This week on So You Think You Can Dance, the couples take on two dances per week for the first time. Well, two competition dances, since they always have to learn a group dance and they prep a solo, too.
The big question around here, though, is whether Annapolis dancer and Baltimore School for the Arts grad Caitlin Kinney will make the Top 10. Here's hoping!
The first couple is Melissa and Ade, doing disco with Doriana Sanchez. OK, first of all, those are some crazy sparkle-pants Ade's got on. Second, this is fast, and has so many spins that it's a wonder they stay on their feet. Um, well, they do until the very end, when their final move gives way somehow and Melissa stumbles. (Does Ade drop? Is her footing off? It's hard to tell.) But it's fun and energetic, for sure. Nigel Lythgoe says it was exciting and had some "tremendous stuff" in it. In the replay, it looks like both of their feet slipped, causing the fall, by the way. Mary Murphy, reference Doriana's line about praying to the disco gods: "Can I get an amen?" She adds that it was well-executed and that they were both "letting it go." Tyce DiOrio: "That was friggin' great! I mean, I want to say, I adore you, and no one would think that a ballet dancer could do that, so that's growth." He says that Ade embodied it well.
Kayla and Kupono take on a Mia Michaels contemporary routine that is about addiction. In a more revealing and emotional introductory segment than usual, Kupono discusses that he had a close friend who was almost destroyed by a drug addiction that had repercussions in his family, too, and that he almost doesn't want to portray the character of the addiction. "I just sucks having to be in it for that minute-thirty or just those two counts." Then he cries. It's pretty powerful, though there is a part toward the end where he is supposed to be guiding the addicted Kayla through some moves, and it seems like he just isn't exactly where he is supposed to be, which makes it look a little funky. Still, though, a nice piece. Nigel says it's a powerful piece for anyone who has dealt with addiction. He said that Kayla was superb as the addict and that Kupono was powerful in his role as well. Mary says Kupono stayed in character with intensity through the whole performance and that Kayla was flawless. "You guys are staying on the train; don't worry about it." Tyce says with Mia, you add a level to yourself and become an actor. He adds that Kupono could use a little more power in his body, but his acting was great. Kayla he just calls "a beast."
As a side note, can I just say, as someone with hardly any pigment, how refreshing it is to see that the stylists or whoever on this show let the pale girls be pale without feeling the need to fake-tan (or worse, real tan) them into orange oblivion? (*cough* Dancing With the Stars *cough)
Caitlin and Jason are doing and American-style foxtrot with a jazzy twist with Tony Meredith and Melanie Lapatin. Caitlin says she's excited to look elegant and pretty and have a sparkly costume (as opposed to last week's nutty pop-jazz routine with the spiky alien costume. Caitlin predicts that they aren't going to do just well or good; "We're going to do great." Overall, they do. The whole thing has a fun feel to it, and they do a couple of insane lifts and spins. Said sparkly costume seems to cause a couple of issues, though. During one of the lifts, Caitlin's skirt is totally over Jason's face, which seems dangerous. And in their last move, there is a weird little bobble that might be from the costume getting caught on something. They're gorgeous, though. Nigel: "Caitlin, you made everything look very simple and very easy when it wasn't." He compares her to Grace Kelly. He also says that Jason's footwork was amazing. "Caitlin, this is your style: smooth, cool, elegant. You should have a glass of champagne in your hand." Mary says she thought it was tremendous and that it suited them. "You, young lady, your kicks are so beautiful and elegant. The way you went across the stage was like you were floating. Let's hear it for her!" Tyce says they look like stars tonight and captured the essence of the dance. He gives them one note, that they could have glided more.
Jeanine and Phillip are working with Youri Nelzine and Lilia Babenko on a Russian folk dance. Jeanine: "I don't think I know anyone in the world who is extensively trained in Russian folk dancing." Except maybe the choreographers they just met! Anyway, it's very traditional and difficult-looking. If they are faking it till they make it, Jeanine is definitely doing a better job since she has so much more dance background, but together, they survive. Nigel says it's difficult: "We ask you to try anything and everything on this program, but I'm not sure we should have thrown that. This has nothing to do with your dancing, it just feels like we didn't ask you to do enough. This felt a little too folky. Anything like this, you need an awful lot of vodka to go with it." He does say, though, that Phillip's legwork on the turns was fab and that Jeanine looked beautiful. Mary says Jeanine made it believable and that Phillip's flips were interesting. Tyce says he agrees to a degree, but he wants to know how they executed what they were given: "Jeanine, you are fabulous. Phillip, I thought this would be horrible for you, but you socked me."
Randi and Evan are given the task of doing a Napoleon and Tabitha hip-hop routine in which they are a young couple in love and have just discovered that Randi is pregnant. No disrespect meant to Randi's husband, but these two are a cute couple and have great chemistry, so they really sell the joy that is an inherent part of the routine. I don't adore N&T's style, so it's hard for me to judge sometimes whether the actual dancing was good, but they were at least very in the moment for the whole performance. Nigel says it was good because they didn't make them "be urban," they just let them be themselves. He says that he says it every week, but they are one of his favorite couples. Huh. That's interesting because I mostly recall him saying that he was a little bit disappointed, but I'm glad to hear they are a favorite. They're so cute, I just want to carry them around in my pocket! Anyway, Mary says she was expecting a trainwreck, but they did a great job. Tyce says it was such good storytelling by Tabitha and Napoleon, but "Evan, I think you need to find more."
Janette and Brandon take on the Argentine tango with Leonardo Barrionuevo and Miriam Larici. Brandon interviews that the dance "exudes sex" but later he and Janette are searching for their chemistry since they are just buddies. Their technique is pretty amazing -- intense lifts and footwork and speed, but I don't see a lot of connection between them even so. I'm still impressed, though, because this routine was tough. Nigel is silent at first, then gives them a standing O. The other judges stand, too, speechless. Nigel finally says, "For a ballroom routine on this show, I think that was as close as we've seen to perfection on this stage ever." Mary does her hot tamale train routine. "That was reallly outstanding, the flicks, the lifts." [SCREEEECH!] Tyce says they had so much attention to detail. He goes on a rant about orange juice, but the gist is: "Unreal. Unreal. Unreal."
Then, it's round two! Cat informs us that next week, the dancers will change partners.
Melissa and Ade have a waltz with Ron Montez for their final dance. He says it's freer than a traditional waltz, so they break hold more. OK, this is good, just so pretty. They are such a good combination -- and to me, their obvious chemistry shows what Janette and Brandon didn't have in the last dance. It was lovely and had fabulous lifts. Nigel says Ron played to their strengths (backhanded compliment, no?) and that it was beautifully danced. Mary agrees that it was beautifully danced, but that his waltz footwork was lacking in power. She calls Melissa mesmerizing and says she is peaking at the right time. She says she doesn't want to see their partnership break up, and Nigel asks if he gets a break from her next week. "Pipe down, you English muffin!" Oh, she's probably been sitting on that line for three weeks, but it still made me giggle. Tyce says when they dance to "Natural Woman," you have to rise to the challenge of the music. He seems to imply that they didn't, but then says it was great.
Kayla and Kupono are doing a Joey Dowling Broadway number. It's weird because Joey has so much energy and pizzaz during the rehearsal that I was expecting a more in-your-face kind of number. Not that this is subtle -- I don't know. It's very cute, and they seem to dance it well, but I wasn't jumping all over the place about it. Nigel says this is his period of time and everything was dangerous -- "there was no feeling of true emotion for that style of music." He says they didn't have the toughness even though they danced it well. Mary says maybe they didn't latch onto the style, but she still thinks they did a good job even though she can see where Nigel is coming from. Tyce says they needed to get down into the floor and make it part of their world and use the space more.
Caitlin and Jason are not excited to break up. Caitlin says she will miss Jason's hugs and ability to calm her down, while Jason will miss Caitlin's quirkiness and silly jokes. They are working with Mandy Moore on a lyrical routine. And the performance? I don't know, it just makes me happy -- they are clearly so excited to be dancing their own style, and it seems like Mandy challenged them because of that, and it worked for them. Also, I like that it's a routine that just is without having to have a two-minute description of the backstory. Don't get me wrong -- some of the story dances are among my favorites -- but it's especially refreshing after last week's crazy alien dance. Nigel says they obviously worked very hard, but he doesn't honestly always see chemistry between them, but technically it was good. Mary says she does see chemistry, but she didn't see magic between them even though she did love the choreography. "Caitlin, you are again another outstanding woman in this competition. You just week after week come up with really amazing lines." Tyce says she gave them great partnering and that they had the lines and were in sync, but he thinks they played it a little safe, but their work is appreciated.
Phillip and Jeanine have a jive with Tony Meredith and Melanie Laplatin. Oh, Phillip. This is a tough routine, but I think Phillip is just out of his depth, and Jeanine just dances circles around him. Nigel praises the choreography and says the dancers have to bring it to life, and that Phillip did the best he has in his own style. That is taking into account that he slipped and he was nervous, but he is still coming to life. He says Jeanine is for sure one of their Top 10 dancers. Mary guarantees that Jeanine will be back. She says she was surprised by Phillip and how he handled the speedy footwork and adds that Jeanine was on fire. I'm starting to think that maybe I didn't even watch Phillip because I was watching Jeanine the whole time. Tyce: "I say call 1-888-FAN-FRIGGIN-TASTIC!"
Randi and Evan are sad to be splitting up. Their final dance is a samba with Pasha and Anya. (Pasha! Anya! Yay!) They are not sure how they are going to handle all the shimmying and booty-shaking, but they give it their all. They are dressed in animal-print costumes, which I am going to assume was someone's attempt to help them own their characters a little more, but I'm not buying it. Here's the thing. I love these two, but I think they were not that comfortable with the idea of the dance still and despite their great technique, that still came through a bit. Nigel isn't sure what to say. He says Evan is not a hot samba king, though he did everything he was supposed to, and that even though Randi is hot, together, "it wasn't as hot as I would like it." Mary says, "It might not have been hot, but there was a slow sizzle going on." She loved the choreography and their partnering, but Evan needed to push and "get gritty with it." Tyce says Evan needed to be a detective and see what the previous contestants have done to kill the samba (in a good way). Mary feels like she was interrupted and adds that Randi was a hot tamale.
Brandon and Janette have a Wade Robson jazz routine for their last dance together. They will be cartoonish thieves. Wade takes some guff for doing a lot of "weird x" or "strange y" routines, but I really do love this one. It doesn't hurt that I already like the song (Roisin Murphy's "Ruby Blue"), but Brandon and Janette sell this performance, goofy characters and all. Nigel says that tonight they have shown that "there isn't anything we can throw at you that you don't do brilliantly."He says that Janette shocks him because next to her little picture, it says "salsa," and she has stayed with Brandon and kept up with everything they have done. He says they deserve the most votes of the night. Mary agrees, "BEST FOR LAST!" Tyce: "You guys just have that thing. ... You're not a victim. You're in charge. ... I'm so proud and privleged to watch you."
All right, who's going to make the Top 10? Or perhaps a better question is: Who isn't?