Opening number choreographed by Sonya Tayeh and Christopher Scott Music: “Pretty Face (Nathan Lanier Remix)” by Soley
Dual choreographers! Everyone's dancing in ethereal white costumes and there's this funeral pyre made of light and they all keep jumping off into the white flames in highly dramatic poses as if they are taking part in Pippin's Grand Finale. I like what Sonya and Christopher are cooking up together. When it's done, Cat comes out looking more gorgeous and radiant than ever (Fourth of July Weekend OBVIOUSLY agreed with her) and asks us if we noticed that there were 17 dancers on stage instead of 18. We all shake out heads, "No..." because 17 people is still a lot of bodies to account for on a stage that size and with lighting that dramatic. But it was Jade who was missing. Jade aggravated an old knee injury and it's going to require surgery and he can no longer continue in the competition. That's a shame! I don't wish injury on any of them. But I had figured this was probably his last week anyway so I don't think it drastically cut short his time on the show. Cat also acknowledges the fan outrage from last week in the sweetest way possible and then introduces the judges of which there are so many tonight. Joining Nigel and Mary this week are Erin Andrews (Dancing With The Stars vet and Fox MLB All-Star Game representative) and the incomparable Paula Abdul. I cannot believe it's taken 10 effing seasons for Paula to show up on this show, especially given her professional connections to Nigel, her love of all things dance, her judging of every other reality competition show on Fox and her actually multiple Emmy awards for choreography. What took so long? And why is she sharing the spotlight on this night with Erin Andrews? I'm surprised it's not Paula Abdul Tribute Night where they all have to dance to Paula's hits from the 80's. THAT's how you show proper respect. I can't believe I'm missing a Sonya number to Cold Hearted Snake! NappyTabs doing Opposites Attract! Mandy Moore doing Forever Your Girl! Top 18 doing Vibeology! Oh man, Nigel. You totally missed the boat on this one. TOTALLY.
So we were able to get the eliminations back at the end of the show, but not the reveal of the bottom six and not the dance for your life solos. Mob protests only gets you so much. Cat rips the band aid off quick and lets us know the bottom dwellers are BluPrint, Curtis, Jade, Alexis, Jenna and... Jasmine Mason? Huhbuhwha? That's crazy! Jasmine is AMAZING. Her tango last week was a total stand out. What's going on? Obviously with Jade in the bottom three AND injured he's the eliminated guy this week and Curtis and BluPrint are safe. Meanwhile, the girls will all be asked to perform solos to fill some time in tonight's schedule.
As the girls stand together, I notice a curious bandage wrapped around Jasmine's arm. Is she injured? Nobody says so, but it's around her whole bicep. I've seen enough tennis players play with practically their whole bodies wrapped to prevent injury to know this could just be done as a precuation, but I'm worried nonetheless. Season 8 had people dropping seemingly every week from injury. Remember that bullshit? Now there might be a second dancer who's injured? I wonder if they won't just dump Jasmine now to avoid a possible withdrawal next week. Is that's what's going on here, Nigel? We'll have to see how #BandageGate unfolds. The solos are all fine. They're better than last week and Alexis in particular here is pretty cool, but no one whips out a hidden straight razor and slashes their wrists in desperation, so Nigel probably wasn't that impressed overall for another week running. On to the routines!
Amy and Fik-Shun - Paso Doble by Jean-Marc Genereux, Music: “Tactical Dominance (Orch Hybrid Version)” by Jack Trammell
It's a Paso War! Amy vs. Fik-Shun! This routine is very reminiscent of Jeanine and Brandon's classic Matrix-inspired paso routine down to the black leather costumes. It's a very solid execution of the paso. Fik-Shun's shoulders are too tense, and it draws my attention to how short both dancers are. His shoulders need to be broader and more expansive. Still the emotion is right. They're very connected. Mary is already dialed up to 11 screaming "PASO WAR! PASO WAR!" And Cat is like "wow, this is where we're starting from tonight? Where are we gonna end up?" Erin then yells at them that they're awesome and that they are at the top and have targets on their back. I don't know a lot about Erin but she is intense and she seems to like the show A LOT, so I'll just move along. Paula wishes that Amy was around back when she was choreographing because she's have put her front and center. Paula also clues us in that Fik-shun was actually on Paula's short-lived show from a few years ago called "Live to Dance." So SYTYCD can't claim him as a completely untrained dancer. Nigel gives proper time to the Fik-shun shoulder situation, but it's clear to everyone these guys are as safe as anyone can be in the competition. Even if they somehow fell into the bottom 3 at this point, there is ZERO chance they'd get eliminated.
Aaron and Jasmine Harper - Broadway by Spencer Liff, Music: “They Just Keep Moving The Line” by the Smash cast feat. Megan Hilty
Aaron is an investigator at a crime scene where Jasmine's ghost comes to... dance with him? Don't worry about the weird story. The routine here is great. Jasmine's always on fire and Aaron just keeps getting better for me. He's built for lifts, but he's bringing so much more. And seriously no other guy in the competition could allow Jasmine the height and extension to show off what she can do with her legs. This routine is fantastic. At judging there are people with giant Aaron heads in the audience and everyone thinks that's a little uncomfortable to see your facial features supersized. The judges are all basically like "LEGS! LEGS! LEGS!" And who can blame them, because Jasmine's legs really are a THING. They give Aaron due praise too, so it's not like they just focus on Jasmine. Again, I can't imagine these two going anywhere right now.
Mackenzie and Paul - Contemporary by Lindsay Nelko, Music: “No Day But Today (Live From Soundstage)” by Idina Menzel
New choreographer! She looks like she's 14, but I assume she's old enough to purchase alcohol. In this dance Mackenzie has a terminal illness and Paul has a hard time letting her go. Idina is killing it on the vocal. I think Paul really nails the emotional arc here. There's a wind machine off in the corner somewhere that's giving Mackenzie's skirt a lovely ethereal lift. The choreo is quite lovely. Their connection is great. Execution is great. The judges love it. Paula actually talks about working with Wish Kids that's pretty lovely. The judges think this was really a moment for both of them and I agree. I feel like it came at a great moment in the competition for them as well. It should keep them out of the bottom at a critical moment.
Alan and Jasmine Mason - Jazz by Sean Cheesman, Music: “Veins” by Charlotte Martin
Concept - King and Queen having quirky tea. It's very stylized and intentionally stiff and restrained. I really like the precision and the character work and their connection. The judges are kinda like, "huh..." and I'm like "uh oh." That's not good for Jasmine. They didn't think there was enough quirk. I immediately rewind and watch again. I get what they're saying. I think they were doing what they were told and they maintain a restrained character throughout. But I see where there are times when you could've seen an inner-quirk struggling to get free and that was basically absent from the character work. They were both a little too comfortable in their restraint. But I really liked it. They have more praise for Alan than Jasmine. Jasmine is in trouble. And she's still wearing that bandage on her arm under her costume. #BandageGate
Jenna and Tucker - Hip Hop by Keone and Mari Madrid, Music: “Dangerous (Immortal Version)” by Michael Jackson
More new choreographers! I'm not really super-jazzed about this routine. Jenna and Tucker have definitely gotten the short end of the stick in terms of actual routines this year. They had that lame tyce Broadway routine to start, then had that non-cha cha from Dmitri, Nigel hated. This one is supposed to be about a femme fatale, but I don't get that story AT ALL. Perhaps it's the white pin-stripe pants Jenna is wearing? I think they are hitting it hard and it's good, but I just don't get the story sold to me in the rehearsal package. I really like these two together. Mary thought it was a little too jazzy for hip hop, but the others don't really care about that. Paula actually gives the most astute critique and talks about how MJ borrowed a lot from Jazz so it fit well with is music without copying what he did. Nigel actually thought it was one of his favorites of the night. I really think Jenna and Tucker have been rising above some mid-level choreo that hasn't allowed them a Moment yet. These two are due for a really stellar contempo number next time.
Malece and All-Star Marko (in place of injured
Okay, this one hardly seems fair. Marko is one of the best male partners on the show ever. If jade was dancing this with Malece it would be totally different. Malece does well here, but Marko's dance skill and star power really take this to a different level. To Malece's credit she steps up and delivers. It's definitely her strongest work thus far. I don't know why I'm so down on her. Maybe I just wrote her out of my top 5 girls and now I might have to find a place for her. lol If she keeps up this kind of emotive dancing each week, I won't be complaining. We'll see what happens when she goes back to a regular contestant partner next time. Erin has a SWF crush on Sonya and lets her freak flag fly. Everyone adores Malece. They think she is maturing which is the shows favorite character arc to support. Everyone wishes Jade a speedy recovery and they all send him kind words which feel very sincere and that's nice to see. Jade in the audience is taking it with a lot of humility and gratitude. Despite losing her partner early, this was really a strong week for Malece.
Hayley and Curtis - Samba by Jean-Marc Genereux, Music: “Straight to Memphis” by Club des Belugas
I don't like this one. It's not terrible, and honestly 3 weeks in there really hasn't been one routine I thought was awful (the worst one so far was that limp hip hop Alexis and Nico did the first week) which I think is a credit to the quality of this year's top 20. Curtis looks really young here though. They don't have the sexual chemistry needed to really sell the samba. Hayley's sexy in the movement, but it's not really enough. Her movement is not forcing me to keep my eyes on her. I'm a little bored. The judges are kind but they spell it out pretty clearly to Curtis what his execution problems were, Mary gives the longest explanation of what was wrong with his feet. I like listening to her on these points because she's very good at leading us through how one incorrect placement or movement sets the dancer up for further problems as the dance goes on. I don't know if Hayley will be safe this time, but I think next week Curtis won't be able to skip that Dance for his Life at the start of the show again.
Alexis and Nico - Jazz by Spencer Liff, Music: “I Put a Spell on You” by Nina Simone
Concept: Alexis is hypnotizing and seducing Nico. There's nothing wrong with this one. They do some really strong synchronized spins. Alexis does some strong character work. I don't know why I'm not more interested in them as a couple. Am I still holding that hip hop against them? All the judges think it's CRAZY that Alexis was in the bottom 3 (by that logic, they must not know WHAT they themselves are thinking when they later put her in the bottom 2) but these across the board endorsements make me think Jasmine's fate is sealed. (#BandageGate.) At one point Paula attacks Nigel and maybe punches him in the balls. I have no idea what's going on. Nigel says he's having a 3rd heart attack. Erin tells them all to shut the hell up and it's not funny. This girl's got spunk. I like her!
BluPrint and Mariah - Hip Hop by Luther Brown, Music: “Bring The Noize” by M.I.A.
These two finally get hip hop. Much like during Meet the Top 20, Mariah just blows her partner away. She's got so much skill and so much attitude. BluPrint hits the moves as remarkably as you'd imagine, but there's nothing going on in his face. Even in the rehearsal package Luther Brown is like "dude, never changes his face. that's not gonna work." But Mariah is super strong. She dances with such joy. The judges get pretty down on BluPrint about not letting his personality out on stage. And he does have to give more if he wants to stick around. The judges all love Mariah. Her personality just explodes on stage.
That's all the routines! So now we get down to eliminations. Nigel says the choreographers think Jasmine has a lot of self-doubt that shows in her work (???) and that Alexis has to be given the same notes over and over again. So Jasmine is going home. WHAAAAT. I really thought it was going to be a Jasmine H. vs. Jasmine M. season. Alexis should've gone first for sure, based on their work thus far. But maybe Nigel is just sticking it to the viewing public this week? We forced him to change the format, but we couldn't force him to cut his tappa tappa tappa girl. Or maybe #BandageGate is a real thing and wanting to avoid more dancers leaving due to injury, they decided to cut Jasmine before her arm became a problem. Either way, you win some, you lose some America! You live to fight and complain another day. Please vote my favorites into safety!
Tonight's routines ranked in order of my personal preference:
Aaron and Jasmine's Broadway
Mackenzie and Paul's Contempo
Malece and ALL STAR! Marko's Contempo
Alexis and Nico's Jazz
Jenna and Tucker's Hip Hop
Amy and Fikshun's Paso WAR!
Mariah and BluPrint's Hip Hop
Curtis and Hayley's Samba
Bottom 6 Predictions: Alan, BluPrint, Curtis, Hayley, Alexis and Jenna. (I would choose Malece to replace Jenna, but she got such a spotlight this week it seems impossible she'll be in the bottom. And I love Alan, but he's been bottom 3 before and they just axed his partner and their routine got little love from the judges. We'll see!)
The show seems to be taking a break next week for that MLB All-Star Game they were plugging at the beginning of the show. See you in two weeks where hopefully 16 healthy well-rested dancers will be battling it out for your hearts and your votes! She is Cat Deely! Goodnight!