Gah! My poor Tivo management meant that I accidentally ranked The Voice higher than SYTYCD, and thus came home late to discover I'd missed the first 45 minutes of the show. My apologies, fans!
We begin with Missy and Wadi's dance--they have a cha cha with Jean-Marc, the ballroom elf who looks like your company's IT manager. Missy is a bit of a control freak in rehearsals, wanting to be perfect, while Wadi is just trying to wrap his mind around a cha cha at all. In the performance itself, they begin with some tutting--a shout-out to Wadi's specialty, perhaps?--and then set off...but they are dancing to Ke$ha, which is a mandatory .5 deduction. There's lots of sexy posing and Wadi picking Missy up and putting her down, but not a lot of work in hold--and the dance seems to lack elevation. I don't feel any chemistry between these two. Will the judges be suck-ups like they were last week?
Whoa! Debbie Reynolds is a guest judge! Don't know why, but what the hell. She just tells them "muy bueno." Nigel is the first to rain on our parade, though nicely. He felt Wadi was too weak, especially in the arms--there was no power and technique. Yeah, fair enough. Says Missy was great, though, and "took care of herself." Sorry, Wadi. Mary agrees that Wadi was the weakest link, and says a bunch of good technical things about the inside edges of his feet. Then she turns up the volume and screams that Missy is "the cha cha queen"! Still not feeling her. Debbie chimes in to say that she'll take Wadi home, and "he can cha-cha with Debbie anytime." Heh.
Next up is Iveta and Nick, doing a Bollywood. Somehow they look less authentic than usual in their costumes, despite the fact that Iveta is basted to a rich mahogany. In rehearsal, they watch Nakul demonstrate a very fast section and look dumbfounded. They will be throwing lightning at the audience, as one does. The pose begins with them sitting one behind the other to cast a many-armed silhouette, and then the lights come up to reveal them. Weirdly, the fact that they're both so tall and long-limbed seems to be working against them here, perhaps because they can't do the quick retractions as fast. And their side-by-side sequences seem out of synch. Although they're doing fine, this dance doesn't seem to have the joy that those of earlier seasons did. Could the thrill be gone from Bollywood?
Nigel starts off by acknowledging that they're both out of their element (as are all dancers who draw Bollywood on this show, since they've never had a Bollywood specialist compete) but says they were entertaining, if not as good as Season 4's Joshua and Katee. Mary says she's a fan of the couple, and likes the chemistry between them. Basically, none of the judges know what they're looking at, so they all think it's great. Debbie starts in on the "just happy to be here," but mentions that she used to be a tap dancer, hence her role as a judge. She liked it, surprise. I can't imagine that we're going to see Debbie Reynolds rip anyone a new one tonight. (Though how awesome would that be?)
Now it's time for Miranda and Robert dancing a NappyTabs hip hop routine (eh). Think Robert has recalibrated the Woo! so he's less obnoxious this week? Will Miranda win over our hearts? Tabitha tells us that "this is one of our more serious, dramatic pieces. We delve into the story of the woodpecker." But she has a Maya Rudolph face on when she says it, so I seriously can't tell if she's kidding. But apparently Miranda is playing a baby woodpecker. (Think they're ripping off Wade's "Hummingbird"? SYTCYD SCANDAL!)
As the performance starts, we see that they're dressed less like birds and more like extras from Road Warrior. Red sneaks and red fringe on their leather jackets, though. And frankly, makeup missed an opportunity when they didn't put red streaks in Miranda's hair. I'm not sure I'm seeing "bird" here, but Miranda's really crisp in her movements. To be honest, I'm watching her, not Robert. There are a couple of moves that get fumbled (Miranda overrotates a flip and falls at one point), but they're not bad. They end by flipping off the stage in front of the camera, and then someone tosses some feathers up in front of the lens.
Was it enough to charm the judges? Mary says, "I always get nervous when animals are imitated on this show because of some things that have happened in the past." Huh? What is she worried about? It's not like Snakes on a Stage is going to break out in front of her. But in this case, she loved it, and thinks the concept is "amazing," which I think is generous. I swear, 35% of this show is listening to the judges suck up to the choreographers. Mary says Robert did great, but she's even more excited by Miranda's swagger, saying she's gone to another level. Debbie thinks they were fabulous and mesmerizing. And then she does a Woody Woodpecker imitation about which Robert (and everyone) is WAY too excited. Frankly, Debbie is very shticky tonight and it's not really working for me. Nigel loves "the different forms that Napoleon and Tabitha put hip hop dancing into." Er, the form of dance? Nigel praises Miranda's hip hop, which he found excellent for a contempo dancer, although he does call out her stumble (but likes that she kept going). He also loves that Robert just shut up and danced. So say we all!
Clarice and Jess are next, dancing a contemporary number. Jess is dressed in faux-military garb while Clarice is in a pink flowy dress. I should mention that the "meet the dancers" question tonight is for each dancer to tell us something we didn't know about their partner. I haven't bothered recapping them so far, but I will now to tell you Jess's weird thing is that he draws an entire stick figure orchestra. Repeatedly. (There are little pianos and timpanis and a conductor and everything.) Random, but sort of cute. The couple will be playing a prince and princess, and they're having a ton of trouble with the lifts in rehearsal. Poor Clarice keeps getting dropped. Somehow, although they're basically the same height, Clarice looks twice as big as Jess. Hope they work that out.
Performance...and apparently not even princes and princesses get shoes, as they're both dancing barefoot. Bare feet kind of undermine the authority of military dress. That's a top tip for all you soldiers out there. Oof. These lifts still look unwieldy, although at least no one's getting smashed into the floor. Jess is lovely when he's on his own in pirouette--he's a very light dancer--but he doesn't have the substance to make a very effective partner, I think. And Clarice? Is just boring, alas. We have better dancers on the show.
Debbie says they touched her heart, so she's going to take them both home with Wadi. Nigel says he enjoyed "parts of it" and mentions that Cat will be hosting Prince William and Kate (eee!) when they come to Los Angeles. Let's all go! Anyway, he tells Clarice and Jess that he loved the work they did separately, but the partner work felt uncomfortable. I find Nigel annoying, but he's right tonight. He then mentions that he's worried for them, since they wound up in the background last week when they "danced superbly," so what will happen this week? He's trying to drum up some support, but the audience is so lackluster with these two. They're not staying long. Mary tells Jess how lovely he is to watch, and praises Clarice's amazing legs again. Guess she felt Nigel did all the critiquing that needed to happen. I'm just happy we got at least some critique. It's not Montessori school, people!
Jordan and Tadd are up next, and Tadd tells us that Jordan "isn't the sharpest crayon in the box." Hee! That's mean, but patently true. And in case you don't believe Tadd, the show puts the final nail in the coffin by showing us an outtake from Jordan's audition, when she got her "ticket to Vegas." Standing outside the auditorium, a friend points out that the mock ticket shows "SYTYCD AIRLINES" in the corner. Jordan, shocked, turns to the camera and says, "You guys have your own airline?" Oh, child, I was wrong to doubt your dream of Pussycat Doll-dom. That is the right place for you. Anyway, Jordan and Tadd will be doing a Viennese Waltz, which I don't think will do either of them any favors. Tadd doesn't waltz, and Jordan is a little stumpy for a boring dance like this, which only looks good when the lines are really long and elegant.
Plus, the song Jean-Marc chose was David Cook's "Fade Into Me," which is like poor man's Daughtry. (And Daughtry is already poor man's Lifehouse.) Oops, I was so taken with my string of crappy bands that I forgot to watch the dancing. This reflects its quality, I fear. Jordan is in a pretty purple dress and they managed to give her bobbed hair a sort of marcel wave, and Tadd's in a sparkly vest and a shirt with banker-boy cuffs and collar. His carriage seems nice, but overall, this looks more contemporary than waltzy. There are a ton of lifts and hardly any one-two-three, one-two-three. Think Nigel will call them out for the lack of hold work?
Nope! He goes first and says, "That was just. So. Beautiful." Loves Jordan's rise and fall, and says that Tadd worries him, because he fears Debbie will also take him home. Heh. He praises him for his port-des-bras (see? carriage! I'm getting good at this) and asks Tadd what he thought when he pulled it out of the hat. Tadd says he thought, "Vietnamese waltz?" Hee! OK, I'll give it to him. Mary agrees with Nigel's assessment and thinks that Tadd is the "biggest surprise of the season" because he was able to be so relaxed and soft and graceful. She thinks Jordan was beautiful too. Debbie asks, "Have you ever heard of Gene Kelly and Fred Astaire?" which makes me sad because given these kids' ages, it's a valid question. Happily, they have, and appreciate the comparison. Well, they got tons of love--let's see if it's enough to overcome the usual audience response to the waltz.
Yay! Melanie and Marko! I'm glad I didn't miss them. They're my favorites. Unfortunately, the before-the-commercial sneak peak shows them in costumes that look like either vaudeville clowns or droogs. I am perturbed. But when we come back, we learn that Marko's "secret" is that he reads romance novels! Give me a call, Marko, I'll hook you up. They're doing a Mandy Moore jazz piece, and it turns out that yes indeed, they're vaudevillians. Bowler hats and canes, charlestoning, you get the idea. I always wonder if they use special linings to make sure the hats stay on.
They start out, and Melanie is selling it from the get-go (with the help of sparkly silver tap pants). She is face-acting the hell out of the piece, while Marko's getting a little lost. There's lots of Fosse-esque movement (at least I think it's Fosse), and it seems very crisp, but it seems to get bogged down and slow in the middle. They both managed to hang onto their hats, though. (Oops, I'm wrong--Marko lost his, but he got it back.) Jidges? Mary loved them, and says she never worries about them when they dance outside their comfort zone because she knows they'll handle it. Debbie tells us she did worry when Melanie leapt into a particular split-lift, because Marko was a little late collecting his hat, but he made it in time. Despite that, though, she was pleased to see the new generation of musical stars. Nigel dials up the snoot-o-meter to say, "When you two were put together, the gods of Terpsichore must have been smiling." O RLY, Nigel? Do not think I can't hang with that. I will out-snoot you by observing that Terpsichore was the Muse of Dance, and thus there ain't no such thing as the gods thereof. Learn it, live it, love it--you got served, English major-style!
Surely this must be our last dance of the night, no? It's Alex and Sasha, so they're getting the pimp spot this evening. They'll be dancing a NappyTabs hip hop for a routine based on a soldier coming back from Afghanistan and being reunited with his wife. (Didn't they do this in reverse with "No Air"? I loved that Joshua/Katee routine...was that them?) Of course, the concern with their "lyrical hip hop" is that it'll look too soft--but the sentimental factor will probably cover them.
Wow. The dance begins with Alex at the back of center stage, just slow-marching as we watch what is essentially an extended Sasha solo in front. Her movements are almost krump-like in their forcefulness, but she's writhing on the floor in contemporary fashion. When Alex finally touches her, the movement changes to a lighter (and frankly less interesting) hip hop...although Alex does a great headstand flip off Sasha's back while she's on all fours. The first half of this was much more powerful than the second, but at least it was fast. Sasha outdanced Alex, for sure. The crowd is going nuts! Debbie is gasping and almost teary, and then commends their acting on top of the beautiful dancing. Mary is also crying (oh lord) and tells us the story is "too close in her life right now," which I am sympathetic to, but which means she doesn't have any meaningful criticism. Nigel politics a little and says "I just find it so ironic that we're 10 minutes late tonight because President Obama was telling us that he's going to withdraw the troops by Sept. 2012." Um...that's not ironic, Nigel. Ask Alanis. Anyway, he too loved their passion and emotion, and agreed that the dancing was excellent. I liked it, but honestly, this is achieving Dead-Daddy levels of obsequiousness.
But since I didn't know we were 10 minutes behind, I guess this isn't our last couple after all...the last couple is actually Ashley and Chris, both of whom I once again forgot existed. Sorry, dudes. They're doing Broadway this week (noooo!) with Spencer Liff (yaaaaay!). They'll be dancing a prison visit, and must partner each other in and around a set of jailhouse bars. Cute concept, if gimmicky. Also, the ammount of skin-to-skin contact suggests that Dance Prison is a minimum-security facility.
Hee! They're dancing to a bluesy number called "Please, Mr. Jailer" by Rachel Sweet, and they begin with Chris (in prison stripes) hanging upside down from the top of the bars like a kid on a jungle gym. Ashley's in a cute 50s-style red dress with a black crinoline. Interestingly, they've positioned a camera quite close onstage, shooting the dancers from the side in order to capture a lot of the partnering positions...I wonder if this dance is dull to watch from the audience. You'd miss a lot, I think. They did a good job, but the crowd isn't as excited as they were for Sasha and Alex. Cat doesn't waste any time as she throws to the judges, but Nigel has no such compunction. He dithers about how hard the show is and how great it is that another hip hop boy is dancing a different style well. He also tells Ashley he hopes "the next time they put me in prison you come and visit." And then Cat steals my joke before I could type it: "Next time?" Mary is extending a ridiculous metaphor about boiling water that eventually ends in shrieking and the hot tamale train. I refuse to indulge her and instead spend some quality time with my mute button. Debbie's turn--she thinks they were terrible. NO! Of course not. She thought they were sensational. Shocker.
And that's it! I can see from Cat's recap that I missed only two dances: Ryan and Ricky doing something that seems like a fetish porn shoot to a Robert Palmer song; and Caitlynn and Mitchell doing a contempo piece with two armchairs that was very yank-the-girl-around-ish. Vote, vote, vote, America! Tomorrow two of the bottom three couples will be going home.