The Wife:

Another two weeks of SYTYCD auditions, and here are our notable dancers out of Boston, Atlanta and the Big Easy:

Please give this woman an Emmy. Please?

Please give this woman an Emmy. Please?

Teddy Tedhome: He wore plaid pants, and that makes him both funky and awesome. He goes straight to Vegas.

Jean Llauret: He is a good breaker, but I feel like he is stronger than he is interesting in either movement or personality. Still, we’ll see him in Vegas.

Kimara Wood: I would totally cast this long-dreaded dude in a Cajun Country Blues version of A Midsummer Night’s Dream as Oberon. Believe me, I’ve seen such a production of Midsummer and he is exactly what their Oberon looked like. He goes to Vegas.

Channing Cooke: She is Kherington 2.0, which means Nigel likes her because she is pretty and blonde. She makes it to the choreo round.

Super Tall Ryan Casey: He’s a good tapper, if ungainly due to his height. Though he doesn’t make it to Vegas, I suspect he is somehow related to Conan O’Brien.

Russell Ferguson: Unfortunately, his excellent krump audition was ruined by the producers inserting shots of Tyce DiOrio grooving for no fucking reason. I DO NOT CARE ABOUT TYCE!

Karen and Matthew Haver: If these two dance like this together, what must their marriage bed be like? They both go to Vegas to burn the sheets there. Once again, I had to ask myself why Cat Deeley and the producers are rewriting SYTYCD history. They claimed that Karen and Matthew were the first married couple to make it to Vegas together, but that’s not true! Artem and his wife both made it to Vegas in season one. Artem made the show, his wife didn’t.

K-Bez: His performance was good, but not great, and made me officially announce that I am over any and all Black Eyed Peas summer dance hits. Somehow, he still goes to Vegas.

Gene Burstin: He is a very sexy Russian with a very unsexy name and goes to Vegas.

Billy Bell: He reminds me of Billy Elliot, so we shall call this sprightly male ballet poof Billy Belliot for the duration of his time on the show. (It works on two levels, you see, because the actor who played Billy Elliot is called Jamie Bell.) Billy Belliot here is amazing, and he goes straight to Vegas.

Amber Jackson: I am pretty sure Nigel just threatened violence upon this girl because he liked her dancing, but didn’t think her performance was engaging. I mean, on the one hand, I agree about engaging your audience, especially at an audition, but sometimes, you’re just not dancing that kind of dance, you know?

Victor Smalley: He isn’t Hawaiian, as far as I can tell, but dances like a combination of Mark and Kupono. Good times.

Jessica Jensen: How many times have I begged my readers to get skin checks? Please do, because you do not want to have a sarcoma in your hand and end up like this girl. Although, if you do have to lose a hand, please be like this girl. Jessica here was a good dancer, but not a great one, and I’m glad that the judges didn’t get her a free pass to Vegas simply because of her missing hand. She does, however, have personality for days. I loved her joke about gnawing off her fingers with nervousness, and the shot of her walking out of the theatre with her boyfriend, where he tenderly held the nub where her hand used to be. She’s kind of my hero.

Thomas Hamilton: The world’s most graceful crackbaby gets a ticket to Vegas.

Shelby “Skip” Skipper: One of the most energetic hip-hoppers we’ve seen so far in auditions. Mary was either amazed, or on drugs, or both by the sound of her praise of his work.

Jonathan Litzler: He’s an acrobat, and you know what I don’t need? Another Neil Haskell. I can’t deny his talent (he’s better than Neil), I just think his tumbling overshadowed his dancing. Well, that and the fact that he only wears one sock or shoe while dancing. What’s up with that?

Allison Nance: Her stand-out moment was when she made a pinwheel with her legs over her torso, and yet somehow remained stationary through her core. I do not understand how one achieves such a thing.

Edward Spots: Should be cast in The Lion King. Right now.

Justin Kenny: He is probably the most lithe breakers we’ve ever seen. Some of his moves are a little awkward, but when it works, it’s stellar.

Kimalee Piadad: I have never heard of competition theatre arts dancing, but I assume that’s what you have to call competitive partner dancing that isn’t in a defined ballroom style. She and her partner were really great, achieving lifts I’ve really only seen people do on ice skates and not half so well. Kimalee goes straight to Vegas.

Diana Drexler: She performed a very moving lyrical piece, and it was all the more moving to her after losing her grandfather passed away just before her audition. I’m sorry she didn’t want to be “that girl” (with the story, the package of tragedy), because the producers clearly wanted her to be.

Stray thoughts:

  • I liked watching Cat learn how to do the Stanky Legg. I know how to do that from America’s Best Dance Crew!
  • Even more than this, I enjoyed watching Cat learn the New Orleans bounce.
  • “My salsa looked more like some guacamole.” — Boogie Links, who was having way more fun hitting on girls than he was dancing.
  • Where are the mind-blowing hip-hoppers this season? I haven’t seen nearly as many as I should be seeing.
  • And I missed the girl who fell down and showed her lady bits. Why would you even go to a dance competition without underwear on in the first place? Wouldn’t we have seen all that during her piece, which I’m sure was filled with leg extensions and leaps?

The Husband:

The producers claim that it wasn’t her lady bits, but “a crease in her panties,” which is one of the best press release phrases in quite some time.

Quick hint: it wasn’t “a crease in her panties.” Panties don’t have a furry front patch. At least no panties I know.

And Thomas Hamilton reminded me that I wanted to play this clip. Not that I don’t like him, but even if he makes it into the Top 20 and then starts sucking (neither of which I can foresee, because I’m not a soothsayer), I will have probably forgotten by then that I would want to use this clip when he is kicked off. So here I preemptively give him shit and expose my bad taste, if me talking about furry panties didn’t already tip you off.


The Wife:

This episode was the stuff of my nightmares. And I’m not saying that because my perfect Top 4 was shattered with the inclusion of Evan because I do like Evan very much. I’m saying it was a nightmare because it opened with a Tyce DiOrio Broadway routine about clowns. Clowns! WHY, GOD, WHY! Two of my least favorite things in the world were synthesized into one horrible vision. And yet, despite my dislike of both of those things, the “Send in the Clowns” number was actually pretty solid. It didn’t inspire any intense Tyce hatred in me, and, frankly, sad Harlequin clowns are the kind I find most palatable. It even established a somewhat ominous tone for the show, as well. I mean, how can you not see the appropriateness of one sad clown Evan being left out of the box by the other clowns? It’s totally a metaphor for the competition, and not in a painstakingly obvious TabNap kind of way. It’s there, but it wasn’t covering your head with a moving box, if you know what I mean.

In addition to our results, we were treated to a showing of the four Emmy-nominated routines from last season: Tyce DiOrio’s “Silence” for Will and Jessica, Mia Michaels’ “Mercy” for Katee and Twitch, Dmitry Chaplin’s “A Los Amigos” for Chelsie and Joshua and Nappytab’s “Bleeding Love” for Chelsie and Mark. Since this isn’t the meat of the show, I’m not going to spend time critiquing second showings of these works, but here are some observations:

  • “Silence” is way better live because you can actually hear Will and Jessica struggling for breath. It struck me as extremely beautiful on the tour because of that, but not so much replayed on my TV.
  • Also, I still hate Jessica.
  • “Mercy” is never not awesome. I loved that Katee and Twitch kept character even through their bows.
  • I think the reason “A Los Amigos” is such a good Argentine Tango number is that it’s choreographed to be performed as part of a stage show, rather than part of a dance competition. It’s really dynamic and visually interesting in its movement and stagecraft. Sometimes, I think the problem with some ballroom on this show is that the choreographers forget they aren’t choreographing for a competition, but for a stage show.
  • “Bleeding Love” will always be one of TabNap’s best, and that’s because of the sheer ferociousness with which Chelsie and Mark dance it. If you strip that away, the choreography is kind of just a lot of bouncing and flailing, no?
  • Kupono, you are not, nor will you ever be, anywhere near as good as Mark Kanemura.

The first winners of America’s Best Dance Crew, the amazing Jabbawockeez, performed and they were totally tizzight as usual in their routine to “Freak-a-Zoid.” I could have done without the giant mask onstage, and the mask projections on the screens. They were a little distracting to the movement. Sean Paul also performed with a bunch of backup dancers who were dressed like Darryl Hannah in Blade Runner. I do not know why, and I apparently never will. Cat wore a sparkly green dress. Jeanine and Brandon were sent straight to the finale, and the remaining dancers soloed again, with no changes at all on the part of the ladies. At least Ade added in his deadly backflip and Evan, I think, pumped up his technique a bit.

Farewell, Melissa and Ade!

Farewell, Melissa and Ade!

But after all that, Evan and Kayla were allowed by America to join Jeanine and Brandon in the finale and I’m fine with that. Yes, I do love Evan, but I also think he’s outlived his usefulness here. However, I have to keep reminding myself that once we hit the Top 10, it becomes about being America’s Favorite Dancer, not America’s Best Backflipping Guy. When you compare the strengths and weaknesses of Ade and Evan, I think you can make the case that, personality aside, Evan has a better technical background. When it comes down to adorability and personality, Evan clearly wins there. But watching Ade falter in yet another ballroom routine made me wonder if maybe Evan really is the more technically skilled of the two and, for some reason, that just isn’t coming through in the works he’s been given. When I look at both men’s solos, they astound me for completely different reasons. So even though I’d have preferred Ade, I’m really fine with Evan in the Top 4. It nearly guarantees that he’ll be invited back to choreograph if he so desires, à la Travis Wall.

As for Melissa, there was no way she’d have made the Top 4. I like her bunches, and I think she did a great deal to help classical ballet become a popular style again. In my dream world where everyone spends money on art, Melissa’s very presence in a reality dance competition program means more ballet patrons and therefore more money going to sustain dance companies and dancers themselves. But when put next to Kayla and Jeanine, who are both such powerhouse performers, Melissa didn’t stand a chance.

So congrats to Jeanine, Evan, Kayla and Brandon! I’d automatically give my winning vote to Spiseagle Brandon Bryant, but I’d like to see a talented female win this year, so my votes next week are going to Kayla. Who will you guys be voting for now that we’re down to the wire? The (dance) floor, my friends, is yours.

Stray thoughts:

  • My husband pointed out that when he rewatched Evan’s solos from the last two weeks, Evan was doing dead-on imitations of Gene Kelly’s facial expressions. If he paused the dance at certain moments, my husband would be able to tell you exactly what scene in what movie Gene Kelly makes that face.
  • For my part, Sad Clown Evan reminded me of John Leguizamo as Tolouse Latrec when he’s dressed as the Magical Sitar in Moulin Rouge and is crying because Satine is dead. This is much more of a compliment than saying, “He reminded me of Gene Kelly in the clown scene in The Pirate.” Because that dance is terrible. And it’s terrible because of Judy Garland.
  • I’m glad Ade was so happy for Brandon to make it straight through to the finale. I assume it’s because they’re both part of the Sexy Black Man Club, which I imagine has Seal as a president and Taye Diggs as VP. Denzel Washington was a charter member, but he resigned some years ago. They revoked Will Smith’s membership after Fresh Prince was cancelled. Djimon Honsou is their Cultural Attache to France. I can keep going. Really, I can.
  • When I saw a shot of Melissa’s husband in the audience standing next to a dude who looked suspiciously like him, I suddenly remembered that she and her sister were married to brothers. That’s so uncanny.
  • What do we all make of this “This dancer will be in the finale, but they didn’t necessarily pull the most votes” thing? Katee-Was-Actually-Second-Place conspiracy theorists, please weigh in.

The Wife:

Usually reality shows do not coincide with major events in my life, but it just struck me while watching the show last night that next week would be the finale of SYTYCD 5, and that also means that summer is over and my move to the Pacific Northwest is imminent. We bought tickets to the Everett show, one of the last on the tour, last Saturday. It’s all happening.

This week, we were treated not only to six routines from our remaining six dancers, plus solos, but also two routines from Sonya Tayeh for the Top three dancers of each gender. I’m actually going to take a minute to talk about Sonya’s pieces first because they were both so good that they deserve recognition. First of all, I want to retract what I said last week about how I’d never cast Evan in a Sonya Tayeh piece. I’m sorry, Mia Michaels, but you are wrong and I was wrong to agree with you. For as good as Brandon and Ade were in Sonya’s Willy Wonka-inspired jazz piece to “True Romance” by She Wants Revenge, the person I noticed the most was Evan. He danced just as strongly as his counterparts, and, I’d argue, with more character. That piece was a joy to watch, quirky and weird and interesting, and suited each of the guys’ strengths. As for the girls routine, Sonya prepared something that highlighted each of their strengths and turned them into superheroes (complete with belts bearing their initials) for a routine set to “Kick It (Superheroes Remix)” by Nina Martino. What I liked about both of these pieces was not simply the dancing, which was excellent from every performer, but Sonya’s use of levels in her work, as well as her commitment to using the entire stage. It made these pieces really powerful, and that made them great bookends for the beginning and end of the show.

The Excellent

Kayla and Brandon (Contemporary)
Choreography by Stacey Tookey
Song: “All I Want” by Ahn Trio

This was Uh. May. Zing. I seriously got chills watching this piece. It was a gorgeous story danced with sheer gorgeousness and gorgeousity all over. Highlights include Brandon lifting Kayla on her side, with her legs bowed together in a frog-like shape, the upside-down V-lift and anytime the two of them came together. Lil C said this was the first time Kayla had been paired with a partner of equal skill and the results were amazing, Mary put Brandon on the Hot Tamale Train beside Kayla and Nigel muttered something incomprehensible about how he thought they didn’t have enough chemistry together but the dancing was strong. To which I say: Nigel, this piece was about a man using and abusing his mistress. They don’t have to have romantic chemistry, they simply need to appear like they get together once a week to fuck. And they did that extremely well.

Another suitcase, another hall.

Another suitcase, another hall.

Kayla and Brandon (Disco)
Choreography by Doriana Sanchez
Song: “Dance (Disco Heat)” by Sylvester

Clearly, Kayla and Brandon are my couple of the night, and not only because they’re two of my favorite dancers. They were simply on fucking fire tonight. I thought disco might kill them, as it sometimes destroys people, but Doriana Sanchez gave us another really memorable, fun and awesome disco routine last night that was made all the better by the people performing it. I have no idea what the hell Lil C was talking about with his rambling about the darkness and seeing with your ears, but I’m going to guess that he meant that Brandon and Kayla demonstrated excellent musicality in this performance. They were, in fact, spot on in their double arm extensions when Brandon lifted Kayla with his shoulders. All of the judges loved this piece and the dance was hot enough to receive two Official Mary Murphy Screams, plus two first class tickets on the Hot Tamale Train for each of the dancers. If there’s one critique I can give the dance that went unsaid by the judging panel, it’s that while I liked the double death drop in theory, the reverse-gender half of it simply didn’t work for me as Brandon nearly took Kayla to the floor with him in his section. Great idea, but it didn’t quite work. Even so, this piece was excellent.

The Good to Very Good

Jeanine and Ade (Samba)
Choreography by Louis Van Amstel
Song: “LoveGame” by Lady Gaga

Dear Karla and Jonathan (and Tony Meredith): this is how a Latin ballroom number set to Lady Gaga should look and feel. Jeanine was in it to win it on this one from the moment she lowered her stunna shades and shook her feathered rump bustle like there was no fucking tomorrow. Also, I’m so glad I got my “LoveGame” wish and Jeanine sort of took a ride on her partner’s disco stick. At least, I’m pretty sure her ass feathers did. I would have put this in the “Excellent” section, but I have to agree with Mary that Ade’s samba rolls were a bit weak. Lil C, I believe, called this dance some sort of misfire in the Large Hadron Super Collider and Nigel reminded Ade that he has to change his style a bit to suit each dance. But even with Ade’s faults here, Jeanine was totally and completely amazing in this. She’s a spectacular performer, and any girl who can wear that many feathers on her ass is aces in my book. Totally my favorite outfit of the night.

Shake those tailfeathers, Jeanine!

Shake those tailfeathers, Jeanine!

Jeanine and Ade (Hip-Hop)
Choreography by TabNap
Song: “Move (If You Wanna)” by MIMS

After having Shane Sparks last week and being reminded how totally awesome hip-hop on this show can be when its hard-hitting and inspiring (which is not to say that I haven’t loved a few of TabNap’s lyrical hip-hops), I ready to roll my eyes at TabNap’s attempts to follow that zombie number. I saw moving boxes and thought, “Oh! Did TabNap just buy their first house? How sweet!” But what I thought would have been kind of stupid ended up being pretty damn fun. Jeanine and Ade were both fantastic in this number, although for a time I thought Ade was dancing too high until I realized that was just an optical illusion created by Jeanine’s smaller stature. The choreography here was fun and inventive, as well. The sad faces on the moving boxes at the end were a little too precious for me, but I loved the segment where the dancers had to move with boxes on their feet. That was inspired. The judges were way into this one as well, and Mary took the time to remind Jeanine how good she was in the samba. Nigel, instead, took the time to complain about his ex-wife. Nigel, fucking shut it. Half of everything you say makes you seem like a misogynistic asshat. I don’t care how much you hate your ex, just fucking let it go.

Melissa and Evan (Quickstep)
Choreography by Louis Van Amstel
Song: “As Long as I’m Singin'” by the Brian Setzer Orchestra

I heard that they drew the quickstep and announced, “You’re done” to my television. After five seasons of this show, I think we’re all aware that a quickstep is the kiss of death on SYTYCD. It’s an awful dance that almost no one does well. In fact, I can only think of two I’ve ever really liked. One was performed by Artem in season one, and the other performed by Sabra and Pasha in season three to Big Bad Voodoo Daddy. But Melissa and Evan broke my “Only Russians Can Quickstep” rule tonight by performing a number I actually liked. Louis Van Amstel’s choreography here was lively and fun to watch, and well-suited to the music. (Ill-chosen music, I think, kills many a quickstep instantly.) This style was far better suited to Evan’s talents than Tyce’s earlier Broadway routine was and I thought he looked really good here, as did Melissa. Lil C critiqued Evan’s retractions, which weren’t snappy enough for him, but admired how big he danced this number. Mary, who choreographed that great quickstep with Artem in season one, thought the dance started strong, but fell apart in the final grapevine section and noted that while the choreography was fun, it wasn’t a true quickstep. Frankly, I don’t care, because it was fun to watch. Nigel also pointed out Evan’s retraction problem in the lindy hop/Charleston segment (which, to my eye, contained zero lindy hopping).

Will I be proven wrong about Quicksteps? Doubtful.

Will I be proven wrong about Quicksteps? Doubtful.

The Mediocre

Melissa and Evan (Broadway)
Choreography by Tyce DiOrio
Song: “Get Me to the Church on Time” from My Fair Lady, only it was some bizarre swing version of it

I do not even have feelings about this routine.


1. Brandon: “O Fortuna” from Carmina Burana. Um, okay guys. I am now pretty sure that Brandon is not human. I think he was simultaneously part spider, part seal and part eagle in this solo. Like a Spiseagle. Spiseagle! Oh my god! That’s now my new nickname for him! Brandon the Spiseagle was totally freaking amazing in this, and I completely agree with Nigel that it may have been the best solo ever seen on SYTYCD. Even if Brandon’s personality isn’t quite your thing, you have to admit he’s the most fucking absurdly talented dancer on this show. I mean, seriously. Watch that solo again. You’ll see.

2. Jeanine: “Feedback” by Janet Jackson. This was not as strong as some of her past solos, but I think she toned down the technique here for the sake of personality. By which I mean she stole Melissa’s whole “naughty ballerina” thing from her. It was sexy, that’s for sure. But, dear Jeanine, please don’t rely too much on your sexiness. Remind us all that you’re also talented as all hell. We can tell you’re sexy just by looking at you.

3. Ade: “11th Floor Balcony” by Blue October. While this was his least impressive solo yet, for lack of near-death experiences, I am still continually impressed by the strength of Ade’s core and the way he sweeps his arms.

4. Kayla: “You Found Me” by The Fray. I think this solo was her attempt to dramatize the first season of Lost in under 30 seconds. Did you see her swim in this piece? I did. Again, not her strongest. I love her, but I’m still waiting for something as Radomkulous as her audition in Denver.

5. Evan: “Lady Is a Tramp” by Sammy Davis, Jr. What can I say? I love his solos. They’re so adorable. And he actually twinkled his toes in this one!

6. Melissa: “I Put a Spell on You” by Nina Simone. I like Melissa, but each time I see her solos, I am less and less impressed. I’d really rather she perform a classical ballet solo that shows her strengths, rather than these odd little improvs.

I’m really at a loss for who could be going home this week. I am pretty sure Melissa will be the girl to leave us, as both Jeanine and Kayla absolutely deserve to stay. Evan should leave us, in order to preserve my perfect final four dancers, but Ade kind of took a beating from the judges and there are as many Brandon detractors as there are Evan fans. But I’m going to vote with the Rule of the Quickstep and lock in Jeanine, Kayla, Brandon and Ade as my final four.

The Wife:

Cat Deeley really hates Thursdays, and nothing makes me love her more than her mama bear attitude toward all of the Top 20 dancers on this reality dance show competition program we like to call Dancey Dance. She earned a thousand extra adorable points for me last night by choosing to follow up Wednesday’s ruffle kerfuffle with a sleek double breasted white suit, which, after seeing the group number, I decided was an intentional move on Cat’s part to reflect the style and costuming of the piece, thus giving the show’s introduction a smooth and cohesive appearance.

That opening number, by the way, was brought to us by Mia Michaels. In it, the Top 18 donned black business suits, black lipstick and face-obscuring mokos (the traditional form of facial tattooing amongst the Maori of New Zealand) while dancing to “Higher Ground” by Stevie Wonder amid bright photo-studio flashbulbs and projections of the dancers’ mokoed faces on the big SYTYCD screen. Although I knew last night’s piece would be Mia’s (because Nigel teased Brandon about it on Wednesday), I had my doubts during the choreography of this piece. This isn’t to say it was un-Mia, as I know she does have a fondness for tribal dance (which you can see in her Top 4 number from last year, which was brought down by some poor costuming decisions), but it was almost more Sonya Tayeh in its strictness of movement. Ah, but then the dancers launched their bodies in the air, nearly four feet off the ground as horizontally and fluidly as possible and I was once again sure it was a Mia Michaels piece.

I made a note to myself to think about the piece overnight and try to divine its meaning, so here’s the best I’ve got: this piece was about the loss of cultural identity in Western culture. It reminded me very much of one of the books I wrote my thesis on, Jill Ciment’s The Tattoo Artist, which is about a 1920s bohemian artist who ends up shipwrecked on the island of Ta’un’uu with her lover, only to be forcibly tattooed (on their faces, no less) by the natives and assimilated into their culture. After about 60 years spent on the island, Sarah (the protagonist) fully loses her Western identity and becomes one of the most revered tattooists on Ta’un’uu. In the end, she returns to New York City to be photographed for Life magazine after a journalist somehow finds her on Ta’un’uu and has trouble reconciling the person she was before Ta’un’uu with the person she became there. Only, Mia’s piece is something of the opposite. It’s like what Sarah’s experience would have been at that Life magazine photoshoot: the flashbulbs illuminating her face, the contours of her mouth obscured by five concentric circles of pitch black ink. It was about the process of assimilating culture in the reverse of the assimilation of The Tattoo Artist: it was about appropriating the Maori traditions and turning them into faceless, nameless entities to be repackaged in a way pleasing to the Western eye (the business suits). Nothing illuminated that more for me than the brief moments in which we did see the Life-esque photographs of the dancers’ mokoed faces, staring back at us with a near-expressionless sadness. The one that struck me most, I think, was Kupono’s, because the dance itself, although it was based in Maori heritage, could have easily been about the same struggle as those of the Native peoples of Hawaii.

If what I just wrote doesn’t make a lot of sense to you, that’s okay, because the producers followed up the Top 18 number with a package on the Tao of C, highlighting Lil C’s particularly verbose rhetoric, and you’re welcome to lump my analysis into the portion of your brain that ignores Lil C if you’re not into that sort of thing.

And so Kupono was separated from his shadow at long last.

And so Kupono was separated from his shadow at long last.

After that, it was time to get to results. Cat called up Melissa and Ade, Caitlin and Jason and Phillip and Jeanine. She informed us straight away that Melissa and Ade were safe and that, as I predicted, Chbeeb and Jeanine have already accumulated enough fans to keep themselves out of the bottom three, landing Caitlin and Jason the first two spots in the “Dance for Your Life” solo round. Their presence in the bottom three, however, totally screws up one of my bottom three predictions. So while I may have been a very premium judge of dances last week, this week, I got one measly fucking point in the “EW Predictify SYTYCD” challenge. So, you know, don’t trust me on everything.

Of the next three couples to sweat it out before Cat Deeley, my other favorites from last night Brandon and Jeanette were told they were safe, followed by Jonathan and Karla-of-the-totally-blank-face, leaving Ashley and Kupono in the bottom three, which would be the only predication I actually got right this week.

Finally, Randi and Evan, Auska and Vitolio and Kayla and Max took the stage. Before any results were given, Cat reminded everyone that they’re currently auditioning dancers for fall’s season 6 and showed a clip of Ryan Kasprzak’s audition and subsequent immediate ticket to Vegas, just to make little brother Evan smile. I had been worried about the show losing its momentum going into season 6, but dear sweet Lord, if Ryan Kasprzak makes it to the Top 20 of season 6, I will never, ever, ever stop believing in this show. You give me Ryan Kasprzak followed by Glee on Wednesdays at 9 and I will be deliciously fucking happy.

As for the results themselves, I was happy to hear that Randi and Evan got by this week on the strength of how cute they are (also, did anyone else notice that the recap of this dance made the judges comments seem overall more positive than they actually were on Wednesday?) but then totally and completely shocked to see that Kayla and Max ended up in the bottom three rather than Auska and Vitolio. Granted, Auska and Vitolio were beautiful this week and the only reason I thought they’d be in the bottom three is that I’ve seen a number of commenters out here in the innertubes that spend their whole day hating on Auska. And you must know how totally shocked I am to see Kayla and Max in the bottom too, considering they were one of my top three most premium dances of the night! Dear SYTYCD viewers: please do not hate on Brian the Evil Elf, or I will post the Dmitry and Ashlee Fall Out Boy dance again, just to show you he’s wicked cool. And that’s a threat, because you’d then have to listen to a Fall Out Boy song and actually enjoy it.

So after a performance of some totally difficult (because it has to be perfectly timed to the music) Indian dancing by a lady with tons of little tintinabulating bells tied to her feet, Kayla, Max, Caitlin, Jason, Kupono and Ashley all danced for their lives:

  • Caitlin danced to “Make You Feel My Love” by Adele, and while I think she looked strong, I didn’t really think much of her solo. I am beginning to realize that I might not like her.
  • Jason danced to “Superman” by Robin Thicke. Nigel later called this the strongest solo he’d ever seen. Uh, I like Jason a lot, but I’m not sure that’s true.
  • Ashley danced to “By Your Side” by Coco Kosse. While I appreciate the fact that she dressed up like Marion Cotillard to perform this piece, I don’t understand why she made that choice or why she chose not to really dance while doing so.
  • Kupono “danced” to “Many Moons” by Janella Monrae (I think?). You know, I like Kupono, but he is no Mark Kanemura. The only reason I’d want him to stay on the show is because I want to hear about his furniture collection, but this solo was a steaming pile of poop. He basically just ran around and occasionally vogued poorly. Benny Ninja would be ashamed!
  • Kayla danced to “Walking on Air” by Kerli. The girl shouldn’t have been in the bottom three in the first place, but she took the name of her song choice very literally and spent most of this solo physically in the air in a variety of leaps, twirls and mid-air splits. Nigel later said her solo was crowded, and I guess that’s true, but you can’t knock the fact that she did everything she jammed into that solo incredibly well.
  • Max danced to “Footloose” by Kenny Loggins. Hands down, one of the most violent jive steps I’ve ever seen. Also, I now know that while he’s a great dancer, he totally can’t choreograph. There was a lot of dead space between segments in this solo.
I guess Nigel wasnt that into this outfit, either, eh?

I guess Nigel wasn't that into this outfit, either, eh?

The judges went backstage to deliberate and Krisinia DeBarge of the family DeBarge (whom you should totally check out on Punky Brewster!) showed up to lip-sync (and poorly!) her new single, “Goodbye.” After which the “jidges” announced that they were not unanimous on their decisions and decided to send Ashley packing (goodbye, my vomiting friend!), which wasn’t totally surprising, because Nigel wants to bone Caitlin and it did take Ashley four auditions before the producers finally caved and added her to the Top 20. But then we also had to say goodbye to Max, which I really think was the wrong decision. Yes, Kupono is perhaps a little more interesting in the personality department, but what about the idea of having a well-rounded Top Whatever? Last week, Paris was let go because she was the weakest of the eight contemporary dancers that comprised the Top 20. Why would you axe your only male ballroom dancer so early in the competition, and let an inferior contemporary dancer stay? I think Kayla was even more unhappy than I was at Max’s untimely departure. She’s a very strong dancer, but I am worried about her dancing with Kupono. I think she only benefited from having a great partner like Max who was strong and knew how to partner well – two things I do not think of when I see Kupono, especially after that horrible solo.

So next week, we’ll have a new couple: Kayla and Kupono, which is only promising because of their alliterative names. But I’m worried about Kayla. Please transcend this disaster, Radomkulous! Persevere!

The Wife:

Last week‘s performance episode set the bar pretty high, as all of the performances were good if not great, save for an obvious few. But this week, things were drastically different. We’re in the thick of the competition now, and just doing okay doesn’t really cut it anymore. I was not such a premium judge of dances this week, as the judges and I often had wildly different opinions on what happened on stage that night, but, sometimes, I think that difference opinion came down simply to my complete lack of technical knowledge about a certain dance style. I praise this show because I learn a lot about the technicalities of dancing, and it’s often pretty clear when one partner is not hitting the moves in the same way as the other, because I have eyes and I can tell what looks right. But I can only rely on that about 60% of the time, because sometimes, there are dances that I think look completely fine, but are actually hugely technically flawed. There were definitely examples of that tonight, which I’ll get to below.

We also saw examples of how a ruffle can eat a tall, svelte British woman, as well as many examples of what the dancers think America needs to know about their partners.

For instance:

  • Randi has a dog she treats like a human child.
  • Evan loves cars and knows how to build them from the ground up.
  • Melissa and her sister married brothers.
  • Ade’s full name is Adetokunbo Isaac Kayote Obamye. It’s African!
  • Jason really loves Michael Jackson and used to dress up and dance to MJ in his living room as a kid.
  • Caitlin likes to impersonate babies and velociraptors. (She looks really, really scary as a raptor because the small of her back is virtually nonexistent in that pose.)
  • Jeanette grew up with janky bunny teeth.
  • Brandon has that body and apparently doesn’t work out. I not totally hate him.
  • Vitolio loves motorbikes.
  • Auska enjoys blowing spitbubbles.
  • Max enjoys cooking meals for his roommates.
  • Kayla is a texting addict.
  • Jonathan felt the need to inform me that Karla is a Boogie Bot, which I know, because I use the interwebs.
  • Karla told us that Jonathan loves to sing, but is really horrible at it.
  • Chbeeb is a super nerd, majoring in engineering physics, which I again knew, because I use the interwebs.
  • Jeanine has a teddy bear boyfriend.
  • Kupono is really, really organized, which we all should have gleaned from the introduction of his “To Do” list in Vegas.
  • Ashley vomited all over her first grade classmates. And with that, Ashley and Kupono officially became my favorite couple. Beautiful, disastrous weirdoes, the both of them.

The Excellent

Melissa and Ade (Jazz)
Choreography by Sonya Tayeh
Song: “24 Hours” by Terry Poison

Why does this remind me of Anonymous Rex?

Why does this remind me of Anonymous Rex?

Not only was this the most interesting performance of the night for me to watch, but it was superbly danced and superbly costumed. The wardrobe folks did their best work in some time on these two, as their clothing or lack thereof accentuated exactly what we were supposed to be watching on the dancers. Melissa’s pink pants instantly drew me toward her legs and how sharp the ballerina’s movements were throughout this jazz piece, while Ade’s shirtlessness and pink-accented gloves begged me to watch the strength of his carriage and the precise movements of his arms. There were excellent lifts, excellent jumps and a lot of excellent dancing. All in all, this was my favorite piece of the night. It was totally bananas, and parts of it reminded me of rock n’ roll dinosaurs (don’t ask me why), but as Lil C said, it was buuuuuuuuuuuuuck. Furthermore, Melissa’s makeup and hair in this piece made her look younger than Randi. So that’s saying a lot.

Jeanette and Brandon (Disco)
Choreography by Doriana Sanchez
Song: “Loving Is Really My Game” by Brainstorm

Let it be known that I totally abhor disco dancing and have seen maybe two or three in the history of the show that I could even say I liked, but this incredibly up-tempo number I FUCKING LOVED. I have never enjoyed watching a disco dance as much as I enjoyed this one, and I think Jeanette and Brandon danced it superbly. In fact, it was so good it got two Official Mary Murphy Screams and encouraged some brilliant poetry out of Lil C, who said that he saw the birth of progression for both Jeanette and Brandon in this wild disco number. Jeanette may have fallen out of step once, but I totally didn’t notice for a variety of reasons, one of which is clearly her insane in-the-air split that I’m not sure is actually possible for humans to do. To quote Cat Deeley, “Studio 54 ain’t got nothin’ on you guys! What! What!”

Kayla and Max (Pop Jazz)
Choreography by Brian “The Evil Elf” Freidman
Song: “Hot Like Wow” by Nadia Oh

Oh, Brian the Evil Elf, how I’ve missed you. That’s my special nickname for him, because he looks like an evil elf to me, even with that freaky shaved head. This was another really interesting piece for me to watch, and I thought the choreography was, in general, really cool. Brian does a lot of fantasy-based storytelling with his choreography, and while I don’t always love it, it is always interesting. This number, about a trickster who seduces a princess into giving up her throne, was absolutely superbly danced by both partners, and although the judges thought Max was a little weaker, I really couldn’t tell. The piece got an Official Mary Murphy Scream and a ticket to the Hot Tamale Train – but only for Kayla, because Mary didn’t like Max’s outfit. I can’t understand why anyone wouldn’t want a Russian man to dress like Alan Cumming. That just doesn’t make sense to me. Cat apparently wasn’t fond of Max’s character in the piece, which she expressed in a truly brilliant quote: “Max, you low down dirty rotten rat from ratville on the way to rattown! Boo! Boo on you!” Deeley was making my freaking night tonight – her dress ruffle must have been eating her brain or something.

The Good to the Very Good

Randi and Evan (Jive)
Choreography by Louis Van Amstel (How nice of them to spell his name for us this week!)
Song: “Shake a Tail Feather” by Ray Charles

Her husband just might kill him during the results show.

Her husband just might kill him during the results show.

The funcounter does not lie! This piece was 14 times as fun as a regular jive, not performed by Randi and Evan. I really, really enjoyed this piece, and while I noticed that Randi and Evan were both dancing rather wide, I had assumed it was an adjustment made for their height in order to achieve the proper steps. Apparently, this is one of these instances where my lack of technical knowledge was pointed out by the judges, who informed me that the wide stance was a mistake on Evan’s part that didn’t allow him to properly get into the double bounce required for a great jive. The judges all agreed that the piece was fun and that as a couple, Randi and Evan are very strong together, but that Randi outdanced Evan a little bit in this one. For me, it was really entertaining, which is why, despite its major constructive criticisms, it ends up in this category for me. The moment where Evan jumped in the splits over Randi’s backbend was totally killer for me, as was Randi’s suggestive ass-flaunting. After all, “what’s a tush grab between friends?” asks Cat. Indeed.

Auska and Vitolio (Waltz)
Choreography by Louis Van Amstel (How nice of the judges to thank him this week after totally not doing so last week while they were busy thanking every other choreographer!)
Song: “Dreams Are More Precious” by Enya

I thought this was a superb waltz, owing largely to Van Amstel’s choreography. Auska was lighter than air. Nay, she was air and rippled and bent when Vitolio spun her around the stage. She was very much a lovely dream that’s impossible to hold on to for very long, and I completely agree with Mary’s assessment that both Auska and Vitolio danced this honestly and with heart. Mary cried. I was stunned. Great work all around.

Jonathan and Karla (Contemporary)
Choreography by Stacey Tookey of So You Think You Can Dance: Canada
Song: “Falling Slowly” by The Frames

The judges liked this a lot more than I did. I think it was danced very well, and I agree on all of their points about Jonathan’s strength in the piece because he was very athletic and totally watchable. But as far as believability, I thought Jonathan was 100% committed, while Karla was about 50% committed. Her facial expressions or lack thereof completely drew me out of the piece. But there was nothing wrong with the piece technically, which is why even though I didn’t love it, I’m acknowledging its goodness. I hate to inform Karla and Jonathan, though, that what they think was a scream from Mary Murphy does not make it into the Official Mary Murphy Scream Count, as it was more like an excited woo.

The Strangely Maligned Shane Sparks Numbers

Ashley and Kupono (Hip-Hop)
Choreography by Shane Sparks, who is once again allowed to show his adorable face on camera! (He was looking extra cute last night, no?)
Song: “Imma Be” by the Black Eyed Peas

I really enjoyed this piece, its concept and the swagger Ashley bought to it. Maybe she’s why I didn’t even notice Kupono’s mistakes because I was simply focusing on her. I definitely don’t think it was as disappointing as the judges said it was, because it was clever, well-danced and totally entertaining. I have no idea why the “jidges” hated it.

Caitlin and Jason (Hip-Hop)
Choreography by Shane Sparks
Song: “Missin You” by Trey Songz

The judges found this one to be largely disappointing, although I’m not really sure why. I would agree that while Caitlin looked super hot, she didn’t dance nearly as strongly as Jason did. I have to give major props to Shane for incorporating an MJ-style move for Jason and a totally rad backflip for gymnast Caitlin – two things that made both of the dancers look really good and showed off their strength. Most importantly for me, I believed their chemistry in this piece, so I don’t really understand where their dislike of the work of the dancers is coming from. It’s certainly not my favorite hip-hop routine ever – not even my favorite Shane Sparks piece – but I liked it well enough, and thought Caitlin and Jason danced it well-enough overall, even though one partner with a penchant for velociraptor impressions was far weaker than the other.

The Problematic

Phillip and Jeanine (Tango)
Choreography by Tony Meredith
Song: “Violento (Up Mix)” by Balliago!

The tango is no place for stank face. Not even in the good Mia Michaels-y way.

The tango is no place for stank face. Not even in the good Mia Michaels-y way.

I think the wardrobe department did an excellent job on this piece by making Jeanine look so good in her outfit that I didn’t notice any errors Phillip was making, nor did I notice his face doing any of the things Nigel said it did (like straining to like Jeanine, who probably only weighs about a buck ten). More than Randi and Evan’s piece, this was the most technically debated piece of the night, and it simply didn’t live up to the high tango standards, even though Mary and Tony Meredith insist that the one thing Chbeeb did well was dance on bent knees, something I’d have otherwise not known was required for this kind of tango, which once again proved that my lack of technical knowledge made me think this dance was a lot better than it really was. I didn’t enjoy it nearly as much as Randi and Evan’s slightly-off jive number, so unfortunately, it ends up as the most problematic dance of the night.

The good news is that while I trust America to vote on what we see each week to determine the bottom three, I think Chbeeb has enough fans that he might be safe from the bottom three this week. If America followed the judges’ critiques alone, Chbeeb and Jeanine, Randi and Evan, Caitlin and Jason and Ashley and Kupono are the couples most likely to end up in the bottom three this week. I think another possible contender for a bottom three position might be Auska and Vitolio, not because of their performance this week, but because people on the internet totally hate Auska for reasons I can’t quite discern. I’m going to make my predictions in the “EW Predictify SYTYCD” contest in a little bit, but right now, I think the couples in danger this week will be Auska and Vitolio, Ashley and Kupono and Randi and Evan, the latter of these because they went first and will likely not be remembered by voters, where as Chbeeb and Jeanine will be saved by being the last dance of the night.

This was a tough week, and the distinction between the top 3 and the bottom 3 is not as easy to predict. And that means that the results show will actually be exciting tonight!

Other stray thoughts:

  • “The only thing I bench is girls.” –Brandon Bryant. I love this quote, and I think it’s hilarious, but it’s definitely the first time I think he’s ever sounded cocky.
  • I seriously hated Cat’s dress when I first saw it, but it started to grow on me over the course of the show. Maybe it was eating my brain, too?
  • The Official Mary Murphy Scream Count for this episode is 3, bringing the performance show total to 5, with 5 enthusiastic woos for backup.
  • The Official Tally of Hot Tamale Train Rides given in this episode is 1, bringing the performance show total to 2.25, because robo puppies are .25 of a person.

The Wife:

We have a Top 20, everyone! And we have never seen most of the people who comprise it! I wish I could say it’s going to be fun getting to know these people, but I’m not entirely certain how well we’ll get to know them before they are systematically eliminated. Part of me feels like the producers wasted my time introducing me to so many people I liked (the Gaby Rojases and Natalie Reids of the world) only to fill me with a Top 20 comprised of folks who never got any camera time at all, folks whose names I didn’t even know until now. But the other part of me realizes that those people I got to know over the audition process were getting all that camera time as a consolation prize, and as I believe this show is about bringing dance into the public consciousness and creating the kind of dance stars that used to exist in the 30s and 40s – a new generation of Ginger Rogers and Gene Kelly types – I can only see that kind of cockteasing as a good thing. I hope Gaby Rojas finds her way to a long career with Cirque du Soleil. And I hope Natalie Reid finds a great dance company to call home.

Rather than discuss the drama of seeing who got cut and who didn’t (because the only person who got cut that mattered was Ryan Kasprzak), I’m going to give you a list of our finalists and my thoughts on them/some facts to help you get to know them better. (These are facts according to, by the way.)

Your! Top! Twenty!

Your! Top! Twenty!


Randi Evans, a 23-year-old Jazz dancer from Springville, UT. She has apparently danced during the closing ceremony of the Winter Olympics in Salt Lake, 2002. All we know about her is that she really, really likes unitards.

Karla Garcia, a 23-year-old jazz/contemporary dancer from Brooklyn, NY. The most important thing I learned about this girl I’d not seen on SYTYCD until now is that she is one of the Boogie Bots, who have performed on America’s Best Dance Crew. (Boogie Bots were good, but they were no Quest Crew or Beat Freaks.) She also toured in Wicked, so I will be looking her up in my Playbill later on.

Caitlin Kinney, a 21-year-old contemporary dancer born and raised in Annapolis, MD. Has already had a hip replaced, and is “actress pretty,” according to me.

Asuka Kondoh, a 25-year-old Latin ballroom dancer originally from San Francisco, CA. She’s gotten a lot of well-deserved camera time, so I was pleased she will continue to grace my television with her very svelte swiveling hips.

Janette Manrara, a 25-year-old salsa dancer from Miami, FL and the first to be put into the Top 20, at which point she overshared and told us that this is the best good news she’s had in a while, as her boyfriend of four years dumped her and she moved back in with her mom. Why would anyone break up with a girl who can do the splits while doing a backflip?

Jeanine Mason, an 18-year-old contemporary dancer from Pinecrest, FL whom we had never seen before. All I can say about her is that she’s pretty and that she plans to attend UCLA in the fall.

Kayla Radomski, an 18-year-old contemporary and jazz dancer from Aurora, Co. Radomkulous was raised by her grandparents (mostly), which strikes a chord with me because I spent a lot of time with my grandma as a kid. We’ve seen her a lot, so her inclusion in the Top 20 was not a total surprise.

Melissa Sandvig, a 29-year-old ballerina from Los Alamitos, CA. We know absolutely nothing about her, but tells me she has danced with the Milwaukee Ballet Company, the L.A. Opera, the Long Beach Ballet and has performed at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion.

Paris Torres, a 19-year-old contemporary dancer and former Miss Washington from Issaquah, WA. She dances for the Seattle Storm and the Seattle Supersonics. If she doesn’t win and returns to dancing in Seattle, I’m sure I’ll see a lot of her in my future home. Also, I hate to say this, but the girl is pretty from the chin up. Her chin is awful. I’m sorry, Paris, I think you’re a lovely dancer, but you need a new chin.

Ashley Valerio, a 22-year-old contemporary dancer living in North Hollywood, CA. We know absolutely nothing about her, and neither does


Kupono Aweau, a 23-year-old lyrical and contemporary dancer from Kailua, HI. Other than his name, I think the most amazing thing about Kupono is the tidbit that he is “an avid collector of home furnishings.” Good Lord, I can’t wait to see his vintage chair collection!

Tony Bellissimo, a 20-year-old hip hop dancer from Buffalo, NY. I think you all know by now that I do not care for Mr. Tony Bellissimo. I do not care for his inclusion in the Top 20, but I appreciate that Nigel was honest about it and said that they like Tony’s personality more than his dancing and believe he is the most improved person they’ve seen, even though he isn’t as technically strong as others. Tell you what, kids, the minute this kid fucks up you’re going to start hearing my refrain for the season, “We could have had two Kasprzak brothers in the Top 20, but instead we got this guy.”

Brandon Bryant, a 19-year-old contemporary dancer currently living in Salt Lake City, UT. In addition to being completely amazing yet somehow contested by the judges, Brandon has apparently performed for Madonna at Lourdes’ birthday party. That’s almost as good of a fact as Kupono’s furniture collections! I have loved Brandon since we saw him last year, and I simply do not understand why Mia and Lil C aren’t fans. Apparently, Mia thinks he’s cocky, finding the smile he puts on when he’s dancing disingenuous. Frankly, I don’t get the cockiness at all. Nor do I see his smile being problematic because he only busts it out during showier numbers. I do not recall him smiling through his solos, or during “Cool.” I do recall him smiling during “My Life Would Suck Without You,” because that number didn’t require seriousness. I believe Brandon will prove Mia wrong and she’ll come to love him. At least, I hope that’s what happens.

Phillip Chbeeb, a 20-year-old popper living in Los Angeles, CA. Other than what we know about his awesomeness, I can tell you that my husband will be throwing votes his way this season because Chbeeb is an engineering physics major at my husband’s alma mater, Loyola Marymount University. Go Lions! (Husband Note: Noooo! You gave away my schooooooool! I was trying to be mysterrrrrrrrrious!)

Jason Glover, a 21-year-old lyrical and contemporary dancer we’ve never seen before from Fresno, CA. We have never seen him before.

Vitolio Jeune, a 26-year-old contemporary dancer originally from Haiti who now resides in Miami, FL. I love his name and his accent, and wonder why I didn’t get to see/hear either of those things until recently. He likes motorcycles and Desmond Richardson, which means I think I’m going to fall in love with him pretty quickly.

Maksim Kapitannikov, a 26-year-old Latin ballroom dancer originally from the motherland of Moscow, now residing in Brooklyn, NY. He has decided to shorten his name to “Max” for the show. We’ve seen a fair amount of him so far, and I can tell you how much Mary Murphy and I love a hot Russian. Maksim is so Russian, in fact, that both of his parents dance and his mother is a ballet teacher. (If you have never studied Eastern Europe, that’s pretty fucking Rus, yo.)

Evan Kasprzak, a 21-year-old Broadway hoofer from West Bloomfield, MI with whom I am already unabashedly in love with. Prepare for 10 weeks of me unapologetically gushing over Evan Kasprzak.

Ade Obayomi, a 20-year-old contemporary dancer living in Orange County, CA. He has a great African name (I think), but we’ve never seen him before. tells me he’s danced at Radio City Music Hall.

Jonathan Platero, a 21-year-old salsa dancer currently living in New York City. We’ve never seen him before, but all you need to know is that he danced for Kenny Ortega in High School Musical alongside former SYTYCD dancer Allison Hooker (season 2). (And s3 winner Sabra.)

Aside from the tragedy of splitting up the Brothers Kasprzak, the other notable absence from the Top 20 would be that of Miami ballet dancer Alex Wong, whose contract with the Miami City Ballet was fully-binding and could not be broken to include him in the Top 20. I hope he returns when his contract is up, because he was incredible and SYTYCD could use a strong male ballet dancer at some point.

I wish all of these dancers the best of luck, and hope to get to know those we hadn’t yet met a whole lot better. The Official Mary Murphy Scream Count for the season stands at 2. I can’t wait for the competition to begin so I can keep that number running higher and higher as we board the season 5 Hot Tamale Train.

The Wife:

Yet more auditions! Yet more amazing people! Yet more totally disillusioned people! This time, auditions were held in Miami and Memphis, with Tyce Diorio and Lil C joining the panel respectively. I will straight up tell you guys that I am not a Tyce Diorio fan. He and I have completely different ideas about what dancing on Broadway should be, and I liked the Broadway routines from last season that were created by In the Heights‘ Tony-winner Andy Blankenbeuhler far more than any Tyce piece. To me, while Tyce inherently understands movement, I think he fails a little bit to interpret Broadway pieces in a way that makes sense with the music, lyrics and the story of the show as a whole. In short, he can be very antiquated. And he can be very literal. And he likes Fosse way too much. Unless you’re Bob Fosse, you just can’t Bob Fosse every single thing. That said, I love when Tyce choreographs Jazz pieces and contemporary pieces. That piece with season two’s Ivan and Allison set to Annie Lennox’s “Why?” That was Tyce at his best. (And to give credit where credit is due, the group number he did to “Money” from Cabaret was his best fusion of story and Fosse ever, and I liked it quite a bit.) And apparently, I also love that Tyce is a catty bitch, because he was a total catty bitch during Miami auditions. Like so catty, I thought he had been fucking Mario Cantone in the off-season. It was delightful. But, amidst all the hissing, he did offer up one golden piece of advice that I think we should all take to the grave: “If you’re gonna do drag, drag it up on the stage and do it right.” Word.



On to auditioners!

Tony Reindeau: Miami started off with disillusionment. This guy dances in a style he calls Tony Style, and it’s horrible. He even overdoes it so much that he nearly passes out after his audition. Bad times. Clearly, a no.

Priscilla Marrero: First of all, I’m so impressed with Cat Deeley for trilling the r’s in Priscilla’s last name! Second of all, this girl is amazing. She punctuates the music with her body in such a cheeky, unique way that he actually makes Tyce gasp. I bet Wade Robeson would love to choreograph her, because I immediately thought of his work when I watched her dance. She goes straight to Vegas.

Jeanette Maurara and Romolo Villaverde: This couple auditioned last year, with Jeanette going to Vegas, but Romolo staying behind. This year, they come strong and hard with some of the most amazing tricks I’ve ever seen, including one where Romolo lifted Jeanette upside down and she extended her leg up in such a way that I’m amazed she didn’t drive her stiletto right up his nose. I was worried their footwork wouldn’t live up to their lifts and tricks, but it did. The Official Mary Murphy Scream Count stands at 1, and Jeanette and Romolo both go straight to Vegas this year.

Jennifer and Jessica Guadix: The first set of dancing twins of the evening seem like they might be normal, but turn out to be batshit insane. I have no idea what’s going on, why they aren’t dancing in unison, why they’re wearing those pants or what those pants are. Clearly, a no.

Joseph Smith [of the non-Mormon variety]: He does a hip hop routine with a lot of humor and some funky, funky isolations. He reminds me a little bit of Twitch, but less impressive. He stays for choreography and, afterward, gets his ticket to Vegas.

Wislande Leting: Day two of Miami also started off with disillusionment. There was a whole lot of crazy going on with this girl. She wore a shirt that only covered the top half of her breasts, to which my husband immediately said, “Goddamnit! Put your boobs away!” That was topped off by a really bad red weave and some choreography that looked like it was straight from beginning ballet . . . except for the part where she very ungracefully opened her crotch to everyone. I’d say there was a lot this girl needed to put away, especially because, as Mary noted, she and Tyce were clearly not the people for whom that dance was intended. A no.

Erik “Silky” Moore: Tapping + Michael Jackson + Break Dance Moves = Pretty damn cool. I don’t think he’s as impressive a tapper as Peter Sabatino from NYC, but he does have a lot going for him. And I admire that he’s the kind of guy who knows it’s smart to get into dancing to get babes. He gets a ticket straight to Vegas.

Paris Torres: A former Miss Washington, Paris does a contemporary dance to the fucking coolest-sounding version of Britney Spears’ “Toxic” I’ve ever heard. (Turns out it’s Yael Naim’s version, cementing the fact that I should buy her album.) She moves with a mix of syncopation and fluidity that reminds me very much of Dmitry and Ashlee’s Brian Freedman routine to Fall Out Boy’s “Dance Dance” in which he played a ringmaster and she was his doll brought to life. (You can watch it below). She is totally mesmerizing, and wins a ticket straight to Vegas.

We’re then treated to a montage of three folks who win tickets to Vegas: Henry Rivero, Megan Kinney and Alex Wong.

Geo Smith: Geo performs an African dance in a feathered mask, and here’s where I feel it’s appropriate for me to tell you that I know how to do the Funga. He was very powerful and freaking leapt offstage toward the judges table, prompting Nigel to make a naughty joke about Mary’s fear of French ticklers. They send him to choreography, after which he receives a ticket to Vegas.

Talia Rikards: While I’ve had my fill of widows/widowers thanks to Danny Gokey, I’m very sympathetic towards the fact that Talia lost her husband so suddenly in a motorcycle accident. I also can’t take my eyes off her abs, which is probably why I didn’t notice her routine wasn’t much more than rhythmic hip shaking/ab shimmying. Still, the judges see something in her and send her to choreography, after which she gets a ticket to Vegas, bringing the Miami total of Vegas-bound dancers to 32.

Mary and Nigel were joined by Lil C in Memphis, where the first dancer of the day taught me about a dance style I have never, ever heard of, which is one of the reasons I love this show. I’m learning!

Marico Flake: He’s a Memphis peace officer and he has opened my eyes to the world of Memphis Jukin’, an underground dance style that combines, I think, hip hop and the moves of Elvis Presley. He was entertaining enough to earn both praise from Lil C for doing some straight, true Memphis Jukin’, as well as a ticket to Vegas.

Dustin Dorough: Second cousin to the Backstreet Boys’ Howie Dorough, Dustin learned all of the dances from BSB videos. I am beyond thrilled that he knows the dance to “Everybody” and unabashedly performs it in the lobby before his audition. His audition, however, is way too goofy and weird to be good, but I think he actually has some potential deep down within him. He gets a no, but Lil C advises that he combine his love of martial arts with his dancing and learn a style called Tricking.

Chris Carrozza: I have no idea what I’m looking at, but if I were rolling at a rave at 4 in the morning, this dude would totally be my new ginger boyfriend. From an aesthetic perspective, he’s got to lose either the beard or the dreads. And from an attitude perspective, he needs to stop being so defensive through the veil of kindness. His whole interaction with Nigel about being critiqued was just plain bizarre. Obviously, a no. After his audition, Cat provided us with a montage of How to Give a Good Audition, which featured many other people being douchebags to the judges and/or falling on their asses.

Caitlin Kinney: Her sister Megan was one of the people in Tickets-to-Vegas montage in Miami, and she hopes to also have her sister’s luck. She dances a fantastic, technically adept and artistic contemporary routine to one of my favorite songs, “Winter Song” by Sarah Barielles and Ingrid Michaelson. Like season three winner Sabra, she’s only been dancing for 5 years, which is totally bananas, but she’s also had significant experience as a gymnast prior to that. Furthermore, she’s already had hip reconstruction, which is even more bananas to hear that she can move the way she does after a surgery like that. Rightfully, Caitlin earns a ticket to Vegas.

Anna Dunn: She’s first up on Memphis Day 2 and performs a way-too-intense-for-the-music contemporary routine to “Winter Song.” Her choreography was definitely too much for the music, but, man, did she hit it well. After hearing she lost her father a year ago, Lil C reminds her that the best place to put her pain is into her art. The judges send her to choreography, after which she earns a ticket to Vegas.

Travis Prokop: Travis is the son of a football coach, but prefers dancing to sports. He has great leg extensions, but his dancing itself is a little clumsy. Nigel and Mary tell him to strengthen up, especially because he’s so, so tall. They see a lot of potential in him, though, and send him through to choreography, where he improves enough over the course of a day to earn a ticket to Vegas.

Evan Kasprzak: I was so heartbroken when Evan, a modern-day Gene Kelly, didn’t make it into the Top 20 last year. And I’m so glad he’s back. He dances with such incredible technical ability, strength and athleticism that it’s hard not to fall in love with him. This year, showing up in a hat and suspenders and defying gravity with his leaps, he blew me away yet again. Seriously, ya’ll, I think I teared up a little bit, that’s how much I love him. Once again, he earns a ticket straight to Vegas, and straight to my heart. He has to make the Top 20 this year. He just has to.

Lauren and Lydia Guerra: This second set of dancing twins is much better than the first. Much, much better. But although Lauren and Lydia are dancing together, it’s clear that they both have different strengths. One girl is more technical, the other more performance-based. The judges want to see how those strengths manifest in the choreography round, where each sister proves she deserves her own ticket to Vegas.

Ryan Kasprzak: Evan’s older brother who taught him everything he knows also decides to audition this year with an a cappella tap routine and a whoopie cushion. As much as Evan blows me away, Ryan totally entertains me. He’s a great tapper, has a wonderful Vaudevillian sensibility about his performance and dresses like a newsie. I mean, punctuating that routine with the whoopie cushion was a stroke of genius. If neither of the Kasprzak Brothers end up making the Top 20, I want them to immediately revive Vaudeville and go on the road with their own show. (In fact, Kasprzaks, call me in a year and I’ll join you as a burlesque act. It’ll be amazing. Seriously.) Like his brother, Ryan earns a ticket to Vegas.

No idea what the count was for tickets to Vegas from Memphis, but I know there were 6 awarded the first day, so I guess we can safely assume at least 12 were awarded. Two more auditions to go before Vegas fun begins and we start building our Top 20!

The Husband:

As with any television blog writing about SYTYCD, I feel I have to address the uproar over Nigel’s comments last week regarding Misha and Mitchel, comments that could be taken as homophobic. While Nigel’s attempt at humor didn’t go over very well, I’m pretty damned sure the comments were only intended to be constructive. While it’s questionable that he should have brought up what “America might think” as well as his Brokeback Mountain comment on his Twitter, he’s right that this show has a certain format, and that format, so far, hasn’t had two men doing close ballroom, and that they hadn’t proven themselves adept at anything other than a mild play on gender roles. He’s damn right about that last part, because they failed enough in choreography to even get by to Vegas, which only tells me that their act was more of a gimmick than a display of technical abilities. And hey, don’t blame the choice of music, either. It was, technically, rainin’ men.

It’s difficult to be homophobic in the world of dance and theatre, and there’s no way that Nigel would have lasted this long in the industry if he had any semblance of that. He just has a certain (somewhat valid) understanding of certain traditional measures in the dance world itself. Because first you have to prove yourself as a dancer and that you understand the tricks of the trade, and only then can you become something unique and greater.

Homophobic? Please. I’m as P.C. and sympathetic to the cause of LGBT as they come, but I’m also not a reactionary idiot.

And really, would a homophobic man choreograph the following?

Or this?

Or this?

I don’t think so.

(Okay, you got me. I just wrote this section of the post as an excuse to post clips from 1980’s The Apple. You can’t blame me. NO, YOU CAN’T!)