooo!" which I actually don't mind because he's grown on me, and because I haven't heard it in a couple weeks and won't have to hear it again.
This week's performances were a marked improvement from last week, but there's still room for improvement choreographers! Next week there will be seven couples left. Melanie & Marko and Sasha & Alexander are the only two left who haven't been in the bottom yet. We'll see if the trend holds. We keep inching closer to the top 10 and then ALL-STARS!