Congratulations, Lady Gaga. You won a new fan last night. Maybe it was the multicolored pleather post-post-Soviet outfit; maybe it was your determination that your giant shoes wouldn't be hidden by the judges' table; maybe it was the fact that we agreed on the use of props in these routines. Whatever the reason, I just found a way to look beyond the music (which I still can't bring myself to listen to without getting something resembling an ice cream headache) and listen to her judgments, which, I have to say, were pretty spot-on.
Also seen last night: Ellen and Portia on a date, director Rob Marshall bookends the mega-panel, and Marko makes everyone on Earth cry.
All-Star Pairs Last night, like last week, the Top 8 were paired up with all-stars for the first eight dances. The final four dances, however, the contestants were paired up with each other (more on that later).
Sasha dances a quickstep with all-star Pasha, forgoing her usual fluid movements for something more rigid and traditional. And she nails it. Rob thinks the genre didn't show off everything she's capable of, Mary complimented Sasha's positioning and ability to learn the dance so well and quickly, and Lady Gaga says she nailed it (but it could have been looser).
Caitlynn, who I keep forgetting exists, dances a hip hop number with all-star Ivan. At first, it seems like it's just a lot of sitting, but she actually brings it home with some great turns and power moves. This is probably the best I've seen her; the girl has great moves and stayed in character throughout (something she's had trouble with. The judges all agree on her characterization.
Jordan gets paired up with Aday for a hot jazz routine. Jordan's in her element here, so of course, she does well. Her legs go every which way. Lady Gaga says she gives her hope because she's short, then lifts up one of her giant red shoes and calls it a fashion catheter. Mary yells "woooooo" and praises her extensions.
Melanie gets with Neil for a Mandy Moore routine, so it's no wonder Melanie excels in the flowy, contemporary style (but did they really need to play total eclipse of the heart?). Lady Gaga says she'd hire Melanie tomorrow, Rob calls her technique flawless and Mary calls her leaps fearless.
Ricky and all-star Anya team up for a jive, and Ricky has small (but obvious) problems at the beginning (his hands slip slightly when he reaches to hold Anya) but at the end they do this crazy move where Anya flips through his arms and is suspended upside-down by his hands. Rob praises the joy with which he dances and recommends he get deeper into the floor, Mary says his dance started out uneven but got stringer as he went on, Nigel agrees with Rob about digging deeper with his feet into the floor, and Lady Gaga thinks he brought a modern element to the dance.
Jess and all-star Lauren G. dance probably my favorite routine of the night, mostly because Jess has a Broadway background and dances the hip hop number effortlessly. The judges all compliment his progress and his honest interpretation.
Tadd and Lauren F. dance a heist-inspired modern routine and are in perfect sync. Tadd's hat flies off mid-routine (the hat's kind of a significant prop) but that doesn't keep him from performing the moves. I kind of wish he had come up with a slightly different move so it didn't look so much like he was doffing a hat that wasn't there, but that's just me being overly critical. Rob says he handled the hat situation like a pro and Nigel thinks the style suits him.
Marko has a moment with everyone else in the audience when he, Lady Gaga and his mom all burst into tears after his performance with all-star Allison, a moving contemporary piece about wanting to go back to someone you've hurt to apologize. Gaga says she's so proud of him, because she felt that regret of not being able to take something back in his performance. Marko then takes the opportunity to tearfully apologize to his mom, who was in the audience, for some of the things he's said. Mary is choked up and can only say that his performance was amazing. Nigel says the routine at some point became more than a competition, but a moment with the audience. To his credit, Marko did perform beautifully, but the tears (from everyone) were a surprise.
Contestant Pairs There are only four of these performances, but the producers allow for same-sex couples, meaning they can put together some real dream teams.
Caitlynn and Tadd get a very Fred-and-Ginger foxtrot, right down to the tails and feathered dress. Caitlynn, who had done so well with her characterization earlier, is back to looking straight into the camera. Even the kiss is a little awkward because Tadd isn't sure where to plant it. Gaga acknowledges Caitlynn's signature move, calling it "hello, I'm a star," and then figures out a way of reminding us she has a zillion platinum records.
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Ricky and Marko appear to have a lot of fun as a pair of garbage men in a hip hop routine. It's hilarious, but also full of precision. Mary says "woooooo!", Nigel worries that Ricky will be in the bottom four, and Lady Gaga thinks they were both amazing if the choreography was a little contrived.
Jordan and Jess dance a rumba, and Jess finally gets a girl who's a bout his size. They are well matched, but Lady Gaga has issue with the song interpretation ("Set Fire to the Rain" by Adele). They are two elements that repel one another, so why are the two dancers intertwined the whole time? Good point, but we're moving on.
Melanie and Sasha bring it all home with an incredible Sonya Tayeh modern routine. They compliment each other perfectly in a powerful, acrobatic Cirque du Soleil style. Lady Gaga throws a shoe at the stage (apparently, that's what they do in the dance world if you've done really well and Mary calls it the best dance of the night.
Tonight: Lady Gaga performs and two more get sent home.