They really are a scream.

By Kelly Connolly
August 25, 2015 at 04:50 AM EDT
  • TV Show

Take a second to celebrate good health: For the first time in a few weeks, no one had to sit this one out due to injury. That’s especially good news for Tyce Diorio’s opening group routine, an Addams Family-inspired number that sets the tone for the night. No one in the Addams family cares what you think. They’re just out to do what they love. So are the top 8—and if anyone tries to get in their way, they can follow Cat’s advice and “kick ’em in the shins.”

But not literally—we’re trying to keep these kids healthy.

Virgil and All-Star Jasmine

Choreographer: Sean Cheesman, African Jazz

Song: “Kintamani (Hanoman’s Forest Mix)” by Transglobal Underground

Think about the story that the coolest counselor at camp told around the fire. Now put it to music. That’s this dance: It’s a little spooky, but there’s a happy ending. The routine tasks Virgil with bringing Jasmine to “the dark side,” but (spoiler alert!) she vanquishes him instead. Get it, girl. Sean Cheesman’s choreography is as fun as Jasmine’s dress; she and Virgil move together even when they’re not doing the same thing. Every step one of them takes echoes back to the other. Virgil lifts Jasmine like he’s a foot taller than he is—what does Nigel mean about his “heart” being the strong one? I mean, sure, it is, but so are his arms. Jason, settling in for another night of vague critiques, says that he thought Virgil’s “sinister” persona came across as cartoonish, but this wasn’t supposed to be Kupono-in-the-addiction-routine level creepy. The good girl won.

ASIDE: After last week’s show, someone was kind enough to remind Nigel that Jasmine and Sasha are actually two different people. I’m glad to see him acknowledge the mistake, even if it comes with a list of excuses. He’s just seen so many great dancers, guys.

Derek and All-Star Jaimie

Choreographer: Tyce Diorio, Contemporary

Song: “Never Dreamed You’d Leave in Summer” by Stevie Wonder

It’s a testament to the power of Cat Deeley that she could call this routine “Stevie Wonder-ful” and pull it off. And is this the most I’ve liked Derek, or am I just dazzled by Jaimie? Maybe a bit of both. Tyce hands the dancers a story of two “broken souls” (oh Tyce) who’ve “lost the magic they once had” (they’re breaking up, Tyce; just say they’re breaking up). He points to the space where their cheeks are almost touching and says that it’s where the magic lives. Derek takes that piece of direction seriously; he practically rubs half of his face on Jaimie’s at one point. I don’t mind it, though. The choreography itself doesn’t elicit much emotion, but I think their faces do, even if both Nigel and Jason still want more vulnerability. The best compliment Jason can offer is, “Uh, good job.” What if I want more vulnerability from Jason?

Hailee and All-Star Fik-Shun

Choreographer: Luther Brown, Hip-Hop

Song: “Let It Go” by Chonique Sneed

Luther Brown is here to make these kids stop saying “swag,” if only for a week. Say no to swag. Say yes to flavor. Say no to all of the judges naming their favorite flavors. (Jason goes with chicken and waffles, while Nigel favors “bread and buttah,” or maybe coffee and cream. He’s British.) In any case, everyone loves this number, which Hailee manages to rock despite being stuck in what may very well be a discarded Catwoman suit. I don’t think she upstages Fik-Shun, but that’s no crime. She still knows how to get down. 

Megz and All-Star Paul

Choreographer: Jean Marc Genereux, Paso Doble

Song: “Blade of Blood” by Tom Player

Cat may call it a “fifty shades of So You Think You Can Dance outfit,” but I’m into the fact that Megz gets to wear pants for this Paso. I’m into the capes. I’m into the lifts. I’m just not that into the finished product. I wish I were! But the Paso Doble has to be so sharp, and Megz seems a little shaky on her feet, not to mention a little stiff in the shoulders. The judges all feel that this routine exposed her lack of formal training, but only Paula offers a useful critique: Megz needs to work on her core strength. Once she’s got that, everything else will come together. Thank you, Paula. Thank you for being specific. You’re almost forgiven for calling her Meg.

Neptune and All-Star Kayla

Choreographer: Ray Leeper, Jazz

Song: “Infinity” by The xx

This is the story of a couple getting back together for good, so if Tyce’s routine made you sad, feel free to imagine that Neptune and Kayla are playing the same characters down the line. The choreography is heavy on partner work, and while Neptune might not have as much technique to spotlight, he moves in tune with Kayla and supports her every step of the way. Jason says that the lifts were weak, but I thought they were the strongest part of the routine—it’s when Neptune and Kayla dance side by side that his lack of training stands out. Paula and Nigel both praise how much Neptune has grown and look forward to how far he could go if he brushes up on technique. This is just what they said to Megz, but nicer. Hmm.

NEXT: Before we turn to stone

Jim and All-Star Comfort

Choreographers: Pharside and Phoenix, Hip-Hop

Song: “Hey Mama” by David Guetta feat. Nicki Minaj, Bebe Rexha, and Afrojack

Jim goes into this week determined to connect with his partner and winds up in a routine that strictly prohibits eye contact. That would happen to him. Pharside and Phoenix draw from Greek mythology for this number, casting Comfort as Medusa and Jim as Perseus. Long myth short: He’ll turn to stone if he looks her in the eye. That should make connecting easy. It’s a fun routine, but I’m confused about the logistics of it all—are we really supposed to believe that Perseus doesn’t make eye contact once, even when his face is right above hers? That, combined with the moments when they’re actually not looking at each other, does make it a little harder to feel the spark between them. But let’s not blame the dancers for the limitations of the choreography. What does Jason even mean when he tells Jim to “embody the actual hip-hop being”? He’s wearing a leather skirt. And it’s still a fun routine.

Gaby and All-Star Robert

Choreographer: Mandy Moore, Contemporary

Song: “Angel” by Sarah McLachlan

Mandy has missed us, and I have missed her. This is, bar none, the routine of the evening, not to mention Gaby’s best routine of the competition. She’s asked to embody anxiety, and she does it: Let’s talk about her artful flailing as Robert holds her suspended above the ground. From the lighting to the gauzy dress to Robert himself, something about this number echoes Travis’ “Fix You”—it hits a different emotional beat, but the aesthetic is the same. The judges shower Gaby with praise, but they don’t need to. She’s almost in tears from the minute they stop dancing. She knows she just reached another level, and watching her savor this moment is the best part of the night.

Jaja and All-Star Ricky

Choreographer: Al Blackstone, Broadway

Song: “Let’s Face the Music and Dance” by Nat King Cole

Two of my favorite things are Jaja and Broadway mobsters, and I’m pleased to report that they go well together. This is my favorite Jaja routine yet. She can act! At the start of rehearsals, Jaja doesn’t even have a concept of the American mobster; by the time she hits the stage, she’s a sultry, ticked off mob wife with class to spare. Her character is the highlight of the routine, but her technique is on point too; those kicks are impressive. How does an animator glide across the stage like this? Amy Adams would be proud. 

Team Street

Choreographer: Dave Scott, Hip-Hop

Song: “Finna Get Loose” by Puff Daddy & The Family feat. Pharrell Williams

Four is not the ideal number for a group routine, but Dave Scott pulls it off by de-emphasizing the “group” aspect and playing up everyone’s individual strengths. This is a joyful routine that feels cohesive without feeling stifled; it’s like a bunch of friends got together to throw it down in the street. Isn’t that the goal of the whole team? (Also, seeing Jaja in her natural style is even more impressive in light of that Broadway routine.)

Team Stage

Choreographer: Tessandra Chavez

Song: “Give Me Love” by Ed Sheeran

Tessandra Chavez takes the opposite approach with Team Stage, carefully choreographing two duets in one. This is a story about two couples in an “addictive and desperate relationship,” and while I’m not sure Ed Sheeran screams either addictive or desperate, it’s a gorgeous number. The dancers are really in sync, which just makes it even harder to send someone home.

BOTTOM FOUR: Megz, Neptune, Derek, and Hailee

ELIMINATED: Derek and Neptune

At last, the season of women gets to keep some women. By this point, every elimination is tough—even Derek’s, and it’s been his time for weeks. His solos were just starting to make me like him more. As for Team Street, there’s no easy goodbye here, but it would have stung to watch Megz go out on a routine that didn’t show off her strengths. As Cat says, “Squeeze them! Squeeze them fast!”

FINAL COUNT: Six dancers, one plate of chicken and waffles, and one head full of snakes. See you next week, America. 

Nigel Lythgoe, Mary Murphy, and the viewers at home crown America’s Favorite Dancer.
  • TV Show
  • 07/20/05
  • In Season
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