(See, this is why I’m irritated. Being dependent on internet to see this show means sometimes I am delayed.)
Your judges are Jason Coleman, Bonnie Lythgoe and Matt Lee.
Ilona and Nick: jazz. This was mediocre, and Jason saying “there wasn’t a lot of dancing for me to judge there” is pretty much a straight-up warning to the choreographers because this was essentially a lot of spastic walking around. Both Nick and Ilona threw themselves into their (bad) choreo, though, so there’s that much to say for this. Ilona was sloppier than Nick, who seemed to have a greater degree of control over his spasming: Matt correctly noted that Ilona’s hip-hop training should have translated better to this. Disappointing start.
Jessie Contemporary and Matt: contemporary. After the first routine I was all worried about this season, but hey this routine by Stephen Agisilaou was just really great. Matt was a bit shaky at points (Jason pointed out his getting tense when going into lifts, Matt Lee noted his foot extensions – I’ll add that at times he was slightly behind Jessie) but for a non-classically-trained dancer in the first week of competition he was really quite good and the complaints that can be made are quibbles at worst. Jessie was thoroughly excellent. Really, the only problem I have is that the judges on this show are so good and so consistently observant that sometimes I feel redundant.
Jess Hip-Hop and Doug: cha-cha. This was more a fusion of cha-cha and swing than pure cha-cha, to be honest. I think Matt and Bonnie – who liked it – were focusing on the first half, which was very tight and well danced. I think Jason – who thought it wasn’t that strong – was focusing on the second half, where it seemed like they were struggling with the choreography a bit and dancing just slightly behind the beat. First half was very good; second half was average at best. The other issue I have is that I don’t think Jess and Doug have very good chemistry together yet, which isn’t their fault per se (sometimes it’s just not there) but they’ll have to fake it to make it.
Renee and Felipe: hip-hop. Very, very good to see Jesse from season 2 get to choreo, since he probably got the weakest draw that season by getting paired with Max, the only dancer that season who really wasn’t on par with everybody else, which led to him getting a first-week boot that wasn’t indicative of his real talent. Felipe – working in his genre – was just impossibly smooth, his freezes dead sharp and partnering Renee superbly. Renee – not in her genre – went far beyond “contemporary dancer dancing hip-hop okayish with more capable partner” and were this my first time seeing her I would have pegged her for a hip-hop dancer, straight up. Excellent.
Grace and Will – oh, all right, “Will and Grace”: jazz. Second routine of the night where I felt it started out really, really strong and then they got stressed halfway through: Matt said it really went south with the second lift, but I would mark it earlier at the crossing pirouette trails (you can see Grace’s steps getting visibly hesitant and nervous, and Will starts doing it too after a few seconds). I think if they had really sold the second half this would have been great. As it was, average.
Mikhaela and Robbie: rumba. I actually think the judges were a little harsher than was deserved here; Robbie and Mikhaela did quite a credible rumba, all things considered, and compensated for the fact that Robbie is shorter than Mikhaela quite well overall. (There was perhaps a bit of hesitancy when she went for the running leap into Robbie’s arms, but beyond that, fine.) Not a perfect ten, by any means, but the judges going on about the rumba not being lustful enough made it sound like they wanted to see a tango instead – rumba is passionate, but not dirty per se. At least, that’s how I see it.
Carly and Kieran: contemporary. Really excellent choreography from Sarah Boulter. There’s not much to say beyond that this was really, really good: Kieran obviously wasn’t as strong a dancer as Carly (whose lines were amazing) but he’s arguably a better performer than she is, never dropping character even in the lifts. Kieran was one of the dancers I wasn’t sure about going into top 20 and he’s just completely sold me – the nervousness is all gone. Fucking great, routine of the night, and so forth. (Sadly, Youtube is blocking videos of this one due to music rights issues.)
Jessica Ballroom and Heath: jazz. Marko Panzic! Awesome. (Marko choreo’d one of my favorite routines from last season, the Pania/Ben “crazies” routine.) This was okay choreo danced near-perfectly. There’s no technical complaints I can make about Heath’s dancing at all – he was simply dead-on in every possible respect – and I’m not nearly good enough an eye to find fault in Jessica’s dancing either, even though she’s a Latin dancer working out of genre. It didn’t dazzle me – a little too basic an idea behind the steps to do that – but it was just great fucking dancing.
Ivy and Gaz: paso doble. I liked the idea of a “gladiator” paso, but I think the judges were probably a bit too nice given that both dancers were out of genre and injured “so let’s not be MEAN.” I thought Gaz started out the routine substituting stiffness for bravado, although he loosened up as the routine went on. Ivy, in comparison, absolutely owned her character – although I saw her bobble a couple of handholds, I thought her presence was great. Unfortunately, fucking up that last lift will, I think, haunt them in the voting.
Issi and Don: hip-hop. Percentage of shock that Don got the pimp spot: zero. I thought this was okay. Not great. Okay. I think Issi was ahead of the beat for a portion of the routine and their chemistry is still questionable, but I don’t think they’ll hit bottom three – yet. But if they don’t improve beyond this, they won’t make top ten either. (And also, why is Jet Verne choreographing again? Her routines were uninspiring in the first season and thankfully not present in the second. And why is she choreographing hip-hop all of a sudden? Yeesh.)
Bottom three: Ilona and Nick, Will and Grace, Ivy and Gaz.
Should go home: Ilona and Gaz.
Will go home: Ivy and Gaz.
(And then, watching the results show, it turns out to be: bottom three Matt/Jessie, Will/Grace, and Ilona/Nick with Will and Ilona going home.)