Kathryn and Ryan: disco and cha cha. Wow, Ryan really got lucky this week: a good partner and two dances firmly in his wheelhouse. The disco was fine; Ryan’s skill at partnering combined with Kathryn’s general skill period made for a perfectly good disco. Not a great one, but that’s more on Doriana Sanchez’ boring, boring choreography than any fault of the dancers involved.
The cha cha was fucking tremendous, as is to be expected when you take the aforementioned skill levels of Ryan and Kathryn and combine them with Jason MOTHERFUCKING Gilkison choreo. Seriously, Gilkison’s choreography can make even bad dancers look good, and Ryan and Kathryn were not bad in this: their technique and performance were simply just about perfect on all levels. One of the best dances of the season. (Which, given that this season has been mediocre compared to others, may be damning with faint praise, but whatever.)
Kathryn’s solo: Better than last week: more unique and heartfelt. This was a major step up for her.
Ryan’s solo: Standard ballroom cheddar.
Mollee and Jakob: Viennese waltz and Broadway. Speaking of Jason Gilkison making even bad dancers look good HEY EVERYBODY IT’S MOLLEE. Okay, in fairness, this waltz was probably the best she’s been all season. However, she was still pretty bad – the same unsteady feet (especially coming out of lifts), the same three pageant faces she always has, the same lack of anything resembling connection or chemistry. Managing to dance adequately at the top 20 level in the top 8 episode is not an accomplishment. Jakob, for his part, was fine, although he does that thing a lot of contemporary dancers do in ballroom where he was overstepping on his steps and exaggerating his rise and fall a little too much – but this is a minor quibble because Jakob, as we know, is quite good.
The Broadway was there. Jakob was good. Mollee was tolerable with a couple of fairly glaring mistakes (that final spinning arabesque was… not good). Shankman compares Mollee to Ann Reinking, which… no. Just no, okay? Jesus Christ, Shankman. I get that you love everybody but yeeeesh. Nigel says Mollee should go to Broadway, which – also no. However, Jakob as reminiscent of Joel Grey I can see.
Jakob’s solo: Technically brilliant, artistically meh. (He’s young, it’s to be expected.)
Mollee’s solo: Certainly it was an interesting artistic choice to try and give a “stripper” vibe for one’s solo. Good work there, Mollee.
Ellenore and Legacy: contemporary and hip hop. If you wanted proof that Travis Wall is still very hit-or-miss when it comes to choreography, this would definitely be evidence in the “miss” column: the entire routine felt off-beat and awkward, and Legacy’s B-boy tricks incorporated into the routine felt forced rather than organic (as Stacey Tookey managed to do in top 19 week). Ellenore and Legacy did well enough with what they were given, but they weren’t given anything really that great, and Legacy especially felt a bit desperate. Nigel talks about Emmy nominations because Nigel is an idiot.
I am beyond amazed that Nappytabs finally got called out for choreographing shitty hip-hop! It only took, like, a dozen bad routines! That having been said, I think the reason they finally got called out is because they dared to stray away from “boy meets girl” or “boy breaks up with girl,” which are Such Universal Truths that they always demand a judge tonguebath. Frankly, this wasn’t as bad as the terrible Evan/Randi routine they did for top 12 in season 5, or the mediocre routines they’ve been choreographing all this season. But it wasn’t good, to be sure, and Ellenore demonstrated once again that hip-hop is her Achilles’ heel. Legacy couldn’t carry the routine; he’s just not good enough to do that.
Ellenore’s solo: About as good as last week’s, which is to say: good and not boringly contemporary-traditional.
Legacy’s solo: Much weaker than last week’s tremendous solo and this was a bad week to do a bad solo.
Ashleigh some blond chick and some Bollywood dancer assistant: hip-hop and Bollywood. Russell had a really great week despite Ashleigh’s injury (and what a bad week for her to have one – I think she would have had a hell of a time with these two dances). Firstly, let me just say “thank you” to Shane Sparks for saying straight-up he wasn’t going to do any stupid lyrical hip-hop bullshit. Shane Sparks, you are awesome. Shane’s assistant was… very bad, and I get that she jumped in at the last moment but even so: wow, bad. Russell was excellent and there is nothing else to say here.
The Bollywood was likewise a triumph for Russell, although he was almost outshined by the Bollywood dancer assistant (which – holy shit! Seriously, that’s half a day’s notice?). My only complaint here is that Russell was a bit in perma-grin mode, but other than that it was very good: his execution and musicality were both superb.
Russell’s solo: “Interesting choice.”
Should go home: Mollee and Legacy.
Will go home: Ashleigh and Legacy.