I can’t believe Paul went home. He was my fave rave to win. Oh, well, can’t win ’em all. Like I said before, it’s hard to choose this year. You pick a favorite, but then someone else you really like will have to go. Haley, who was also eliminated, will be missed, too. It truly is an All-Star cast of contestants this season. (But I still wanted to see Malece come back as an All-Star).
It was a great idea to have a show with the contestants featured in two, partnered dances — one with an All-Star and one with the regular partner. Paul and Kathryn made a good start, if not spectacular, in a jazz routine by Tyce Diorio. I don’t know how Kathryn does it, but she soaks up every camera angle and the very air in the room. I love Paul, and he put in a good performance. And as guest judge Jesse Tyler Ferguson pointed out, leather pants didn’t cramp Paul’s hip-moving style. (Must have been leather mixed with Spandex). But next to Kathryn, Paul somehow didn’t shine like he usually does.
The contemporary by Dee Caspary featuring Paul and Haley was just okay, but nothing to pick up the phone and squeal about. Even the judges were a little ho-hum with Nigel and Mary going off on a rabbit trail about who Paul reminded them of, a young Elvis or James Dean. (Elvis, no). Anything but picking at the dance routine itself — which was pretty — but also pretty generic compared to some we’ve seen. And you know how judges hate to come between a choreographer and his/her art. Yes, in that instance, any rabbit trail will do.
Haley’s routine with All-Star Joshua was a “Tabither” and Napolean a-la-Hillary Swank hip-hop. That one didn’t float my boat, either. Yes, the theme was original, but — is it just me? — or were the moves kind of same ole same ole? Ho-hum. My attention wandered. Jesse Ferguson thought it might have made a great work-out video. Not the best recommendation for a dance, do you think?
My attention, however, was totally riveted on the “Mirror, Mirror” jazz routine by Sean Cheesman. I was intrigued by the concept where Aaron’s character seems obsessed with looking at himself in the mirror, when actually he’s looking at this woman inside that only he can see. Jasmine’s character was a woman who was so narcissistic that she became trapped inside the mirror. And what a portrayal of these characters!! Aaron and Jasmine hit every single relentless beat of that pounding music. My jaw dropped to the floor when Aaron stretched Jasmine’s leg perpendicular to same. If I thought she was stretched out before . . . awe, man. That move made my eyes pop out. And didn’t they look great!!? The glittery gray, form-fitting costume; the somewhat smudgy, mirrored background; the lighting; the music; that awesome performance. It ALL worked.
That routine kind of made up for Aaron’s faux pas when he dropped All-Star Melanie in a Spencer Liff routine about squabbling mates. Melanie laughed off the accident as being in character, and bless her heart she didn’t let it interfere with finishing the dance. It looked to me like Aaron didn’t so much drop her as that they simply didn’t connect properly so that Melanie fell backward flat on the floor. I’ve been wondering when something like this was going to happen, and this year the head banging has happened twice — the first time was in the tryouts with Malece, in which she was dropped from a height on TOP of her head. The judges didn’t chew Aaron out for the drop so much as they rehashed their old complaint about the way he holds his shoulders, and touched on something about a shoulder injury. I must have missed that one. I don’t recall a shoulder injury.
I’m sorry, but I didn’t shed one Mary-tear over the Tyce Diorio tsunami jazz routine. Sometimes I think the standing O’s are a knee-jerk reaction to these pieces that try to make a statement about human suffering. Yes. The human suffering is bad, and I have been brought to tears by such routines before. But, hey, let’s face it. Not all of the routines are good. And what is this with Nigel this year and his requisite “I think this is your best ever”? Gimme a break. This was not even close to Neil Haskell’s best ever. It was not even close to a best routine of the night. Sometimes I think these judges are just blowing smoke on these social statement routines. I mean, what can they say?
And speaking of smoke, I think that bombshell Witney Carson kind of blew Fik-Shun away, as she also blew away her audience. She overpowered our bright, sunny, do-or-die little dynamo big time. Although Mary picked out his best moves, this performance could more rightly be called “Me and My Shadow”, as Fik-Shun definitely stayed in Witney’s shadow throughout this Foxtrot by Jonathan Roberts.
Neither did Fik-Shun and Amy shine in yet another ho-hum hip-hop by Dave Scott, in spite of Nigel’s stab at Miley Cyrus about how “sexy” is really done. Yeah. Amy is petite and cute. Actually, so is Fik-Shun. But this routine was run-of-the-mill by any standard, much less compared with the great choreographies and performances which have come before it in the past. I believe, as a viewer, I’ve been spoiled.
On the other hand, Bollywood went Hollywood in a routine by Nakul Dev Mahajan, about a diva-to-servant forbidden romance between Amy and All-Star Alex Wong. It was fun. It was colorful. It was exciting. It had moves that made you go “ahhhhh”. I loved it before I even saw the performance when Amy quipped that she was no diva, then ordered Alex to be a little firmer when massaging her feet. Those lifts were excellently executed by both Alex and Amy, as were the face-first fall toward the floor, and the twirls on their knees rising seamlessly into their final Bollywood steps and move to the pillows. But wait! Don’t you think Alex’s massage therapy there at the end was a little too enthusiastic? Hmmmm.
OKAAAAY. Did I miss anybody? I don’t think so. So the tally, for me, is two routines thumbs up. That’s it. And, as with Roy Orbison, I’m “Cry-a-i-a-i-ing over” Paul. Sniff.