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:

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.