On tonight’s So You Think You Can Dance Top 10 results show, Nigel Lythgoe pulled a shocker by performing a routine called “Dance of the Softies: Marshmallow Man.” Yes, folks, after Cat Deeley did her worst and announced this week’s Bottom 4 contestants, our head judge and executive producer took things in a surprisingly kind and gentle direction, telling the four at-risk dancers that he didn’t have anything bad to say about them, and didn’t have any advice for them about how to improve their performance or technique. “I’m sorry two of you are going home. That’s the very nature of the competition,” he said with somber appreciation.
Of course, Nigel’s soft touch was warranted, considering 9 out of the 10 routines pairing the Season 8 Top 10 with All-Star dancers on Wednesday night were actually pretty stellar, and that sole hinky routine was perhaps more the fault of the choreographer (whose name rhymes with Iced-Tea Oreo) than the contestant in question. And yet still, I have to ask, with the judges continuing to have the final say in who stays and who gets booted — tonight, the two men and two women with the lowest number of votes performed solos before Nigel, Mary, and guest judge Neil Patrick Harris chose one of each gender to walk the dancing plank — when will the power finally and fully rest in the hands of we the voting public? Or did I miss the memo that the “rules” of the competition are like the edges of a cloud — extremely blurry and subject to frequent change?
But then again, what fun would it be if we didn’t get to wax paranoid about what shenanigans Uncle Nigel was plotting behind a curtain that smells of tooth-whitening strips, dancers’ tears, and Gatorade-stained dollar-bills? On that note, let’s get on to the job of grading this week’s “dance for your life” solos and highlighting some of the other notable moments from the telecast.
Clarice: I’ll admit I totally dug that move where girlfriend threw a contortionist’s torso dip into her développé, but the rest of the number — set to Ida Corr’s “Let Me Think About It” was perhaps more Club MTV than high art. Not that there’s necessarily anything wrong with that. Grade: B
Mitchell: If a picture is worth 1,000 words, then Mitchell’s face heading into the commercial break that preceded his solo was worth at least six: “I am so going home tonight.” And while I appreciated that the kid tried something a little different — tossing around a delicate white scarf in a rhythmic gymnastics sort of way — I’m not sure this solo displayed the same level of power and passion as his prior two “dance for your life” encounters. Grade: B
Jordan: Um, unless there was some kind of music-clearance issue, I can’t fathom why Jordan chose to perform both her Wednesday- and Thursday-night solos to the tune of Lykke Li’s “Tonight.” Jordan’s partnering work has been solid almost every week of the competition, but her solos betray the immaturity she’ll need to overcome if she wants to outlast rivals like Sasha and Melanie. And frankly, I don’t see that happening. Grade: C+
Ricky: I thought Ricky and Mitchell’s solos were hard to separate during Top 12 results night, but this time around, the former hoofer leapt over his fellow Bottom 4 dweller as easily as a thoroughbred flying over a Fisher-Price fence. Sure, Ricky threw more tricks into the number than David Copperfield playing a corporate dinner party, but if you had those handsprings and pirouettes in your arsenal, wouldn’t you be showing ‘em off? Grade: A-
In other news from the telecast…
* The group number, “On Broadway,” felt a little Fosse-lite — all that jazz with none of the simmering sexuality — but the two dancers who caught my eye most frequently were Caitlynn and Jess.
* Call me a philistine, but I say that if Daniil Simkin had been up against Rickey and Mitchell with his French smoker/mime routine, his evening would’ve ended with a sweet highlight real and a hug from Cat.
* Oh, and what can be said about making yet another pit-stop at the Gatorade Sports Science Institute? I can’t lie and say I didn’t enjoy the sight of Tadd experiencing the “Bod Pod” — add Season 7′s Robert to the rotation and you’ve got a lovely summer spinoff guaranteed to make me set a series recording — but the Dynavision test just looked like Simple Simon with a bigger budget and lamer graphics, no?
Anyhow, to recap:
Bottom Two Women
Bottom Two Men
Clarice Ordaz and Mitchell Kelly
Top 8 All-Stars
Ivan (Season 2)
Jaimie (Season 3)
Anya (Season 3)
Pasha (Season 3)
Lauren G (Season 3)
Neil (Season 3)
Ade (Season 5)
Lauren F (Season 7)
Now it’s your turn to hit the comments and share your thoughts on this week’s eliminations: Did the right dancers go home? Are you happy with the Top 8 All-Stars? And don’t you think Robert should perform every week from now till the finale? Sound off below, and for all my reality news, interviews, and recaps, follow me on Twitter @MichaelSlezakTV!