Your judges are Nigel, Mary, and
an embarrassing miscut to backstage Megan Mullally, who is apparently a superfan with dance history so… why not, I guess.
Jordan and Tadd: afro-jazz. Always glad to see Sean Cheeseman get work, but he can do so much more than afro-jazz. Still, the American show is all about niches. The piece was okay; the lifts were a bit laboured but Jordan and especially Tadd really seemed to find their groove as it progressed. All three judges are nonspecifically pleased.
Sasha and Alexander: contemporary. Your standard Travis, which means Mia Michaels-lite (although he’s starting to develop his own identity – but it’s kind of hyperactive, which I’m not sure I like, because when he’s better than that he’s really better than that). Sasha’s transitions here were excellent. Alexander… reminds me a lot of Robert from last season, except perhaps not with all of Robert’s technique, and Robert bored the crap out of me more often than not. Judges ding Alexander for a dull performance, but he should be fine.
Clarice and Jess: Broadway. I’m not sure if giving Jess Broadway his first week is giving him an advantage.. oh, who am I kidding, the audience eats Tasty’s stereotypical Fosse-ripoffs up with a spoon. Dull choreography, but Jess’ center is absolutely insane and Clarice reminds me greatly of Katee from season four, although of course it’s early yet (because Katee was good at everything). Judges give Jess a verbal blowjob and Nigel scolds Clarice for not being as good as Jess.
Nancy Travis Ryan and Ricky: lyrical hip-hop. The cynic in me says that they’re pushing lyrical hip-hop as a genre because the mass of contemporary dancers they get every year can’t consistently dance straight-up hip-hop well. I liked Chris Scott’s choreo, but Ryan’s performance left me cold – smiley face all the way through in what was supposed to be a “sad” routine is one thing, but her moves were just soft and although she didn’t miss anything she really didn’t hit anything either. Ricky, in comparison, did the choreo justice and then some, and that was pleasantly surprising.
Mitchell Apparently An All-Star Robert: jazz. Huh, Robert. (My previous criticism of Alexander stands.) Sonya’s choreo just gets more and more repetitive with each season; she needs new tricks really, really badly. This was fine for what it was.
Miranda and Woo Man: “Latin.” Apparently “Latin” is a style now? Which is weird, because this wasn’t especially a genre-crossing dance that Jason Gilkison put together: this was ninety-five percent jive with a few swing and salsa moves (which felt horribly out of place) and would have been perfectly fine just labeled as a jive. Robert was fine; Miranda was bland and I’m not inclined to think she’ll stick around too long.
Missy and Wadi: jazz. See? Sean Cheeseman can do more than afro-jazz! Wadi is a really impressive partner: he’s athletic and strong and he looked incredibly comfortable in this, and I don’t see how he can’t be a frontrunner after this. Missy was very good and didn’t let Wadi steal the whole thing from her.
Melanie and Marko: contemporary. Obviously praised as the routine of the night, and deservedly so, but… about two-thirds of the way in, after Travis has been choreographing this simply excellent routine and avoiding all of his usual bad habits, and it’s like he just needed to let out his Travisness and be all “here’s a BIG MUSICAL MOMENT so let’s bust out the big pairs choreo” and it just felt sort of predictable in a “okay now here’s the guitar solo” portion of a 90s rock song. Which – I’m not saying it wasn’t good. It was very good. But it wasn’t perfect and it came so close, and it’s frustrating when it gets ever so nearly there. Oh, yes, Marko and Melanie were both dead-on perfect in this.
Ashley and Chris: hip-hop. They weren’t in sync for big chunks of the dance, they didn’t hit their moves hard, and they didn’t have terribly demanding choreo either. Worst routine of the night by a country mile. Judges try to soft-sell it.
Iveta and Nick: quickstep. A remarkably strong performance in one of the show’s most difficult dances: Iveta was predictably excellent and Nick was surprisingly strong, and this isn’t the first time Gilkison has choreo’d a great, entertaining quickstep either. The judges hardsell them because quickstep doesn’t draw votes sometimes, but I think it may have been unnecessary, because this was entertaining on its own right.
Predicted bottom three: Ashley and Chris, Caitlyn and Mitchell, Sasha and Alexander.
Should go home: Ashley and Chris.
Will go home: Ashley and Mitchell.