The top ten gets pared down to a top eight with the first really awful elimination of the season. Lots of things get overpraised, Nigel congratulates himself some more, and if you're taking shots every time someone says the word "Emmy" then you're freaking wasted!
Group Performance (Choreographed by Jamal Sims)
Garish. I can't get past the disgusting, 90s Nickelodeon-on-crack styling. My eyes hurt. What I saw of the choreography was silly, even downright stupid. Yikes.
Bridget and Brandon Bryant (Bollywood/Disco by Nakul Dev Mahajan)
Aside from the lifts (and the music), I'm not sure what was really "disco" about this piece, but whatever. This was a really upbeat, fun routine, and it didn't fall into a lot of the sameness that typically plagues the Bollywood dances on the show. I thought Bridget was just a hair behind the beat at times and wasn't hitting the different shapes as hard as Brandon was. It was enjoyable, but I doubt I'll remember it by this time next week.
Tanisha and Ryan Di Lello (Argentine Tango by Miriam Larici & Leonardo Barrionuevo)
This was technically insane. Tanisha had some small little mistakes that I didn't expect from a Latin ballroom dancer (awkwardly bent knee coming down from a lift, legs not totally straight/clenched in lifts), but Ryan was really incredible. He was not nearly this strong a dancer during his season, but he's grown a lot. The choreography was great, if not exactly engaging. I'd rather see Tanisha doing her own style than anything else we've seen her do this season.
Emilio and Jasmine Harper (Hip Hop by Tabitha & Napoleon D'umo)
GUYS. I think this was Nappytabs' best choreography since "Outta Your Mind." It was really crisp, really fresh, and really unique. Jasmine was unreal, better than she ever was last season, and both she and Emilio seamlessly transitioned between sharp motions and fluid ones. Emilio's performance was amazing, never abandoning character, never missing a step... it was real damn good, all around.
Valerie and Ade Obayomi (Jazz by Tyce Diorio)
I didn't really like this one. It was awkwardly midtempo when the choreography screamed for a ballad. The motions themselves were a bit awkward too, and Valerie's character got lost somewhere in that mass of awkwardness. Not only that, but when she couldn't rely on her effusiveness and bright personality, her whole performance kind of came down. Maybe Ricky was elevating her? She wasn't bad in this, by any means, but her relative shortcomings were exposed in her first week without him as a partner.
Rudy and Jenna Johnson (Cha-Cha by Louis Van Amstel)
I've said it every week (literally, I think), but the middle of Rudy's body doesn't move. And that's a real problem with the cha-cha, because the hips are important. Does nobody else see it? Seriously, am I crazy? Because none of the judges comment on it. I'm flummoxed. Compare the arch in his back to Jenna's... I don't get it.
Jacque and Chehon Wespi-Tschopp (Contemporary/Ballet by Travis Wall)
I said this during his season as well, but Chehon is a horrible partner. He may be a decent ballet dancer, but he sucks at supporting his female partners during leans and lifts; his arms are always shaky. I also wasn't a fan of this piece; I found it slow and uninteresting. The technical work of it with the camera and lighting was more impressive than the actual choreography, which was really basic in the scheme of ballet choreography. I didn't feel connected to it. Jacque looked really good doing this piece, I just didn't really care much about it. Contemporary already takes the basics of ballet and makes it ugly-pretty, so I don't really understand why they made such a big deal about this being a "new" style... maybe I just didn't get it.
Ricky and Lauren Froderman (Jazz by Mandy Moore)
Just like with Valerie, as soon as he was split up from his couple, I'm noticing weaknesses in Ricky that I didn't before. He's obviously very technically gifted, easily one of the best in the show's history. But he's a really over-the-top performer, and it came across as obnoxious in this piece. He looked cartoonish, partly because he was pulling a lot of faces and partly because his technique seemed really out of place in this character. I really liked Mandy's choreography and the music, but I was a bit disappointed in this one. Ricky danced really well, as he always does, but this week I thought his own performance got in the way of how great he is.
Casey and Kathryn McCormick (Broadway by Spencer Liff)
There were some small slip-ups here, from near the start where Casey's foot got caught in his ronde de jambe and Kathryn losing her footing a bit on a back bend. The one turning lift was a little low and strained. But this was better than I expected from Casey. His turns and kicks looked great, and I only noticed the stumbles because this is a style I'm very familiar with. Spencer's choreography was really good, closer to jazz than musical theatre (which is okay, since they basically go hand-in-hand) but very much played to Casey's strengths.
Jessica and Twitch (Hip Hop by Tabitha & Napoleon D'umo)
This was Jessica's chance to redeem herself for her heinous showing in the hip hop round at callbacks, which should have gotten her sent home but miraculously didn't. She definitely did better here, mostly because she acted the crap out of her character and pulled some great faces. The movement looked a little amateurish next to Twitch, and the choreography wasn't as strong as what Nappytabs gave Emilio and Jasmine. But Jessica has definitely gotten better in the past couple weeks; whatever happened last week gave her a kick in the pants, and she's stepped it up since then.
Zack and Amy Yakima (Contemporary by Sonya Tayeh)
Sonya's choreography was pretty but strange. I didn't necessarily like it, but I appreciated it. Amy was wonderful and flawless, as usual, but I think Amy was doing much of the actual dancing. Zack performed the piece very well and connected with the choreography and character on a very emotional level, but in terms of actual dance, I don't know how much there is to actually base an opinion on. Yes, he touched me. The theme of the piece touched me. I absolutely think he belongs in the top ten, and I'm glad he got to dance this routine. But it was more knowing and feeling than anything else, and that's a big part of this show and dance in general. But I'd rather see someone like Emilio move on for a complicated dance routine than Zack for an emotional one... does that make sense?
P.S. - I would have so much rather seen/heard the entirety of Christina Perri's new single (they cut the second verse) than that stupid preview of The Giver or that stupid in-show commercial for Degree.
Bottom Two Guys: Emilio, Zack
Bottom Two Girls: Bridget, Jacque
I'm actually really pissed off about this elimination. Emilio is a much stronger all-around presence than Zack, as much as I like both, and I was actually pulling for him to win the whole thing. He's versatile and entertaining, and not that Zack isn't, but... I don't know. Emilio had a better piece and performance last week, so it's annoying. Bridget was definitely the weaker dancer of the two, so I'm okay with her elimination. But Emilio's dismissal sucks, especially when it's clear that less talented dancers like Rudy are still there because the producers are playing up his looks and personality for the teenage girl appeal.
My Bottom Two Guys: Rudy, Zack
My Bottom Two Girls: Valerie, Jessica