So You Think You Can Dance Recap: Better Eight Than Never

Welcome to this week’s recap of FOX’s sparkly spectacle, So You Think You Can Dance: The Search for Nigel Lythgoe’s Favorite Contemporary Dancer Who Used to be Ryan but Who is Now Sasha and Who Will be Someone Else by the End of the Evening. Your regular recapper, Michael Slezak, is enjoying a well-deserved vacation, so please be gentle with me, your caffeine-guzzling TVLine virgin Gino Carlino.

The Top 8 dancers were each paired with All-Stars from seasons past to start the show, and then paired with each other for their followup routines. Mary Murphy liberally dropped her trademark “woooooos!” The judges hinted several dancers were shoo-ins for the finale. And guest panelist Lady Gaga threw deadly footwear, dissed NappyTabs, and wept openly. So let’s dive right in, shall we?

Sasha Mallory (with Pasha): Jonathan Roberts, Quickstep
While Sasha and Pasha performed it admirably, the Quickstep isn’t a dance that inspires you to pick up the phone and vote. Guest judge Rob Marshall immediately tipped his hand as to what kind of judge he would be by spewing out a string of superlatives to describe Sasha’s performance. Among them: “astonishing”, “beautiful”, “elegant”, and “classy”. Nigel concurred, saying that Sasha was now his favorite dancer, replacing Jordan, who replaced Ryan, also known as She Who Smiles at Inopportune Moments.

Caitlynn Lawson (with Ivan): Marty Kudelka, Hip-Hop
Caitlynn was paired up with Season 2’s Ivan for a lyrical hip-hop routine set to Mario’s “Let Me Love You.” I started to come around to Caitlynn after last week’s sterling Argentine Tango, and I think she built on that momentum with this performance. She and Ivan were perfectly matched and totally connected to each other throughout the dance. Overall, the judges were a bit muted with their praise — “really good job,” said Mary — though at one point Nigel said something about Caitlynn needing to open her legs more, which caused me to close my eyes and retreat to my happy place.

Jordan (with Ade): Tyce DiOrio, Jazz
With the notable exception of last week’s Broadway Jazz number, Tyce DiOrio has been the kiss of death (or at least the kiss of maiming injury) for contestants this season, and this routine — which had something to do with a secret rendezvous set to Tina Turner’s “Nutbush City Limits” — was no exception. Once again we were treated to Jordan playing a saucy sex kitten, and while the naughty minx routine was fun at first, it’s become one-note and tiresome. I get it, the girl is sexaaaay. She can stretch her legs really far and she does a mean hip thrust. Now show me another emotion, thanks ever so much.

Melanie Moore (with Neil): Mandy Moore, Contemporary
Moving from one end of the choreography spectrum to the other, front-runner Melanie and season 3’s Neil brought everyone to their feet with this exquisite Mandy Moore contemporary routine. (Hats off to whoever’s decision it was for Neil to dance shirtless; I can die a happy man now.) When Melanie ran across the stage and took that gravity-defying leap into Neil’s waiting arms, the season-defining moment we had all been waiting for had finally arrived. It doesn’t get much better than that. And for Melanie, it probably didn’t get much better than this parting shot from Gaga: “I would hire you tomorrow to dance on my tour.”

Ricky (with Anya): Jason Gilkison, Jive
I really want to like Ricky, I really do. There’s no denying he’s got some major talent and charisma, and his solos have been by far the best of any of the contestants this season. But he was far too stiff and rehearsed in this mediocre routine. He never looked comfortable at any point; he definitely had the steps down, but he certainly wasn’t feelin’ it. Or, as Mary and Nigel respectively noted, he missed that body-ticking action at the start of the routine, and lifted Anya like a “slab of meat” at the midway point. Luckily for Ricky, none of the judges pointed out that he was also totally out-danced by his All-Star partner.

Jess (with Lauren G.): Napoleon & Tabitha, Hip-Hop
In the past, Napoleon & Tabitha’s routines were always hit or miss for me, but this season I think they’ve been spot-on. This was another great routine from the hip-hop duo, but unfortunately, Jess was not up to the choreography about a cheating guy asking for forgiveness from his lady. Like Ricky before him, Jess got the steps down okay, but I wasn’t convinced he was feelin’ it. I’ll say, however, that his performance improved as the dance went along. Also on the plus side, the kid seems to have taken Neil Patrick Harris’ comments from last week to heart; there were no signs of The Mug Face interfering with his performance. The judges noted this as well, with Mary saying his was making progress from week to week, and Nigel adding that he has “matured significantly” since the beginning of the show. Gaga, meanwhile, took the first of two pointed jabs at NappyTabs, telling Jess his dancing outshined the choreography, which focused on a literal flower that the pop star found unnecessary.

Tadd (with Lauren F.): Mandy Moore, Contemporary
Tadd may not be the greatest technical dancer, but in terms of showmanship, he is second to none. While this piece did not appear especially difficult (says the lazy couch potato), Tadd made it quite entertaining despite getting accidentally smacked in the face by Lauren F. (and losing his hat) midway through the routine. His charisma should carry him safely through to next week, and quite possibly all the way to the finale. The judges seemed to enjoy it as well, with Mr. Marshall in particular saying that Tadd is “very, very special”, in a creepy, man-who-lives-down-the-street-with-18-cats kinda way. But I digress.

Marko (with Allison): Sonya Tayeh, Contemporary
Sonya Tayeh said that this piece was about “causing that damage to someone and you’re basking in the guilt of it, but it moves you to want to change.” That’s a lot of dance to live up to, and Marko and Allison did not disappoint. Allison dances with a depth and level of emotional maturity not seen by many other dancers on this show, and Marko was able to match his All-Star partner step for emotional step. Marko’s mom was in the audience and he dedicated the piece to her, apologizing for “being a bit of a brat” and saying that he was sorry and that he loved her; his mom then stood up and said that she loved him too. Awww! Somebody pass me a Kleenex, and pass one to the sobbing Gaga, too! And someone give this guy a pass to go directly to the finale without passing ‘Go’ or collecting $200.

Caitlynn and Tadd: Jonathan Roberts, Foxtrot
For their second dance of the evening, Caitlynn and Tadd performed a lackluster Foxtrot, all but cementing Caitlynn’s place in the Bottom 2 girls tomorrow night. To me, they looked like a couple of kids trying to dance like their parents. The judges, however, had slightly different opinions. Mr. Marshall said that it was “just sparkling from beginning to end.” Oh, and elegant and stylish, we can’t forget elegant and stylish. Gaga said it was amazing, too, but then she completely lost me when she started talking about Caitlynn’s hands, and how they were screaming “I’ve won a lot of trophies!”, and Gaga said she’s won a lot of trophies too, but she put them back in the closet, and…and…the end. Moving on…

Marko and Ricky: Napoleon & Tabitha, Hip-Hop
Whenever I see dancers break out the props I start to worry; is it really necessary to be dancing around with brooms? I think not. Paired with Marko, Ricky was exposed as the weaker dancer. There was one good moment during the routine when both dancers leapt up for this giant kick leap thing (that’s a technical term, look it up), but other than that, the dance left me a bit cold. In the words of the insightful Randy Jackson, for me, for you, for me, this routine was just aiight. (Side note: Did anyone else wish the producers had cut to a reaction shot of NappyTabs when Gaga called their choreography “contrived”? Rob Marshall tried to spare the choreographing couple when he countered that the routine was “exquisite,” but his praise didn’t really erase the fightin’ words from the “Born This Way” songstress.)

Jordan and Jess: Jason Gilkison, Rumba
Latin dances never do the contestants any favors, and this Jason Gilkison number was certainly no exception, as Jordan and Jess moved across the stage with as much fire and passion as Michelle Bachman and her husband on their wedding night. (Zing! I’m here all week folks!) The guest judges were divided in their opinions; while Rob Marshall said that Jordan and Jess “brought out the best in each other,” Gaga said that as an artist, she would have interpreted the song (Adele’s “Set Fire to the Rain”) differently. Ooh snap! Take that Gilkison!

Sasha and Melanie: Sonya Tayeh, Jazz
The producers definitely saved the best for last; this was easily my favorite dance of the night, Neil’s shirtless exhibition notwithstanding. With Sasha and Melanie paired up as a couple of kick-ass dancing warriors, the two strongest contestants in the competition went head-to-head in a delightfully powerful, mesmerizing routine, which inspired Gaga to throw one of her freakishly large platform boots on stage to the dancers and the other to Sonya in the audience. (Was it just me, or was Sasha having a bit too much fun with that boot?) Sayeth Gaga: “Everyone else can pack up and go home because that was the performance of the evening.”

Will Go Home
Ricky and Caitlynn

Should Go Home
Ricky and Jordan

So what do you think SYTYCD fans? Did I get this right, or am I way off the mark? What about this week’s guest judges? Were they entertaining and insightful (Neil Patrick Harris), or just reciting the thesaurus (I’m looking at you, Robin Antin)? Sound off in the comments below! Just remember: This is my first time at the TVLine rodeo, so be gentle with me! –Gino Carlino

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. Bee says:

    Melanie and Sasha’s closing routine was definitely NOT the routine of the night. Sure, it was entertaining, but it was not particularly memorable or difficult or emotionally strong. And Melanie very much outdanced Sasha. (Sasha was more sloppy and a bit behind the beat at some points). Melanie is so precise and gorgeous in her movements, I was completely drawn to her the entire time.


    I think the performance of the night was Melanie & Neil’s contemporary. It was strong, emotional, mature and surprising. I loved it.

    • Sincy says:

      ITA — it was ok, but certainly not the best to me.

    • davey says:

      Agree completely. Sasha and Melanie were excellent but that performance was in NO way the best of the evening. And yes, I agree that Melanie outdanced Sasha.

    • Wheeze says:

      1.)I must admit I was a little disappointed with the Melanie/Sasha/Sonya match, and was left thinking “Did I miss something?” CAuse, when I knew Jordan and Jess were dancing together, and realized that left only Sasha and Melanie left I almost peed my pants in anticipation. Then they said Sonya and I started drooling! It was okay, but not great, and definitely not the best of the night!
      2.) Did anyone else feel like they were watching a watered down version of the Alex/Allison/Sonya dance from last season? I feel like Sonya went for the same emotion, had some of the same steps, Allison emoted the same feelings, and my goodness it was even to a Jeff Buckley song.
      3.) Melanie/Neil= Happiness! LOVED it!

      • Daisy says:

        You said EXACTLY what I would have said. I completely agree with you (thanks for posting it so I didn’t have to :).

      • djm says:

        I thought the Melanie/Sasha routine was good, but not as great as the reaction. When I realized it was them dancing together I closed my eyes and said a silent little prayer that they had done the right thing and brought Mia Michaels back to choreograph an AMAZING routine to challenge the 2 best dancers left. Bummer – imagine what they could have done with Mia’s choreography. As for Melanie & Neil – while I do admit that Neil is oh so cute, he’s never been my favorite dancer – I just despise his facial expressions – I enjoyed everything about their routine except the song. Sorry, there are other songs that could have added a whole other level to the routine (in my opinion). I think Marco & Allison were AMAZING – sorry, but Allison should have waited and tried out now – she is a total BEAST in the best possible way.

    • Donna says:

      For me I could not take my eyes off Sasha. I agree she was a bit off but I think Sasha and Melanie toghether were awesome! In my opinion, what was so impressive about this routine was Sasha’s power and Melanie’s finesse in performing. Power (Sasha) and Finesse (Melanie) are their signature styles and I think that’s what GaGa meant by born this way. It was amazing to me to see the two ladies styles presented in Sonya’s piece.

    • bmill2 says:

      I’m glad everyone else is saying the same thing about Melanie and Sasha’s routine. I mean it displayed them both as extremely powerful dancers and it sure seemed to infuse them both with bravado and power when they finished, but it really is a waste to pair these two up without some emotional story behind it. I would’ve hoped to have them do some sort of story, maybe where they are two sides of the same personality like a good vs evil thing. That way they could have been strong but still emotional. I think Neil and Melanie’s was a better routine for me

    • Sarah El says:

      I fully agree; I think the judges built it up mostly because they’re both head over heels for Melanie and Sasha. I think the routine felt so awkward because they both dance so differently and it looked like Sonya had encouraged them to do that via the choreography.

    • SororSalsa says:

      I thought Sasha crushed Melanie in that dance. I don’t get the feeling that Sonya meant that dance to be “precise & gorgeous”. I thought it was supposed to be strong and warrior-like. But maybe she did.

    • BJohnson says:

      The thing is entertaining will get people to call and consider both of them will be remembered for the highest praise, they will said through this week with no problem. That’s how Uncle Nigel wants it. Caitlynn & Ricky are def for montage video.

    • KevyB says:

      I agree! That one gave me goosebumps. The Melanie/Sasha dance was danced well, but sometimes Sonya’s music choices are very off-putting. And Sasha WAS outdanced. Her legs just aren’t as strong as any other girl’s in the competition, though she does bring the most energy. And kudos to Gaga for calling out NappyTabs. Those routines were AWFUL. They are so gimmicky. At one point they were doing interesting stuff, but they’ve been playing in the past for the last two seasons. I’m ready to lose Jordan, Jess, Ricky and Caitlynn. They rarely seem to be dancing, more like they’re performing a dance. You can almost see them trying to remember what step is next. The other four are the only ones that FEEL it.

    • AK says:

      Not very difficult?! I’d like to see you attempt that routine. The musicality was INSANE.

      And Sasha wiped the floor with Melanie in that routine. I love them both, but it was the first time I’ve ever felt Melanie’s technique get in the way of her performance (ever so slightly). Sasha was 100% beast on that stage and it was magic.

  2. Kay says:

    The performance of the night was definitely Melanie and Neil’s. I didn’t understand all the praise for Marko and Allison’s number – I love them both, but it didn’t grab me at all. And in the last few performances – including Sasha and Melanie’s – the dancers seemed tired and not as strong as their first routines.

    Hoping to see more judging similar to Neil Patrick Harris, because GaGa’s bathering last night was annoying. I ended up having to watch it on a DVR delay so I could fast forward through her nonsense.

    • Emily says:

      OMG, thank you for writing this. I almost felt guilty for fast-forwarding through most of GaGa’s commentary, until she started waxing poetic about the interpretation of the lyrics. Granted, yeah, she’s an award-winning artist, but it’s hard for me to take her seriously when she’s dressed like M. Bison (wish I could claim that, but I read that on Twitter last night.)

      Loved Melanie and Neil’s performance last night, and loved Marko and Ricky’s hip-hop (more Marko than Ricky).

  3. Al says:

    I have that gut feeling the Caitlynn will be gone. I’m quite disappointed about this too because she delivered my two favourite dances of the season so far in her contemporary piece in top 20 redux week with Mitchell and her Tango last week with Pasha. The fact is that she and Ricky (and also Tadd but he’ll get by on his personality) were the only dancers that didn’t have any routine that was in their comfort zone last night…. Not that this competition is fixed in any way or anything!! :P

    • Suzy says:

      You think it isn’t? I’m kinda over the pimping that Melanie gets! She is an awesome dancer and doesn’t need all that! I mean she danced contemporary and jazz! Come on now! Than she went last of course! Obvious much? I don’t think Caitlynn can survive this week and that makes me sad! I loved her tango, “turning tables” and “love you more”
      routines!She gets a lot of ballroom and this week- ballroom and hip-hop? Well we’ll wait and see! :(

      • Suzy says:

        I meant ” Then” Sorry!

      • Daisy says:

        I totally know what you’re saying, but please try to remember that Melanie’s not responsible for the things that people say about her. I worry that with so many of the guest judges naming her ‘easily’ their favorite dancer, that people will take that out on her by not voting for her. I felt like some of the Ryan backlash was unwarranted. Yes it seemed like Nigel favored her, but it’s not her fault for what the producers and editors choose to show of her footage and it’s not her fault that Nigel loved her. I felt really bad for her. I don’t know.

      • Stephanie says:

        I can see what you mean–Melanie has not gotten anything past what she’s good at (and yes–she’s really, really good) and the others have had other dancing styles. I am wondering why. We all know the whole “draw out of a hat” thing is fixed. Can she not do anything other than contemporary? Makes me long for another Russian dance. At least then Jeanine showed her versatility…no matter how horrible it was.

        I had to back up and watch the Sasha/Melanie dance again after I heard all the fuss the audience and judges were making (and Marko/Allison, to tell the truth) and I just…did not get it. It was good, and all HAIL Sonya for showing strong, fierce women, but it was just aiight. Melanie and Neal was my favorite of the night, hands down.

        • SororSalsa says:

          ITA. I’m not sure anyone can say that Melanie is the superior dancer until she’s actually been challenged beyond her own genre.

          Have you noticed that when the judges want to justify getting rid of a dancer, that person is getting dances outside their genre? While others get Hip Hop, “Jazz”, “Broadway”, etc. that are so close to contemporary that they might as well be it?

          Melanie & Jess are the two biggest benefactors of Nigel’s manipulations this season. I’m sure both of them are great dancers, but if they are then they should be able to tackle anything, not just their specialty.

          • John M says:

            I would love to see Jess get Disco with all its wild lifts and quick action or maybe a quick step. Poor thing can’t help he is short.

          • not says:

            Actually, that was true as to Jess for the first 2 live shows (as it was for the majority of dancers, so that was obviously contrived) but since then he’s gotten foxtrot (often the kiss of death), lyrical hip hop, jive (also semi-KOD) and hip hop again, plus a couple contemporary (which isn’t his style but is, I agree, much closer.

            I think he’s actually weathered those so well that you are forgetting he’s been challenged too.

            I agree that Melanie has gotten her own style suspiciously often although she too has had a couple of ballroom numbers and a lyrical hip hop.

          • Jules says:

            I’m not a fan of the blatant pimping either, but I am a fan of Melanie. She always caught my eye in the background during Vegas week – much like Neil and Billy Bell did in their respective seasons. She has gotten comtemp/jazz most often, but don’t overlook her gorgeous viennese waltz and the T/N hip hop. Hardly Russian folk (ha! those poor kids), but still outside her specialty. She handled them both with ease.

            That said, Sasha is still my #1. I just love the way she dances. Could use a little work on her charisma though. She comes off as cold and closed in at times.

      • djm says:

        Sorry, but I think Caitlynn is a hair dancer – all she does is flip it around. I am SOOOOOOOO glad that Melanie doesn’t have any to hide behind like Caitlynn does. Yeah, she’s a great dancer, but I don’t think she’s any better than Jordan and frankly I am confused by all of the Jordan hater-aide out there. I think week after week she’s been really good – and in a wide variety of genre’s, so I just don’t get why people despise her the way they do. I hope it’s Caitlynn & Ricky going home tonight.

        • Jenks says:

          Caitlynn as hair dancer: hilarious! Matched only by Allison.

        • Jules says:

          AGREED! She’s also a little pageanty, which I can’t stand. She’ll grow up to be quite the entertainer someday, but I feel like she still needs time.

          As for hair dancers, my vote goes to Lacey Schwimmer for all-time worst.

      • KevyB says:

        Let’s not rewrite history. Last week Melanie had the Viennese Waltz! The week before she had the Argentine Tango! A couple weeks before that was hip-hop! All of which she excelled at. And her contemporary and jazz routines tend to be harder than anybody else’s. The problem is that every show needs a large percentage of crowd-pleasers like jazz, contemporary and hip-hop to keep the audience interested. That only leaves a small percentage of other styles, like Bollywood and ballroom, to fill out the choices. It’s certainly not her fault she is pulling a higher percentage of jazz and contemporary out of the hat, but she is at least giving life to all they’re giving her, which can’t be said about most of the other contestants.

  4. Muffy says:

    I loved the guest judges. I have actually loved all of the from the past few weeks. They have been more thoughtful and insightful than Shankman or LilC ever were.
    I loved Melanie tonight, I think she is the best this season.

    • Jenks says:

      You and I may be the only ones that think so, but I totally agree. I find it refreshing that someone is finally calling out these choreographers on their been-there-done-that-about-20-times routines. I mean, really, that janitor routine was a rehash of the famous “Outta Your Mind” routine from last year. And, puh-leeze, enough with the tortured Allison. She’s great and all, but I have seen those moves enough. Everything Sonia does looks the same. And as for Tyce, well, the less said the better.

    • DC says:

      I agree as well; the guest judges have been really good over the past few weeks. I’ve been enjoying the judges overall this season. I don’t understand how Nigel is able to maintain a cohesive, competent group of judges who can be supportive and offer constructive criticism and NOT be able to come close to it on Idol.

  5. kyrjar says:

    I liked both of Melanie’s routines, but the one with Neil slightly more. I didn’t think Melanie outdanced Sasha (disagreeing with my family) but on second viewing, I was wrong. I can safely say that Melanie totally deserves to win this thing since I thought Sasha has not has had as good of luck with partners and choreography (save Twitch).
    Tadd and Marko were also great. Into their characters without looking like they were trying to act (like Jess and Jordan). Melanie is so amazing because she inhabits the character and feels the dance so you do too. She is up there with my all time faves Kathryn, Katee and Allison.

  6. lynda says:

    Can Neil dance every week? Shirtless? :)

  7. kyrjar says:

    Oh and btw — doesn’t the picture for the article look like it could be Allison and Alex Freaking Wong from the prior year?

    Saw him in the audience at the end!

    • r0ckmypants says:

      That’s all I kept thinking! The Marko/Allison piece was almost EXACTLY the Alex/Allison piece from last season, also choreographed by Sonya.

      I actually found a lot last night’s routines to be referential of dances previously on the show. The Marko/Ricky hip hop was similar to the Alex/Twitch hip hop from last season (though that one was much better in concept and execution than last night’s); Tadd/Lauren was just like “Ruby Blue” from season five; and Jess/Lauren was just a hip hop version of “Calling You,” the park bench from season two.

      • Rose Connolly says:

        The Marko/Allison piece was one giant deja-vu for me in so many ways. It was danced to a Jeff Buckley song, Hallelujah and I Know It’s Over. Both song have eerily similar picking patterns and chord progressions. They were, as you pointed out, both choreographed by Sonya and it was extremely evident in the movements. Both dances also were performed by Allison. I personally find Marko to be almost this year’s Alex, a ballet dancer who demolishes anything thrown at him. So there is another possible parallel. Overall, it was definitely Hallelujah: The Sequel.

      • Jenks says:

        I just posted soemthing similar up-thread. I was definitely experiencing deja vu last night. That’s why I don’t have a problem with Lady Gaga calling out the choreographers on dated routines. Of course, she loved Sonya’s routine and I thought it was totally derivative of most other Sonya routines.

      • Bat Country says:

        Ruby Blue by Wade Robson was nothing like the Tadd/Lauren piece. The former was crazy, funny and spastic, like two cartoon characters. The second was smooth and cool. Spastic is the opposite of cool.

  8. Fan says:

    I really got a kick out of GaGa’s disses of NapTap. Gino Carlino missed one – before the dances started, GaGa commented that “lyrical hiphop is dated”. So that was three disses on NapTap in one show. After her third diss, Mr. Marshall said something protective about NapTap, to the effect of how great they are. By the way, the camera NEVER cuts to the choreographer if any judge has just criticized him or her. Recently Neil Patrick Harris criticized a piece of choreography and the cameras did not cut to the choreographer.

    • Aeol says:

      that third hip hop routine with Ivan and Caitlyn wasn’t NappyTabs, it was a new choreographer. The lyrical hip hop she dissed.

  9. Cassandra says:

    Melanie is my favorite and her dance with Neil was the best tonight, though the music was a bit distracting. Sasha’s extentsions were better than Melanies in the last routine but Melanie was better and equal to Sasha for every other part of the dance. I really wish Caitlyn would stay, I sometimes like Jordan but Caitlyn is definitly the better dancer. Jess and Ricky are the next guys to go, for sure. But I don’t think Tadd is better than Ricky. I wish Ricky would dance with the passion and ease that he has in his solos. Marko’s routine tonight was pretty good but it wasn’t as good as the judges thought.

    • not says:

      I agree re Caitlyn/Jordan. In fact, I completely agree with Gino’s assessment of will/should go home. I really liked Jordan in the beginning but she’s really never impressed me in anything even slightly outside her style and within her style she’s become so predictable. Even though her technique is really impressive (she may even be getting better), she’s stuck in the sexy-girl rut.

  10. Becka says:

    Seriously the best routine was Melanie and Neil. Seriously I jumped off my couch when she did that flying leap. And I live alone…I couldn’t help myself. That actually took the place of my other favourite routine which was with Neil and Lacey (the Mia Michaels piece about heaven). Melanie is just…wow. I think Melanie and Neil were destined to be partners! They were amazing!

    I’ve watched every season of this show and this season just has top notch talent…moreso than any other. This season is just full of wow I just wish the Choreography was better for a lot of it. Sonya is always good. mandy moore is good. Nappy Tabs…i’ve loved their stuff prior to this season..this season…not so much. Tyce…I’m SOOOOOO over Tyce. He has too much ego for my taste and his pieces are contrived as hell.

    They just haven’t had enough dance styles this season. It seems like they just catered to their dancers whereas before they really tested some limits. I really miss Mia’s choreography because she always brings out the best in the folks she choreographs for and tells a truer story sometimes.

    Regardless…it was a SICK night of performing!

    • Linda says:

      ITA. You can almost always tell a Nappytabs routine when you see one. They are almost all the same. There’s no change to it, other than perhaps the implied “story” they’re telling. Tyce, well what can I say? I wish they’d get rid of him. He is just creepy!!

  11. aislinn says:

    There were several really beautiful routines in this show. I disagree with folks who say Melanie outdanced Sasha in their routine. They have different styles and body types, and it probably has more to do with your preference there than with their dancing. Melanie seems slightly more flexible and fluid than Sasha; Sasha is stronger and crisper in her movements. I think the crispness and power of the movements is uniquely suited to Sonya’s choreography, and I really hope to see Sasha dance more of her routines.
    I was disappointed that Set Fire to the Rain was used for the choreography it was – didn’t suit the piece at all. A friend and I actually experimented after the show, muting the music for Melanie and Neil’s number, and playing Set Fire from the rumba in its place. It fit the choreography beautifully, with Melanie’s amazing leap happening during one of the “Let it burn” runs in the music. Gorgeous, and much more contemporary than Mandy’s once again 80’s selection.

    • JenR says:

      I agree about Sasha’s movements being crisper. She is the best at isolations this season. Compare her arm movements to Melanie’s in that routine and you’ll see.

    • Bat Country says:

      I am also tired of Mandy’s cornball music. I hope her next routine isn’t to REO Speedwagon…

  12. reena says:

    jordan needs to go! so sick of her i feel like they are dumbing down the choreography just for her…and she has no expression in her face just the same look all the time!

  13. Julie Simon says:

    I agree with everything Gino said, but I must say one thing — HIRE THIS MAN FULL-TIME for this column. Love his writing and his wit!

  14. Genie says:

    Great job Gino!

  15. Julie says:

    My theory is that Gaga was making references to “pageant hands” when she was talking to Caitlynn about trophies. Beauty pageant contestants usually hold their hands stiffly away from their bodies.

    And I love Neil. His Travis Wall routine with Kent last year was my favorite of that season. I hope we see him again.

    • JenR says:

      I agree about the hands comment. She was telling her she needed to get past what she learned for other competitions and keep her hands soft. Just because she may have won awards for that type of dancing before, she should learn to keep her hands soft for this one. That’s what she meant by “put the trophies away.” Don’t rest on your laurels. Try new things and learn and grow.

    • Lauren says:

      Although I found most of Gaga and Marshall’s comments to be utterly useless I totally understood this one. She was talking to the dancer and not the audience which is why she sounded like a loony toon but Caitlyn knew what she was saying and so does anyone who has done competition dancing. Incidentally, that is also where Ryan’s inappropriate smiling comes from. It’s not pageant it’s dance competition mugging.

  16. Amy says:

    Melanie and Neil’s dance was easily the best of the night and easily in the Top 5 of my favorite performances of the season. That leap left my jaw on the floor. So amazing. She (and Marko) are the best “actors” of the bunch and so easily convey the emotions. Must be why they are my favorites, along with Sasha. Though I do have to say that Melanie is the only dancer that does not get dances that challenge her comfort zone. I would like her to get something way out there and totally wow us.

    • Daisy says:

      I have to disagree with you about Melanie not getting dances out of her comfort zone. This season she has danced a contemporary with Marko in week one; a jazz routine with Marko in week 2; a hip hop with Marko in week 3; jazz with Marko in week 4; contemporary and ballroom in week 5; another ballroom last week; and then a jazz and contemporary routine yesterday. Melanie is a contemporary dancer, so technically jazz, hip hop, and ballroom are out of her comfort zone and that more than half of her dances that are out of her comfort zone. She has had the same amount of ballroom as other dancers (though Caitlynn had 3 ballroom routines with the one last night). Sasha has danced 2 contemporary routines, 2 jazz routines, 3 hip hop routines, and 2 ballroom routines (and she’s a jazz dancer, so technically many of her dances are out of her comfort zone too). So to my mind it doesn’t seem like anything is ‘unfair’ about what these dancers are getting style-wise. I think what’s unfair is they are getting not-so-great choreographers or routines. This is just my opinion though!

      • Lauren says:

        Let’s not play into the judges delusions that jazz and Broadway are outside the comfort zone of a contemporary dancer. Contemporary is a an evolution of Jazz and Ballet so if you’re a contemporary dancer you should be able to dance Jazz and Broadway with no problem. They are merely different aspects of the same kind of technique. That’s the problem with this season. A whole lot of blurry lined mess of the same thing. Out of her comfort zone would be Bolliwood, Hip Hop (not lyrical, the hard stuff), Tahitian Tribal Dance, Russian Folk Dance, African Jazz (slightly), Krump, Step Dancing, Ballroom that has actual steps instead of her just gliding around the floor and doing lifts… etc. There has been almost no real challenges for any of the contestants this year and with all the blathering they’re doing about how great this crop of dancers is I have to wonder why they’re pulling punches in routines and critiques.

  17. Debbie M says:

    After Ricky and Caitlynn go, (followed probably next by Jordan), it is going to be damn hard to figure out who to eliminate. They are all spectacular this year. (PS, I just bought tickets for the tour this morning!!)

    • Anya says:

      Wow! Thanks for reminding me that tour tickets are on sale!

      • Dress Hater says:

        Just went to look for tickets. Seems like they went up in price significantly from last year. There were tickets listed for $300 – $500, and anything less than $100 was in the rafters. Are all the locations like that or is is a Bay Area price thing?

        • Debbie M says:

          I got a presale e-mail from the arena in Philly where I bought the tickets. They were $55.50 for the floor and first level. Were those StubHub prices or from the venue itself?

  18. Jake says:

    Another great episode in a great season of SYTYCD. I loved the judges last night – Lady Gaga made some very good observations and offered predictably off-beat critiques that I found refreshing. I thought the last dance was the best of the evening, and it was obvious Gaga was going to love it. I hate to see any of the girls go, starting with Clarice last week, but I think it will be Caitlynn tonight (unfortunately) and probably Ricky or Jess. On a side note, while the Rumba was a bit weak, I’m surprised no one commented on how incredibly hot Jordan looked in that costume – wow!

    • Louie says:

      Hot? Yes. But she also looked kinda short and stumpy, proving that you just might need heels to pull off a proper rhumba

    • Jenks says:

      Hot? Oh, dear, you really think so? I thought it was a deeply unfortunate look. they had her strapped into that thing so tight it made her look pudgy.

    • Dress hater says:

      Really? I thought that dress was not flattering on her at all. Where the straps came across her hip, she was bulging out of it. I was thinking it must be a bad dress to make such an athletic woman look heavy.

  19. Louie says:

    I love it when the judges aren’t afraid to critique the choreography. Bravo to NPH and Gaga for actually doing it. It pretty much seems to be taboo for Nigel and Mary to blame the actual piece and not the dancers themselves. Choreogtaphers could use a kick in the pants to topple them off their high horses once in a while instead of thinking that everything they do is Emmy-worthy (Tyce, looking at you specifically)

    • julie says:

      I agree. I was very impressed with some of the choreography in earlier seasons, but lately I’ve been feeling they’ve been getting complacent…. also repetitive. I can’t imagine how hard it must be to come up with several new pieces each week and always be fresh, but then the show should use more choreographers, and mix it up more.

    • Fronc says:

      I’m fine with the judges calling out meh choreo. But Gaga sneaking in props for LaurieAnn Gibson?!? Talk about dated choreo. Gibson’s numbers are wretched, and I’m including some of Gaga’s routines.

    • Lana says:

      In past seasons Nigel and Mary have critiqued the choreographers in fact Nigel wasn’t that crazy about the zombies that Sonia had done with Ashley and ?(I can’t remember his name) but you’all are right that they never show the choreographers face when the critique is not good. I really am enjoying the dancing and my favorites change almost as much as Nigel’s.

  20. Jan says:

    Great job of “Guest Reviewing!” I love laughing this early in the morning.

  21. MAS says:

    Tyce’s jazz piece I didn’t find great or terrible, and then the judges fell all over themselves to praise him after NPH called him out last week. No one is perfect; opinions are subjective. So the critiques felt just like they were trying to prop Tyce up rather than talk about the piece which I thought was sort of whatever.

    Melanie’s lept is definitely the moment of the season so far. Holy cow!

  22. MAS says:

    PS: I think different music might have helped the Tyce piece.

  23. Julie says:

    Good job Gino Carlino!

  24. LovesDance says:

    Great recap, Gino. Wish you were wrong about tonight’s eliminations bc I really love Caittlyn but if she is in the B4 with Jordan, we all know Nigel will save Jordan. Loved most of the routines last night but, even if it hadn’t been the most spectacular routine of the night (which it definitely was!), Neil Haskel & Melanie took the crown… love me some Neil. Wish Uncle Nigel would just give us AllStar routines on results nights…one Neil dance wasn’t nearly enough and I wasn’t at all impressed with Florence & the Machine or Blush. Well, I am excited about The LXD for tonight :) .

  25. Vivi says:

    I truly enjoyed last night’s episode. This year’s batch of the Top 10 is probably the best the series has ever had. Dead serious. I’m even topping it over Season 4 batch. Now, let’s get down to business:

    I did not understand the hype over Marko/Allison routine. While danced beautifully, it was okay to me.

    The best routine of the night was Melanie/Sasha routine followed closely by Melanie/Neil. I didn’t cry like the rest of these folks but it was perfectly danced. That being said, I prefer Sasha over Melanie. What THAT being said, Melanie got this in the bag.

    Nappy Tabs will not be doing any type of choreography for Lady Gaga in the foreseeable future. You heard it here first.

    I think Ricky is underrated. I do not see the slight mistakes that other people see. Nigel said he dances to ‘high’. Gino (who did a great job with this article) sighted that Ricky was the weaker dancer in the hip hop routine. I disagree. I thought Ricky outshined Marko. By a large margin, too. And his routine with Anya was also one of my favorite routines of the night. All I got to say is that if Ricky is saved tomorrow (which is highly unlikely…weeps), I will be one happy broad.

    I agree that these choreographers need to give an emotional, meaty routine for Jordan. But I think it’s too late because she might be going home today.

    Caitlyn is a star. If she was in another season (besides Season 4…Katee was a beast!), Caitlyn would be the top female.

    The end.

  26. Phoebi says:

    Melanie’s performance with Neil would have been much more memorable for me if it wasn’t a rehash of a dance from So You Think You Can Dance UK. I enjoyed UK’s version more. Except the leap, Melanie’s leap was better than Katie’s was.

  27. Rebecca says:

    I will fearlessly predict that Sasha will be in the bottom two, and that whichever girl (likely Caitlyn, hopefully Jordan) is in the bottom with her will be sent home without Nigel even batting an eyelash. We’re due for a voting “upset,” I think.

  28. Lucia says:

    I think the final four will probably be Melanie, Marko, Sasha and Tadd. From the judges’ comments, it seems to be heading that way.

  29. MK204 says:

    I don’t quite get the OTT praise for Sasha. Her Quickstep was okay but nothing to write home about. When one dances with Pascha, they have to be really good so that he’s not the one focused on. For the past two weeks, that’s who I’ve focused on. Pascha is so good and is a true test of technical moves for his partner. Regarding last routine, also alright for me, but not spectacular.

    I was not bowled over by any routine and if they have to bring back choreographers from Do You Think You Can Dance, Jonathan Roberts would not be my choice anyway. Why don’t they get Mark Ballas or Derek Hough. Or they’d be better served if they brought back Benji Schwimmer to choreograph or his sister, Lacey for that matter. Even Maks or Cheryl. But Jonathan for me is as ho hum as Tony Davolani.

    Ricky’s Jive was so disappointing. I love the Jive. It’s one of my favorite dances, but Anya totally overpowered him. Moreover, it always appears that the SYTYCD audience for some reason isn’t interested in either Ballroom or Broadway, which is a shame because IMO there are too many contemporary dancers which bores me in the long run.

    Jess did extremely well considering his routines were just “meh”. I have a feeling he will be in the bottom but hopefully with all the “progress” they think he’s making they will keep him.

    Melanie may be good but like Sasha, I can’t stand the OTT tongue bathing she gets from the judges. So Gaga could take her away and put her on tour for all I care.

    As for all the tears on Allison and Marko’s routine…I had no idea why they were crying. I had to listen to the words of the song the late Jeff Buckley was singing to see why. Was it the routine? That didn’t make me cry. Knowing Buckley was deceased and listening to the words of that song…that made me cry.

    Anyway…hopefully Ricky will go tomorrow and as for the girls, any of them could go for all I care. Sasha would be my first choice however.

  30. Joyce says:

    What a great show! The absolute favorite dance for me was Melanie and Neil. I mean come on! The girl FLEW across the stage. (And who wouldn’t if it was Neil waiting for you with open arms and naked torso…hmmm…) anyway! I love Melanie and I know she will win this thing. I wasn’t as moved with the other dances but over all there was not a bad one. I agree that Ricky and Jordan should go. And I agree Sasha has a shoe fetish. A big one.

  31. bob says:

    sasha is this year’s personality that keeps getting voted through. i’m not denying that she is talented, but, technically, i don’t think she’s better than the other girls. she’s frequently sloppy, and the judge’s rarely call her out for it. with that said, i think that she and caitlynn performed the weakest out of the four girls. ricky was outdanced by marko, and jess is just intensely annoying.

  32. David H says:

    Hope Melanie wins, though the level of talent this year is amazing.
    Now, can we get back to Slezak handling these recaps – too much snark in this one from whoever comprises “Team TV Line.”

    One more question- why is it when Nigel comments on the beauty or sexuality of a female dancer, TV Line writers cringe – but when a gay TV Line writes squeals over male dancers going shirtless, as happened twice in this recap, that is somehow more acceptable? Personally I don’t care about this, but let’s have some consistency here – either it’s ok for judges and reviewers to comment on how the dancers look, or it’s not.

    • Rachel says:

      I disagree on everything except the part about Melanie! I think the snark factor was fine, and there is a huuuuge difference between saying someone’s hot and saying someone should spread their legs. There’s just a bit of a line, and while Nigel didn’t mean to cross it, it was kind of skeevy.

      • Jenks says:

        Totally agree on all counts. Nigel tiptoes way too close to the skeevy line every week and this time he stepped over.

  33. Rachel says:

    I thought it was interesting that Gaga critiques NappyTabs twice on the show, but if I remember correctly, her girl Laurie Ann Gibson put up some less than stellar routines in the limited few she did for the show. remember Moving Mountains? I only remember it because it was so bad!

    Great job on the recap Gino! Hope you’re here to stay!

    • Fronc says:

      thank you for pointing this out. if Gaga wants to call out “dated” choreography, she need look no further than “her girl” LAG.

  34. Rachel says:

    Good job, Gino ;) — I’m really afraid for Jess, though. I definitely think Ricky was weaker than Marko, but Jordan didn’t do Jess any favors in their dance, and I’m really afraid they’ll hold that against him!! I love Jess. (Melanie, btw, has got to win. She is just unbelievably fabulous!!!!)

  35. Peter G says:

    I think you did a very creditabe job of reviewing the routines last night, and you write with wit and aplomb. I really don’t think it matters who dances shirtless [cf Dmitri] I think what matters is what they do, with or without a shirt, and I think Melanie and Neil stole the show last night. That leap just went on forever! Sasha and Melanie’s routine exhibited power and strength, but I feel Melanie was the better dancer and I expected better from Sonia. I too, regret the fact the Mia Michaels is not choreographing for SYTYCD this season, but it seems that Mandy Moore is trying to grow into her shoes. Tyce has burnt his candle out as far as I’m concerned There are other up and coming choreographers whose work I would prefer to see more of on the show [e.g., Travis].
    I think Ricky will go home tonight, and I think Melanie will certainly not go home, nor will Sasha. Caitlynn & Jordan? Who knows???

  36. Peter G says:

    BTW, I thought Lady Gaga’s comments, were, all in all, pretty damn good!

  37. Lauren says:

    Welcome to TV Line Gino! You’re recap was fabulous and although we all love Micheal Sleazak I would not be sad to get your writing every week instead. Much like the judging this season sometimes the recaps on here get a little too love fest and less objective criticisms. You are a breath of fresh air.

  38. Maria says:

    Michael Slezak- Everyone needs a vacation, but please watch and recap this episode upon your return back to the real world. I look forward to reading your recaps on Thursdays almost as much as I do watching the show (as I do with Idol and The Voice), and I especially wanted your take on the top 8. This guest writer is like the Carmen Electra to your Jesse Tyler Ferguson. Thanks :)

  39. fela says:

    I found last nights show just OK. I did not get the fawning the judges made over Marko , Melanie & Sasha’s final number. I have to say it was brave of Lady Ga Ga criticism of the choregraphers. I did not get the heist dance it did not seem that were going to steal anything.The Melanie & Sahsa number was Good but not the best I’ve seen from Sonya. Someone please give Tyce a job so he does not have to choregraph a routine. It seems each week its the death sentence.Ade & Jordan number was terrible. They did not make good use of Ade. He spent the whole dance lifting her & the music is horrible. I also feel its unfair that certain dancers keep pulling contemporary dance each week which is their style so of course they will shine. The sweep dance by nappy tabs was not good . The song did not make sense with the routine.The quick pace at the the end of the song reminded me of last year Out of your Mind but Alex Freaking Wong is not their to showcase the moves. Ricky & Marko were OK. What happened to the Paso Doble & Salsa? I want to see some hot tamale train action. It is unfair to have Jesse in this competiton because he’s too short & the girl has to dance with out shoes to compliment. He can’t lift either. Cailtyn & Ricky are going this round.

  40. Jordan says:

    Gino – we love our Michael AND you did a fantastic job taking the reins for the week. Welcome to the TVLine team and all the best. I agree with @Maria, Michael, we’d love to hear your take on the top 8 as well. Maybe you can add that in to your next review. Have a great vacation! Well deserved!
    Dancing – haven’t watched the show yet, but have been thinking about a couple of things so I’ll comment anyway.
    1. Completely agree that the quality of the choreography has got to be mentioned more, but I think it’s also tricky to keep things clear that way. In a dancer’s life, all will experience so-so choreography, and the really great dancers learn to elevate any routine.
    2. I think the level of dance this year is superb, and in that sense, everyone of these dancers are standouts. It’s hard to understand the “haters” for one dancer or another, and seems to be part of the anonymous opinion factory that the Internet is.
    Just my two cents.

  41. Rebecca says:

    Can anyone list what styles Melanie has managed to “pull from the hat” this season? I’m getting bored with her contemporary routines set to touching music on a mildly lit stage…

  42. Regi says:

    Enjoyed the recap Gino! I was unaware of all the Jordan-hating going on, but I have to say Ryan stayed way too long at the fair. Jordan will probably make it through tonight, but the final contest will most likely be between Melanie and Sasha. Ricky proved to be the weaker male dancer last night, so I think he will be joining Caitlyn in the long walk home. Tadd continues to surprise me with his ability to pick up choreography and sell a number, but I think it’s Marko’s slot in the finale to lose at this point. Hey, it only my opinion :)

  43. me says:

    I loved the Sasha/Melanie routine the best. It was fierce, it was almost technically perfect, it was different from a lot of things the show has had. I just dislike the over-selling they’ve been doing of these two, especially in Melanie’s case. Yes, she’s an amazing dancer, there’s no doubt about that. But she also hasn’t really been challenged in the slightest. They’re setting her up for voting backlash. Eventually, I think people feel more inclined to vote for a b-boy who’s able to sell a passable enough job at a foxtrot than for the Chosen One who seems to only get routines in her comfort zone. And I WANT to see her challenged, because it’s very likely that she can do it, but we’ll never know for sure if we don’t see it. Crowning her the best before she’s even had to do something potentially terrible like, I don’t know, Tahitian is a little too early.

  44. j says:

    I’m so glad other people feel the same way about the melanie/sasha routine…I must have missed something while watching because I did not think it was anything special at all. It could be because I don’t enjoy Melanie or Sasha though. Yes they are talented but there is just something about both of them that really bothers me and turns me off from wanting to vote for them.

  45. lightning says:

    i’ve kind of been like nigel, my favorite dancer has been constantly changing each week. after this week, though, my solid favorite to win is marko… he is the most versatile, not only in his ability to brilliantly perform different dancing techniques/styles, but also in his ability to project different emotions and personas to fit the character of the dance. he can be graceful and beautiful in contemporary pieces and in lyrical hip hop, but he can also be powerful and tough in making crisp hard hip hop moves. he is passionate when he dances, his technique is superbly top-notch, and he pours his heart and soul into his dancing more than any other contestant on the show.. he is seriously amazing…

    i wouldve preferred to see sasha and jordan perform the sonya piece rather than melanie. i love melanie in graceful contemporary routines, but i think jordan and sasha r better in the fiery fierce sexy routines. but this does not change the fact that i think melanie is extraordinarily talented and beautiful.

    and tadd is simply delightful.

    and i seriously miss marko & melanie dancing together, thank goodness we’ll see them perform together in the finale :0) prior to melanie & marko, the only partnership that i had ever seriously loooooved on the show was katee & joshua.

    season 8 has been my favorite sytycd season ever.