So You Think You Can Dance Recap: Roaring 20!

It was clear we were in for a strange episode of So You Think You Can Dance on Wednesday night the minute guest judge Debbie Reynolds started cracking jokes about her limited time left on the planet. “It’s fantastic to be alive,” she declared, before host Cat Deeley encouraged the screen legend to try to “keep going for the next two hours.” Wowza. That early weirdness spilled over into the contestants’ confessionals (where they spilled “shocking” secrets about their partners), the performances (which included a wardrobe malfunction and a bloody nose), and especially to the judges’ table, where Nigel Lythgoe tried to level the playing field before voting lines opened, Mary Murphy put the wrong couple on the Hot Tamale Train, and Ms. Reynolds purchased a ticket for the Horny Seniors Express.

Let’s recap the evening’s dances in chronological order, then try to predict who will (and should) make up this week’s Bottom 3 couples:

Ryan Ramirez and Ricky Jaime (Jazz: Mandy Moore)
Mandy worried during rehearsal whether Ryan and Ricky had the maturity to pull off a
“sexy, powerful, tension-filled” piece, and the choreographer was half-right in her concerns. To be fair, both dancers brought an exciting physicality to the performance, but for the second week running, Ryan’s facial expression was so bizarre and inscrutable that it took me right out of the moment. I’m not saying a smile can’t be sexy, but Ryan’s perma-grin read like a beachfront hotel in December: totally vacant. The judges made no mention of it, but I felt like Rickey brought more to the dance, too; in one side-by-side spin, he whipped his leg like a propeller, while Ryan went with a more basic step. Of course, it couldn’t have helped Ryan that the top of her dress was slipping away like Paris Hilton’s dreams of music/film/TV stardom. Even as the couple was getting feedback from the judges, the poor girl was trying to coax her cleavage back into its proper place. If ever there was a time for the show’s director to cut to a closeup of the contestants’ faces, this would’ve been it, no?

Caitlynn Lawson and Mitchell Kelly (Contemporary: Stacey Tookey)
My second favorite performance of the night started with Caitlynn and Mitchell in armchairs — the former in the foreground and filled with angst, the latter in the background and exuding confidence. As Nigel put it, the choreography was “remarkable” and packed with an inherent sense of drama, but just as impressive to me was the way Caitlynn and Mitchell lost themselves in their characters. I gasped when she springboarded off that chair into his arms with utter fearlessness. A chill swept through me when he ended the dance by crossing his leg and turning off the light with a quiet menace. You didn’t need Stacey to explain the backstory of the dance to understand the little telenovela playing out on the screen because Caitlynn and Mitchell’s faces and bodies told the entire tale — even after Mitchell accidentally punched Caitlynn in the face and caused her nose to bleed. How’s that for a high degree of difficulty?

Missy Morelli and Wadi Jones (Cha Cha: Jean-Marc Genereux)
“If you’ve never done [cha cha] before, it’s a little suicidal,” warned Jean-Marc in an intro package that might as well have ended with Missy and Wadi being chased through a darkened auditorium by Leatherface. And as much as I’ve enjoyed Wadi’s b-boy moves up to this point, I couldn’t disagree with Nigel and Mary that the guy’s technique was not up to par. Wadi’s hips had less flexibility than David Tyree’s stance on same-sex marriage, leaving Missy to try to cover for his deficiencies with an almost manic enthusiasm. The costuming did the couple no favors, either: Missy’s sparkly leopard dress with lace-up back and black fringe bottom looked like something from an SNL parody of Dancing With the Stars, while Wadi’s black tank top and army green pants seemed to have been selected for a completely different number.

Iveta Lukosiute and Nick Young (Bollywood: Nakul Dev Mahajan)
There was nothing particularly wrong with Iveta and Nick’s performance, but while it was indeed quick and complicated, it lacked the lightness and inherent exuberance of the best Bollywood routines. Iveta’s face got frozen into a manic, joyless mask, while the relentless rhythms of the routine sometimes failed to make it to the tips of Nick’s lanky limbs. There were a few lovely moments, however, like that “MC Hammer” sidestep into an unexpected fall. Still, as much as I like this duo and don’t want to see either one tapped for an early exit, I’m worried their position in the early part of the episode — coupled with the judges’ muted praise — could spell trouble.

Miranda Maleski and Robert Taylor Jr (Hip-Hop: NappyTabs)
It didn’t hurt Melinda and Robert that their routine was set to Busta Rhymes’ “Break Ya Neck,” a song so catchy and rhythmical it could make Elaine Benes look fluid on the floor, but I have to admit that the couple I wouldn’t have minded losing last week did a solid, if not spectacular, job with a skittery, jittery NappyTabs routine. I liked the energy and crispness the couple brought to the dance, though I was surprised Nigel pretty much glossed over Miranda’s stumble coming out of her tumble, using her recovery from the snafu to praise her as the best hip-hopper from SYTYCD‘s eight-season pool of contemporary dancers. (Dial 1-800-Thats-A-Stretch.) Debbie Reynolds, meanwhile, pulled off a Woody Woodpecker imitation that was as spot-on as it was disconcerting.

Clarice Ordaz and Jess LeProtto (Contemporary: Stacey Tookey)
Based on TVLine reader comments, I know I’m in the minority, but I love Jess’ dancing, and I’ll be crestfallen if he’s booted from the competition this week. That said, as Nigel cautioned, the Broadway sprite and his lithe partner should prepare for a Bottom 3 showing, seeing how they got placed in jeopardy last week for a much stronger performance. Maybe it was because Stacey pointed out their difficulties with lifts in rehearsal, but on several occasions during the routine, it looked as though Jess was a Wal-Mart stockboy trying to hoist something onto a high shelf, and Clarice was all too willing to play the sack of potatoes. In their defense, though, this week’s routine felt lazily conceived — he was a prince, and she was an ill-defined bride wearing pink — and didn’t give the couple anywhere near the amount of drama or playfulness that most of their competitors benefitted from.

Jordan Casanova and Tadd Gadduang (Viennese Waltz: Jean-Marc Genereux)
I should probably recuse myself from commenting on this routine, seeing how it was set to David Cook’s “Fade Into Me,” and seeing how my hard-drive is pre-programmed to geek out over anything David Cook related. But I have to say, the combo of a classic, floating dance with a moody rock ballad was a winning one. Jordan and Tadd seemed to crash together in one relentlessly lovely wave of motion, the rise and fall of their dance mirroring the lyrical content of Cook’s music. I couldn’t help but nod when Nigel went out of his way to remind Tadd that he’s a b-boy, not a ballroom guy, because honestly, my untrained eye would’ve had a hard time making the distinction. (Gratuitous side note: It doesn’t hurt that Tadd is easy on the eye regardless of what style he draws, does it?)

Melanie Moore and Marko Germar (Jazz: Mandy Moore)
What is there to say about Melanie and Marko? I mean, shouldn’t they just advance directly to the Top 10 without passing go and without collecting $200? Actually, no. Because then we’d be deprived of weeks of their mesmerizing moves. It says a lot that the couple had the night’s ugliest outfits — Melanie in spangled mom shorts and bowtie, Marko in a red blazer — and I barely noticed till they’d lined up for their judges’ critiques. There wasn’t a moment when the couple lost sync, and Melanie’s flying split into Marko’s was a thing of uninhibited beauty. Is it crazy that I want Fox to launch a half-hour Saturday-night show called Dancing With Melanie and Marko?

Sasha Mallory and Alexander Fost (Hip-Hop: NappyTabs)
My favorite routine of the night told the tale of a soldier returning from Afghanistan to his emotionally spent wife, and if this was a film, let’s just say Sasha would be campaigning for a Best Actress Oscar, while Alexander would have to focus on the Supporting Actor category. Mary Murphy was spot-on when she said that Sasha’s soul was bursting through that gripping intro, in which she writhed in pain and anticipation and nervousness as Alexander marched slowly, methodically out of a war zone and back into civilian life. The slight moment of hesitation as the dancers connected — followed by their blissful, triumphant reunion — was undeniably gorgeous, and might be the best NappyTabs routine in recent memory. Burning question: How in the heck did these kids pull off that beastly move with Alexander executing a handspring-into-headstand onto Sasha’s back while she held steady on all fours? And how in the heck did it not land them on the Hot Tamale train?

Ashley Rich and Chris Koehl (Broadway: Spencer Liff)
Mary and Nigel have to stop trying to make Ashley and Chris happen, no? Or maybe I’m missing something great happening right on my TV screen. Right or wrong, I just didn’t feel any chemistry, and kind of sexual tension, in the duo’s Broadway routine set to “Please, Mr. Jailer.” Yes, on paper, it was an interesting concept to having the couple pull off a routine with bars thrown up in between them, but in practice, there was something oddly two-dimsenional about it all. I felt like Ashley, in her Far From Heaven-y dress, seemed far too aloof in her motion, while Chris failed to capture the lust of a pent-up man seeking a conjugal pas de deux. Nigel, though, said the routine was so great he hopes that Chris and Ashley will stay in the competition for “many many weeks” and Mary detected enough heat to fuel the engine of a Hot Tamale Train. Again, what did I miss, folks? Hit the comments and tell me, but first, let’s get to some predictions!

Three Best Dances
Sasha and Alexander
Caitlynn and Mitchell
Melanie and Marko

Should Be Bottom Three
Ashley and Chris
Missy and Wadi
Clarice and Jess or Ricky and Ryan

Will Be Bottom Three
Missy and Wadi
Clarice and Jess
Iveta and Nick

What did you think of Week 2 of the Season 8 performances? What was your favorite routine? How about your least favorite? Who did you vote for? And who is most likely to go home? Sound off below, and for all my reality recaps, follow me on Twitter @MichaelSlezakTV!

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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  1. justjack says:

    SO with you on Ashley. She really leaves me cold… the opposite of Hot Tamale.
    How amazing is Melanie??????

  2. Katie says:

    I can’t believe you put Ashley and Chris in your “Should be bottom three” category. Theirs was my favorite of the night. While I love Sasha, her partner Alexander is still missing something. The number was amazing but his lack of emotion on his face kept it from being my favorite NapTab routine. Hello “Bleeding Love” and “Losing Your Mind”! It does NOT compare to either of those in my mind.

    • Tarc says:

      Eh, I’d reverse that. Sash and Alexander were easily the best of the night, and Ashley and Chris were not interesting or hot in the slightest. The jail bars killed the routine completely.

    • Amy says:

      I really loved Sasha and Alexander’s routine, but I totally get what you are saying about Alexander. He’s a great dancer, but there’s just that….something…missing in his facial expressions.

    • Sarah says:

      This. I really don’t like Alexander and I can’t put my finger on it I think it is his lack of facial expressiveness, maybe? I’m not sure… he is just, lacking. I REALLY didn’t like Ashley and Chris last week, and I expected to dislike them this week, but I thought they did great and Chris was way better than I’ve ever remembered him. Sad about Wadi’s routine b/c I like him, but the other 3 b-boys were WAY better tonight. And Sad about Jess and Clarice… I think he’s AMAZING and she’s kind of absent… wish they’d paired Sasha with Jess and Alexander with Clarice… or Jess with Mirandahav I think e been PERFECT.

    • Jen says:

      I didn’t like Sasha and Alexander’s dance at all. Yes, the concept was good, but the dancers were far too graceful for a hip hop number. There was absolutely no swag, and it was one of my least favorite performances of the night.

    • elr says:

      I agree with almost everything you said, although I’m still feeling reserved about Sasha. I need to see her dance something entirely out of her comfort zone and then maybe my opinion will change. I’m not really seeing any chemistry between her and Alexander also. I really enjoyed Ashley and Chris, their routine was my second favorite of the night after Caitlyn and Mitchell.

  3. MK204 says:

    I LOVE JESS. I hate Nigel and his backhanded compliments. Even before he made the top 20, Nigel was criticizing his attitude. I wouldn’t be surprised if Nigel put him in to be a punching bag. Did he have to mention about the B3 last week. Also…the choreographer should have allowed for Jess’ lack of height and play on his strengths instead, so I fault her too.

    My preference is ballroom and Broadway dancers so if both Iveta and Jess are in B3, I’m not going to be happy.

    Nigel is so biased it makes me ill.

    • mariana says:

      Totally agree about Jess. Last season Kent couldn’t do the lifts, but they played it off as cute. And the choreographers adjusted for his limitations – not to show off his flaws but to showcase his strengths.

    • GAM says:

      I agree with you. The show has become too many contempory dancers!!!

      • tarc says:

        Numerically, there are less contemporary dancers than usual. There are four hip-hop dancers and five jazz dancers, a tapper, a ballroom gal, a broadway guy.

      • Grace says:

        I completely agree, I love Jess! The way that he is able to express himself and be so enthusiastic on the stage makes me smile every time I see him!

    • Desdemona says:

      I think they tried to cast Jess as the unlikable villain, feared backlash support because he’s actually a pretty fantastic dancer, then rebooted his storyline to the “not living up to his amazing potential” variety. Either way they want him gone before the partner switch because his height is going to be difficult to choreograph around.

      • Charlotte says:

        Somehow I kind of agree with you. They did try to make him out to be unlikeable at the beginning. I think he’s amazing in his ability to sell the dance to an audience. In my opinion, he belongs on Broadway (and in movies if they ever bring back the musicals). Kind of a shorter version of Gene Kelly. I love watching him dance. My favorite is still Melanie, but Jess is right up there.

    • melissa says:

      I love Jess too! Hopefully both he and Nick don’t get eliminated this week…

  4. Jenny says:

    I just thought that Ryan and Ricky’s dance was so tacky and classless. This is not their fault, of course, but the choreographer’s. It was like I was watching Paula Abdul’s Cold Hearted Snake video and not So You Think You Can Dance. Is grinding like we’re in a music video a style now? Similarly, Missy’s dancing and facial expressions have a certain… stripper quality to them. Jordan, who has certainly wandered along that line, on the other hand, blew me away and I found myself voting for her and Tadd because of how different and transformed they were in this dance. Also: thank goodness somebody told Robert to stop saying “Woooooo” and if Jess sticks around somebody needs to do a personality intervention with him too.

    • Kate says:

      I was actually really surprised Slezak didn’t mention those awful outfits and Ryan’s even worse hair! I didn’t even realize how bad the routine was til I watched it the second time, because on first viewing all I could think about how badly someone in the hair/costume department must hate Ryan.

      • ladyhelix says:

        And I still can’t see beyond Ryan’s insane
        facial expressions and immaturity (lack of

    • kyrjar says:

      Ryan and Ricky made sexy faces at the camera but not each other, so it came off cold. That in addition to Ryan’s strange grinning. She needs more time for her dancing to mature. I think that Ricky may do better with another female.

      Top 4: Melanie/Sasha/Marko/Tadd. Caitlyn, Mitchell, and possibly Clarice, Ricky, Jess or Miranda for top ten. Nick if he improves cuz last night’s bollywood was not good.

  5. mariana says:

    I agree with Katie. Chris and Ashley were my favorite of the night – mostly because of Chris. The strength and control he has is amazing. I liked Sasha and Alex, but didn’t love them. Alex’s lack of emotion and tendency to hunch his shoulders turned me off. Agree with the rest of Slezak’s recap. So glad he mentioned Ryan’s smile. I was shocked when the judges didn’t. I want Ryan to go home, but I really like Ricky. Tonight is going to be tough.

    • Meg says:

      I agree on the strength required of Chris. While I’m iffy on the routine overall, there is no doubt it required tons of muscle control on his part to hang off the bars like that.

    • SlezakFan says:

      I loved Chris’ performance in that number but Ashley didn’t deliver for me just as Slezak had noticed — she was too aloof or even too “innocent” for that sexual tension the choreographer was pushing for. There was no chemistry or even much eye contact (let alone the body contacts) between the two. Chris’s strength and performance was superb though especially considering his hip-pop background, but as a number, it failed to deliver the intended passion

  6. J says:

    Yeah, just put Melanie and Marko in the top 10 already.

    • Rhama says:

      Although excellent technical and lyrical dancer Melanie is a little tomboyish. I’m afraid she could be in trouble with cha-cha or some other sexy routine.

  7. Wendeeloo says:

    I agree with you on Jess – I will be upset if he doesn’t at least make the tour. I think it’s wrong that they expect him to do lifts of a girl who is taller. IS Clarice the shortest of the girls? – because he should’ve been paired with the shortest girl so the playing field was level – It’s not fair to Clarice either.
    I like having a different judge every week. Even though Debbie didn’t contribute much critique-wise – she was very entertaining –

    • Rhama says:

      Why the producers are throwing this kid under the bus? First they portrayed him as some kind of villain and then he was paired with a taller girl. It boggles me how did he end up in the bottom 3 last week after that fantastic performance.

  8. fela says:

    Best Dances
    Sasha and Alexander
    Caitlynn and Mitchell
    Ashley and Chris
    Jordan & Tadd

    I really feel they should drop Bollywood routines. I lost interest ever since Alex got injured. It has lost its charm. I really feel Clarice is at a disadvantage due to Jess’s height. Lifting and partnering in Ballroom will be tough. Last week she danced barefoot while he wore shoes. Not fair. Nigel should know this. Debbie Reynolds was disappointing. I thought she would have more insightful comments instead she seemed loopy.

    • Teecie says:

      Debbie Reynolds is 79! Perhaps her years of being able to give insightful comments are in the past. I think that she was a guest judge more to honor her than anything else. I’m glad they showed the clip of ‘Singing in the Rain’ so that the people in the audience actually realized what she accomplished in her career.

      • Nigel Is Pervy says:

        I found daffy Debbie Reynolds to be refreshing for one episode. I am so tired of Mary’s “hot tamale train” schtick that I usually fast forward through her comments unless they pertain to ballroom. Nigel is just creepy. I miss Adam Shankman!

        • ladyhelix says:

          These guest hosts are adorable – but they make me miss Adam Shankman and his specific critiques on technique and give concrete – yet positive – “how to improve for next week” comments.

    • Lu says:

      Hell no, Bollywood is one of my faves. It’s so pretty and physically demanding. Me likey. And I would guess it’s one of the faves for many people.

  9. kia says:

    Ryan needs to go home already!! I felt as if she pulls the same facial expression each week with a weird big annoying “beauty pageant” smile, and she’s ALWAYS facing to the audience more than to her partner, rite?
    still no judges mention about any of this!!!
    I just want her gone, second couple should be either Missy/Wadi or Clarice/Jess’s difficult to pick, they should come up with bottom 4 to choose from, because seriously last week’s vote was based nowhere near the dance at all -> Ashley/Rick won over Jordan/Tadd’s routine!!?? and Ryan/Ricky lame hiphop routine got them saved!!??
    Why I feel like the judges praise too much this season (like Idol show), I knew the dancers are so great this year but they should have spilled some critics on Ryan!!

    • Desdemona says:

      Agree so much. Ryan has yet to change facial expressions to properly fit the dancer. And then she tried to defend the plastic smile to boot. I’d get rid of her and Alexander, who has the same type of problem getting into character.

  10. djm says:

    To me it seemed like they took the opportunity this week to give Robert & Miranda and Caitlynn & Mitchell a better chance to shine and avoid the bottom 3 this week. For me, I hope Ashley & Chris end up in the bottom and that he goes home – I think Ashley could be good, but I don’t like them together. I also have an issue with Jess – he’s just too short. I have a feeling that Jordan is in trouble again this week and that bums me out – I thought she looked amazing and was totally gorgeous in her routine last night. Melanie is by far my favorite technical dancer – she is just sooooooo AMAZING and Sasha is my favorite on an emotional level – she’s just impossible to not watch when she is on screen.

    • SW says:

      You just explained exactly why I absolutely love Melanie and Sasha and why they’re my two favorite girls with that last part of your comment! Thank you for articulating it for me when I hadn’t been able to put it into actual words.

  11. Stacey says:

    I totally agree on the Ryan smiling…it bothered me last week & again this week. I’m really not sure why the judges aren’t pointing it out…it’s incredibly annoying to watch.

    I have to agree on the Ashley & Chris routine…it really wasn’t hot tamale train worthy in my opinion. And honestly, I didn’t see Chris doing a whole lot of actual dancing…it seemed like he was just climbing around on the bars most of the time.

    One more thing…I know that Wadi wasn’t the best cha-cha dancer in the world but he’s not even really a dancer, he does a lot of tricks. So, I think he did really good for not really being a dancer…then they gave all this praise to Tadd for being a b-boy & doing the waltz, it just didn’t see right to me.

    • Tarc says:

      I’m a Wadi fan, but I have to *completely* agree with the judges: Wadi did not come anywhere near enough to learn the style, even when compared to other people in the same situation from this season and others. OTOH, Tadd looked liked an accomplished ameatuer in the waltz, which is pretty amazing (and I was not a Tadd fan until this week).

  12. Kate says:

    Is it me or are the judges being nicer? There was a routine last week that was way out of sync and no one mentioned it. This week I thought the bollywood was way too fast for Iveta and Nick, but Nigel just said they didn’t do as well as Joshua and Katie who did it toward the end of their season. That’s not the same as calling them out on the fact that the moves weren’t finished etc. That’s why it seems weird when Nigel then goes out of his way to be harsh to others like Jess and Clarice who I thought did a much better job than they were given credit for.

  13. SW says:

    I was kind of let down by this episode overall, especially after last week’s. It had nowhere near as much awe-inducing dancing this week. That being said, I absolutely adore Sasha, Tadd, Melanie and Marko. If any of these four leave any time soon, I might cry, no kidding.

  14. Katy says:

    Melanie and Marko did have one oops. He dropped his hat and went to retrieve it, right before she had a leap into his arms!

  15. tippo says:

    top 5 dances of the night
    5.ashley and chris
    4.melanie and marko
    3.caitlynn and mitchell
    2.jordan and tadd
    1.sasha and alexander

    bottom 3:
    missy and wadi
    clarice and jess
    ryan and ricky

    • Teecie says:

      Wow, Tippo. I completely agree with your top 3 and bottom 3. I really hope that Ryan and Ricky go home … I’d hate to lose Jess because he is a very good dancer. His lack of height is sure a challenge, though. I found it really distracting that he and Clarice are almost the same size and yet he was expected to do all those lifts. They also had really boring costumes.

      • Sarah says:

        I’m trying to think, though, b/c Kent reminds me a lot of and Kent was a small guy and he went really far last season, deservedly. And I think Jess is just as good and doesn’t make as many silly facial expressions. When Kent was paired with a smaller dancer, like Lauren, last season he really shined. I hate how for the this first round of shows they make them stay with the same partner… while it works really well for Melanie and Marko, and Jordan and Tadd, it is awful for Jess and Clarice who might shine differently in an alternative partnership…. I also would like to see Nick with with someone other than Iveta, and Sasha with someone other than Alexander. Even Miranda with someone other than Robert.

  16. Ked says:

    Sasha and Alexander were amazing. I have a feeling that Alexander is holding back the choreography a little. I would love to see Sasha with a very strong partner like Marko. Melanie and Marko are very strong and will be the ones to beat. Last week I had to watch Turned to Stone over and over, it was so beautiful. This week I am on repeat with Coming Home and it still brings me to tears. There’s just something beautiful about seeing the music come to life. Right now I don’t care who goes home. I just want these two couples to stay.

  17. Jim says:

    I actually really liked much about last night’s show, especially Sacha’s performance, the fact that Debbie Reynolds was a guest (though not necessarily a judge), and Spencer Liff’s choreography which I thought was creative and entertaining to watch…for the TV audience at least who had the opportunity to see it 360 degrees. My guess is that it would have been far less enjoyable to watch in person when so little of the stage was used.

    Melanie is stinkin’ adoreable. I think she lights up the screen whenever she’s on, but she’s equally talented.

    And…at the risk of crossing a line…I might kind of want to have Napoleon’s baby, which I know is not possible. Stupid physiology.

    • Nigel Is Pervy says:

      How adorable did Spencer Tiff look in the audience with his sharp hat? I totally agree with all your comments, Jim.

  18. Eli says:

    I have to admit, this really might be the best crop of dancers in one season ever, especially among the women: Melanie, Miranda, Sasha, Caitlynn and Missy were all amazing last night.

    Have to say, my personal favorite is still Miranda, but that’s cause I think she’s ridiculously cute :)

  19. Skitty says:

    Haha, I agree with Michael the posters above about Ryan’s out of place grin/grimace. Iveta and Nick were my favorites last week but last night’s Bollywood routine was not good. Melanie and Marko who seem to be a level above the others, share a tie for favorites this week with Jordan and Tadd. I’m a sucker for romance and power ballads so the waltz to David Cook’s song elevated them to a tie.
    I hope that the judging does not degenerate into an Idol-esque ” “everyone is so good I can’t critique anyone” fest. Judges seemed headed towards that last night.

  20. Shannon says:

    I totally agree about Ryan and her weird faces. I was totally distracted during the whole routine with it. It was like she was trying really hard to make sexy faces but she just looked weird and awkward.

    Also, agree about Ashley and Chris. I was excited when I heard the song (Crybaby anyone?) but I was just disappointed the whole time. I don’t get the whole “Ashley is so hot” thing either. She just looked uncomfortable and out of place the whole time.

    I LOVE Melanie and Marko. I didn’t love this week’s performance as much as last week’s but they are a force to be reckoned with!! I want Melanie to win it all so I’m so glad she has such a strong partner in Marko to help her get into the Top 10 and beyond!!

  21. Donna says:

    Am I the only one who thought Missy was as bad as Wadi? I mean, I don’t know squat about technique but she barely seemed to move her hips!

    • Shannon says:

      No I totally agree!!! I’m just not a Missy fan. Something about her rubbed me the wrong way on the Green Mile episode. I think it’s the whole “I’m the sexy dancer” shtick that drives me crazy. Same thing with Jordan too. But I think Missy over danced the routine hoping to take away from the fact that she wasn’t that great! Wadi was just more obvious in his mistakes because he doesn’t have a bunch of hair to toss around to distract the judges!

    • Reena says:

      No you are not the only one I thought the judges praising her and not him was odd seems to me as if they were doing that to keep her on but I thought both of them were way out of place last night it was just akward espicially saying that Wadi wasnt moving his hips cause I barely saw her’s move either…my favs of the night were Jordan and Tadd (anyone else have the hots for him cause i do!!) Mitchell and Caitlynn so glad he was able to dance finally!! and sasha and alexander while I also liked ashley and chris i agree with sleezak in that it lacked chemistry it felt to me as if she wasnt looking at him when she should have been and instead was always looking at the audience or judges. im hoping that as the weeks go by these little things will get worked on but either way i do think this season overall has a very strong group of dancers…and this phenomenon of hip-hop and b-boys being able to take on ballroom, contemporary and jazz is great!! way to show how versatile you guys are :-)

  22. Desdemona says:

    Here’s what I noticed about Jess and Clarice’s Broadway last week and Chris and Ashley’s Broadway this week: Jess and Clarice outdanced Chris and Ashley by a country mile, but Spencer Liff also far outchoreographed Tasty Oreo. What I wouldn’t give to see Jess and Clarice dance the Spencer Liff ditty.

  23. Heather says:

    Thank you for mentioning Ryan’s smile, Slezak! I thought I might have been the only one completely annoyed by it. I mean seriously…stop grinning! And judges, notice how inappropriate it is. I think her excuse last week was completely fake about why she was smiling…she just can’t help it. A nice quality for every day life…but lose it for the SYTYCD stage and show us some other emotion, please!

  24. XX says:

    That second NappyTabs routine was beyond stale. The returning/departing lover theme was done 100x better by Chelise and Mark in the Bleeding Love routine. And the soldier thing has been way way overdone. It was too bad that NappyTabs couldn’t get a little more creative to showcase Sasha and Alexander. Like any show nearing 10 seasons the producers and those who make the show happen begin to coast on what has worked before.

    • Kate says:

      I agree! I think it was highly overpraised because of the army storyline. I have actually stopped watching the rehearsal footage before the dances so I can just watch the dance on its own. I got frustrated last season where it seemed like the choreographers realized if they made up a sappy backstory the judges would praise anything. Pieces like Addiction or the Breast Cancer actually were good, but then it seemed like all the choreographers wanted to capitalize on the BIG theme. I can’t remember which piece it was last season that would have been considered an ok dance, but the judges gushed over it instead because of the theme behind it. I just don’t like that the judges seem to hold back criticism because they don’t want to be the one to bash a routine about cancer, military, etc.

    • pbm says:

      Do you mean the Katee & Joshua “No Air” routine from S4? That was the one that Joshua was going off to war and leaving Katee behind. Bleeding Love had to do with Mark being a workaholic leaving Chelsea at home alone all day.

  25. Volcfom says:

    I agree with your “will be” bottom three, although Ryan and Ricky might sneak in instead.
    I totally disagree with your assessment of Ashley and Chris. They were in the top half of the crop last night. Maybe you’ll have a Haley-esque turn around with Ashley. You didn’t “get” her at the beginning either!

    In regards to Stacey Tookey’s choreography for Jess and Clarice, I’m thinking this is the extra routine that they added in. Since nobody went home last week, they had to pull in another number, and maybe that’s why this one didn’t look as polished/adapted for the dancers’ physique.

  26. dctoronot says:

    I totally loved the presence that was Debbie Reynolds last night. Michael, I am sad that you could not see her being on the show had less with judging and more of a big camp Pride treat for all of Dance’s gay fans. I was so impressed with her ability to make the judging segments all about her. It made me want to rewatch the “my dress just twirlled…yes mom but you weren’t wearing any underwear at the time” scene from Postcards from the Edge.

    Am I the only one who cannot stand Iveta? She may be an amazing ballroom dancer but she really doesn’t fit the show’s vibe. She comes across as cold and uninterested in the silly shenanigans that make Dance the show it is. I also think she was truly questioning why Nick would wear shorts so often given that (she believes) he has chicken legs.

  27. Matt says:

    I must be missing it…I didn’t get why everyone thought Sasha and Alexander’s routine was so good. It was just okay for me, dawg! LOL! Anyway, I couldn’t help but notice that Ryan is the Zoolander of this show…she has the same face for every occasion! Give me angst (cheesy grin), give me sadness (cheesy grin), give me sexy…you get it!

    One other thing, Bollywood is not a style that someone typically trains in and it is unfair for us and the judges to really judge someone for not being more proficient in it.

  28. Saracen Riggins says:

    I like Ashley & Chris, but that dance was just not nearly worthy of the overpraise it received last night. Also, not really a Jordan fan, but definitely a Tadd fan. Both last week’s and this week’s dance I’ve enjoyed from them.
    And the last thing I’ll say is, Slezak, you crack me up with things like “1-800-Thats-A-Stretch” :) While Miranda certainly did impress me, many other female contemporary dancers come to mind as better – most notably Lauren last year in the “My Chick Bad” routine!

  29. Thom says:

    Sasha and Alexander had the dance of the evening I thought. Marko and Melanie were excellent as well and I loved Ashley and Chris as well. Bottom three Caitlyn and Mitchell, Miranda and Robert, Clarice and Jess. with the last four being sent home.

  30. Tucker says:

    I am absolutely eating this season up. The talent is so extraordinary across the board that even the “worst” dances of the night were better than the majority of dances we’ve seen in all the previous seasons. I would probably put Iveta and Nick’s Bollywood routine at the bottom just because they seemed a bit “lost” in the performance. They did fine but either the speed or the playful power of the dance felt like it was steamrolling them a bit. (Plus, after seeing Joshua and Katee nail the first ever Bollywood routine on the show a few seasons ago, the bar is set high.) I also wasn’t a huge fan of the NappyTabs Woodpecker story/choreo for Miranda & Robert’s dance, but it was performed well enough, even with the obvious stumble.

    For me, Melanie and Marko are still my faves and their dance was flawless. Yet, it actually wasn’t in my top 3 on the night, which is what impresses me so much about the skill and ability present. I would put M&M (MelaMar?) fourth behind these three:
    1) ‘Turning Tables’, Caitlynn & Mitchell
    As stunning and arresting a dance as we’ve seen throughout the entire series. I welled up and the blood was just a perfect capper. The second unconditional “wow” moment of the Top 20 this season. (The first, obviously, being last week’s statue dance with MelaMar.)
    2) ‘Fade Into Me’, Jordan & Tadd
    I loved how Jean-Marc sort of wrapped the Viennese Waltz in other movement and choreo, almost like covering vegetables in pastry or cheese. There were a couple of moments where the Waltz wasn’t as fully realized as if they had done it straight, but these moments were so brief that you couldn’t help but succumb to the entire piece. Tadd is what I absolutely love about this show. Someone with such clear talent and depth who just hadn’t explored it yet and is knocking it out of the park. I look forward to seeing more styles from him and it’s great he has such a game partner in Jordan.
    3) ‘Coming Home’, Sasha & Alexander
    I thought trying to push Napoleon’s military service on us during the rehearsal video package was a bit much, but the piece captured a wonderful sentiment. Sasha is such a powerful dancer and commanding stage presence. I would agree that Alexander fits well as Supporting. He’s not quite naturally as strong a force next to Sasha, but his dancing, commitment, and that he brought enough to the table dramatically worked superbly in the piece.
    And I’d have to say I agree with your ‘Will Be’ Bottom 3, Michael, though I personally think people are giving Jess a raw deal because he was presented as a cocky bastard during the auditions. I would replace Clarice & Jess with Ricky & Ryan.

  31. Amy says:

    I think this crop of girls are overall stronger than the guys. I really like Caitlynn, Melanie, and Sasha. I was also really impressed with Miranda. On the guys side I really like Tadd, Marko, and Mitchell. I think this is going to be an exciting season.

  32. Tucker says:

    Oh, and though I enjoy Debbie Reynolds and Megan Mullally, is anyone else kind of disappointed that they’ve gone with a “soft” 3rd judge who basically just provides a “throwaway” routine? Basically amounts to what Ellen offered on both SYTYCD and Idol. And the weird thing is both Megan and Debbie have danced in the past, which is why I’d presume they were brought in as guest judges in the first place.

  33. Geo says:

    I think Chris and Ashley are great dancers, and have a lot of personality and charm. I actually felt the routine last night was really good, very difficult with bars between them, and a lot of fun (any time music from Cry Baby is used, though, you have two points credit with me).

    The one I feel is being pushed on me is Wadi. He is handsome, likable and amazing in his own aerial b boy style; but last week he did nothing but stand there for most of the dance, followed by HIS OWN style of aerials. Nice, but not what this show deserves. This week, at least, we see how he does when reined in.

    I also think Jess is a great dancer, but his performance is odd. He always seems way too focused, and so half the charm is gone. The romantic element was missing last night, because he just does not seem comfortable doing light and simple connection. He’s another like Wadi whom I liked pre-show; but his style is odd to me.

    Ricky truly DID show up his partner this week. For such a feminine seeming guy in real life, his performance was powerful and very masculine.

    I am in love with Tadd.

  34. ElleBee says:

    Getting a little sick of the uber-emotionally themed dances. It ends up giving the dancers a free pass. Sasha and Alexander is the perfect example. Sasha was fantastic, but Alexander was stiff and boring, which kept me from enjoying the routine even a little bit. He will make it to the top 10, but only because America will always vote for Sasha. I’d send him home this week if it didn’t mean putting Sasha in danger. At least he shaved his “beard.”

  35. jw says:

    NappyTabs doesn’t look right. Isn’t it, technically, Nap Y Tab’s…you know, Y being Spanish for And.

  36. Cass says:

    I’m with you on Jess. He’s fantastic. And he does the best he can with the lifts–he’s just smaller than Clarice (not to imply she is big), and isn’t accustomed to them. I hope they stay. Sasha is fabulous, and her routine with Alexander was indeed wonderful. Caitlynn and Mitchell knocked it out of the park. Jordan and Tadd looked lovely (and David Cook songs are always a plus!). Melanie and Marko are a match made in dancing heaven. I hope Missy and Wadi are saved, because they really are great dancers, and I’d like to see them get another chance despite their off night.

  37. Robin Lemke says:

    Wow, Michael – I almost never disagree with you but I’ve got to take you to task on Ashley. That was easily my favorite of the night and the only one that demanded I not look away. But I note that you *forgot* Ashley once already this season, so perhaps there’s something just not jiving with you there? I think, in addition to her dancing, she has a wonderfully expressive face that reminds me of Meg Ryan (don’t judge – it’s there!) or Analeigh Tipton of ANTM.

    Anyway, after Ashley, I definitely give it up for Melanie, Jess, and Wadi though admittedly this was a weak showing for the latter.

  38. Here’s how I ranked the couples from last night…

    10. Missy and Wadi
    9. Ashley and Chris
    8. Miranda and Robert
    7. Iveta and Nick
    6. Melanie and Marko
    5. Sasha and Alexander
    4. Clarice and Jess
    3. Caitlynn and Mitchell
    2. Ryan and Ricky
    1. Jordan and Tadd

  39. Teresa says:

    My instincts say that Jess and Clarice are going to get a bottom three bounce, even though their routine this week is kind of boring.

    I’m not sure if Iveta and Nick will land in the bottom 3, but if they do, I think they will be the saves, since Iveta is this season’s only ballroom dancer, and Nick is a tap dancer.

    My pretty sure that Missy and Wadi are going to be bottom 3 this week. I can’t really decide who I think will join them, but I think Miranda and Robert have a good shot. Their routine was cute, but it wasn’t very good hip-hop. I think Ryan and Ricky might be there in the bottom, but I get the feeling the judges might just save Ryan if they can. They’ve invested two years of backstory on this girl and I don’t think they’ll let that go easily.

    The only couples I think are completely safe this week are Caitlynn/Mitchell, Melanie/Marko, Alexander/Sasha, and Ashley Chris. Although they performed early in the show, the final image of Caitlynn in the chair after Mitchell turned out the light was breathtaking.

  40. I’m throwing my hat in the ring as a Jess supporter. That kid can DANCE – I swear, some of his abilities boggle the mind. He’s much stronger that Evan from seasons past, but doesn’t have Evan’s aw shucks attitude. So what if Jess is super confident? He should be.

  41. Vlad says:

    Clarice and Jess are getting a raw deal if they go home – both are great dancers, but Jess is a munchkin that was asked to catch and lift a girl that’s bigger than him (EVERYONE is bigger than Jess). Instead of interpreting the choreography, Clarice was just trying not to get dropped.

    Nigel was right when he said that they danced great when apart – that’s when they were “dancing” and not “worrying.”

    Stacy did some bad choreography, and it may cost Clarice and Jess their shot.

  42. jennab says:

    Michael, I’ve been trying to figure out why SYTYCD is so much more enjoyable than Idol, and it boils down to this:

    1. Enormously talented kids…not kids with “compelling backstories”
    2. Stunningly original, artful choreography…instead of the same old karaoke catalog Idol hopefuls scavenge; imagine if, every week, contestants had to interpret original songs
    3. Incisive criticism

    Why can’t Nigel allow equally pointed and constructive criticism on AI?!

    The Voice has been equally disappointing, IMHO

  43. Elaine says:

    Re: Ashley Rich and Chris Koehl (Broadway: Spencer Liff)

    I found it telling that, as they’re working on a ‘hot’ number…Chris was talking about how hot Ashley is and Ashley was saying that she couldn’t see Chris that way.

  44. cmp says:

    I don’t “get” Ashley and Chris either. Perhaps its a mismatch? But I don’t see as much talent in Ashley as I do the other gals. I think Chris would be better with another partner perhaps? I still love Jess but we lost him every time he lifted Clarice, sad to say. He is still my favorite male though, and I see a lot more humility from him these days. All pretty amazing routines this week.

  45. sytycdfan says:

    I am really sorry to see Iveta and Nick go, especially for Ryan and whats his name. I would really have liked to see Iveta in a contemporary or jazz routine. Bollywood was the last thing those 2 needed.

  46. afan says:

    I thought it was about dancing for your life. Based tonight’s decision, it’s about other things. Tonight’s decision was dead wrong!

  47. ALM says:

    I feel like Nick and Iveta are the odd couple out of the group. Both are in a big disadvantage because he’s a tap dancer, and she specializes in ballroom. I think that they are going to have a hard time going into different styles together. They need to lose the Bollywood. There is only a couple, but the dances are so strange that the couple won’t get as many votes rather than if they were doing a contemporary piece.
    I used to love Sasha because shes such a strong dancer. I mean after I saw her in her first performance “Stupid” I was sold- now not so much. I like Alexander too, but they don’t have a connection with eachother in their dances. They are very good separately though. But them together will hurt them in the future. They need to start connecting in their routines and bonding….NOW! And when they performed “I’m Comin home”, I wasn’t really a fan. Nappytabs set them up with an amazing story and good coreo, but it was almost as if there was something missing. Once again, I didn’t really feel a connection.
    Melanie and Marko are great. They keep on delivering great. They are a power couple. Both have amazing technical skills and they are very good at the acting part and have an outstanding connection!
    I am excited to see everyone get out over their genres a little more and we’ll see what happens.