E: Cat welcomes us wearing a cute draped off the shoulder dress in a multicolored print. Neat. It’s flowy and vaguely 80s and Miami in it’s colors. She’s got a loose ponytail, and messy curls. And – are you freaking kidding me? Is Ashley missing? Seriously? That can not be freaking possible. Damn it. Seriously!
We get to see a quick hello from Alex, who had his surgery Monday night instead of Tuesday morning, which means I was praying at the wrong time. What? Is that weird of me? The footage of Alex makes me smile; Tuesday was day 1 of the recovery, he says. And man, Ashley (who hurt her ribs on Monday) isn’t even in the studio. That’s not good. Does this mean she’s broken a rib, is out, and can’t stand to be there knowing that? Poor kid! I didn’t really think about it last week, but I respect Alex a lot for showing up. That must have been brutal.
There is some good news, though. New dances! The show has a few firsts this week, and the return of an old favorite style.
Oooh – Lauren get Mark with Tahitian Dance, from new choreographer Tiana Liufau. Perfect for our favorite Hawaiian dancer! Let’s hope this goes better than Russian folk-dancing… They’re playing night and day; she’s good at shaking her butt, Lauren is. They dance to “Jungle” by Last Voices, and wow, they are in serious folk costume with enormous feathered headdresses and everything. Mark – the night – is in black and green, with tattoos drawn on his chest and back, and Lauren, as the day, is in yellow and cream. She’s got a huge feathered ring around her waist which tilts up in the back, the better to shake her backside to, my dears. Do they make mythology real? Well, let’s just say it’s a good thing she’s good at shaking her hips, because that’s practically all she did. Mark does this leg shaking thing, and I think he’s fantastic. I have no idea if it’s good, or how the judges are going to judge it, but it’s fun. Cat tells Mark she needs to borrow that headdress.
Hah – Nigel doesn’t know how to judge it, either. Adam says her hips don’t lie. Groan. Mia calls Lauren a duck in heat. Because Mia loves ducks. And there’s one in heat in her backyard. Oh, Mia. Really? Really? Well, at least that’s not a boring or obvious critique. Oooh – Adam’s best friend is in the audience, and we don’t get to see her? Unfair, folks in the booth. Lauren gives great props and heartfelt thanks to Tiana. You’re a sweetie, Lauren.
Adechike got Anya in the not at all random drawing of new All Star partners. This is a “traditional competitive salsa” from Liz Lira and her partner, Danny Davalos – fast, difficult and full of tricks. They’re ready for this next step, the Danny says? There is no plan b? Well, if it gives Anya pause, you know there’s trouble. Of course, the trouble may simply be that she’s afraid Adechike’s ignorance of partnering and ballroom technique might kill her, but hey, who knows? What made Adechike bleed, do you think? Could it be just looking at the silver neon green, yellow and blue costumes? his posture is weird, he can’t do a samba roll, and when they do a series of tricks which require him to sort of roll her head along his body while she’s in a back bend, it becomes clear that Anya has abs of adamantium, because she doesn’t actually lean on. She supports herself by herself. Damn, that’s amazing. Wrong that she has to do that, but amazing. Huh. His hips aren’t as flexible as I’d have expected, either. Granted, it was a really rough routine, set to some old school salsa music – “Oyelo Que Te Conviene” by Eddie Palmieri. Don’t you wish she’d been dancing it with Pasha?
Nigel says Liz is crazy, and calls attention to Anya’s strength. He calls attention to the amazing lift (the horizontal double tour?) in the beginning, where Anya spins in the air twice, and Adechike brings her down so she can slap the floor, as if he’s dropping her but not, and yes, the fact that he pulled that off was very impressive. Huh. Nigel liked it. Mia liked the tricks and the hinges (?) but thinks it’d have been excellent if they had more time to practice. She thinks his hip action was off, too, but still, he got it through. Anya actually points out that they muffed the hand twist section (which, yes, but wow). Adam loves him for doing something so hard and thinks he was good partner. Adechike thought the routine would kill him and so he’s really pleased with himself. Not so tight on time tonight, are we?
Jose and Courtney get a Joey Dowling Broadway routine. Courtney is a showgirl, and Jose is a stagehand (sad and desperate) who’s fallen for her – and she never notices him. And it’s set, of course, to “Mister Cellophane”, from Chicago. Go, John C. Reilly. Love this song. Love this version. Good stuff. Courtney’s got the showgirl feathers and enormous feather fans, in hot pink and black. Jose’s very Chicago era, in a wifebeater, suspenders, trousers and a hat. He’s got a light pole to dance with since he can’t have Courtney. It’s going to be all about the pain in his face, says Joey.
His acting is good, actually, but the choreography leaves a lot to be desired in my book. Now, for once it’s all about the contestant; Courtney has nothing to do but parade around and swish her fans, while Jose is leaping and somersaulting to get her attention. Joey even throws in a nod to his b-boy skills. I just wish his dancing wasn’t so amateurish. I can’t help wondering what Alex or Robert or Billy or Neil or anybody else could have done with those leaps. I mean, yes, he was good for a dancer with no training, but he’s no Joshua or Twitch. What else can I say. Of course the judges are going to love it, though, because he’s Jose and he’s got that heart thing and they love everything he does. I’m sure his sad eyes will melt them.
And woah. Nigel thinks it was terrible. Without letting him be himself, Nigel thinks Jose becomes nothing. Jose is making puppy dog eyes at Mia. “I hate you right now for that face,” Mia says. She thinks he was too pathetic, and the lack of training and technique was too clear. Adam gives him constructive criticism, tossing out all the technical terms like coffee grinder and tours; finish the lines, stretch, and train. Train, train train! Courtney praises his sad face and his commitment to dance. Cat tells Adam that Courtney’s dropping her costume off in his dressing room. Yipes.
Robert and Allison (thankfully recovered from her injury) get Travis Wall, who uses the opportunity to talk about his mother (a dance teacher at Debbie Allen’s school) who seems to be recovering from major surgery. Allison is the mother, and Robert is Travis. Aw! Travis’s mom is everything to him. Robert feels the same way about his mom (who had cancer, right?). Aw. Coldplays’ “Fix You” – what a great fit. I love Travis’s musical choices so much. Allison is in this pink floaty thing with her hair done up and tightly knotted, which makes her look older. Roberts wearing a plaid button down and cargo shorts, which looks like something both he and Travis would really wear.
And oh my goodness, but that was lovely. Allison was fabulous -there’s this point where she stretches out, and he’s holding her ankle, and she’s reaching and broken in the same moment, and it’s amazing. I worried at first that the routine would be all her, but the midsection is this marvelous whirling tandem dance, and it’s gorgeousness. There are moments when he nudges her, like a foal, to help her move or stand up. When it ends, she’s clenched in pain again, and Robert slips in behind her so that he’s supporting her body with his own, and when she steps, she walks on his feet. It’s lovely. There’s the suggestion of a little kid dancing on their parent’s feet, and the reversal of that is touching. Really great. The audience goes wild, they just don’t want to stop, and Travis has tears in his eyes. The judges are on their feet. Cat calls it magic, the perfect union of moment and music and dancers and choreography, and she gets a little choked up, which I’ve never seen.
Nigel loves it, especially the footsteps thing which I adored. He wishes Travis’ mom well. Mia starts bawling, because of her mother who just died. Nigel hands her a handkerchief. Mia speaks, somewhat irrationally, to the power of motherhood and art, and says Robert was the best they’ve ever seen him. Adam calls it one of the performances of the season and says if Travis doesn’t get an Emmy nod there’s no God. (Oh, Adam. I know you meant it as a compliment, but talking about awards just cheapens the moment. Plus, even if we all think Travis was robbed of an Emmy this year, I think he’s got more pressing things on his mind.) Then he confesses to crying so hard he blew a snot bubble. That breaks up the seriousness of the moment quite nicely.
Was it a gift, Cat asks, or was it difficult? Robert says his mom taught him to be strong and that he’s so grateful she was there. Cat blows a kiss to Travis.
Billy. Anya. Louie Van Amstel. The jive. Ah, and it’s a traditional competitive jive. Billy is scared of Anya and he keeps laughing awkwardly. It really is awkward. Oh, excellent. They’re dancing to Meatloaf’s “Paradise by the Dashboard Light”. We just don’t get enough Meatloaf these days. Hee hee! It seems like a Dancing With The Stars sort of song, so it makes sense that Louie picked it. Anya’s in a black bustier and hot pink tulle skirt, with Billy in a black leather jacket and hot pink button down. Also very dancing with the stars. Ick. Damn, but Billy’s amazing! His feet are ridiculously fast, and he gets way into the cheesiness of it. Because there’s almost no choice, the song is cut awkwardly.
Nigel thinks he was really working on his connection, and that his flexibility was almost a downside (which I completely disagree with), but he worked it out. Mia loves the speed and sharpness of it, as well as his extension. It was connected and not awkward or anything. Cat asks Billy if the nervous laughing comes from being so near a sex bomb, and he thinks she said sex bum. It’s really funny. Is that a British term? Do I only know it because I love British movies and tv? No, can’t be. Cat tells Billy she’ll explain it all later.
Kent‘s in a baseball uniform, for a Tyce ballroom number with Neil. Excellent. Damn Yankees, perhaps? Seriously, they’re having so much fun with the guy on guy routines. It’s not just another love song. (Actually, there isn’t a romantic routine all night! That’s got to be a first.) So let’s see. Will Kent and Niel bring characters? And yes, of course it’s Damn Yankees – “Shoeless Joe from Hannibal Mo”. There’s a ton of gymnastics. There are bats. There are leaps and spins and fun. (There was an amazing leap in rehearsal that they didn’t put in the performance, though – boo!). Nigel thinks Kent wiped the floor with Niel. Mia loves boys. (Me too! says Cat.) Cat asks Adam if he does, too. Adam loves the athleticism of it, the effortless suicide with the front punch – well, it’s amazing. The girls in the audience squeal. He is so winning this season. Adam thinks Broadway will eat him up if that’s where he wants to go, and I can totally see that. Cat plays with his hair. He seems embarrassed – oh, because the front row is blowing kisses at him. That’s why he didn’t know where to look.
Next up are Lauren and Billy with a Mandy Moore jazz routine. Hmmm. Billy is a soda junkie, and Lauren eats like a squirrel, eating with her fingers close to her face and pocketing it in her cheeks. Alrighty then. The idea of this dance is two pairs of shoes that decide to boogie together. Wasn’t there some cute music video based on that idea, from an artist who isn’t at all cutesy like Tori Amos? The shoes are pink and blue. The dancers are dressed in gray, with a fifties flair, and suspenders in their gendered colors. KC & the Sunshine Band’s Boogie Shoes” is perfect. They’ve both got huge grins on their faces, and they’re flirty and bubbly with a ton of deep knee bends, moving next to each other, mirroring each other, having fun. The routine is loose and joyful and just stinking adorable, and Cat makes a ton of shoe puns about it.
Nigel uses the word adorable, too. He praises Billy’s connection with Lauren. He thinks jazz fits on Billy really nicely. And Lauren, he says, don’t click your heels because you’re not going home. Mia thinks it was all completely in the pocket – quirky and groovy and the cutest thing ever. She keeps shrugging her shoulders along with it. Thanks, Mandy! Cat says it’s very Judy Garland/Mickey Rooney. Adam says that’s because it’s happy making, and, yeah, he’s right. They made you feel the joy of dance, they really did. The choreography was there, but the dancers embodied the idea as well, and what could be better than that? Adam says Billy got lost in the dance, the music, which – totally. Adam is now hoping Lauren might move up the ranks. Is this because Ashley, his former stealth contender, might be leaving? You know, I like Ashley tremendously, but I can’t muster the same sort of emotion I felt last week. I hate to say that, but it’s true – so, moving on.
Jose picked a gold star (meaning he’d get an All Star rather than a fellow contestant, since there were supposed to be an odd number of them – and the show decided to use the opportunity to pair him with Dominic and give Tabitha and Napoleon the chance to choreograph for b boys. Sweet – Legacy’s helping out! Oh, Legacy. How I long for your superior tricks. I can’t imagine, honestly -they’ve been pimping this routine all night, but I can’t imagine that Dominic doesn’t just wreck Jose. He’s soooo much better.
They’ve got on silly glittery suits with special padded knees and silly hats and black and silver with studs; Jose has red accents and Dominic, blue. It’s a Miami/Cali battle. The crowd is stoked. The boys slide out to “Battle for the Beat,” by District 78, and hey, there seems to be a sword in a stone at the back of the stage. OH, so the goofy track suit is supposed to represent a suit of armor. I get it. Now I like it. I like that a lot, now. And hey, it’s pretty fun! They do the same tricks at the same time for the most part, so Jose doesn’t get overshadowed (smart) and Jose gets the sword. Which would so not happen (and wasn’t even justified by the choreography) but whatever, that’s fine. Nigel asks him not to hold the sword during the critique. Cat is a total goofball tonight. I totally love it. It was the show’s first breaking routine, and it was a good one.
I love boys, Mia reiterates. Me too, says Cat again. Mia wants Jose to do strength training, but she just loved it. Interesting that this didn’t get nearly the same response as Alex and Twitch’s hip hop. Adam says that Jose’s ability to come back is hot. Dominic says that Jose has mad heart. Then he runs off with the sword and just might have made a naughty gesture with it, based on Mia and Adam’s laughter.
Kent and Adechike get a contemporary routine for Dee Caspary – ah, cool. Adechike (Chike, as Kent calls him) wants to be a chef. Chike insists that Kent has the hots for Lauren Froderman and last week’s tender kiss wasn’t choreography. Kent stutters hilariously. For the record, I’m sure he’s making that up. Well, Kent might actually like Lauren, but the kiss was totally scripted. Doesn’t mean he didn’t feel it. Also doesn’t mean he wants all of America to know that, though. In the dance, Chike (I’m so calling him that now) is Kent’s friend; Kent’s in a bad relationship with a chair (Dee’s never choreographed for two guys before and is having some issues with it) and Chike is supporting him. They tape Cat’s picture to the chair in rehearsal, and Chike steals it. The chair. And the picture. They are super cute boys.
I’ve never heard of Tom McRae or his song “You only Disappear” but it starts with a moody piano and ends with a throbbing base, and I like it a lot. There are two chairs, in case you’re wondering; Kent sits in one, his imaginary girlfriend in the other. I thought the chair metaphor was a bit uneven (sometimes Kent looks at the chair like it’s a girl, and sometimes Adechike steps on it), but in the end, the dancing is gorgeous, and I liked it a lot. And how literal would I really want it to be? Anyway, sorry, the dancing was great. Nigel is all over this week’s show. There’s a magnificent leap Chike does, which, wow, Nigel was right to point that out, because that really was outstanding. Nigel thinks Kent didn’t overact, and yeah, acting to a chair could have been a bad thing. Nigel confirms to the world that Kent seems like the likeliest winner now that Alex “is out of the way”. Duh. Odd way to put that, though, especially given what close friends Alex and Kent are? Mia’s blown away by Kent. She’s just in love with his strength and the organic quality of his movement. She loved the marriage of vulnerability and power in the piece. And she’s been praying that Adechike have a great week, and believe that proves the existence of God. He points and gives credit. She thinks Desmond Richardson would be proud. He jumps likes a gazelle, except she says giselle, like the supermodel or the ballet. Adam says that they just taught America that an athlete can also be an artist. The mix is odd, because we keep hearing the contestants chattering together. Kent and Adechike can’t stop giggling, even when Cat commands it.
Because Ashley’s out of commission (and I still can’t believe they’ve got no footage of her injury, and that even if her ribs are broken, she couldn’t make it to the studio), Kathryn will step in for the season’s first disco with Robert. Hurrah! I’ve been missing Doriana Sanchez and disco! Robert claims he and Ashley are in love. Right. Robert loves to laugh. And big party time disco is perfect for that! Aw, I miss Ashley. Even if she’s lame enough not to come tonight. I wonder which routine did her in? Unlike last week, they don’t show or even tell us. Oh, nice blue and purple sequins on Kathryn! Robert’s in white pants and vest, of course. “Instant Replay” by Dan Hartman is the song, which I have never heard. Guess all my 70s compilations aren’t as complete as I thought. And, hmm, I think I’m scared for Kathryn. Robert’s not great with the lifts, and Doriana’s all about the lifts. It turns out okay, though. Not like Brandon and Janette, but it’s fun, and the lifts are pretty nifty. It’s a lot of fun, very bouncy and speedy.
Nigel remembers doing a routine like that back in the day and throwing up in the wings afterward. He loved it. Mia didn’t think it was grounded – the texture wasn’t masculine enough. “Never do it again, ” she begs, as if he has any control over that. Nigel’s annoyed with her and vehemently disagrees. Adam bought it. “You sold it and I bought it.”
Overall, it was a really good night. I’m going to be pissed if Billy joins Ashley in the bottom three again. That would not be right, people. He was amazing this week. Robert mouths “I love you” at the camera (to Ashley, I think, but I generally suck as a lip reader) and Lauren does the worm. Cat has on Mark’s Tahitian headdress, and Billy dirty dances with a befeathered Courtney.