BEST OF THE NIGHT | Jasmine M & Alan (Tango, Miriam and Leonardo) This one was Rated O. M. F. G. — from the moment menacing Alan tore off innocent Jasmine’s scarf and sniffed it like the dastardly villain he was for the duration of the routine. And I, for one, loved every minute of it: Alan pushing Jasmine backwards as she balanced on one foot; the wicked, sexy interplay of their leg flicks; and that astonishing series of lifts at the end — Mary counted five of ’em! — that left the ballroom judge screaming “Passion is a fever of the mind! Check my temperature! I have a fever!” If that didn’t quite make sense, so what? I challenge anybody to be entirely lucid after witnessing such a raw display of human lightning and thunder. Or something like that. (I’ve lost my damn mind, too, OK?)
BEST OF THE NIGHT (RUNNER-UP) | Jasmine H & Aaron (Lyrical Hip-Hop, Nappytabs) Sure, Jasmine H and Aaron benefit from the fact that they’re two of the sexiest, most mature dancers in the Season 10 mix. But the depth of emotion and explosive power they brought to this routine about a woman trying (and failing) to brush off her traveling-musician lover was absolutely mesmerizing. I was hypnotized by that sequence where Jasmine sat on Aaron’s lap on the couch, their bodies moving almost as one unit, and her insane backwards-handstand-flip over Aaron’s head was hands-down the move of the night. Add to the fact that the routine prompted Mary and Cat to rock the phrase “step, push, ripple,” and the duo should’ve been granted automatic passage into the Top 16 — or, if you consider their impressive acting skills, optioned for some kind of Felicity-esque college-set drama to air on Fox next summer.
CO-THIRD BEST (AND AWFULLY CLOSE TO NO. 1) | Makenizie & Paul (Jazz, Sean Cheesman) I’ll admit Mr. Cheesman had me hooked as soon as he said “mad scientist” and “sexy fembot,” but it was Makenzie and Paul, who failed to impress me with their waltz last week, who completely won me over with one of the night’s most intricate, hard-charging routines. I loved the way Makenzie brought unbridled sexuality to the stage but tempered it with humor, the way she managed to contort her body around Paul’s while still keeping her lines soft and graceful. Paul, for his part, showed terrific agility with a series of death-defying leaps and a final backwards flip into a prone position where he received an “electric kiss of death.” My sole complaint? Makenzie’s black vinyl and partially sheer red negligee was a little more Frederick’s of Hollywood than Bride of Frankenstein.
CO-THIRD BEST (AND AWFULLY CLOSE TO NO. 1) | Amy & Fik-Shun (Hip-Hop, NappyTabs) Maybe it’s not fair that Amy and Fik-Shun got to go second-to-last this week (after scoring last week’s pimp spot), but that shouldn’t detract from the fact that they pulled off one of the best pure hip-hop numbers the show has seen in several seasons. Credit to NappyTabs for the genius idea to incorporate a hotel luggage carrier, but kudos to the jaunty bellhops for leaping through it, hanging off it and riding it around with wicked abandon. Fik-Shun’s “wind it back” move went so low and so crazy that I found myself giggling with glee, and when it came time for Amy to drop that booty and get her freak on, her inner contemporary swan went out the stage door for a nip of gin and a cigarette just to cope with the nastiness of it all. Girlfriend may be overhyped, but that doesn’t mean she’s not living up to it.
WORST OF THE NIGHT | Brittany & BluPrint (Broadway, Spencer Liff) Brittany definitely brought the old razzle-dazzle to Spencer’s cute routine about a couple of students who fall in love at the library, but she’d have been better off dancing with a damp mop than with BluPrint, whose tentative moves — and general inability to bring to life a character — never rose to the level of someone who should’ve made the Top 20 in the first place. Harsh? Maybe. But “untrained” shouldn’t equal “above criticism” — which is too often the case when you’ve got Mary saying things like, “You’ve got to dig deeper. You were great.” Which is it, girlfriend? If viewers rail against that double standard, BluPrint could be a goner next week.
WORST OF THE NIGHT (RUNNER-UP) | Hayley & Curtis (Jazz, Ray Leeper) Nigel and Mary acted as hot and bothered as if they’d just watched William Hurt hurl a metal deck chair through a glass door on his way to ravaging Kathleen Turner in Body Heat. Me? I thought the duo exhibited all the sexual chemistry of Dipsy and Po on Teletubbies — if Dipsy was playing an awkward game of grab-ass and Po was teetering around the meadow in thigh-high leather boots. Hayley and Curtis’ every connection, every touch, felt merely perfunctory — and the routine itself lacked the interlocking synchronization that any horizontal mambo requires. Methinks the overhype — coupled with the deadly lead-off spot — could spell trouble during next Tuesday’s results.
MOST OVERHYPED | Mariah & Carlos (Contemporary, Stacey Tookey) I like a lot of Stacey’s work, but this routine about a guy with memory loss and his anguished lover felt like a pale imitation of moves I’ve seen done more compellingly in prior seasons. Yeah, Mariah emoted nicely in that extended lift where Carlos slowly carried her down the stage, but the overall degree of difficulty didn’t seem to match up with several numbers that proceeded and followed it. At minimum, the judges’ rapturous response seemed slightly curious. Or maybe it was one of those dances that plays better live than it does on a TV screen?
MOST ENJOYABLE DANCE THAT MAYBE WASN’T ALL THAT GOOD | Malece & Jade (Bollywood, Nakul Dev Mahajan) Christina Applegate (aka SYTYCD‘s Best Guest Judge) made an excellent point that untrained Jade is simply going to have to work harder than his rivals — and find ways to tap into a deeper level of passion and inspiration — if he wants to go far into Season 10. But on the flip side, Mary made a good point that he and Malece looked like they were having the time of their lives attempting to pull off the intricate hand positions and wicked footwork that Nakul had cooked up. Yeah, this isn’t So You Think You Can Make Adorably Exaggerated/Comical Facial Expressions, but you had to at least love Jade’s impala-esque leap, no?
MOST UNFAIR CRITIQUE| Jenna & Tucker (Cha Cha, Dmitry Chaplin) Jenna really ought to get a pass to go directly to DWTS without passing go and without collecting $200 — and just on the basis of HER LEGS alone. As my hubby pointed out from our living room couch — shortly after that insane split of hers — was there anything else on the screen aside from Jenna’s otherworldly gams? Poor Tucker — maybe the least charismatic fella in the Season 10 pool — is gonna be relegated to a supporting player unless someone stuffs Jenna into a pair of heinous genie pants. Still, Nigel’s droning complaint that Dmitry’s choreography didn’t contain enough pure cha cha and undermined the entire format of the show (!) felt like an underhanded way to increase the chances of Tucker’s exit (before animators Jade or BluPrint) while not focusing at all on the poor guy’s execution. I mean, come on, after 10 seasons of this pas de don’t, we know when we’re being manipulated, dammit!
ROUTINE I ALMOST FORGOT UNTIL THE END-OF-EPISODE RECAP | Alexis & Nico (Contemporary, Stacey Tookey) Indeed, Stacey set this routine to an absolutely gorgeous tune (Olafur Arnalds and Arnor Dan’s “Old Skin”), but in my estimation, this was a clear case of the audio trumping the visual. Sure, Nico rocked it with some angstry solo work at the start of the number, but I didn’t fully feel the chemistry once Alexis joined in the proceedings as a soldier returning home from the war. Was I perhaps yanked out of the moment because Nico took care of Alexis’ bags before he ever embraced her? Perhaps. But it was the duo’s job to draw me back in — and they never quite pulled it off. Plus, as Nigel noted, Alexis’ lines lacked a certain fluidity. Like Avis, she’s gonna have to try harder.
SHOULD BE BOTTOM 6
Hayley, Alexis, Mariah, Curtis, BluPrint, Tucker
WILL BE BOTTOM 6 Hayley, Alexis, Jenna, Curtis