Without Cat’s usual preamble (sort of) the dancers are introduced on stage individually, marking our departure from the couple structure of the last five weeks. This week, they will be dancing with All Stars plus a solo (another plus to this season is that dancers can continue to focus on one excellent dance instead of two less excellent ones).
Our guest judge of the week is NEIL PATRICK HARRIS! In addition to the obvious stuff, he’s been on Broadway (Mark in Rent), on Glee, and even done a musical number in How I Met Your Mother. Nigel and Mary have coordinated with purple. Nigel tell us about the tour.
Marko and Chelsie Hightower are paired with Jason Gilkinson for a Samba. The story is about a photographer taking pictures of a woman. This will be a real test to show how good he actually is, without Melanie and in a style that is not his. It was a weird music choice but he does a seemingly good job. (I was too distracted by his tie clicked in place.)
NPH- That’s a heck of a way to start the show. Marko is the guy to beat.
Mary- You are the real deal out there! Those hips were rolling.
Nigel- You pulled it off seamlessly this week.
Solo number one is Sasha. It is interesting, if a little bit strange.
Jordan is teamed with Brandon for A Dwight Roden and Desmond Richardson contemporary routine. Brandon is shirtless for this routine, because…yeah. As much as Jordan does a good job, Brandon is given these attention grabbing sequences that make it hard to pay attention.
Mary- It’s so great to see Brandon on the stage, he is spectacular. Jordan was fierce.
Nigel- You don’t have many weaknesses.
NPH- It takes your breath away. I’m a big face guy and watching you expressions and watching you feel was inspiring.
Jess is the next solo, dressed in his usual preppiness. Dancing-wise he is pretty strong here. Facially…Jess, look in the mirror.
Tadd is paired with Comfort for a Chuck Maldonado hip hop routine. The choreography is a bit slower than seems appropriate for the song. Something about this routine doesn’t work for me. Comfort’s outfit makes her look gawky and they ended up looking more awkward than anything else.
Nigel- Very fast, no time to think. (Nigel makes sure to point out that Tadd is a b-boy, not hip hop.) You outdanced your all star.
NPH- It’s true. In an upcoming HIMYM there’s a dance coming and I feel like the dumbest person in the world so I’m a sucker for the hip hop now.
Mary- Tadd, you’re something special. Unbelievable musicality.
Melanie‘s solo is to a strange version of “You’re the One That I Want.” As expected, she’s pretty excellent, but the song distracted me.
Mitchell and Melody are choreographed by Tyce for a Broadway routine (ugh). There’s something about flying and first class and luggage in the theme. This performance is much too weird for me. I don’t see chemistry or the story or…I just don’t know what to do with it.
NPH- I didn’t get that much at all. It seemed disjointed for me. You’re a terrific dancer but not my favorite.
Mary- The number was fun but was overbaked in the facials.
Nigel- You have to think more about style than overperforming.
Ricky does a solo that is stronger than his last few. Then he runs off stage, forgetting that he has to come to Cat for his numbers.
Clarice does a solo that unfortunately does not help her stand out. More than anything, I think her face is too smiley for her outfit and routine. It’s like she suddenly got Ryan-syndrome (and I say that with love because I quite liked Ryan).
Caitlynn is partnered with Pasha for a Tango by Miriam and Leonardo. It is about a couple that reconnects. The full suit looks a little off on Pasha and makes it harder to see his frame and movement. I wasn’t sure Caitlynn would be able to keep up with him, but I wasn’t all that impressed by Pasha and so she didn’t seem to be overpowered.
Mary- (with a belated standing O) It was the first Argentine tango of the season and worth the wait. Caitlynn, you are breathtaking. For the first time, the passion was more real than any other number. You took your dancing to another level.
Nigel- Mary’s right, you were a woman and far sexier than ever before.
NPH- It started slow for me but I zoned in and it seemed like great theater.
Mitchell‘s solo does for him what his actual routine couldn’t. He does a good job and though his smile in the very end is slightly off, I really got into it.
Sasha is coupled with TWitch for a Christopher Scott hip hop routine. It’s about a couple that needs to reignite their passion. Sasha is more solid here than she has been for me in a while. She commanded the attention away from the normally attention grabbing TWitch (who is also dressed a little off).
Nigel- Last year TWitch came a did a most memorable routine with Alex Wong and now he’s come back and this is a memorable routine. This is the first time Sasha has had chemistry with her partner.
NPH- This was like the best routine so far of the evening.
Mary- Smokin’ hot.
Jordan‘s solo finally does not involve her wearing some weirdly small sexy outfit and we finally get to focus on her dancing, which is quite good.
Jess is partnered with Kathryn for a Stacey Tookey routine about Kathryn’s loneliness. Jess actually does a very good job here, but the routine is about Kathryn and as such, Jess is overshadowed (not outdanced just less central to our focus).
NPH- That was an extraordinarily designed performance. Sometimes your face is a little muggy, so remember to be as present and sincere as possible. (Thank you Neil!) This routine proved that, as good as I’ve seen you do.
Mary- For sure my favorite piece you have done. You were there for her.
Nigel- I have given Jess a hard time about lifts, but you coped with them brilliantly.
Tadd‘s solo is just as fun and entertaining as usual though I’m not sure it showed him off as best as he could.
Melanie and Pasha are partnered for a Jason Gilkison Vienese waltz about a guy who has lost his will to live and the friend who is nurturing him through. (This is a part she’s played before.) For me, the story doesn’t really come across, but otherwise, the two do a good job (with Pasha dressed more Pasha-appropriate).
Mary- It just seems like your feet never touched the floor.
Nigel- A beautiful flow of movement. You are a solid, absolutely brilliant dancer.
NPH- It was so effortlessly perfect.
Caitlynn has the final female solo of the evening. Nothing groundbreaking, but certainly beautiful.
Ricky and Allison are partnered for a jazz routine with Tyce. The dance is about a bad dream Allison is having. This is Tyce at his best and Allison has once again earned the spot as my favorite all star. Ricky does a good job but Allison easily steals the show.
Nigel- Sensational. Allison is one of my favorite dancers of all time but you were there.
NPH- I was really impressed. I find Ricky usually dances young but I responded.
Mary- This was deliciously dark, intense, passionate.
Marko‘s solo is the final one of the night. He shows a lot of strength, grace, and variety here, immediately making it the top solo of the night for me.
Clarice is paired with Robert for a Nakul Dev Mahajan Bollywood number. The story is a cat and mouse number between a guy and girl. I rarely find Bollywood numbers as exciting as that first one (or like I think they should be) but the judges give it the only Standing Ovation of the night.
NPH- I loved it. It’s incredibly infectious. I’ve had a hard time connecting with Clarice but in this number I got it.
Mary- This was exhilarating. Perfect for Clarice.
Nigel- I agree. Perfect fit. It makes me happy to watch.
There is apparently a playback issue and the dancers instead come out to have their numbers read out once more (good job keeping that moving along Cat).
At this point I’m not sure who I’m rooting for. I don’t feel like the current competitors are as electrifying as some past competitors have been, but the night was full of strong numbers. I would place Mitchell in the most danger but I’m not sure who will join him. What do you think?