SYTYCD: Top 12 Perform

Tonight is the start of double performances: each couple will perform two routines over the course of the evening, giving them twice the chance to earn America’s votes and allowing us more time to evaluate them. It is also the last time they will be dancing together, as starting with the top ten we will be bringing in the all stars to partner with our dancers.

The judges this week are Mary, Nigel, Sonyah, and Jesse Tyler Ferguson (Emmy nominated Modern Family actor). Jesse immediately proves himself to be a major (unsurprising) fan of the show.

First up is Sasha and Alexander, dancing a paso doble choreographed by Tony Meredith and Melanie Lepatin. Unlike your typical paso doble, this will be a true battle of the sexes. Maybe it is just me, but there is something creepy looking about Sasha’s midriff. The pair are fine together (with Sasha slightly stronger as usual, which is particularly noticeable on the floor crawl) but I remember Jeanine’s paso doble with Brandon being stronger.
Judges say
Nigel: Sasha was brilliant. Alexander was stronger than ever (though it had a couple sloppy moments).
Mary: This routine was hot.
Jesse: Highly dramatical and I loved every moment.
Sonyah: I’m all about strength in women so Sasha rocks my socks but I don’t always trust Alexander’s partnering because of his inconsistency.

Jordan and Taad get a Travis Wall contemporary piece about a girl (vulture) who takes advantage of a guy (man struggling in the desert). If anything can redeem this duo in America’s eyes, it is this dance. They are both impressive and powerful in every way.
Judges say
Mary: Beautiful, dark, magnificent!
Jesse: The girls are amazing but Taad just proved that the guys are in it to win it.
Sonyah: I really wish I could swear. A lot. This is the true artistry that makes me want to cry. Unstoppable.
Nigel: What a happy little story it was. The pair of you were tremendous.

Ricky and Ryan get a Broadway routine with Spencer Liff about a guy who fantasizes that a girl in a poster comes to life. Without seeing anything, I know this routine is not going to go their way. Ryan is not sultry and seductive (maybe she would be if she could stop smiling) and Broadway rarely does any favors for its dancers. They needed something amazing and emotional right now to win some direly needed votes because there is a good chance they will not be making it to the Top Ten which is a shame. They dance the piece well enough but there’s nothing impressive about it.
Judges say
Jesse: I’m such big fans of the two of you but it felt muted.
Sonyah: It was ok.
Nigel: It’s about style and if you don’t get it, you lose the flavor.
Mary: You had the style in the first thirty seconds but then you lost it.

Caitlynn and Mitchell get a hip hop routine by Christopher Scott about the children who are forced to fight in a war. Unfortunately, the concept didn’t really come across and they were not in sync. Most of the time Caitlynn was a little sharper.
Judges say
Sonyah: I love Chris Scott and I love you, but there was a lack of clarity and unison that kept me from connecting.
Nigel: It wasn’t together.
Mary: I was drawn to what you were doing, you’re so talented even if it wasn’t in unison.
Jesse: You dance with so much power.

Melanie and Marko find themselves with a tango choreographed by Louie Van Amstel. There is no storyline, this is all about them getting the character of the dance. Unlike most of their previous work, this did not work for me. Melanie kept making stupid facial expressions and seemed a bit uncomfortable. Marko looked like he may have stumbled a bit when getting up from a sitting position at one point. The final flip however was quite impressive.
Judges say
Nigel: This is the most challenged you’ve been. That was tremendous in comparison to what you did in dress rehearsal (note that is not the same as saying it was simply tremendous).
Mary: This was very tough and there were some few awkward shakes and could have been better but you did a really good job.
Jesse: I am huge fans of yours, you have a spark.
Sonyah: You make me lose my breath every time you dance.

Clarice and Jess were given a lyrical hip hop piece also choreographed by Chris Scott. This piece is about a girl’s insecurities, Jess is meant to be there to support her. Dance-wise, the duo really hit this piece. Face-wise, Jess you really got to work on it.
Judges say
Mary: You had me dancing in my seat. This number was so cute and innocent. You have this pulse and swag that was the same.
Jesse: I didn’t care for it–happy opposite day–I loved it!
Sonyah: You’re always so adorable. You slayed it.
Nigel: Beautifully danced.

Round two begins with Sasha and Alexander doing a jazz routine choreographed by Tyce Diorio. This is about life and losing things. Despite utterly hating the song (That’s Life), they do a good job. There is one lift at the end that looks like a mistake but they don’t let it phase them.
Judges say
Jesse: I wasn’t sure you could top the “I’m Coming Home” routine but you did here. My favorite number so far.
Sonyah: Tyce is the bleep. Alexander, this is what I have been hoping for all season. You dove in and looked amazing. Sasha you made it happen.
Nigel: For a few weeks Sasha was carrying Alexander but not tonight.
Mary: Alexander you had a breakthrough night. There is a freedom now in your movement.

Jordan and Taad get a Broadway routine by Spencer Liff. The story is about a girl who has been asleep for a hundred years and needs to be awoken by a prince. The most disappointing part of this is that they used the Broadway version of “Out Tonight” instead of the movie version. The song was a little muted which made the routine itself feel a bit less energetic than it should have. Not bad but not as strong as the earlier piece.
Judges say
Sonyah: I felt a little underwhelmed.
Nigel: It could have been a little quirkier. You could have brought more characters.
Mary: You have to find a way to make it work but it just wasn’t strong enough.
Jesse: I agree but your earlier dance was one of my favorites of the season.

Ryan and Ricky get their chance for redemption with a cha-cha choreographed by Louie Van Amstel. It seems a little unfair that they get two styles that rarely come across well onstage but if they can pull it off it could be a big coup. I don’t think Ryan quite managed the hip action (though her outfit helped disguise this fact). Ricky was a bit stronger but I don’t think was what they needed.
Judges say
Nigel: Ricky did a really good job, great style and class. Ryan overdid it a little bit.
Mary: That was the fastest cha-cha I have ever seen. Ryan got a little sloppy but there was good body rhythm. Ricky was tight and clean. Ricky goes on the hot tamale train.
Jesse: This is my favorite for Ricky.
Sonyah: Ricky you were enjoying it. Ryan’s pressure made it a little tense. Embrace how wonderful you are.

Caitlynn and Mitchell‘s final routine together is a jazz routine choreographed by Travis Wall. Caitlynn is a rock star who was in love with Mitchell and discovers that he is married. My one note to Caitlynn is to close her mouth. It started out action-packed by it sort of slowed down to much in the middle.
Judges say
Mary: Slightly naughty. Loved it! You did it really well.
Jesse: Only you can prevent forest fires by not dancing in a forest like that.
Sonyah: That was really really hot. Mitch, sometimes I feel like I don’t know where you are facially.
Nigel: Good advice from Sonyah. Can’t say anything to Caitlynn for fear of incriminating myself as a dirty old man.

Melanie and Marko‘s final dance is a contemporary piece by Dee Caspary. This is about a couple slipping in and out of light. Not surprisingly, this routine is extremely solid. A little big haunting even. (I have confirmed my suspicions that Dee Caspary just does not smile because not a hint of pleasure here.)
Judges say
Jesse: That was amazing. Literally goosebumps. This is my new favorite of yours.
Sonyah: I’m just so grateful that this is the future of dance. Thank you.
Nigel: I’m excited to see split up the couples except you too.
Mary: I’m going to be devastated when you two are separated.

Our last performance of the night is Clarice and Jess, doing a jive by Tony Meredith and Melanie Lepatin. For any other couple this wouldn’t be great but this style suits Jess pretty well. Clarice was mostly in it as well though there were times were she seemed to slow down a bit.
Judges say
Sonyah: I love it, adorable, perfect, amazing, thank you.
Nigel: It was very good. I’m a little uncomfortable when Jess lifts, it looks unbalanced. A bit more energy in parts would have been nice.
Mary: I agree. The leg kicks were fabulous but it lost steam. I missed the joy in Jess’s face. Clarice had it.
Jesse: I thought you were fantastic together. Jess is fantastic and needs the keys to Broadway. (He also wants to point out that Cat Deeley deserves to be recognized as one of the best hosts on TV.)

Who do you think should be in the bottom three this week? Who do you want sticking around for the Top Ten (and by extension the all stars and the tour)?

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