After last week’s shocking elimination, I knew that the only thing that could make it right this week would be some stellar dancing. The night opened with an interesting “Neon Cowboy” routine (as Nigel dubbed it) set to the fresh-off-the-press Nicki Minaj + Jessie J + Ariana Grande collab “Bang Bang”. While the routine was fun and a good change of pace from the all the moody, heavy group numbers by Mandy, Travis and the like, I don’t know that it will be memorable come the end of the season, but perhaps a good number to slot in for the Top 10 tour which is happening again this fall (and hopefully with the four that got cut last week, if there’s any justice).
But, I digress. Let’s find out who’s game was raised with the all-stars…
Pair #1: Bridget and All-Star Brandon (Season 5) – Bollywood-Disco – After Nigel’s comparison between these two styles earlier in the season, it seemed like almost a natural progression to infuse them into a more modern version, but something just didn’t connect with this. Sure, it was danced well, but maybe it was that it just didn’t feel as effortless or as fun as it could have. The show has had great Bollywood and Disco routines, so I know it’s possible, but this just fell short of good or great and fell more rightly in the realm of okay.
Pair #2: Tanisha and All-Star Ryan (Season 6) – Argentine Tango – In contrast, Tanisha got lucky to get paired in her style with one of the better ballroom guys this show has had. I was worried for a moment that the chemistry might be awkward between Ryan and a much younger Tanisha, but Tanisha had a great sense of maturity and her and Ryan made this just passionate enough without being crude. I think the judges were spot on giving her all the positive feedback after this one and Nigel’s comments about Tanisha not putting a foot wrong was right too. She’s been great in jazz, contemporary, hip-hop and ballroom. Is there anything she can’t do?
Pair #3: Emilio and All-Star Jasmine (Season 10) – Hip-hop – One person who’s game was raised significantly by the presence of the all-stars was Emilio. He, Jasmine and Nappytabs created a routine so good and seamless, that the semi-outlandish story of a serpent set on taking the throne from the king actually played out before out eyes. Compared to Emilio’s previous hip-hop outing with Bridget, this one felt like one for the books and I wouldn’t be surprised if it ends up being reprised in the finale and on tour.
Pair #4: Valerie and All-Star Ade (Season 5) – Jazz – Valerie, unfortunately, fell flat without her star-partner Ricky. I disagree with Nigel that Tyce’s choreography was stellar on this one. I’ve always loved this song and I expected better when the routine started, but a lot of the movements felt tired and worn out. I agree with the judges that Valerie could have given a lot more emotion and conviction to the routine but, either way, I think this wasn’t a good way for Valerie to start her solo post-Top 10 journey.
Pair #5: Rudy and All-Star Jenna (Season 10) – Cha-cha – If we’re going to say that Tanisha hasn’t put a foot wrong, we have to give the same feedback to Rudy. He’s been great since the word go and this routine was no exception. He owned the role and the cheese factor that Nigel complained about wasn’t a problem for me at all. Jenna’s a little cheeky too when she dances and I feel like a playful cha-cha like this to a Maroon 5 song requires that. Maybe Rudy learned a little ballroom technique from his bff Nick, but either way, he gave a good performance.
Pair #6: Jacque and All-Star Chehon (Season 9) – Contemporary-Ballet – Jacque’s nerves were apparent in this by the way she seemed to cling to Chehon at times instead of effortlessly being supported by him, but I don’t think that does much to diminish how breathtaking their technique in this was. Travis created a great vessel to just show off why Jacque deserved to make the Top 10, even if we’re just basing it on her own style.
Pair #7: Ricky and All-Star Lauren (Season 7) – Rock Jazz – This was a fun, playful routine, but the “fun” aspect of it didn’t detract from it also being good routine. Mandy’s been on a bit of a role lately, but I think Lauren’s star quality matches Ricky’s and that’s what made this so fun to watch. In the hands of two other dancers, this might just have been an ordinary routine, but they brought it to another level that I actually remembered it at the end of the night. That part, for me, makes the judges feedback make sense. Despite Ricky not always delivering the best routine of the night, he does have the memorable quality that other winners like Melanie and Amy had and that will, as the judges said, allow him to always find work.
Pair #8: Casey and All-Star Kathryn (Season 6) – Broadway – I was definitely resenting Casey going into tonight, but when I saw he was paired with Kathryn and choreographer Spencer Liff, I was willing to give him another chance. Unfortunately, I got the same vibe from this routine as I did last week. Kathryn stole the show, as she often does, but I think it’s because Casey just doesn’t have the same charisma and quality to his movement. I honestly can’t fathom what it is the judges see in him because, for me, he just hasn’t ever moved me in the way that other dancers this season have.
Pair #9: Jessica and All-Star Twitch (Season 4) – Hip-hop – This was definitely watered down hip-hop compared to what Nappytabs gave Emilio and Jasmine earlier in the night. It was still a fun routine, sure, but it didn’t convince me that Jessica can dance hip-hop and, for that reason, I might worry about her. People may vote based on her journey, especially last week, but this routine was not a step forward for her, but rather a step to the side, or maybe even slightly back.
Pair #10: Zack and All-Star Amy (Season 10) – Contemporary – This routine, like a few of the others, was a definitely step forward. Sure, a lot of it was in the set-up. Sonya’s tale of her dead friend told us that this was definitely going to be one of those routines that had us holding our breath, but the track she used with the storm sounds definitely made the silence even more profound as these two deliver so much emotion with so few words. There are times when I agree with Nigel and when he was screaming “Emmy” after this one for Sonya was one of them.
When all was said and done, we knew hip-hopper Emilio and tapper Zack, as well as ballet dancer Jacque and contemporary dancer Bridget were the Bottom 4. It was kind of a shame, since 3 of the 4 delivered fantastic routines tonight, but in the end, America decided to cut the original couple: Emilio and Bridget. I’ll miss Emilio’s infectious personality and, like Nigel said, his complete commitment to all his routines, but the cuts weren’t unexpected.
Next week, the proper cuts would be Casey and either Jessica or Valerie, but I won’t be surprised if they’ll be very different given the judges bafflingly modest feedback this week. Anyway, let me know what you thought about the routines in the poll below and I’ll see you again next Wednesday night with my recap!