Tonight's going to be BRUTAL, with four dancers eliminated so we can get down to a Top 10 for next week.
The top 14 do a group dance with a lot of white clothes. Ricky gets featured A LOT, in case you're wondering who this season's darling is. Jacque, though, gets a tremendous leap that elicits a "Whoa" from the audience and my mom.
The contestants are introduced in pairs, based on who they danced with last week -- the notable exception being Jessica & Casey, newly paired after their former partners were eliminated last week:
Valerie Rockey & Ricky Ubeda
Bridget Whitman & Emilio Dosal
Tanisha Belnap & Rudy Abreu
Carly Blaney & Serge Onik
Emily James & Teddy Coffey
Jacque LaWarne & Zack Everhart
Jessica Richens & Casey Askew
Stacey Tookey choreographed the opening number. Cat's wearing a very colorful, overly patterned dress. It hurts my eyes.
Results: Cat does things a little differently. If she reads out your name, you're in the Top 10. If she doesn't, you're one of the six in danger of elimination and will have to do a solo tonight to fight for the last two spots in the Top 10.
Safe: Bridget, Emilio, Jacque, Ricky, Tanisha, Rudy (whom Cat calls "Scarlett O'Hara"), Valerie and Zack.
Potentially eliminated tonight: Carly, Serge, Jessica, Casey, Teddy and Emily.
Tonight's interview topic is "What would your partner bring to the Top 10?"
Emilio tells us Bridget would bring "congeniality," because she was on the Homecoming court all through high school and Homecoming queen her senior year. Emilio would bring a "potty mouth" to the top 10. I feel you, Emilio.
They get a jazz piece with Ray Leeper, who tells them they're on a "mission from Hell," come to earth to convince someone to give up their soul. This explains why Bridget is in shiny red spandex which is clearly OF THE DEVIL. Their synch is just a touch off in some of the side-by-side moves. They only look evil in a 1980s Pat-Benatar-video kind of way.
Nigel calls it a fun routine and says Emilio was fabulous. However, he wants Emilio to pull his shoulders down more. He tells Bridget he wanted her down more, using her thighs. Christina criticizes Emilio because sometimes she thinks she "could see him dancing," in the same way a director might criticize an actor they can "see acting."
Rudy says Tanisha will bring her hiccups to the Top 10. She apparently hiccups a lot. Tanisha teases that Rudy will bring his incredibly quiet demeanor.
Mandy Moore is giving them a seduction scene routine to a Celine Dion song. Never change, Mandy. It's a lot of lifts to begin the routine. I'm impressed by Rudy's strength.
Christina stands up and applauds. She praises Rudy for being so connected to Tanisha throughout the routine. Mary screams. Then Rudy screams. Then Cat screams. Then everybody's screaming and I need some headache medicine.
Mary praises the overhead lift, not just for the strength, but because Tanisha has to trust Rudy and Rudy has to trust himself when he goes from holding her with both hands to only one. Nigel says, "Real men don't lift weights, they lift women." He also praises Tanisha for her part in the lifts, saying she could be "just a sack of potatoes," but she wasn't.
Now for our first "Keep Me, Keep Me" solo of the night: Serge. I always feel bad for the ballroom dancers having to do solos. Ballroom dance moves are meant to be done with a partner and look silly done solo.
Jacque would bring to the Top 10 her excellent customer service skills, based on her experience working in a grocery store. Zack will bring his "mad rapping skills," which he proceeds to demonstrate. Wanna take back some of those votes now, America?
They're doing a vampiric Paso Doble choreographed by Jean-Marc Genereux. I'm not sure there is anyone less believable as a vampire than the tap dancer from Kennesaw. It's choreographed to "Dragula" by Rob Zombie. There are strobe lights throughout and my headache intensifies.
The judges have all put in fake vampire teeth and Mary goes after Nigel's neck. Cat quips that "they're all going to have rabies after this." Mary loves the choreography, loves the costuming. She warns Jacque about her shoulders. Nigel agrees about the costumes and congratulates the wardrobe department for winning a technical Emmy this week. He calls the dancers "magnificent." Christina praises Zack's presentation and calls Jacque "splendid."
Second solo: Carly in an ugly pink dance leotard with a small skirt. It makes her look very prissy and undermines the feel of her routine.
Next there's an extended commercial in for the next "Step Up" movie, in the form of an interview with Cyrus and Twitch. (Twitch, I love you, but life's too short to go with your weird way of capitalizing your name.)
Teddy says Emily would bring her "business degree" to the Top 10. Emily says Teddy would bring his "quirky arms and neck."
They've got Broadway with Warren Carlyle and it's about Emily having Teddy wrapped around her finger. Teddy reminds me of Gene Kelly, not that he dances at that level, but with his combination of masculinity and daintiness. They get a little off sync with some spins at the end, but otherwise it's a solid, charming routine.
Nigel says his thighs hurt just from watching that. He namechecks Gene Kelly, too. He says it was all over the place near the end and needed more elevation. Christina enjoys both dancers very much but encourages them to watch some "Kiss Me Kate" to get better acquainted with Broadway. Mary agrees with Nigel that it went a little downhill toward the end.
Solo time for Casey. There's lots of leaping and pirouetting and whatever. Emily's solo is very serious. You can tell because she's wearing black and dancing to classical music.
Jessica would bring "awkwardness" to the top 10. Casey would bring his amazing turning ability to the Top 10. He can spin like a top forever and ever.
Travis Wall is giving them a routine about the person that "centers you." It's a lyrical, pretty routine with a lot of floating, both in the costumes and the choreography.
Jessica is crying because she's so emotionally overcome by the routine. Christina thinks Jessica finally has a partner that matches her. She's coming after anybody in the audience who puts these two in the bottom again. Mary praises the near-instant chemistry between these two dancers. Nigel brings up Jessica's Black Widow partnering so far, but he thinks Casey & Jessica work great together. With this much praise for these two, is there any doubt who's going to be safe at the end of the show?
Solo from Teddy. Can I tell you how sad I am that there's no way we're going to be able to keep both Teddy and Casey? Casey's got the advantage from his partner routine, but I like Teddy's solo better. I also feel that Casey is like so many other contemporary dancers we've seen on this show over the seasons, but Teddy's his own unique flavor.
Serge tells us Carly would bring her emotion to the Top 10. She cries all the time, happy or sad, apparently. Carly points out Serge's ridiculous top knot ponytail.
Jean-Marc Genereux is back for the quickstep this time. He has them practice their frame by holding a glass of water on either side of their clasped arms and not spilling any while doing the crazy fast footwork.
Mary is excited about the first quickstep of the season. She thinks these dancers coped very well with the closed frame and liked Carly's topline. Nigel liked that Jean-Marc used the whole stage and thought both dancers seemed to enjoy the little Charleston segment. Christina tells these young'uns to go rent some movies too. It'll be OK, whippersnappers, they're in color, even!
Jessica's solo is SEX SEX SEX because that's her shtick.
Ricky says Valerie will be the tomboy of the Top 10. Valerie praises Ricky's Cuban coffee.
They've got a hip hop routine from Christopher "Pharside" Jennings and Krystal Meraz. (And I don't care how much extra effort it takes, I will always put the quotation marks around "Pharside".) The routine is about a witch doctor and a voodoo doll. Watching Valerie do hip hop moves while looking like a twisted Raggedy Ann is quite fun. Valerie gets a really cool move -- she's in a wide split and moves her foot, then her calf, then her thigh, then the other thigh, the other calf, and the other foot. Nigel calls it a "leg wave in side split."
Christina says she's so excited to be here tonight because she wanted to meet Valerie & Ricky. Mary calls it the best number of the night. My mom says, "I don't get it. Bring back the quickstep."
Mandy Moore gets a group number and she wants the piece to be about "Strong women dancing together." Go, Mandy! Let's see - Pat Benatar? Joan Jett? Tina Turner?
What the??? It's "My Immortal" by Evanescence. Din't see that one coming. They're in different shades of purple and everyone seems to get a little moment to shine. Ha! I just noticed that Mandy Moore's twitter handle is "@nopenother." It took me a moment to realize it was "Nope, not her." Hee hee.
Christina is excited again to hear Jessica breathing. (She mentioned it earlier in talking about her routine with Casey.) Whatever. Christina makes a Spinal Tap reference, which is about 20 years too old for these young women. Mary gets choked up talking about how much she liked the dance. Nigel blathers on about the gift of dance to the world. YOU'RE NOT CURING CANCER HERE, LYTHGOE.
And now it's a performance from the Academy of Villains. They're neon glowing skeletons under black light. Yeah, you're scary guys. So villainous. Because evil always chooses Gwen Stefani as its soundtrack. These guys just aren't my cup of tea at all.
The boys are dancing a Travis Wall routine that will have a basket toss throwing Emilio up in the air. I think they're mermen or something? They're dancing shirtless and wearing skirts over pants. It's slow and dreary as far as I'm concerned, but some of the movements are pretty cool. Ugh. There's a part with tortured screaming from the dancers. The basket toss goes off perfectly, though.
The three judges are giving them a standing ovation and Christina is holding her hands on her head in the universal sign for "What did I just see?" Mary loved it. Nigel describes the choreography as being reminiscent of the movement of a reef underwater. Christina loves Travis's choice in music. Christina cries as she explains that she comes to this show because she gets to have moments like watching that routine. And then she mock whispers, "Guys, your boobs are showing."
Elimination time. All six dancers in danger of elimination are on the stage. The male dancers are some of the taller dancers this season. Why do we hate tall male dancers, America?
No surprise, Casey and Jessica get to make the top 10. I'm bummed about losing Teddy, but Emily never really caught fire and Carly, while sweet, didn't show much personality for the audience to hook on to. So I guess keeping Jessica is the right move.
Cat quickly announces the Top 10's All-Star partners for next week. I kind of don't like the All-Star thing. I think it's more interesting when both partners in a routine have their continued success in the show on the line. Anyway, here's the lineup:
Rudy - Jenna Johnson, Season 10 (Made it to Top 8)
Jacque - Chehon Wespi-Tschopp, Season 9 (Co-winner)
Zack - Amy Yakima, Season 10 (Co-winner)
Bridget - Brandon Bryant, Season (Runner-up)
Ricky - Lauren Froderman, Season 7 (Winner)
Tanisha - Ryan De Lillo, Season 6. Sixth place.
Emilio - Jasmine Harper, Season 10 (Runner-up)
Valerie- Ade Obayomi, Season 5 (Top 6)
Casey - Kathryn McCormick, Season 6 (Third place)
Jessica - Stephen "Twitch" Boss, Season 4 (Runner-up)
Wow. Way to stack the deck even more for Jessica, giving her one of the most beloved former contestants ever. I am really interested, though, in seeing Valerie paired with Ade. He's such a powerful strong dancer and will mature her dancing in ways that the elfin Ricky never could.