So Cat cut her hair... which, apparently, the audience needed to applaud for ten minutes. Really? Because it doesn't look that good. Sure, it works with a period dress and dark lipstick, but I suspect it just looks like a frizzy mess without the retro hair clip. Seriously, it looks like one of those "This a-hole I was dating dumped me and you know what? I need to do something DRASTIC" moves that every woman ends up regretting. Hang in there, Cat.

Tyce DiOrio is on the judges' panel, which is exciting, because it means I can call him Toasty Oreo again and again and again. It's the little things that make me happy.

Of course, I didn't have much time to enjoy that, because everyone's cramming in two dances tonight, so the show pretty much threw the kids on the dance floor, pumped up the music, and got going, pronto.

[Recap of Wednesday (July 8) night's "So You Think You Can Dance" performances after the break...]

 

Melissa and Ade

Choreographer: Doriana Sanchez, disco

Verdict: Got the fever

Good lord, Doriana Sanchez does not mess around. This was like four routines smashed into one. But leave it to Melissa and Ade to bring it, even if there were a few moments in the lifts when I could swear I could see them both counting steps, but hell, Ade had to fling Melissa around like an old sweat sock, so a little caution is not such a bad thing to prevent a massive head injury. They weren't exactly Janette and Brandon, but they were damn close.

Nigel said it was an absolutely incredible start to the evening and said they were tremendous despite Melissa falling on her ass. Mary asked for an amen from the disco gods, said it was really well done and that both of them let it rip, which sounds gross but was really a compliment. Toasty Oreo (Tyce DiOrio) said it was friggin' great and that Melissa's body was brilliant. Then he just got all excited about being on the judges' panel and gave Mary a high five, which made her screech like a howler monkey.

 

Kayla and Kupono

Choreographer: Mia Michaels, contemporary

Verdict: Whoa

Ooh, addiction, this sounds interesting. I will give Mia Michaels props for really intriguing ideas. Unfortunately, this routine may send Kupono over the edge, since addiction actually tore apart his family and nearly killed his best friend, but this season it seems like the routines that make dancers want to jump off a freeway overpass usually result in the best performances.

And man, this dance was incredibly stirring. Kayla, of course, is always amazing, but this was one time when I felt she really brought depth of emotion to her performance on top of the fluid moves and perfect execution. Kupono, well, he has a future as a horror movie bad guy if he wants it, and that's a good thing. This wasn't an easy routine, but they both delivered, big time.

Nigel told Kayla he wasn't able to see her eyes because of her hair, then gave Kupono props for his malevolent grin and said both dancers were brilliant. Mary said he latched on to his character and Kayla was flawless, then told them they were staying on the hot tamale train, not to worry. Toasty Oreo said they embodied an experience, though Kupono could be stronger in his body, then added that Kayla was a beast in a good way.

 

Caitlin and Jason

Choreographers: Tony Meredith and Melanie LaPatin, foxtrot

Verdict: Like buttah

Caitlin is excited to be elegant and pretty, and right from the get-go you can tell she just feels a whole hell of a lot more comfortable in her spangly dress than she did as a rubber condom alien. The routine looked effortless and elegant and probably will bore the crap out of voters who have gotten used to dancers defying gravity and flopping around the stage like freshly executed convicts. I mean, come on, I get tired just looking at some of these routines. Graceful and elegant doesn't exactly wow, you know?

Nigel said Caitlin made everything look easy "like Grace Kelly" and added that Jason's footwork was very good indeed. Mary said it was tremendous and thought the foxtrot suited them. Then she stole Toasty Oreo's snaps, and there was a brief snap off at the judges' table, which was admittedly odd and I'm sure Caitlin and Jason wanted to break Mary and Toasty Oreo's fingers for wasting their time. Toasty Oreo said they looked fantastic, but felt Caitlin could have glided more and shown more in her eyes, whatever that means.


Jeanine and Phillip

Choreographers: Youri Nelzine and Lilia Babenko, Russian folk

Verdict: Lame

Wow, Russian folk dancing, this one pretty much sucks. But as usual, Jeanine looked like an old pro and Phillip looked like the unlucky guy that got pulled out of the audience for a quick folk dancing lesson, grimacing and flinching all the way.

Nigel said it felt a little too folky, and he needed a lot of vodka (which he didn't have) to go with it, which had less to do with them than the style. Mary said Jeanine was believable and Phillip did some flips that were... interesting. As a whole, however, it wasn't difficult. Toasty Oreo said he wanted to honor the fact they worked hard and he was glad Phillip did very well, but only said that after he admitted he thought he'd pretty much suck. I wish everyone would stop being so startled that Phillip can move his arms and legs without collapsing that they fall all over themselves complimenting him for basically showing up and not wetting himself.

 

Randi and Evan

Choreographers: Tabitha and Napoleon Dumo, hip hop

Verdict: Snappy

The story for this dance is that Randi's pregnant, and they don't know what to do, and there's a ring, and then they jump around a lot.

Nigel said he wasn't sure Randi should be doing the lifts if she's preggers (drum roll please), but seriously folks, they're one of his favorite couples. Mary said she was expecting a train wreck, but she thought they did a great job and Randi is a standout in the competition. Toasty Oreo liked the storytelling, but he wants Evan to find "more." More what, I have no idea, but Evan needs to find it. T.O. loved Randi and thought she was great, and I'm really noticing yet again the women are a lot stronger than the men this season, and I'm not saying that because I'm a girl, I swear.

 

Brandon and Janette

Choreographers: Leonardo Barrionuevo and Miriam Larici, tango

Verdict: Perfection

Brandon and Janette are having a hard time finding the sexy during practice, but you know they will not only find the sexy but beat it into submission and make it their bitch by airtime because there is literally nothing these two can't do. I expect next week we'll see them do flamenco neurosurgery or maybe deliver Randi and Evan's fake baby while Russian folk dancing, because hell, why not?

And yes, they do make the sexy their bitch and dance the tango's ass off. There's really nothing more to say, except maybe we should all stop kidding ourselves and anoint them the winners and find something else for this time slot, like another rerun of "House."

Nigel actually gives them a freakin' standing ovation, and is joined by Mary and Toasty Oreo. See, it's not just me thinking they're all that. Nigel finally finds his words and says that their performance was as close to perfection as anything he's seen on the show, then tells Mary that a damn train better be coming. Mary said it was really outstanding, then told Brandon he wasn't disappointing, which seemed like faint praise after a standing O. She then told Janette she was flawless and FINALLY puts them both on the hot tamale train first class while shrieking like an air raid siren. Toasty Oreo said their attention to detail was amazing, then he started talking about fresh squeezed orange juice and I got so thirsty I absolutely lost my train of thought, but I don't really think he was going anywhere all that interesting with it anyway. 

 

And then, Cat has to bum all of us out by telling us that next week everyone gets a new partner, and all of the dancers have to tell us what they're going to miss about their current partner, and it's just depressing, because, hello, Janette and Brandon and Melissa and Ade and Randi and Evan are so perfect with the partner they have it's just going to suck to see them with someone else, like when your parents get divorced and you have to meet your new stepmom or something. But let the weepy nostalgia begin.

 

Melissa and Ade

Choreographer: Ron Montez, waltz

Verdict: Gorgeous

Melissa gets all weepy thinking about being paired with someone other than Ade, and who can blame her? These two are magic together, I tell you, magic. But man, pulling the waltz out of the hat is such a short straw. Even if the judges love it, voters tend to wander into the kitchen for a snack. Unfortunately, this time I could almost forgive someone for rooting around for the Ben & Jerry's in the back of the freezer (mmm, Phish Food). Melissa and Ade are always beautiful, and definitely have that certain something together, but this waltz was a little blah.

Nigel said Ron played to their strengths, adding that Ade's upper body was tremendous and overall the routine was very beautifully danced. Mary agreed that it was beautiful, said Ade didn't have enough power in the twinkles (um, could someone explain that to me? Because I am going to have to use that in a sentence someday, just because) and mentioned that Melissa was peaking at the right time, which was supposed to sound like a compliment but made her sound like day old bakery bread. Mary also called Nigel an English muffin, which was a nice touch, and I may now have to call Nigel an English muffin, just because it's cute. Toasty Oreo said it was well-danced, but Ade needed to elongate his lines.

 

Kupono and Kayla

Choreographer: Joey Darling, Broadway

Verdict: Not quite

Kayla is going to miss Kupono's positive energy, and Kupono is going to miss her sweaty hands and feet. Wow, nice one, Kupono. Oddly, I think it was kinda brilliant for him to out Kayla as a big wet stinker, because we've all gotten so used to her being the little Miss Perfect judge's pet, knowing she's a big sweaty mess may be the touch of imperfection we need to reach for the phone. God knows dancing her ass off doesn't seem to impress anyone much. That being said,  this dance wasn't one of Kayla or Kupono's finer moments. Maybe all that moisture messed with their concentration, but the routine lacked some oomph.

Nigel nailed it exactly when he said this kind of Jerome Robbins-esque dancing comes from a place of contraction and power, which was pretty lacking in their interpretation. He added that he missed true emotion in the piece, and he needed more than just good dancing. Mary said they did a really good job but they could have done more. Toasty said they didn't get down into the floor, which I think was his way of saying what Nigel said, but at least they agree.

 

Caitlin and Jason

Choreographer: Mandy Moore, lyrical jazz

Verdict: Not bad, but is that enough?

Caitlin's going to miss Jason's hugs, and Jason will miss her corny jokes. Aw, shucks. I don't even care that these two dancers seem a little boring sometimes, because they're just so darn nice. And this dance was also pretty darn nice. But at this stage in the competition, nice alone gets you sent home with a box of Kleenex. I'm thinking pairing these two with other dancers (if they get the chance) may be the solution, though. Can you imagine Caitlin with Ade? Or Jason with Randi? They've both show moments of real fire in the past, and maybe mixing it up will bring out their inner showstoppers.

Nigel enjoyed it, but he didn't always see chemistry between the two of them, which was another dead-on comment from the English muffin. Mary said it wasn't magic, but the world will love and adore Jason's face and that it was really good, if not memorable. Toasty Oreo didn't want to see them play it safe, but they did a great job.

 

Jeanine and Phillip

Choreographer: Tony Meredith and Melanie LaPatin, jive

Verdict: Halfway There

Jeanine is going to miss Phillip's big heart, and Phillip is going to miss Jeanine's kooky personality and her saving his ass week after week. Did I write that? Don't get me wrong, Phillip gets better week after week. But so do the klutzes on "Dancing with the Stars." We're at a stage in the competition where really talented people with lots of experience are going to get the boot. Pet projects like Phillip, who are a long ways away from being up to par with the rest of these dancers, have got to go. 

That being said, it was a pretty happening little dance, but, as usual, a lot of the credit has to go to Jeanine, who was smoking hot. Next to her, Phillip looks like a queasy kid at the junior high school dance who just realized he's afraid of girls.

Nigel said this is the best Phillip has been out of his own style and that he was very good despite the fact he slipped and was very nervous and added that Jeanine is one of the best top ten dancers, to which I say duh. Mary put Jeanine on the hot tamale train and admitted that she thought Phillip was screwed but she can't count him out. Toasty Oreo said to call 1-888-Fan-Frickin-Tastic, which is really too many letters, and said what Phillip lacked in technique he made up in performance, and Jeanine was a star. Does anyone notice that, in the critiques, Jeanine is the really talented dancer and Phillip is the likable guy she drags around? As much as I hate the idea of most couples being split apart, I am thrilled these two are getting broken up – maybe in his next pairing Phillip will have to pull his weight.

 

Randi and Evan

Choreographer: Pasha Kovalev and Anya Garnis, samba

Verdict: Low heat

Randi is going to miss Evan's pretty goofy sexy look and Evan is going to miss laughing with her. You do get that these pocket-size cuties aren't exactly the super sexiest candidates to samba, but you know something? They don't suck, and Randi, for all her bitching about shaking her groove thing kind of icking her out, is quite the firecracker. But even I will admit that Evan, whom I love irrationally, is out of his element.

Nigel said he didn't look at Evan as a hot samba king, Randi was hot, but together it lacked hotness. Mary said it was a slow sizzle and Evan didn't demand attention, but Randi was on fire. Toasty Oreo said Evan needed to do some more research and needed more strength, then told Randi she carried the routine. Then Mary jumped back in and said Randi was a hot tamale with the flavor and the spice.

 

Janette and Brandon

Choreographer: Wade Robson, jazz

Verdict: Let's just give them the win, people

Brandon likes the way Janette brought him out of his shell, and Janette doesn't think anyone can live up to him. I am SO sad thinking about these two being split up, I can't stand it. Of course, they blow the competition away, and the choreography is pretty damn cool, too. I'm telling you, next week is flamenco neurosurgery.

Nigel said that there's nothing these two can't do brilliantly, and that if these two don't get the biggest vote of the night he'll be surprised. Mary said the show saved the best for last, they stole her heart and then she started getting dizzy. Toasty Oreo said the two have that "thing," they're in charge and write their own ticket, and that he's proud and privileged to watch them. Which, you know, he should be.

 

Do you think Brandon and Janette are the season's frontrunners? Do you think Caitlin and Jason need new partners? And is it time Jeanine got a decent partner?