Previously: The Vegas callbacks turned into an absolute bloodbath, and I don't just mean that one bloody toenail the show kept teasing to commercials with. What happened to Patty Ann the hip-hop tomboy? Hero McRaae? That hot, mostly naked guy? At least I got to see Arielle Coker dance a bit before she got mercilessly cut down well before she should've been. You've got a lot to make up to me, Nigel.
This episode is kind of a hybrid of the "Green Mile" show we're used to, where the Top 20 are announced, and the "Dance in your home style" episode we've gotten in recent years. So the yes/no proclamations are on tape from Vegas, taking us from 31 to 20, while the performances are live (er, "live") from the familiar Dance studio with judges (Nigel, Mary, Tyce, Lil C, and Robin Antin). Cat struts out onto the stage for the first time this season and it's like she never left. Also, it looks like we're back to a smaller, less cacophonous stage, which is a HUGELY underrated development.
The first group to hear yes/nos are contemporary dancers, with the leggy Ricky Jaime and the Melissa-from-season-5-ish Miranda Maleski getting YES votes, while a pair of girls we've never seen before get let down gently. Also IN is the short-haired dynamo Melanie Moore, who I still think is a front-runner despite being severely soft-pedaled in Vegas. The big decision of this group happens when sisters Sasha and Natalia Mallory are brought out together. It feels like the show has invested a LOT in Natalia as a story, even though she's not quite as capable as the other top contemporary dancers this season, so I'm impressed when Nigel says that Sasha is IN, while Natalia is out. Natalia takes it like a total champ, and there's an admirable lack of drama from the both of them. Good show, Mallory girls!
Back to the studio, where Ricky, Miranda, Melanie, and Sasha perform a Stacey Tookey contemporary routine that is about -- to the best of my knowledge -- the love affair between a dancer and dry ice. Actually, with the three women flitting about Ricky, it comes across as a little Swan Lake meets Big Love. All four dancers are perfectly in tune with the others, which gives the number a unified quality that's quite beautiful. It's hard not to look at Melanie Moore first and foremost, though.
Next up in Vegas are the seven "street dancers" remaining in the competition. The adorable Chris Cole, who had to dance for his life after the ballroom round, is IN, as is the very strong Wadi Jones. I don't believe we've seen this Tadd Gadduang before, but Debbie takes the time to sing some Diana Ross to him ("Reach out and touch somebody's hand..."), and he walks on his hands and in general makes me like him immediately. The adorably wee Lil' O says he's confident about making the Top 20, but he's out, as is someone named Drace Reed. With two hip-hoppers left, we're left to ponder whether the show will value the quiet power of Bryce "Professor Lock" Johnson or the animated desperation of Robert Taylor Jr. If we're just comparing catch phrases, I'll take Professor Lock's "indubitably!" over Robert constant stream of Little Richard-like "Woo!"s. But when it comes down to the decision, the judges keep Robert. I'd claim this to be BULLSHIT, but I'm all outraged out from Arielle Coker last night (seriously, Nigel, WHY??).