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'So You Think You Can Dance' recap: Pairing up

DanceJazz (Music Genre)Personal ServiceLos Angeles DodgersMinnesota TwinsMary MurphyClaudia Cardinale

Host Cat Deeley starts the show by telling us that six dancers are in danger and two will go home at the end of the evening.

It's a Broadway group number to "New York, New York" from "On the Town" - the guys are sailors, baseball players, a cop, and businessmen. The women are waitresses and wives. Sigh. Also, Marcquet is in a tuxedo with a white jacket that has the unfortunate effect of making him look like a servant or something, in the pre-Civil Rights era.

Ugh. This is maybe not the best way to indulge 1940s nostalgia? Josh Bergasse, you have some 'splainin' to do. We learn he'll choreographing the Broadway revival of On the Town, in which this season's winner will have a part.

The contestants are introduced in pairs, based on who they danced with last week:
Brooklyn Farmer & Serge Onik
Emily James & Casey Askew
Valerie Rockey & Zack Everhart
Bridget Whitman & Stanley Glover
Jacque LaWarne & Jourdan Epstein
Malene Ostergaard & Marcquet Hill
Carly Blaney & Rudy Abreu
Emilio Dosal & Teddy Coffey
Jessica Richens & Ricky Ubeda
Tanisha Belnap & Nick Garcia

Cat loses it when she gets her first glimpse at the judges tonight - they've all got baseball jerseys on over their regular clothes and Nigel Lythgoe's even wearing a baseball cap! In the introductions, we learn that it's Nigel's birthday and he's a Dodgers fan. Mary Murphy is in a Padres jersey - does she have a San Diego connection? Aha - she opened her first dance studio there in the early 1990s.

Guest judge ballerina Misty Copeland is in a Minnesota Twins jersey. What the? She was born in Kansas City and raised mostly in the Los Angeles area. The only Minnesota connection I can find is that she's worked extensively with Prince. Maybe that's it? I have very strong feelings about wearing jerseys for teams of which you're not a fan or to which you're not geographically related.

Turns out the reason the judges are in baseball jerseys is to promote Fox's upcoming airing of the All Star game. We then get a wonderfully overblown montage showing Cat throwing out the first pitch at a Dodgers game. Nigel teases her about her throw, but, honestly, the ball made it all the way to the plate, the catcher was able to catch it, and she was doing it all in heels. So there.

Cat's hitting us with some results right off the bat (off the bat! HA!) Before she does, Nigel compares the dancers to World Cup players and brings up the blistering defeat of Brazil yesterday. Then he quotes Winston Churchill at them. Take it down a notch, Nige.

The bottom six dancers are Brooklyn, Casey, Jourdan, Nick, Malene, and Serge. Man, I hate to see so many of the ballroom dancers up there. Jourdan doesn't surprise me, given the number of slips she had in last week's routine.  And in fact, it wouldn't surprise me if that's what the judges use to make their decision to send her home. Of the guys? I have no clue. I think they'd hate to see either ballroom guy go home right away and Casey hasn't really made much of an impression, but a lot could hinge on how they perform tonight.

Tanisha is dancing tonight with Rudy. The contestants each have 20 seconds to interview their new partner. Rudy likes seafood and would like to live in Paris. Tanisha would live in Greece if not in the US. They'll be dancing a Sonya Tayeh jazz routine that's a "cat and mouse game." It's typical weird Sonya and very, very Goth-y in music, costuming, and styling. Once again, I wish the screaming girl audience was a little less mic'ed. So. Many. WOO!s.

Mary hesitates and then says it was a strong performance and says stylistically it was phenomenal. Tanisha gets a "Holy Smokes!" Mary warns Rudy about his shoulders. Misty tells Tanisha she's fierce. She tells Rudy she'd like to see him more "grounded in [his] partnering." Nigel thinks there's a lot more to Tanisha than a ballroom dancer.

Ricky asks new partner Valerie what she would change her name to if she could and her answer, surprisingly is "Belinda." He then asks her which is her favorite freckle on her face and as she points to one under her eye, my tv explodes with the cuteness. Ricky would be an elephant so that he could use his trunk to drink water. They're dancing a Travis Wall routine about "the one that got away." She does a fairly good job from what I can tell. However, Travis said something before the routine about Ricky needing to pull Valerie up to his level and I'm wondering if that's why Ricky has more showy moves than Valerie. The one BIG move he gives Valerie is one that looks like it would be awkward and difficult for any dancer and it's awkward for Valerie.

Misty says she can't get enough of Ricky. And then tells Valerie how much she can learn from Ricky. The judges are all in normal clothes now. It feels so much better to see Nigel in a suit. Nigel compliments Valerie's pointed toes and straightened legs. Then he drools over Ricky and namedrops a dance teacher. I really wish Ricky would shave. He's not gonna because Nigel told him to grow the beard back, but it looks so scraggly and awful to me.

Bridget & Emilio let us know that Emilio's favorite kind of food is Chinese, Bridget's favorite animal is a turtle and in response to "Nerd or dork?" she answers, "Both." And to "Vampire or werewolf?" it's "Neither. Wizards." Oh good, it's a "She used to be a nerd but now she's hot" storyline for a Luther Brown hip hop routine. This requires us to believe both that Bridget was once a nerdy unattractive girl and is now a hip-hop hottie. That's asking a lot of a girl who looks nothing but sweet and cute.

Nigel criticizes Emilio's tunic top and says it makes his legs look short, like a "dancing hobbit." Nigel mentions Bridget's need to hit it a little harder. The other two judges concur with that.

Jessica draws Nick's name out of the hat. They're not great at the interviewing thing. Benji Schwimmer, Season 2 champion, is here to choreograph them in a West Coast swing routine. The music choice is interesting; it's a muddy sounding live version of Aretha Franklin's "Respect."

It's amazing how much Nick reminds me of Benji in this routine, in terms of the flourishes and posture. Mary comments on the speed of the routine. She also points out that Nick's ballroom background doesn't necessarily prepare him to dance this kind of style. She wants Jessica to be more "grounded" in her dancing.

Misty calls it "entertaining" but warns Jessica about being aware of the length of her neck and not tucking her chin to her chest so much. She wants both of them to be more aware of her feet. Nigel thinks Benji choreographed them too difficult a routine. He thinks Nick looked uncomfortable and Jessica was overexaggerating her facial expansions. I hope Nigel's criticism doesn't mean we never see Benji again as a choreographer.

Carly is paired up with Serge who finds out that Carly's favorite animal is a groundhog. Serge says his celebrity crush is "Minnie Mouse," which seems to surprise both of them. I wonder if this was really a random draw or if they wanted to give Carly a partner who's actually taller than she is.

It's a Sonya Tayeh contemporary routine, so it's a lot of weird shapes and poses. I think Serge does fine for a ballroom dancer and of course his partnering skills in the lifts are excellent. Misty loved it, especially Serge's emotional performance. Nigel says Sonya brings out the best in the dancers. He was shocked by Serge, who danced the best he has outside of his own genre. Mary was moved to tears by the routine.

Emily & Teddy are paired up and that's unfortunate, given that she looks 10 years older than him, despite actually only being two years older. It's a Dave Scott routine, which Teddy nails, of course. Emily is wearing the most unflattering pair of leopard leggings, giving her a muffin top and making her look hippy. Nigel is worried that Emily performed more for the audience than her partner. Mary called it "cute," which I'm guessing is not a high compliment. Misty loved Teddy. It just hit me who Misty is reminding me of - stick with me, but her facial expressions are totally reminiscent of Sandra Bernhardt.

When Stanley asks new partner Malene what her biggest secret is, she leans in and whispers in his ears and his eyes get VERY BIG. Stanley wants to be a dolphin in his next life because they're so cute. Spencer Liff has them doing a Broadway number with phones as props - old fashioned phones with long curly cords. Malene has a demi-beehive and it's making her look very "mature." And since I'm still convinced the voters for this audience skew young and female I'm not sure this routine will endear her to them, assuming she's not cut at the bottom of the show.

Mary loved the concept of the phones, "to a certain extent," but got tired of the phone gimmick after about 20 seconds. That's not the fault of the dancers but the choreographer. Misty felt like there wasn't a connection between the two of them, agreeing with my opinion that there wasn't enough interaction between the two of them in the choreography. Nigel compares Malene to Claudia Cardinale. He then criticizes Malene's kicks, saying she's not a very flexible dancer, echoing an earlier criticism from Misty. Nigel also wants Stanley to work more from his core, rather than being "flail-y."

Jourdan is paired up with Marcquet, lucky girl. In the interview we learn Marcquet wears boxer briefs and is terrible at playing basketball despite "Space Jam" being his favorite movie. Jourdan is good at math and knows Pi to 10 digits. And I love her laugh. They're dancing a Sean Cheesman jazz routine to a Britney Spears song. There's one iffy moment when Marcquet is supposed to pull Jourdan off the floor and she looks like she might be too much woman for him to handle.

Misty wasn't sure about Marcquet's face. Jourdan is told she used the technique of a ballerina to good effect in a different style. Nigel enjoyed it better than her ballet last week. He also criticizes Jourdan for smiling during part of the routine, which was out of character. He loves Marcquet. Mary compliments Jourdan's "ballet legs."

Casey and Brooklyn - Ooh, these two are both in the bottom two already. This is not a fortunate pairing for them.  Casey prefers waffles to pancakes and takes 30 minutes to do his hair. Brooklyn's favorite food is cake and her hair is dyed. For the Argentine Tango routine choreographed by Miriam Larici and Leonardo Barrionuevo, Casey's hair has been flattened with so much product and when he's not smiling he has an unfortunately mulish lower lip. Brooklyn almost stumbles in the set down from a lift, which is surprising to me given her ballroom experience. Casey's long legs look great when they give him some of the kicks for this style of dance.

Nigel compliments their control and intensity while insulting us, the audience by saying that we don't recognize that. Mary says Brooklyn looked like she'd gained maturity tonight. Brooklyn, with this makeup, has a sweetly sexy jazz baby face. Misty calls Casey a "Latino Ken doll." She also wants to see more assertiveness in Brooklyn's hips.

Jacque & Zack - Zack asks Jacque to do her whole interview in a British accent. She's cute with her game attempt. They're doing an African Jazz routine from Sean Cheesman. Because nothing says African jazz like a white tap dancer from Kennesaw, Ga. They're in these crazy neon swirl unitards with big hair and face makeup to match. The cool effect of the styling is that it's sometime hard to tell where one dancer ends and the other begins. There's also a really cool move where Jacque straddles the back of Zack's neck and he lifts and moves her with just his neck. Dang. I have no frame of reference for this style of dance, but I like this routine.

Mary compliments Jacque on her animalistic dancing. She then puts them on the Hot Tamale train. Misty tells Jacque she made the right choices when it came to her body, jutting out her chin and so on. She tells Zack, "You impressed me." Nigel says it was one of his favorite routines of the night and lIkes the pairing of these two dancers.

This season several of the male dancers are sweating buckets, but the female dancers aren't. The guys should get some tips from the girls about how to look fresh in HD.

Here's our first dance crew performance from Syncopated Ladies. Nigel's' going to love this, but to me it's a weird mix of cute and street. Huh. No commentary from the judges on it - wonder if they were even in the room when it was recorded.

Elimination Time. Brooklyn, Jourdan, and Malene are up. No solos? Huh. Nigel doles out all the critiques, telling Brooklyn they were "shocked" at her maturity tonight. Jourdan hears that they overlooked a number of her mistakes last week. (I SAID THAT.) He calls Malene a stunning Latin American dancer, but adds her beauty has carried her through a number of rounds. She's eliminated.

Nick, Serge, and Casey step forward, and they're all in black, making the proceedings seem very somber indeed. Nigel's critiques are as follows: Casey is a strong and committed partner and they're surprised he's in the bottom three. The close-up on Casey reveals the most adorable freckles. That's got to get him some more votes, right?

Nick's got fast footwork, but looked uncomfortable tonight despite having a great personality and being a great performer. Serge is a tremendous dancer who dances from the heart and is a wonderful partner. Nick is eliminated. He looks so sad and about to cry and I want to give him a big giant hug. Rudy's bawling in the audience. I didn't know he and Nick were so close.

Apparently, the pairs we saw tonight will stay together next week, with the exception of new pair Stanley and Jessica, who each lost their partners tonight. It's also judges' decision on elimination, based on audience vote bottom 3, until the top 10, at which point it's purely audience vote.

At least, though, it appears votes are cast for individual dancers rather than couples. That was one aspect of early seasons I often disliked, feeling that weaker dancers got pulled along by stronger/more popular partners.

So, this is about the best partnering/voting set-up I can picture for this show. Hurrah!

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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DanceJazz (Music Genre)Personal ServiceLos Angeles DodgersMinnesota TwinsMary MurphyClaudia Cardinale
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