E: Well, that was unexpected. And a bit of a cop out, wouldn’t you say?
On the other hand, I’m not going to complain. Like my beloved Cat Deeley, I hate Thursdays.
The night begins with a staccato rhythm. The top twenty dancers are dressed in a sort of 1930s meets S&M fantasia, with rounded curving bangs shellacked into perfect arcs, the women in puffed black sleeves, wicked seamed stockings and gleaming black boots, and the men with sharp sleeveless vests. They’re all carrying sticks, shoulders hunched, slapping the floor and flexing their arms. The music’s “XR2” by M.I.A, so I somehow thought it was an odd Nappy Tabs routine, but no, it’s Sonya Tayeh. I didn’t see that coming (I can’t think of a time when she’s used props before) which is actually awesome. It’s better when the choreographers aren’t predictable, don’t you think? Also, damn but Nick is pale. I’d say he was secretly a sparkly vampire, but he’s got way too much personality. There was a lot of fascinating weird coolness with pale flesh peeping out. Also, does anyone else notice how much Ryan draws your eye in the group routines? I’d say it was her hair in the sea of brunettes, but Iveta’s blond, too, so I can’t explain it.
Guess what? There’s going to be another National Dance Day. This, there are three different routines for folks with differing levels of skill. Nigel encourages everyone to do flash mobs of those dances. Aren’t you super charged up to learn one?
Yes, I’m kidding. Even though I do think the exercise component is great.
So. Ahem. We also see Lady Gaga grabbing Nigel’s behind – or waist, probably, for a conga line, but God know what those two were doing in a conga line together. Nigel’s face is hilarious (it’s like what Scotty McCreery’s insides were doing when Gaga was a mentor on AI) . Cat, attired in a nicely fitted pink minidress, promises the premier of Gaga’s latest video later in the show.
We head right to the completely agonizing results section of the show. “Last night was the party,” Cat reminds us, “and tonight is the hangover.” So, so true. I have people I’m worried about, and a few guys that I think could be booted without my missing them, but I do wonder what poor girl is going to get cut and how I’m going to feel about it. I mean, sure, we barely know several of them, but they were pretty fantastic on Wednesday show. Cat brings out Nick and Iveta (who is wearing a sparkly leopard print leotard with a bejeweled belt and cuffs – yowsa), Wade and Missy, and Mark0 and Melanie. Immediately I’m sure I know who’s going to hit the bottom three (Missy and Wadi, the other pairs were the highlight of the night) but to my surprise, all three couples have made it through. Okay. Now I’m extra scared for Ashley, who got the worst routine of the night and a maybe not so inspiring partner.
And sure enough, Ashley and Chris are up next with Jordan and Tadd, and based on the judges reaction, clearly Ashley and Chris will be the bottom dwellers. Except, they aren’t. Hmmm. Interesting. Do you suppose people are put off by Jordan’s relentless sexuality, or that we haven’t seen enough of Tadd, or is it just that they went first, and the performers in the first slot often get forgotten? Jordan, by the way, is in a red dance bikini (the bottom is a little skirt) with gold tassels completely obscuring her left boob. Always classy, that one. Anyway, I’m really surprised about this. Also, if Chris isn’t in danger, does that seal Mitchell’s fate?
Cat reminds us that Mitchell is already going to have to dance for his life, and that we had to vote for Caitlynn separately. Caitlynn stands on her own, with Jess and Clarice off to the side. Caitlynn is safe; Jess and Clarice, on the other hand, delivered a Broadway routine that the judges considered nearly perfect, but the viewers didn’t turn out for. Again, I’m surprised. Is it because we don’t really know Clarice and don’t so much love Jess? Or because the routine got a little mimey and that turned viewers off? Curiouser and curiouser.
At this point, Cat calls up a Keri Hilson performance, of some middling R&B song called “Lose Control.” She brought lots of dancers, which is cool, and danced herself, which is also cool, but on the other hand, she didn’t bother to sing during parts of it. Was any of the music live? I mean, why even pretend to sing when you’re just going to drop the mike while your voice keeps going? Bah. I’m glad Cat ended the segment by calling you Kelly.
Snapping back to the results, Cat calls up Ryan and Ricky, Sasha and Alexander, and Miranda and Robert. Interesting. She sends Ryan and Rickey into safety first. So this sets up a fight between two of the audition round “favorites,” two contestants with a surfeit of air time, Sasha and Robert. I feel secure in saying who performed better, but who will the audience prefer? That’s not always the same person. It’s worth noting that during the minirecaps that preceded the envelope opening, Alexander is the only dancer in the top twenty to receive a single word of criticism. And that little bit of misdirection prepares us for the news that live audience favorite Robert The Wooo-man Taylor (and his partner Miranda) round out the bottom, er, 7.
So, okay. I could easily have seen Chris or Alexander going home – I wonder if the judges are now regretting they didn’t put Sasha with a better partner – but without them, who’s the weakest guy? We haven’t even seen Mitchell dance, so it’s really hard to know. As for the girls, yuck. Based on judges comments, you’d have to guess Miranda, right? Since they loved everything about Jordan and almost everything about Clarice.
Before we get the solos, however, we get treated to a version of the Gopak, the Russian folk dance Philip and Jeanine tried in season five’s most spectacular flop. The one guy delivers just what Nigel wanted from that routine; the exciting male dancing with leaps and kicks and crazy height to everything. It’s quite spectacular.
First up with the solos, Mitchell dances to John Mayer’s “Say.” He’s wearing another orange shirt. His slow control is gorgeous, his strength, his flexibility. He’s so powerful and yet lands his leaps so lightly. I see immediately why the judges cast him in the first place.
Jordan aims to take us to that uncomfortable place with Nadia Oh’s “Hot Like Wow” (a song with a tortured SYTYCD history). She makes her tassles dance. And she’s got shiny gold underwear on. It’s pretty typical Jordan.
Tadd goes next, starting off the stage with Brian Setzer Orchestra’s “Jump Jive and Wail.” He is so fun. I really love his solos. (Okay, yes, I know this is his first, but there was his audition.) Great use of the stage, fun, strong and funny. Cat’s reminded of Back to the Future, and Sonya goes absolutely ape in the audience.
Clarice has chosen Xtina’s “Glam.” What I remember more than anything is the weird puffy thing on her hip. It’s good, very sexy (though less overt than Jordan’s).
Jess, wearing a fedora, dances to Robbie William’s version of “Mr. Bojangles.” Accept for an odd, non-dancey bit of mugging in the end, it’s fun. His turns? Amazing. Leaps and splits? Woah. The boy knows his stuff.
Miranda’s got on a while flowy dance top and skirt, and as Leona Lewis’s cover of “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face” begins, I think eh, this is going to be a typical sappy contemporary solo, and yes, she’s cannon fodder. And then she moves. And that’s when we get to see why she’s in the top twenty to begin with. She skimmed the floor like a bird, and that leg extension at the end, which she held for what feels like a week? Wow. It’s amazing. She’s got the best girl solo, easily, and now I can’t think what the heck the judges are going to do.
And the last dancer of the night is Robert; the crowd is already wooo-ing before he gets there. He’s got on some sort of yellow and black ensemble, with a skull cap. His work, to Omarion’s “Electric” is frenetic and flickery. He milks the crowd, who love him. I am unimpressed. Worst male solo by a mile.
Cat plays the video for “Edge of Glory.” Now, true story; Mr. E and I were on vacation a few weeks ago when we heard that song for the first time on the radio in a cab, and we kept wondering – was it Pat Benatar? Laura Brannigan? And why were we hearing it now? Well, the video is totally back to the 80s (right down to a Clarence Clements cameo) and largely boring, just a lot of shots of a city neighborhood set (reminiscent of Billie Jean or 227 or Sesame Street) with a small amount of dancing. It’s nothing near the literal towering cliff set piece from her performance on American Idol. Got to admit it, though – I love the song, and I’m psyched to hear that she’s going to guest judge on the show. And thanks, Nigel, for asking the audience to send positive vibes to Clarence Clements, who suffered a stroke earlier in the week. What bad timing!
So, the judges confound us all by asking Mitchell and Robert to repeat their solos. Robert’s, to give him credit, is a lot larger. Are they ready to send someone home who’s got such a large personality? Because if they don’t, they’re going to have to cut a better dancer.
And they can’t do. They can’t choose. No one goes home this week at all.
And you know what, that was wimpy, but I don’t mind if it means I get to see Mitchell dance for real. I like having more dancing. Of course, next week will be brutal – two couples go home – but no one cares about that now. There’s more dancing to be had, and that’s always good for me.
What about you? Are you pleased or annoyed? Did you like Gaga and Hilson better than I did? Do girls ever get to do anything interesting in Russian folkdance?