Welcome to week 500 of So You Think You Can Dance! Okay, maybe it only feels like week 500. It does seem like this season started months and months ago. I think there was still snow on the ground.
This week, each dancer will be performing four times: twice with a partner, once in a solo and again in a group number choreographed by season 2 runner up (and my personal favorite) Travis Wall. The show will go on forever….or at least it will feel like it.
Joining judges Mia Michaels, Mary Murphy and Nigel Lithgoe at the judging table this week is, inexplicably, Ellen DeGeneres. Yes, that Ellen. Why? I have no idea, unless the producers consider the full body seizures she has on her show to be dancing. Can you tell I’m not a fan? Apparently, since last week, Nigel has been given an honorary Doctorate from the University of Bedfordshire and he’s pretty proud of it. He’s also proud that tomorrow’s show will be the 100th episode. Mary calls her experience with the show a big roller coaster ride that keeps getting better and better (and louder and louder). Mia, who has been nominated for three Emmys as a result of her work on the show, is obviously happy about her involvement with the series. She does admit that, as a choreographer, it gets harder and harder to outdo herself and find new inspiration.
First up tonight is the group number choreographed by Travis Wall. The top 8 perform to “Let it Rock” by Kevin Rudolf with Lil Wayne and it’s kind got a Lady GaGa vibe. They’re all in black with lights attached to their heads and forearms. I can’t tell one dancer from the other. The routine is terrific, but I hate not being able to pick out specific people. The judges all love the routine and praise Travis and his choreography. Ellen attempts to be funny and fails. Alarmingly, Mia pledges her love for the costumes and vows to wear one on Thursday’s show. Let’s hope that’s just an idle threat.
Before the first couple dances, Cat buys them some time to change by talking about the 100th episode and all the fabulous things that will happen on that show.
Janette and Evan
Janette and Evan are the first “new” couple this week and, for their first routine, they’ll be performing a Jazz routine choreographed by Sonya Tayeh, who tells us that the routine is about wanting people to shut up. Janette and Evan will spend the routine putting their hands over each other’s mouths. In rehearsal, Evan has trouble with the movement Sonya requires. In the end, they both do okay. I’m not bowled over by this one.
Nigel calls them “two little stars” and compliments Evan on finally stepping up his game. Janette, he says, was absolutely wonderful. Ellen is not funny and, frankly, unless she says anything of substance, I’m ignoring her. Mary says the routine was a lot of fun and says that, while Evan did a good job, he could have been rougher at the end. Janette can’t take a wrong step. Mia tells Evan he’s taken a step in the right direction with this routine, but knows he won’t ever be the dark, twisted freak of a dancer that Sonya requires. She calls Janette her favorite dancer of the season.
Each of the top 8 will be performing a solo tonight and, frankly, there’s not much new ground covered here. They each get their time and they perform a solo we’ve all pretty much seen before. There’s really no point in recapping it. They all perform a solo (Kayla’s comes at this point in the show). End of story. Moving on….
Jeanine and Brandon
Is getting the Waltz the kiss of death? Maybe. Jeanine and Brandon will have to wait and see. They work with choreographer Hunter Johnson, who states the obvious: the Waltz isn’t easy for either Jeanine or Brandon. They’re not familiar with the movement or with the names or the steps.
They dance to “May it Be,” that song from Lord of the Rings and I immediately check out Brandon’s feet. Now that would be some funny stuff if he was decked out like a hobbit, while Jeanine had herself some elf ears. Alas, it’s a regular old Waltz. Boo. Jeanine is in yellow and Brandon is wearing dark pants with a shirt and vest. It’s better than I expected and it’s clear Brandon is a very strong partner. I manage to stay awake even though the music is S-L-O-W. Seriously. It’s like the cure for insomnia.
Nigel says it was an extremely tough routine, made tougher by the fact that they had to dance to AudioValium. The music felt like pulling teeth, he says. Word. Because the music was so slow, they needed to control their movements more than they did. Ellen again is not funny. Mary agrees with Nigel that a slow Waltz requires a lot of control and, while it was a respectable Waltz, they could have done better. Because of their training, Mia expected them to be better, She tells them that the Waltz usually takes her away and this one didn’t.
Melissa and Ade
Old partners Melissa and Ade are back together again. First, they will dance a Cha Cha choreographed by Tony Meredith and Melanie Lapatin. He tells us that the technique with this dance is probably the most challenging. It’s not a bad number, but at this stage of the game, “not bad” isn’t really cutting it.
Nigel says Melissa and Ade did a pretty good job, but cautions Melissa about her turn out: turning out her hips too much affects the movement of her hips. Ade could’ve sizzled a bit more, but he did a good job with some lovely choreography. Ellen says they nailed it. Mary says they nailed the routine in execution, but says Ade was dancing with his bum too high: he needed to drop his hip weight. Melissa’s feet were too turned out, Mary says, but then they were too turned in. She wonders if Melissa wasn’t putting in too much effort. Mia says this was Ade’s worst performance of the season. Ouch. Mia thinks Melissa did a good job, for a ballerina. Because of her training, Melissa had to break down her alignment and let go of her hips: she did an excellent job.
Kayla and Jason
Working with Tyce Diorio, Kayla and Jason will be dancing a Broadway routine. Let’s hope Kayla does better with this routine than she did with her last Broadway number. They will portray a man caught up in the music and a woman wanting to take his attention away. They dance to “Mr. Monotony” from Jerome Robbins Broadway and, good God, her legs are a mile long. All in all, I thought it was lovely.
Nigel starts off praising this style of dance, saying it will go on and on. Jason’s feet were terrific and Kayla’s lines were beautiful. Nigel calls this routine one of the best of the evening so far. Considering there’ve only been four routines, that’s not exactly high praise. Ellen rambles. Mary calls it a fabulous number that flowed effortlessly. Jason was cool and suave. Kayla is still riding first class on Mary’s Crazy Train. She screams. I mute. Mia claims to be the only sane one on the panel. Sadly, she may be right. She loved the piece and its fusion of different dance styles. She urges Jason to open up his upper body more. Mia then asks Kayla if she acts or sings because she thinks Kayla would take Broadway by storm. She then goes into fangirl territory, saying that, in the dictionary under “girl,” “perfection” and “star” there’s a picture of Kayla.
Janette and Evan
For their second dance tonight, Janette and Evan will be dancing a Rumba choreographed by Tony Meredith and Melanie Lapatin. Tony tells us that this style requires passion and sensuality. Evan is totally screwed. They dance to “Heartless” by Kris Allen. Yeah, because nothing screams passion and sensuality like Kris Allen. Unfortunately, the song is just too slow. Boo to the producers on that music choice. The lighting is also horrid: it’s dark and blue and you can’t even see Janette and Evan very well.
Nigel loved the choreography, but says it’s a hard style to get viewer votes with. Janette has this one down pat, but Evan didn’t have any passion in his face. Ellen jumps in and says that she loves Evan’s face. Mary says Evan did a really good job with some tough choreography. This style is definitely easier to do when the tempo is a bit faster. Mary calls Janette a hot tamale. Mia agrees with Ellen about Evan’s dreamy eyes. She says that not everyone has to be stunning and that what Evan brings to the stage is unique.
Jeanine and Brandon
Almost every routine on this show has some sort of character or story to it. This time, the story is the dancers: they won’t be thinking, but feeling in a pop jazz routine choreographed by Laurieann Gibson. Wearing costumes that are a cross between fatigues and cave man chic, Jeanine and Brandon dance to “Battlefield” by Jordin Sparks. What is this, American Idol night? The routine is hard hitting and Brandon is incredible. I hardly notice Jeanine, although she didn’t do too terribly or she would have distracted me from Brandon.
Nigel says that, now that we’ve reached the top 8, this is what he expects from all of the dancers. He says this was the flattest night he’s ever experienced on the show until this routine. He praises the strong dancing and choreography. I’m ignoring Ellen. Mary calls the routine strong and dynamic and then pulls out an actual train whistle. Was that really necessary? Mia says Laurieann Gibson doesn’t do anything unless she’s convicted to move and says that routine was more than just dance. Brandon was such a powerhouse and Jeanine actually kept up with him. Wow, Mia says. She congratulates them both.
Melissa and Ade
For me, this is where the night begins. If you missed this routine, go to YouTube right now and watch. Tyce Diorio’s Contemporary routine deals with a woman with breast cancer. As soon as I hear the opening notes to “This Woman’s Work” (here, sung by Maxwell, although I’m partial to the Kate Bush version), I’m in tears. I can cry just thinking about this song. The routine is emotional and powerful and Melissa and Ade are perfect. She, in a simple outfit and a purple scarf tied around her head, is the star, but Ade is powerful and strong. Not to get too fawny, but this is the kind of routine that shows how powerful dance can be and that makes me miss dancing. A lot.
Nigel, holding back tears, says that this is why he loves dance so much: you can express so many emotions without words. If this isn’t nominated for an Emmy next year, he’ll be surprised. He calls it one of the most memorable routines of the series and he can’t think of a better couple to have danced it. Incredible. Ellen takes a break from the “comedy” and praises Melissa and Ade, saying she feels so privileged to be there. Mary is, of course, crying. The routine was danced so beautifully. It was a joy to see. Predictably, Mia is also in tears. She calls the routine an impressive piece of work. Mia lost her father to cancer, so it felt more personal for her. She calls Melissa an angel and then thanks Tyce (also in tears in the audience), Melissa and Ade.
Kayla and Jason
How’d you like to follow THAT? Kayla and Jason have the unenviable task of performing next. They work with Shane Sparks on a hip hop routine in which Jason plays a zombie and Kayla is his mistress. It’s very violent, with Jason flinging Kayla around. Shane says their bodies should feel like dead weight. They dance to "They're Everywhere" by Izza Kizza and it’s a kind of Britney meets A Clockwork Orange kind of a thing.
Nigel loved the very Michael Jackson-inspired choreography from Shane. Nigel’s been a bit disappointed with the hip hop routines this season, but he really enjoyed this one. Mary says Kayla and Jason did exactly what Shane wanted them to do. She screams for both of them. I pray for laryngitis to strike her down before next week. Mia calls this her favorite Shane Sparks piece ever, saying it was disturbingly hot. She says it was a great performance for them both.
So, the night started out a little lackluster, but finished with a bang. Will any of this matter when two dancers are eliminated tomorrow? Probably not. Still, stay tuned for another fab recap from iguanachocolate, whose recap will definitely be more entertaining than whatever hot mess Katie Holmes produced for the 100th episode. I’ll see you all next week when we’re down to six dancers and (please God) one hour!