So You Think You Can Dance: Going gaga for the girls
Well, not just any girls, for Melanie in particular.
I've loved her since her first audition and she's knocking me out week after week on So You Think You Can Dance. Her strength, her lines, the way she makes every movement look effortless: Melanie's my favourite dancer of the competition.
Sasha also did well on Wednesday's show, especially in her crowd-pleasing jazz duet with Melanie, but I have to disagree with head judge Nigel Lythgoe: I think more than a hair separates Melanie from Sasha. Plus, we can't discount Marko, who dances with a passion and strength that's the male match for Melanie's.
That being said, Jess is and always has been my favourite guy. Too bad his rumba fell a little short on Wednesday.
And of course, there was another girl on the show drawing as much attention as the dancers: guest judge Lady Gaga. She brought humour and humanity to the table as well as a big dose of quirk with her blue hair and pointy red hat. And she had a few things to say that were more interesting than just telling everyone they were amazing. But I wouldn't be surprised if a few of the choreographers' noses were out of joint, since Gaga wasn't shy about critiquing them along with the dancers.
I've ranked the dancers invidually from most to least favourite based on Wednesday's performances:
Melanie Moore: Exquisite is one of the words I'd use to describe Melanie's routine with all-star Neil Haskell, a contemporary number by Mandy Moore. For me, Melanie wasn't dancing steps so much as just being on that stage. The technique was stunning; the emotion felt real. And that flying leap she took into Neil's arms made me gasp out loud. As far as I could tell, everybody in the studio was on their feet at the end of it. Gaga praised her athleticism and passion, guest judge Rob Marshall called her poetic and Mary Murphy used brilliant. The accolades continued for the Sonya Tayeh jazz number she danced with Sasha. "Everybody can pack up and go home 'cause that was the performance of the evening," said Gaga, after throwing her huge red platform shoe at the stage, because apparently that's what people do to signal a job well done in the dance community.
Sasha Mallory: After weeks of wiping the floor with poor Alexander, Sasha had two partners who could stand up to her Wednesday: Melanie and all-star Pasha Kovalev. The latter performed a quirky quickstep with Sasha, choreographed by Jonathan Roberts. Both Nigel and Gaga found her a little too stiff, but I thought she did a terrific job with a technically challenging routine. "I don't know how you cope with a dance like quickstep with the world that you come from, but you absolutely pulled it off tonight," Mary told the contemporary dancer. Sasha was also very good in the jazz routine with Melanie, another number that had the judges and audience on their feet, although Melanie was the standout for me. However, Nigel said either of them could end up as this season's champion.
Marko Germar: Marko was really strong in both his routines, but I differ from the judges in liking the hip-hop better than the contemporary number, which was choreographed by Sonya Tayeh and danced with all-star Allison Holker. I found it a little slow and felt that often Marko had little to do besides carry Allison, but there's no question that his technique and emotional intensity were spot on. It was certainly emotional for Gaga, who seemed to relate to the theme about people being overcome by guilt for judging other people. "There were so, so many things I did wrong when I was younger, so many things I wish I could take back," she said through tears. "I felt every moment of that through your dance tonight." Marko, also in tears, addressed his mom, who had flown from Guam to see the show, telling her he was sorry for things he had said in the past and that he loved her. Nigel praised him for that and urged the people watching to tell their mothers they loved them while they still had the chance. The mood lightened a lot in Marko's second routine, a Tabitha and Napoleon D'umo hip-hop number he danced with Ricky. Marko had the character of a badass street cleaner down pat and got into a better groove than Ricky, dancing tight and clean. While Rob thought the choreography was exquisite, Gaga said its interpretation of hip-hop was "a little bit contrived" and disliked the props, which included brooms and a cart.
Jess LeProtto: Just based on Jess's first routine, a lyrical hip-hop piece choreographed by Nappytabs, I would have ranked him above Marko. I thought his movement was flawless with a wonderful, gentle groove. And as Nigel noted, there was no mugging, just an effective portrayal of a cheater trying to get his lover back, played by all-star Lauren Gottlieb. "Every week, it's been progress and as good as Lauren is, and she is really good, you're really good tonight too," Mary told him. Lady Gaga, who appears not to be a Nappytabs fan, took issue with the prop in this piece as well, a flower Jess offered to Lauren, but told Jess his performance outshined it. Alas, for his last number, a Jason Gilkison rumba, Jess was paired with my least favourite dancer, Jordan, and the lack of chemistry between them impaired the performance. Jess still moved well and had his best lift yet, a back split reverse spin that Mary said was the best of the season. Gaga again took issue with the choreography, saying she would have interpreted the song "Fire and Rain" differently.
Tadd Gadduang: I suppose we should all stop being astonished that B-boy Tadd does so well with choreography, because isn't that the point of the competition? On the other hand, you have to give him credit for doing as well as he does. His first routine, a Mandy Moore jazz number with all-star and Season 7 winner Lauren Froderman, was his best. He did a smooth job, despite losing his fedora near the beginning. Nigel called his moves Michael Jacksonesque and Mary compared him to a young Elvis Presley. "When you swagger it's like nobody else on this show," she said. Unfortunately, Tadd wasn't as suited to the Fred Astaire vibe that Jason Gilkison was looking for in Tadd's foxtrot with Caitlynn. Ballroom expert Mary found some technical faults, although both she and Rob said it was elegant.
Ricky Jaime: Ricky didn't hit it out of the park for me, either with his Jason Gilkison jive with all-star Anya Garnis or his hip-hop with Marko, but he still has gorgeous lines. And that double tour, which is I think what Rob called it (basically a very fast spin in mid-air) was fabulous. Ricky's height caused him a little trouble, though, with Nigel telling him he had to get closer to the ground in both the jive and the hip hop. Plus, one of the jive's lifts was laboured. By the time Ricky got to the hip hop, Nigel was telling him he might be in danger on Tuesday.
Caitlynn Lawson: I'll say one thing about Caitlynn, she's getting sexier week after week. She certainly had a sexy groove going in her hip-hop routine with all-star Ivan Koumaev, choreographed by Marty Kudelka. While it wasn't a hard-hitting hip hop, Caitlynn needed to get down more into it. I also thought too much time was spent setting up the routine, with Caitlynn sitting on a bench waiting for her errant boyfriend, which made us wait too long for the dancing. Caitlynn was still sexy in her foxtrot with Tadd, but she's no Ginger Rogers. Gaga had some interesting advice, telling Caitlynn "every once in a while with your hands you get a little 'I won a lot of trophies.'" Noting that she herself takes her platinum records off the walls and pretends she hasn't got any, Gaga told Caitlynn to "remind yourself the trophies, they're in the closet and just work that flower, honey," referring to the one in Caitlynn's hair.
Jordan Casanova: Oh the judges are doing their best to convince us what a fabulous dancer Jordan is. It's not that the girl can't dance, but I'm so over the sexy posing and the showing off of the legs. And it seemed to me her jazz routine with Ade Obayomi, choreographed by Tyce Diorio, was almost nothing but. While Jordan certainly has the leg extensions down pat, I felt she needed to push through her arms and hands a little more. Nigel gushed, "Is there anything that little body can't do? I mean it's so viable." And Rob's comment that Jordan's dancing has "such meaning and so many levels" kind of made me go, huh? I wasn't crazy about her rumba with Jess, either, but that's just me.
There was a bit of an uproar on Twitter last week over the fact that, contrary to previous seasons, the guy and girl with the least votes didn't automatically go home, which is what usually happens when we get down to the top 10. Instead, the bottom four had to dance for their lives and then the judges chose whom to oust.
I suspect we'll see more of the same on Tuesday's results. You can tune in at 8 on CTV and catch the recap here.