There was a lot of lovin' going on in the So You Think You Can Dance studio on Wednesday's show.
Love, or at least lust, whether lost, scorned or newly discovered, was a popular theme for the routines danced by the top 16. And a kiss that was part of one hip-hop performance led to an outbreak of kissing at the judges' table.
Mary Murphy had been asking Melanie Moore and Marko Germar how hard it was to kiss partway through their Nappytabs number.
"How hard is it, because I have to tell you, they asked me to kiss somebody on Broadway and I knew he was engaged..." Mary began. And then Nigel Lythgoe was on her trying to kiss her while she shrieked and squirmed. "How hard was that for you to watch?" Mary screamed afterwards, hair mussed, leaning on guest judge Kristin Chenoweth for support.
Moments later, at the end of her critique, Kristin jumped up and planted a big kiss on Lil' C. And as C staggered out of his seat, glasses askew, Nigel ran over and pretended to kiss him too.
"Once again, it's mayhem in the studio," said host Cat Deeley, as Marko tried to kiss her, then Melanie.
"Tonight we're serving up a feast of dance and smooches."
If you missed it, trust me, it was funny.
Back to the love theme, there was a lot to love on Wednesday, plus this is the point where I'm starting to firm up my love for particular couples.
Top of my list at the moment are Jess and Clarice, and Melanie and Marko, but I'm also loving Sasha, Mitchell and Robert as individual dancers.
Here's a quick rundown of Wednesday's routines from my favourite to least favourite performances.
Jess LeProtto and Clarice Ordaz: "Fly Me to the Moon," indeed. Jess and Clarice were flawless in this Jean Marc Genereux-choreographed foxtrot and had style oozing out of every toe point and arm extension. Kristin compared Jess to Gene Kelly, who is probably my favourite male dancer of all time, and I think it was an apt description. You could have put these two into a time machine and transported them back to one of those late 1940s, early '50s movies that made Gene famous and they'd have fit right in. "Well, the foxtrot is supposed to be gliding, sophisticated, jazzy in its solo work and that's exactly what you guys did right now," said Mary Murphy. "Clarice, you were beautiful up there ... you seemed like you've been a foxtrot dancer for much longer. Jess, can I just say there isn't a single other dancer I believe in this show that could have done what you did just now."
Marko Germar and Melanie Moore: This pair of jazz and contemporary dancers are already the competition's cutest couple and now, Nigel says they're the couple to beat as well. They were captivating in this Tabitha and Napoleon D'Umo lyrical hip-hop number about a jilted man who realizes he's in love with his best friend. Technically, they were sharp and clean and in synch, and they were emotionally believable as well. Referring to how dancers are like a tool kit a choreographer has to work with, Lil' C said "I think Tabitha and Napoleon were excited when they opened it up and saw a pair of limited edition Swiss army knives. You guys are a power couple. That was extra buck."
Sasha Mallory and Alexander Fost: The judges were divided on this contemporary routine choreographed by Dee Caspary, in which Sasha was Alexander's lost love returning to his memory as he played the piano. Nigel and Mary said they needed to dig deeper into their characters although the dancing was strong, but Kristin and C both bought the story. I'm with the latter two. I got loss and passion and regret from Sasha and Alexander. And I think they're both lovely dancers, particularly Sasha. "Sasha, you are eight notches above perfection," C told her.
Robert Taylor Jr. and Miranda Maleski: Between Miranda's sultriness and Robert's sunny personality, how could you lose with this Broadway routine choreographed by Tyce Diorio? The story might have been a little unorthodox: upper class call girl can't get anywhere with the "groovy cat" who's just interested in music. Miranda was a siren in a red dress, smooth and languid. All she had to do was throw up one of those crazy long legs of hers to make an impression. Robert was a delight. You'd never have guessed he was a hip hop dancer watching him kick and leap and spin across the stage, not to mention how ably he lifted Miranda. Nigel marvelled that Robert had been in danger of going home. "Here you are improving and improving. It just shows when people give you the opportunity you're gonna take it, young man." Nigel told Miranda she's the most transformed of all the dancers. "You've grown in confidence, grown in style, grown in technique."
Caitlynn Lawson and Mitchell Kelly: These two could just as easily have been third or fourth on my list as fifth. They tackled a hot and spicy samba with Jean Marc, and they were right on the beat and right on the money. They both mastered the footwork and had great fluidity in the hips, but Mitchell was especially mesmerizing. Nigel called him "the Chris Rock of So You Think You Can Dance," whatever that means. "Mitchell, hello, what is going on up there?" said Mary. "You were so rhythmical, you were so powerful. I loved every second of it, you hot tamales up there."
Ryan Ramirez and Ricky Jaime: Sonya Tayeh's concept for this contemporary routine was that Ricky and Ryan were a couple whose love was ending, but they were still tied together, so the dancers were physically tethered by a long piece of fabric. On a technical level I can appreciate how difficult it would be to dance like that, but I just wasn't feeling the piece emotionally. The judges loved it, however, and there's no question that Ryan and Ricky move extremely well and make some beautiful shapes with their bodies.
Tadd Gadduang and Jordan Casanova: This Nappytabs hip-hop routine was slightly naughty for the SYTYCD stage. Tadd was a college student waking up with a strange girl in his bed. The pair scrambled to get dressed and get away before landing back in bed again. Despite Jordan's sexy style of dance, she said in rehearsals that she was completely embarrassed by the piece. However, she and Tadd danced it well if not outstandingly. "In truth, the actual story of the dance overwhelmed the dance. It didn't matter because it was great fun," said Nigel. "You'll be here for weeks to come."
Ashley Rich and Chris Koehl: Last week, Ashley and Chris were among my favourites; this week, not so much. Sonya Tayeh's jazz routine required the pair to be zombie and Beetlejuice-like, but I agree with Nigel and Mary that those kinds of characters require a more over-the-top performance. Ashley and Chris were, as Mary noted, clean and sharp, but their movements weren't emphatic enough for me. Ashley does, however, have gorgeous lines no matter what she dances. "Ashley, for me you're the sleeper cell of this competition," Lil' C told her.
There were also two group routines, with the dancers split into eight per number. Tyce choreographed the first, in which Sasha, Clarice, Miranda and Ryan were pushing around the guys, Tadd, Marco, Chris and Mitchell, keeping them at bay with chairs.
Dee choreographed the closing contemporary number, in which the girls were once more beating up on the guys, this time with poisoned drinks.
And speaking of things that are hard to swallow, Thursday is results night and two more dancers go home. You can check it out at 8 p.m. on CTV and look for the recap here.