The Wife:

Before we could smother this year’s incarnation of America’s Favorite Dancer with flowers half the size of his or her body, the good people at SYTYCD regaled us with two hours worth of Judges’ Favorites, retrospectives on the season and Cat Deeley’s earnest one-on-one interviews with each of our Top 4 dancers. Though the content of Cat’s interviews didn’t prove to be quite as in-depth or illuminating as last year’s (in that there was no Katee moment in which Cat asked a dancer what was going through their mind when they announced to millions of viewers that if they didn’t make this year’s Top 20, they were going to stop dancing), but everything that makes us love Cat as a host is reflected in her interviewing style. The woman actually scratched her head and, I believe, cleaned her ear with her finger during her interview with Jeanine. For someone so imminently fashionable, I admire her complete lack of vanity. And I want to be her friend. (If only so I can borrow some of her clothing, even though she strangely decided to don what appeared to be one of those “towels you can wear” to the finale.)

So . . .  many . . . sparkles . . .

So . . . many . . . sparkles . . .

The evening’s dance encores started out with a retooled version of Tyce DiOrio’s “Brand New Day” Broadway routine. Why retooled? Well, you see, it was originally choreographed for the Top 10, but they decided to add 10 more dancers and make it the only time the Top 20 would appear together in the finale. At first, I didn’t notice because the camerawork focused on our Top 4. It lingered on Kayla’s barely-there spangles, Jeanine’s mane of hair and even a little bit on Melissa’s ballet segment (even though she didn’t make the Top 4). But then I saw a really tall dude in the back and I thought, “Oh my God. They let Tony Belissimo join this number.” My question is this: what was wrong with the perfectly fine Shane Sparks routine to “Boom Boom Pow” that was intended to be danced by 20 dancers? No other Shane Sparks routine was performed that night, and yet another Tyce DiOrio routine was. Shane was even there, wearing a baby blue baseball cap and some stunna shades. Granted, of the hip-hop group numbers, I actually prefer TabNap’s “Seven Nation Army,” and they later had a routine on the show. Were they trying not to overrepresent each style of dance? That couldn’t have possibly been their goal as three of the judges’ picks were contemporary routines, and Mia’s A Chorus Line routine walks the line between contemporary and Broadway, so it would have easily filled the Broadway quotient alone. I don’t know, guys. I can’t figure it out. It’s not that I dislike “Brand New Day,” or even that I thought “Boom Boom Pow” was all that spectacular (it’s no “They’re Everywhere”). It’s simply that I do not understand the decision to rechoreograph a routine to include more dancers, rather than using the one that was originally intended to be danced by that number of people.

After that, we saw several judges’ favorite routines. Shankers asked for a repeat of TabNap’s “Mad” for Jeanine and the Chbeeb, which I like just as much as I did the first time, especially the spooning (or “schnoogeying,” if you’re Cat) at the end. Debbie Allen inexplicably wanted to see Asuka and Vitolio’s Louis Van Amstel waltz to Enya’s “Dreams Are More Precious,” which I assume was chosen simply to give them something to do in the finale. I don’t love that waltz, but it was the pair’s best work together. Miss Allen was right about that.

Mary requested to see Travis Wall’s completely fabulous contemporary routine for Jeanine and Jason set to Jason Mraz’s “If It Kills Me.” Watching that piece again, I am even more impressed by Travis Wall as a choreographer and the incredible grace and athleticism of Jeanine and Jason. Every lift in this dance is superb, and those two dancers just ooze the pent-up sexual tension the dance requires. Furthermore, there was something about the camera work this time that made the use of the prop necklace seem more necessary. Maybe it was having a little extra rehearsal time, as well, because not only did the two transition the necklace between each other more smoothly, but I simply felt like those movements were intended for the prop, rather than pantomime that was filled with something. It read better this time, and now I think I was wrong to say the piece could do without the prop. Isn’t it amazing how a little extra rehearsal can change your mind?

Mia picked the evening’s second Louis Van Amstel number, proving that these routines were not chosen at all with a view to letting each choreographer shine, but of the Van Amstel pieces we got to see again, this one was hands down my favorite. She invited Max and Kayla to perform their hot-pink, fringed, Hot Tamale Train Ticketing, smokin’ hot, showstopping samba from the first performance show of the season, and it was just as marvelous as it was when I first saw it. I’m glad someone gave Max his due, because that dude partners a lady like nobody’s business. But then again, I always root for the Russian. It was a tradition started with Artem that will continue every season hence.

Your! Top! 4!

Your! Top! 4!

Taking a break from so the dancers could set up for their next bit, Cat screened a little producer package for the Top 4 in which they were invited to see a private screening of this year’s SYTYCD-related movie, Fame, starring Kherington Payne! And Miss Debbie Allen! It comes out Sept. 25! Go see it! After some lip service to the great Debbie Allen, who just kind of IS Fame, Debbie made her second pick for the night, the super hot club salsa number for the Top 16, choreographed by another favorite Russian of mine, season 2’s Dmitry Chaplin and TabNap. Once again, I feel the need to reiterate that there’s something about Dima’s choreography that I think is very unique among the SYTYCD choreographers. His work always feels very big and bold, and I think that’s because he understands, first and foremost, that he is choreographing a stage show for a live audience. Some of the choreographers choreograph for a competition setting first, and think about how it will look on a performance stage, being filmed for TV later. I started noticing the difference in Dima’s work with last year’s Argentine tango for Chelsie and Joshua, and it really hit me with this club salsa number. Both of those things are so amazing that they’d fit right into a stage show about Latin dancing.

Tahlia Fowler, the winner of SYTYCD Australia, was invited to perform a solo routine choreographed by our own Sonya Tayeh (marking her only routine of the night) to “Shot You Down” by Audio Bulgs. Because Sonya’s style is so strong, I can’t really say much about Tahlia’s talents except that she danced a very Sonya routine very well. Following this, Lil C chose to see Nakhul’s “Jai Ho” routine for Caitlin and Jason, but strangely insisted on pronouncing it “Jay Ho” instead of “Jai Ho.” Naturally, C insisted his pronunciation was correct, a fact about which I’m not really sure. I can see why he’d think that, as the vowels in the song are elongated, which makes you hear them not quite as they are actually pronounced (this is why so many song lyrics are misunderstood: vowel lengthening), but I am relatively certain that with my degree in linguistics and my small knowledge of how Hindi vowels work, it is indeed pronounced “jai.” (In fact, listen to a native speaker pronounce it here and totally prove Lil C wrong.)

Farewell, my lovely!

Farewell, my lovely!

Finally, after eight routines, we were given our first taste of results. Things ended up being pretty much in line with the EW Predicitify SYTYCD game as my beloved Kayla was awarded fourth place to join the gallery of losers along with Travis, Danny and Will. America, I will never understand why you guys never latched on to this amazing dancer. I mean, she’s what you find under “girl,” “perfection,” and “star” in Mia Michaels magical cross-referencing dictionary. How can you not love a girl that’s cross-referenced? Kayla was immediately swathed in a bouquet of pink lilies and said some lovely parting words about how everyone who makes the Top 20 is a winner (except, probably, for those who don’t make the Top 10, in my opinion) that I’m sure made her dear old grandpa weep his weepy adorable man-tears. She then was practically shooed off the stage to make way for what I knew was coming from Evan’s costuming during the results line-up: Mia Michaels’ “butt dance,” chosen by Adam Shankman as his second pick of the night.

I realized during the butt dance that I think Mia and Sonya were the only two choreographers on the show who even bothered to give Evan a chance to fit into their work. I know it must be hard to envision a routine, not exactly knowing who you’re going to get (and I also have to assume that each season, the choreographers have several ideas and decide which ones to do each week when they see what dancers they’ll be working with), but the routines Evan took the hardest critiques in were always in ballroom routines, which are typically styles that are not very flexible in terms of bending to the dancers performing them. That’s not really the choreographer’s fault, but I’m convinced there are things that would have been possible to do in those routines that made him, and by extension the choreographers, look very good. He really shined in the butt dance, and in the Sonya pieces he was in. Maybe there’s just something very contemporary and jazzy about being a modern-day Gene Kelly? I don’t know, but in any case, it was great to see him hit that horizontal leap again here. J’adore.

At least he went out on a great routine, no?

At least he went out on a great routine, no?

But, and there is a but, just as swiftly as Kayla was dismissed with her pink flowers to usher on the butt dance, more results were dished out after the butt dance and our own Gene Kelly was awarded third place and a bouquet of yellow flowers that were actually about as tall as he is. I know that the show is about being America’s Favorite Dancer, and I really do like Evan and think that he is more talented in his own style than other people’s choreography allowed him to demonstrate, but after five seasons of this show, I have come to choose my favorites based on their versatility. Versatility here is key. In the first season, the final four were winner Nick, Melody, Ashlé and Jamile. I fucking hated Jamile. Why? Because that d-bag couldn’t do shit out of his own style. He only made it to the Top 4 because it was the first season, people didn’t know better then and he was a pretty great popper. However, I really resented his inclusion in the final four over other, more versatile dancers . . . like my beloved Artem, ousted in week five of that abbreviated eight-week season. Of the season 2 finalists (Benji, Heidi, Travis and Donyelle), I liked Heidi the least because I thought she was the least versatile, but I never hated her like I hated Jamile. In season three, the final four didn’t present a problem of a dancer lacking versatility, so I couldn’t hate anybody, although I was awfully tired of both Neil and Lacey by the end of the season. As for last year, the fact that Courtney made it to the Top 4 over the much more talented and versatile Chelsie Hightower was a constant thorn in my side. This year, I thought that Kayla, Brandon or Jeanine were all equally deserving of a win, and even though I do adore Evan as a person and as a dancer, I’d probably have been upset had he won because he simply hadn’t shown me the versatility that the other dancers in the Top 4 had. With all seriousness and respect to him, though, I want him and his brother to have their own stage show where they can show off their talents in a venue and manner conducive to their creativity. Surely, someone with money must also want this. I’d produce it myself, but I don’t really have the wherewithal to solicit money from people to fulfill my old-timey theatre daydreams.

With only two dancers remaining in contention for this year’s title, Nigel revealed his pick for a routine to see again: Mia Michaels’ addiction contemporary for Kayla and Kupono, set to Sara Barielles’ “Gravity.” I once again got some serious misty eyes and chills watching this piece, especially in the crescendo segment where Kupono starts throwing Kayla around. I already loved that song, and its single-take music video. But now associate it just as much with Kupono’s malicious sneer as I do with Sara Barielles herself walking toward the camera as the world, filled with lights, pulls away from her. Certainly, this was the most effective piece in the season for me, and it definitely goes on my list of all-time favorites.

Following this, the Rage Boyz Crew performed and I waited with eager anticipation to see them toss that little dude across the stage. I adore watching Cat interact with children, and I’m glad adolescent boys find that tall English glamazon attractive enough to paw at her, give her their sweet-ass jacket and allow her to be “in their crew.” I hope she has lots of adorable English babies someday, but I don’t know if I couldn’t handle that much cheeky cuteness.

Our jidges: singular sensations.

Our jidges: singular sensations.

Tyce asked for a repeat of Doriana Sanchez’s super-speed disco for Janette (whose name I’ve finally decided to spell correctly) and Brandon, followed by a repeat of Tyce’s cancer contemporary for Melissa and Ade, which took on special significance last night with the announcement that the friend for whom Tyce created that routine was officially cancer-free. The gang then repeated Mia’s A Chorus Line piece about the hellish work of being a professional dancer, with special hokey guest appearances from our jidges. I have to say it was mighty ballsy of Tyce to even appear in A Chorus Line-related number, given the fantastic ass he allegedly makes of himself in the documentary Every Little Step. (The documentary is about the casting of the most recent revival of ACL, from which Tyce was denied a role. I cannot wait to see it.) Brandon and Janette were then asked to repeat their final number from Wednesday night, Louis Van Amstel’s industrial goth Paso Doble and there, clad in vinyl, she and Brandon stood to find out which of them would be crowned America’s Favorite Dancer. The voters, it seemed, favored goofy, graceful and incredibly talented Jeanine, making her only the second female winner in five seasons.


I’m very happy with Jeanine as the winner, as she proved to me all season that she was an extremely talented dancer with a great personality. She was second only to Brandon as a soloist, and I think she’ll go very far. She’s said her alternate career is to be an actress, and I can only hope that someone (maybe someone named Rob Marshall!) will make a movie musical that will feature her in a dancing-acting role like the great ones once created for the likes of Cyd Charisse, Leslie Caron and the fabulous Ann Miller. As for the rest of our Top 4, I have some unsolicited career advice for them, too. I’ve already mentioned my dream stage show plans for Evan, but I’d like to see Kayla find her place on the stage as well. I think she has a lot of opportunities ahead of her in a number of performance-related fields, but she’s a perfect choice for Ivy Smith if there’s ever an On the Town revival (and, yes, I think Evan would make a fine Gabey). As for Bradon Bryant, he needs to join Alvin Ailey’s dance troupe immediately. He is perfect for them. And barring that, even though he is not a ballet dancer, I’m sure Desmond Richardson’s company could find a way to utilize his grace and athleticism. I really wish all of these talented, talented kids well and hope that they have long careers ahead of them.

Viva Jeanine!

Viva Jeanine!

It’s been a blasty blast writing about dancey dance for you guys this season. (And, by the by, I officially beat every EW staffer and placed 129th out of 3535 players in the EW.com SYTYCD game. I will take these braging rights with me into my regular life and pretend they mean something.) I’ve hope I’ve provided you with commentary that is both insightful and, at times, irreverently funny. Thank you all for reading, and I hope you’ll join me again in the fall for season six!

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The Wife:

Cat wore a smart turquoise Indian-inspired tunic. Nigel turned 60. There will be no SYTYCD Michael Jackson special due to a conflict over the music rights. SYTYCD Tour tickets go on sale July 25. (We’ll probably be at the Nov. 20th show in Everett, WA, by the way.) Every Thursday from here on out, Cat’s going to show us a tease of what’s to come for the fall season. Everything about last night’s show moved at a steady clip, as if to underscore the seriousness of making it to the Top 10 by dispensing with most of the funny business and banter.

Tabitha and Napoleon continued on Wednesday night’s Russian history lesson by choreographing a very smart, well-staged hip-hop routine set to The White Stripes’ “Seven Nation Army,” which ended with the dancers approximating a Soviet-era work poster, Jason posed at the top of a mountain of subwoofers, defiantly holding a severed cable in the air. Arguably, it was the smartest piece they’ve ever done, and it would be a good number to open the tour, considering it contains all of the Top 10, plus the tour’s two alternates. (The video is below, with Ade’s solo oddly attached.)


And who are those alternates?

Cat brought our six couples up two by two, which meant, of course, that of each pairing, one couple would be safe, and the other would have to dance for their lives. In the battle of Caitlin and Jason vs. Jeanette and Brandon, it was abundantly clear that Jeanette and Brandon were safe, having danced two of the best routines of the night and being virtually unstoppable all season. The capable but less impressive Caitlin and Jason ended up in the bottom for the third time. Next up was a fearful match between two couples I predicted yesterday would surely both be in the bottom three: Randi and Evan and Chbeeb and Jeanine. I clearly shouldn’t have doubted Randi and Evan’s fans because they kept those two tiny dancers in the competition, sending Chbeeb and Jeanine into their second bottom three appearance. With Randi and Evan safe, this meant bad things for Melissa and Ade, who were pitted against Kayla and Kupono, whom I expected to get through to the Top 10 by sheer force of their powerful Mia Michaels routine alone. It turned out to be true, and Melissa and Ade found themselves in the bottom three for the first time. (Which is sad face, because Melissa and Ade are both very, very good dancers.)

Cat showed some of the upcoming audition footage, as I mentioned above, and the dancers in danger launched into their solos:

  • Caitlin was a little desperate tonight dancing to Playing for Change’s cover of “Stand By Me.” I think she knew it was over for her and so she barely tried.
  • Jason performed one of his more powerful solos to “Calm Touching” by Evaline. I am constantly impressed by the strength of his core and the length of his leg lines.
  • Jeanine was absolutely superb in both her expression of technique and musicality in her routine set to Chris Garneau’s “Baby’s Romance.”
  • Phillip chose to perform to “The Diva Dance” from the Fifth Element, which made me larf because I started thinking about Chris Tucker as Ruby Rod. As always, Chbeeb is amazing at what he does, even though I could tell he was a little nervous this week, unlike the first time he soloed for us. It wasn’t his strongest by comparison.
  • Melissa performed a ballet solo that was a dozen times less impressive than her classical pas de deux to “Kashiva” by Kodo, but she still looked more polished overall than Caitlin. And she went en pointe.
  • Ade danced to a totally insane song called “Windowdripper” by Jib Kidder and did a totally insane backflip to finish it off. Having never really noticed Ade before he got into the Top 20, I now have a better understanding of what it is about his personality that made him shine more than other dancers.


Kelly Rowland came out to perform her single, during which I realized that there is a reason why Beyoncé became the breakout star from Destiny’s Child. Kelly does not sound great live (maybe it’s just that her wailing “Yeah!” sounds really stupid live?), but she was singing live, and that deserves some accolades because Kristinia DeBarge of the Family DeBarge sure as hell didn’t do that when she dropped by. If there’s anything I can compliment her on, it’s her stellar breath control. Girl can get some air under those notes, and she does not get winded while doing it.

After her performance, Nigel announced which dancers would be continuing on into the Top 10 and going on tour, and which dancers would be  . . . also going on tour as alternates because that’s how the tour has worked every freakin’ year. For whose benefit was Nigel expressing the need for alternates? Remember how Hok didn’t make the Top 10, but he still got to go on tour to perform the Hummingbird routine because it was so amazing? Yeah, that’s because he was an alternate. I suppose the show gets new fans every year who might not know how the tour works, but surely if you’re watching a dance show, you do know a little bit about how theatre works, and thus you might reasonably surmise that “runners-up” would end up as alternates/understudies/swings for the Big Show.

(Husband Note: That’s how it usually works, but I’ve seen at least one person who did worse than 12th place as an alternate, Santa Cruz’s Shaun Noland, who came in 14th place in s3.)

Professional swing dancers: Phillip and Caitlin will still be doing the tour.

Professional swing dancers: Phillip and Caitlin will still be doing the tour.

Anyway, Nigel said that the judges were unanimous in their decisions to keep the dancers they chose to keep, muttering some bullshit about how the dancers they’re letting go (but still bringing on tour!) hadn’t become “stars” yet, and that’s what everyone in the Top 10 needed to be from here on out. Phillip and Caitlin were eliminated, which is why that bit about “stars” is kind of bee ess. You know who’s a star? Phillip Chbeeb. You know who isn’t? Caitlin’s partner, Jason. I’m all for Jason staying in the Top 10 over Phillip because I believe Jason is a stronger dancer, but if you’re going to give some bullshit line to soften the blow for Caitlin (who really was being let go because she isn’t a star, unlike the other girls in the competition who are, in fact, stars), it needs to be true on the guys end, as well. Phillip was let go simply because he was great in his own style, but not strong enough to compete against more versatile dancers. If there’s any truth to Nigel’s “star quality” bee ess, it’s the fact that Phillip’s fans didn’t keep him out of the bottom three, which either means his fanbase is waning (which I doubt is true) or simply that his fans know that he’s already reached his zenith in this competition, and to keep him around any longer would probably tarnish the reputation he’s built and sully our initial excitement for his inclusion on the show. (Kind of like how, after five seasons, I’m still angry that Jamile took third place in season 1. Dude was not that good, and he stayed around longer than he should have. And over Artem! Bah!) I think this was best for Phillip, and I look forward to seeing him perform a solo on the tour this fall.

On a slightly selfish note, though, my correct prediction that Phillip would be eliminated (along with Caitlin) earned me super awesome amounts of points in SYTYCD Predicify over at EW.com, and I am now 287th out of 3,227 players. This also means I am officially trouncing every EW staffer that’s playing. Go me! I am a very premium judge of dances!

I’m very much looking forward to the next five weeks of competition, as I think everyone we have left is extremely talented. Here are some things I’d like to see happen in the next few weeks:

  • I need there to be one less girl in the competition whose name starts with “Jean”. It’s hard to type Jeanine and Jeanette. If there’s one of the two of them that I think has more star power, it’s Jeanette. In fact, I bet Jeanette will make the Top 4.
  • I hope people will continue to vote for Kayla, now that she’s free of her partner. I like Kupono more now, but I didn’t think Mark Kanemura should have made the Top 4 and neither should Kupono. (And I effing LOVED Mark, by the way.)
  • I’m going to lose Evan soon, because he’s just not as strong as Brandon Bryant or even Ade. And I’m learning to accept that.
  • I actually now no longer care if Randi stays or goes. (Although, don’t get me wrong. I do like her very much.) My top 3 ladies are Melissa, Kayla and Jeanette. And I’d pick Kayla and Jeanette to crack to Top 4.
  • Of the remaining guys, I think Brandon and Ade will be the two to make it to the Top 4.

The Wife:

Even with 12 dances to watch last night, I’m amazed that FOX still managed to find time for the judges to prattle on about nothing (see the segment after Randi and Evan’s samba where Mary and Tyce just made animal noises at each other like the crazy queens they are) and provide some video filler in the form of a producer package about what the dancers will miss about each other when their partnerships are broken up next week (most notable among these, I think, is the fact that Kupono will miss Kayla’s clammy hands and feet, because he finds them comforting). There are many things to discuss, so let’s just get straight to them.

The Excellent

This really is some of Kupono's best work right here.

This really is some of Kupono's best work right here.

Kayla and Kupono (Contemporary)
Choreography by Mia Michaels
Song: “Gravity” by Sara Barielles

Even without hearing Kupono’s story about the family member he lost to addiction, this piece would have moved me, and it truly did. It literally took my breath away when Kupono threw Kayla to the floor and they began the synchronized portion of their floorwork together. It was stunning, riveting to watch and brought tears to my eyes. And as beautiful as Kayla was throughout this piece, I have to give Kupono his due for acting the shit out of this. He was completely in his element in this Mia Michaels piece, and I’m glad to finally see him do something that shows me why he deserved to stay over flawless Max. This one goes on my list of favorite SYTYCD pieces of all time, for sure.

Jeanette and Brandon (Jazz)
Choreography by Wade Robson
Song: “Ruby Blue” by Roisin Murphy

Apparently Wade and the wardrobe department recently saw Rian Johnson’s The Brothers Bloom because every single detail of this piece was reminiscent of that film. (Well, except for the Roisin Murphy song. That’s pure Wade.) The piece was about thieves, dressed in black and white with bowlers and red gloves, which lent both a nice cabaret-like feel to the whole thing, as well as providing the most direct homage to the costuming in Johnson’s film. (With the exception of two pieces Rachel Weiz’s character dons at crucial points in the film where she’s acting the part of the mark, the main characters all wear shades of black and white. Rinko Kikuchi’s demolitions expert Bang Bang wears red leather gloves throughout the entire film. Both Adrien Brody and Mark Ruffalo don bowlers. Also, they’re con men, possibly the most glamorous type of thief.) It was a great, funky piece with which to close the evening and Jeanette and Brandon danced it expertly. I had a hard time taking my eyes off Jeanette, all stuffed into those tight, shiny leggings, because she really can do anything. This might not have been as cool as the hummingbird, or “Cabaret Hoover” or “Rama Lama Bang Bang,” but it was 100% Wade and 100% amazing.

Jeanette and Brandon (Argentine Tango)
Choreography by Marian Larici and Leonardo (who performed that gorgeous tango a few weeks back)
Song: Libertango from Forever Tango

Again, Jeanette and Brandon make my top of the pops list, which clearly earns them the non-existent award for Couple of the Night. They learned a beautiful Argentine tango from the tango masters and performed it expertly. Once more, I couldn’t take my eyes off of Jeanette who transformed into a completely different person on that stage. I think her salsa experience prepared her for the fleet footwork in this number and it showed in her excellent flicks. Nigel clearly thought it was the best dance of the night and gave it a silent standing ovation. Mary followed suit, but added on three Official Mary Murphy Screams and two First Class Tickets to the Hot Tamale Train for the couple. Tyce then said something completely incomprehensible about orange juice to Brandon.

Pretty sure Jeanette is the world's sexiest loan officer right here.

Pretty sure Jeanette is the world's sexiest loan officer right here.

The Good to Very Good

Melissa and Ade (Disco)
Choreography by Doriana Sanchez
Song:  “Move On Up” by Destination

Even though Melissa fell out of her hold at the end of this routine, she and Ade played it off like it was supposed to happen that way, and I have to commend them for that. This one didn’t start out as well as other disco routines, and it certainly doesn’t hold a candle to Jeanette and Brandon’s from earlier in the season, but it did pick up a lot of momentum toward the end and was very enjoyable to watch – especially the combination of lifts and spins in the final third (i.e. everything after Melissa did that upside-down split lift). Ade was strong and Melissa was saucy, and that’s just what the routine called for. It also called for very, very shiny outfits and was awarded an Official Mary Murphy Scream with a supportive woo for backup.

Caitlin and Jason (Contemporary)
Choreography by Mandy Moore
Song: “Show Me Heaven” by Maria McKee

My husband and I like to play a little game whenever we hear Mandy Moore’s going to choreograph something. It’s a really simple game called, “What 80s song will Mandy Moore choose?” This one tripped us up a bit, because neither of us knew it, but from the vocals and the synthesizer (and with the help of the internet), we realized Mandy played it close to the vest again by choosing a song off the Days of Thunder soundtrack. I thought the choreography was very strong in this piece, and Caitlin and Jason danced it really well. I thought Jason was particularly good in his lead section, in which he showed excellent muscle control and some very strong lines.

Caitlin and Jason (Foxtrot)
Choreography by Tony Meredith and Melanie Lapatin (YAY! Melanie’s back!)
Song: “Minnie the Moocher” by Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, one of my favorite bands

Caitlin’s silver and green dress for this piece gets my award for Outfit of the Night. Jason, on the other hand, has too much of a baby face to convincingly pull off a double breasted suit, which detracted from his believability in this number. The good news is, though, that he made up for it with his dancing. Both dancers were very graceful, and Caitlin’s leg lines served her well in this piece, especially in the voluminous skirt of that green green dress. Good all around.

Please buy me this. I'll find a way to wear it. Promise!

Please buy me this. I'll find a way to wear it. Promise!

Kayla and Kupono (Broadway)
Choreography by Joey Dowling
Song: “The Dance at the Gym” from West Side Story

What I liked about this piece was that Dowling chose to tell her version of the Tony-Maria meet cute through the pre-mambo segment of “The Dance at the Gym,” rather than the iconic portion with iconic movement and snapping. By doing so, she provided something that captured the spirit of the show whence it came, told a story and did so in a unique way. I can’t help but think that when Tyce complimented her on the number, it was tinged with bitterness, because I’m pretty sure he was just a little bit bitter at everything that graced the SYTYCD stage last night. However, I was extremely distracted by the fact that Kayla wasn’t wearing shoes. As Dowling explained it, two kids run into each other on a rooftop and fall in love. Why the hell wouldn’t you wear shoes to the rooftop of your Manhattan apartment building? That just doesn’t seem sanitary to me. And that dress with its adorable bubble skirt needed to be completed with some heels. That’s not Kayla’s fault, but I have to wonder if Dowling specifically told the wardrobe department not to give the girl shoes. And if so, why? That just didn’t make sense to me.

Melissa and Ade (Waltz)
Choreography by Ron Montez
Song: “(You Make Me Feel Like A) Natural Woman” by Mary J. Blige

Melissa and Ade continued their strong showing tonight with this Ron Montez waltz. Melissa was allowed to be as graceful and beautiful as a ballerina is taught to be, and I thought Ade partnered her well. Mary commented on how Ade’s only fault was that his twinkles weren’t good enough, but I’d have hardly noticed. Critiques then rapidly descended into a discussion of English muffins and Brooklyn brownies. What is a Brooklyn brownie, Miss Deeley? Does it have weed in it?

The Mediocre

Randi and Evan (Hip-Hop)
Choreography by TabNap
Song: “Halo” by Beyonce

This one winds up in the mediocre category not because of its choreography or because it wasn’t danced well, but because, compared to everything else, it just seemed to fall short. It was a nice piece danced nicely. Nigel made an astute, if slightly culturally insensitive, comment about how TabNap allowed Randi and Evan to dance a hip-hop routine as themselves rather than being “urban.” I understand what he meant, but the way he said it definitely rubbed me the wrong way. What he probably should have said would have been something like, “It’s great that they gave you two a softer, more lyrical hip-hop, rather than asking you to do something very hard-hitting and edgy.” He also made another off-color remark expressing his dislike for people who have babies out of wedlock, which I’m sure didn’t gain him any fans. He was kind of a douche tonight in general, actually. And those are only two examples. But enough about Nigel! I enjoyed this number, but would find it wholly unforgettable if not for the awkward incorporation of the titular “halo” as Evan looped his arms around Randi’s body. That I will remember, which is unfortunate, because I didn’t like that part at all.

Randi and Evan (Samba)
Choreography by Pasha Kovalev and Anya Garnis
Song: “Ritmo di Bom Bom” by Jababa

I was very excited to see a Pasha and Anya number on the show, as I love when SYTYCD alums return to choreograph. However, the execution of this piece left something to be desired. Mary seemed to think that Randi was flawless in it and gave her a Hot Tamale Train ticket and an Official Mary Murphy Scream, but I didn’t think so. I thought she was better than Evan in it, if only because she had a little bit better extension and shimmied more easily, but she still wasn’t her best. My poor Evan was not at all comfortable in this style and his posture and extension left something to be desired overall. Tyce attempted to explain this to Evan by quoting the onomatopoeia from “Cell Block Tango.” Tyce made no sense tonight.

I think she's actually doing the Snoopy Dance right now.

I think she's actually doing the Snoopy Dance right now.

Jeanine and Phillip (Jive)
Choreography by Tony Meredith and Melanie Lapatin
Song: “Stuff Like That There” by Bette Midler

My husband may have been way into Jeanine’s breast- and booty-shaking, but I was not into this piece. I think it showed of Jeanine’s ample talents beautifully, but also exposed Phillip’s weaknesses, even though Nigel declared that this was the best Phillip’s ever been out of his own style. (I dunno about that. I think Tyce’s Broadway hid that better than this jive did.) Chbeeb’s floorwork in the beginning was really rocky for me, and he did improve toward the end. It was definitely not their best, even if Jeanine got her own Official Mary Murphy Scream and a ticket to the Hot Tamale Train. (Man, there be a lot of ladies up on that train this week, no?)

Jeanine and Phillip (Kalinka)
Choreography by Yuri Nelzine and Lila Balenko
Song:  “Kalinka” by Barynya

And then there was the Kalinka, a Russian folk dance that I was pleased to see if only because you all know I’ve been begging for more ethnic dances on this show ever since Bollywood started cropping up. I’ve tossed this one into the mediocre category because I agree with the assessment that the dancers both could have been stronger throughout the piece, especially Phillip, who made several errors in his footwork at the beginning. However, I have to express my disappointment in Nigel’s reaction to the dance, a dance he, as executive producer, presumably greenlit to add to the mix because he knew what it would look like. Instead of saying that Jeanine and Phillip could have performed it better, he chose to possibly insult a whole cadre of Russian folk dancers (and the choreographers!) by calling the piece “childish” and not strong enough to be on the show. He kept comparing it to the trepak, which I think is also a conceptual mistake on his part because the trepak and the kalinka are different dances. For him to compare the two as though they’re the same style because they come from the same country would be like comparing a waltz to a jive just because they’re both in professional ballroom competition. So what gives? Yes, Jeanine and Phillip didn’t perform it as strongly as they could have, but I didn’t dislike the dance itself or its inclusion on the program.

You may notice that I’ve left off a category this week, and that’s because we truly are at a level in the competition where we’ve successfully separated wheat from chaff and I believe that everyone left is good enough to make the top ten. Even the two couples that I think were the most mediocre of the bunch this week are fully deserving of Top 10 status, and I’d be happy to see any of them on tour as no one was bad this week. However, all things considered, I do have to make predictions and enter them in the EW Predicitify SYTYCD game, so here goes:
I think Jeanine and Phillip and Randi and Evan will definitely land in the bottom three this week. Ideally, I’d like Caitlin and Jason to join them. This is not because they didn’t perform well this week, but because of their general performances up until this point. If I had my druthers, Caitlin and Jason would both be gone. But I think that when you compare the guys, it will probably be between Phillip and Evan. I like them both. In fact, I love Evan. And as much as I like Chbeeb and what he does in his own style, I think he has begun to outlive his usefulness in the competition. I think this might be his last week with us. (But don’t worry! He’ll still be on tour as an alternate!) As for the girls, the judges love Jeanine, so we know she’s safe. Between Caitlin and Randi, I think Caitlin’s the weaker of the two dancers, and we already know that she doesn’t have as big of a fan base as Randi does. So my choices for the dancers that will be leaving us tonight are Chbeeb and Caitlin, who will both make fine alternates on the tour this fall.

But I’m still worried about Randi and Evan. I just don’t want to think Evan could be leaving me so soon!

Other thoughts:

  • I loved Cat’s very vintage LBD, but I think the makeup folks did her a disservice with that shade of red and the smoky eye. She needed a brighter red to liven up her face against that messy 40s-inspired coif and that austere frock.
  • I do not understand at all what Mary was wearing.
  • Most tragic moment of the night: when Nigel complimented Caitlin on being Grace Kelly-like in her foxtrot, followed by the completely blank look on her face because she clearly had no idea who Grace Kelly was.
  • Remember back in the day when the guest judge du settimane always choreographed the results show group number? I almost wish they still did that so I’d know what to expect, because now I never have any idea anymore.
  • So, following the theory that TabNap only choreographs about their marriage, should I assume that Tabitha is incubating a tiny little hip-hop choreographer in her womb? Yes or no?
  • Total Hot Tamale Train Tickets tonight: 4
  • Total Official Mary Murphy Screams: 6, plus an enthusiastic woo.

The Wife:

The husband and I journeyed up to the Pacific Northwest last Saturday to find ourselves a new home in Seattle. I’m happy to report that the trip went well and we’re now renting a three-bedroom place about two miles from the University with a giant-ass bedroom loft, strange pink 1950s bathroom, working fireplace, adorable backyard, cozy 50s kitchen and, most importantly, a murder basement. We don’t really have basements and attics in California because of earthquake logistics (i.e. having a basement makes your house fall into said basement), and while Seattle is on a fault line, I guess they just don’t care as much. A friend in Vancouver, WA pointed out that a basement is a good place to hide out from that active volcano Washington’s got going on. I generally assume basements are places to do devious things found in horror movies. The husband currently has plans to turn part of the basement into a rec room for private DVD-watching and video game-playing. If all else fails, it’s a big enough space to hide the bodies.

We did get a little TV time in, watching So You Think You Can Dance with our cousin Audrey on Wednesday night, and saving the results show for the end of our long drive home on Thursday. This week’s SYTYCD post will be condensed, so here goes:

The Excellent

Melissa and Ade (Pas de Deux)
Choreographer: Thordal Christensen
Song: “Romeo & Juliet” (from the ballet)

Like a fucking sonnet.

Like a fucking sonnet.

Last year, we saw Katee and Joshua wow us with a modern pas de deux, but I was even more wowed by the show’s first ever classical pas de deux. It was wonderful to see Melissa in her ballet element, as she is completely and totally brilliant in everything she does, but especially here. I wonder how the show’s other ballerinas would have done were they given the chance to perform a pas de deux (either modern or classical), but even so, I don’t think they’d have been as good as Melissa. Even more beautiful than her dancing was her acting. She may be 29, but when I watched her face, I believed she was 14 and falling in love for the first time with a strange, sexy black man. Having never seen a ballet of Romeo & Juliet, but knowing the play extremely well, I don’t know if the lovely palm-to-palm press is part of the traditional choreography, so I’m just going to compliment Thordal Christensen on his dedication to the text. Nothing moved me more in this piece than when Melissa and Ade pressed their hands together, palm to palm, and I recalled Shakespeare’s words: “For saints have hands that pilgrim’s hands do touch / And palm to palm is holy palmer’s kiss.”

The Good to Very Good

Jeanette and Brandon (Cha Cha)
Choreography by Jean-Marc Genereux and his wife, France (France seems to be doing a lot of work in these pieces this year, so it’s only fair we start recognizing that, like TabNap, they’re a team.)
Song: “Hush Hush : Hush Hush” by the Pussycat Dolls, which has a lot of unnecessary punctuation

Jeanette and Brandon started off the show with a pretty hot, spicy cha cha. Certainly, it was better than the crapsicle of cha cha delivered to us earlier in the season by Karla and Jonathan. I enjoyed it, but I clearly didn’t enjoy it as much as Mary Murphy, who gave it a total of four Official Mary Murphy Screams as well as two First Class Tickets to the Hot Tamale Train. Nigel called Brandon the Michelangelo of dance, noting how good and light his feet were in this performance. I actually thought this was their weakest week, and I love Jeanette and Brandon. They were good this week, just not disco good or hip-hop good or even as lovely as their waltz. Also, Jeanette’s dress looked like she killed a Fraggle. Just sayin’.

I'll see you out, flay you alive.

I'll see you out, flay you alive.

Kayla and Kupono (Contemporary)
Choreography by Sonya Tayeh
Song: “Eyes on Fire” by Blue Foundation

I have to knock a few creativity points off Sonya for describing this piece as having some vampiric qualities (Kupono plays a sort of death-spirit easing Kayla into her death) because her music choice, though quite beautiful and haunting, comes from the Twilight soundtrack. So, yes, clearly many people think that song has some vampiric qualities. I liked this piece, and I thought, as usual, that Kayla was amazing in it. The trouble with being her partner is that I only want to watch her. To Kupono’s credit, though, he did manage to draw my eye away from Kayla in a section with some loose-form pirouettes. Nigel, in fact, noticed Kupono more than Kayla and praised his work in the piece more than Kayla’s. Hmm.

Phillip and Jeanine (Hip-Hop)
Choreography by Tabitha and Napoleon Duomo
Song: “Love Lockdown” by Kanye West

Although I tend to get really angry when Broadway routines are taken too literally (because literal Broadway becomes hokey), I don’t mind as much when a hip-hop routine gets literal. Here, TabNap chained Phillip and Jeanine together as a way to discuss the partnership the SYTYCD dancers have, chained to someone for five weeks of competition to learn to work together. This is also a metaphor for Tabitha and Napoleon’s marriage, as is everything they do. I really liked it and I thought both Phillip and Jeanine were very strong in it. Mary commended them for not falling down, Nigel made some negative sexist jokes about how the piece was about how men feel in a marriage (thanks, Nigel!) and Mia said that she was a little bit thrown off by the chain because it sometimes distracted her from the dancing.

The Brian Freidmaniest

Caitlin and Jason (Pop Jazz)
Choreography by Brian Friedman
Song: “Creator” by Santigold (Did MIA sample them or are they sampling MIA here?)

And condom jokes abounded.

And condom jokes abounded.

Oh, Brian Friedman. I took one look at this piece and I knew whoever had it would land in the bottom three. People are just not into Brian Friedman this year. I realize he’s been gone for a while, but is there really such a difference between a doll brought to life dancing to Fall Out Boy and a fight for a throne or a crazy-looking lady-alien impregnating Jason? We all liked that Fall Out Boy thing from season two, right? What gives? I think Caitlin and Jason danced the choreography extremely well, and, most importantly, they both got into their characters more than I’ve seen them do in the past. I think Nigel is right to point out that Caitlin’s costume didn’t quite work — she was basically some rubber alien dinosaur — but wrong to say that she should have been wearing less. He only said that because he wants to do her, and that shouldn’t have anything to do with the wardrobe department’s missteps.

The Mediocre

Randi and Evan (Broadway)
Choreography by Joey Dowling, friend to Andy Blankenbeuhler and Mia Michaels
Song: “Rich Man’s Frug” from Sweet Charity

While I enjoyed watching this more than other Broadway routines on this show, I’d hoped that the associate choreographer of In the Heights wouldn’t also turn out to be a Fosse worshipper like Tyce DiOrio. But, alas, she is. Dowling’s piece basically took some signature moments from the film version of Sweet Charity and threw them all together into something vaguely coherent. (Husband Note: As Joey Dowling was also in the recent revival of Sweet Charity, I have to assume that show’s director/choreographer also lifted a few of the moves from the movie as well.) Still, this could have been anything else, and it could have been more original. Randi and Evan weren’t bad in it, but they also weren’t good in it. It did nothing for them — and that’s really sad because Evan and Randi can both do a lot. The whole thing was mostly just a lot of posing and posturing. That said, I do give Evan lots of credit for being very Chuck Bass in his characterization. Sigh. Can’t Shankers do some Broadway? How about Jerry Mitchell? His dance show on Bravo is done, and so is Legally Blonde. What else does he have to do? At this point, I’d kill to see someone choreograph to “Ohmigod, You Guys” from Legally Blonde on this show just to breathe some life into the stagnant pool that is Broadway dance on SYTYCD.

Karla and Vitolio (Quickstep)
Choreography by Jean-Marc and France Genereux
Song: “Puttin’ on the Ritz” by Rufus Wainwright

The Genereuxs definitely created a fun and interesting quickstep with this piece, but that still doesn’t help the fact that the quickstep is the worst dance on SYTYCD. No one ever does a quickstep well (although Sabra and Pasha had one of my favorite ones in the show’s history in season three, set to “Mr. Pinstripe Suit” by Big Bad Voodoo Daddy), but Karla and Vitolio actually did a good job with this impossible dance. I was very impressed by the quick-change from Karla’s polka-dot museum day outfit into her fancy evening dress to dance with statue-come-to-life Vitolio. Plus, the Rufus Wainwright song was a great choice — lively, frenetic, joyous — all the things a quickstep is supposed to be but never quite is.

After the performances, my picks for the bottom three were Karla and Vitolio, simply for having a dance everyone would hate, Randi and Evan, for getting an unlucky Broadway routine, and Caitlin and Jason, for getting a Brian Freidman routine.

I was proven wrong, however, on results night when, after a wild and inventive Tyce DiOrio routine in which all of the dancers came out of a painting after closing time at a museum to be alive (Kayla doing so in the nudest of nude leotards, making me, once again, only watch her) set to “Brand New Day” from The Wiz, which is the only thing Tyce loves more than Bob Fosse. This was so interesting to watch (and by interesting, I mean, batshit crazy) that I’d sat at home hoping that Nigel had choreographed it due to its similarity to a certain piece in The Apple:

Suffice it to say, I was surprised to see it was Tyce.

Cat, in her shiny shiny version of a runner’s outfit/dress, lined up all of the couples and announced who was safe, and who was going to have to dance for their lives. For the sake of space, I’ve included my initial reactions below:

  • Karla and Vitolio: Bottom 3! I am a very premium judge of dances!
  • Randi and Evan: Safe! This is good because I like them!
  • Jeanette and Brandon: Safe! As they should be.
  • Kayla and Kupono: Bottom 3! Wait, what? Is the Twilight soundtrack not enough to endear you to voters? Is America turning on Kayla? HOW CAN THIS BE?
  • Melissa and Ade: Safe! Correct!
  • Jeanine and Phillip: Bottom 3! Really, y’all? You saved them in that abysmal tango, but put them in danger for a hip-hop routine they performed well?
  • Caitlin and Jason: Safe! And my Brian Freidman rule is proven wrong immediately.

As the dancers went to prepare themselves for their solos, Desmond Richardson and Patricia Hashey performed an astounding contemporary ballet. Let me just gush for a moment about how unsettling and gorgeous Patricia was when she stood en pointe like a spider, her pelvis parallel to her knees, her legs forming a box with the floor. That was unfuckingbelievable. I’ve never seen anything quite like that before, not have I seen two people dance with the strength and grace these two had. Monumentally awesome.

Solo time!

  • Karla danced to “Blackbird” by Dionne Farris. Each week, her solos get more interesting. This one was certainly her best to date, and I’d rather watch her do this than anything else.
  • Vitolio danced to “Here Comes Goodbye” by the Rascal Flatts. I finally saw his weaknesses in this solo, which was basically just a lot of posing and posturing, connected with a few turns. Bad times.
  • Kayla danced to “Stupid” by Sarah McLachlan and I can tell, not only from her tears, that she’s getting frustrated with landing in the bottom three. This solo was not her strongest and was mostly just a lot of kicks and leg-extensions — the go-to Melody solo from season 1. Leg extensions do not a good solo make.
  • Kupono “danced” to “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” by Israel Kamakawiwo’ole. Wow, he is really terrible at choreography. Probably worse than Vitolio, actually.
  • Jeanine danced to Beethoven’s “Moonlight Sonata” and easily delivered the best solo of the girls. She showed us grace and technique, all in 30 seconds.
  • Phillip performed to “You’ll Find a Way” by Santigold and he fucking rocked that shit.

Do you see what you’ve done, America? How dare you put Phillip and Jeanine in the bottom two this week! Undeserved!

The judges went backstage to deliberate, which must have been difficult for Mia Michaels to navigate in that garbage bag of a tunic she was wearing. Kelly Clarkson performed “I Do Not Hook Up” and more than enjoying the song and the performance, it became clear to me that Miss Clarkson needs to fire her stylist. She’s taken some recent hits in tabloids for not being the skinniest pop diva (and she’s not — I’d guess she’s a very average 8 or 10), and there have been some very unflattering photos of her to support those claims. First of all, Kelly, please do not be blondeish anymore. Your hair looks ashy. It’s doing nothing for your skin and its making you look old. You are a brunette, and we like you that way. Secondly, you have larger arms. You cannot wear something with a giant drape across your breasts that turns your larger arms into wings. It is not flattering on you at all. Please, please fire your stylist. I want you to look as fabulous as you are.

A graceful send-off for Karla and Vitolio.

A graceful send-off for Karla and Vitolio.

After Kelly Clarkson was done, the “jidges” returned to announce their decisions, both unanimous. Jeanine and Phillip were immediately saved for producing coherent, stunning solos, Kupono was told he can’t choreograph, and Kayla instructed not to look desperate. Karla was sent packing, as was her partner Vitolio, who just couldn’t break out of his impressive presence to show us what he could do. Karla said something about how she hungers and thirsts dance, which makes me question just want she learned in that journalism program at NYU. You can hunger and thirst for dance, you can eat and drink dance, but you can’t hunger and thirst dance. Those words do not work that way!

Stray thoughts:

  • I loved Cat’s pink dress and studded belt from Wednesday’s performance show. So fetch.
  • I think the producers knew we’d be watching the show with my husband’s cousin, who, while a fan, hasn’t caught a single episode this season. Just for Audrey, they made sure she was caught up by asking the dancers to discuss their highs and lows on the show during the producer package.
  • On Wednesday night, Nigel announced that Katie Holmes would be performing in a Tyce DiOrio tribute to Judy Garland (which I will be calling “Katie! Katie! Does Judy! Judy,” like the Rufus Wainwright show I’ve got DVR’d right now) on the July 23rd show, to commemorate SYTYCD’s 100th episode. She was pretty good in that episode of Eli Stone where she did “Hit Me with a Hot Note.” We’ll see how this goes.
  • Nigel also announced the formation of SYTYCD’s dance scholarship for underprivileged dancers, The Dizzy Feet Foundation. Katie Holmes also has something to do with this, which is a nice thing to help her out of relative obscurity. In seriousness, though, I’m pro-anything that promotes arts education in America, and I couldn’t be happier that a show that has brought the art of dance into American living rooms is doing something to nurture young artists and keep dance at the forefront of culture.
  • “You can’t fake classical ballet.” — Mia Michaels
  • America, please stop hating Kayla because she’s beautiful and talented. I don’t want to see her in the bottom three anymore.
  • In other news, due to my mad prediction skillz, I am now officially ahead of everyone at EW in the SYTYCD Predictify game. I am currently 734th out of 3144 players. Suck it! I am a very premium judge of dances!
  • I apparently missed Scott Bakula in the audience on Wednesday night. Instead, I thought I saw Sarah Vowell, which my husband informs me would never happen, because she does not drive and thus would hate L.A.
  • Favorite quote of performance night:
  • Jeanine: “We have chains all over our apartment.”
    Cat: “I thought that was only certain clubs on weekends!”

The Husband:

You may notice my Husband Note in my wife’s post above in regards to Sweet Charity. I have a particular fondness for this show (less so for the somewhat overindulgent movie) because it was the first musical I performed in. And as non-arts-based American high schools are always a bit low on male actors, I played eight separate characters in the ensemble, and appeared both in the background for the striptacular “Hey Big Spender” that introduces us to all the “dance hall hostesses” of the shows, and danced in the goofily posh and waaaaaaay-too-1960s “Rich Man’s Frug” that appears halfway through act one during Charity’s date with Vittorio Vidal. Just to let you know how little Joey Dowling created on her own for this dance, here are both sequences from the Bob Fosse-directed-and-choreographed movie.

I don’t dislike Ms. Dowling’s work at all, though. She definitely got most of it right, and if you hadn’t seen the show or the movie, it might be 100% awesome. I just want a little originality in my choreography.

The Wife:

This week has been a sad week for pop culture with the loss of Ed McMahon, Farrah Fawcett and Michael Jackson. I’m glad that Nigel took a minute to address each of these figures, as each of their lives impacted the lives of others – perhaps none more greatly than that of Michael Jackson. I sometimes get very tired of our obsession with celebrities, but I certainly don’t find it in anyway trite or silly to mourn the loss of a beloved actor, musician or television personality. The reason these people were famous is because their lives created a product consumed and enjoyed by many people. They lived to entertain us and make us happy, to move us, and so it’s only fitting that we should be moved by their loss. I don’t generally listen to the all-dance station here in the Bay Area, but as I drove home from work yesterday, I had sincerely hoped that some stations would be playing Michael Jackson songs as a tribute to his long and varied career. Sure enough, I found that Movin’ 99.7 was doing just that, asking callers to request their favorite MJ songs and share the ways in which his music touched their lives. Me? I’m not the biggest MJ fan, but I do like to hear about how art reaches people, and I am grateful for every single one of his fans who called in to share a time when they got the courage to dance with a girl they liked because “P.Y.T.” was playing or how, as Nigel noted last night on Dancey Dance, so many people were inspired to take dance lessons because of the wonderful, memorable choreography in Michael Jackson’s music videos.

(Husband Note: I actually listen to Movin’ every day on my drive back from the office, and also enjoyed that they overhauled the St. John’s Playhouse 5 O’ Clock Happy Hour Mix and did a wonderful job sampling bits of his musical history. Once they upload the “podcast,” which should be later today, you can download the very mix in question at this link.)


I wish Nigel had more to say about Farrah Fawcett and how her career affected him, rather than telling a story about how the actress, while very ill, invited him over to teach him how to make pecan pie. (Although this does give me a great insight into the kind of woman she was – a kind, giving, sweet-toothed optimist with iconic feathered hair.) But I think the remembrance I appreciated the most from Nigel was what he said about Ed McMahon. Both Jimmy Fallon and Conan O’Brien paid tribute to the former Tonight Show announcer earlier in the week (Conan showed a clip of McMahon riffing on the original Late Night with Conan O’Brien where Andy Richter challenged him to a rigged game of quarters), but Nigel actually reminded me of another facet of McMahon’s life I’d completely forgotten about: StarSearch. Half of the pop talents I grew up with were discovered on Ed McMahon’s StarSearch, a program that established the modern reality competition program genre, the televised talent show we’ve come to know and love in many incarnations from American Idol to Top Chef to Project Runway to So You Think You Can Dance.

But those necessary tributes aside, there was dancing for lives to be done and, even on such a sad day for the world of dance, dancers had to be cut from the competition. Ed McMahon would have wanted it that way. I think he (and Farrah and MJ) would have all enjoyed the opening number, a spicy club salsa number, the likes of which we’ve never seen before on SYTYCD, choreographed by season two’s Dmitry Chaplin and Tabitha and Napoleon. First of all, it is about damn time we had a group Latin dance number, especially one as writhing and sexy as that was. Chaplin choreographs some pretty hot Latin numbers (I remember season three’s cha cha for Lacey and whomever she was dancing with at the time) (Husband Note: It was Danny. Watch the video below), and I have to say that dancing on tables coated in water was a nice music video/vodka ad touch. (And also very Eastern European, considering I’ve seen Bulgarian all-male Romeo & Juliet that ended in an amazing, electric-light-laden-water-dance.) I’m not really sure how much Tab/Nap had to do with that, perhaps just the guys’ group section, but the whole thing was pretty damn cool. Please do on tour. Kthxbi.


Cat sort of did her own Farrah Fawcett tribute, surprising the hell out of me by wearing a palm-print halter jumpsuit that I simply can’t believe looks that good on any human being. Was that thing from the Michael Kors cruise collection? Does Michael Kors even do cruise? If he did, though, I bet it would look that chic. And as she towered over the dancers, looking even taller than she already does thanks to said amazing jumpsuit that I couldn’t wear in a million years, she announced the evening’s results.

  • Auska & Vitolio: Bottom 3
  • Jeanette & Brandon: Safe
  • Randi & Evan: Safe (“The butt made the cut,” Cat intoned. Good job, writers!)
  • Jeanine & Phillip: Safe
  • Melissa & Ade: Safe
  • Karla & Jonathan: Bottom 3
  • Kayla & Kupono: Safe
  • Caitlin & Jason: Bottom 3

He should have been immediately removed from the Top 20 for having this as his promo photo.

He should have been immediately removed from the Top 20 for having this as his promo photo.

Allow me to gloat for a moment that I am a very premium judge of dances, for I have once again correctly identified which couples will be in the bottom three. I really wish we got points for predicting the couples that would be in the bottom three in EW‘s SYTYCD Predictify game, because I would get hella more points that way. I am by no means very good at this game, but at least I’m beating two EW staffers, Alynda Wheat and Annie Barrett. So Cat sent the bottom three couples off to prepare for their dancing-for-their-lives solos and she brought on this week’s Special Guest from the World of Dance: a group of adolescent (and prepubescent!) boys called the Rage Boyz Crew, choreographed by Tiffany Byrne. First of all, the teenage white kids in this crew are hilarious because some of them went an extra mile to hit everything HARRRRDD. Second of all, I don’t think the teeny tiniest of the Rage Boyz was all that good as a dancer and the only reason they put him in dance captain position was that he was so tiny and cute, but when the older boys LAUNCHED THAT LITTLE DUDE IN THE AIR I was suddenly ALL ABOUT THAT KID. He is my hero. He has no fear. And a great fro. And is tiny and adorable. Please buy me one! (Husband Note: Stop trying to buy tiny African-American children! It sends the wrong idea.)

I’m not sure any of the solos lived up to the glory of tossing a tiny afroed boy into the air, but there were a couple of moments that I thought were great (although Nigel vehemently disagreed with me about these).

  • Auska: Girl phoned this shit in as she half-heartedly shimmied and shook that blue fringed dress across the floor to “Don’t Trust Me” by 30H!3. Sad.
  • Vitolio: He got points immediately for dancing to Coldplay’s “Viva La Vida” because this shit is my jam. I thought he was extremely powerful, and I was floored by the height of his jumps, his lines, his strength and his carriage. I mean, when Chris Martin sang “feel the fear in my enemy’s eyes,” I fucking FELT THAT. Nigel, apparently, did not and later told Vitolio he didn’t do enough because all those powerful moments never built toward something more powerful.
  • Karla: Her solo last night to Radiohead’s “15 Steps” was officially more interesting than she has ever been. Ever. Nigel later said it was all over the place, and I kind of felt that, especially during the super-duper arm-twirly movement that came the fuck out of nowhere, but at least it was interesting in its awkwardness.
  • Jonathan: He chose to dance to a strong, Africanized beat with Kodo’s “The Hunted.” I thought this started strong as he leapt from the stairs to the stage, but then it rapidly descended into madness, and not in an intentional, artistic way, either.
  • Caitlin: Like Vitolio, I’m giving the girl props for interpreting lyrics with movement. She chose to perform to a version of “Que Sera Sera” by Jennifer Terran that sounded a bit like a dying cat, but she somehow handled the darkness of that minor-keyed rendering with grace, particularly the moment when she fell to her knees and drew her arms into her chest on the lyric “I asked my lover where should I go.” Plus, she didn’t rely too much on her gymnastics tricks tonight, earning back some points with me.
  • Jason: I think this solo might have been such a mess because of song choice, “New American Classics” by Taking Back Sunday, which gave him absolutely nothing to work with. That said, I thought his floorwork was nice. Nigel disagreed and told him later that whole thing was desperate.


In the end, the two dancers with the absolute weakest solos of the night were sent home, Auska unanimously, and Jonathan un-unanimously. I’m glad to see Jonathan go, as I don’t think he contributed anything to the show in the 3 weeks he’s been here, but I’m a little sad to see Auska go. Sure, she wasn’t great last night or tonight, but now we’ve ousted two ballroom dancers, which narrows our diversity field to having one salsa dancer, one ballerina, one popper, one Broadway baby and a whole bunch of contemporary/lyrical/jazz dancers. Now, this show has proven multiple times that dancers of the contemporary/lyrical/jazz styles are often the most successful on the show (if not winning, then placing in the finals), but there are at least three examples off the top of my head of ballroom dancers making it to the top . . . and all three of those examples are Schwimmers. So what gives this season? Where’s the love for diverse styles?

And never again will I have to hear British people call her Oscar.

And never again will I have to hear British people call her Oscar.

I’m glad that the horrible Jonathan/Karla pair has been broken up, though. It’ll be good to see what Karla can do with a new partner. I think Vitolio’s emotiveness might just finally be the end of Karla, as it will show her weakness in that area of performance. I just hope it won’t be the end of Vitolio, as well.

The Wife:

This week has been a sad week for pop culture with the loss of Ed McMahon, Farrah Fawcett and Michael Jackson. I’m glad that Nigel took a minute to address each of these figures, as each of their lives impacted the lives of others – perhaps none more greatly than that of Michael Jackson. I sometimes get very tired of our obsession with celebrities, but I certainly don’t find it in anyway trite or silly to mourn the loss of a beloved actor, musician or television personality. The reason these people were famous is because their lives created a product consumed and enjoyed by many people. They lived to entertain us and make us happy, to move us, and so it’s only fitting that we should be moved by their loss. I don’t generally listen to the all-dance station here in the Bay Area, but as I drove home from work yesterday, I had sincerely hoped that some stations would be playing Michael Jackson songs as a tribute to his long and varied career. Sure enough, I found that Movin’ 99.7 was doing just that, asking callers to request their favorite MJ songs and share the ways in which his music touched their lives. Me? I’m not the biggest MJ fan, but I do like to hear about how art reaches people, and I am grateful for every single one of his fans who called in to share a time when they got the courage to dance with a girl they liked because “P.Y.T.” was playing or how, as Nigel noted last night on Dancey Dance, so many people were inspired to take dance lessons because of the wonderful, memorable choreography in Michael Jackson’s music videos.

(Husband Note: I actually listen to Movin’ every day on my drive back from the office, and also enjoyed that they overhauled the St. John’s Playhouse 5 O’ Clock Happy Hour Mix and did a wonderful job sampling bits of his musical history. Once they upload the “podcast,” which should be later today, you can download the very mix in question at this link)

[EMBED http://www.movin997.com/pages/3701621.php ]

I wish Nigel had more to say about Farrah Fawcett and how her career affected him, rather than telling a story about how the actress, while very ill, invited him over to teach him how to make pecan pie. (Although this does give me a great insight into the kind of woman she was – a kind, giving, sweet-toothed optimist with iconic feathered hair.) But I think the remembrance I appreciated the most from Nigel was what he said about Ed McMahon. Both Jimmy Fallon and Conan O’Brien paid tribute to the former Tonight Show announcer earlier in the week (Conan showed a clip of McMahon riffing on the original Late Night with Conan O’Brien where Andy Richter challenged him to a rigged game of quarters), but Nigel actually reminded me of another facet of McMahon’s life I’d completely forgotten about: StarSearch. Half of the pop talents I grew up with were discovered on Ed McMahon’s StarSearch, a program that established the modern reality competition program genre, the televised talent show we’ve come to know and love in many incarnations from American Idol to Top Chef to Project Runway to So You Think You Can Dance.

But those necessary tributes aside, there was dancing for lives to be done and, even on such a sad day for the world of dance, dancers had to be cut from the competition. Ed McMahon would have wanted it that way. I think he (and Farrah and MJ) would have all enjoyed the opening number, a spicy club salsa number, the likes of which we’ve never seen before on SYTYCD, choreographed by season two’s Dmitry Chaplin and Tabitha and Napoleon. First of all, it is about damn time we had a group Latin dance number, especially one as writhing and sexy as that was. Chaplin choreographs some pretty hot Latin numbers (I remember season three’s cha cha for Lacey and whomever she was dancing with at the time) (Husband Note: It was Danny. Watch the video below), and I have to say that dancing on tables coated in water was a nice music video/vodka ad touch. (And also very Eastern European, considering I’ve seen Bulgarian all-male Romeo & Juliet that ended in an amazing, electric-light-laden-water-dance.) I’m not really sure how much Tab/Nap had to do with that, perhaps just the guys’ group section, but the whole thing was pretty damn cool. Please do on tour. Kthxbi.

EMBED VIDEO http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HrgDPTc4sl4


Cat sort of did her own Farrah Fawcett tribute, surprising the hell out of me by wearing a palm-print halter jumpsuit that I simply can’t believe looks that good on any human being. Was that thing from the Michael Kors cruise collection? Does Michael Kors even do cruise? If he did, though, I bet it would look that chic. And as she towered over the dancers, looking even taller than she already does thanks to said amazing jumpsuit that I couldn’t wear in a million years, she announced the evening’s results.

Auska & Vitolio: Bottom 3
Jeanette & Brandon: Safe
Randi & Evan: Safe (“The butt made the cut,” Cat intoned. Good job, writers!)
Jeanine & Phillip: Safe
Melissa & Ade: Safe
Karla & Jonathan: Bottom 3
Kayla & Kupono: Safe
Caitlin & Jason: Bottom 3

Allow me to gloat for a moment that I am a very premium judge of dances, for I have once again correctly identified which couples will be in the bottom three. I really wish we got points for predicting the couples that would be in the bottom three in EW‘s SYTYCD Predictify game, because I would get hella more points that way. I am by no means very good at this game, but at least I’m beating two EW staffers, Alynda Wheat and Annie Barrett. So Cat sent the bottom three couples off to prepare for their dancing-for-their-lives solos and she brought on this week’s Special Guest from the World of Dance: a group of adolescent (and prepubescent!) boys called the Rage Boyz Crew, choreographed by Tiffany Byrne. First of all, the teenage white kids in this crew are hilarious because some of them went an extra mile to hit everything HARRRRDD. Second of all, I don’t think the teeny tiniest of the Rage Boyz was all that good as a dancer and the only reason they put him in dance captain position was that he was so tiny and cute, but when the older boys LAUNCHED THAT LITTLE DUDE IN THE AIR I was suddenly ALL ABOUT THAT KID. He is my hero. He has no fear. And a great fro. And is tiny and adorable. Please buy me one! (Husband Note: Stop trying to buy tiny African-American children! It sends the wrong idea.)

I’m not sure any of the solos lived up to the glory of tossing a tiny afroed boy into the air, but there were a couple of moments that I thought were great (although Nigel vehemently disagreed with me about these).

Auska: Girl phoned this shit in as she half-heartedly shimmied and shook that blue fringed dress across the floor to “Don’t Trust Me” by 30H!3. Sad.


Vitolio: He got points immediately for dancing to Coldplay’s “Viva La Vida” because this shit is my jam. I thought he was extremely powerful, and I was floored by the height of his jumps, his lines, his strength and his carriage. I mean, when Chris Martin sang “feel the fear in my enemy’s eyes,” I fucking FELT THAT. Nigel, apparently, did not and later told Vitolio he didn’t do enough because all those powerful moments never built toward something more powerful.

Karla: Her solo last night to Radiohead’s “15 Steps” was officially more interesting than she has ever been. Ever. Nigel later said it was all over the place, and I kind of felt that, especially during the super-duper arm-twirly movement that came the fuck out of nowhere, but at least it was interesting in its awkwardness.

Jonathan: He chose to dance to a strong, Africanized beat with Kodo’s “The Hunted.” I thought this started strong as he leapt from the stairs to the stage, but then it rapidly descended into madness, and not in an intentional, artistic way, either.

Caitlin: Like Vitolio, I’m giving the girl props for interpreting lyrics with movement. She chose to perform to a version of “Que Sera Sera” by Jennifer Terran that sounded a bit like a dying cat, but she somehow handled the darkness of that minor-keyed rendering with grace, particularly the moment when she fell to her knees and drew her arms into her chest on the lyric “I asked my lover where should I go.” Plus, she didn’t rely too much on her gymnastics tricks tonight, earning back some points with me.

Jason: I think this solo might have been such a mess because of song choice, “New American Classics” by Taking Back Sunday, which gave him absolutely nothing to work with. That said, I thought his floorwork was nice. Nigel disagreed and told him later that whole thing was desperate.

In the end, the two dancers with the absolute weakest solos of the night were sent home, Auska unanimously, and Jonathan un-unanimously. I’m glad to see Jonathan go, as I don’t think he contributed anything to the show in the 3 weeks he’s been here, but I’m a little sad to see Auska go. Sure, she wasn’t great last night or tonight, but now we’ve ousted two ballroom dancers, which narrows our diversity field to having one salsa dancer, one ballerina, one popper, one Broadway baby and a whole bunch of contemporary/lyrical/jazz dancers. Now, this show has proven multiple times that dancers of the contemporary/lyrical/jazz styles are often the most successful on the show (if not winning, then placing in the finals), but there are at least three examples off the top of my head of ballroom dancers making it to the top . . . and all three of those examples are Schwimmers. So what gives this season? Where’s the love for diverse styles?

I’m glad that the horrible Jonathan/Karla pair has been broken up, though. It’ll be good to see what Karla can do with a new partner. I think Vitolio’s emotiveness might just finally be the end of Karla, as it will show her weakness in that area of performance. I just hope it won’t be the end of Vitolio, as well.

The Wife:

This week has been a sad week for pop culture with the loss of Ed McMahon, Farrah Fawcett and Michael Jackson. I’m glad that Nigel took a minute to address each of these figures, as each of their lives impacted the lives of others – perhaps none more greatly than that of Michael Jackson. I sometimes get very tired of our obsession with celebrities, but I certainly don’t find it in anyway trite or silly to mourn the loss of a beloved actor, musician or television personality. The reason these people were famous is because their lives created a product consumed and enjoyed by many people. They lived to entertain us and make us happy, to move us, and so it’s only fitting that we should be moved by their loss. I don’t generally listen to the all-dance station here in the Bay Area, but as I drove home from work yesterday, I had sincerely hoped that some stations would be playing Michael Jackson songs as a tribute to his long and varied career. Sure enough, I found that Movin’ 99.7 was doing just that, asking callers to request their favorite MJ songs and share the ways in which his music touched their lives. Me? I’m not the biggest MJ fan, but I do like to hear about how art reaches people, and I am grateful for every single one of his fans who called in to share a time when they got the courage to dance with a girl they liked because “P.Y.T.” was playing or how, as Nigel noted last night on Dancey Dance, so many people were inspired to take dance lessons because of the wonderful, memorable choreography in Michael Jackson’s music videos.

(Husband Note: I actually listen to Movin’ every day on my drive back from the office, and also enjoyed that they overhauled the St. John’s Playhouse 5 O’ Clock Happy Hour Mix and did a wonderful job sampling bits of his musical history. Once they upload the “podcast,” which should be later today, you can download the very mix in question at this link)

[EMBED http://www.movin997.com/pages/3701621.php ]

I wish Nigel had more to say about Farrah Fawcett and how her career affected him, rather than telling a story about how the actress, while very ill, invited him over to teach him how to make pecan pie. (Although this does give me a great insight into the kind of woman she was – a kind, giving, sweet-toothed optimist with iconic feathered hair.) But I think the remembrance I appreciated the most from Nigel was what he said about Ed McMahon. Both Jimmy Fallon and Conan O’Brien paid tribute to the former Tonight Show announcer earlier in the week (Conan showed a clip of McMahon riffing on the original Late Night with Conan O’Brien where Andy Richter challenged him to a rigged game of quarters), but Nigel actually reminded me of another facet of McMahon’s life I’d completely forgotten about: StarSearch. Half of the pop talents I grew up with were discovered on Ed McMahon’s StarSearch, a program that established the modern reality competition program genre, the televised talent show we’ve come to know and love in many incarnations from American Idol to Top Chef to Project Runway to So You Think You Can Dance.

But those necessary tributes aside, there was dancing for lives to be done and, even on such a sad day for the world of dance, dancers had to be cut from the competition. Ed McMahon would have wanted it that way. I think he (and Farrah and MJ) would have all enjoyed the opening number, a spicy club salsa number, the likes of which we’ve never seen before on SYTYCD, choreographed by season two’s Dmitry Chaplin and Tabitha and Napoleon. First of all, it is about damn time we had a group Latin dance number, especially one as writhing and sexy as that was. Chaplin choreographs some pretty hot Latin numbers (I remember season three’s cha cha for Lacey and whomever she was dancing with at the time) (Husband Note: It was Danny. Watch the video below), and I have to say that dancing on tables coated in water was a nice music video/vodka ad touch. (And also very Eastern European, considering I’ve seen Bulgarian all-male Romeo & Juliet that ended in an amazing, electric-light-laden-water-dance.) I’m not really sure how much Tab/Nap had to do with that, perhaps just the guys’ group section, but the whole thing was pretty damn cool. Please do on tour. Kthxbi.

EMBED VIDEO http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HrgDPTc4sl4


Cat sort of did her own Farrah Fawcett tribute, surprising the hell out of me by wearing a palm-print halter jumpsuit that I simply can’t believe looks that good on any human being. Was that thing from the Michael Kors cruise collection? Does Michael Kors even do cruise? If he did, though, I bet it would look that chic. And as she towered over the dancers, looking even taller than she already does thanks to said amazing jumpsuit that I couldn’t wear in a million years, she announced the evening’s results.

Auska & Vitolio: Bottom 3
Jeanette & Brandon: Safe
Randi & Evan: Safe (“The butt made the cut,” Cat intoned. Good job, writers!)
Jeanine & Phillip: Safe
Melissa & Ade: Safe
Karla & Jonathan: Bottom 3
Kayla & Kupono: Safe
Caitlin & Jason: Bottom 3

Allow me to gloat for a moment that I am a very premium judge of dances, for I have once again correctly identified which couples will be in the bottom three. I really wish we got points for predicting the couples that would be in the bottom three in EW‘s SYTYCD Predictify game, because I would get hella more points that way. I am by no means very good at this game, but at least I’m beating two EW staffers, Alynda Wheat and Annie Barrett. So Cat sent the bottom three couples off to prepare for their dancing-for-their-lives solos and she brought on this week’s Special Guest from the World of Dance: a group of adolescent (and prepubescent!) boys called the Rage Boyz Crew, choreographed by Tiffany Byrne. First of all, the teenage white kids in this crew are hilarious because some of them went an extra mile to hit everything HARRRRDD. Second of all, I don’t think the teeny tiniest of the Rage Boyz was all that good as a dancer and the only reason they put him in dance captain position was that he was so tiny and cute, but when the older boys LAUNCHED THAT LITTLE DUDE IN THE AIR I was suddenly ALL ABOUT THAT KID. He is my hero. He has no fear. And a great fro. And is tiny and adorable. Please buy me one! (Husband Note: Stop trying to buy tiny African-American children! It sends the wrong idea.)

I’m not sure any of the solos lived up to the glory of tossing a tiny afroed boy into the air, but there were a couple of moments that I thought were great (although Nigel vehemently disagreed with me about these).

Auska: Girl phoned this shit in as she half-heartedly shimmied and shook that blue fringed dress across the floor to “Don’t Trust Me” by 30H!3. Sad.


Vitolio: He got points immediately for dancing to Coldplay’s “Viva La Vida” because this shit is my jam. I thought he was extremely powerful, and I was floored by the height of his jumps, his lines, his strength and his carriage. I mean, when Chris Martin sang “feel the fear in my enemy’s eyes,” I fucking FELT THAT. Nigel, apparently, did not and later told Vitolio he didn’t do enough because all those powerful moments never built toward something more powerful.

Karla: Her solo last night to Radiohead’s “15 Steps” was officially more interesting than she has ever been. Ever. Nigel later said it was all over the place, and I kind of felt that, especially during the super-duper arm-twirly movement that came the fuck out of nowhere, but at least it was interesting in its awkwardness.

Jonathan: He chose to dance to a strong, Africanized beat with Kodo’s “The Hunted.” I thought this started strong as he leapt from the stairs to the stage, but then it rapidly descended into madness, and not in an intentional, artistic way, either.

Caitlin: Like Vitolio, I’m giving the girl props for interpreting lyrics with movement. She chose to perform to a version of “Que Sera Sera” by Jennifer Terran that sounded a bit like a dying cat, but she somehow handled the darkness of that minor-keyed rendering with grace, particularly the moment when she fell to her knees and drew her arms into her chest on the lyric “I asked my lover where should I go.” Plus, she didn’t rely too much on her gymnastics tricks tonight, earning back some points with me.

Jason: I think this solo might have been such a mess because of song choice, “New American Classics” by Taking Back Sunday, which gave him absolutely nothing to work with. That said, I thought his floorwork was nice. Nigel disagreed and told him later that whole thing was desperate.

In the end, the two dancers with the absolute weakest solos of the night were sent home, Auska unanimously, and Jonathan un-unanimously. I’m glad to see Jonathan go, as I don’t think he contributed anything to the show in the 3 weeks he’s been here, but I’m a little sad to see Auska go. Sure, she wasn’t great last night or tonight, but now we’ve ousted two ballroom dancers, which narrows our diversity field to having one salsa dancer, one ballerina, one popper, one Broadway baby and a whole bunch of contemporary/lyrical/jazz dancers. Now, this show has proven multiple times that dancers of the contemporary/lyrical/jazz styles are often the most successful on the show (if not winning, then placing in the finals), but there are at least three examples off the top of my head of ballroom dancers making it to the top . . . and all three of those examples are Schwimmers. So what gives this season? Where’s the love for diverse styles?

I’m glad that the horrible Jonathan/Karla pair has been broken up, though. It’ll be good to see what Karla can do with a new partner. I think Vitolio’s emotiveness might just finally be the end of Karla, as it will show her weakness in that area of performance. I just hope it won’t be the end of Vitolio, as well.

The Wife:

While we watched Chris Hardwick on Web Soup to kill 30 minutes prior to the glorious, glittery dance fest that is SYTYCD, I sat squirming on the couch, making the kinds of noises the Marlowe cat makes when he meets another cat he doesn’t like (or, more recently, makes at our other cat, Calliope, when she doesn’t have her collar on because, apparently, he can’t recognize who she is without it). Marlowe makes this lengthened, low, whining growl, which I’ve interpreted as his sign of extreme anxiety – I thought it was appropriate to make a similar sound in anticipation of So You Think You Can Dance. And all that pre-show tension (momentarily alleviated when Hardwick showed a “palate cleanser” segment which featured furry rodents nomming noms to an adorably, annoyingly catchy nomming song that I will now sing ALL THE TIME) was totally worthwhile because this first competition episode of the season already shone with moments of true brilliance. The wonderful things were truly wonderful, and even the bad things weren’t atrocious. Overall, it was a great way to start the season.

Before I talk about the dancing, though, I’d like to note that I think Mary was on something last night that might throw my scream count out of whack. I counted a total of 6 scream-like entities, but four of them were more like extended woos, so I’m not sure if I should include them in the Official Mary Murphy Scream Count for the season. I mean, the woman admitted to Botoxing the hell out of her forehead on national television last night – which on the one hand I applaud in terms of her honesty, but on the other hand I think might be the best indicator that her new happy pills are working a little too well. (Not the Botox, but the admission of its use.) I’ll not where the screams/woos occurred in my discussion of each performance – let me know in the comments if you think I should count the woos in the Official Mary Murphy Scream Count, but for now, I’m only going to count full-fledged, ouch-my-ears-are-hurting screams. (Husband Note: As you should. A woo is not a scream. Thousands of TRL teenagers could tell you that.)

I also feel the need to express my love for “occasional swing dancer” Adam Shankman, and not just because he gave us an update on the fate of Step Up 3D, but because he and I had apparently participated in a Vulcan mind meld at some point as my comments about the dances were more often than not the exact same as his. I’d say I had them first because I said them out loud while the dances were happening, but I know that honor technically belongs to him because the performances were filmed hours before the episode was even shown. Either way, Shankers and I shared some headspace last night, and it was pretty uncanny.

As far as the dancing is concerned, rather than list them in order, I’m going to separate the performances into various categories of greatness: Brilliant, Good to Very Good, Mediocre, Problematic and, just for tonight, a special category for a special dance. I will include pieces under those subheads in my order of preference.

The Brilliant

Kayla and Max (Samba)
Choreography by Louis Van Amstrel
Music: “Jum Bah Day” by House of Gypsies

It is absolutely unbelievable that Kayla “Radomkulous” Radomsky has never danced ballroom before because she was fantastic. This couple closed the show, and it was pretty clear to me by the strength of the Official Mary Murphy Scream they received that they were the pinnacle of the evening. Barely three seconds into the dance, I wrote, “If this doesn’t get on the Hot Tamale Train, I don’t know what will.” It was hot, spicy, passionate and danced beautifully by both partners. Max’s footwork and carriage were very, very impressive and he partnered Kayla effortlessly. She was a joy to watch in that pink fringed dress, which easily trumped Randi’s blue dress for my Outfit of the Night prize. And for the record, can we all agree that the best part of the choreography in this number was when Kayla freakin’ mounted Max and grinded down on his sexy Russian junk? I’m pretty damn sure that was the best thing I’ve ever seen. My other notes for this piece, before universal judges’ praise and Mary screaming her head off basically go like this: “YEAHHHHHHHHH! HAWTT SHIZZ! SHE FUCKING RODE HIS NADS, YO! RADOMKULOUS!” It’s appropriate that Kayla and Max closed the show with this hot samba, because it was a motherfucking SHOWSTOPPER.

SHOWSTOPPAZ!

SHOWSTOPPAZ!

Randi and Evan (Jazz)
Choreography by Tyce DiOrio
Music: “I Only Have Eyes for You” by Jaime Cullum

You all know I am a Tyce complainer, but I only complain about his lesser works because pieces like this show me how absolutely great he can be. Believe me, I will get angry later about his Broadway routine, which was a total fucking disappointment, but this jazz number, like many of his past Jazz numbers (an African one for Pasha and Jessie that was so vivacious, and “Why” for Ivan and Allison in season 2 stick out) was utterly breathtaking and beautiful. I actually got a little misty about how well I could believe the passion between lovers Randi and Evan (and enjoyed the rehearsal package in which Evan said he was worried Randi’s husband might kill him if he got too into character with the married lover of unitards). And how fucking cute was Cat riffing on the prospect of Randi’s man coming from the audience to maim Evan, as well as pretending like she wasn’t a bajillion feet taller than the show’s most “vertically challenged” couple? She’s the best fucking host on television, as none of the corny stuff she pulls ever comes off as anything less than authentic, bubbly and cute as all get out. Randi’s blue dress in this piece was easily my second favorite of the night, and I apparently share part of my brain with Nigel because he also noted how much more beautiful she is when her “Pob” (that’s the Posh Spice bob, for those who have not worn it, as I did for about a year) is curly. I would never be angry with Tyce if he always choreographed this spectacularly for dancers who can dance this beautifully. I think Nigel is totally correct in his assertion that this piece will make Randi and Evan a memorable couple for whom people will pick up the phone. I know I will. (This got an extended woo from Mary, which should have been a full on scream.)

Jeanine and Phillip (Hip-Hop)
Choreography by Tabitha and Napoleon Duomo
Music: “Mad” by Ne-Yo

This was the first piece of the night and, just like last season, TabNap started us off with soulful, slow hip-hop that was a brilliant piece of storytelling. While I miss Shane Sparks a great deal and his particular, hard-hitting brand of hip-hop, I love anything Tabitha and Napoleon choreograph that is, in some small way, inspired by their marriage. Last year, they graced us with two genius pieces, “No Air” for Katee and Josh and “Bleeding Love” for Chelsie and Mark, that will forever flicker in my mind. The Duomos best work comes from their hearts and enacted in the bodies of these dancers, and “Mad” was no exception. They interpreted the lyric in their short piece about why couples shouldn’t go to bed angry, and Jeanine and Phillip executed the rise and fall of this dance very, very well. It was pretty clear to me that Phillip was much better at this than Jeanine, but she did keep up, and for that I commend her. It’s hard to dance with a man whose bones are rubber. This piece was universally loved by the “jidges,” and I think I teared up a little bit at the end of the piece where, after the couple has their fight, they lay back down in bed and Phillip spoons Jeanine with his arm draped over her. Cat Deeley referred to that as “schnoogeying,” which just made it all the more adorable. (Another extended woo from Mary Murphy that should have been a scream.)

The Bizarrely Brilliant Wade Robeson Piece

100% Wade Robeson. 100% Bananas.

100% Wade Robeson. 100% Bananas.

Ashley and Kupono (Jazz)
Choreography by the Bizarrely Brilliant Wade Robeson
Song: “Felt Mountain” by Goldfrapp

I am never unamazed when I see Wade’s choreography. He is always such a unique and strange storyteller, and those are probably the best two words I could use to describe this piece. He created a non-jazz-handed jazz number about two crash test dummies, exploring the idea of “living life like you’ve never been hurt.” Kupono played a broken and used crash test dummy, while Ashley played one that was younger and newer. She described keeping her fingers closed as dancing with “jazz blades,” which was pretty awesome – almost as awesome as the piece itself. The movements were simultaneously jerky and cold, but so fluid that they couldn’t be considered robotic at all. Kupono had a moment during this piece where he held his arms together in an acute angle and then proceeded to perform a very fluid shimmy from his head to his tailbone, like he was both breaking down and coming to life again, which struck me as a movement similar to those Matthew Bourne used to create his Edward Scissorhands ballet. Prior to that movement, though, he reminded me a bit of what Sheldon Cooper would be like were he a crash test dummy. This piece was fucking bananas, but I loved it. Like, I would pay to see a whole show with those characters, that’s how good it was. Freaky. Scary. Awesome. Totally Wade Robeson. My only critique is that I wish Ashley hadn’t smiled quite so much – I understand that her character needed to smile, but it was the manner in which she did it rather than the act itself.

The Good to Very Good

Caitlin and Jason (Bollywood)
Choreography by Nikhul, whose last name I will apparently never learn
Song: “Jai Ho” by A.R. Rachman from the Slumdog Millionaire soundtrack

For me, Jason was spot on in this piece. He danced powerfully and gracefully with hard-hitting execution. There were sections of this where Caitlin was off a little bit, but she always managed to find her footing again rather quickly. (And I’m glad Shankers noticed she was off and commented on it, because I thought I was the only one who saw it. It’s that shared brain we have, apparently.) However, her gymnastics training came in handy during a 15-second handstand, in which she still had to dance with her feet in the air. That was probably her greatest moment in this piece, and its enough to make me forget about her weaker points. This one also got an extended woo from Mary, but not really a full-on scream. Nonetheless, it was very, very good – and I’m so happy to have Bollywood dance on this show! I look forward to the inclusion of more ethnic dancing down the line! (Truly! Let’s go global, SYTYCD!)

Truly, this is one of the most dynamic shots I've ever seen.

Truly, this is one of the most dynamic shots I've ever seen.

Melissa and Ade (Contemporary)
Choreography by Mandy Moore
Song: “Right Here Waiting” by Richard Marx

I’ve always liked Mandy Moore’s choreography, and the piece that stands out the most to me is the piece she created for Sabra and Dominic in season three, which I always remember as being like A Midsummer Night’s Dream. This piece she created for ballerina Melissa and her very, very strong partner Ade was pure loveliness. Both dancers’ lines were beautiful, they looked beautiful together and were so effortless in their performance. For me, Melissa was the standout of the pair, especially because she has amazingly strong legs. She wrapped herself around Ade like a sexy little lemur, and was most amazing when she leapt up behind him and held there for about 20 seconds, only to have him raise her up in the splits over his head and catch her in his arms again in front of his face. This piece got a real, true Mary Murphy scream – not quite of the same caliber as the one received by Kayla and Max, but a real, true scream nonetheless.


Jeanette and Brandon (Foxtrot)
Choreography by Louis Van Amstrel
Song: “Come Fly with Me” by Michael Buble

While the Foxtrot is nowhere near as horrible as the Quickstep, it’s probably one of the least well-received dances on SYTYCD. Couple after couple has fallen due to a disliked Foxtrot, but I doubt such a thing will occur to Jeanette and Brandon. They were graceful, lovely and well-paired. Jeanette’s pink dress for this number was another of my favorites for the night – it just made every single leg extension she did look more compelling and fluid. Brandon was a stellar partner for her, but I was worried about his facial expressions during the dance. I surely thought Nigel was going to call him out on pulling faces, but Nigel actually thought it showed he was dancing with character and personality rather than his usual stoicism/disingenuous smile.


The Mediocre

Karla and Jonathan (Cha Cha)
Choreography by Tony Meredith, who got a new redheaded assistant this year – where’s Melanie?
Song: “Poker Face” by Lady Gaga

Despite my excitement for “Poker Face,” which is probably my summer anthem, there was a point where this piece started sliding a little bit downhill. Karla, former Boogie Bot, just couldn’t get her back into it correctly, and there were definite moments where I knew she wasn’t doing something right. For instance, there was one point where she leaned forward to go into a lift with Jonathan, but she bent herself in entirely the wrong shape, causing a weird lull, after which the dance picked up again when Jonathan slid between her legs, only to fall into another lull because of Karla’s lack of carriage. Shankers saw it, too, which meant I wasn’t alone. He also commented on the fact that Jonathan needs just a skotch more roll to his hips to carry of a Cha Cha properly. No one else seemed to notice, though, that the dead drop in this piece was kind of lame, probably because of Karla’s weak back. It was an okay effort by both dancers, and definitely didn’t live up to the awesomeness of the music. How many more Lady Gaga tracks do you think will hear this season, btw? I fully expect a Maria Torres disco number to “Love Game,” if only because I want to see someone actually take a ride on her partner’s “disco stick.”

The Problematic

Paris and Tony (Hip-Hop)
Choreography by Tabitha and Napoleon Duomo
Song: “Let the Beat Rock (Remix)” by Black Eyed Peas

This piece is how I knew Adam Shankman and I shared a brain: the minute I saw these two take the stage, I took one look at what they were wearing and couldn’t concentrate on their dancing. As such, I can’t really comment on it because I, like Shankers, found the costumes too distracting. The judges were hardly about this piece, though, complimenting Paris on the fact that she danced it well (and dance is really important to her because she crushed her leg in a car accident and thought she might never dance again), and warning Tony that it’s clear he needs serious improvement – even in his own style. Oh my god, you guys, I feel it . . . I feel it coming on . . . here it is: “We could have had two Kasprzak brothers, but instead we got this guy.” If Tony can’t even compete adequately in HIS OWN STYLE, I certainly think we’d have been better off with two Broadway Babies in the Top 20. (By the way, is anyone else with me in the fact that “Broadway” shouldn’t be a dance style, in the same way that animation is not a film genre, because anything can be animated, just like many kinds of dancing appear on Broadway? Maybe that’s an argument for another day, but after five years, and tons of bad Tyce routines, it’s starting to irk me . . . kind of like . . .)

Auska and Vitolio (Broadway)
Choreography by Tyce DiOrio
Song: The worst version of the “Hot Honey Rag” from Chicago that I have ever heard.

Oh, fuck me gently with a chainsaw. This is quite possibly my least favorite Tyce routine ever. Remember how earlier I praised his Jazz piece for its beauty and grace? Neither of those words could be used to describe this fucking debacle. In theory, I liked the concept – a sort of pastiche of Busby Berkeley and Charlie Chaplin, what with the bowlers and the minstrel show gloves and Vitolio’s unfortunate Chaplin-stache that just doesn’t look right at all on a black man from Haiti. But in execution, Tyce did nothing to make this piece anywhere near good. He squandered every opportunity he had to create something fun and interesting, something that would utilize the old-school conventions of popular Broadway dance in the 1920s and 1930s and SUBVERT them, MODERNIZE them and SAY SOMETHING through them. Furthermore, Auska and Vitolio danced it without any life or joy, although did so with great technicality, so the piece felt completely and totally inauthentic and flat. I believe Shankers also used similar words, completing our mind meld. I hated every moment of this, so much so that I wanted to punch Tyce square in the face.

Even they can't stand this number.

Even they can't stand this number.

I definitely think that Karla and Jonathan, Paris and Tony and Auska and Vitolio will be in the bottom three couples tonight, and that the judges will send both Karla and Jonathan home. They should send home Tony, but Nigel seems to have a great deal of faith in him, so he won’t go quite yet until he commits some totally irredeemable offense that can’t partially be blamed on the wardrobe department. So, in advance of tonight’s results show, sorry, Karla, reality dance competition programs just aren’t for you to win. Go back to the Boogie Bots and your national tours of Broadway shows – you may think that isn’t the world for you, but it is. And Jonathan, I’m sure Kenny Ortega will hire you back to work on another installment of High School Musical. I wish you both well.

Other stray thoughts:


  • I thought the majority of the intro solos were kind of lame, except for Phillip Chbeeb’s and Evan Kasprzak, although I might be biased because they’re already my favorite two dancers.
  • I cannot hear “You Found Me” by the Fray without thinking of the Lost promo commercials for season 5, and it makes me really sad that there won’t be more Lost until Jan. 2010.
  • Cat was wearing a dress made out of glittery Greco-Roman spiderwebs and jewels. Someone should wear that to my upcoming Greco-Roman murder mystery. I’d do it myself, but I already am debuting a dress I’m very proud to have purchased one of the last of. Also, I’m not quite a bajillion feet tall like Cat Deeley, so I’m not sure I could pull that white shift off.
  • Good to know that Kupono’s name technically should be pronounced with a long u, if the bar above it is any indication.
  • I like that Mary gave the RoboPuppy in Wade’s piece a ride on the Hot Tamale Train, thus bringing Hot Tamale Train Tickets to 1.25 for this episode.
  • The Official Mary Murphy Scream Count for the episode stands at 2, with 4 enthusiastic woos for backup.
  • Jazz blades!