It’s time to get the dance party started! With auditions and the first sweeping, sometimes unfair (Anthony Burrell, we miss you!) cuts out of the way, we’re down to the final 11. I can’t say there’s a single truly weak link that’s emerged thus far, but then again, last week we were treated to a big love-in of an episode in which every dancer hoofed it in their chosen genre, while this week we’ll definitely see everyone pushed out of their comfort zones. But, given how strong this batch of dancers is, that may not result in the car wrecks of seasons past, so really, anything could happen. In other words, I wouldn’t place a bet on anyone. If anyone actually betted on this show. Which would be, honestly, a little weird, and probably not legal even in Vegas. So let’s begin!
First off, if we can guestimate viewer response based on the applause from the studio audience, early favorites seem to be Billy, Jose, Lauren, Kent, Robert, who received a much more enthusiastic response than their cohorts. Where’s the love for the girls (with the exception of Lauren), people? Of course, the studio audience could be made up of mostly friends and family, so who knows.
Cat, whose bun may be bigger than the rest of her head, tells us we will learn a little something about each one of our dancers tonight. Oh, joy. Because this is always exciting. Not.
First up, Billy. Billy likes to build things. Billy, if this dancing thing doesn’t work out, I will pay you to come to my house and fix my back door. Just saying. Anyway, Billy is dancing with all-star Lauren to a Toasty Oreo Broadway number. I have no doubt Billy will nail this.
Oh crap, they’re dancing to “Footloose”? Excuse me while I throw up a little. Can this 80s retro thing please stop? Or at least focus on the 80s music that didn’t suck?
Of course, Billy is great. Maybe too great, because some of his moves are almost too beautiful and graceful for, well, schlock like “Footloose.” But he can’t help it that he has no connective tissue. We should all be so lucky. But the routine gives him a chance to (ugh, I hate to say it) cut loose and show a playful side we haven’t seen from him before. Oh, and loving the punked out hair, Billy.
Nigel thinks Toasty’s choreography suited Billy, and he liked the buddy chemistry with Lauren. Mia thinks he did an awesome job, but says Billy focused more on length than bounce. She says he danced like a boy, but now he needs to dance like a man. Adam tells Billy dancing is easy for him, so he needs to focus on character. And then there’s a tangent about butt slapping I don’t want to think too much about.
What we learn about Cristina is she auditioned for a Mexican “American Idol” type show. And she got cut. So she doesn’t sing anymore. She sounded pretty good to me. Don’t be a quitter, Cristina.
She’s dancing with all-star Mark to a Sonya Tayek jazz routine. Sonya is into snakes right now. Oh, Sonya, you so crazy, but in a good way.
I kind of love this routine. There are a few moments where I feel like Cristina could be a little looser and perhaps fiercer, but considering that this style is so far outside of her wheelhouse, I think she delivers. If I didn’t know better, I’d think she was a contemporary or jazz dancer. There’s no sign of salsa here.
Nigel says she was absolutely tremendous, and her fluidity is impressive. Mia thinks Cristina captured the essence, and though her face wasn’t twisted enough, her body was flawless. Adam was stunned, because he thought it was going to be a disaster and he was wrong.
Jose likes to do yoga. Well, that’s nice.
He’ll be doing a Tabitha and Napoleon Dumo hip-hop routine with all-star Comfort. Wow, that’ll be a stretch for him. Because hip-hop is so very, very different than breaking.
Okay, I thought they were joking around in rehearsal about Jose’s inability to look scary, but yeah, he kind of looks like a little kid pulling faces at a few points in the routine. That being said, incredible dance. The yoga has clearly paid off. But I’m not really feeling Jose here.
Nigel gives Jose points for doing choreography. I kind of hate it when the judges give a dancer a pat on the head for doing exactly what everyone else is doing just because they haven’t done it before. As far as the not-scary scary faces, Nigel thought he looked like Adam Shankman after a drink. Mia thought he had a weave on, and thinks he lost character during the choreography. Adam says Jose has improved week after week, and says he needs speed in his power moves. And he loves his smiley, little boy face, as it will get him votes. The judges are kind of treating Jose like the slow but adorable kid in class.
This dancer’s fun fact is he went to the “Fame” school, LaGuardia Arts, which is also where Toasty went. And apparently sucked. So, the fun fact is really a little more about Toasty than Adechike, but fine. He’ll be dancing with all-star Katherine to do a Travis Wall jazz routine.
I think my only problem with this dance is that Adechike is a bit overshadowed by his partner, which may just be that Katherine’s in a hot red dress and crawling all over the set like walking sex. Adechike’s moves are good, though, even if he doesn’t seem completely tuned in to Katherine.
Nigel loved the choreography. But he didn’t believe it was Adechike’s fantasy. The dancing was great, but the performing wasn’t. Mia thinks there was no sexual chemistry and his technique was empty. Adam tells Adechike he was a good partner, but he didn’t go that extra step. And then he and Mia do a sort of animalistic soul gazing thing that’s kinda hot, and possibly disturbing. Adechike should be worried.
I’m not sure I want to learn much more about Melinda. Melinda talks about herself in the third person. She was on “As the World Turns.” And she writes her own music.
She’ll be dancing a jive by Melanie Lapatin and Tony Meredith with all-star. It’s a routine about love. Melinda’s fine with that, because she says Pasha is hot.
I was kind of thinking Melinda might suck at the jive simply because she’s a tapper, but she doesn’t, not completely. She does look like she’s grinning the grin of too much Vaseline on the teeth or complete terror, which makes me think this may not be the best jive ever.
Nigel tells Melinda she’s vivacious and has a lovely face, but she’s mugging and her legs were too turned out. He doesn’t think the style suited her, and decides she’s unsafe this week and should prepare to dance for her life. Mia agrees with Nigel. She thinks Melinda’s legs aren’t sexy. And she was a box of cornflakes or something, which makes an odd sort of sense while simultaneously making me hungry. Adam says she has to watch the playback, because she’ll see she’s a good actor, but she used that to mask her weaknesses.
Melinda thanks the judges for their comments. And smiles, though not as creepily as before.
Alex loves to sing and play the piano. He has a surprisingly good voice. Alex is way too talented in too many areas, but I can’t even hate him for it, because he’s that good of a dancer.
He’ll be dancing with all-star Allison in a Sonya Tayek contemporary routine. It makes Sonya cry. Because it’s about finding peace. Alex is going to expose himself, which I’m sure he means in the emotional sense. That’s my hope, at least.
Okay, it’s almost hard to judge this, because once you get Jeff Buckley’s “Hallelujah” going and add in Sonya’s choreography, well, you just want to cry pre-emptively. But seriously, this is beautiful. Best dance of the show thus far. Amazing. Is it possible this is better than last year’s cancer dance? It may be.
Alex is winning this thing. Sorry, but if he keeps this up, there’s no way he can’t.
Standing O from Adam and Mia, and Nigel looks like he’s going to break down. He tells Alex he’s just set a new standard for the show. Alex is going to cry, because he did expose himself. Not in the gross way, people, pay attention. Nigel adds that Alex and Allison were mega-years ahead of everyone else. Mia looks like she’s going to hyperventilate she’s so moved. She says it was the best piece of work danced on the “SYTYCD” stage to date. Which is saying something, because Mia has done some amazing choreography for the show, too. Mia is shaking at how brilliant Alex is. So, hyperventilating and shaking, top that Adam. Adam starts crying and tells Alex he’s unbelievable and now he understands why the Miami Ballet didn’t want to let him go.
Alexie was a member of the Hip-Hop Kids and auditioned for Star Search. And one of the judges was (wait for it) Adam Shankman. Unfortunately, we do not learn if they won or if Adam hated them. But they were very cute in the two second clip we see of them.
She’s going to do a Nappy Tabs (Nigel has announced this is the new nickname for the Dumos, so let it be so) hip-hop routine with Twitch.
I do not envy Alexie trying to follow Alex this week. She could spontaneously burst into flame and no one will be impressed after Alex. But this is fine. I’m bored, but it’s fine.
Nigel calls Alexie a cute little dancer, but warns her not to be too cute. Mia felt it was the dance of a young, adorable girl, so she needs to step it up. She wanted more coolness. Adam asks if he judged Alexie harshly on “Star Search.” She doesn’t remember, which means yes. He moves on quickly and says she won him over with charisma, but she needs to dig into the floor and hit her stops.
Lauren loves to work with kindergarteners. Aw, shucks. How exactly does she work with kindergarteners, by the way? Do they just let you wander into a classroom and color with them? Because I don’t think you can do that at LAUSD, or all the Megan’s Law-worthy sex offenders would be lining up with their crayons.
She’ll be dancing pop jazz with all-star Ade to a Mandy Moore routine. Lauren has a problem being sexy. Ade doesn’t think that’s really true. He thinks Lauren can bring the sexy. We’ll have to wait and see.
Well, she might be right. She’s awfully smiley throughout this routine, and I think she should smolder a little. It feels like two best friends dancing instead of a couple. But, again, technically perfect. Could someone suck just a little? Oh, wait, Melinda did, so at least there’s one person who looks like an obvious candidate for the door.
Nigel thought it was well-choreographed, yet he found it sterile and he didn’t feel any chemistry. He doesn’t think she’s unsafe, but she needs to improve her performance. Mia agrees. She thinks Lauren is powerful, but she isn’t getting character. Adam is thinking that Lauren isn’t hearing what the judges are saying. Adam tells us he’s the child of a lawyer and a therapist. Um, okay, Adam. This is his very long way of saying work on your performance, Lauren.
What don’t we know about Kent? He was homecoming king. Out of 14 guys. But out of 14 guys, he was the most popular! Is there a small town cliche we haven’t hit yet?
Kent will team up with all-star Anya for a Tony/Meredith cha-cha. Kent seems a little freaked out about having to be sexy. Insert small town boy joke of your choice here, I suppose.
This is good, it’s fun, but I wouldn’t call it hot. And there are a few moves that look, um, decidedly girly. I don’t get the impression Kent is all that turned on by Anya, to tell the truth. And that’s all I’ll say about it.
Nigel says it was clear Kent enjoyed it. And he reminds him of a young Paul Newman and, unfortunately, at one point in the routine, Jessica Rabbit. Mia said he can never do that Jessica Rabbit move again, but she’s very proud of him. Adam says he blasted through his weaknesses. And that he looked like he was dancing with a lion at the zoo. Really, I love Adam, but sometimes I just have no clue what he’s trying to say.
She does crazy voices. One is called the Galvatron. Um, great. She sounds like she’s burping. Not a great way to present yourself, Ashley.
She’ll be doing an emotional Toasty Oreo contemporary routine with all-star Neil. The dance is about love. I think when a choreographer has no idea what a dance is about, it’s about love. Actually, when Toasty said the dance was about the greatest gift, I thought he meant kidney donation.
Ashley is very good. But I’m bored. Maybe it’s the whole Galvatron thing, but she just strikes me as young and inexperienced. But that being said, every move is sublime. Seriously, no one is sucking on this show, really. Oh, wait, except Melinda, and then, she only sucked a little, really.
Nigel asks Ashley if she’s ever been in love before. And then she starts crying, because she is in love. Oops. You could tell Nigel was getting ready to say, well, since you’ve never felt it, it’s not coming through. Nigel covers fast and tells her she needs to use that loving feeling, because she’s a beautiful dancer. Mia says she felt Ashley, but she wasn’t sure if it was pain, but it was a nugget and it was there, it just needed to be louder, which makes Ashley’s emotions seem like a noisy Grape-Nut. Mia calls her a special little bunny and wants to hug her. Adam says she isn’t emotionally there. Okay, we get it, the girl is boring. Let’s move on.
Robert wanted to become a pro baseball player. That’s how he bonded with his dad. And then he decided to go into dance and his father went into therapy. Or something like that.
Robert dances with all-star Courtney to a Sean Cheesman African dance routine. The dance is about two creatures that become human one moment for the year. And there’s going to be hospital visits and bruises, according to Courtney. Yay!
This seems a little graceful for primal African dance, but it’s fun and Robert gets into it. And at this point, it seems that’s really all the judges are looking for. Move your little faces around, dancers!
Nigel says he loved the routine, and he loved the way Robert danced it. He says Robert’s a dark horse. Mia says there are so many things she loves about him, and she can’t wait for him to dig in to who Robert is now. And then she and Robert growl at each other. A lot. Until it starts to be creepy. Adam says it’s proof positive that the all-star thing is great, because he loved seeing him with Courtney, and says Robert is one of the best contemporary dancers they’ve ever had on the show. Adam thinks he’s going very far. Lots of Robert love tonight.
Okay, so we definitely know Alex is going through into next week. But as for the bottom two, it’s tough to know. Every one of the dancers is technically strong. Okay, maybe not Melinda, but she did a much better job than I expected, honestly. Even though she’s the obvious weak link, if the rest of the field wasn’t so strong I’d actually like to see her next week, as I’m sure she has the capacity to improve.
If I had to place a bet on the bottom two, I’d guess Melinda and Adechike, only because they got dumped on by the judges, but I could also see either Alexie and Ashley being shown the door for a lack of charisma. At this point, I think it just comes down to a popularity contest, because no one really sucked, honestly.
Only one thing seems clear – this season it’s all about the guys. Which, given that men were on the weak side last season, is actually a refreshing change of pace.
One last thing – I’d really, really like it if the dancers wouldn’t mug for the cameras like mentally challenged kids at the end of the show. It’s disturbing. And makes me feel like I’m watching a home video of high school graduation. Which, really, no one wants to see.
Who do you think will be eliminated? Do you think a front-runner has emerged or is it anyone’s race? Do you miss Mary Murphy?