Your guest judges this week are Lady Gaga and also some dude who is not Lady Gaga. Okay, it’s Rob Marshall, who on any other night would be the Real Guest Judge, but… Lady Gaga. Come on. (They were both, unsurprisingly, much better at judging than Nigel and Mary.)
Sasha and All-Star Pasha: quickstep. There have been many worse quicksteps on this show, but this was the first time all season that I saw Sasha and thought “…eh.” This dance is one of the reasons I don’t like the All-Star concept: All-Stars only show up to dance in their genre and are usually the best the show’s ever had, and they can make otherwise perfectly-competent-for-out-of-technique dancing look bland or even bad. Sasha wasn’t bad, but her missteps and slightly less-than-ideal carriage were highlighted by Pasha being dead cert.
Caitlynn and All-Star Ivan: hip-hop. See my comments re: All-Stars outshining contestants. Again, Caitlynn danced this perfectly decently: she wasn’t dancing contemporary to beats, she was actually trying to dance with resistance and proper freezes and everything. But she’s nowhere near as good at it as Ivan is – obviously – and Ivan’s so good that it just highlights how she’s not quite managing to do what he does effortlessly, and it makes her look like less when she doesn’t deserve to do.
Jordan and All-Star Ade: jazz. I see Ade and I decide the over/under on lifts is 6: this time around, he only had to perform five! Granted, one of them lasted for like ten seconds, but stil: Ade gets to be less than 50 percent forklift for once. Anyway, the choreo was so boring that counting the lifts was basically the best part of it. Jordan and Ade were game, but Jordan just bores me as a dancer to begin with – she is blandly competent with the emphasis on bland – so she has to excel for me to care and this was just good dancing of a boring piece.
Melanie and All-Star Neil: contemporary. Has any dancer in the history of this show ever been as protected as Melanie? This is, what, the seventeenth contemporary or jazz piece she’s had to dance now? Anyway, yes, it was good (Mandy Moore going to “Total Eclipse of the Heart” aside). Possibly even great. On the verge, shall we say. But every time Melanie dances in genre now, it just irks me more and more.
All-Star Anya and Ricky: jive. Iffy. I mean, we joke about how Anya can get a quality dance out of a broom, but even Anya has an off night, I suppose, because this was messy and jittery and still somehow felt slow.
All-Star Lauren and Jess: hip-hop. Man, I was sure that if they were going to bring anybody other than Comfort as a hip-hop girl All-Star, it would be Sara from season 3, but I guess Lauren is the bottom of that well. (Not that she’s bad, but Lauren’s always been sort of… generic.) Anyway, it’s worth comparing this to Jess’ last hip-hop, because Mary was actually really perceptive in her judging when she discussed how Jess was progressing. (Granted, last time she lost her shit and proclaimed him amazing, but whatever, one out of two.) Last time, Jess wasn’t dancing hip-hop: this time, there were obvious attempts at proper technique, and he looked actually decent. (Also, as an aside, how many Tabbynaps routines are about couples who cheat on each other? Maybe they should start doing routines about open marriages or something at this rate?)
All-Star The Other Lauren and Tadd: jazz. Some might complain that Tadd got a lot of time in the routine to B-boy it up, and… well, at this point I’ve given up on stylistic purity and all I have to say is that when he wasn’t B-boying he was fine. This was Perfectly Acceptable Dancing.
All-Star Allison and Marko: contemporary. This was both a beautiful piece and wildly derivative of Sonya’s Allison/Alex routine from last season, right down to the Jeff Buckley accompaniment. If it had been more original I would have been more impressed, but I spent the whole thing thinking “was that in the last one?” (I know, I know, Sonya repeating her own work, what are the odds?) Also, Marko made Lady Gaga cry! And he said he loved his mom! And then Nigel needed to explain to everybody how amazing it was that he said he loved his mom in television! SHUT UP NIGEL.
Caitlynn and Tadd: foxtrot. Nobody will remember this in a month’s time, but it was good. Not great. But good.
Marko and Ricky: hip-hop. Now this is interesting, because this was the first Nappytabs routine in a while where they dropped all the emo bullshit and just decided to let the dancers rip it, and traditionally that produces great stuff from them, and their choreo this time was really awesome. Unfortunately, Ricky and Marko aren’t, say, Twitch and Alex – or Comfort and Mark – or… well, you get the idea. They comitted and gave it their very mostest, there’s no question about that, but I have to classify it as a noble failure. Nigel does his best to tell America to dump Ricky for him. Shut up, Nigel.
Jordan and Jess: rhumba. This was basically a mess: Jason Gilkison’s choreo was already very contemporary-friendly and Jordan in particular didn’t have any rhumba technique at all (and Jess only some), and she didn’t even have the “contemporary dancer in heels” excuse. This could have been really good and wasn’t.
Sasha and Melanie: jazz. See, here’s the thing. I agree that this was excellent choreo from Sonya and I agree that both Sasha and Melanie danced it very well, but I don’t think they danced it very well together – their unison moments weren’t in sync and their styles felt disparate: Melanie dances very heavily and powerfully, which is not a bad thing by any means but is definitely a stylistic quirk, whereas Sasha’s dancing is much lighter and quicker, and it felt like two people dancing the same routine but apart to me. Not that it wasn’t thrilling; this is my minor critique of something that I thought was otherwise wholly excellent.
Bottom four: Ricky, Tadd, Jordan, Caitlynn.
Should go home: Ricky and Jordan.
Will go home: Ricky and Caitlynn.