Yes, it's still going: So You Think You Can Dance, Week 9
WARNING: The following recap is not the musings 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.
Hi, friends. It's only one week from the finale. And I have to say, praise the heavens. How is this season still on? There are six dancers left after Jess and Jordan went home last week. Jordan was a surprise, but it really just gets us closer to Melanie taking the top prize. I wonder if Ricky and Caitlynn already know they’re going home. Probably, but let's not spoil it for them.
Host Cat Deeley’s dress looks like sparkly dishwater with sleeves. At least her shoes are twenty feet tall and look like they’re breaking her feet. What a good friend she's been to us throughout this journey.
There are four judges on the panel again. Christina Applegate is here tonight, which seems odd. She reminds us she was on Broadway and that she's been dancing since she was three, up until she had a baby. Then the baby took her dancing spirit away. What a delight she'll be on this show. Unlike the other guest judge, the incomprehensible Lil C. He’ll undoubtedly say the word "buck" at least 120 times a minute.
Mary Murphy is tonight wearing what looks like sparkly metal shoulder pads. And she’s just glowing a radioactive orange. Positively, gloriously gamma-irradiated. I am ready for her to bless us with her super-powered vocals as well. Nigel catches us up on the results of National Dance Day, revealing that Cat left him high-and-dry up at Six Flags on Saturday. Poor, lonely Nigel.
Enough about the judges, more about the dancetestants!
Melanie (dancing with Season 4 All-Star Twitch):
It's time to see what Melanie can do with hip-hop. Somehow she escaped the clutches of choreographers Nappy Tabs this whole season. But she's here now, and paired up with Season 4 runner-up Twitch who knows what he's doing.
It's a Little Red Riding Hood send-up, so we know where this is going. It's slightly nervous casting the black guy as a sex-starved wolf, but this show's never been the best about fighting unfair stereotypes. The song is "Roman’s Revenge" by Nicki Minaj and Lil Wayne, which ups my interest level by one thousand percent. There are silly gnarled trees on stage and silly "ghetto" costumes to help you understand this is a story.
It takes Melanie a bit to get into the beat, but she hits all the moves cleanly. She actually looks mean and badass, which I didn't know she could do. The stage lights flashing like lightning help to make it all look more awesome than it probably is. Melanie looks like a beast. Point proven: she can handle every genre and punch it in the face.
Lil C starts discussing oppression and the ownership of the ghetto. Melanie’s grandma looks confused in the audience. Christina does the requisite Melanie ass-kissing that all new judges have to do. Mary glows proudly yet menacingly. Nigel refers to the size of Melanie’s talent. It sounds more offensive that he realizes.
Sasha (dancing with Season 7 All-Star Kent):
Tyce the Linebeard Choreographer is doing another contemporary piece that is--surprise--all about sadness about hurt feelings. There’s even a literal wall for Kent and Sasha to dance up against. Get it, dumb Americans?! They're up against a wall!
The song is “Fool of Me” by Me’Shell N’Degeocello. It is more than sad and slow, and lends itself to running around in flowy dresses. Kent is wearing the same white linen pants tonight that Neil wore last week. And there's Sasha, up against that wall. (Get it?!) Luckily, there are lots of things to do with a wall. Lots of pushing, throwing, leaping and spinning. Even a run up the wall and off again. Maybe it's kind of cool.
Afterward, Sasha won’t stop crying. Something's going on we don't get. Christina says she's broken hearted by the sadness in Sasha’s fingers. (We're definitely missing something here...) Tyce the Linebeard is snapping in the air like a line bearded drag queen. Mary’s flat, orange boobs are scaring the children. (Maybe that's what Sasha's crying about?)
Nigel reappoints Sasha with the Favorite Dancer status again, which makes Sasha’s mom cry. Lil C somehow makes Sasha's tears about him and his struggle. We start sighing, but now Mary's crying, too. It's a mess. Let’s get therapy, judges. I’ll pay for it.
Marko (dancing with Season 5 All-Star Jeannete):
It's time for Marko to go all Spanish bullfighter in the paso doble which is the dance equivalent of a bullfight. During rehearsal, Marko is told to lead with this crotch and yell uncomfortable things like “I want that bull.”
Marko looks great in his bullfighting jacket, all covered in tassels and jewels and animal prints. Jeanneate's dress is a nice accessory that helps him look like more of a badass. It's definitely not what I expected to see from him tonight, but I really like it. He’s a bit shaky at times with the unfamiliar moves, but he hits everything. He really is leading with his crotch in the best possible way.
Mary’s excited she's also wearing sparkling epaulets. She does her over-analysis of the ballroom dances as usual but helps us understand what it all means. Nigel didn't like the dance style, so he just didn't care for it.
Lil C loves Marko’s commitment to his crotch focus. "You sat in it," he states. Christina shares Lil C's love for the power of Marko's crotch, but she wants to see Marko drop just a little deeper in the crotch. The judges are all atwitter. Marko just looks dazed. What a sweet Guamanian boy.
Tadd (dancing with Season 6 All-Star Ellenore):
Sonyah Tayeh is back with all her wacky hairdos and piercings and bangles. She wants to turn this Victorian story into a super sexy couple that can't hold back their lustful feelings for one another. Rehearsals a great deal of lip contact and wanting to eat her feet. Hmmmm....
The song is "Gulag Orkestar" by Beirut, and it's a creepy Gypsy chant by best description. The costumes look like a mix between Eastern European and steampunk. Essentially, what Sonya wears every day of the week.
Tadd is dangerously swinging from a chandelier that is hanging from the ceiling. Ellenore is crawling betwixt Tadd's legs and simulating sexual positions while still dancing. They're really nailing the lusty part of this routine's intention on the head. Tadd’s arms are out of control with this gymnastics nonsense.
Surprisingly, Nigel’s embarrassed by the overt sexuality. He wanted more dancing and less acrobatics. Christina encourages them to get a room. Thank you, Xtina. Mary knows Tadd’s still growing, and she reminds us that Sonya is still growing as well. Her torn denim shirt indicates she’s already done that, Hulk-style.
Ricky (dancing with Season 3 All-Star Jamie):
Dee Caspary is encouraging Ricky to dance with a couple sticks in his hand to indicate how controlling he is in relationships. The effect is not immediately evident. Basically, it just makes poor Ricky have to dance with sticks in his hands. I guess that's how you get someone voted off the show...?
The soundtrack for this otherwise simple contemporary piece is "Inside These Lines" by Trent Dabbs. White pants and white dress means people will like the dance. The silly stick dancing is fine but superfluous. The music is soothing, nothing really unique to stand out. Jamie finally takes the sticks away from him, letting him know once and for all how silly they were the whole time.
Lil C recognizes the challenge Ricky had there with those sticks in his hand. Then he tells him he is "a magically magnificent puppeteer of physically rhythmic artistry." I'm getting that tattooed on my neck. Christina, thank gawwwwwd, makes fun of Lil C for saying that. Mary just smiles, glowingly. Nigel wants Ricky to feel the dance more in his lower body. Apparently, the guys all need to spend some time without their dance belts on.
Caitlynn (dancing with Season 3 All-Star Pasha):
It's sexy Samba time for sweet Caitlynn. Less smiling and more grinding, I say. Plus, it's Pasha, who's making everyone look so good this season with all his shirtless routines.
Like clockwork, Pasha's in an open see-through blouse, and Caitlynn's hardly wearing seven feathers to cover her jiggling naughty parts. They're Sambaing to the dance hall pop song "Drop it Low" by Kat DeLuna which is how this show succeeds in making ballroom enjoyable for us.
I realize, despite her impressive ability to shake it like I did not expect, I’m mostly watching him. He's swiveling like Ricky Martin did back in the day, and it's hypnotic. Even with her obnoxious magenta feather dress and jewel boobs she's got going on. This is actually awesome and weird. And now he’s sweeping the floor with her like a feather duster. I'm entirely satisfied.
Christina needs help with the ballroom vocabulary. Luckily, Mary’s here to say some things the rest of us don't comprehend. Nigel calls Caitlynn “a very sexy girl when she dances.” We reel back in horror and prepare to dial the police. Lil C tells Caitlynn to "swan dive" into her sexiness, not to "cannonball." Luckily, nobody ever needs to figure out what that even means.
[Break time for all the dancetestants to do their boring old solo dances. Melanie even admits she figures hers out in the commercial break before she goes on. They’re a little more original than the dances over the last four weeks, but they're all generally forgettable. Until, of course, Melanie gets up and does something totally original and awesome. We’re reminded again why she’s going to win.]
Dantestant pairup #1 - Sasha and Ricky:
Unknown choreographer Kamari Suraj leads these two in a first-of-its-kind Wacking routine. What the what?! Whacking? Anyone remember Princess Lockeroo back in the day? She looked like a crazy Batman villain, and she made Mary clap like a four year old. Well, they didn't let her on the show, but we're stealing her moves.
Wacking is out of control, sort of a mix between cheerleading and being a drag queen. But amazingly, Sasha's outfit is more intense than both of those things. The soundtrack is the new “Schoolin’ Life” by our girl Beyonce. This is delightfully stupid and watered down, but at least it feels original. Someone’s surely gonna get hit in the face, and it's going to be awesome. This isn't fast enough to really look impressive, but it's undoubtedly cool. Beyonce would be proud.
Mary doesn’t feel comfortable saying ‘wacking’ so she says it more than she needs to. She says the phrase “I'm no wacking specialist” and I have to pause the show to recover my life. Then Nigel says 'wacking' and 'sexy' in the same sentence, and we are horrified and delighted at the same time. Lil C wants them to wack and snap "down to the bone." Recognizing what she’s saying, Christina encourages them to “wack a little harder next time.” At least we all know what this show is really about.
Dancetestat pairup #2 - Melanie and Tadd:
Broadway choreographer Spencer Liff is punishing Melanie and Tadd with a Broadway dance routine, which has not been awesome this season for anyone. Oh well. They'll make it great. The story is about a dancer who falls in love with her choreographer. Ho-hum. A bit self-indulgent on the part of this choreographer.
The soundtrack is Away Team's remix of Shirley Bassey's “Love Story." It’s not a hokey Broadway song, so already I'm filled with hope. The song is sexy and slow but also rhythmic and bass-heavy. The man actually gets to walk away from the woman in this routine, which never happens. Cat calls Tadd's character a “ratface” and I just die.
Nigel has to go back to compliment Melanie for her solo dance earlier in the night. She’s back to being his Favorite Dancer. What a tease he is! Lil C refers to Melanie’s “quiet fire” and calls her “sensual,” “beefy” and “buck” all in the same sentence. Ack. Ack! Blech. Christina is stricken with amnesia asking both dancers who they are to be able to do what they do. Mary drools a little in her immense orange cleavage.
Dancetestant pairup #3 - Marko and Caitlynn:
Sonya Tayeh is again ready to terrorize us all with an angry jazz routine. She rebukes Caitlynn for being too young and smiley and strips her sexiness from her. Likewise, she denies Marko his nice guy charm. They emerge as heartless dance soldiers in the arena of Sonya's choosing. They will dance fight to the death.
The song is “Heavy in Your Arms” by Florence + the Machine so you know everyone's going to be depressed and scared by the end. There are stars on the stage, and everything's rough on the dancers. Marko is shirtless and mean, pushing Caitlynn down through the imaginary water. There’s a marching beat and an awesome martial arts quality to this. Marko and Caitlynn are both committing hard to this. You can't help but love it.
The judges are standing up at the end, garnering the first standing ovation of the night. Lil C awards them a “double hashtag buck," which I think is a compliment? Christina calls Marko a beast and announces this as Caitlynn’s ‘moment’ in the competition. Mary gets all the way into her top register, making us realize as well that we haven’t heard her banshee wail all night until now. I guess she really means what she’s screeching. Nigel announces Caitlynn has “finally come of age” which is where we just have to stop listening to him because he has no clue about how Bad Santa he sounds all the time.
Winner Winner Chicken Dinner:
Without a doubt, the overall winner is once again Melanie. Being singled out by all four judges for her solo dance that she put together in a two minute commercial break indicates once again why she is untouchable in this competition. Marko and Sasha are right up there in the talent department, but Melanie keeps finding a way to stand out every week.
Missing out on the Finale:
I love Ricky and respect his fortitude through the multiple weeks in the bottom three. But it's finally time for him to go home and practice for the SYTYCD Tour that's kicking off in a couple months.
I hate to say it, but Caitlynn really stepped up her game this week and edged out Sasha in these two dances. I would really prefer to see Sasha in the finale because I think she's better overall, but I'm nervous tonight's show is going to make Caitlynn stand out over Sasha. We'll have to sit through an hour of commercials to see what happens tomorrow...