Is it just me or does Cat seem extra bubbly tonight? On this week’s panel we have Carmen Electra (who I always thought had more of a film/tv career than it turns out she does–she’s been dancing since she was younger, went to dance school, worked with Prince and Jamie King), Travis Wall (which unfortunately means no choreography from him), Nigel Lythgoe, and Mary Murphy.
Once again we have a group number preceding our couple dances. This week it is a guys’ routine first, with new choreographer Justin Giles. The dance is meant to represent the seven stages of grief after a guy has been cheated on. The dance itself is strangely interesting. There’s something really cool about it that makes me very excited to see what he can do with a couple in the future. Jess is, not surprisingly, the business suit guy, Marko is front and center (and shirtless). Though I don’t really see the story he mentioned in the dance, this an example where I don’t really care because the actual performance is exciting on its own. (Cat says sometimes her job is so hard and I think she means who she should stand next to. Naturally she steps in next to shirtless Marko.)
our first couple of the night is Melanie and Marko. Sucks for everyone, they have to come after. We get a reminder that Nigel was not a fan of Marko last season, which begs the question, how much has he improved over one year to make Nigel think he’s AMAZING this year? Also, Marko worked as a drag queen on a cruise. Melanie, meanwhile, gardened and went to school in NY for art. (Not quite as exciting a story.) She has a boyfriend. Ray Leeper (another new choreographer to the show!) choroepgraphs their jazz routine. In this storyline it is basically Romeo and Juliette running off to elope. I think this performance has officially made me a fan of the pair (not that I didn’t think they were great before, but now I really like them), Their movements are so sharp and clean and fast in this one that it almost looks like they’re dancing on fast forward. Cat makes the good point that Marko’s costume makes him look like a firefighter who forgot his shirt.
Travis- What a way to start the show! Marko is one of the strongest male dancers and Melanie is his favorite by far.
Carmen- So so strong.
Mary- Wow! You dig so deep into a character.
Nigel- so delightful. Even your walking is done with such style.
Sasha and Alexander are up next with hip hop. Sasha comes from a big supportive family. Alexander started dancing to get our of gym. The story about their dance is that Alex tries to kiss her at the end of a date and she keeps not letting him. Shaun Everisto choreographs. At first watching this I thought they did a good job but watching it back, it’s clear they don’t manage the moves with nearly enough “swag.” it doesn’t feel like a hip hop routine, they don’t hit the moves hard enough.
Carmen- I didn’t feel it as much.
Mary- I wish I could say I saw the swag.
Nigel- It lost me.
Travis- I didn’t hate it as much as they did but you have to work on a lot of things.
Couple number three is Jordan and Tadd. Jordan started seriously dancing when she was in third grade and it took over everyone’s lives. Tadd only discovered his heritage when he was older. Toni Redpath choreographs a waltz for the pair about a siren who draws in a guy and kills him. This is one of the only waltzes that I have ever truly enjoyed on the show. (I think this is more because of the choreography than the dancing per se, but very enjoyable.)
Mary- It was dreamy and romantic the way it should have been. (Also Mary Murphy, “in particularly” is not English.)
Nigel- Toni was very clever in the choreography.
Travis- You could do a little more (I like that he looks at this as a choreographer not as a judge and actually tries to advise everyone.)
Carmen- I don’t know much about the waltz but it was beautiful.
Up next are Clarice and Jess. Clarice is busy with dance all the time. Jess was all about performing in high school (I know, you’re shocked!) Justin Giles choreographs a contemporary peace for them. This was undoubtedly the best performance yet. There is still something in Jess’s facial expressions that don’t work for me but I liked Clarice a lot here, where before she just sort of blended into the background.
Travis- this is the first time i felt the chemistry was honest not forced.
Nigel- I really felt the anger, tremendously danced and choreographed.
Carmen- I really believed you story.
Mary- This partnership has been growing every week.
Ashley and Chris are couple number five. Ashley’s mother is a dance teacher and she loves to cook. She dreams of hosting a cooking show (which might have made me like her less). Chris has a big family. He has dyslexia and had a hard time in school. They have Liz Lira choreographing a salsa for them. Unlike the waltz earlier, this did nothing to endear me to the genre or the couple. It felt labored and overly slow.
Travis- I loved the lifts but it got heeeeee…you know? It didn’t pop.
Carmen- There was potential but it wasn’t quite there.
Mary- I think it was weak too. You’re the only two dancers on the hot tamale train from last week but this one wasn’t there. Ashley had a few good moments but wasn’t consistent.
Nigel- If we’re talking about the freedom of salsa, it just wasn’t there. But Chris was there for Ashley all routine.
Ryan and Ricky are second to last for the night. Ryan went to a dance convention when she was sixteen. Ryan’s family hadn’t had the money for dance class but Mia helped her out. She performed on that zombie musical episode of house. Ricky loves the beach and fishing. Ricky became a cheerleader when there was no dance opportunity. They have a jazz number, choreographed by Chucky Klapow. This about people who are done in by being members of a cult of fashion. Ran has finally managed to wipe that smile away and this is easily one of her best performances yet. There’s a zombie-like quality to this that I am not sure if it is intentional but it works. Cat lets us know the judges were head bopping all the way through.
Carmen- You guys rocked!
Mary- It was hot. This was quirky dance. Ryan went deep in character.
Nigel- This suited you both really well. I love the quirk of this.
Travis- Ryan, I think you’re one of the best girls here. I see you both past the top ten.
Lastly is Caitlynn and Mitchell. Caitlyyn is very outdoorsy and much more hardcore than you would expect considering her super-sweet demeanor. Mitchell’s dad died when he was young and they were homeless for a year. Mandy Moore choreographed a contemporary routine for them about falling in love. I think this is one of my favorites for the night. The choreography perfectly matched the music and they really had chemistry. The lifts were also so impressive. (Mitchell is apparently injured but you can’t tell from the dancing.) This is my favorite Mandy Moore routine too.
Mary- My favorite number of the night! (She’s crying…) You are both incredible dancers.
Nigel- It just grabbed us all. It flowed and was beautiful.
Travis- I kept finding myself trying to catch my breath.
Carmen- Best performance of the night.
Closing out the night is the girls’ dance, a Ray Leeper jazz routine. The story is about seven girls whose mission is to rid the world of evil men. Like her partner, Melanie is front and center this dance. While I don’t love this dance the way I love the guys’ there is something interesting and fun about this one too. I think the music is just a little too slow for me.
Also a note that Kathryn McCormick and Billy Bell are in the audience, which is always fun. Wish they’d been there when I was at the live taping.
That’s our night. Who do you think has risen to the occasion and who should be in the bottom three?