Alexis and Nico: Contemporary (Sonya Tayeh)
The idea here is that they've broken up, Nico is moving on, but Alexis can't accept it. Amid stark lighting on stage, we get certainly the best stuff Nico has done all season, which makes sense because he's in his element. The choreography doesn't help Alexis out, as she's given the task to run in place when the lyrics say "I've been running." It's deeply silly, to me, but the judges eat it up, and the audience ends up on their feet, so what do I know?
Hayley and Curtis: Argentine Tango (Miriam and Leonardo)
I'm not sure if I can tie these two would-be daters (remember Curtis said last week he asked her out?) laughing too much during rehearsal to Curtis's injury, but let's all be moralists and say it was! On stage, Leonardo fills in for Curtis, and it's to Hayley's extreme benefit. There are times it looks like he's instructing her through it, and she's very precise but not incredibly personable. Anna loves what an emotional dancer she's been all season, and "If I could have your body for, like, one day, I could do anything!" Nigel -- somehow avoiding mentioning what he would do if he had Hayley's body for a day -- jokes about the angry faces he sees tango men making. Super helpful, Nigel! Mary was super into it, though, and she wants to be Hayley today too.
Makenzie and Paul: Jazz (Sonya Tayeh)
Sonya gets Paul's shirt off immediately in rehearsals, so we've gotten off on the right foot. God, I love a Sonya sex jazz number. Sultry, aggressive choreography meets the most limber of dancers. They always look like the hottest, most fucked-up mating rituals. Paul and Makenzie have been brilliant partners all season, and once again, their connection really shows. Brilliant, says Nigel, before chiding America for not doing right by Makenzie. He even says the female voters are just jealous of Makenzie getting to dance with angel-faced Paul. He also says Paul is "going a long way to winning this one," which I hadn't really considered until this week. Mary says Paul got a lot of depth to his dancing tonight, while Anna thinks the power in this routine could help Makenzie connect to dumb America.
Jasmine and Aaron: Contemporary (Justin Giles)
This one is based on The Giving Tree, if you can believe that, and this uses an apple as a prop. This is the first routine this season where Aaron was mainly reactive to Jasmine, but he -- they are both still incredibly on point, meticulously in time to the music. They're the other pair whose chemistry with each other doubles the impact of any routine. Mary talks about how nerve-wracking working with props is, while Anna roots for Aaron and wants a piggyback ride. Nigel wants to make sure everybody knows the story of The Giving Tree, like, WE WERE ALL KIDS ONCE, NIGEL. Nigel sees that unconditional love in Aaron and Jasmine; they really are the one pair I will be most devastated to see break up at Top 10.