Your guest judges tonight are Blake and Melissa Williams, who is dubbed “the queen of new disco.” (As opposed to “the queen of taking themed jazz choreography and coming up with a new name for it,” I guess.)
Amanda and Denys: “the dreaded quickstep.” Because apparently nobody is allowed to just call it “quickstep” any longer. Now and forever, it is dreaded, despite the fact that there have easily been far more bad krumps and foxtrots in SYTYCD history then there have been bad quicksteps. All of that having been said, this was a perfectly entertaining quickstep by TonyNMelanie, although I thought the bit where they tried to mix in a bit of twist-and-shake while still in closed hold looked clumsy. Very well executed other than that bit, though; Denys nailed it as predictably as one would expect, and Amanda pairs with him very well.
Janick and Shavar: hip-hop. Janick got insane props for her performance in this bit of Luther choreo which I felt weren’t entirely deserved; she was good but not great, especially considering how average her first half was. But she finished strong. Shavar was ridiculously good at this the entire way through, which was both to be expected and still a pleasant surprise given how people can underperform in their genres all too frequently. This is basically a lot of words to say that although not all of the judges’ hyperbole was warranted, quite a bit of it was.
Julia and Jesse: contemporary. Hey, did anybody read that thing in the New York Times this weekend which totally dissed “SYTYCD contemporary” for being shallow and predictable? Anyway, Stacey Tookey or no, I would like to request a one-year moratorium on SYTYCD routines themed after Romeo and Juliet, because enough already with that stuff. Anyway, bluntly: Jesse just doesn’t have stage presence yet. Julia has heaps of it, but you can’t dance a duet by yourself. And that is what mattered here. When judges on this show are all “Jesse, we hoped for better” – even Jean-Marc – you know you’ve missed the mark.
Charlene and Jeff: hustle. This was really entertaining and a surprise for that reason, since I wasn’t expecting it after their bad jive from week one. I think I actually would have preferred that it be set to music that was a bit more uptempo, just because the relaxed, groovy song actually made the movements feel a bit slower than they were. But: very good partnering, excellent work on difficult lifts, and they mastered the spins and groundwork which were arguably more difficult (and less showy) quite nicely. This was very good.
Natalie and Mackenzie: cha cha. Oddly enough, Jean-Marc remembered that he was a ballroom expert and thus actually managed to point out what none of the other judges did: namely, that Mackenzie danced this for crap. No form, no Latin bounce, no nothing. Having seen what Gustavo MOTHERFUCKING Vargas does with a cha-cha previously over two seasons, this was easily the most basic thing he’s ever choreo’d (one big lift, no terribly difficult floorwork) and Mackenzie still danced it badly. Natalie was okay, but given the simplicity of the routine I’m not impressed. Weak sauce.
Danielle and Sebastian: contemporary. Wait, Danielle not only has scar tissue on her lungs but also she’s dyslexic too? Damn, sometimes the universe just does not like you. Anyway. Judges fall all over themselves to praise a routine ostensibly about anorexia which, had we not been told beforehand it was about anorexia, could have been about anything. That Times article I mentioned which condemned “SYTYCD contemporary” for being formulaic? This. Nothing wrong with it, other than it was boring and pointless. (Blake refers to anorexia as “controversial” which – what?)
Kirsten and Jera: hip-hop. “90s-style” is apparently an official subgenre on this show now. I am fine with this. I am not so fine with the dancing here. Kirsten’s dancing was… often not good. Jera’s dancing was better, but he had this horrific Howdy Doody grin plastered on his face the whole way through which didn’t seem cheerful and upbeat so much as it screamed “serial killer trying to play it cool.” Also, Leah Miller has stop doing every intro explaining how the dancers are out of genre because ninety percent of them are contemporary dancers so they’ll almost always be out of genre period.
Claudia and Edgar: jazz. Clunky, mostly because of Claudia – although I think Edgar escaped a small bit of blame that he might otherwise have deserved, because the reason it was so clunky were the transitions from move to move being so obvious and jarring, and that can’t be put entirely on Claudia. Not the worst of the night, but I think they’re bottom three.
Orangina and Jonathan: West Coast swing. I actually really liked Benji’s choreo (the first third of it was really very traditional WCS, except for the music, and the first lift sequence was absolutely brilliant), but it mostly confirmed what I’ve suspected for the past couple of weeks: Jonathan is the real strength in this pairing and Kloe is, well, not. He handled his half, she didn’t. Just that simple.
Probable bottom three: Claudia and Edgar, Julia and Jesse, Natalie and Mackenzie.
Should go home: Claudia and Jesse.
Will go home: Claudia and Jesse.