Black Swan choreographer (and Natalie Portman's hot piece of a husband) Benjamin Millepied is the guest judge this week, as the Top 10 split up to dance with the All-Stars. What normally is an exciting chance for the dancers to blend their styles with more polished performers this season threatens to be an exercise in more charismatic dancers whom we love more (Twitch! Alison! Alex!) eclipsing this season's dull (if talented) roster. But let's see how they did:
Tiffany draws disco with Brandon Bryant, and between the kinetic energy of the style and the glitziness of the costumes, she impresses. Witney teams up with the Shaping Sound duo of Travis (choreographer) and Nick Lazzarini (partner) on a jazz routine about sexy ghosts. It's a good pairing, and she managed to deliver the sex appeal that appeared to be the main objective. Cole gets blown off the stage by Anya Garnis with a Dmitry-choreographed cha-cha, and despite the fact that he actually begs for a ticket to the Hot Tamale Train, Mary found too many flaws in the footwork to give it to him, making me fall in love with Mary all the more.
Lindsay draws by darling Jakob Karr as a partner for Broadway, which only makes me hate her all the more. Good luck getting me to look at anything else on stage when Jakob is doing his thing, but the judges do what they always do, which is pat Lindsay on the head and tell her she's a wonderful little princess. Mary even hands her Cole's ticket on the Hot Tamale Train. Will gets Bollywood with Kathryn McCormick, which is pretty much just good news all around. Will delivers the face-pullingest Bollywood ever, and kind of a sloppy one at that, not that the judges recognize it, and more importantly not like the voters will punish him for it, as Will is basically a taller, fleshier Kent Boyd at this point.
Cyrus is the beneficiary of the night's best choreography (Travis), best partnering (Jamie Goodwin), and best music (M83), but he holds up under the glare and gets raves from the judges, even if he mostly just holds up Jamie while she explodes on stage. Chehon draws a Dave Scott hip-hop with Lauren Gottlieb, and while he never shakes the ballet-dancer-trying-hip-hop thing, the end result is enjoyably strange and compelling. George gets to partner with Allison (yay!) on a Tyce Diorio jazz (boo!), and they're flawless, despite Nigel's prissy bitching about George not connecting on stage (which, in light of the results, seems like ass-covering more than anything else).
Eliana gets a Stacey Tookey contemporary with Alex Wong that, for me, fell just short of the steaminess that the judges saw, but it's still pretty damn impressive. And Audrey closes the performances out by alllllmost keeping up with Twitch on a Dave Scott hip-hop.
Then Cat announces the bottom four: Witney, Audrey, Chehon, and George. Well, I just give up. Do what you want with this season, America. I'm out. The boys in particular deliver some killer solos, and Nigel says it's Chehon's solo that keeps him around as George (the best dancer this season, I should add) is eliminated. Audrey never really stood a chance against Witney, so she's going too. I hope you're proud of yourselves, America.
Previously: we somehow made it to a Top 10 without me having any idea who some of these people are. Part of it is the decreased screen time that comes with performances and results in the same episode. Part of it was the Olympic break. But part of it falls on the dancers themselves, a group of the most talented dancers ever on the show, but so few of them manage to infuse their routines with any kind of personality. (Of course, the ones who do, like Amelia and Witney, end up in the bottom anyway, so who knows WHAT is the problem.) Either way, this season is dipping further and further below sea level and it's got me worried.
And honestly, the way to start winning me over is decidedly NOT a Tyce Diorio group routine. Particularly not one where Tyce is dancing with the Top 10. Apparently Cole was too injured to take part (though unfortunately not too injured to continue in the competition), but even so, with all the All-Stars on hand this week, Tyce still managed to fight his way into the spotlight. The routine is a tribute to Gene Kelly, and I know that because it begins with a closeup on a director's chair that reads "Gene Kelly." So it's a tribute to his most iconic roles, in Singing in the Rain and On the Town and so on. Eliana and Chehon seem to be featured. And Cyrus, of course. Can't have a group dance that doesn't spotlight Cyrus. The dance itself is a classic Diorio jumble, the whole never adding up to the sum of its parts. Cole gets to have his moment at the end of the routine, atop a ladder, yelling "CUT!"
Cat is incredibly kind in calling Tyce's appearance a "cameo" rather than a coup d'état, and then she introduces Gene Kelly's widow sitting in the audience, and considering today would have been Mr. Kelly's 100th birthday, it should be noted that his widow is YOUNG! Anyway, joining Nigel and Mary this week is Black Swan co-star and choreographer (and Natalie Portman's hot piece of a husband) Benjamin Millepied. Lots of ballet input this year, which I like.
Tiffany and Brandon Bryant (Season 5): Disco (Doriana Sanchez)
Would you believe this routine is "fun" and has a lot of lifts??? Doriana says so! Every time! Also, it should be noted that Brandon KILLED on disco in his season. The routine ... disco is so often hard to evaluate. In particular, so much of the heavy lifting on this one is done by Brandon, or the outfit, or the camerawork. But Tiffany sells it. There are a few clunky transitions, but she pulled it together near the end and zipped through some hip-shaking. The lifts are all ostentatious and impressive, sure, but they're all spotlighted so much that they never surprise you. They feel a bit labored. Nigel says he loves Tiffany's energy and excitement, which I agree she brought. Benjamin also brings up the energy level and her expressive face, which served her better this week than it did last week. I really think I like her (she's in that Courtney Galiano mold), I just never remember her!