WARNING: The following recap is not the musing of a certified dance expert. My qualifications for writing this column are: I am a reality TV lover with a DVR machine that I only sort of know how to use.
Well, Trouty Mouth Ashley and Chin Pubes Chris were eliminated last week despite their youthful pluck and charm. Now we've reached that point in the season where there's not enough dance pairs to fill two hours of summer television.
The contestants are now expected to put twice as much work into the same amount of time. Two dances in the span of a week. Here's when injuries and mediocre dancing raise their ugly, sprained heads.
On the upside, Cat Deeley’s dress looks like a disco ball spent a wild, drunken night with an ostrich. Burlesque met ballet, and Ethel Merman won.
Also, Emmy-nominated Modern Family star Jesse Tyler Ferguson is a guest judge. I guess because he’s gay, he’s qualified to judge a dance show? He also revealed he once worked at a theme park so he knows all about choreographed dance routines in bear costumes. He claims he’s terrible at dancing, however. Bring it on, I say!
And then the other guest judge (because we need four these days) is the terrifying choreographer/druid priestess Sonya Tayeh. Tonight, she looks less tribal in nature and more like American Idol runner-up Adam Lambert. She looks weighed down by her many bronze necklaces. She's so weary but still ready to scare your children.
Let's get to the dance!
Sasha and Alexander Dance #1:
Their rehearsal for their impending paso doble implies the theme is about kneeled charge-fighting. What is normally a woman-as-bull scenario is flipped on its head since Sasha is so much stronger than Alexander.
The bulls here get replaced by trolls since the song they’re dancing to is called “March of the Trolls.”
Oh my. Look at Sasha’s ribs poking out from under her bejeweled bra! They’re ready to get slathered with BBQ.
Lots of drums and lots of posing. It’s Rhythym Nation 1814 up in this dance. Sasha’s doing the awesome knee drag across the stage like she's the proudest bullfighter!
Then: an anti-climactic throat grab followed by an unsurprising kiss from dominant Sasha. She owns this man!
Afterward, Alex is sucking his cheeks in like Zoolander, and Nigel Lythgoe recognizes his struggle. Right on cue, Mary Murphy starts her screeching:“Can I get an 'Ole'?!” Jesse knows the perils of bejeweled bras, so he sees how tough this routine was for Sasha. Sonya praises Sasha's strength as well as the strength of all women. She’s undoubtedly going to start a coven of witches by the end of this evening. And I’m ready for it.
Jordan and Tadd #1:
Jordan's role in this contemporary Travis Wall-directed piece is a vulture that takes advantage of men. Tadd’s gonna get his ass kicked. Oh, but she just looks like a black swan a la Natalie Portman Won an Oscar. Loved that movie the first time.
Olafur Arnolds provides the spooky soundtrack. Sort of a cross between death metal and Bjork. Tadd isn't quite matching up with the very specific beats of the song. But, yowza, he looks just great in those jeans.
The choreographed fighting gets intense…and then he breaks her neck. Eek. What a beautiful step forward for feminism.
Mary is out of her seat, screaming because Travis coached it. Gawd, she just can’t stop caterwauling. Every syllable is projected clear into the next state. Jesse points out how stupid a story about a boy and his vulture really is. Sonya wants to swear out of excitement. I want to swear out of all the nonsense happening here this evening.
Ryan and Ricky #1:
Whilst waiting for his (unquestionably female) date to arrive at the movie theater, Ricky sees the Holly Golightly character of the movie poster come to life. Naturally, they start dancing.
Frank Sinatra is crooning lazily in the background, which calls for some underwhelming lazy dance as well. Despite this laid-back tone, Ryan sure is showing us her underpants far too much for my comfort.
Their costumes don’t quite fit their sinewy dancer bodies correctly. His fedora is too big and her dress is too small. I’m just transfixed by how much lady panty is on display. I'm that bored with the dance.
Jesse gets his first boo by telling the pair that he honestly felt they were a bit low energy. Sonya felt like they were questioning themselves, and gets a boo as well. She hisses at the audience and they slink back into the shadows. Nigel knows the couple is not connecting with the audience since they ended up in the bottom two last week even after their awesome David Bowie dance. Mary finally stops assaulting us with her grating howl-voice at us, which means she’s disappointed too.
Caitlynn and Mitchell #1:
Hip hop choreographer Christopher Scott has set the unsuspecting duo up with a dance about (of all things) child soldiers in Uganda. WHAAAAAAAAT.
Lupe Fiasco’s "Break the Chain" is the music underscoring a song ABOUT UGANDAN CHILD SOLDIERS. They're wearing T-shirts that say “Invisible Children” in black and white lettering. And they're bouncing nonsensically in unison. That’s it. That's how it's about Ugandan child soldiers. Cliché and over the top opportunism at its best.
Shame on you, hip hop choreographer Christopher Scott. What does this even have to do with Ugandan child soldiers?! Everyone's embarrassed.
The audience stands up slowly, hesitantly to applaud. Sonya wants to say the choreographer is a genius, but instead tells them they blew chunks. Nigel sums it all up: “When you’re doing a dance about abductees in the Congo, the least you can do is dance in unison.” Mary’s almost fallen asleep because there’s no alcohol or bright lights to keep her cognizant. Jesse is just sort of hanging in there.
Marko and Melanie #1:
For this tango choreographed by Louie Van Amstel, Melanie’s in a tight sexy dress that just hints at her powerful thighs. Her wine-colored dress is just knocking me out.
I want this to go so well for this pair. They both look so good, and they’re moving perfectly in synch together. I want them to just start making out so hard on the stage.
They dance right up to the edge of the stage and he dangles her leg off it. I’m literally dying. This is so good.
And then that ending! He leans her all the way back, somehow launches her between his legs and then immediatey back out again! Ack! I died. Dead. All over.
Nigel identifies the challenge of this dance and their success in its execution. Mary takes a moment to teach us about tango and then gets right back into the scream of things. Jesse calls Mary a lost Osmond, and then he unabashedly hits on both contestants. He’s so lucky. Sonya starts gushing and almost sounds sweet despite her harsh personal styling and Thunderdome haircut.
Clarice and Jess #1:
This is Christopher Scott's chance to redeem himself. Through lyrical hip hop, no less.
In this routine, Clarice is feeling bad about herself when she looks in the mirror, and Jess is supposed to help her feel better through dance. Yep.
The soundtrack is a boring, sad cover of Bruno Mars' “Just the Way You Are." Totally expected, high school dance number, lots of tick-tock arm movements and synchronized skipping. Because this makes everyone feel better when they're sad.
Totally on cue, he spins the mirror around to reveal a creepy painting he did of her with a giant balloon head and a tiny body. Just the way she is, huh?
Mary calls the piece “cute” and then boringly comments about how women in America have suuuuuch a prooooooblem with self-acceptance. Uh, der, dancing lady. Jesse wants to marry Clarice despite their both having boyfriends. Sonya calls them “adorable” but it just doesn’t sound right coming out of Master Blaster. Ominous even. Nigel tells choreographer Chris to stick to these boring childish concepts instead of meaningful, international stories. Somebody had to say it.
Sasha and Alexander #2:
Line-bearded Tyce Diorio choreographed this jazz piece, so it might be all Sasha's got to keep her out of the bottom three this week.
The story for this piece is: Life. That's all we're given. Thanks, Line-bearded Tyce. You're cute but you're not very creative.
To accompany the theme, the soundtrack is Aretha Franklin’s “That’s Life." Well, everyone agrees, at least.
There’s a random streetlight on the stage and they're ignoring it. That's life, I guess.
Sasha’s awesome as always. He’s overdoing it to make up for always being her backup help. She’s up in the air and spinning around him with her legs in crazy contortions. He looks so happy to be there.
They’ll be in the bottom this week, but hopefully she’ll get to stick around after the vote.
Jesse calls this their best number and his favorite dance of the night. What? Sonya wants to swear again but chooses to use violent killing adjectives instead to express herself. Nigel keeps it real and reminds us that Sasha has been carrying his ass every night. Mary admits she’s been worried about him, but tonight he broke through. Humph.
Jordan and Tadd #2:
For the second most embarrassing gaff of the evening, we can thank Broadway choreographer Spencer Liff. His choice was to make the musical Rent dumber. It's miraculous in its ridiculousness.
She looks like a sad 80s Madonna fan and he looks like a gothic Whirling Dervish. Straight up ruffles and a cape. Ack. No. Go home and hide your shame, you trusting innocent fools.
They’re dancing to the song "Take Me Out Tonight" in which a stripper/prostitute sings "like a cat in heat." There's also some kind of Sleeping Beauty theme mixed in. Bahahahahaha.
No one thought this was a bad idea? This is terrible. It’s like high school talent competition kind of terrible. This is battling with Ugandan child soldiers for most embarrassing routine of the night.
Sonya apologizes and admits she didn’t see their talent or their craft. Nigel asks for more quirk because this was total boresville. Mary calls them cotton candy. (Just go with it). Jesse changes the subject. He’s now got a crush on Sonya. Put it away, Jesse. Oh, and something about the dance… whatevs. Everyone’s over it. Send in the clowns.
Ryan and Ricky #2:
This dance didn’t record on my DVR, but apparently it was a hot cha-cha number to an Enrique Iglesias song. So… no big loss?
Caitlynn and Mitchell #2:
The utterly humiliated couple lucks out with a Travis Wall-choreographed contemporary piece, which is the golden ticket to the judge's applause.
Caitlynn is supposed to be a rockstar in the 70s and she’s in love with him a cheating married man. (Totally unbelievable on both counts there, Mitchell.)
Travis is encouraging everyone to slap each other in rehearsal, so at least this will be violent.
Janis Joplin’s “Piece of My Heart” is the song, which is a great idea. She’s dressed like a prostitute instead of a rockstar, however. About as far from Joplin as you can get.
There’s nothing original about the choreography unless you count the hooker getup. Her big spin moment at the end would have been cool if it worked right.
Just as expected, Mary loves it because it’s exactly what this show has been doing for years. Literally every contemporary dance done by Travis will save a contestant. Jesse loves it and calls Caitlynn hot. Sonya loves it and calls Caitlynn hot. Nigel identifies himself a dirty old man so we don’t have to. Thanks, Ni-gy.
Melanie and Marko #2:
Dee Casperay directs the next esoteric piece for my beloved Marko and Melanie.
“The Light” is the focus in this piece, as in: the thing we go toward when we're dying. It's up to Melanie to save Marko from it so he doesn't die.
David J. Roch’s “Skin and Bones” soundtrack and a spotlight on stage helps them look much deeper than they are. There’s also a lightbulb that keeps turning on and off that represents THE Light.
This is awesome and fluid and weird. Her thighs are on full display as they always should be, as are her gray granny pannies.
These two dancers look like broken trauma victims, and it’s just the best. They’re just so damn good.
Afterward, Jesse is clapping like a four year old with birthday cake. He’s got goosebumps. Sonya contemplates the future of dance and thanks them for blessing her. Huh? Nigel recognizes the insane chemistry these two have and laments breaking them up next week. And, for real, it is a huge disappointment. Mary knows it too. But she says it a lot less coherently.
Jess and Clarice #2:
Last dance of the night goes to my least favorite couple and my least favorite dancing style. I just want Jess to burn in a fiery pit.
It doesn’t look like jive as much as tap dancing with wobbly knees. Of course he’s a pro at it. Agh. Their timing is superb and the song seems to be going on forever.
He’s the one sliding under her legs in this dance because he’s a hobbit and she’s people-sized. It really is impressive, though.
Sonya just says “I love it” and shakes her scary monster arms menacingly. Nigel compliments Jess’s high kicks but not his lifts. Mary wants more animation. Becuase nothing is animated enough unless it involves screeching and peeling the overly-tanned skin off your face. Jesse starts complimenting Cat with Emmy nomination predictions and Cat is taken aback enough to show some honest, not-drunk emotion. What's happening?
The stakes are high for the elimination tomorrow night. Nicole Scherzinger from the Pussycat Dolls is singing. The Top 10 who make it past this elimination are the ones going on the SYTYCD tour. And the SYTYCD All-Stars will be announced for pairing purposes for the rest of the season. Big news, y'all.
Melanie and Marko (seriously, the best they’ve done as a couple and I never want to see them go away)
Sasha and Alexander (the first dance was just terrible, and overshadowed the second)
Ryan and Ricky (always being in the bottom has taken its toll on them)
Caitlynn and Mitchell (Ugandan child soldiers was SO bad, it can't be forgiven)