So You Think You Can Dance Recap: 16? Sweet!

On Wednesday night’s Top 16 episode of So You Think You Can Dance, highly entertaining guest judge Kristin Chenoweth declared that the night’s final two-person routine was “a dessert — and I liked every bite!” But if you think about it, her metaphor could’ve (and maybe should’ve) been expanded to describe the entire two-hour telecast, which offered one sweet treat after another, to the point where I was practically waving my arm at the TV screen and shouting “I’ll take one of everything!”

When it comes to confectionary indulgence, however, there’s always a price to pay. And we’ll know just how painful the comedown from our sugary dancing high is gonna be at the end of Thursday night’s results show. Indeed, picking which three couples will (and should) comprise the bottom three is a tricky task — and I’d bet good money that we’ll see a shock (or two) before Cat Deeley delivers the final verdict.

It’s not a task I relish, but let’s do the hard work of getting hyper-critical and predicting this week’s at-risk couples, as we recap the evening’s dances in chronological order:

Sasha Mallory and Alexander Fost (Contemporary: Dee Caspary)
I worry a little that Sasha will have to pull in enough votes on her own to carry herself (and her partner) to safety, but the truth of the matter is, she’s dancing with such awesome physical and emotional power, I suspect she could leap over just about any hurdle — even with a talented if not very exciting partner affixed to her coattails. I adored that move where Alexander whipped Sasha off the piano and onto the ground, and the way she bounced back on top of the keyboards, her body bouncing about as if it was made of musical notes. Alex’s dancing was more than adequate in telling the story of a musician reflecting on the memory of love lost, but his facial expression was the unfortunate stasis in the sea of tremendous movement. (Plus, his “piano keys” shirt was too hein to be discussed in any further detail.) The intonation of Mary’s “positive” critique, though, was a little troubling. “Did you pull it off?” she asked, before responding to herself with another question, “I think you did?

Caitlynn Lawson and Mitchell Kelly (Samba: Jean-Marc Genereux)
I can’t lie: I’ve been a sucker for well-executed ballroom ever since the days of Vanessa Williams and Cheyenne in Dance With Me, so maybe that’s why Caitlynn and Mithcell’s samba was my favorite routine of the episode. Caitlynn is such a chameleon, and disappears so thoroughly into the character of the dance she’s performing, that I sometimes worry she runs the risk of losing fans to contestants whose outsized personas burst through their routines. Nevertheless, her body became an object of perpetual motion, and even though Jean-Marc had not-so-subliminally placed the image in my head, I could indeed envision her hips as surprisingly limber speakers. Mitchell, meanwhile, in his tight brown pants, is no official competition for Maksim Chmerkovskiy in the Emmy category of Most Eye-Popping Male Derriere. When he straddled Caitlynn’s prone body and shook what his mama gave him, I could hear the Hot Tamale Train calling in the distance. Anyone else have the same experience?

Miranda Maleski and Robert Taylor Jr (Broadway: Tyce Diorio)
If I had to choose one routine as the night’s weakest, I supposed I’d go with this conceptually murky tale of an “upper-class working girl” trying to seduce a singularly focused musician. Whether that’s the fault of Tyce’s choreography skills (likely) or Miranda and Robert’s execution (also quite possible) is debatable, but I’ll give Miranda credit for putting as much focus as she could on her gorgeous gams. The tempo here was fast and furious, but some of those transitions looked a little rusty, and Robert at moments kind of faded into the background. Is it his turn for a Final Destination moment after that Houdini-esque escape in Week 1?

Melanie Moore and Marko Germar (Lyrical Hip-Hop: NappyTabs)
It’s getting to the point where Melanie and Marko could come out on stage and apply Band-Aids to their blisters and I’d find myself waxing poetic about it. Their every movement, their every touch, their every facial expression is so spotless and sublime, I don’t even mind when Nigel pimps them as “the couple to beat.” I will say that Marko’s undone red bowtie was the overlooked scene-stealer of the routine, but that’s no criticism of the way the duo brought to life the story of a jilted groom and his comely pal who realize they’re destined to be together. I loved how Melanie cradled Marko with her motions at the start of the routine and the way she rolled off his back like teflon to end the dance. Also: That kiss! ‘Nuff said! These kids get enough praise anymore. Sheesh.

Ashley Rich and Chris Koehl (Jazz: Sonya Tayeh)
Accurate or not, Ashley probably didn’t do herself any favors by describing herself as “obnoxious” in the couple’s pre-performance package. But let me say this about that: While last week, I’d have gladly have traded Ashley and Chris for either of the duos booted during that tragic results show, this week I finally felt a connection to my lead least favorite couple. I think part of the judges’ problem here was that Sonya referenced Beetlejuice as her inspiration, when she should’ve said The Walking Dead. Seriously, there wasn’t a whole lot of exaggerated whimsy up in there; the routine was far more somber and methodical, from that groovy, ghoulie intertwined walk to that weird and wonderful moment where Chris “ate” Ashley’s divinely extended leg. I’m not sure why Nigel insisted there “wasn’t enough character or heart and soul”; the piece was about ZOMBIES! They’re not supposed to have heart and soul!

Clarice Ordaz and Jess LeProtto (Foxtrot: Jean-Marc Genereux)
Yell at me if you want, but I love me some Jess. Sure, his entire life is essentially an annoying Tyce Diorio routine — exaggerated facial expressions and all — but his dancing fills me with endless delight. The problem with his pairing with Clarice, for the past three weeks, is that he’s gotten all the good stuff from their choreographers, while she’s gotten the Charlie Brown Halloween Rock. Last week he was a regal prince; she was some chick who was marrying him. This week, he was Frank Freakin’ Sinatra; she was some chick in the audience. Even in Week 1, Jess had leaps and hops and pirouettes, and Clarice got to, well, observe all of her partner’s fabulousness? Maybe the Lady Ordaz doesn’t inspire great routines; or maybe she’s just brutally unlucky. But much as I loved her final solo, I’m gonna admit I’m starting to have fantasies about a Clarice-Alexander exit package, and a startling (and hopefully successful) Sasha-Jess partnership. (Heck, we can call ’em Jessasha without either one of ’em giving up a single letter!)

Ryan Ramirez and Ricky Jaime (Contemporary: Sonya Tayeh)
Was Ryan serving her standard-operating restaurant-hostess grin during this dance about a couple fighting to let go? Honestly, the lighting and angles involved made her face pretty hard to see, but I think the answer is “No.” So, yay for that! And what’s more, I appreciated what Mary Murphy said about the difficulty of dancing with a giant, fabric tether — especially that moment where Ricky leapt over the binding element with the grace of a gazelle — in a routine that was alternately harrowing, haunting, and fascinating. If I had to find fault, though — and in a race this close, we kinda have to — Ryan looked a little less graceful, and perhaps a little less in the moment, for the duration of the routine. Hrmmm….now that I’ve raised the subject, what about a Sasha-Rickey partnership. Ricksha? ShaKey? Get the brainstorm started down in the comments, yo!

Jordan Casanova and Tadd Gadduang (Hip-Hop: NappyTabs)
Oh how it pains me to not 100 percent love a routine featuring the charming and delectable Tadd repeatedly removing his shirt. (Maybe he can try again next week…I’m sure it’ll be a success, yes?) But for a dance about a couple of crazy college kids caught in a one-night stand, there wasn’t the slightest hint of sexytimes on or around or under those fluffy white sheets. Jordan definitely captured the “Uh-Oh” moment of awakening, and the “get me dressed and outta here!” panic that followed — and Tadd brought a crispness to the moves that was in short supply in his counterpart — but without the mutual attraction on display, I found it jarring to see the couple fall back into bed before it was all said and done. Tadd’s triumphant fist, though, made me chuckle, and if it was an ad-lib, then that alone should sway the judges to advance him to the Top 14 on the off chance he winds up in jeopardy.

I’m going to leave discussion of the group dances to all of you — except to say there was perhaps an, um, imbalance of screen time and center-stage prominence that favored certain hoofers (hello, Melanie!) and gave short shrift to others. But before I get all in a huff, here’s my take on who was best, who should be in jeopardy, and who probably will land in the Bottom 3.

Three Best Dances
Caitlynn and Mitchell
Melanie and Marko
Ashley and Chris

Should Be Bottom Three
Miranda and Robert
Jordan and Tadd (though not his torso)
Clarice and Jess OR Ryan and Ricky

Will Be Bottom Three
Miranda and Robert
Ashley and Chris
Clarice and Jess OR Ryan and Ricky

What did you think of Week 3 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. Brian D. says:

    Can we please tell the choreographers to have Tadd shirtless in every routine from now on? Thanks :D

    • djm says:

      Indeed! Oh, and Michael please tell me that you meant that Ashley & Chris are your LEAST favorite dancers – they just do nothing for me. She is gorgeous, but she doesn’t seem to hit it hard enough or fast enough for me. As for Chris – blech. I also can’t handle Jess and his annoying mugging – shame on you for wanting to stick Sasha with him – she deserves WAY better.

      • Stephanie says:

        Sorry. Ashley is my favorite. I’m glad she finally got some praise from the judges for her gorgeous lines, even though they stuck her in the back row for all the group numbers…

  2. Heather says:

    Gotta agree about Jess. Love that kid!
    Agree also about Ryan/Ricky – it was good, but not quite good enough.
    LOVED, LOVED, LOVED Melanie/Marko!
    Can’t agree with you about Ashley/Chris. I didn’t like that much.
    I liked Jordan/Tadd, but agree it wasn’t quite good enough, even with his awesome torso :)
    Love Sasha! Can’t get enough of her!
    Thought that Samba with Mitchell/Caitlynn was amazing!
    I also liked the 1st group WAY better than the 2nd one!! But that was the choreographer’s fault.
    We’ll see what happens tonight! ;)

  3. Kit says:

    You have a typo in the paragraph on Ashley and Chris – you refer to them as your “lead” favorite instead of least favorite couple.

    Also, I am shocked how much I disagree with your opinions this week! I did not care for the Samba, couldn’t stand the Robert/Miranda number, LOVED Jordan and Tadd…

    • mdaily says:

      I did not like that samba at all. There were moments in which Mitchell STOOD STILL so that he could twirl, catch or whatever his partner. Huh? you never stay still in a samba. It’s as if he could not coordinate his hips with his arms and brains. Sorry. That samba was poorly executed.

      So I place among the best for the night Melanie and Marko, followed by Sasha and Alexander, and Jess and Clarice. As for Ashley and Chris, they really needed a stronger choreography to overcome their initial weak start from week 1, and sorry this zombie thing was not it. So to my shock, I had to agree with Nigel on this: these two walking dead left me cold: choreography and music and all.

      Ryan did grimace. I think that Nigel had the cameras stay away from her face on purpose. He is sooo pimping this girl. And whose (terrible) idea was to stage her without makeup and a granny bun? Ugh! I still think that the wrong couple (Nick and Iveta) were sent home last week, and some of the weaker routines bear that out for me.

      • Sol says:

        Plus that was hideous music.

      • KevyB says:

        I agree! I normally love Mitchell but his partnering was pretty awful! He could barely hold her up, and her feet placement was often sloppy. They NEED to be bottom three. As do Ashley and Chris, who didn’t bring any characterizations to their zombies. I don’t care if they’re zombies. Melanie and Marko were STATUES and they tore it UP as statues!

        Though I disagree with Sasha/Alexander as being one of the best. He just doesn’t bring any fire to his performance. But they were better than Ryan and Ricky. That was a REMARKABLE bit of choreography and they just did NOTHING with it. I kept trying to imagine what Melanie and Marko would’ve done with it. Frankly, I thought that about MOST of the dances tonight. As good as some were, those two would’ve made them better.

  4. Simon says:

    The judges have to get rid of Ryan this week! You can tell the cameramen are working overtime to hide her face… if you look closely, though she isn’t grinning, she’s still making stupid faces through the whole dance! Not to mention it was made clear in the group routine that she simply isn’t as graceful or as good as the other dances in the competition! Who knows how Nigel picks his favorites, but this Ryan obsession has got to stop!

  5. Saracen Riggins says:

    I enjoyed pretty much every dance this week. My favorite 2 being Marko & Melanie and the final group number. That Dee Caspary has the best taste in music… like ever.
    And I just have to say (because every site disses him) that I LOVE Tyce Diorio (aka Tasty Oreo)!!!! He is definitely a favorite of mine – I love his joy so much! … k, thanks ;)

    • Lyndsey says:

      HA! I love Tyce too! I don’t get all the hate directed towards him! He has a huge personality & he’s definitely over-the-top but that’s what I love about him (he would fit in great with my friends, LOL)!! He, Lil C, & Shankman are my favorite guest judges!

      • Stephanie says:

        Oh, when will we get the honor of Adam on the panel again! I LOVE Mr. Shankman so much, and miss him terribly. He just seems like he and I could be very good friends. I’d like to invite him over for dinner type. Le Sigh.

      • Saracen Riggins says:

        YES! Adam Shankman is actually my very favorite :)

  6. Thom says:

    The dance and costumes were so weird that I think Ashley and Chris are history.

    • bluz says:

      I agree. I did not enjoy them much at all (though I do like Chris), but then again I *NEVER* enjoy Sonya jazz routines. They’re just way too out there for me.

  7. Eli says:

    I’m going to make a controversial statement here: Miranda is 3rd best female dancer of this season (behind Melanie and Sasha) and the only reasons she’s not getting the credits she deserves is because
    1. Robert is holding her back and
    2. She keeps getting shafted on the styles and choreographers she gets. As well as the producers doing their hardest not to let her shine in any group number.

    Having gotten that off my chest, this was a great show as a whole, SYTYCD once again reminds me why it is my favorite reality tv show of all time. I love the craziness and spontaneity everyone involved shows. Also, I love Cat Deeley, but then again, doesn’t everyone?

    Best Dance of the night: Melanie and Marko.
    Worst Dance of the night: Ashley and Chris – could actually qualify for worst dance of the season and top 10 worst dances of all time in my book.

    • Cat says:

      I completely agree about Miranda. I love her, (and I can’t stand Robert). I thought she had the best solo the first week, by far. I was so annoyed when they decided not to send anyone home because Robert should have gone and then she would have been free of him!

  8. 4F says:

    Melanie and Marko win it all, together. Game over.

  9. Volcfom says:

    I agree with your “will be” list, although I thought Clarice was pretty awesome and gorgeous last night. That might just be my weakness for the foxtrot though… it’s my favorite style!
    Even though I like Clarice, I think a Sasha/Jess pairing would be very wise. It’s much better for their respective heights.

  10. Tucker says:

    I think you’re spot on on the ‘Will Be’ Bottom 3. Unfortunately for Ashley and Chris, there really did seem to be a disconnect with Sonya’s zombie routine. I know that she likes to challenge but something about the whole thing just didn’t seem to connect or make an impression at all. It’s not that Ashley or Chris did a bad job with it; I thought they danced it well. Or even that Sonya necessarily choreographed it badly. For me, it just failed to hook me or give me something to hold on to.
    Miranda and Robert were unluckily given a flimsy routine by Tyce. It really didn’t have strong characters and was rooted in a very effective or visual story. I think they both did well with what they were given and personality is what will help them through.
    Clarice and Jess run into an unfortunate paradox. They performed a dance that was so well done in its particular style that I think it turned off the audience. A bit of that so good but so predictable thing, despite the fact that they still had to pull the dance off. I think that will work against them.
    And Ryan did have the garish smile for parts of her dance. It caught me off-guard a couple of times and I started looking for it. Then I noticed a conscious effort on her part not to smile, which worked for the piece but also kind of drew me out from it. I loved the choreo and the work with the prop – and Ricky was just stunning – but I find myself turning off to Ryan more and more as a dancer. Something about her presence too is becoming more off-putting each week. I can’t quite place it, but I do have a feeling she’ll be gone sooner rather than later.
    I was a bit disappointed in Tadd and Jordan’s dance also. I wonder if it had to do with Jordan being a bit skittish about the subject matter. For some reason, they didn’t really connect or connect to the story. Which can’t be said of Sasha and Alexander’s dance. He was clearly the weak(er) link but I thought it was a wonderful story. I actually found it a better piece than ‘Coming Home’, even with the hands at the end, which I didn’t find as effective as they were supposed to be.
    The emotion of Sasha and Alexander’s dance just primed me for Melanie and Marko’s. Wow. I’m almost to the point of actively trying not to be affected by these two, but how can you not be. They just bring raw emotion out of me as much as they put into their dances. What a tremendous pairing. I’m going to be sad once they move to alternating partnering. These two are the tops.

  11. Lina says:

    Normally I like Sonya Tayeh’s routines, but the one she did for Ryan and Ricky just uncomfortably looked like a woman on a leash to me. Maybe they just didn’t totally pull it off. I do hope they send Ryan home this week.

  12. kaiedee says:

    I missed being able to read your recap after the show last night! I thoroughly enjoyed this episode, lots of fun and great dancing. Melanie and Marko stole the show again and I just have to gush a little bit. That’s not the first dance this season that I loved, but it’s the first one this season that I wanted to just keep hitting rewind and watch over and over. Tabitha and Napolean are awesome. I love how they come up with original ideas and stories. We’ve seen kisses in dances before, but I can’t remember seeing one in the middle of a dance before, where they had to time it with the choreography. There was so much abandon and recklessness with it, and yet it had to be timed just right. It was perfect and surprising and sweet with no awkwardness at all. I also loved the emotion Marko showed at the beginning. Such a satisfying story, too, like a mini movie with a happy ending. And Melanie is perfection. Those two are not just dancers, but actors. Oh, and how sweet was Melanie’s mom in the audience? Loved that.

  13. MK204 says:

    Jess and Clarice in the B3…should and will???????????? RIDICULOUS. They were fabulous. Fabulous routine. Way more fun than any other routine on the show.

    The only reason they MAY…MAY be in danger is because of Nigel’s passive aggressive back handed compliment imitation of Simon Cowell by telling Jess he’s so adequate in Bway but technically not adept at other genres. Necessary? I think not, but Nigel has not liked Jess since day one. For some reason Nigel is nasty to Bway dancers. Perhaps Nigel is bitter because he never made it on Bway. Who knows? Maybe he has was spurned by Tyce D’Orio. Whatever…he’s a work of bad art.

    Too bad it’s Nigel’s show. Between his Miss America wave and Dentu cream smile, the show would be better without him. ALL shows would be better without him.

    That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

  14. Delon says:

    Sasha&Rickey is my dream team. I think they can make the perfect couple together.

  15. Ellis says:

    I agree with most of your comments but found more fault with the Ryan/Ricky performance. The dance reminded me of a Kayla/Kupono dance to the song “Gravity” from a few seasons back – a very dark, haunting and quite moving peice. When Kayla was fluid and her movements seemed effortless, Ryan seemed heavy and her movements labored. My attention was drawn to her feet and to my untrained eye they seemed very flat and plodding. It also seemed to lack the passion of the other dance that I mentioned. I don’t know exactly what kind of emotion sould have been there but, to me, Ryan was not really expressing _any_ !

    My other point of disagreement was on Caitlyn & Mitchell. Something about this routine felt off to me. Perhaps it was the musical selection which is hardly the dancer’s fault but I did not feel the ” Wow! I wanna do that!” that I have with previous Samba, Cha-Cha, Rhumba, etc… routines.

    Thanks to everyone for sharing their thoughts and feelings about the show! I love seeing/reading what others think!

    • Lyndsey says:

      I get the comparison in spirit but that was the only similarity between their dance & the “Gravity” routine. I rarely cry yet that ode to Addiction has never failed to bring me to tears. Better dancers last night could have done the same but I can’t bear to watch Ryan. She’s a fine dancer but she just isn’t capable of finding the character of the dance. You could still see her struggling not to smile throughout the whole routine which ruined the soul of that dance!

      Alexander has the same problem! Sasha fully embraces her character & brings so much passion to her dancing but it’s hard for me to get lost in it with Alexander dancing like a robot! :-/

  16. Daniel says:

    Oh, Slezak, THANK YOU for your love for Jess! I was beginning to think I was out here all alone … Unfortunately I agree that he and Clarice might be in the bottom three, though because the foxtrot is such a difficult style to get behind for all the contemporary/hiphop loving voters out there (though they got all my votes – cough cough, ballroom dancer here). Clarice was gorgeous, as was her dress … Poor Jess and that height difference, though.

  17. Vlad says:

    Clarice is a hot dancer that has a short but talented partner in Jess, and has had a rough choreography set so far. Technically she has to be one of the best dancers out there, but since this show is as much a popularity contest as dance contest, she’s had it rough. Still, I think Clarice is one of those sleepers that will surprise a lot of people.

  18. Desdemona says:

    I thought Ashley/Chris and Robert/Miranda were the worst of the night. Ashley and Chris were not cray cray enough to fully embrace The Tayeh. If they had really gotten into zombie mode it would have been amazeballs. They danced it well but couldn’t pull off the characters. I also didn’t like the samba. It lacked a certain spice.

    Best of the night for me were Marko/Melanie, Jordan/Tadd (I bought the chemistry completely) and Jess/Clarice.

  19. jillyb says:

    I really enjoy Jess also, but I think Sasha and Ricky would be a wonderful pairing. Partly because I would like their current partners to go home, but mostly because they emotionally connect to the dances they are given. I don’t want to lose Clarice yet either and I think she and Jess are starting to connect in their partnership.

    Ashley and Alex should have been partners. Both so attractive, but I get nothing from their dancing.

  20. MDEP says:

    No comments on Melanie’s HIDEOUS outfit? Nappytabs always dress their couples so terribly. They are rarely flattering on the females.

  21. KJohnson says:

    I think my main problem with Ashley and Chris’s zombie routine was that there didn’t seem to be any point to the costuming. They were half zombie, half pretty, but there didn’t seem to be anything in the choreography that related to that. When I saw the costuming, I kind of expected gross, creepy movements when we were seeing their zombie sides and smoother pretty movement when we were seeing the non-zombie side. Otherwise, why bother with the half-and-half.