Ok! Cole’s back in dance recap action—I apologize for my absence the last couple weeks (I was traveling for business, seriously!) Many thanks to Vanessa and Heather for filling in and I’m sure we’ll be seeing more from them as I flake out in the future.
It’s time for our Top 14 couples to take the stage for their intro mini-dances—it’s apparent just from the audience response Melanie and Marko get that they are clearly the front runners. Cat appears in an absolutely fetching light blue kimono-like mini dress and I make audible ga-ga noises. She introduces our judges (and now she says it all the time—this is CLEARLY my influence) and it’s fun to see former-contestant-turned-choreographer-turned-velvet-painting Travis Wall on the panel! He’s joined by Carmen Electra, who is wearing some sort of sheer Kiss of the Spider Woman VHS cover top. Apparently, she started dancing when she was five, and did ballet and modern dance at a performing arts school in Cincinnati, which would explain how she was able to nail all of that “running on the beach” choreography she did on television. Also on the panel are Mary Murphy, who looks more and more like a third place medal every show, and Executive Producer Nigel Lythgoe, dapper and pervy as always.
After the break, all seven of the guys take the stage for a Justin Giles routine detailing the seven stages of grief—the choreographer informs us that the stages they’ll be dancing are shock, anger, denial, depression, guilt, bargaining and acceptance. Bummed we didn’t get to see sleepy, dopey, sneezy or Doc. The piece is set to Damien Rice’s “Prague,” with each of the dancers in individual spotlights. Jess continues his tradition of no-shoes dancing (he would NEVER get service in a fast-food joint), Marko looks like he’s ready to compete against Van Damme in Bloodsport, Chris appears to be hopelessly lost inside the recesses of his hoodie (I guess that was…bargaining?). It’s sort of interesting, and has a kind of cool Matrix bullet-time effect towards the end. It’s a decent way to start the show, but nothing too exceptional.
Cat is surrounded by a sea of shitty producer-generated audience signs (Crazy 4 Clarice! Go Alexander!). She introduces the first couple of the night, golden children Melanie and Marko. We learn that Marko is originally from Guam, and worked on a cruise ship in a Drag Queen show! He stresses (repeatedly) that he WASN’T the drag queen, but had to dress as a girl (which makes him a drag, um, duchess or something?). Melanie, who impressed Lil C so much he commented that “Zeus himself would let you dance at Olympus” (and then probably bandied about words like “phantasmagorical,” “malevolent,” and “forsooth”), is from Atlanta, but went to Fordham University for Art. She talks about her boyfriend Mitchell, who has to deal with all her Marko-smooching (much, much, much is made of this and kissing in general throughout the show. Get a room, program!). They’re doing a jazz routine by Ray Leeper, which follows a latino couple who fall in love despite being from feuding families, set to “Americano” by Lady Gaga. Can we please go ONE SHOW without a routine set to the Gahgs? Marko is wearing red pants, no shirt and black straps, resembling some sort of S&M Pinocchio, while Melanie looks sort of like Raggedy Ann gone Saloon Girl. Not surprisingly, they kill the routine! Travis thinks it’s a great way to start the show, and admits that Melanie is his favorite dancer this season. Carmen thinks it’s so, so strong, and is enamored with Melanie’s legs (aren’t we all?). Mary says WOW and proclaims that Marko is The Domination Man! Cat is quick to clarify that she didn’t mean The Demolition Man, since for a moment there we confused Marko with a highlighted-hair Wesley Snipes or maybe Sandra “Lenina Huxley” Bullock. Nigel thinks they have great chemistry as a couple, and calls out Marko for his drag show days. Cat counters with a “didn’t inhale” joke, which is actually quite clever in the moment.
Next up are Sasha and Alexander! Sasha is from Bakersfield and a large Trinidadian family, where they’re always partyin’! Oh, and they sing everyone’s favorite Alan Arkin penned tropical diddy, “The Banana Boat Song!” Alexander is from Alhambra, and started dancing late. His dad was an actor in the 70s and appeared on shows like Barney Miller, TJ Hooker and Hill Street Blues, making him the coolest dad on the show, period. They’re charged with a Shaun Evaristo hip-hop routine. It’s about a first date. See, Alexander wants a…wait for it…KISS at the end of the night, and Sasha just ain’t havin’ it! Also, Alexander just doesn’t have swag, so Shaun explains the rules of Swag Camp (sadly, not talking about Swag Camp isn’t one of them). It’s done to a light R&B tune called “To the Moon” by Miguel, and features a static, lonely tree in the middle of the stage, which they kinda use for a beat or two during the lackluster routine. It ends with a super-fake kiss at the end, which makes Melanie & Marko’s lip-locking seems like hardcore pornography. Carmen thinks “DANG GIRL! You were poppin’ so hard!” (Not pills, like me, trying to make it through the rest of the show) She doesn’t see much chemistry between them, though, which is echoed by the rest of the judges. Mary thinks it was lacking, Nigel thinks it felt like Hip Hop 101, and Travis thought it was ok, but think they need to work on their musicality and shading.
Jordan and Tadd. Jordan is from Chino Hills, CA (wait, isn’t that where that no-good-kid from the show The O.C. was from? Or was that just Chino? Is anybody listening?) Jordan was a normal kid who played every sport imaginable and never dreamed of being the resident sexy dancer on a FOX reality competition. Tadd is from Salt Lake City, but spent some time in San Francisco, and is proud to represent Filipino’s on the show. They’ve drawn a smooth waltz from Toni Redpath, who’s not on the warpath for once and seems relatively calm. Jordan is a siren (“oh, like a Mermaid!” she remarks, furthering her Rhodes Scholar status) and Tadd is trying to resist her song and her deadly…yep…KISS. (Does this show come with Chapstick?) It’s to “Nocturn” by Secret Garden (or is it from the musical Secret Garden? My notes fail me) and the stage is absolutely engulfed by fog, like I’m at a Def Leppard Hysteria concert. Instead of pouring some sugar on me, they lightly drizzy a boring waltz for a few minutes near me, despite a few nice lifts. Mary proceeds to give us a history lesson on waltzes (they were quite scandalous in the 1800s, and people made sarcastic remarks about th—ZZZZZZZ) She thinks it was dreamy and romantic and likes it. Nigel is impressed by both of them, especially Tadd who is outside his comfort zone. He then talks about fish lifts and progressive twinkles, and the proceedings take on a distinct Narnian flair for a moment or two. Carmen enjoyed it, but admits that she doesn’t know much about waltz, but DOES know how she feels, proving that not all Hollywood starlets are dead inside.
Clarice and Razz-ma-Jess and his perpetual jazz hands are next up. Clarice hails from Whittier, California and goes to Cal State Long Beach. Her folks sacrified a lot for her dance and blah blah blah support blah blah love blah blah feelings. Jess is from Little Falls, New Jersey, and –SHOCKER—he’s been a performer all his life! They show some B-Roll of Jess as a five year old sequined guido, and he raves about all four years of his high school experience. It’s time for a Justin Giles contemporary routine, about a couple who have gone through a super intense love that is coming to an end. I hope there’s a kiss involved someplace! Nope, just a bunch of precise, hard-hitting movements to “Light Through the Branches” by Celeste Lear. Jess again repels all footwear. The couple dances it very well, and the judges are happy. Travis was, like, you guys just came alive! Nigel loved it, and believes their chemistry. Carmen believed in their story, and felt their anger and passion, Mary thinks they are improving every week as a couple and has high hopes for them.
Only a few more to go! Ashley and Chris are on deck. Ashley is from Antioch and is a Deacon’s daughter. She also loves to cook and treats us to a moment of her would-be charisma-less food show (mmmm! Blandtastic!) Dallas-bred Chris is from a gigantic seven kid family, and had a hard time getting through school due to dyslexia, a word I always reverse the y and the s in. It’s a Liz Lira Salsa routine, and although the lifts are spicy, her on-cameraness is not. “Mambo Beat” by Tito Puente begins, and the dancers do their best to get through it, to sadly bad reviews from the judges. There’s even a moment in there where I thought I saw a glimpse of an arm movement from the African Anteater Dance from Can’t Buy Me Love. Travis loves them, but thought there was a bit of a disconnect and not enough Latin flavor. Carmen thinks (and this is a direct quote) “Ya know, Salsa is, it’s hot, it’s on fire, it’s passionate, it’s sharp, it has so much.” (Lil C she is not). Mary thinks it had moments of heat, but wasn’t nearly as hot as their week two routine that put them on her Hot Tamale Train (has that thing derailed yet? I’d rather deal with the Polar Express and it’s creepy motion-capture animation than her shrieking spice locomotive). Nigel was impressed but some of the lifts, but didn’t think they got into the Salsa freedom (one of Elton John’s lesser songs). Nigel is also uncomfortable talking about Chris’ hips, but as we learned from Shakira, they don’t lie.
Two more(ish)! Ryan is from Morgan Hill, CA, and spent some time in Sacramento (K-Street mall, represent!) with Mia Michaels. They also shot an episode of House together, playing creepy nurses. Rickey was born in Miami, but moved to Tampa and then OF COURSE got into cheerleading (made ultra-dramatic by an irritating nonsensical echo during his voice over) becoming co-captain shortly after joining the squad. They get to work with the choreographer with the best onomatopoeic name, Chucky KLAPOW! It’s a jazz routine about the cult of fashion and—CHUCKY KLAPOW! – set to David Bowie’s “Fashion.” Rickey looks like he’s on his way to a Rocky Horror screening and Ryan is a dead-ringer for 1985 Dee Snyder. It’s a fun, quirky routine, that the judges are thoroughly impressed with. Carmen thinks they rocked and loves the music choice, Mary thinks it was a hot experiment of movement, Nigel makes an obvious joke about Chucky the Killer Doll and loves the quirk of it, reminding him of the Ramalama routine from a previous season, and Travis thinks they’ll move past the top ten for sure!
The final couple of the evening are Caitlynn and Mitchell. Caitlynn is from Moses Lake, Washington and does all things outdoors and sporty. Mitchell grew up in Atlanta, and lost his dad when he was two. He lived for a year with his mom in a car until she finally landed a job and then things turned around. They’re doing a Mandy Moore contemporary routine to a song by she-who-shall-not-be-named (ok…fine…it rhymes with Deline Cion) and, despite the audio torture, it’s an incredible piece with lots of emotion and crazy difficult lifts. It warrants a standing ovation from the judges! Mitchell is completely lost in emotion, holding back the tears. Mary is choked up as well, and congratulates them and tells them this is their moment. “Run like the wind! This is your time!” It’s a very Mikey-in-the-Goonies-speech moment. Travis thinks it was breathtaking, Nigel thinks it was the routine of the night, and Carmen thinks—honestly, do we really care what Carmen thinks anymore?
All that leaves is the final number of the evening, danced by all seven of the ladies. It’s by Ray Leeper, about girlfriends on a mission to rid the world of evil men. Honestly, it’s just a great excuse to see ‘em vamp it up in lacey black outfits and show off their nature-defying gams. So much so, that the panel gives ‘em another standing ovation, with Nigel literally leaping for joy (whilst trying to conceal his proper English boner).
Cat! Give us the numbers! Vote, people, vote! Oh, and congrats to Katherine McCormack, who scored a role in Step Up 4, which better have another dancing slurpee scene, damnit. That’s it for now! Thanks for reading! And let me know your thoughts in the comments! Oh…and…CHUCKY KLAPOW!