Adechike and Lauren (Hip Hop by Dave Scott)
It's good to see Dave Scott back; I guess they banned him from the show for a little bit after he raped America's eyes with that awful Dracula routine last season. But this was a good return to form, bringing more of the fun we expect from him. For the first time, Adechike had a personality! I didn't hate watching him dance! Whatever happened in that rehearsal studio, whether we have Dave or Lauren to thank, this was a breakthrough for Adechike; I'll be glad to see him advance to the next week with this performance. Even though he wasn't really challenged by the choreography (it may have been fun, but it certainly wasn't difficult), I enjoyed the performance.
Side note: why is Lauren dancing hip hop when they have Comfort? This all-stars thing is really weird.
Ashley and Ade (Contemporary by Dee Caspary)
I love welcoming new choreographers to the show, especially when they do things like this. Caspary (one of Paula Abdul's "Straight Up" dancers!) did something wonderful here: he made me not hate Ashley. I know, right? What's going on this week when I enjoy both Adechike and Ashley? Her choreographer finally gave her the opportunity to just dance (one of my complaints from her performance of Travis's piece), and she delivered; while I'm not sold on her annoying personality behind the scenes, I was taken with her in this performance. She was intense, frenetic, desperate (as was Ade, in a great showing), and it all turned out wonderfully. I'm frustrated that she hasn't done anything but contemporary (let's face it, that's what Travis's routine was last week - not jazz), as it seems like there's definitely some producer-intervention going on there. With the girls dropping like flies, I don't think the judges want to lose someone they like so much; so rather than risk it, Ashley keeps getting paired with strong choreographers in her own style. Hmmm. Regardless, I really liked this one.
Robert and Courtney (Jazz by Sonya Tayeh)
I don't know how I feel about this piece. On the one hand, I'm so glad that a dancer has inspired a choreographer to create a routine entirely around him, suited to his strengths and showcasing them wonderfully; on the other hand, she was inspired to turn him into an abuser and potential murderer. So that's where I'm at. I thought Robert was great, but I don't know if I liked Sonya's idea and execution. And I absolutely don't think it was a mistake to put him in the bottom last week; he didn't do well outside his comfort zone, so people didn't vote for him. Simple as that. I like that Sonya took it upon herself to avenge Robert's honor, but it was a mixed bag for me in how it turned out.
Melinda and Pasha (Salsa by Fabian Sanchez)
This was so terrible. From the wardrobe malfunction at the very start, all the way through to the end, Melinda was just lost. I don't know if she just got thrown after having to bend down and untangle her dress from her shoes and couldn't recover or what, but this was not what she needed this week. Her performance was passable, but she returned to the awkwardness of week one; we know you can use your legs and feet properly, why are they two separate entities again? She'll definitely be in the bottom again this week.
Side note: the judges were unnecessarily cruel to Melinda in their critiques. To say, "We made a mistake sending Cristina home last week over you" is not constructive criticism. It's just mean. And to do it on live television is just rude. It's clear that most viewers are not taken with Melinda either, there's no need to seal her fate and say, "You shouldn't even be here. That's how bad this was." It was a horrifying display. These judges constantly sugarcoat things for countless dancers, but the way they speak to some others makes me sick.
Lauren and Neil (Broadway by Joey Dowling)
I hate what Joey Dowling usually does, but I think this was her best work for the show. I was expecting more from Lauren after last week's performance, but she was just fine; she didn't excel like she did previously, so I was slightly disappointed. But she was very sultry, very sexy. She played a character well, even though it wasn't over-the-top exciting to watch. It was a fun fantasy. Also, I'm underwhelmed by Neil this season. I thought he was amazing while he was competing in season 3, but he just seems like a prop this year. I guess that's a good thing, since we're supposed to be voting for his partner and not him; but at the same time, I don't think he's doing his partners any favors.
Side note: can the entire wardrobe department be fired, please? Not only do they make some truly hideous decisions (see Melinda's dress from last week), but this week they nearly killed one dancer (Melinda) and nearly had another's breast fall out (Lauren). GET IT TOGETHER.
Billy and Kathryn (Contemporary by Stacey Tookey)
It's no secret that I love Billy. I think he's a brilliant dancer. I also think the judges are being far too hard on him because he is so good. To hear so many negative things, even if they are prefaced with "I think you're amazing, but..," makes me angry. Watching this is like watching a magician: you are captivated and can't figure out how he can possibly do that. I disagree with all three judges, who insisted there was "no performance" and "no emotion." I think his performance was spot-on: he was the semi-disinterested former lover. Kathryn was the one whose character needed to be over-the-top, because it was her emotional struggle really. Billy's character left her once already; this is his attempt to salvage what was there, but if he can't... well, he left once already. That came across to me. Perhaps Stacey Tookey is to blame for giving Kathryn the more emotional part and Billy the more technical part in this story; but either way, I think this routine was danced beautifully.
Jose and Anya (Samba by Dmitry Chaplin)
Well, this wasn't nearly as bad as last week, or even as bad as it could have been. But it also wasn't good. And it wasn't really a Samba, either. It was slow, there wasn't really any shaking, no Samba roll. Sorry, Dmitry, but this was a fail on your part. He pretty much gave Jose a Zumba lesson: pose! look like you want her! sexy face! slow body roll! And was Nigel seriously that impressed with a fucking chaines turn? That's lesson number one in any child's dance class. I guess that's appropriate, since Anya made Jose look like a child in this routine.
Kent and Allison (Jazz by Mandy Moore)
My initial problem with this routine was rectified by Mia in her comments. The entire performance, I couldn't help but think this looked like a Showstopper Dance Competition circa 1990. I was ready to blame Mandy Moore for the misstep, but after watching again with Mia's suggestion that it was Kent's interpretation... she was right. Watching Allison, you realize what this should have been: seductive. Instead, it was showy. And cheesy. And campy. Again. Kent does not know how to act, he merely knows how to work a crowd with his awkwardly boyish charm and looks. Sure, his technique was fine; sure, this was probably his strongest performance yet. But he needs to tone down the cheerleader facials and get in touch with something inside that will help him grow into something other than a first place winner at Showstopper.
Alex and Twitch (Hip Hop by Tabitha & Napoleon D'umo)
Welcome back, NappyTabs. Finally they have delivered a routine worthy of following "Bleeding Love." And it was danced to the nth degree by an out-of-his-element-but-couldn't-be-better Alex. Seriously, this performance was out of this world. I was so excited to watch it and rewound three times before even listening to what the judges had to say. The concept of Alex being in therapy because he can't get past his formal ballet training was funny and just brilliant. And it was danced to perfection. Personally, I think Alex outshined Twitch. He may have been smoother and more fluid, but I prefer hip hop that's sharp and isolated but still flowing. I don't know, there just aren't enough compliments I can shower on this performance.
My Bottom Three