Your regular recapper, Margaret, had the night off, and I agreed to sub for one reason only: Benny Ninja. But even he couldn’t save this episode from being as pathetic as Sundai pulling out the Cabbage Patch when asked to express sadness through dance.

Season after season, we see contestants told that their dance backgrounds actually hurt their modeling. But as guest (5’6″) judge Josie Maran pointed out at panel, dancers spend their lives looking in the mirror — so they should know their angles. Foolishly, I thought this teach might reveal the difference between good and bad dance influence, but no. All we got was Benny and Lil Mama looking disgusted at Nicole’s attempt at anger (“He asked me for angry, and I think my dance ended up being way more bipolar”), a quick routine from the Jabbawockeez, and the girls having an hour to choreograph group numbers that would convey happiness, sadness, and anger as they wore masks. NO SMIZING. You knew winning Team 1 — Jennifer, Rae, and Kara — gelled the moment Kara asked, “Can I do a cartwheel?” and the others jumped and squealed as though they’d just been told again that the prize was $17,000 in jewelry. Even though their “happiness” involved skipping around in a way that made me, for some reason, flash back to the little people onstage when Spinal Tap performs “Stonehenge,” the Fainting Rae move during the “sadness” segment was the highlight of all three group performances. I thought group 2’s idea of miming Double Dutch for happiness was actually pretty cute — they just needed to make it a bit more lyrical. Dance instructor Ashley should be fired for what she did with Group 3 (another Cabbage Patch?), though clearly Nicole’s scary/angry staring contest with the tiny audience was an homage to the Jabbawockeez number. Can you imagine being a member of that tiny audience and having to sit there and pretend that those “dances” were worthy of your time?

Moving on, Jay woke up the models at 4:30 a.m., so they could catch a flight to Vegas for group photo shoots with performers from Mystère because, as Jay said while in costume, “Miss Banks is a huge fan of Cirque du Soleil.” This was a cool concept for the annual do-you-stand-out? photo showdown, but surprisingly not that fun to watch. Even though the camera spent a few seconds on each girl, there was so much else to absorb in the frame that you couldn’t focus on anyone or get an idea of how the models played off each other and their Cirque cohorts. You could argue that it gave the photo reveal at panel more suspense, but even then I felt rushed. I wanted more time to see how Brittany being the “Bride of Frankenstein’s second cousin that is a model”* worked with the rest of the photo, and how Laura’s Gisele-like curve of the back stole her pic. She did look phenomenal, like she’d taken some “Fierce Juice.”**

So, what did you think of Benny Ninja’s teach and the group photo shoots? Do you agree that it was Ashley’s time to go? (Jennifer is so lucky that she had Rae and Brittany in her photo, or she would have been in the bottom two instead of Kara.) And would you invite Josie Maran back? I thought she started off shaky, but then hit her stride while describing the poses of Laura (“You look like you’re happy, you’re climaxing”) and Erin (“I think you look very high fashion because you’re kind of not doing anything with your face, but it comes off strong still” — it’s a weird statement, and yet, oddly accurate). Though I’m not sure I follow her critique of Rae’s appearance at panel: “You can’t be successful as a model if you don’t have any of your own personality in your style,” she said. (1) I thought designers liked blank canvases because you will become what they need you to be. (2) I have no idea what Gisele’s personal style is.

* and ** ™ Tyra

Episode Recaps

Trya Banks
America's Next Top Model

Tyra Banks searches for the next great supermodel

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