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It’s down to eight couples, dance fans, and still we have two hours of show to fill up. How, you may ask? Why, with lots of filler, of course! Lots. I actually timed it, and the couples didn’t actually start dancing until 20 minutes into the show, for crying out loud. Sure, we get the obligatory opening dance sequence, with the dancers posturing and posing for the audience, and…wait a minute, here. Does Benji have makeup on? This can’t be good. I guess we’ll see what that’s all about later on. This week’s judges are introduced, and we get ol’ Nigel, Mary (damn), and the team of Olisa and Cicely, who apparently count as one judge. Of course, they show more of the judge’s favorite bad auditions: the scary stalker tap girl, the sweat-stained bee attack girl, and the mink coat-wearing goofball who “exuberates fantasticisms,” whatever the hell that means. Thanks for the trip down memory lane, guys, but let’s get to the dancing! Finally – out come the guest dancers of the week: Hop, Swing, and Jump. Apparently they’re Lindy Hop champions, and hop they do – I don’t think I could keep up with them for more than 30 seconds. After their energetic routine, we get back to the competing couples. And perky-puss Cat, who has perfectly matched her pleated black dress with her dark roots. Time for a touch-up, girl.

Round and Round They Go....
Ashlee and Ben get the first spot of the night, and dig into the mystery hat to pick their dance – it’s hip hop! Good for Ashlee, not so much for Ben. Poor Ashlee has a cold and can’t speak much, so Ben does it for her – and she’s happy about their pick. As expected, Ben has trouble in practice and is told to show his “pimp face.” I don’t think he has one. They perform to “Caught Up” by Usher, and I enjoy the song more than the dance. Ashlee is okay, but Ben is too smooth. His contemporary training is obvious here. Not a bad thing, but this style is definitely not to his advantage. Neither is that skull and crossbones t-shirt. Just, no.
Nigel – Ashlee, you had a good style and a good look. Ben, it wasn’t so much “street” as Rodeo Drive. (The crowd boos, but I think that was hilarious.)
Mary – Aww, he can’t help where he’s from. He did a respectable job. Ashlee, you were outstanding tonight!
Olisa/Cicely – As a group you were good. Ashlee, great job. Ben, I could see contemporary in your turns.

Heidi and Ryan are couple number two, and they get the rumba. The Cuban rumba, to be exact. Heidi thought it was going to be American style, and worries that she’s not familiar with the Cuban. Ryan just has trouble all around, and is told to learn some acrobatic moves. They start the dance to “Rumba Del Solar,” and I was all set to rip on Heidi – but she nailed this one. The African-flavored routine was a blast to watch, and Heidi really got into it. The little white tropical costumes were a nice touch, too. At one point, Ryan was pretending to play drums on Heidi’s behind while the audience whooped it up. Even after that, I still felt like there wasn’t a whole lot of chemistry there – though I’m more impressed with Heidi than I was before. Ryan, not so much. He seems disinterested every time he dances.
Nigel – Heidi, I never thought you had that in you! And Ryan – the way you beat her bongos….!!
Mary – Woo! That was hot, hot, hot! Terrific! (Here she goes again, folks…)

Dancing third tonight is new couple Dmitry and Aleksandra, brought together by the demise of their previous partners last week. They get the waltz, and I'm thinking this may turn out nicely. I was wrong. While both of them are easy on the eyes and make a nice-looking couple, Alex doesn't have much presence on stage. Or passion. Which is hard to understand, considering she's got a smoking partner in Dmitry. He almost makes up for the lack of an Artem cameo tonight. The two dance to "If I Were a Painting" by Kenny Rogers (huh?!) and while Dmitry is his typical gorgeous self, Alex and her radioactive lime green dress drag the performance down. As does the choice of music. Don't get me wrong - I like Kenny's song, but waltz music it ain't. I smell a bottom three appearance for this couple. Poor Dmitry.
Nigel - Dmitry, you're a special dancer. You have passion (girls in the audience scream). Alex, have you ever seen "Corpse Bride"? You have no feeling. It didn't work for me.
Mary - I was hoping for so much more from you, Alex. You were too stiff. Dmitry, you were outstanding!
O/C - You both vibe as a couple. Dmitry, you have such masculine elegance! Great job.

Allison and Ivan are next, and they draw the Argentine tango. Ivan isn't happy, and neither am I. The tango is for big boys, and while I like Ivan well enough, he's still got that high-school boy vibe about him. Not sexy at all, which is what this dance is about. The choreographer tells them this dance is like the "War of the Feet" with lots of leg kicks and interlocks, and Ivan worries that one of those kicks may hit him in the nether regions. They perform to "Libertango" in slick costumes, and it's not bad. Not snappy enough for a tango, though, in my opinion. I'm wondering how much glue it took to keep Allison's barely-there red costume on, and I still think Ivan looks like a little boy playing dress up. The judges disagreed with me:
Nigel - Absolutely incredible! Allison, you were incredible. Ivan, you're having a great journey.
Mary - Ivan, I never wanted you in the top twenty, but you delivered tonight! EEEEEEEEE! (Nigel puts on a pair of headphones at this point to muffle Mary's screeching. Can I borrow those?)
O/C - Ivan, you're a tall drink of dark water. (Huh?) Allison, you're a ball of fire.

Up next is the eyeliner-wearing Benji and his partner Donyelle, and they pick pop jazz as their dance. First - what the heck is pop jazz? It looks just like the pop dancing from last week. And second, who thought it was a good idea to put the freakish makeup on both of them? No, no, no. Please, makeup people - never do this again. Donyelle is supposed to play the role of a diva/supermodel, and Benji is to play a DJ who chases her around. Benji's natural goofiness makes it hard to pull this off, but the couple's strong chemistry helps them do it. Benji says he must tone down the geek, and up the chic. Try all you want, my boy, it isn't happening. They dance to "Put the Needle On It" by Danii Minogue and the judges lavish them with praise once again. It was good, but not jaw-droppingly so.
Nigel - We created real partners with you two. Classy. You go together like champagne and caviar.
Mary - The dancing was fantastic! You two have real chemistry.
O/C - Love you as a couple. Donyelle, you're a Transformer! You nail anything that's thrown at you.

Crowd favorites Natalie and Musa are next, and they pull the quick step as their dance. A look of terror passes over both of their faces, as this style is way out of their comfort zone. They're both game, however, and put their all into learning the steps. Musa has trouble with correct posture and is made to wear a ballroom training bar as Natalie cracks up at the sight. The bar supposedly keeps the shoulders square and the head straight, but will it help with his footwork? They dance to "Zoot Suit Riot," which I thought was another strange song choice for this style. They try their best, but it looks like more of a sloppy gallop than a quick step, and is out of synch in places. At least they wore shoes this time.
Nigel - Musa, you're out of your element, but I love your commitment.
Mary - It wasn't very good, but you have a lot of heart, Musa!
O/C - I agree with Mary. But Musa, you're so sexy anyway! (stop the drooling, girls)

Jessica and Jaymz draw the contemporary dance, which means no shoes. Is there some unwritten rule that says you cannot wear shoes while doing a contemporary dance? Anyway. Choreographer Brian seems to have something against this couple, and is less than thrilled to be working with them. You must have an emotional connection, he tries to pound into their heads. We get it, Brian. Quit being so bitchy and they might, too. Dancing to "Let Go" by Frou Frou (I just love saying that) the pair takes the stage in soft, flowing outfits and they seem to do well. I guess. Contemporary isn't my favorite - I always think it looks like a couple of people that took one too many bong hits and go flitting around the floor in search of that bag of Doritos. But hey, nobody fell on their ass, so it's all good.
Nigel - Beautiful. I loved the freedom of movement.
Mary - You put the "W" in wonderful! (sheesh)
O/C - (clapping) You brought it!

Rounding out the show tonight are Martha and Travis, who have picked hip-hop. Martha is ecstatic, but Travis isn't doing the happy dance. The contemporary dancer had enough trouble with the krump last week, so this makes two times in a row for him. I'm thinking he took his training last week to heart, because his performance to "Just Fine" was too harsh, and Martha's was too smooth. I'm not sure if it was the choreography, or the weird song choice, or the costumes - something was really off with these two tonight. They started off the competition as one of the judge's favorites, but this trainwreck tonight may change that status. Travis' whining during the judge's comments won't help, either.
Nigel - You looked like individuals. You didn't seem to know what style you wanted to dance. The competition is catching up to you...
Mary - You've hit home runs all season, this week was just a triple.
O/C - Travis, you were hitting too hard. You should have been smooth. The picket fence is now bricks!

That's a wrap for tonight. I don't know about you, but I saw a couple very obvious choices for the bottom three - we'll just have to wait and see if the voters agreed. I'd really like to see Dmitry and Natalie paired up in the future.

I'm having a strange craving for Doritos now...waywyrd@fansofrealitytv.com