Cat's looking even more beautiful than usual (which I didn't think was possible) as she welcomes us to tonight's episode with 16 dancers still left in the competition.
The opening number has all the dancers dressed like Charlie Chaplin's Little Tramp and they're using a weird filter to make most of the picture black and white while leaving the open umbrella red. It reminds me of a precious greeting card your grandmother might send you.
The routine is a little meh overall, with music that never seems to rise and fall.
To save time I guess, the dancers are not introduced individually, but as couples. But we still get the "gulls" and guys strut at the end of the intro. Cat tells us that opening number was by Tyce Dioro.
Cat says she's starting off with two pieces of bad news -- there's a two week break after tonight and that two dancers will be eliminated tonight. Judges tonight are regulars Nigel Lythgoe, Mary Murphy, and special guest Christina Applegate.
Our first couple is George and Tiffany. And in the intro package, we learn that George is a runner and he peed his pants at the sound of the starting pistol at his first meet. Tiffany was salutatorian of her high school class.
Tiffany & George are babysitters in a Tabitha and Napoleon routine. I don't love the costuming or the set design or the baby crying sound effects, but I do actually like this choreography -- it's the kind of hip-hop I like to watch.
But I'm not quite sure they hit it hard enough. Nigel says he'd like to see hip hop get "grungier" on the show -- I'm always scared when I agree with Nigel.
Mary disagrees with me by liking the set design, but I'm not sure I trust a woman whose ring covers three of her four fingers. Christina tries to talk, but is having a hard time using her words. There's a lot of body language and hand gestures.
Next up: Brandon and Amber. Amber is a hairstylist and Brandon has a role in the new "Step Up" movie. They've got a routine about a couple who get sexy in the hot and humid South.
If you've been in this recent heat wave, you know that for most of us being a sweaty mess does not equal amorous feelings. That being said, I think these two, a new partnership, are showing some real chemistry together.
Christina's reaction is not allowed to air on network tv and breaks one of the Ten Commandments. So, she liked it. Mary liked it and calls out the soul in the performance.
Nigel calls Brandon out on his shoulders going up, and even points out that that's why one of his suspenders has fallen down. I love it when the judges get all specific like that.
Janelle tells us that Dareian is a daredevil and we find out that Janell likes to make up "raps." Oooh, helloooooo, Pasha who is back to choreograph a cha cha. They're dancing to this year's earworm, "Call Me Maybe." I don't know if that will help or hurt them.
First impression is that it seems kind of slow; I don't know if that's to fit the song or if Pasha took it easy on them tempo-wise. Janelle's foot placement is awful and at times she even seems pigeon-toed.
Mary says there wasn't a whole lot of chemistry and that the transitions were rough. Mary points out the feet, saying they're a problem for both Dareian and Janelle. Christina tries to give them points for effort, but mentions that Dareian's hands were sometimes an issue.
Nigel also talks about Dareian's feet, both in terms of placement and how he picks them up. Nigel didn't see any sexiness in Janelle's performance tonight.
Lindsay lets us know that Cole is interested in acting. But she has a foot phobia. I would think that would prove difficult for a dancer. Mandy Moore is choreographing about "love and hate" -- I hope she's picked an appropriate and cheesy '80s song; it's why I look forward to Mandy Moore. Alas, it's a "Wild Horses" cover.
Wow, do I hate this cover of this song. I hate it so much I can't even judge the dancing objectively. Let's see what the professional judges have to say.
Nigel compliments Mandy's choreography and the lighting, which produced some impressive shadows in the theater apparently. Nigel compliments the maturity Lindsay brought to the routine tonight. Mary blathers something unintelligible about Lindsay, but then asks if there's anything Cole can't do. Christina compliments Cole's technique and Lindsay's control of her body.
Will wants to be in a boy band and Amelia wears sunscreen. I'm pretty sure America had that figured out. Back-to-back Mandy Moore routines -- this time it's jazz.
Oh, I really like this routine: It makes both these dancers look edgy, when it would be easy for Will to be goofy and Amelia to be twee. Christina points out their chemistry and their ability to embrace and embody different styles. Nigel didn't feel this routine at all and didn't see any connection between the two of them. Mary says she falls somewhere in the middle.
Matthew was a golfer before he started dancing at age 16. Audrey wears glasses and a retainer at night. Some of these dancers have more exciting secrets than others. In rehearsal, they're challenged by the trick elements of their salsa.
They're dancing to a really cheesy salsa version of Beethoven's 5th Symphony. Unbelievably, it's even worse than the "A Fifth of Beethoven" novelty disco hit. What is with the bad music on tonight's show?
They save the best trick for last, with Audrey flipping over Matthew's back and landing in a split. Mary says they're one of her favorite couples but that this dance wasn't their best. Christina was distracted by the music, but refuses to criticize the dancers directly. Nigel says it was too slow, especially the "pot-stirrer" trick.
Chehon puts orange juice in his cereal. Abomination! He can also play the violin. Witney knows a few basic German phrases. Stacey Tookey has choreographed a "We can't be together/we want to be together" routine and it's set to Whitney Houston's "I Will Always Love You." Another song I don't particularly care for. And it's such a BIG song, I don't know how you dance to it, especially in light of Houston's death.
Christina is on the verge of tears and calls out Stacey Tookey's choreography and calls the dancers, "Not just muses, but the painters in that number." She calls Chehon "stunning" and praises Witney.
Mary is also choked up, and mentions the emotions brought up listening to Whitney. She talks about the jump/catch, which is a move I always think must require such bravery on the part of the female dancer. Nigel self-congratulates the judges for saving Witney and Chehon last week.
Eliana raises birds and Cyrus has a belly button that looks like a power button on a computer. That's adorable. Tabitha and Napoleon have choreographed a robot themed hip hop routine for them. I like Cyrus, but wow are they letting him play to his strengths here.
So, Eliana starts out as a jewelry box ballerina and Cyrus has to teach her how to be a hip-hop robot. That old story. Eliana's also allowed to lay to her ballet strengths with this story, but she is at least having to stretch into the hip-hop style here and there.
Mary says the routine was fabulous, they were fabulous. Christina thought it was fantastic and entertaining and heaps praises on Eliana. She does point out that Cyrus is lucky they haven't drawn contemporary yet. Nigel is pleased Cyrus "pulled" this routine. Like the new format of letting the dancers pick their styles wouldn't allow for just this.
And now all the dancers are out on the stage for the announcement of the bottom six. Cat calls out Amber, Lindsey, and Eliana. Then George, Brandon, and Dareian. I'm most distressed about Eliana -- I think she's wonderful.
Cat asks Nigel if they need to see any more from these dancers after the judges have had their discussions. He asks for Amber, Brandon, Eliana, and Dareian to dance again. I'm not sure if this means Lindsey and George are automatically safe. But I'm salivating at the chance to see Amber and Eliana dance solos, so there's that.
First solo is Amber and it's contemporary but with a punch and a strength a lot of the contemporary dancers don't bring to their choreography. I like it. Brandon's hip-hop solo is not the best I've ever seen on this show.
Eliana's opening moves show her tremendous flexibility, control, and extension. Dareian's contemporary solo is miles better than Brandon's hip-hop was. If elimination is based purely on the solos of those who danced them, I don't see how you eliminate Dareian.
While the judges deliberate, we get to watch a piece from the Alvin Ailey company. I love when SYTYCD gets these high profile dancers to guest.
This piece, with male dancers shirtless but in floor length wrap skirts is amazing. It's athletic and graceful and the costuming, combined with the sometimes partnered choreography, is playing with gender expectations of dance in an intriguing way. Here's a clip -- watch it if you haven't. It will open your mind about dance.
Nigel announces they're saving Lindsey, which means we're going to lose either Amber or Eliana is going and I will be disappointed. I would've knocked out Lindsey. Amber is out.
Guys up now, and Nigel saves George off the bat. Nigel praises Dareian's solo and then cuts Brandon.
So, the moral of the story is: Don't let your partner get voted off -- you'll go home the next week with your new partner. (This was definitely true in prior seasons as well.)
So, with the show off for the next two weeks, I'll see you in August!