Error: Twitter did not respond. Please wait a few minutes and refresh this page.
This week, America is reeling from the Tour de France dopiong scandal, the war in Lebanon, and – perhaps most jarring of all – Dmitry’s shocking dismissal from So You Think You Can Dance. Can the new performance episode restore some tiny shred of order and stability to our troubled lives? Let’s all look to Cat and Nigel to show us the way.
I know this recap isn’t up quite as speedily as usual. I’m going to blame this one on my little sister for getting married today (congrats, Becca and Gary). I have given her a stern talking-to and she has promised never to do it again. Meanwhile, Cat is paying tribute to 1979 with her look tonight, which is an ugly shiny shirred teal polyester long-sleeved dress and big hair. She looks kind of like Charo. See? Already, she’s evoking memories of a simpler time, when jazzercise was racy and cutting-edge, and even though you had to wait in line to put gas in your car, it still cost less than a college education. Mere seconds into the show, and already I am soothed.
Actually, my feeling of peace started to materialize even before Cat emerged. One hour before, to be precise, when I realized that the first hour of this two-hour behemoth was a rerun, and so I’ve only got one hour of intensive performance-show recapping ahead of me. I am always so grateful to this show whenever it unexpectedly ransoms an hour of my life. Ah, the Fox network – giver of unexpected gifts.
The dance-in is shockingly short: We’re down to eight dancers, y’all! How did this happen? Allison (in ugly black ankle boots); Benji (in a hideous yellow-and-black tank top); Natalie (hoochie as always); Ivan; Donyelle (in a dress that unnecessarily makes her look gigantic); Travis; Heidi; and Ryan. Yay! I forgot about Ryan, and how happy I was when he didn’t go home last week. Let’s see if my rooting power works for him again. Meanwhile, I have to agree with the commenter who posted that Ivan seems totally out of his league in this crowd. He’s cute and everything, but I think it’s time.
Cat intros the judges: Nigel, Mary, and Dan Karaty. Pretty good panel, I’d say. They don’t talk at all, which is odd. Cat says we have to get right to it, and with only one hour I suppose she’s right. Donyelle is first to draw her partner, and she gets Travis. They then draw hip-hop and the quickstep – ooh, nice combination. I notice that the show has switched things up a little, so that now they draw both dance styles on the same piece of paper. I guess this ensures that every pair will have to do two dramatically different styles, rather than having to do, say, the Spanish waltz and then the Italian waltz, or West Coast hip-hop and then East Coast hip-hop, or whatever other overly specific and overly similar styles might be on offer at the moment.
Their first choreographer is Shane Sparks. He interviews that he’s going to do something different and “animalistic.” Then he tells Travis, “You have to become a monkey.” And, okay. I guess I have to officially abandon my earlier position that Travis was being culturally insensitive when he said that a previous hip-hop (or crunk?) routine made him feel like King Kong. I think Shane has just brought this whole genre of comparison to a never-before-approached level; apparently, it’s fine to compare dancing hip-hop to acting like a monkey. Teaches me a lesson. Also, Donyelle does not have to be a monkey. She has to be a kangaroo. This is all we learn about their routine during rehearsal.
Then they dance. They are wearing jeans, baggy sweatshirts, and bizarro white masks that completely cover their faces so that if you didn’t know it was Donyelle and Travis, you wouldn’t be able to tell. I can’t stop thinking about how hot and sweaty they must be jumping around under those stage lights in all those clothes. Partway through the routine, they turn their backs to us and lower their hoods, and they have additional freaky white mask faces on the backs of their heads – or rather, on the backs of the ski masks they’re wearing, which must make them even hotter. It’s all a little Friday the 13th. The dance itself is pretty nondescript. I don’t notice anyone acting like either a monkey or a kangaroo. Am I the only one who’s noticed that there rarely seems to be any connection between what we see in rehearsal and what we see onstage?
Nigel says that the masks detracted from the dancers’ performances, by hiding their eyes. He also acknowledges that that’s not their fault. Mary says she loved the concept. Mary is wearing some sort of lingerie gone wrong – black satin, with lace trim, and it’s too tight in the bust and shoulders. She points out that the masks upped the difficulty level for the dancers. Yes, but the fact that it’s hard to perform doesn’t mean it’s necessarily fun to watch. Dan Karaty says that the dance had tons of potential, but they didn’t pull their dancing up to the level they needed to. He calls it “pretty hot,” which sounds like about a B-minus, from the way he says it.
After the commercial, Allison draws Ivan. Weird – I assumed these drawings were rigged so that no one could draw someone they’ve partnered in the past. It seems unfair to let these two dance together again; they have tons of practice at that by now. They draw hip-hop and Argentine tango. And again, they’ve already done Argentine tango; Ivan even shows up to rehearsal wearing a fedora which might be the same fedora he wore before. Granted, their previous tango was one of the best dances I’ve seen on this show. But if I’m going to see this style again, I’d rather see it on another couple.
The choreographer is Alex Da Silva. His plan is apparently to give them a more advanced tango than the one they had last time. Once more, we don’t see much rehearsal footage. The dance is really fun to watch – I love the drama of the tango, and the cool shoes, and the music, and the hat. But the novelty has worn off; it was all better the first time they did it. Nigel says it was tremendous, although Ivan wobbled a few times. Mary says this dance was déjà vu, but she means that in a good way; she says it was hot. Dan says that earlier in the season, Allison “worked [Ivan] all over the stage,” but this time, he worked her. I have no idea what that means, but everybody likes it. I will say that the only time I’ve thought these two had chemistry has been during their two tangos.
Natalie draws Ryan; they pick contemporary and disco. Disco is up first, with Doriana Sanchez. Have we seen this woman before? She looks like a reject from the auditions to replace Elvira, Mistress of the Dark. She frightens me. I am not looking forward to this, because I’ve now been convinced that the only good thing about the disco routines on this show is the clothes. Natalie and Ryan dance to “Turn the Beat Around.” It’s, well, it’s a disco routine. Ryan’s clothes are my favorite part – an ugly brown/purple vest, and flared jeans in that weirdo seventies light-blue color.
Then all of a sudden the dance gets a lot better. There’s a sequence of great footwork, and then a very impressive lift with a split. These two are good together. Natalie’s crotch is, of course, a featured performer with its own solo, but you probably didn’t need me to tell you that. All in all, I enjoy this dance much more than I expected to. We see Dmitry in the crowd holding a “Vote 4 Natalie” sign. Nigel says Natalie is fiery, but Ryan wasn’t strong enough; his water was putting out Natalie’s fire. BOO! I disagree. Mary says the chemistry between Natalie and Ryan is not believable; basically, she hated the dance. Dan says it was painful, and he feels bad for Natalie. I think the judges all suck. Disco is good for Ryan, in my humble opinion. He’s so understated, and disco is so over-the-top, and it balances out well.
Cat seems to be feeling bad about all the abuse Ryan is taking, so she cuts in to ask the audience if they had fun. Oh, that Cat – always ready to make an awkward moment more awkward. Ryan doesn’t seem especially bothered by any of it. My interpretation is that he’s resigned to going home this week. Hope not, but he has that look about him, like he’s given up the fight.
The last couple is Heidi and Benji; Cat points out that they’re cousins and this is the first time they’ve danced as partners. I assume she means the first time on the show, and not the first time in their entire lives, but who knows. This reminds me that I am a little disappointed that we never got to see the pairing of real-life partners Heidi and Dmitry. I bet that would have been really great (assuming they had drawn ballroom).
For some reason, we have to watch Heidi draw Benji as her partner, even though he’s the only one left. Heidi seems surprised when she pulls his name. Maybe they didn’t draw in the same order that we’re seeing, and she wasn’t actually the last to pick? Who knows. Anyway, they pick mambo and Broadway. Ooh – those are two juicy ones. Broadway never fails to entertain me, and Heidi obviously puts on a great show whenever she does a ballroom number. And, as you know, Benji is just my favorite no matter what. But wait. Isn’t mambo, like, a sexy dance? Are they supposed to act like they have “chemistry”? Ew. This is worse than Passions.
We’ll have to find out about the incest quotient later, because they’re dancing Broadway first, courtesy of Tyce DiOrio. The dance has “churchy, revival” influences, and we see them briefly playing “old-time preacher” in rehearsal. Their song is from Dreamgirls, which I am sad to say I’ve never seen. This is bad news for Heidi. I think this dance showcases one of the few styles to which she is really not suited. She doesn’t have any, er, soul. Benji, on the other hand, is totally in his element. He’s wearing a skinny tie, which is one of my fave looks for him. Watching this, I wish he was dancing it with Donyelle. That would be awesome.
Nigel does the least convincing fake-out ever, pretending that he has nothing to say and holding his face all serious for a minute, and then busting out with a “Hallelujah!” He says the two of them have the best chemistry of the night, and again I saw, EW. Mary says “Amen!” Okay, guys, this joke is getting old. Mary says she was so happy for them when they drew each other to dance. Why? Were the two of them just dying to dance together all along? I don’t know. I bet their grandparents or whoever were excited to see it, but I thought they were just so-so as a couple. Which is as it should be! Gah! They’re cousins! Do any of y’all remember these Canadian Olympic ice dancers called the Duchesnays? They were brother and sister, yet I once saw them do this bondage-inspired routine. It was so gross. And suddenly, yet another bizarre link between So You Think You Can Dance and French Canadians is uncovered. The evidence of the conspiracy is building.
Ahem. Back to the show. Dan says that Broadway could use two dancers like these two. Well, Benji, for sure. But again, I think Heidi is a little soulless for this type of performance. She seems like a robot programmed to execute her way through. Incidentally, a girl in the crowd is holding a sign asking Benji to father her child. That is a truly excellent idea.
After the judging, Cat recaps that each pair has danced once, and after the break, they will all dance again. And this seems like as good a time as any to point out that they are NOT dancing solos this week – nobody is. I don’t get it, because such a big deal was made last week of the fact that solos were being added to the performance show. I understand that with only an hour of performances this week, there just wasn’t time, but it seems strange that Cat and Nigel aren’t even going to mention this sudden (yet another) format change. On the other hand, I’m thrilled, because last week I had to recap twenty dances, and this week, there are only eight.
Right before the commercial, Cat tells us, “See you on the other side.” She’s saying it to us – to “America.” That sure does sound apocalyptic. It’s a bit much as a signoff before going to commercial, don’t you think? It’s more like what you’d say before detonating a bomb and blowing up the entire auditorium full of people, or before parachuting out of a plane to escape from the authorities. It’s not what a person would say before a separation brought about by a COMMERCIAL, and lasting a grand total of maybe four minutes. Does Cat write her own lines, or what? I would love to know.
Next are Donyelle and Travis, dancing the quickstep. The choreographer is Glen Weiss, whom I can’t remember ever having seen before. Donyelle describes the quickstep as a “hopscotch marathon.” That’s a pretty good characterization. Sadly, for the actual dance, Donyelle has been dressed in the most horribly unflattering thing she could ever wear. Somebody in wardrobe clearly hates her this week. I don’t think she’s up to her usual standard; Travis, on the other hand, seems born to dance the quickstep. Because his feet are really … quick. Yeah.
Nigel says that they did a good job of faking it – they didn’t really have the correct style for the quickstep. He says that Donyelle’s hopscotch analogy is wrong; they’re supposed to “skim” across the floor. Then he compares Travis to the Gingerbread Man from Shrek, all jerky and stiff. Travis seems to actually find this funny. Shows you how much I know, because the part of the dance that gets re-aired to illustrate this stiff-legged “Gingerbread Man” point was one of my favorite parts of the dance. Fire me as a dance critic RIGHT NOW.
Mary continues her pattern tonight of fakeouts, acting like she’s going to say something nice (she also did this to Natalie and Ryan) and then going on to savage the routine. She says the best part was when it ended. Ouch. Dan piles it on, saying that he loves to disagree with Nigel and Mary … but he’s not going to! PSYCH! He says it “wasn’t there,” and Donyelle and Travis are having a rough night. Donyelle says that she’s taking notes for next week, and she’s perfectly lovely with the way she says it. Wow, this is really the first time that she’s taken any degree of criticism. Travis, too. It’s odd, because they are two of the best dancers; you’d think they’d be great together. I think they are mainly victims of the choreography tonight.
Allison and Ivan are up next with hip-hop and Shane Sparks. Again, yawn; we’ve seen this exact configuration before. This time, though, Shane has a new idea: “I want it to seem like they’re from two different places, and they’re thinking about each other, and it’s raining.” Hee. How do you make it seem like it’s raining? Well, that’s easy: You make them hold umbrellas. Shane gets annoyed with them continually dropping the umbrellas, and he says that the next person who drops one has to do fifty push-ups. Then he drops his by accident. He tries to weasel out, but we see him doing push-ups with Allison perched on his back. If he can do fifty like that, at that speed, he’s the baddest-ass choreographer in all the land.
Their song is “Sexy Love” by Ne-Yo. I want to clarify the reason why I am not familiar with Ne-Yo and Chris Brown. Some have speculated that it has to do with what type of radio station I do or don’t listen to, but actually, it probably has more to do with the fact that I don’t listen to the radio at all, and I don’t have cable so I can’t even remember the last time I saw a video. The singers that I know about are the ones who show up in Us Weekly or on various trashy websites. Once I’ve heard of someone, if I happen to stumble across their music, I’ll go out of my way to listen to it. Otherwise, I just listen to all the music I already have. I now recognize that this is not the best system for locating good music, and I have made a resolution to start listening to the radio more. Just another little quality-of-life improvement brought to me courtesy of this show.
I thought the umbrellas were going to be a stupid gimmick, but they actually work really well; they get swung around in unison and add some visual interest for the first few seconds. Then, wisely, the dancers dump them entirely until the very end of the routine. It’s a good dance; this song, which is not hip-hop at all but kind of easy-listening R&B, mellows everything out. Nigel liked this number; he says it showed the softer side of hip-hop, with no aggression and no booty-spanking. Ivan tries to high-five Allison, but she leaves him hanging and kisses his neck instead. Awkward. Mary thought the dance was “really beautiful,” and she compliments Shane. Dan follows in the same vein, saying that Shane usually does hard, energetic stuff, and it’s even more difficult to design a hip-hop routine that shows feeling. He says Allison and Ivan were “perfect.”
Post-commercial, it’s what I view as Ryan’s Last Stand. Come on, Ryan! Win this one for the team! Luckily, this number is going to be contemporary, which I hate, but which is Ryan’s strength (and I guess Natalie’s too). Tyce is the choreographer, which is too bad – I wish they had Mia Michaels. Ryan interviews that Natalie is the partner he’s been waiting for all along. Yeah, I forgot about that. When they first got their partners assigned, Ryan was kind of rude to Heidi because he’d wanted Natalie so much. Now, he practically starts drooling talking about her. “How can you go wrong with Natalie? It’s, it’s Natalie, Natalie.” Natalie says that Ryan follows her around like a little puppy, which is fine with her. I kind of think Ryan wants to BE Natalie, y’all.
The song is by BoyzIIMen, so more R&B. Natalie is still displaying far too many body parts, but she and Ryan both look good, in very simple white outfits that look like they’d be nice for wearing to sleep in the summer. The dance is just a bunch of moving around and putting their bodies into very graceful curves. It’s very floaty. I guess it’s “contemporary,” but it’s not at all avant-garde or weird.
Nigel liked this one. He gushes some more about his big old crush on Natalie, and then he says that this time, Ryan showed why he’s here, with his beautiful lines. We certainly have heard a lot about how Ryan has beautiful lines and beautiful extensions, but I can’t argue with it. He’d be great at ballet. Nigel says the whole thing was generally beautiful. Mary says that both Natalie and Ryan will have long careers. Blah blah, Natalie pretty, Ryan extension. Mary, here’s a dollar. Buy yourself an original thought. (Not saying she never has one, but she sure didn’t this time; she almost veered into Cicely-and-Olisa territory.) Dan says they looked beautiful and danced it as though they were the only ones in the room, with no nerves or tension at all.
Heidi and Benji again, with the mambo. Sorry, it’s called the “club mambo.” What the hell does that mean? Next week there will be a “Peruvian mambo” and then a “Norwegian mambo,” followed by a “smooth mambo” and then a “crunchy mambo.” We get Alex Da Silva again, and he says this is going to be a really, really fast mambo. He spins his assistant around in a circle at roughly the speed of light. Heidi’s eyes get big. Benji says, “Holy poo!” HA HA – I might have to start using that one, Benji. Also, this makes me kind of love Alex Da Silva, because it’s really mean and hilarious to just make Heidi and Benji spin around like crazy until they barf. Oh, please, please let one of them barf (Heidi, obviously).
The dance is, yikes, great. Benji is wearing a black suit with a hysterical white kerchief around his neck. Folks, the only word for this is “flamboyant,” and I mean that in the most positive sense. Benji’s pants have this little silver stripe down the side, which is what Bob Dylan’s pants always have when he performs, and this makes me love Benji even more, if such a thing is possible. There is much swiveling of hips, and it’s all incredibly stylish and peppy. This dance is fantastic. The sex quotient is nowhere near as high as I feared, and anyway it doesn’t matter, because they’re so good that I forget who is actually dancing and whether or not they happen to be blood relatives. This dance is so good that I want to watch it again.
The crowd chants for Benji, and not for Heidi, which they also did after the first dance. Harsh. Nigel makes a joke about Benji wearing one of Dmitry’s old shirts. Yeah, Benji’s chest is technically bare, but that ruffly pirate kerchief covers most of it. We see Dmitry in the audience again. He looks perfectly content.
Nigel says that this dance has “so many superlatives attached to it.” He uses this as a launching point to hype up the show, saying, “This is why we got more than eight million votes last week.” Wow – a few weeks ago they were vaguely alluding to “hundreds of thousands.” That is quite a huge improvement, if true. Nigel also says that “we are America’s number-one summer-season show,” and he says that the show has already been picked up by Fox for a third season. Yay! But I hope it’s not until next summer, because bringing it back before that would kill it, I think.
Nigel says this was the best dance of the night. Well, by far. I think the only question is whether it was the best dance of the season. He praises them both specifically for how great they are as partners; he also mentions how synchronized they were on the “toe-heel steps,” and he calls the dance “magnificent.” Mary tries another fake-out, but in the opposite direction, bullshitting that their choreographer let them down before delivering the totally obvious “I’m only kidding! It was brilliant!” This stupid psych-you-out tactic is really starting to fall flat; doing it once is funny, but after that it’s just annoying and a waste of oxygen.
Mary says that Heidi and Benji are the only two dancers on the show who could have done such a fast and well-partnered mambo. I guess that’s true, now that Dmitry is gone. Dan says that this was the most professional-looking routine we’ve seen all season. I agree, and I wonder momentarily how much of that we really want. I mean, this show would not be as much fun if it were composed of all competitive-caliber ballroom dancers. On the other hand, I don’t think they should be excluded; we’re looking for the best dancer. So I am still pretty delighted with this routine. Dan says he can come up with absolutely nothing to criticize. Nigel says that they have to do that routine on the tour, and he’d even pay to see it. Yay, tour! Now I have something to live for. Yup, I’d pay to see that too.
So, this week, even though we only saw partner dances, “America” still has to vote for individual dancers. I still think Ivan should go home, even though he did a decent job this week. But I must admit that Ryan is the second-weakest; on the other hand, Travis did have a rough week, as Dan said. Really, it’s only Benji who should be a mortal lock to stay. For the girls, Donyelle probably had the worst night, but she’s so great overall. Neither Natalie nor Allison is quite as good as she is; I hope one of them goes, and I don’t care which one. And even though I went into this episode expecting it to be Heidi’s swan song, and even though her personality grates, if she is sent home after that mambo, it will be a gross injustice.
Can’t wait for the results show – I’ll get the recap up as fast as I can. See you soon!