Finally, a decent episode with some memorable choreography! Even though it was topped off by a crap call on the elimination, the rest of the episode was kind of... good.
Group Performance (Choreographed by Christopher Scott)
This was the best group routine the show has had in a very long time. It was not over-choreographed, as these numbers have a tendency to be; it was emotionally gripping without being contrived; and it was danced very well. If this is what Christopher Scott has in him, why does he choreograph lackluster hip hop routines? Do more contemporary!
Amy and Brandon (Disco by Doriana Sanchez)
First, a gripe: why is Brandon the go-to all star for a disco routine? I mean, I know he had one of the best disco routines in the show's history during his season, but he also had some of the best everythings in the show's history during his season. But anyway... this was god damned BRILLIANT. Fast, full of energy and personality, expertly executed, fun choreography. Everything about it captured the joy this show needs and used to have all the time. YES.
Aaron and Kathryn (Contemporary by Stacey Tookey)
Beautiful music and motion, but I can't help but feel that Aaron was the wrong dancer for the piece. He's still too unsure of himself and shaky on his own feet, not to mention too disproportionately tall to Kathryn to do the tangling and untangling bits gracefully. So, as usual, I completely disagree with the judges.
Fik-Shun and Melanie (Jazz by Mandy Moore)
Fik-Shun felt a little immature dancing next to Melanie, and I was much less impressed by him than I have been most of this season. This routine put his technical weaknesses on display just as much as they displayed Melanie's nearly perfect technique. The routine, itself, was an ideal example of just what the style of jazz is and should be.
Paul and Witney (Cha Cha by Jean Marc Genereux)
For two ballroom dancers performing their own styles, am I the only one who thought this left a little to be desired? The chemistry was fine, and they both executed it well, as far as I could tell. I just didn't love it the way I should have with all the pieces in the right place.
Hayley and Twitch (Hip Hop by Christopher Scott)
Haven't we seen this same kind of concept at least a half-dozen times before? I'm over the weird robot hands, and I'm over the desk as a prop. I also don't think this style and this choreography sat well on Hayley, who looked super awkward sliding across the stage on her knees. And the music was a really strange remix as well. I was confused and underwhelmed.
Jenna and Neil (Contemporary by Mandy Moore)
This was beautiful. There were so many wonderful moments, but my particular favorite was the spinning lift that you think is going to be a simple cradle but ended up as a flying pinwheel... gorgeous, creative choreography. Jenna truly made her case for staying on the show tonight, delivering on the emotion and far beyond what I thought she could accomplish, technically.
Jasmine and Marko (Jazz by Ray Leeper)
First of all, can we talk about how Ray Leeper put a box step in this routine? BYE. Overall, it was cute but unremarkable in almost every way. Ray Leeper played more to Marko's strengths than Jasmine's, which I think could end up hurting her. I also think it was a mistake for wardrobe to put her in pants and constrain her legs, which are her best asset. You can also tell just from the captured moment above that they were not in sync throughout, which was kind of the whole point of the dance.
Makenzie and Jakob (Broadway by Spencer Liff)
I don't find Makenzie sexy... at all. Pretty? Yes. Hot? No. And she doesn't know how to dance in character shoes. I love Jakob, but I didn't feel any chemistry between him and Makenzie. Jakob is on a higher level than she is... sorry 'bout it. I would have preferred to see this piece danced by Jakob and Jasmine. Makenzie's only personality is in her hair.
Nico and Comfort (Hip Hop by Tabitha & Napoleon D'umo)
Before this even started, I was judging it because it is directly referential to the season two group routine where they were swamp monsters, right down to the set dressing. I've also never liked Comfort as a dancer (though she's a brilliant performer). Having said that, there was a lot of really cool nuance to this routine that I liked. Nico was stronger than I anticipated him being. And how funny was it to see the cameramen in the shot scrambling around the stage? Without a cut away! Just... there's our crew, walking across the shot. Hope you weren't trying to see anything.
Tucker and Robert (Contemporary by Travis Wall)
Again, directly reminiscent of another Travis piece that Robert danced during his own season with Allison, about the relationship between a mother and son. To start with, the lighting was far too dark, and Robert's costume blended into the background. He outdanced Tucker through most of the routine, letting go of his body and really throwing himself into the movement; Tucker must've been injured pretty badly last week to be performing so weakly in his own style. Just look at the synchronized turns into the fan kick and you'll see they weren't even close to being together. He also wasn't getting Robert's height on the reverse leaps. This could have been very touching, but I was distracted by the inconsistencies.
Bottom Two Guys: Tucker, Nico
Bottom Two Girls: Makenzie, Jenna
Last week was Makenzie's best performance to date, so is this proof enough to the judges that people just don't like her? Thankfully, it was. After a stunning performance, Jenna gets to stay. And so does Nico, the obvious choice between the tw.... wait, what?! Tucker gets to stay?! Let's talk about some bullshit decisions. Tucker didn't even dance last week, and should have been eliminated. This week, he got a better routine than Nico but showed some obvious weaknesses whereas Nico showed some obvious growth. UTTER CRAP.
My Bottom Two Guys: Tucker, Fik-Shun
My Bottom Two Girls: Hayley, Jasmine