Caitlynn Lawson. Jess LeProtto. Clarice Ordaz. Marko Germar. Jordan Casanova. Mitchell Kelly. Melanie Moore. Ricky Jaime. Sasha Mallory. Tadd Gadduang.
It’s been a long, hard road. There have been plenty of ups and downs (not to mention some side-to-sides, and a couple of sashays) along the way. But finally, here we are. The Top 10. Tonight, the Top 5 girls and the Top 5 guys compete for YOUR votes, America.
Welcome…to SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE!
Cat Deeley, a slinky, shimmering black beauty in a sequin dress and straightened hair, introduces us to our “jidges” for the week. Joining Executive Producer Nigel Lythgoe and ballroom Boadicea Mary Murphy is the one, the only Dr. Horrible!!! Err, I mean Neil Patrick Harris!!! He’s looking all suave, as usual, and so relaxed. He sits with one arm over the back of his chair, just chillin’ yo.
Nigel tells us that tickets for the So You Think You Can Dance Season 8 Tour go on sale Friday, July 29. First show will be in Orlando, Florida. More details available at fox.com/dance.
This week each dancer is paired with an All-Star dancer from a previous season to perform one routine. They will also each get to perform one solo dance. So contrary to what I reported last week they will NOT be randomly paired with a new partner from amongst their fellow contestants. Just an All-Star and a solo. That should be more than enough.
And they’re off!
1. Marko & Chelsie (S4)
Choreographer: Jason Gilkison
Music: “Cinema Italiano (The Ron Fair Remix)” by Kate Hudson
The story has Marko as a photographer and Chelsie as his muse. During rehearsal footage we get to watch her kick him dead in the face several times as they try and click in some of the lifts and turns. Tonight he’s a sharp-dressed man in his crisply pressed suit and tie. The whole routine is fast paced, and there are more than a few challenging partnering moves. But the big one, the one that lead to so many boots to the head during rehearsals, has Chelsie wrapping her legs around Marko’s face (yes, his face) as he spins her across the stage. Seriously. I mean, who even comes up with a move like that? But they both pull it off, and it doesn’t even come off looking awkward. Beyond that I’d say he nails pretty much ever step, strut, kick, lift, shimmy, and pose he was given.
Music: “Syrup & Honey” by Duffy
Sasha is one of the true wonders of this season. She is such an amazing mix of wild, passionate abandon and fine, exquisite control. She can combine more moves, more tricks and changes, in one routine than just about anyone else, and yet not seem frantic or scattered. And nothing ever seems wasted. Love her, and love this solo.
2. Jordan & Brandon (S5)
Choreographer: Dwight Rhoden & Desmond Richardson
Music: “Who You Are (Live Acoustic Version)” by Jessie J
I realize Jordan is the contestant here, but can we just talk about the fucking BEAST that is Brandon Bryant? That spinning aerial leap that drops straight down into the splits? C’mon! Ahem, anyways… Jordan had possibly her best performance of the season with this. She seemed 100% connected to the material, which doesn’t always happen with her, in my opinion. And that turn where she had her leg held straight up in the air and she became still as stone while her partner spun her on her axis? Impressive.
Music: “Come By Me” by Harry Connick, Jr.
This wasn’t my favorite thing he’s ever done. Usually his solo stuff really shines. He’s a natural showman that gets off on the theatricality of the Broadway-style material. But tonight just felt like pretty basic leaps and spins. Not much in terms of either craft or personality.
3. Tadd & Comfort (S4)
Style: Hip hop
Choreographer: Chuck Maldonado
Music: “Look At Me Now” by Chris Brown feat. Lil Wayne & Busta Rhymes
Tadd is an incredibly gifted B-boy, but his real gift, particularly in this routine, is his personality. He is just so happy and fun to watch no matter what he’s doing. And this was a fast piece of choreography, if not especially challenging, but he kept up with it effortlessly. I agree with Nigel when he says Tadd actually out danced his All-Star this time.
Music: “You’re The One That I Want” by Angus & Julia Stone
One of the many, many things I love about Melanie is that her choreography is always more than a repetitive series of the same leg lifts over and over, and she does turns and spins in more than one direction. She shows tremendous versatility and variety, and seems connected with the spirit of every routine she performs. Perhaps that’s the artist, the painter in her.
4. Mitchell & Melody (S1)
Style: Broadway Jazz
Choreographer: Tyce Diorio
Music: “Take Off With Us” from All That Jazz (Soundtrack)
The judges criticize this for being too vague and confusing, but I didn’t find it any more obtuse that any other Tyce Broadway piece. I have no experience with this All-Star, having only started watching SYTYCD with Season 4, and so I didn’t find her especially engaging. But I thought Mitchell did a fine job. This was a case of the choreography and song choice not doing the dancer any favors.
Music: “Daylight Breaks” by Cassidy Haley
Again, points for variety in the movements, doing floor work as well as leaps and pirouettes (in both directions.) And the poor guy has had to dance for his life so often over the season that he forgot he wasn’t supposed to flee the stage the second his solo was over. Cat had to call him back so they could give his voting information, playing it off for laughs… and earning that Emmy she’s bound to get.
Music: “Royal T” by Crookers feat. Roison Murphy
I really enjoyed her musicality in this piece. One more time I’ll praise the dancer’s choice to mix it up in terms of movement and rhythm. So many times the thing that disappoints me about particularly contemporary dancers solos is that they tend to have one leg they like to lift or kick with, and only do pirouettes in one direction, etc. Tonight most of them are doing a great job of not being repetitive.
5. Caitlynn & Pasha (S3)
Choreographer: Miriam Larici & Leonardo Barrionuevo
Music: “Malajunta” by Orquesta Color Tango
Far and away the best performance Caitlynn has ever had on this show, and amongst the finest tangos we’ve seen on the series as a whole. There was a palpable and electric connection between her and her partner (many would claim this is the magic of Pasha, I suppose), and every move they made was perfectly matched. And this dance contained some of the most otherworldly, effortless lifts ever. Also, let’s not underestimate the impact of the wardrobe department finally being given a budget. Everyone looks better tonight than they have before, but Caitlynn enjoys a rather stunning physical transformation, from sweet young lady to hot and sexy woman.
Music: “This Time” by John Legend
Thank god he wasn’t eliminated from this competition when he suffered an injury in the first week, because Mitchell has an infectious passion for his art as he moves, and an infectious little boy glee when he’s just talking with Cat. He reminds me a bit of Brandon, and not just because he’s ripped and dances with his shirt off a lot.
6. Sasha & Twitch (S4)
Style: Hip hop
Choreographer: Christopher Scott
Music: “Misty Blue” by Dorothy Moore
Twitch has a history of elevating the already amazing dancers he partners with into the freaking stratosphere, and this is no exception. Sasha has been a stunning force in this competition from the beginning that has been sort of overshadowed by other couples, and perhaps hampered by a partnership that, while not bad just wasn’t the best for her. (I still love you, Alexander, just sayin’.) But I’ll tell you this, my devotion to Melanie and Marko notwithstanding, I can easily, EASILY see Sasha Mallory taking this entire thing in the end. And I would be thrilled to see it. Performance of the night by a mile, and another routine added to my pantheon of favorites.
Music: “Tonight” by Lykke Li
I loved how her leap at the end took her smoothly down to the floor, where she rolled over and pulled into a sitting position, peering “innocently” over her knee at the audience. That felt like an extra touch of performance beyond just the physical choreography. I appreciate those little touches.
7. Jess & Kathryn (S6)
Choreographer: Stacey Tookey
Music: “The Lonely” by Christina Perri
Okay, first things first: Kathryn is just achingly beautiful. There, I said it. Now about the routine… I think it’s pretty challenging to try and make an emotional connection with the audience when the entire point of the routine is the disconnection of the two dancers. In essence Jess had to “act” like he’s fighting for his partner’s attention, and by doing so capture and hold the focus of all of us. Considering Jess has struggled with this very issue to this point this season, I’d say he did a truly remarkable job here. I think the emotion of the piece came across as very real. Both he and Kathryn looked visibly moved at the end of it. And Stacey Tookey put together a sequence of lifts tailored to Jess’ abilities, so that worked out as well.
8. Melanie & Pasha (S3)
Style: Viennese waltz
Choreographer: Jason Gilkison
Music: “Everybody Hurts” by Tina Arena
This was pure magic. Melanie moved like a ghost around that stage, flowing from graceful step to flawless, floating lift, and straight back into graceful footwork without so much as the tiniest stutter. When Pasha set her down there was never a trace of weight as her feet connected with the stage. This was the same kind of haunting movement she demonstrated in last week’s “moth dance” when she had to tether herself by force of will to a hanging lightbulb as her partner moved her. Un-freaking-real.
Music: “Cosmic Love” by Florence + The Machine
As spectacular as she was earlier in the night, this solo had a bit too much of that one leg/one direction stuff I’ve remarked upon already.
9. Ricky & Allison (S2)
Choreographer: Tyce Diorio
Music: “Precious Things” by Tori Amos
What the hell is with Tyce doing things I actually like lately? Dammit, man! This was one of those dark, twisted, morbid and creepifying pieces that I tend to love so much. This sort of reminds me of the Kayla & Kupono “Addiction” routine from Season 5. Allison Holker is a powerhouse and Ricky matched her the entire way through. And I positively adored the last few moments, with him wiping his mouth and stalking after her as she crawls desperately to escape. And then he does a “Spider-Man crawl” upstage towards the audience before finally capturing her and they both freeze in mid-struggle on the last beat of music. So damned cool. Song choice was fantastic, too.
Music: “More Than Anyone (Stripped Version)” by Gavin DeGraw
The most amazing thing about Marko is how he can apparently defy gravity at will. Case in point, he goes into a backwards single-handed flip (in itself an impressive move), but halfway through it, still only on one hand, HE SLOWS DOWN! Mid-flip! And at another point he does a roll with a certain amount of power and weight behind it, but he manages to land on his backside with a slow and gentle touch. I have no idea how any of that is even possible. And all of that with a bullet in his shoulder.
10. Clarice & Robert (S7)
Choreographer: Nakul Dev Mahajan
Music: “Aila Re Aila” from Khatta Meetha (Soundtrack)
Bollywood is just fun to watch. And when you have two stunningly beautiful people performing it, that makes it even better. My favorite part of this routine? The kiss. Not just because the kisses are always the best part, but because here it’s not used as the final “shocking” moment of the dance, but rather happens midway through, and both dancers sort of pause for a couple of beats to catch there breath after it. The moment plays like a genuine emotionally shocking moment, at least for the two characters in the dance. Again, it felt like a great piece of acting, a layer of performance not all dancers bring to their work.
And there you have it. All in all I think this was one of the better nights of the season so far. We’ve reached the point where losing ANY of these dancers is going to hurt. But the S8 Tour will feature the entire Top 10, so whoever we lose this week will still come back to the family eventually.
I’ve enjoyed the whole guest judge schtick this year more than I expected to, as well. NPH was yet another in an (almost) flawless line of entertaining and actually quite knowledgeable people to sit on the panel. And while I personally had more fun with Jesse Tyler Ferguson last week, Neil is a treasure anyway and every way we can get him. Wish that HE would be one of the guest performers on this week’s results show, but alas we won’t be that lucky.
Now, I’ve done my part. It’s your turn. Weigh in and let us know what you thought. Is Sasha the living embodiment of Ororo Munroe? Can Marko actually fly? Will Tyce finally forsake his cheesy Broadway ways in favor for this much more appealing darker side? Leave us a comment here on the blog, or drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org