This year’s Top 14 are SOOOO good, I didn’t want to see any of them go. You could see the talent oozing out in that opening group number by Stacey Tookey to “Last Moment” by Christophe Filippi. I don’t want to see any of our dancers go. I want more than a fast few weeks to watch them grow. They are awesome.
The two best routines of the night began with a couple who were individually in the bottom six — Jessica and Casey. This newly paired pair moved and flowed together like they had been partners for years instead of for the first time. It didn’t hurt that they also pulled a Travis Wall contemporary routine to “Like Real People Do” by Hozier. Their great partnership garnered them a standing ovation from the judges, who dubbed their performance — magical. Casey is an all-around dancer, having trained in everything from hip-hop to ballet, and from jazz to contemporary and lyrical, from the age of eight. He is age 19 from Seattle, Washington, and now focuses on contemporary. Jessica, whose genre is jazz, is age 18 from Yorba Linda, California.
The next best was Valerie and Ricky in a hip-hop witch doctor routine that roused Mary to call it a “crime scene”. “You MURDERED it!” she shouted. This cute choreography is by Christopher Jennings to “Turn Down For What” by Lil John and DJ Snake. Ricky plays the part of a witch doctor who brings a Raggedy Ann doll to life (Valerie). Both are exceptional in this piece, but Valerie stole the show with what Nigel called “a leg wave in side split.” That wasn’t the only good move as the rag doll flopped and flipped around to Ricky’s machinations. Ricky, age 18, is a contemporary dancer from Miami, FL. with some bit parts in show business under his belt. Valerie, age 20, is a tapper from Indianapolis, IN. From where I sit every Wednesday night, it looks like Ricky is leading the pack. In any group he stands out, and in every dance my eyes are drawn to him.
Tanisha and Rudy can’t seem to put a foot wrong this season as they drew a great choreography by Mandy Moore to “Seduces Me” by Celine Dion. And these dancers did it justice. Mandy and the judges were looking for magic, and they got it. Christina Applegate stood clapping and Mary did her signature WOOOO! scream and declared they were “Killin’ it”. Nigel called it brilliant. Rudy, like Ricky, is from Miami, Florida, and dances contemporary. Rudy is age 19. Tanisha, age 20, from Payson, Utah, is a ballroom dancer.
Even though they were among the four dancers eliminated last night, Carly and Serge put in a great performance with the season’s first ballroom quick-step by Jean-Mark. Mary praised the couple, noting how they coped with the closed positions and how they maintained their “good shapes”. She would have liked, however, just a little more power.
Though Mary Murphy called it “love at first bite”, I couldn’t get past thinking it was only a passable Paso Doble by Jacque and Zach.. All the steps were sharp and performed to perfection, and Zach is one of the top dancers in my book. But sexy the dance was not. Even though Jacque was gorgeous, I couldn’t see Zach as “the man in command”, or as the bloodsucking vampire Jean-Mark would have him to be. Nigel praised the costumes and Christina Applegate praised Zach for being so strong and masculine. Jacque is the beautiful ballet dancer, age 18, from Clive, Iowa. Zach is the tapper, age 20, from Kennesaw, Georgia. And believe me — there isn’t a dance Zach doesn’t excel in. It’s just that for the Paso Doble he needs a tad more maturity. And speaking of maturity — what’s happened to Christina Applegate? This year she’s making good, sensible comments, and I’m actually enjoying her as a judge.
I hate, hate, hate, that Teddy was eliminated last night. But with four having to go, what was anyone to do? Casey and Jessica simply outdanced him last night. I also wish Teddy had been given a different partner than Emily. Though all these girls are excellent, I have never rated Emily among my top favorites. I don’t care how the judges go on about partners not making a difference if you’re really good. Hey. They make a difference. Teddy is an outstanding dancer and I want to see him perform again. I loved the Broadway routine by Warren Carlyle to “From This Moment On” from “Kiss Me Kate”. Both dancers did well, though Teddy noticeably performed better than his partner. Nigel called it a tough style, and was disappointed in the end, comparing it to the old dance masters. Christina Applegate said Teddy blew her away. Yeah, Christina. Me, too. He can move. Emily and Teddy were among the four eliminated.
I was not as carried away with Emelio and Bridget’s red devil Jazz routine by Ray Leeper to “Long Road to Hell” by Avicii. I love Emelio and Bridget, but hated the lighting, the all-encompassing and overpowering RED, and the whole routine. There were no moves that moved me in any way, though I’m sure the couple gave the dance one hundred percent. It may just be me, but it was my least favorite of the night. Emelio is age 23 from Houston, Texas, and his genre is popping. Bridget, 20, is from Tempe, Arizona, and dances contemporary.
Now for the pièces de résistance, or the icing on the cake. Two group routines — one by the top seven girls and one by the top seven boys — were thoughtful, powerful and beautiful. The first, by Mandy Moore, was about the power girls have to lift one another up, to support each other rather than drag down. The ending evoked a standing ovation from the judges as well as “Wow!” and “Powerful!” Christina called it a “gift”. Mary said they were seven amazing, beautifully strong dancers. Nigel called it a work of art, and (for the second show in a row) nipped at former guest judge Misty Copeland for her opinion that the boys were on a little higher level than the girls. (Okay. So later he had to eat them woids).
Travis Wall’s contemporary routine took us down to the ocean depths, with our seven guys dressed in wavy tendrils of diaphanous blues, with upper exposed areas covered in blue body paint. As they weaved and waved about the stage, carrying us along in their current, the performance was breathtaking. Judges were on their feet applauding, and Nigel had to back pedal somewhat. His exact words were, “Maybe Misty was a little right.”
When all was said and done, out of the bottom six, only Casey and Jessica were saved. Eliminated were: Serge, Teddy, Carly, and Emily. It was a tough night on the heartstrings for viewers.
Our Top 10 are: Bridget, Emelio, Jacque, Ricky, Tanisha, Rudy, Valerie, Zach, Casey, and Jessica.