Your guest judges this week are Sean Cheeseman and Melissa Williams, bringing the Cancon and the actually capable judging.
Kim and Emanuel: jazz/funk./ I am coming to understand that “jazz/funk” as a genre actually means “Blake McGrath is a pervert.” This is the sort of routine that really serves Emanuel well: heavy on character, so he can vamp it up (which he does very well) and the sort of technique required was the sort that he already has. Kim was great as always. It was very strong and, of course, very perverted.
Amy and Vincent: hip-hop. I’m willing to declare Vincent the new Pasha at this point – he’s just good at everything, seemingly regardless of genre, and he absolutely killed this routine (which, incidentally, I liked – Flii Stylz is a welcome addition to the SYTYCDCA choreographer roster). Amy wasn’t quite as good as Vincent was, but she was only a little off Vincent’s level. This was great.
Corynne and Austin: contemporary. Ah, Stacey Tookey: “Canada’s Mia Michaels Except Better.” So the routine is good. Corynne’s facial expressions are great, but for a routine that demanded physicality I felt that she was very… light, really. Which is to say that it was pretty obviously that she was a ballerina from the way she danced: airy and light on her feet, even when the choreo demanded more forceful steps. She didn’t miss anything, but she brought a fragility to the routine that I didn’t quite care for – your mileage may vary. As for Austin, all the hype about him “finally getting to dance” rather than just doing tricks was a little tiresome, especially when I don’t think his connections were quite as good as claimed. They were okay; not great. But these are by and large nitpicks for a well-danced quality routine.
Melanie and Cody: mambo. I love Gustavo Vargas’ Latin choreo, and I love Melanie thus far (Cody is okay but only that), so I was looking forward to this, and was slightly disappointed on all fronts. The choreo felt very stop-and-start, although that might have been in part the fault of the dancers, who didn’t transition between the tricks well at all. Cody’s Latin flavour was distinctly lacking; Melanie was okay and nothing more. The judges oversold this quite a bit.
Tara-Jean and Everett: quickstep. Oh god this was awful. It really annoys me when people call quickstep the “dance of death,” because some of my favorite routines on the show ever have been quicksteps: when it’s done well there’s almost nothing quite as fantastic. But this was not “done well.” This was bloody terrible, even with tons of Charleston choreography thrown in to make it more crowd- and dancer-friendly. There was just too much of this routine that came across as awkward and clumsy to call it good or even passable; even the big tricks were done poorly.
Jayme-Rae and Daniel: hip-hop. I like Luther Brown’s choreo because the guy is such a hip-hop traditionalist: no stupid big lifts to make the crowd scream like Pavlovian dogs, just solid, entertaining floorwork the entire way through. Of course, since he doesn’t go in for huge stunts, that means the dancers have to be fully on their game to make the routine work. Jayme-Rae and Daniel were beyond fully on their game: they’re probably the best and most balanced partnership of the season, and both of them are stunningly good at hip-hop (and for Jayme-Rae that’s quite impressive given her contemporary background). Second week in a row where these two have had the best routine of the night.
Jenna-Lynn and Nicolas: hustle. Benji Schwimmer didn’t get to choreo once in the most recent American season, but frankly I’ve always been a big fan of Benji’s work so hey, more for us. I liked the choreo here but Nicolas and Jenna-Lynn didn’t sell it for me: there were too many parts where they were rough, even with nice chunks where they got to work in their own styles. Also, Nicolas needs to stop with that freakish Joker-like grin of his. It is downright unsettling.
Natalie and Danny: rumba. Danny isn’t a bad dancer by any means, but he’s just not a memorable dancer, especially given that he’s paired with Natalie, who has so much performance ability it is scary. This rumba was a case in point: it came across as Natalie in the role of classic Cyd Charisse dancing in a old movie, and Danny as a background dancer who lifts her around a few places. It doesn’t matter how good Danny’s technique is (and he is good, he hasn’t really failed to do anything yet) if he dances like a supporting cast member.
Probable bottom three: Jenna-Lynn and Nicolas, Tara-Jean and Everett, Natalie and Danny.
Should go home: Jenna-Lynn and Nicolas.
Will go home: Tara-Jean and Everett.