Your hosts are the usual gang of idiots. No, not Bill Gaines and Al Jaffee. That might have been entertaining, though.
Ellenore and Ryan: Lindy hop and Broadway. Lindy hop hasn’t been on the American show since season 3 when Lacey and Neil struggled through it in the final. This was better than that was, but also had less of the frenetic energy Lindy hop should have (if it doesn’t look like a pair of squirrels on crack, it’s not proper Lindy hop in my book) – it seemed to be danced about 4/5ths speed, perhaps. Ellenore blew a couple of spots but not too badly. Ryan nailed it. This was Perfectly Acceptable Dancing for a top 12 episode and I am not offended nor disappointed.
The Broadway was honestly just excellent. Ellenore’s freezes as her “doll” character were uniformly perfect (and make me wonder why her one stab at hip-hop so far was so weak) and so obviously and intently difficult that I don’t think it would be possible to be unimpressed with her work in this. Ryan had the unenviable job of being Less Showy Partner, even with his perma-devil-sneer, and carried it off with flair and skill.
Kathryn and Legacy: jazz and Viennese waltz. Sonya needs to just stop explaining her routines because it is all “whatever” and her descriptions inevitably have nothing to do with the actual dancing. They could just record her saying “I got high last week on shrooms and this is what I dreamt” and play it before every single routine she choreos and that would be fine. Kathryn and Legacy danced this superbly and anybody complaining that Legacy got to show off some of his moves in the routine needs to shut up because I have lost count of the number of times a jazz or contemporary dancer has had the opportunity to do a jete or pirouette in a hip-hop routine for absolutely no good reason other than “they look good doing it.” Mary Murphy demonstrates that she knows absolutely dick about hip-hop by not knowing the name of a basic hand crabwalk. (It’s not some particularly etoseric B-boy move. It’s a friggin’ crabwalk.)
First off about the waltz: motherfuck can Jean-Marc crush it with the choreo or what? (The answer is “yes he can crush it.”) That was gorgeous, sweeping choreo that served to disguise a lot of Legacy’s mistakes – which, honestly, weren’t nearly so bad as half a dozen waltzes they’ve applauded. His footwork was occasionally clumsy, his rise-and-fall inconsistent – but in both these cases the knowledge was obviously there and it appears to only be a matter of requiring more practice rather than straight inability. Kathryn was just about perfect. And their chemistry was spot-on: I would put these two on par with Brandon and Jeanette from last season for chemistry as partners.
Karen and the VCTR-9000 Calibrated Dance Unit: tango and hip-hop. The judges praised Victor and Karen’s chemistry in the tango for reasons I don’t quite understand, on the basis that there was none. For the most part, Victor and Karen danced this superbly on a technical basis (Mary specifically praised the final promenade, and I though Victor was kicking up his knees far, far too much – but that’s a minor quibble), but this was the opposite of hot – this was so icy it was practically polar. Presumably Victor’s circuits extrapolated the most logical sequence by which one would dance a tango and stopped before somebody asked him “what – is – love” so he was able to continue.
LaurieAnn Gibson contributes a hip-hop routine, by which I mean something that was not even remotely hip-hop: not the music, not the moves, nothing. It was a jazz piece and the show’s continuing desperation to disguise the fact that they’ve alienated more than a few hip-hop dancers reached new heights. Karen and Victor danced this about as well as it could be danced, but it was weak choreo. Of course, the routine fulfilled its purpose, which was to provide an excuse to pitch Karen and her robot buddy should they hit bottom three, which they likely will. Because god forbid we boot Nathan and Mollee.
Mollee and Nathan: “hip-hop” and can-can. You know, every week I wonder if this is going to be the week Mollee and Nathan are not bad, and it never, ever happens. The hip-hop was about what you’d expect: dumbed down (given their repeatedly demonstrated inability to master choreo, this routine – like most of theirs – had a lot of basically standing around and jiggling) and more whitebread than High School Musical, and frankly that’s unfair to Zac Efron, given that he can actually hit a beat. All three judges admitted that this was basically bad, but still said straight-up that they loved them anyway because, whatever, it’s only a competitive reality show where people are supposed to be judged on quality and stuff.
The cancan was actually a really fun bit of choreography from Tasty Oreo and probably the best these two have been, which is to say: Nathan was decent. Mollee was almost tolerable. Together, they managed to take a bunch of ruffle-flipping and pretend it was real dancing! Okay, so I am harsh, but you don’t get to complain about the routine being super-tiring when there’s so much “stand and shake ruffle” in it. Regardless, it was not-bad enough that now Nigel has an excuse to put them through to the top ten, which is all he really wanted anyway. Perhaps Nathan will be better with another partner. I don’t think it’s possible that Mollee will be. Regardless, these two have easily become the worst pairing in SYTYCD history on the basis of sheer longevity.
Noelle and Russell: samba and contemporary. The samba really exposed Russell’s weaknesses as a dancer. This is not to say that he was bad – he was okay – but he is simply not strong enough, at least in this style, to carry someone who is dancing badly and make the routine enjoyable. And Noelle was dancing really, really badly: her footwork was laboured and, stage-grin aside, she clearly wasn’t into the spirit of the dance. If Russell had been paired with, say, Karen or even Kathryn, I think this would have been decent. As it was, however, this was quite weak. (Nigel once again goes into the “I can’t believe you haven’t had any lessons Russell” bullshit, which is so patronizing that at this point it is bordering on slightly racist.)
The contemporary was very good (Tasty is so much better when he’s not doing crappy Broadway) and the only complaint I could make is that Nigel had to interject a bit of the old-fashioned Nigel Lythgoe Brand Of Creepy when he was commenting.
Ashleigh and Jakob: jazz and cha-cha. The jazz was fine. I think it was overpraised: it didn’t seem to have any point other than that Jakob can do really amazing things with his legs, but frankly anybody watching him dance previously would have known that. Ashleigh was as basically average as she always is: not bad, not great. I have nothing else to say about this piece because we all know that Ashleigh and Jakob are making top ten easy.
The cha-cha was really good (one of the low points of the Canadian SYTYCD is that we never get to see Jean-Marc do choreo there), not only for the novelty of seeing Ashleigh dance better than Jakob for once but also because it was genuinely great. Jakob could have danced a little lower to the ground, to be certain, but he nailed his footwork and his exaggerated cha-cha face wasn’t self-parodic, so it’s easy to forgive the fact that Ashleigh was leading for most of the routine.
Probable bottom three: Karen and Victor, Mollee and Nathan, Noelle and Russell.
Should go home: Mollee and Nathan.
Will go home: Karen and Victor.