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Melanie Lapatin on 'So You Think You Can Dance'

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SYTYCD
Adam Rose/FOX

Wow! I had no idea when I agreed to handicap this season’s SYTYCD last week for EW.com, a) how freakin’ tough it would be (because I KNOW, oh do I know, how hard these dancers work!!!), or b) how much I wish I was more techno-savvy so I could have replied to some of your sweet comments. But I’m such a disaster on the computer, I’m probably what puts the “twit” in Twitter! (No wonder @hiptwist1 doesn’t even have 200 followers! Haha!)

Anyway, before we get into this week’s episode, I wanted to say thank you (!!!) for reading my little blog, and I also wanted to respond in particular to Rachel, who commented that I shouldn’t pick on Nick. I didn’t mean to pick on him, and I hope he wouldn’t feel like that’s what I did. (Did I? Ack!!!) But, as adorable as he is, and as talented as we’ve already seen that he is, his quickstep was technically off. I know when I was training as a dancer, I always wanted to be told if I wasn’t getting something quite right, so I assume that he and any dancer who’s as good as he is would want the same. How can we make something better if we don’t realize it isn’t perfect, right?

Speaking of Nick, let’s start this review with his and Iveta’s Bollywood number. The good news? They went for it, big time, and pulled it off pretty well for two people doing a routine in a genre neither of them had ever done before. Unfortunately, that’s kind of the bad news, too: They never made me forget they were two people doing a routine in a genre neither of them had ever done before.

Moving on: Ryan and Ricky’s post-apocalyptic jazz number. She’s a truly striking dancer — the definition of poetry in motion. (And not a haiku in motion, either. Because would just be weird.) And when Ricky moves, he’s lightning, plain and simple. So this SHOULD have bowled me over… but it didn’t. How is that possible? I think the answer is chemistry, or rather, a (hopefully temporary) lack thereof.

On the other hand, Chris and Ashley displayed LOADS of chemistry during their “conjugal visit.” In fact, my only quibble with their performance in this sexy-as-hell number was that, while she played the tease to a T (also to an E, an A, an S and an E), his depiction of the teasee (is that a word?) fell a little short. It was supposed to seem like he wanted to eat her alive, basically, right? Instead, what I got was more, “Yeah, sure, I could go for a bite.” (If his crush on her is as big as it seems, this should not have been an issue at all.)

Sasha and Alexander ran into the same problem. While their homecoming dance was really beautifully executed, their intensity didn’t sync up. She brings just a breathtaking depth and understanding to each movement, and he… I mean, his performance was VERY good. It was clean, and it was emotional. But did he meet her halfway in terms of the “acting”? No, he fell a little short.

Eesh. Now I feel all critical. But I AM supposed to be critiquing, right? I have to remind myself of that sometimes. Maybe I should put it on a Post-It…

Anyway… Clarice and Jess. Although their partnership didn’t electrify me, individually I really like them. He’s very lyrical, very fluid, in his movements. And she’s flat-out insane! Not only does she have legs of steel and a spectacular awareness of lines, but I think there’s a 90 percent chance that she could not appear awkward if she tried. (And tried… and tried… )

Miranda and Robert were fantastic in their hip-hop routine. BUT, that said, he still disappointed me. He’s got swag, sure, and he hit it hard. But here’s the thing: He could’ve hit it harder, and she DID hit it harder. No way should a girl dancing that far outside of her comfort zone have been able to outshine him like that, and she did. Next time, Woo Man, bring it!

I feel almost bad (or even worse than I usually do) about critiquing Wadi and Missy, and you’ll see why in a second. Missy could have dropped her weight a little to make herself more grounded, but overall, she was excellent and demonstrated a real feel for the cha-cha. She’s not why I feel so bad critiquing them. (There’s not much to criticize there… she was great!) But Wadi… dear Wadi. The judges said it all. I’m not gonna kick the poor guy when he’s down.

Now for something cheerful: my top 3 couples of the week. Drumroll, please. What, there’s no drumroll on the Internet? Fine. In no particular order, they are:

Jordan and Tadd. Yes, there were moments of imperfection, like when they first took dance position and when they did one of their lifts (one was awkward and slow; the other, excellent). But with a little bit of training, they could’ve fooled me into thinking they were regular ballroom competitors. And you KNOW I don’t throw around compliments like that easily. I predict she’ll make the top 5 of the season. I’d say the same of him except that I don’t think he’ll just make the top 5, I suspect he might actually win the whole thing.

Caitlynn and Mitchell. These two just blew me away. Her, I kind of expected to be wonderful; she’s wowed me from the start and is as striking in performance as she is adorable behind the scenes. But he was a revelation. In my eyes, he grew up for this dance and totally shed the sweet, goofy persona he shows us in rehearsal. It was a challenge — go deep — and he rose to it. What else can I say but “Bravo!”? Well, “Bravo!” and “Please try never to accidentally clock your partner again, Mitchell. Her nose is cute the way it is.”

Melanie and Marko. These two are about as well-matched a pair as I can imagine. I mean, their strengths are, as far as I can tell so far, the same: They’re both exceedingly sharp dancers, they’re both very aware of themselves, and they both bring a musicality to their movement that’s the physical embodiment of a symphony. Gorgeous.

So, all in all, a heckuva show, wouldn’t you say? And that’s a wrap for me this week. Not sure if I’ll be back next week — I never have any idea where I’ll be from hour to hour! I know one of these days I have a meeting to talk about shooting a music video for a song from my crazy Ballroom Remixed album (on iTunes now, in case I haven’t mentioned it 100 times yet). It would probably help to know which song we were going to do, though, huh. Any ideas? (And PS, yes, I’m as open to your criticism of the album as I hope the dancers are to my criticism of their dancing.) I’d better do some thinking before that meeting… and to write myself a Post-It that says, “Melanie, it’s okay to critique. You’re SUPPOSED to critique.” Lady Cha-Cha, signing off…

Check out Melanie LaPatin’s album of wacky ballroom dance songs, Ballroom Remixed, featuring teen queen Kaya, Broadway babe Kerry Butler and electropop Boy Wonder Simon Curtis.

Read more:

‘SYTYCD’ recap: Debbie Does ‘Dance’

‘SYTYCD’ gallery: 25 Greatest Performance Ever

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