Last night, the competition really began, as the Top 20 performed on stage for the first time. “Tonight, the journey ends for one guy and one gull,” Cat Deeley says. Cobrastyle by Robyn begins, but there are still people sweeping up the stage. A few of the guy dancers creep out of the audience, dressed in shades of gray, with heavy eye make-up on. The judges relax and talk amongst themselves. The female dancers also emerge slowly and scarily from the audience in colorful rags and messy hair. Nigel’s empty chair spins.
The Top 20 emerge on stage, carrying Nigel who is bound and gagged, wide-eyed and terrified. It’s obviously a Wade Robson routine, so I’d be scared too. Don’t get me wrong, I think the man is brilliant, but I don’t want to imagine the stuff that must be going on in his head. The whole thing is surreal and Michael Jackson’s “Thriller”-esque. The song concludes, and the dancers scatter offstage as Cat comes out to ‘save’ Nigel. She takes the gag out of his mouth, and he says, “Let’s be kind to the dancers this year. They’re evil!” Nigel slowly makes his way off stage, still tied up. Thanks Cat.
After Cat introduces the judges (Dan Karaty, Mary Murphy, and Nigel Lythgoe), the first three couples appear on stage. Twitch and Kherington (I’m going to have so many problems spelling that name this season) performed a Broadway routine by Tyce Diorio. I was actually quite surprised by Twitch’s performance. He was by no means perfect, but he did a lot better than I would expect from a hip-hopper. America enjoyed their performance as well, and they are safe.
Chesea and Thayne (another interesting name) sizzled with a cha-cha routine by Tony Meredith. I have to admit, they were incredibly hot. Well, mostly just Chelsea, but that’s how most Latin dances are. They earned a spot on Mary Murphy’s “Hot Tamale Train.” Cat moves on to the next couple though before revealing their vote results.
Chelsie and Mark tackled the mind challenge that is a Mia-Michaels contemporary piece. Chelsie, despite her ballroom background, did quite well outside of her comfort zone. Both couples are safe though, and there is so much rejoicing and screaming, you think they won the whole competition already.
Matt (who is all legs, I swear) and Kourtni (this season is a prime example of the “funky-spelling-baby-name” generation) danced Mandy Moore’s jazz routine. I thought they definitely looked the ‘80s Euro part. However, Nigel didn’t think they had enough personality to connect with the audience. He’s right because they are the first couple in tonight’s Bottom Three.
Susie and Marquis danced a smooth waltz that I thought was a very good start for them. It wasn’t perfect by any means, but it was pretty darn good for two people who had never waltzed before. And Susie kept her professionalism when one of the lifts didn’t go quite as rehearsed. Slow and elegant performances like these are a lot more susceptible to unpopularity than the rompin’ stompin’ hip-hop numbers, and Nigel worried that voters wouldn’t appreciate the full skill that the waltz requires. However, they are safe, so I suppose voters can recognize elegance when they see it.
Comfort and Chris danced jive, despite Comfort dislocating her shoulder in a rehearsal earlier that evening. They were full of life and pizzazz, though I did feel that the routine was a teeny bit slow for jazz. Cat moves on to the next couple before revealing the results.
Rayven and Jamie performed a hip-hop routine that was so bouncy and childish, it should have been referred to as Hip-Hop-Lite. Nigel didn’t think their performance, which was the first of the evening, would be memorable by the end of the show when viewers would be asked to vote. Once again, America gets it right, putting them in the Bottom Three. Nigel once again remarks on the dance’s lack of brilliance and also wonders if Rayven pulling down Jamie’s pants offended viewers. Please. This is FOX.
We review Katee and Joshua’s interpretive hip-hop. Oh. Em. Gee. Awesome. Theirs was, by far, my favorite performance of the evening. What I liked most is the way they were able to dance in sync, but not as clones. Their moves were completely together, but you could see each of their individual styles merging together to result in a beautiful mix. Joshua was able to dance “masculine,” without being too aggressive, while Katee was soft and graceful without losing the hard-hitting passion of the piece. They were definitely #1 in my book. Obviously, they’re safe.
The final couple in danger tonight is either Jessica and Will or Courtney and Gev. Jessica and Will danced a smoking hot tango that was strong, passionate, and wonderful. Courtney and Gev hit the stage with a disco that was a bit… “eh.” I thought they performed the moves well, but they didn’t look like they were having any fun! Gev had this “Grrr”-angry face the whole time. As Dan Karaty said, it was “pretty good.” The final couple SHOULD be Courtney and Gev, but it’s not. It’s Jessica and Will. Even the audience is like, “Wha?” Dan Karaty, without hesitation, says they do not belong in tonight’s Bottom Three.
The dancers prepare to perform their solos, while we watch “a real legend.” Two members of The Electric Boogaloos dance to Zapp’s I Can Make You Dance. It’s a nice throwback to old-school popping, locking, and breakdancing. Do kids today even know what cardboard-on-the-street boom-box-blasting breakdancing is? And when did I begin saying things like “kids today”? I should not be feeling old at 28.
Kourtni Lind is the first to “dance for her life” in her area of expertise: contemporary. She dances to a cover of I Wanna Dance with Somebody by The Side Project. Sometimes I have to wonder, just how much can a contemporary dancer do in 30 seconds, given that all their moves are slow and artsy?
Next is Matt (to Baby’s Romance by Chris Garneau) who is doing a lot of twirling and tip-toeing. I’m sure there are better, more technical names for that, but I don’t know them.
Dancing to the intro of As I Am by Alicia Keys is Rayven, looking very all over the place. And why does her 30 seconds feel so much shorter than the others?
Jamie rips off his vest at the opening beat of Sergio Mendes’ Mas Que Nada, for dramatic effect I guess. Ballroom guys have it roughest in these solos, I think, because they’re specifically trained not to bring attention to themselves. As cute as he is, I think his Latin moves (in this solo anyway) are a bit raw and uncontrolled.
Jessica hits the stage with Misery Business by Paramore and plenty of flips, running back and forth, and hair tosses. I’m not seeing the focus in her dance either. Do these dancers actually plan their solos, or do they just figure, “Eh, I’ll wing it”?
Will is the last soloist, dancing to Gavin DeGraw’s More than Anyone. He exemplifies what a contemporary piece should be: interesting and emotive despite the short time limit.
The judges go backstage to deliberate and to hide from tonight’s musical guests, The Pussycat Dolls. It is nice to see Nicole back where she belongs: in a GROUP. Hey, wait a minute. Didn’t there used to be seven of them? I’m only counting five. Someone e-mail me and tell me I’m not crazy. There were seven once upon a time, right? And whatever happened to that chick who “earned” a place on the PCD via a reality show?
The judges are back, and they call the Bottom Three girls forward. Nigel announces that they are unanimous in their decision, complimenting Kourtni before telling her that she is safe. He goes on to say that neither Rayven’s solo nor Jessica’s solo was strong enough. But because they HAVE to pick one of them, they choose Jessica. How’s that for an explanation? Rayven appreciates the (short) experience she’s had so far, and then we watch the typical FOX going-home video clip.
Up next are the boys. Nigel tells Will that the judges are disappointed to see him in the Bottom Three, but they were very happy to see him dance. He doesn’t know why Will was in the Bottom Three, especially since he believes that the dancer has every facility to make it to the Top 4. (Don’t jinx it, Nigel!) Will is safe, of course. Nigel praises Jamie’s personality and Matt’s technique, wishing he could have both of them in one dancer. “We do believe in growth in this program, so tonight – and only tonight – we will be going with technique over personality.” Matt is staying, and Jamie is going home. Ah well. Cute lil Jamie may be going home early, but hey, at least he can say millions of people have seen him in his tighty-whities.
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