Every season, even though I grow to love some of the early couples, I still look forward to this point in the season, when the contestants are split up from their partners and placed in new pairings. It’s fun to see how different dancers perform together, but it also lets me know whether I’ve liked someone more because of their partner, or because of their individual performance. It is with this mindset that I approach tonight’s show. Which contestants will continue to be my favorites? Which ones will I see in a different light? Let’s find out.
I enjoyed the “Bollywood Bombshells” group number from the girls. It was colorful, fast-paced, and fun. I liked how they wore mustached masks on the backs of their heads for the “male” section of the dance. The guys showed off their masculinity in Jeffrey Page’s African group dance. Ade was the stand out performer in that routine.) Debbie Allen was the guest judge tonight. I always enjoy her colorful comments. Now, on to the partner dances and solos.
- Evan and Kayla – Viennese Waltz (Tony Meredith and Melanie Lapatin) – “Kiss from a Rose” by Seal – The tallest girl and the shortest guy. Hmmm… you have to wonder if this was a staged pairing, just to see if these two could overcome the vertical challenge. I was skeptical, especially about the waltz part, but they worked it out. I was entertained, but Evan simply doesn’t have the look and build to be the commanding male half of a waltz duo. That being said, he handily lifted Kayla up into those raises and turns. Kayla and Evan were two of my favorites at the beginning of the season, but other dancers have since moved ahead of them, for various reasons. Nigel liked it. Mary complimented Evan for his classiness, and basically said Kayla can do no wrong. Debbie Allen: “Darlin’, you handled your big woman.” Not sure Kayla qualifies as a big woman, but that sure was a funny comment.
- Janette and Ade – Hip Hop (Tabitha and Napoleon) – “Love Sex Magic” by Ciara (feat. Justin Timberlake) – Yeah, these drawings must be totally random. For our second pairing, it’s the tallest guy and the shortest girl. Hmm… This routine has the funk doctor trying to hypnotize Janette into finding her inner funk. Either this routine was designed to spotlight Janette, or she’s really just that good. She was so entertaining, and had some amazing moments. I wasn’t crazy about the costumes, especially Ade’s. He looked more like Steve Urkel than Dr. Funk. Maybe Janette should have been the one tryin to funk-dafy Ade. I didn’t love Ade nearly as much doing hip hop as the other styles he’s performed on the show. Nigel: “You’ve got funk.” Mary couldn’t think of anything much more original to say: “That was funky!” Debbie: “Woo, honey! These children wore me out!” She also told Ade to stay away from her daughter. (Thanks, Debbie, for bringing the fun into the comments.)
- Jeanine and Jason – Contemporary (Travis Wall) – “If It Kills Me (The Casa Nova Sessions)” by Jason Mraz – Welcome to the choregreography rotation, Travis. I didn’t watch season two, but I understand that he is one of the most popular contestants ever. Jeanine and Jason introduced the piece by saying that they have the same style and are good friends. Hopefully those two facts will translate to good chemistry on stage. The story behind this dance is that two longtime friends are hooking up for the first time, and trying to decide if they should take that step. Well, now. That was a a mesmerizing, sensual routine! I’d like to see more of Travis’s work on the show, because this was great. Jeanine and Jason did a great job of conveying the relationship of these two close friends who are attracted to each other, and all the conflicting emotions that would go along with that. I even liked the heart locket prop that was tossed back and forth between them. Well done. This has been my favorite performance from Jason, and only reinforces my strong opinion of Jeanine as one of the top, if not the top, female dancer this season. Nigel: “Jeanine, you are gonna carry more hearts than that around your neck tonight.” Mary was nearly at a loss for words, but she did proclaim the two of them as stars. Debbie declared it “a magical pairing.” She also made a plug for them to do this routine on the tour. It was nice to see how proud the judges were of Travis. I love seeing former contestants on the show!
- Randi and Kupono – Paso Doble (Tony and Melanie) – “Dies Irae” by Karl Jenkins – Based on their intro, it sounds like these two don’t know each other very well. And I don’t have high hopes for a cutie patootie and a loosy goosy to pull off the dark, bold, violent paso doble. Apparently the costume department had the same concerns, and they did a nice job transforming these two for the part, by giving Randi long brown hair and a great red and black dress, and dressing Kupono in smashing bullfighter garb. Unfortunately, that wasn’t enough to make this a standout performance. Everything about it felt forced and awkward and I kept waiting for something to go wrong. And go wrong it did at the end when Randi slipped out of Kupono’s hands. Even though Randi looked good, it was kind of disturbing to see her as a long-haired brunette. Nigel said the dancing didn’t match the strong passionate choreography, especially Kupono in the male lead, and he didn’t feel great about Randi’s wig. “It just didn’t work as a couple for me. It just didn’t work as a dance for me.” I agree with him. Mary and Debbie said more of the same.
- Brandon and Melissa – Broadway (Tyce Diorio) – “Aquarius” from Hair – Yay! Two of my favorite contestants! The height difference is somewhat troubling, but I’m confident they can rise above that. This routine is based on the musical Hair – no worries, no trouble… This was a groovy routine that allowed both of them to showcase their strength and their strengths. Melissa looked great, and she and Brandon shifted around the stage so quickly and smoothly that I never noticed the height difference. Nigel loved Melissa’s spaced-out flower child and Brandon’s gymnastics. Mary: “That was unbelievable!” Debbie talked about how they evoked harmony. “Together it was seamless.”
- Brandon – “In Your Eyes” by Jeffrey Gaines – First of all, great song, whether it’s this version of the Peter Gabriel one from Say Anything. And let’s just say it: Brandon is magic on stage. Not sure what all that hip swaying was at the end, but otherwise it was a well done and memorable solo.
- Randi – “Dream” by Priscilla Ahn – I didn’t get much out of her solo. It seemed like she was about to fall down a few times. Was that on purpose, or was she feeling a bit off balance?
- Kupono – “Marina Gasolina” by Bonde Do Role – I liked this better than the other solos he has performed. His costume was funky, and the music and choreography had a tribal feel that suited his quirky style.
- Melissa – “Gabriel” by Lamb – Her ballet style makes her stand out over the other girls in my mind, and it’s different for me to see ballet performed to pop music.
- Evan – “Zing! Went the Strings of My Heart” by Rufus Wainwright – Evan is fantastic at his old school, Gene Kelly-esque dance style. Too bad he can’t perform it more often on the show, because everything else pales in comparison. I loved him more on this solo than I have on just about any of his partner dances, except for the Broadway stuff and Mia Michael’s contemporary routine.
- Kayla – “Rock Your Soul” by Elisa – She exuded confidence with every step and turn of this solo. I loved her clean lines and energetic spirit. This is the best I’ve seen her in quite awhile (in terms of her performance – she always looks great, as the judges never let us forget).
- Ade – “Unchained Melody” by The Righteous Brothers – Nice song choice! And Ade brought a level of passion, energy, and emotion to his dancing that matched the melodies of the Righteous Brothers. I just love to watch him dance, especially when I’m not distracted by silly costumes (can’t go wrong with black pants and no shirt).
- Jeanine – “Violento (Up Mix)” by Bailongo! – Like Kayla, Jeanine brings a lot of poise and confidence to her dancing, but she also has a lot of personality and strength, which means that for me, she is the full dance package.
- Jason – “Train Fare Home” by Muddy Waters – He tried to throw in some acting to his solo tonight, but that limited the amount of impressive choreography.
- Janette – “This is Miami” by Sander Kleinenberg – Like Jeanine, Janette chose to wear a couple of strategically wrapped sashes as her costume. She showed off her fancy legwork and spicy personality.
I’m exhausted after all that dancing, the judges’ longwinded comments, and all that screaming from the studio audience! But I’ll take a moment to summarize my opinions of the night:
- My Favorite Performance: Jason and Jeanine’s contemporary
- My Least Favorite Performance: Randi and Kupono’s paso doble
- My Favorite Solos: Ade, Jeanine
- My Least Favorite Solos: Jason, Randi
- Who should go home: Based on the solos, I’d say Jason and Randi, but based on the partner dances, I’d say Randi and Kupono. I think Jason deserves to stick around longer. I’m liking him more after this week!
Who were your favorites tonight?