Nigel, Mary, and Lil’ C took on judging duties tonight, and Cat wore an unfinished dress with the excess fabric pinned to her left shoulder. (Lucky for her she can make anything look great.) The dancers each told us what America needs to know about their partner. Some of their factoids were more interesting than others. For each couple, I’ve listed the basics of what they performed, what they said about each other, what I thought of their performance, and what the judges thought of it. Here we go!
- Randi and Evan – Jive (Louis Van Amstel) – “Shake a Tail Feather” by Ray Charles – Randi has a dog she treats like a child. Evan is a gearhead. He built his own car. Having fun is what this dance is all about. And it was fun! The Jive is not my favorite style of dance, but this is probably my favorite jive performance ever on the show. They kept up the pace and the energy, and threw in a couple of impressive stunts. My only complaint is that Evan’s smile was a little forced and overbearing during some of the performance. Lil’ C thought they had a great partnership, and that it was a solid beginning to the show. Mary said she thinks these two are built for the jive, but thought it fell a little short. Nigel thought Evan would be better than he really was, and criticized his lack of “double bounce,” but praised Evan and Randi as a couple.
- Melissa and Ade – Jazz (Sonya Tayeh) – “24 Hours (The Ashton Shuffle A-Bomb Remix” by Terry Poison – Melissa and her sister married brothers. Ade’s real name is Adetokunbo Isaac Kayode Obayomi. Sonya describes this piece as being about “A high maintenance girl who’s playing hard-to-get, and the cliche idea of a man that hates to lose.” I hated the costumes (Cat said they looked like two naughty rock n roll imps), especially Meilssa’s hot pink spandex that looked like it had been shredded by a tiger, and Ade’s clingy leather pants weren’t much better. However, I liked the weirdness of the dance. They did a great job with it, and have shown they can do two very different styles very well (and that they are both very strong dancers). Lil’ C thinks Ade is everybody’s competition, and that Melissa submerged herself into character. Mary: “It was really tough to find anything I didn’t love about it.” Nigel mentioned that the quirky dance still allowed them to show off their technique. He comlimented Melissa for equalling Ade’s strength at every turn. I agree!
- Caitlin and Jason – Hip Hop (Shaine Sparks) – “Missin’ You” by Trey Songz – Jason was seriously obsessed with Michael Jackson as a child (somehow that doesn’t surprise me – cute videos, though), Caitlin does baby voices and a velociraptor. Shane says that chemistry is the story of this dance, about a couple who used to be together but can’t be now. It’s nice to have Shane Sparks back on the show, but this wasn’t a memorable hip hop number for me. That probably has more to do with this couple than with Shane. Neither Caitlin or Jason looked very comfortable with this style of dance, and they have never been my favorite contestants. Lil C “did not love that” and thought Shane Spark’s vision turned into their nightmare. Mary said it “was kind of like Michael Jackson and Britney Spears up there… completely different dancers.” She described them as out of synch. Nigel thought they looked really good doing the routine, but he skirted the issue of whether or not they did it well.
- Janette and Brandon – Disco (Doriana Sanchez) – “Loving is Really My Game” by Brainstorm – Janette had “the worst teeth ever” when she was young, and Brandon has never worked out a day in his life (that is hard to believe!). Oh no, not disco again! I am often annoyed by all the strutting and white pants. As usual, I wasn’t wowed by the choreography, but the two lift and spins were rather impressive. Janette looked cute in her little pink dress, but Brandon was quite tacky looking in his sleeveless vest and butterfly collar. Lil’ C believes that he “just saw the birth of progression in two amazing dancers.” Er? Sometimes Lil’ C’s philosophical rants are hard to follow. Mary asked Nigel if he put that dance on fast forward, but added that the two of them nailed it and sarcastically told Janette to work on her flexibility, and Brandon on his strength. Nigel thought it was tremendous, and somehow worked in a reference to Dirty Dancing. (I think that the judges are determined to make disco popular again, but their efforts are not working on me.)
- Asuka and Vitolio – Waltz (Louis Van Amstel) – “Dreams Are More Precious” by Enya – Vitolio is obsessed with motorcycles, and Asuka makes spit bubbles. Louis called this more of a “lyrical, spiritual waltz.” He wants it to embody the journey Vitolio has gone on, from being an orphan, to where he is now. I am usually more critical of a dance that is touted as some sort of emotional catharsis, because often in these cases, the judges ignore technique and gush about the story (the key example being Lacey and Neil’s flower dance from season 3, which I still think was way overrated). This one started out well, very smooth and flowing, and Asuka looked beautiful and light as a feather in her shimmery dress. Unfortunately for me, somewhere along the way it fell flat. Vitolio especially seemed to drag his feet a couple of times, and there was no connection between the two dancers. Except for a couple of standout moments, it was one of those “going through the motions” routines. Mary was moved by it, calling it “painfully beautiful,” and said it was Vitolio’s most honest dancing yet. Lil’ C pointed out Vitolio’s choppy steps, but said it was made up for my the sincerity and honesty of his performance. Nigel felt he saw a different couple this week than he saw last week, and loves that people grow on the show.
- Kayla and Max – Pop Jazz (Brian Friedman) – “Hot Like Wow” by Nadia Oh – Max is like a housedad to his SYTYCD roommates. Kayla is a big texter. This dance is about a princess, and Max is coming in to perform for her, but wants to steal her throne. Um, I didn’t really care for this. First of all, Max’s costume was kind of ridiculous, and his movements were very girly. It was kind of like he was the princess. And unfortunately, this routine gave him center stage, leaving Kayla with little more to do than kick her leg up in the air and sway side to side. This performance did nothing to improve my opinion of Max. A far better “royal” routine comes to mind – Danny and Neil’s dueling princes performance from the Season 3 finale. More of that, and less of what we got here, would have been much preferred. Maybe I just don’t like pop jazz. Hmmm… What did the judges think? Lil’ C made excuses about how it’s hard to pick up Brian Friedman’s vernacular. He said Max did okay for him, and that Kayla is amazing whatever she does. (I think he was avoiding saying the real truth, which is probably that he didn’t enjoy the dance.) Mary didn’t know about Max’s outfit, but she thought he was quite a surprise, but didn’t “steal the throne.” And she said Kayla is “just a beast out there dancing.” Nigel called Kayla a frontrunner, and told Max his problem is keeping up with her. Um, I don’t know where in that routine Nigel was reminded of Kevin Spacey in The Usual Suspects.
- Karla and Jonathan – Contemporary (Stacey Tookey) – “Falling Slowly” by The Frames – Karla is a badass hip hop dancer, and Jonathan loves to sing but isn’t good at it. This dance is about two strangers that have an accidental meeting and have chemistry. Great song, interesting routine. I liked it much better than their performance last week, and it had some powerful choreography, but they are still lacking some chemistry. Mary told Jonathan that he did contemporary better than his own style. Nigel compared Jonathan’s center of gravity to tai chi. Lil’ C thought there was a perfect balance – emotion, technique, posture, athleticism…
- Jeanine and Phillip – Tango (Tony Meredith) – “Violento (Up Mix)” by Bailango! – Phillip is a super nerd who collects reptiles, and Jeanine has a teddy bear named Spanky. Tony was surprised by their lack of ballroom knowledge, so my guess is that they will have to pick up their stage presence game to make up for some lagging technique. I loved the music, their costumes, and the fact that they were totally invested in the performance. They entertained me. I was really impressed by Jeanine. I like her even more now! Mary gave Phillip an A+ in attitude, but a C- in technique. She called Jeanine a “hot mama” and said her technique was a lot better. Lil’ C said something about lack of confidence being an anchor that weighs down your performance. Nigel gave Phillip some constructive criticism, but said it was great entertainment.
- Ashley and Kupono – Hip Hop (Shane Sparks) – “Imma Be” by the Black Eyed Peas – Kupono is OCD about his wardrobe, and Ashley vomited all over her classmates on the first day of first grade. Ashley is supposed to be Kupono’s shadow in this routine, and they are going “100 miles per hour.” I liked the choregraphy, but Ashley seemed to be more into the performance, energy and effort wise, than Kupono, and since it was all about shadowing, they kind of needed to mirror each other’s emotion and energy. I wonder if this couple will be in danger this week, since they didn’t have freaky crash test dummy characters to distract us with. Mary thought it was okay, not memorable. Lil’ C said there was no synchronization because of Kupono, and that ruined the whole routine for him (I agree!). He thought Ashley had some nice moments. Nigel felt it stopped just at the point he started to enjoy it. He was underwhelmed.
My Favorite Performances
- Randi and Evan’s Jive
- Melissa and Ade’s Jazz
- Jeanine and Phillip’s Tango
Least Favorite Performances
- Caitlin and Jason’s hip hop
- Kayla and Max’s pop jazz
- Ashley and Kupono’s hip hop
Performances somewhere in the middle
- Brandon and Janelle’s disco
- Asuka and Vitolio’s waltz
- Karla and Jonathan’s contemporary
It’s interesting that my favorite three performances tonight were by my favorite couples from last week. Even though their performances didn’t wow me this week, I am still cheering for Brandon, Janelle, and Kayla as well.
My Predictions for the Bottom Three Couples:
- Asuka and Vitolio
- Kupono and Ashley
- Caitlin and Jason
It’s really harder to predict the results this week, because in my opinion, there weren’t as many standout performances as last week. With more “just okay” performances, it’s hard to know who America will or won’t vote for. But if I had to guess, I’d say that Asuka and Kupono will go home.