Four performers head home; alums return; judges kiss

By Meredith Hoffa
July 19, 2012 at 09:41 AM EDT
  • TV Show

Four eliminations, a little open mouth kissing, a little fake kissing, and many shameless yet clever plugs for Step Up Revolution. Things are afoot. Oh, yeah, and also a ton of male makeup! Mini-cupcakes are in the house and it’s time to write this baby up! Much to discuss.

Four eliminations. That’s 20% of our group! More on that later. But real quick, let me just say that I thought the looming eliminations added a slight yet palpable layer of tension and anxiety to the whole affair tonight. This was the first time we’ve gotten to see how the new format would play out. I don’t know about anyone else, but I feel a certain relief now that the new machine is finally underway. The seal has been broken. But, like I said, more on that in a bit.

First, the opening group piece: a spooky, scary NappyTabs to-do with face paint, feathers, and headpieces galore. Loved it. This is the NappyTabs I want to see! Don’t give me that alcoholism NappyTabs, give me this kind! It was nearly impossible to pick out the dancers onstage but as a cohesive whole I thought it rocked.

The micro-solos were done in pairs and it was cute to see the couples together. Also, I was pleased to see Janaya rocking yet another darling dance jumpsuit (but then I immediately felt a pang of sadness knowing it would surely be her last jumpsuit on this show.).

National Dance Day. Ugh. How I want to run for the hills whenever Nigel starts up with his Dance Day updates. It’s not that I’m opposed to the idea, I think it’s great. It’s just that Nigel’s updates always manage to come across like filler material combined with SYTYCD self-aggrandizement. But good to know there will be dance-themed postal stamps. I think the U.S.P.S. is one of the best things on the planet and I’m not even kidding.

Cole and Lindsay started the night off with a Christopher Scott routine to Lady Gaga’s “Teeth,” about a visit to a dentist who is “not your average dentist.” For one thing this dentist wears Keds. Also, no pants. It felt a little silly and random as a piece, but it was a high-energy, pop-y way to start off the show. Cole staying in character throughout the judges’ feedback was positively tragic. I loved when Adam was like “Cole, you’re totally freaking me out.” Right? The judges thought Lindsay should have dialed up the sexiness more.

NEXT: Bubblegum and oil

Amelia and Will did a Sonya Tayeh contemporary piece set to haunting violin music about two souls carrying the weight of the world on their shoulders and searching for the light at the end of the tunnel. Amelia’s inexplicable smiling in the middle of it was disconcerting, but aside from that I was completely captivated. Mary liked it so much she let out a Maryscream. Adam liked it so much he stood up — not right after the fact, like in a spontaneous standing ovation way, but when it was his turn to talk, like in a “look at me” way. Listen: I love Adam for all the smart things he says as guest judge, but sometimes his show pony nonsense — the nonstop blowing of kisses to every animate object, the reverent namaste bowing, the daytime talk show style crying — feels like it’s spinning out of control. Anyway. Nigel liked it so much he reminded the dancers how lucky they are: lucky to be paired together, lucky to be dancing in their style, and lucky to be so talented. Me? Here are my final thoughts on the performance: 1) Will is completely adorable and I’m going to spend the week trying to figure out what kind of animal he looks like, 2) How sweet was that little moment when Will offhandedly gave Amelia an affectionate little kiss on the forehead?, and 3) I’m really trying to get on board with Amelia. She is talented, no doubt. But the post-routine phone number mugging is not helping our relationship. I know, I know, it’s not just her. Why do they do this? DANCERS, WHO INSTRUCTED YOU TO DO THIS? It comes off like they’re cooing at a baby in a crib. Please. This must cease.

Amber and Nick got a tango choreographed by Miriam Larici and Leonardo Barrionuevo and never has a sexy dancetress hated her partner more since Sasha and Alexander of yesteryear.  In Amber’s own words: “Me and Nick trying to connect is like bubblegum and oil.” I don’t know much about that particular combination of substances but I think those words speak loud and clear. And I bet it was particularly hard to connect with Nick tonight considering his face had apparently been dipped into a vat of foundation. He looked like Kris Kardashian Jenner. Despite his orange-hued contouring powder and the pale pink lip, Nick was practically invisible to me throughout the routine. The judges commented that Nick disappeared behind the strong and stunning presence of Amber. The kid looked crushed. That’s gotta sting when it’s your genre and all.

The Sonya Tayeh Show continued with Audrey and Matthew performing a piece about the power struggle between men and women. Matthew was also wearing a ton of makeup — “guyliner,” Cat called it — and while he looked super pretty (he kinda looked like Lindsay), I thought it was an odd choice for this particular piece. Mary called the routine one of her favorites of the night. Adam said he used to doubt Audrey but doesn’t anymore AND if Matthew keeps it up like this, the show is his to lose. That’s a big deal! Nigel enjoyed it so much he had to dance his feelings; he stood up and did some “stank steps,” creating a twitter of nervous laughter. I loved the beautiful fluidity of this piece, but missed seeing the more aggressive side of Audrey that she’d promised. There is a gentle, light-as-a-feather quality to her that is lovely, but in this piece, I wanted to detect the beast in her and didn’t get that.

NEXT: Kissy mouth

Janelle and Dareian danced a Christopher Scott lyrical hip hop routine to “My Girl” about an elaborate date that ends in a proposal and I almost just fell asleep while writing that. This piece was way too easy to be on this show, and nothing about it sparkled except for that glittery prop jacket. Even a better song would have improved this routine. Janelle had joked “I have to be in love with Dareian? Oh no, he’s like Donald Duck,” but girlfriend obviously enjoyed that kiss, did she not? In a tone-deaf repeat of last year’s kiss-o-rama, Adam announced that he wouldn’t be upstaged, so he shoved Mary aside to plant one on Nigel using the old 5th grade trick whereby you put your hand over the other person’s mouth and kiss “them” a.k.a. yourself. “Please pick up the phone and vote for that to never happen again,” Cat said, while Janelle’s face said I am enduring this. Then everyone moved on, and Adam was denied a Moment. Meanwhile, I still feel like I haven’t really seen Janelle dance.

I have to admit that when I heard Sean Cheeseman was choreographing (Broadway, no less) for Janaya and Brandon, I was a little nervous. The Cheese didn’t exactly have a stellar week last week, between the African jazz and the scaffolding/red-suited jazz. But this routine was so entertaining. Both dancers performed with pizzazz up the yizzazz, and I was especially taken by Brandon. What a handsome, charming dude. That smile! Adam declared it a successful character piece. He also said the piece was “actually” great for Janaya and she “actually” played the comedy. Yikes. Talk about low expectations. Adam then said the performance was a huge step up for Brandon, movie plug.

Eliana and Glitch danced a Tony Meredith and Melanie LaPatin jive to “I’m Shakin.” Was it any surprise that Glitch didn’t do much actual dancing? Was it also any surprise that what he did do on stage was immensely watchable? Mary commented that aside from the one thousand things wrong with the routine (like transitions, feet, posture), there were some good parts. Adam said that Eliana is the hardest working woman in show biz because she’s gotta make herself look good and make her partner look good. Nigel said that Glitch did a great job being there for Eliana all the time, but that he’s gotta learn to fill in those blank spaces in between tricks. All these things seem true. I don’t know, this whole arrangement with Glitch makes me uncomfortable. He’s like the “project” of the season. It’s icky. And not fair to him — or to his partners or to the show or to the other people who auditioned. It’s an impossible situation.

Dee Caspary popped in this week to work with Daniel and Alexa on a contemporary routine set in a bathtub. See, because the bathtub represents the water drowning out the words, or not. I really did not respond to this piece. Aside from being irritated by the pointless prop, I was also left cold by the Yanni music, which sounded a lot like the kind of generic muzak that’s piped into the spa room when you get a massage. More importantly, though, I could barely catch sight of the dancers’ faces. Adam called the routine beautiful but chilly. The other judges agreed. The two dancers seemed surprised and crestfallen.

NEXT: Nigel explains how voting works because it’s a new concept to us

T-Maher-Star, a.k.a. Tiffany and partner George performed a Tony Meredith/Melanie LaPatin fox trot to Sinead O’Connor’s version of “I Want to Be Loved by You” that was entirely lovely and joyful. These two dancers seem to adore each other and make it all seem effortless. Adam was “madly in love” with the piece and said it brought him back to the Fred and Ginger days. He also called them infreakingcredible and told the two they just stepped up to a whole new level, movie plug. Nigel said they would make an opening act for anybody, show plug, zing! These guys have so much fun.

Witney and Chehon closed out the performance portion of the night with their Nakul Dev Mahajan Bollywood routine. I was excited for Chehon to redeem himself from last week. Granted, Bollywood is nothing like ballet, but the quick footwork and the leg strength and stamina to do all that bouncing just seemed like it would be a good match. And he sure did seem to enjoy himself tonight, to the degree that Chehon enjoys himself. I can’t really get a handle on that cat. But the routine was pure joy; it was just so pretty and happy and bright and sparkly all around. Adam commented that Witney needs to dance with a longer neck. Mary said Witney was on fire and that the two dancers had a little chemistry and showed their personalities. Nigel said “Goodness me.”

Then it was results time.

The girls with the least amount of votes were Janaya (expected), Alexa (somewhat expected) and Witney (unexpected). The bottom three boys were Chehon (somewhat expected), Daniel (unexpected), and Nick (expected), who seemed, mysteriously, to have acquired MORE makeup on his face and a Count Dracula outfit since his tango.

With the exception of Janaya, all the Dancers in Danger seemed miserable. At least we could take them out of their misery soon, though, right? Nope. We had watch a trailer and then a live performance to get us revved up for Step Up Revolution. Kathryn is so good. She’s turned so foxy. Remember when she used to wear a ton of crunchy hair gel and squeak-cry? BTW, did anyone catch that insanely amped up female dancer lurking behind Cat after the performance? It was like she was an Amy Poehler character come to life. The. Best.

Finally the results. The judges chose to save Witney and Chehon.

No one on SYTYCD gets voted off, as Nigel reminded us, but the people going home this week because they were not voted on are Alexa, Daniel, Nick and Janaya.

What I’m sure of: Tonight Amber will do a quick little thankful dance that she’s getting a new partner. Nick will buy a chisel and some paint thinner and will begin to remove his pancake makeup. Daniel, ruing the day he made the HUGE SACRIFICE to be on this show, will punch himself in the knees.  Alexa will re-watch episodes wondering what went wrong, yet will be pleased to discover how smokin’ hot she looked on last week’s show — and then she will decide to wear her hair pin straight all the time.

That is officially all I know.

What did you all think of tonight? How did you like the new results format? Were you surprised by who was in the bottom 6? After tonight, who do you think might be in danger for next week? Is anyone else as happy as I am that Brandon’s sticking around? Step up and share your thoughts, movie plug.  Excited to hear what you thought.

Episode Recaps

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