We kick things off with an unimpressive routine from Stacey Tookey and Peter Chiu which mostly seems to consist of taking off red latex coats to reveal boring underwear. Of course, the choreography may be stunning, but it turns out that when you dress dancers in matching red coats, turn on red lights and generally bathe the stage in red, nothing seems to pop. Considering that Tookey has done consistently great work, I think I blame the lighting guy.
Our judges are Nigel Lythgoe, Mary Murphy and singer-songwriter... Carly Rae Jepsen? Um, why? No one questions this, so we move on. Seven Emmy nominations! Nigel is not doing a good job of playing humble.
First, the cuts. The bottom six are... Mariah, Alan, Makenzie, BluPrint, Jenna and Curtis. The judges save Jenna, as they usually do. Then, the dancing for life (maybe this needs something less deadly for a title -- the CPR dance? The IV drip boogie?).
Makenzie: This is a beautiful routine, even if it is set to the wrong music. Still, she's a strong dancer.
Alan: This would be more impressive if so much of the routine didn't seem to be made up of cape twirling.
Curtis: Tap dance. It's fine, I guess.
Mariah: There's a certain sameness to what she's doing. This isn't wowing me.
BluPrint: He is really remarkable at what he does -- I just wish he'd emote.
Alexis & Nico
The Background: The theme this week is for the dancers to tell us something we don't already know about them. For a few people, this is fascinating. For a lot of them, however, it's a little dull. I mean, they dance. They practice. It's not like there's a lot of time for quirky hobbies. Alexis is an 3-time Olympic champion! I was a lot more impressed before she said it was the TAP Olympics. Nico played a lot of soccer.
The Dance: They're doing a jive that's full of tricks. A stunt team is brought in for training, which is a little scary. Still, I wish the emphasis had been more on jive and less on tricks. Some of Alexis' footwork is just not up to par, and it all starts to feel flabby in the middle. Not great.
The Judges: Nigel thought it started out well, but it fell apart and became clunky. Mary enjoyed it, and thought the retractions and flicks were strong. Carly loved Alexis' dress.
The Verdict: I think both of these guys could go home pretty easily.
Jenna & Tucker
The Background: Jenna loves baking, and Tucker's mom dressed him up as a mouse each Halloween.
The Dance: Travis Wall has created a dance in which Jenna is a puppet on a string. This is really quite beautiful, and just so well done. I don't know if Jenna is my favorite dancer, but I do think she's very strong, and Tucker ain't bad, either.
The Judges: Mary is weepy. She thought it was phenomenal. She puts them on the hot tamale train. Carly thought it was nice. I think we can say Carly has no dance background. Niles thinks Jenna was brilliant and thought Tucker did some magnificent things.
The Verdict: There's just no way Jenna can keep ending in the bottom. It's ridiculous,
Mariah & BluPrint
The Background: Mariah was a cheerleader. BluPrint pencil drums. I guess that's a thing.
The Dance: The lift isn't great. Really, when they dance separately it's fine, but together, it looks labored and awkward.
The Judges: Carly thinks they did a nice job. Nigel thinks it was good-ish. Mary liked their outfits.
The Verdict: They're both in the bottom six, and this doesn't give me much confidence they'll stick around until next week.
Malece & Alan
The Background: She can eat like a pig. He's a huge crybaby. Thanks, "SYTYCD," for forcing these guys to give us TMI.
The Dance: It's hip hop, and Malece seems like a natural. She's amazingly strong. Alan isn't bad, but he's a little too smooth and isn't getting into it the way he needs to.
The Judges: Nigel thinks Malece is a mean little alien, but thinks Alan was a little stiff. Mary thinks Alan didn't really sit in the pocket, but thinks Malece was on fire. Carly thinks Malece is adorable but couldn't focus on Alan.
The Verdict: I'm worried for Alan.
Hayley & Curtis
The Background: Hayley is a beauty queen and Curtis is sure he'd be a relatively short professional basketball player.
The Dance: Hayley has a fear of heights, and the dance is on a fifteen foot ladder? I don't think I've seen a ladder dance on the show so far, and this is pretty remarkable. Curtis could use some finesse, but Hayley nails it.
The Judges: Mary loved the combinations. She tells Curtis his shoulders were too high, but his partnering skills were strong. She thinks Hayley is spectacular. Carly thinks they have chemistry. Curtis took Hayley on a date for sushi to work on their connection. Cute! Nigel was disappointed in Curtis but thought Hayley was magnificent.
The Verdict: The judges seem pretty pissed at Curtis that he doesn't take notes. Not a good sign. Work on those shoulders, Curtis!
Amy & Fik-Shun
The Background: Amy does all the boy stuff with her dad, like fishing. Fik-Shun is a first-degree black belt in tae kwon do.
The Dance: Amy and Fik-Shun are hobos in a Tyce jazz routine. This dance is beyond weird, but it's awesomely so. I think this may be my favorite so far. And Fik-Shun is really solid!
The Judges: Carly thought it was adorable. Nigel thinks Amy and Fik-Shun are superstars. They are the couple to beat. He thinks that if the royal couple sees this they'll name the baby Fik-Shun. Mary thought it was as sweet as the Twinkie comeback.
The Verdict: They are golden, and surely safe for a good long while if they keep dancing like this.
Makenzie & Paul
Makenzie is obsessed with James Franco and Paul looks just like him. Paul loves art.
The Dance: Makenzie is dancing some hip hop, but I really don't think Paul is dancing hip hop much at all. I realize this is another hip hop hybrid routine, but I'm finding this to be an irritating trend on "SYTYCD." It might as well just be jazz.
The Judges: Nigel thinks it was the sexiest routine of the evening. It was an entirely different style of hip hop. He puts them on his hot tamale train. What? Mary thinks Makenzie was in total control and thinks Paul had soul in his bowl. Carly was on the edge of her seat.
The Verdict: They're probably safe, though I think this choreography is proving nothing about their ability to master hip hop.
Jasmine and Aaron
The Background: She was a tomboy and Aaron loves music.
The Dance: Eeek, they got the quickstep! And yet, they do an admirable job of it. If I think about the footwork too much my eyes will cross, but this is fun to watch and, more importantly, they are fun to watch. For a quickstep, this really isn't half bad.
Judges: Mary loved that they went for it. There were minor issues, but mostly it was super fantastic. She thought Jasmine was as beautiful as could be. Carly thinks it looked easy, and she thinks the quickstep might be hard or something! Nigel thinks they're personality plus.
The Verdict: I don't see them ending up in the bottom six.
Nigel admits that choosing a guy to go home was more difficult this week. Nigel tells Alan to bring his partner work into his solo. Huh? He raps Curtis on the knuckles for ignoring the high shoulder note. He thinks BluPrint is magnificent, so he's probably going home. And yes, he is going home.
On to the girls. Mariah is going home.
Wow, a complete couple cut. Huh. Just like that, we go from three hip hop dancers on the show to one. I'm a little sad to see them both go, but I think this is a pretty strong season with phenomenal dancers. Just please, no more hip hop hybrid routines, please, please, please...
Do you think it was time for Mariah and BluPrint to go? Why do you think Carly Rae Jepsen was judging?