Going into tonight’s episode, I had a few predictions. First, I thought were would have a pretty good episode dance wise, as there would be at least one expert for each dance with the All Stars being introduced. I am happy to say I was correct, as there were many dances tonight that were quite fantastic and showed off the dancers. What a difference having a strong partner in the style you are dancing can make, am I right? I will confess I was not sure how the All Star experiment would turn out last year, but quickly grew to love it and am glad to see it return this season.
Second, I thought some dancers would be exposed, and a clear division would be made between the top and bottom dancers for the remainder of the season. Namely, I thought Ricky, Jordan, Caitlynn, and Mitchell would falter, Melanie, Marko, Tadd, and Sasha soar, and Clarice and Jess end up somewhere in the middle. I am happy to say I was not completely correct on that prediction. Since some favorites and strong competitors were eliminated early on in the season, the show has felt a little too predictable for my taste. Of course I want my favorites to stay and ultimately win, but I want to see some great competition and growth as well from people with lesser talents. I also would not mind seeing a few favorites slip up every once and a while, just to make things more interesting. Tonight we got all of that, and the show is truly better for it in my honest opinion.
Before I get to the dances, I would like tot thank Meghan for guest recapping last week while I was away. She did a fantastic job! Also, shout out to the show for its Emmy nomination. Most importantly, the drought is over people! After seven amazing seasons of amazing work, Ms. Deeley finally got her nod ladies and gentlemen. And as much as I like Probst, I really hope she takes it all. The woman is amazing, and the show would absolutely be worse off without her.
Leading off the show was Marko and Chelsie Hightower dancing a samba. Is it just me, or did Chelsie look a little like Mary Murphy every once and a while in the dance. Lose the bangs and spray tan Chels! As for their dancing, I felt it was a good attempt with some nice moments. The lifts were truly fantastic, as well as some of his solo work. I will say his partnering outside of the lifts was a little stiff and he looked lost at times. I do believe Marko is probably the strongest male dancer left, but ballroom is really not his thing. Either that, or being partnered with Melanie and dancing so little outside of his genre masked some his faults. Only time will tell.
The next partner dance was Jordan and Brandon dancing contemporary. Jordan surprised me tonight. I often forget how good of a contemporary dance she can be, and am not ashamed to admit questioning her place in the top ten (It should have been Iveta!). Tonight, though, I think she proved herself. When Jordan is on, her dancing can be quite powerful but still pretty, which makes her a perfect match for Brandon. The routine was truly one continuous flow of motion, with very little stopping. I did like their emoting, but at times felt Jordan’s facial expression were a little too contrived. She defaults to furrowing her brow and slightly opening her mouth when she is trying to show aguish too much. That did not really take away from the dance for me, and by the end I was pleasantly surprised with how much I enjoyed it.
Up next was her old partner Tadd dancing a hip-hop routine with Comfort. If you ever need a visual reference for what a hipster hip-hop dancer would wear, look no further than their outfits. Good lord, what were they wearing? Clearly the costume department is being underpaid and taking their revenge out on the contestants this season. Anyways, the dance was fun, if not extremely memorable. I did hate how the choreography made Comfort revert to standard video ho moves whenever she was not mirroring Tadd’s moves. Clearly Comfort has proved over three seasons she is so much better than that show, so please do not make her do that again. Just because you call something ghetto fabulous, does not mean it is a good thing. Also: Tadd’s abs. Nothing more needs to be said. If for that reason, and that reason only, this routine might be remembered by some.
Poor Mitchell. By giving him a Tyce Broadway routine, both a style and choreographer that can be quite polarizing, and a relatively unknown partner in Melody, hell I did not even watch Season 1; the show is clearly trying to boot him. They very well might have succeeded. The dance was disjointed, awkward, and sporadic. As the judges pointed out, Mitchell’s mugging also did not help at times either. I will put the majority of the blame on Tyce though, because he is Tyce and always deserves it. Enough said.
After that minor mess of a dance, Caitlynn took to the stage to dance a Argentine tango with Pasha. And dance it she did. Who knew Caitlynn could be so sultry and womanly. She was completely control in that dance, and had fantastic chemistry with Pasha. Obviously loosing Mitchell helped Caitlynn, as she really came to life in that tango. I would even go as far as saying it was the best tango ever by a female dancer who was not a ballroom dancer. Hell, she was leaps and bounds above Melanie’s last week. Never thought I would say Caitlynn was better than Melanie at some type of dance. I mean, I could not even remember her name regularly until the third week of competition.
Speaking of dancers soaring after losing their partners, Sasha killed it with the best routine of the night. Her hip-hop dance with Twitch (Never should have placed higher than Katee! No I will never let this go even after four seasons!) was just sparking with chemistry. Their movement was flawless, their connection quiet apparent, and the choreography creative. The entire time all I could think was how I knew Sasha could dance likes this. I am happy to say she proved me right.
Next was the quandary of the season, Jess. On the one hand, the kid can dance, no doubts about that. On the other, he makes me want to punch babies, as I often mistake them for being Jess. The show is clearly trying to have an arc with Jess’ personality, and tonight he finally seemed to get how off putting he can be when he thinks he is being precocious. His contemporary with Kathryn was very nice, although I wish he would not resort to raising his eyebrows and going all large mouth bass when tries to show pain. I guess immaturity in a dancer when it comes to expressing emotion can be found all in the mouth. Take note future contestants! Like I said, the dance was good, and was the best Jess has been on the stage. Unfortunately for him, Kathryn just continued her trend of out dancing newbies, just like she did last season. Girl just knows how to shine, both in technique and in emoting.
Then the season favorite Melanie took the stage with shirtless Pasha, which is always important to note, to Viennese waltz. It was quite graceful and smooth, with some beautiful lifts sprinkled throughout. Melanie really does transform on that stage and knows how to bring it every week. I did want a little more though, both in pace and use of the floor. Before anyone claims that is how the dance is, go watch Kourtney and Mark’s waltz from Season 4 or even Jordan and Tadd’s from this season, and you will clearly see that there was a little lacking in this dance. Makes you wonder if ballroom could trip up what seems to be Melanie’s inevitable win at this point. Most likely not, but it will be interesting to watch and see if she really shines in a ballroom routine at some point this season as she does with other styles.
The second to last couple was Ricky and Allison with a Tyce (Really show, two routines from him tonight, and neither one really that good? Ugh.) jazz performance. Ricky was the person I was most interested in seeing tonight now that he is no longer with Ryan. For all of the bitching and moaning about Ryan, I never felt as if Ricky was that stellar of a dancer either. In fact, I would argue Ryan was better when she could keep that grin off her face. Tonight, I think I was proven right. To put it bluntly, Allison danced him off the stage. Outside of the lifts, which were good, he was stiff and just seemed to be so out of the dance. Yes, Allison is fantastic. Yes, Tyce’s routine was a little out there to be polite. Regardless, Ricky just did perform tonight. Somewhere, I hope Ryan feels a little vindication for all of the blame she received for their partnership failing.
Finally, Clarice danced a Bollywood routine with Robert. As always, this routine must be compared to Katee and Joshua’s one from Season 4, and no, it was not better. I do believe, however, it was the best one ever since. There were a lot of power moves, intricate work and technique, and both performers were giving great energy and chemistry. Clarice is really coming into her own, which I am all for. She does not blow me away as a dancer, but I feel like she could. The more she grows, the more I want to see, which is the whole point of the show in the end.
As for the solos, they were what I expected. Jordan, tried to be different for the sake of the judges and audience. Mitchell and Jess gave their best if standard performances. I was really hoping Clarice or Caitlynn would nail it, but they did not really impress me. Ricky seems to be out of ideas, and Tadd is lucky he chooses unconventional music and has a different style from everyone else, because the same could be said for him. Marko’s power moves and obvious joy made him stand out amongst everyone else, as did Melanie’s unbelievable controlled and slightly different contemporary number. I want to see both of them bust out though, especially Melanie a’ la Season 5 and 7 winners Jeanine and Lauren respectively. Just as with the partner dances, though, the solos belong to Sasha. The way in which she moves and dances close to the ground, instead of flying through the air, is quite unique. Most importantly, she does so both beautifully and powerfully. Melanie might want to watch her back, because Sasha is clearly gunning for that title.
Assuming those last three are safe, though Marko might not be due to his only okay performance going first in a two hour show, I think everybody else could reasonably be in danger. I am willing to bet Caitlynn and Clarice will make it through, which means Jordan will most likely be leaving, but on a high note. With the four other guys, I think it will come down to Mitchell and Ricky, with Mitchell making his exit. As I said though, nobody really seems that safe. Also, I am not quite sure of two people will be eliminated tomorrow, or just one like last season with the All Stars, I cannot seem to find a definitive answer. In which case, I think Mitchell would ultimately go home over everybody if it is just one.
What about the rest of you? Did you like the show? I know I did not mention NPH, but he really did not give me a lot to say. A nice enough and articulate guy, with good criticism and praise, but nothing really to write home about. Also, I must reiterate how fantastic it is that Cat was nominated, and that Katee was robbed of at least second. These are truly the only things that matter people.