Caitlynn and Mitchell: Hip-Hop (Christopher Scott)
The first uh-oh moment comes when Christopher talks about the routine being about war-torn Uganda and the Congo. That's going to be a lot for one short dance to live up to. Also, I'm sure Lupe Fiasco is fine, but there was a not-insignificant part of me that was pulling for "I Am Africa" from The Book of Mormon. The second uh-oh moment comes with the pair's "Invisible Children" t-shirts, reminiscent of Wade Robson's "Waiting on the World to Change" anti-war solos from Season 3 (remember that uncomfortable moment?). Uh-oh moment number three comes when Mitchell and Caitlynn can't seem to get the synchronization down right. I mean, props for Mitchell, who really succeeds in hip-hopping himself out (hip-hop Mitchell looks like Kobe Bryant, a little). The hand choreography is sloppy and imprecise, even though they try very hard to keep their energy up. Sonya thought they had problems with being in unison, and it lost some energy for her. Nigel echoes that it didn't look like they were dancing together, though Mary allows that they both still command attention. It's not a great start for them, and I have to think they're one of the pairs who most need to pull off a stellar week in order to avoid elimination. That middle of the pack is no longer a safe place to be.
Melanie and Marko: Tango (Louis Van Amstel)
As Nigel will echo in his critique, I'm really glad these two are finally being challenged with a ballroom routine. They're good enough that they don't need to be coddled, genre-wise. Melanie is just a consummate performer, always giving character of some kind. There is one eye-popping moment after the other in this one: Marko dancing Melanie to the edge of the stage as she drops one leg off and he dips her down is one major highlight. The dance closes with a dead drop to beat anything you've seen, as Melanie throws her head back perpendicular to her body, and Marko holds her steady, then through his legs, then somersaults back to the front. It's insane. When you don't have to worry about dancers picking up the fundamentals, you can let the choreography get crazy, and I LOVE what they did here. Nigel, interestingly, cops to being ready to really pick apart this dance, based on a shaky rehearsal, but he admits they really pulled it out. Mary gives us a tango tutorial, and says that while there were technical issues with the song, they really put forth a great effort. Sonya says they "make me lose my breath with your conviction" and calls them "timeless dancers." Sonya's really steady this week, and leagues removed from the auditions a few seasons ago when Nigel looked ready to kill her.