Witney and Chehon: Samba (Louis Van Amstel)
This is a KILLER combo on paper, especially for a Latin routine: Witney is ballroom by trade, and Chehon is a rock wall of a human being. The danger here is Witney dancing HIM, and that kind of does happen. There are times when he's racing to catch up, but overall it's a very solid first effort. Nigel and Louis agree that Witney is a firecracker, and Nigel is with me on her star quality. Nigel warns Chehon about overcompensating his turnout and giving himself bow-legs and says to enjoy the routines a little more, give in to the styles. Mary says, yes, Chehon had some foot problems, BUT his body fucking MOVES out there. Mary and Kenny are going apeshit for Witney, and Nigel, half-kidding but not really, is like "if we're pitched this high about Witney now, where can we go from here?" He's being very canny this season.
George and Tiffany: Contemporary (Sonya Tayeh)
I don't love this partner for George, who I think is a frontrunner, and Tiffany got barely a murmur from the crowd during the opening round-off. But maybe the new voting process might help keep good dancers from being anchored to less dynamic ones. This routine is all about an intense love affair. Smooth and light and lovely and connected, all what Sonya needed from them. Both dancers display stunning control of their bodies, and there's an elemental connection between them. George is the real deal. He dances through his fingertips, through his toenails, a line that Nigel totally steals from me. Mary appreciated that they both surrendered to the choreography. Tiffany's a giggler when she gets praise, so she and Audrey really did deserve each other last week. She's better than I gave her credit for, though, and totally kept up with George, who might be the best dancer this season. Nigel notes Sonya is going through a "soft" romantic period (she grew out her mohawk!).
Brandon and Janaya: Hip-Hop (Tabitha and Napoleon)
I'm still cultivating a bit of a grudge against Brandon for his discomfort with touching other dudes during that Sonya routine. It's a new world, Brandon! Listen to some Frank Ocean and get used to it. Anyway, Tabitha is SUPES pregnant as she and Napoleon map out a story about alcoholism. Yep, that's a new one. In the early goings of the routine, there's too much story/props (a bottle in a bag is pretty literal), but it gives way to actual dancing that's very good. Janaya takes to the hip-hop style very well, I think. The judges don't entirely agree, with Mary in particular saying she needed to be grittier. Kenny delivers the "we're watching hip-hop turn into a storytelling medium!" line for at least the fourth consecutive summer. Nigel also notes the "softened edges" of this routine and warns them to "stand out" or be lost in the shuffle.