Watching last night’s totally bananas episode of So You Think You Can Dance, I have to agree with what Nigel Lythgoe said in agreeing with guest judge Rob Marshall’s agreement with Mary Murphy when she agreed with what guest judge Lady Gaga said about how everyone’s legs and smile and props and non-props made them a shining star because they were born that way, baby. I mean, really. I don’t believe I’ve found a judging panel on any reality-competition show so engaged and thoughtful while simultaneously so obsequious and exasperating. Fortunately, we had a lot of topflight dancing to distract us from all the insightful fawning and orangey orange, so let’s do it to it!
First up, Sasha and Pasha took on a quickstep number by SYTYCD rookie Jonathan Roberts that was sold as “bizarre,” and that it was, like something out of a zany 1960s mod musical starring Carol Channing. Intriguingly, no one pointed out the final botched lift at the end, one of the few times the judges let a glaring error go, but that could be because it looked like it was Pasha’s fault, and by edict Pasha can do no wrong, especially when he wears really tight pants. In any event, it was still one of the stronger quicksteps that’ve been on the show, and Nigel felt it enough to declare Sasha his “favorite dancer in the competition … by a hair’s breadth … this week.” Don’t gild the lily or anything, Nige. Meanwhile, we got the evening’s first Lady Gagaism, said through a pair of oversize John Lennon sunglasses slung so low on her nose that she sounded vaguely like a really fabulous Bert: “You are as shiny on the outside as you are on the inside.” So Sasha sweats a lot?
Another new choreographer, Marty Kudelka, revealed his inexperience with creating numbers for SYTYCD before Caitlynn and Ivan even took the stage for their lighter-than-air hip-hop routine. The story, he explained, was about a guy winning over a girl who’s pissed at her (absent) boyfriend, and right there we had a problem, since it meant all the storytelling focus was on Ivan; Caitlynn could only react. Which she did with surprisingly funky aplomb from my vantage point, but the evening’s underscript was clearly about ushering the sweet girl home, so the judges damned her with faint praise and Nigel leered something about Caitlynn’s need to open her legs more and “get a firmer base.” (Cat, earning her Emmy nomination once more, immediately keyed into the rhetorical bait Nigel was dangling before the psychedelic Chinese general sitting at his right, and said the two words I’ve been thinking for the past six months: “Gaga, don’t.”)
And now we’ve come to Jordan, season 8’s designated Most Controversial Dancer. Granted, from her very first audition, I’ve regarded Ms. Pussycat Wannabe with a cocked eyebrow and some sassy askance-ing. But at this stage of the game, I can’t quite hate on her as much as so many of you do. She grabs your attention, plain and simple, even in routines like last night’s jumbled mess of a jazz number with Ade, who was evidently instructed by Tyce Diorio to treat Jordan like a human Gumby doll — with about as much chemistry besides. My pelvis is still wincing from the moment when Ade pulled Jordan’s legs from 6 o’clock to 10 ’til 7, and I think the judges’ lavish praise of Jordan can be boiled down to this sentiment: “We are amazed that your legs are still attached to your body!”
NEXT: Rob Marshall says the unspeakable about Tyce, and Melanie lands her first postshow gig