So You Think You Can Dance delivered surprising twists aplenty on Wednesday night. Nine of the 10 remaining dancers scored rave reviews from the judges. One choreographer got spanked rather harshly by this week’s guest panelist. And an All-Star dancer bled (rather sexily) for his art. But nothing will be more shocking than seeing one of Season 8’s fabulous female contestants head home on this week’s results show. (Shouldn’t the FCC step in and threaten Fox with a hefty fine for denying us another week of one of these singularly fierce ladies? And doesn’t that sentence make you want to see a “Single Ladies” routine featuring Sasha, Melanie, Clarice, Caitlynn, and Jordan? Make it happen, Nigel!)
Anyhow, folks, before we jump into a rundown of this week’s routines, please be advised that I’m battling a nasty summer cold complete with sore throat and chest congestion, so I’m going to keep things brief — and let you hash out the finer points of the 10 solo routines — none of which exactly blew my mind (except for maybe Tadd) — down in the comments.
Marko (with Chelsie): Jason Gilkison, Samba
There were one or two instances of this fast and furious number about a paparazzi photog and his muse where Marko looked just a tad unsteady, but for the most part, dude’s hips didn’t lie, and he was able to keep pace with his Dancing With the Stars pro partner. Marko’s split leap right over Chelsie’s head was breathtaking, as was “that crotch-split-lift thing,” as Mary so eloquently and technically labeled it.
Jordan (with Brandon): Dwight Rhoden and Desmond Richardson, Contemporary
As guest judge Neil Patrick Harris so aptly put it, Jordan managed to command attention even while dancing with a shirtless Brandon. I especially liked that one move where she wound down his torso like a ribbon on a maypole, and that assisted pirouette where Jordan’s leg was lifted parallel to her torso. Still, as beautifully as she danced, Jordan didn’t get help in two crucial areas: Her main routine came first of all the ladies, and she didn’t get the gift of a stumble from Melanie, Sasha, Caitlynn, or Clarice. Combine that with her forgettable solo, and Jordan could be in trouble when the final results are announced.
Tadd Gadduang (with Comfort): Chuck Maldonado, Hip-Hop
I’m genetically programmed to adore Tadd, and he only added to my loyalty by flashing his abs during the hardest-hitting hip-hop routine of the season. Just as impressive, though, was the way dude’s entire body was vibrating with kinetic energy throughout the routine, like a metal bowl making contact with an electric egg beater (if that makes any sense). Please excuse me for my lameness, but I got a secret thrill when NPH zeroed in on the same exact move that thrilled me most: Where Tadd yanked himself up from a prone position by his lapel, then smoothly segued back to the floor.
Mitchell Kelly (with Melody): Tyce Diorio, Broadway
I may be in the minority, but for the last several weeks, I couldn’t envision the Top 5 guys without Mitchell in the mix. Which is why I’m sad to say it’s also very hard to envision a Top 4 guys where Mitchell remains in the competition. Granted, dude got saddled with the worst routine and least exciting All-Star of the night, but Mary was right that it all got a little overbaked in the facial department. Fosse (and even cheap Fosse imitations) need a certain sense of cool sensuality, not broad theatrical mugs, and Mitchell and Melody had all the sexual chemistry of honeyed ham and Velveeta. What shocked me most, though, was NPH’s unfiltered put-down of the choreography, calling it “disjointed” and “not well thought-out.” Dare I say it’s time someone set Tyce straight about his lackluster routines — or perhaps thought about bringing in some fresh blood when it comes to channeling the Great White Way?
Caitlynn Lawson (with Pasha): Miriam Larici and Leonardo Barrionuevo, Argentine Tango
Is there really anything better than a well-executed Argentine Tango? (No, actually, there is not.) And the kicks and flicks and sense of sexual longing that filled this piece were an undeniable treat, as was that lift in which Caitlynn held her torso in an impossibly complicated arch. Still, on a night where the judges made frequent mention of contestants out-hoofing their All-Stars (and I truly believe that was the case with Tadd, Sasha, and perhaps even Melanie) or at least matching them, I’d say this particular dance belonged to Pasha, who brought one part silent film star and one part Daniel Craig as 007, left me equal parts shaken and stirred in the aftermath.
Sasha Mallory (with Twitch): Christopher Scott Hip-Hop
I could really sum this routine up in two words: Damn, Sasha! Or perhaps just quote Cat Deeley’s quip about breakfast being “the most important meal of the day.” But I can’t help but want to say a little more about the way Season 8’s warrior princess threw her body and soul into a number about a couple whose passion gets unexpectedly reawakened over tea and toast. It didn’t hurt that the explosive steps juxtaposed so interestingly with the soft sounds of Dorothy Moore’s “Misty Blue,” or that Sasha and Twitch possessed the acting chops (and the chemistry) to bring this little teleplay to life. Bust Sasha brought such raw power and strength to the choreography — that move where she strode toward Twitch as he backed away, the crazy way she bounced off the floor into an incredible, unsupported arch — that I couldn’t hold it against Nigel when he added insult to the injury of Alexander’s elimination last week by noting that this was the first time all season that Sasha had believable chemistry with a partner.
Jess LeProtto (with Kathryn): Stacey Tookey, Contemporary
I really wish NPH had been a little more eloquent in pointing out Jess’ occasional problems with a “muggy” expression, seeing as how he didn’t exhibit any of those tendencies in a number that was filled with yearning and missed connections. The entire movement of Jess’ body as he writhed at Kathryn’s feet was pure perfection, and the guy’s pirouettes are unmatched by any of his Season 8 competitors. As for his slightly peculiar lifts, I don’t think it’s that Jess isn’t strong enough or adept enough to pull them off; I think it’s just that with his diminutive stature, he has a tendency to literally disappear behind the ladies he’s hoisting into the air. And alas, that always ends up looking a little alarming, even if there’s nothing he can do about it.
Melanie Moore (with Pasha): Jason Gilkison, Viennese Waltz
That exquisite white gown and the incredible lighting design certainly helped this routine reach its heavenly heights, but without Melanie and Pasha’s passion and effortless power, it would’ve been just a gauzy shell without any muscle or bone to support it. As NPH described it, Pasha and Melanie made it all look so easy, you could almost overlook the fact that there were any lifts at all, and that’s why I appreciated Nigel and Mary pointing out the difficulty involved in how Melanie never broke the flow of motion going into and out of the various waltz moves.
Ricky Jaime (with Allison): Tyce Diorio, Broadway Jazz
It’s a good thing Tyce’s second routine wasn’t as hinky as his first; otherwise, Uncle Nigel might’e had him pack up the contents of his desk and be escorted from the building by SYTYCD security guards. Ricky definitely captured the menacing character of Allison’s living nightmare, but there were a few moments where his expression was perhaps a little too studied, a wee bit actorly, and not enough in the moment. By comparison, Allison wasn’t merely playing the role of a woman haunted by bad dreams, she was living, breathing, and dancing out the horror of the situation. And technically, this was a rock-solid duet. Mary was right to point out the awesomeness of that move where Ricky lifted Allison by the leg — using only one arm. For a guy that wiry, he’s got some power!
Clarice Ordaz (with Robert… le sigh): Nakul Dev Mahajan, Bollywood
Like Nigel said, when Bollywood is done right, sometimes you just have to let go of technical considerations and enjoy the lightning fast ride. And unlike the just okay Nick-Iveta number from earlier in the season, Clarice and Robert proved absolutely scintillating here. It didn’t hurt that her costume was a kaleidoscope of vibrant color, or that Robert’s ridiculous upper body was adorned with nothing more than some wispy gold chains and some glittering purple appliques. But the real joy was in the perfectly synchronized execution of Nakul’s dazzling steps. The side-by-side leaps left me gasping, and while I thought the duo looked a little clumsy in the closing 15 seconds, it soon became clear that Robert’s necklace-harness thingie had gotten caught in Clarice’s outfit, then torn from his body. I noticed a few drops of blood on Robert’s collarbone as he stepped up for his interview with Cat, but professionalism (or perhaps adrenaline) prevented him from noticing or pointing out that he’d been injured in the name of dance. Perhaps as a way to reward his efforts, we should start a petition to bring him back for a second All-Star session next week?
As for the evening’s solos, just a few random thoughts from me: Hadn’t we seen that plaid shirt on Ricky once before? Can we hope to never again see Melanie’s ghastly silver and white monstrosity again? How cute was the interplay between mighty Cat and tiny Jess as he reclined on the stage at the end of his number? Did Mitchell perform an actual solo or just a series of pirouettes? Did anyone else catch a hint of Arielle Coker’s audition (the wide stance/fast feet) at the start of Jordan’s solo? And was anything more impressive than Tadd’s “one foot hanging over the edge of the stage” showboating? Finally, thank you Clarice for introducing me to a song featuring Roisin Murphy that I’d never heard.
Will Go Home
Mitchell and Jordan
Should Go Home
Ricky None of the Ladies Caitlynn
On that note, what did you think of the Top 10 performances on this week’s SYTYCD? Who will and should go home? Who was your favorite? Did anyone surprise you? And what did you make of NPH’s criticism of Tyce’s routine? Sound off below, and for all my reality recaps, follow me on Twitter @MichaelSlezakTV!