Group Routine: Jazz, choreo by Sonya Tayeh
“Earth Intruders” by Bjork
Kate: This had Sonya written ALL over it.
Erica: I saw vast improvement this week, both in terms of the cohesiveness of the group, and in terms of the cohesiveness of the choreography. (And I felt that way before I knew it was a Sonya routine.) It’s very fierce and sharp.
Kate: I did not feel that way about the non-stage dancers in this one.
Erica: So it sounds like a ton of stuff is going on tonight. All-Stars, J. Lo, “Empire”? Which is a show I’m not sure why I’m not watching?
Kate: I can’t. Let’s just DANCE, PEOPLE!
Erica: Team Street is ahead again in the votes, though they are a person short. JJ hurt her ribs. Are injuries this much of a problem in dance in general, or is this show excessively pushing their dancers? I mean, I know dancers get injured a lot, I’m just wondering if this show is ahead of the curve.
Kate: Par for the course.
Cat Deeley’s Outfit
Erica: I’m not into the excessively modest cocktail dress.
Kate: Too pageanty all around, I prefer her looking like a semi-glam California surf girl.
Erica: I must say I think Paula looks good. Oh, and J.Lo is going to put the winner in her Las Vegas show. Damn, that woman has amazing skin. What is she doing? Bathing in the blood of unicorns?
Erica: The deal with “Empire” is that each of the top ten is doing a solo to a song from “Empire.” Just so you know.
Kate: Oh good, I love solos. (No.)
“Conqueror” from “Empire” feat. Estelle & Jussie Smollett
Erica: Virgil is 28. He’s been on Broadway. That makes sense.
Erica: He’s taking the song very literally in places.
Hailee (stage) & Brandon (season 5): Broadway, choreo by Warren Carlyle
“It Don’t Mean a Thing (If It Ain’t Got that Swing)” sung by Tony Bennett & Lady Gaga
Erica: I can’t figure out why I didn’t love this. I love Broadway. I love this song. I thought they both danced it beautifully. There were some amazingly subtle moments in otherwise big and bouncy choreography that I just adored. So why didn’t I love this?
Kate: Well I didn’t love it because Hailee wasn’t quite dainty enough for the role, but I don’t think she could do anything about that.
Erica: Maybe I’m just in a mood. (I am, in fact, in a really bad mood.) The choreographer was full-on jumping up and down when they finished. Oh, I looked him up, he choreographed the show Virgil was in. So he’s worked directly with Virgil? Is that kosher? Probably. Dance is a small world, isn’t it?
Erica: Hailee is safe because duh. She’s going to win.
“Power of the Empire” from “Empire” feat. Yazz
Erica: Neptune has a daughter in the Bay Area and he lives in Dallas and he wants to move up in the pro dance world to spend more time in…The Bay Area? Okay.
Kate: BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO SOLOS.
Erica: Again, he was taking some of this song literally. Dancers are not necessarily awesome choreographers. This looked like what you do in front of your bathroom mirror if you’re trying to psyche yourself up.
Derek (stage) & Kayla (season 5): Jazz, choreo by R.J. Durell & Nick Florez
“Got It” by Marian Hill
Erica: Derek laughs during rehearsal that he’s not ordinarily the sexy, aggressive type. I think what he means is he’s not ordinarily straight.
Kate: I knew you were going to say that.
Erica: I don’t keep pointing this out because I want to laugh about how very gay he or any other dancer is. I point this out because every moment this show plays coy about male dancers’ sexuality irritates me.
Kate: Why don’t I remember Kayla at all? This was good in theory but…Awkward in reality?
Erica: I thought she was selling the hell out of the sexiness of this routine. I thought he was kind of awkward. Not just in the “so not straight” way, but in the lifts and stuff. He looked like performing the steps was taking enough concentration and he couldn’t really spend time on the acting part. And I have to say, I really did enjoy the choreography. I just think he didn’t sell it.
Erica: Paula agrees with me.
Kate: Uh oh, what’s happening to us?
Erica: He’s in the bottom two. (Not bottom three this week. Which makes sense when you’re down to ten.)
“Can’t Truss ‘Em” from “Empire” feat. Yazz
Erica: Her mom was a dancer and her dad a percussionist and now she’s a dancer. That’s adorable. Also she’s friends with a bunch of Season 11 people, including winner Ricky.
Kate: Yay Ricky!
Erica: I’m a very terrible person because I feel the need to point out that those jeans are super-unflattering on her. She’s a pretty amazing tap dancer, though.
Kate: This solo didn’t make me like her any more, but it felt very Save the Last Dance.
Erica: Even though JJ isn’t soloing, we get her little video package. She’s 30. She acts about 19. She’s in the bottom two so she might go home this week, and if she doesn’t, she’s in the bottom next week.
Virgil (street) & Comfort (season 2): Hip-Hop, choreo by Christopher Scott
“Just My Imagination (Running Away with Me)” by The Temptations
Kate: YESSSS TO THIS SONNNGGGG.
Erica: I love Comfort. I love it when they do hip-hop routines to not-hip-hop songs. (I know you don’t, Kate. You’re a purist.) The routine is basically a domestic couple appreciating each other in a boring domestic moment and it’s sweet and adorable and I pretty much love it. Bad mood is on its way to being cured.
Kate: I love this song and I loved the dance, but the overall message of the routine didn’t match the song, unless them living together was just in Virgil’s imagination?
Erica: Jason DeRulo says consistency is what it takes on this show. I thought it was “growth”? Also, Whoopi Goldberg is in the audience for some reason.
Kate: I thought I saw her but wasn’t sure. I thought this was adorable but mostly because Comfort is so so so so so SO good, and she made Virgil better, even though he wasn’t nearly as good or as sharp as her about half the time.
Erica: Paula asks if Virgil comes with a lifetime warranty. Oh, Paula. That’s a cruel question to ask any dancer, and during this brutal run especially. Virgil, after cutesy interplay with Cat, is safe. He’s so short and she’s so tall, he looks like her child.
“Keep It Moving” from “Empire” feat. Serayah McNeill & Yazz
Erica: She actually can choreograph, I think. Or at least, I felt her choreography was more compelling than Virgil’s or Neptune’s.
Kate: She is starting to look so different from when we first saw her in season 11 auditions.
Megz (street) & Marko (season 8): Jazz, choreo by Ray Leeper
“Canned Heat” by Jamiroquai
Erica: As is often the case, Megz does, as tWitch observed, look more like she’s playing than like she’s working. But she’s still a fantastic dancer. I thought the routine was a whole lot of fun, without being amazingly memorable.
Kate: I loved seeing Marko again! See I thought this would have been amazing with someone other than Megz, she did NOT do it for me here. Way too loose and not in a good way.
Erica: I note that Cat says if she could dance with anyone, it would be Marko, which I find quite a statement. I feel like, if she’s being sincere, which I believe she is, that’s a big compliment, because she not only watches them dance a lot, but I think she also gets to know them better than the judges do.
Kate: Also, you can’t really dance to this song without doing the routine from Center Stage.
Erica: Megz is in the bottom two tonight. I’m kind of surprised, to be honest, because she’s so interesting, but it’ll be JJ to go.
“You’re So Beautiful” from “Empire” feat. Jussie Smollett & Yazz
Erica: He’s in the Houston Ballet, but he wanted to do some different things, which is why he’s here. It’s quite a lovely solo. Boy can jump. And be joyful without losing technical precision.
Kate: Heeeeee iiisssss soooooo goooood. This is one solo I can get behind.
Edson (stage) & Jaimie (season 3): Contemporary, choreo by Travis Wall
“Your Day Will Come” by Son Lux
Erica: Look, I love watching Travis Wall routines. But isn’t it weird that he gets to choreograph his own team member?
Kate: Yea that’s maybe not that fair? I was alarmed that I didn’t remember her but I didn’t watch season 3 so all good.
Erica: This routine is really interesting, and the lighting and camerawork are great. The lighting is basically just a single bright light and the music is stark and the movements are sharp and clean and spare. The only thing I don’t like is the silent scream, because I think it’s a bit much, but the routine is really raw and amazing. Travis wants to make me cry all the time.
Kate: I thought this was absolutely beautifully danced, and it was the first time I really even noticed Edson let alone liked him.
Erica: I do think that it was incredible due to Jaimie, who is just amazing. Did I appreciate her this much in her season? Edson is the last to get into the bottom two.
“Nothing to Lose” from “Empire” feat. Jussie Smollett
Erica: The editors of this show are trying to make a tragedy of Hailee’s parents’ divorce, but it sounds like a pretty healthy situation, so it’s not really working.
Kate: Blah solos blah.
Erica: She pulls some weird faces in the solo but her moves are pretty terrific.
Neptune (street) & Jasmine (season 11): Hip-hop, choreo by Pharside & Phoenix
“Milk was a Bad Choice” by Yultron
Erica: I guess Jasmine’s really embraced hip-hop since her SYTYCD days. Last year. BTW, this is a great song title.
Kate: This was a really great routine. BizARRE, but great. Well done, Neptune!
Erica: So this is the Frankenstein monster and his bride at dinner. I feel like — and I’m not doing any checking to see if I’m right about this — Pharside & Phoenix’s routines are always very costume-dependent, no?
Kate: No, just bizARRE.
Erica: I did not like this at all. I think it was mostly the choreography and not the dancing. The dancing was fine. The choreography was not really inspiring in my opinion. And the music, despite (or maybe because of) the cool title, was highly off-putting.
Kate: That kind of music is generally off-putting to me but I thought this was actually really cool. Maybe it was just Jasmine’s magic, though.
Erica: Nigel says, “Well, the last time Jasmine danced on a table, it was with tWitch, and we know what a star he became.” That’s super-weird to say. tWitch was big before that. He was in that routine as an all-star, and probably the show’s most popular all-star.
“Drip Drop” from “Empire” feat. Yazz & Serayah McNeill
Erica: Derek saw Travis dance when he was a boy, on this very show!, and that’s why he wanted to be a dancer.
Erica: I gotta say, I think he’s gone tonight and I’m not really sorry about that, but his solo is pretty amazing.
Kate: Not even close to how amazing Jim’s was.
Jim (stage) & Jessica (season 11): Contemporary, choreo by Dee Casparay
“Heal” by Tom Odell
Erica: “This is about a Manic Pixie Dream Girl.” I think that’s what Dee Caspary said.
Erica: I think they told us Jim was having trouble in rehearsals because they wanted to trick us. He dances this beautifully. I think this is the only number where I’ve been paying more attention to the contestant than to the all-star.
Kate: Me too but I ALSO don’t remember Jessica even though it was last year?! I love Jim. Soooo much.
Erica: Some of the judges have some issues with his performance (as opposed to his technique) but I think the real reason this didn’t shine is it was similar to and not as good as Travis’s piece tonight.
“No Apologies” from “Empire” feat. Jussie Smollett & Yazz
Erica: Megz is 29. Most of these kids are older than I thought they were.
Kate: I’m over her.
Erica: She’s much tougher and less fun in her solo than I’ve seen her be so far.
JaJa (street) & ALEX!!! (seasons 7 & 10): Bollywood, choreo by Nakul Dev Mahajan
“Naacho Re” from Jai Ho
Erica: So it’s about a princess escaping the palace and the guard who captures her. That’s adorable.
Kate: That’s Aladdin! Kinda?
Erica: JaJa does not seem quite able to keep up to me. but she can her make her movements sharp and she’s putting a lot of personality into it. I think this show has improved my mood; I find I’m very willing to be charmed by this.
Kate: Your bad mood is affecting your vision — she was AMAZING in this. Incredible. I’ve never seen someone not previously trained in Bollywood do Bollywood as good as her. Perfect personality, perfect faces, perfect energy, kept up the whole time. Absolutely loved it. Also, ALEX!
Erica: Nigel points out that Whoopi is in the audience. Great. Also he is amazed that they’ve got a Czech dancer on an American show doing an Indian number. It’s like Nigel is trying to recreate the British Empire in dance form.
“I Wanna Love You” from “Empire” feat. Jussie Smollett
Erica: His parents tried to manage his energy via sports but nothing worked until cheerleading.
Kate: Yay cheerleading!
Gaby (stage) & Joshua (season 4): Hip-hop, choreo by Pharside & Phoenix
“I’m Really Hot” by Missy Elliott
Erica: Another costume-dependent routine — geisha and ninja — that I don’t think lives up to the promise of its promise/premise. You know, NappyTabs makes routines that are pretty gimmicky, but a lot better. Then again, I used to complain about their gimmicks, too.
Kate: You know what though? I loved this theme, I feel like it was actually unique and really fun. I also love few things more than a hip-hop routine set to a Missy Elliott song, as I have done plenty of them myself. Her songs are just the most perfect for hip-hop routines.
Erica: I think this is the only routine of the night where the contestant is out of her element by a lot. And I’m sorry, but it kinda shows. I thought she looked sloppy. Of course, my main complaint about Pharside & Phoenix is that I think they choreograph kind of sloppy, so maybe it’s not her. But Joshua didn’t look sloppy.
Kate: No he didn’t, and I wouldn’t use the word “sloppy” but she definitely looked off. She had the right swag and she got down low and all that, but her arms were very jazzy and straight and not hip-hoppy.
Erica: Nigel’s faves from each team are Gaby and JaJa, he says. Mine are Hailee and…Virgil, probably. But I’m rooting for Hailee.
Kate: I still like Gaby very very much, but I think JaJa is going to win.
Erica: Tonight, it’s JJ (not surprised) and Edson (a little surprised) going home. So my prediction of losing Derek tonight did not come true. But it will.
Kate: Ugh JJ was really fun to watch, and Edson was finally worth watching tonight. MEH!