There are two reasons I like this show. The first is, of course, the dancing. The second is watching how cray-cray some of these choreographers can get, specifically Tyce Diorio. And Tyce was in top form last night. We heard him saying things like "be the mechanics of the plane," "your feet can be the propellers" and "who says there's nothing sexy about a plane? I mean, first class is sexy."
Tyce also happens to be one of my favorite guest judges, because he's the only one who can scream louder than Mary and he reaches for weird, disgusting metaphors (remember "that was like a warm cup of vomit"?) that tend to be right on. After a few weeks of watching him choreograph without many memorable comments, it was nice to see him back in form.
More highlights from last night: Neil Patrick Harris was the guest judge on the reduced judges' panel, we saw some old faces from past seasons and Jordan surprised even us.
The set up was a little wacky; the remaining 10 contestants were each paired up with an all-star from a past season to work on a routine. Each contestant also had to dance a solo. But the solos were danced out of sequence with the couple dances, which we found kind of confusing. We don't vote in this thing, but if we did, we'd find the jumping back and forth between dancers confusing. Plus, it makes it a little bit more difficult to write recaps. The solos are also kind of pointless, because they are basically a longer version of dance for your life (but not much longer) and aren't judged.
Marko: Marko gets to dance a samba with Chelsie from season 4. Marko's one of the strongest male dancers in the competition, so it's no wonder he pulls it off, even though he kept dropping Chelsie in rehearsals. He combines the right amount of intricacy, power and femininity in his performance, (he also dives headlong straight over Chelsie. It was cool) and the judges are impressed. Neil says it was a dirty way to start the show and that Marko is the guy to beat in the competition, Mary gets so excited her earring falls off and Nigel is glad to see he didn't lose any chemistry after splitting up with his dancing partner Melanie.
Marko's solo is what you would expect from him: smooth, athletic, and involving lots of flips.
Sasha: Sasha gets paired up with personal favorite Twitch for a hip hop routine about a couple trying to reignite the flame of passion. The routine is both funny and sultry, and the couple have an amazing chemistry. As much as I liked Alexander (or brown Zach Braff, as one of my friends calls him), it was great to see Sasha connect fully with her partner. It catches Nigel off guard, and he makes an unintentionally inappropriate remark about soggy cornflakes. Neil thinks it was the best routine of the night and Mary says Sasha is an All-Star tonight.
Sasha's solo, like Marko's, is what you would expect: Modern, a mixture of tumbling and smooth extended movements and perfectly executed.
Jordan: Jordan was probably the biggest surprise of the night for me, especially since I've given her a lot of flak for what seems to me to be an immature technique. She and season 5's Brandon get a contemporary routine, and she performs the difficult steps perfectly. Mary calls her fierce and notes that she's fighting to stay in the competition. Nigel notes that she doesn't have many weaknesses and Neil agrees with the other judges.
But it's with her solo that Jordan really impresses. I was expecting her to just do another one of her strip-jazz routines, but instead, she showed her versatility with a beautiful contemporary routine. I'm glad I was wrong.
Jess: Jess gets to dance a Stacey Tookey contemporary routine with Kathryn and has trouble with the lifts in performance. Neil thinks Jess did a great job with both execution and facial expressions. Mary says its her favorite piece he's done.
As far as his solo goes, you knew Jess would do a Broadway number, right? And you knew it would be fabulous, right?
Tadd: Tadd gets paired up with Comfort for a hip hop routine, which Tadd aces with his B-Boy background. Mary says he outdanced his all-star. Nigel points out that being a B-Boy is actually a lot different from dancing hip hop (all season, the judges have been enamored with Tadd's versatility).
Tadd busts out the handstand power moves for his solo.
Melanie: Melanie dances a beautiful, flowing waltz with Pasha, and Nigel comments that the lifts don't even look like lifts, just an extension of the already-occuring movement. Neil says she dances like she's from the future.
Melanie's solo is a lot like the one we saw at her audition--deliberate, flowing and perfect.
Mitchell: Mitchell takes on the aforementioned Tyce Diorio plane routine with all-star Melody. Though Mitchell performs the steps to a T, there is definitely something lacking in this piece. Maybe it's the fact that Tyce is CRAZY and tried to make people into planes? Neil says it was a disjointed performance, Mary says it was fun to watch but overplayed and Nigel says the style needed more work.
Guess what I'm going to say about Mitchell's solo. Yep. Just what we'd expect.
Ricky:Ricky gets paired up with all-star Allison for another crazy Tyce routine, this one about an all-too-real nightmare. Ricky had to step it up and play the part of a baddie, and he really brought it with his jerky, masculine movements. Mary said it was deliciously dark. neil said he was surprised by how maturely Ricky performed.
Ricky got so carried away in his solo that he ran off before Cat could remind people what number to call to vote for him. It was cute.
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Clarice:Clarice got to dance Bollywood with Robert from season 7, which made me apprehensive, since the last couple that danced Bollywood got sent home. Still, they got the moves down and had a real connection and chemistry on stage. All the judges note the difficulty of the moves and give Clarice credit for it.
As for her solo, I was too distracted by that bird-tail thing to notice.
Caitlynn: Caitlynn teamed up with all-star hunk Pasha to work on a tango, which turned out to be very sexy and restrained. Mary gave her a standing ovation, and all the judges agree that she showed a level of maturity we haven't seen before.
Caitlynn also had a bird-tail thing, so I didn't pay much attention to her solo,