Ashley and Chris: Jazz (Sonya Tayeh)
Chris is outright dreading Sonya, because she's so tough. She says her routine was inspired by Beetlejuice and graveyards and such. That's promising. Unfortunately, this isn't "Shake, Shake Senora 2011." It's just another zombie-inspired routine, despite the fact that zombies have been done on this show multiple times. And done WELL. In rehearsals, Chris says he's not going to sweat the technique too much, since he just gets to act like a zombie, and I have to say, the lack of attention to technique shows. He's not very impressive. Ashley's good, but the routine feels repetitive, and, again, we've seen zombies before and better. Nigel critiques the music choice, which he admits is like when the Idol judges criticize song choice (it's almost WORSE to do that on this show; at least on Idol it's the contestants who choose their songs). There "wasn't enough character," says Nigel. Okay, that's not song choice -- that's on the dancers! Say so! When did this show become afraid of criticizing its own contestants?? I swear, I feel like there's an internal research memo floating around Fox or 19 or wherever saying that viewers don't like to see judges actually judging contestants on these shows. Let's reverse that trend right now, huh? Mary gives props to the clean, sharp synchronization, and Kristin -- who says she doesn't intend to "be the Paula" -- says she was riveted despite the fact that she's not usually down with this style.
Clarice and Jess: Foxtrot (Jean-Marc Genereaux)
The concept is a romantic duet between Crooner (Jess) and Beautiful Woman (Clarice). Jess seems toned down this week, and even last week, you could really observe how he's becoming able to kind of step outside of himself and observe that theater-kid obnoxiousness -- his Tyce Mask, if you will -- and kind of laugh at himself about it. It's a good look on his -- this push-pull with his own abrasiveness is going to be what keeps him from pulling an Evan on this season, for one thing. It also lets me connect with an actual person and not just an attention-starved Rachel Berry. So I'm back to liking Jess again, is what I'm saying. Anyway, psychoanalysis aside, Jean-Marc was kind of sneakily brilliant in his concepts here. It's smart to cast Jess as a rat-packy crooner type, and he's clever in using the "stage" Jess stands on to keep him taller than Clarice (it even assists him with a lift at one point). There's also not a ton of closed-position stuff, so the height differential doesn't keep slapping you in the face. It's a routine that really lets Jess shine. Clarice, God bless her, has become an afterthought in this pairing, as skilled as she is. And as much as her blindingly Swarovsky'd dress is causing a mirrorball effect on Jess's face. Mary commends the gliding, sophisticated, jazzy of the routine -- she loved it. Cheno calls it her favorite routine of the night. And C praises Jess as a "phenom" now, though he allows that a possible future pairing on a krump routine might not be so pretty. Nigel manages to compliment Clarice's dress in a way that may not be leering (a "spider's web of bling!"), and he of course loves Jess a whole lot.