One thing that I try to do when I blog SYTYCD is to try to stay grateful for the show itself and not to take its many flaws and shortcomings to heart, which usually involves some sort of arguing against the show's many detractors (and as long as I've been seriously blogging the show, i.e. season 3, it's had its detractors in spades arguing against it at a deeply moral level). I'll admit that my boosterism has been well-tested and occasionally felt hollow and insincere in the last handful of seasons when the other segment of viewers melted over what they called masterpieces while I had only the gelid embers of passion in my heart to maintain me. Don't get me wrong, in the same span that's prompted this self-reflection, I count several routines that are awesome, but none so transcendentally sublime as to beat back the doubts...
So, if I may understate the case, it's rather nice when the show puts on a week that generally hits on all cylinders (good-to-excellent routines that aren't a rounding error, the judges dialing back on their worst excesses, etc.), and which softens the unhappy combination of the judges continuing to make the elimination decisions and for one of the dancers they kept.
Marko and All-Star Chelsie Hightower - Samba (chor. Jason Gilkison)
I spent most of my time during this routine thinking about how much I dislike Chelsie.
When I noticed that the artist credited for the music is Kate Hudson, I thought, "Wait, do they mean Katy Perry?" but apparently, that's Kate Hudson the actress who has a surprisingly clear voice.
I prefer her solo from last week for being smoother, because this one has moments of tentativeness alternating with rushed overcompensation. Still, I hope she gets to at least the final four if only so I won't have to suffer through more generic contemporary hair-flipping.
All-Star Brandon - Contemporary (chors. Desmond Richardson and Dwight Rhoden)
I've missed Brandon.
Oh, Jordan is in this too? Melanie LaPatin sez, "It was a good reminder of how she can do pretty much anything she’s asked to." Translation: she'll give you exactly what you ask for and not one mote more; beneath her technical competence is the soul of someone who would big-up Kim Kardashian.
Tadd and All-Star Comfort - Hip Hop (chor. Chuck Maldanado)
Gods, Comfort is looking skinny -- maybe that's part of why the judges think Tadd outdanced her.
The routine certainly beats a lot of the other warmed-over contemporary numbers masquerading as hip hop this season, and imagining some of the other male dancers in Tadd's place brings atrocities to mind, but it only rises to the level of technical admiration for its difficulty and Tadd being able to handle it.
More controlled that Sasha's, but the two of them are more mature dancers by far than the other girls, which in Melanie's case is all the more remarkable for being only 19. Usually, a girl's solo is packed to the gills with extensions, leaps, and turns, but just in the space of 30 seconds and eschewing the most flagrantly showy moves, Melanie demonstrates great pacing. I may have an irrational hatred of her short arms, but I can never dismiss good taste.
Mitchell and All-Star Melody - Broadway (chor. Tasty Oreo)
Profoundly avant garde -- 90 seconds of pure nothingness. The only good that comes out of another pile of Tasty excrement is that Neil Patrick Harris (who otherwise continues the trend of worthless celebrity judges belching out impalpable platitudes in lieu of critiques -- I'm running out of ways to say this!) putting Tasty on blast: "It all seemed very sort of disjointed and not incredibly well thought out for me, just as a piece."
Very easy technique, and a quieter athleticism than Jess's but no less the spectacular. He does seem to be repeating himself, though.
Caitlynn AKA The Gringo Chachi and All-Star Pasha - Argentine tango (chor. Miriam Larici and Leonardo Barrionuevo)
Most definitely an Argentine tango even if the show didn't label it as such. Superb choreography, and Caitlynn is more mature here than she has been at any other time this season, though the Tango Argentino cognoscenti are complaining about her legs and feet and how far she is from Pasha (the Argentine really puts the "close" into "closed hold"). But for me, she's a bit of a prop (not unlike the dress form Pasha solos with once way back in season 3), and this is Pasha's show all the way.
Another guy version of a generic contempo-girl solo.
Sasha and All-Star Twitch - Hip Hop (chor. Christopher Scott)
So if you put two and two together, this is the number that has saved the show for me. The worst thing I can say is that Sasha wears glasses for less than 30 seconds. Otherwise: GORGEOUS. I can see why Amanda was ready to ship Sasha and Twitch. My favorite of the season, hands down, and perhaps of the past three seasons, which has been light on routines that give me Deeley (Deeleee?) chills, and this one has such moments in excess. Sasha's kip-up (and she needs serious credit for holding herself in that backbend until Twitch pushes her up) is obvious (and all the same, Chris Scott needs credit too for giving the female partner a chance to show off athleticism too), but it's far from the only stunning moment: the fact that Twitch bites into actual toast (ok maybe I'm easily amused), the footwork at 0:36, the arm waves at 1:02, that one part with their backs and their heads at 1:12, and the unison throughout and being so tightly enveloped in the music (which, I might add, is also gorgeous), like when Sasha slaps a hand on the table in time with the beat, gah, words fail so:
Sexy, beautiful, breathtaking, everything. I've been waiting for this for a long time.
Surprisingly good -- no doubt after Nigel asked the dancers to bring variety to their solos, which she's taken to heart, and good for her; she's spared us another iteration of a slutty-cum-sexy performance. Not that the solo is anything other than a generic contemporary solo.
I thought he pulled his groin at the end, but he seems ok enough to play with Marko. The solo itself isn't going to land on any all-time lists or anything (he doesn't explode out of his handsprings, for instance), but his freeze into a lotus position while in a hand stand is pretty sweet.
Melanie and All-Star Pasha - Viennese Waltz (chor. Jason Gilkison)
As soft and flowy and effortless as Melanie's stab at a waltz is, it doesn't impress me as much as Tadd and Jordan's, at which point I wonder if my higher regard for Tadd's performance comes down to lower expectations, i.e. I'm only impressed because of the poor track record of b-boys at styles like the Viennese.
The great thing about Caitlynn having no musicality is that I can put any song underneath her solo and it'll work no worse than what's already there.
Otherwise, she seems to have run out of ideas (a bracing notion) and a lot of the solo comes off as puerile.
Ricky and All-Star Allison - Jazz (chor. Tasty Oreo)
My god, Tasty does something good! Not just good for him, but flat-out good, even if it's a remix of Mia's addiction number spliced with a bunch of Stacey Tookey pieces. If Ricky doesn't quite get the performance down -- in my opinion, the routine calls for his part to be ugliness and malice personified, which Kupono would've nailed, but instead he's too airy and pretty -- I have to give him credit for his technique.
Also, is this the first time Tori's been used on the show? If so, I'm flabbergasted that it's taken so long.
Clarice and All-Star Robert - Bollywood (chor. Nakul)
Things I haven't missed: Robert Roldan speaking. Meanwhile, my biggest criticism of Clarice has been her facial expression -- she always looks like she sets her face in a mask and leaves it there, which has given her performances an oily sheen of insincerity. Only with this routine, she's relaxed, alternately sexy and coy. Of course, she's helped by being in one of Nakul's better pieces.
... and of course, Clarice is the one who gets sent home. I suppose that having three or four routines that I enjoyed and seeing Jordan go home would've been asking for too much. All the same, an excellent week.
Obviously, I couldn't let the Twitch/Sasha number go by without improving on the wedding invitation:
I love a happy ending.
I have a foolproof way of making all the Gatorade shilling both awesome and an instant best-seller:
I'm giving this one to you for free, PepsiCo.
Sasha keeping punk alive with a mohawk AND a safety pin in her ear.
Seriously, so many opportunities for good Sasha macros the moment she has a new partner. Coincidence? I THINK NOT.
Oh good, he found them. I really love a happy ending.