So You Think You Can Dance recap: the top 8
It was shades of American Idol last night as a fourth was added to the judging panel. Comedian Ellen DeGeneres joined Mia Michaels and regulars Mary and Nigel for So You Think You Can Dance.
I have mixed feelings about Ellen's inclusion on So You Think You Can Dance. She was funny -- at first -- but once the actual performances started I felt as if her jokes were over shadowing the dancers. The other problem is there simply isn't enough critique to go around when you have four judges all giving their opinion on a single dance.
Nigel was particularly tough on the gang last night and he and I certainly disagreed on what worked and what didn't. The one thing we all agreed on was that Travis Wall's futuristic rave to Let it Rock was very cool. The dancers wore colored lights on their arms, giving their movements an extra special spacey look, particularly when the lights were dimmed. It was very athletic and powerful. Enter Ellen with a typical ramble about how she help Travis come up with the costume design, rejecting real light bulbs and then Christmas lights before settling on the neon LED's. And that was my fill of the funny from Ms Ellen.
Moving into the competition, each dancer had to pick a new partner again this week then perform two numbers together and one solo.
Evan and Janette
Evan and Janette were up first with a jazz routine choreographed by Sonja. The piece was about each of them trying to make the other shut up. I'm not sure that came through with the full force as it was supposed to. I didn't get the anger at each other, more the general notion of people being silenced which could have been a good theme in itself. Not a bad effort by either one. The shut up element carried over to the judge's table where Nigel tried to silence Mary and she snapped at him and it's simply not cute or funny, people. Let's stick to the program.
Brandon got Jeanine this week and they both dolled up for an elegant waltz. Well, it was supposed to be a waltz but I didn't see much waltzing going on when they hit the stage. It began with him carrying her on to stage in a standing lift and it looked so awkward when her dress covered his head as he lowered her. From the start, I never felt the flowing rhythm that is so much a part of the waltz and the judges blamed this on the painfully slow music. There was just nothing to grab on to and I think these two could end up in the bottom.
Ade lucked out pulling Melissa again and they were given a Cha Cha and it simply didn't work. There was no hip action, no down and dirty, it was all to dainty and prissy for a Latin ballroom number. Melissa's ballet training worked against her here and Nigel called her on pulling faces as she tried to act sexy -- all in all, another so-so performance.
Jason and Kayla get a jazzy Broadway number that finally brings a spark of life to the night. Kayla looks like she just came out of a starring role on Broadway, Chicago maybe or Sweet Charity. She has a wonderful stage presence to go along with her technique. And Jason wasn't bad either.
Janette and Evan returned with a sexy Rumba and that's never a good pick for Evan. He simply isn't built for dances such as these, try as he does. He's a song and dance man and in that, he's fabulous but this number felt too slow and too long. I was bored.
Brandon and Jeanine
Brandon and Jeanine's second number comes from a new choreographer in a style they call pop jazz. I'm guessing this is the kind of dancing you see most often behind pop stars on their concert tour. It has a primal feel to it, very sharp and synchronized striking hard on the heavy down beats in the music. It didn't do anything for me but the judges went wild. Nigel even went so far as to say that the night was flat up until now. Maybe you had to be there to truly experience the power of that dance.
Melissa and Ade return to the stage with an emotional contemporary number about a woman with breast cancer. It was lovely and heart wrenching and that's all I can write without flooding my keyboard with tears -- excellent job all around.
Jason and Kayla finish the night with a zombie hip-hop number from Shane. I was expecting to love this and in the end the best I could say was like. I don't know if we've become jaded after all of the memorable numbers of the years, but this year I simply haven't seen anything that stays with me a week later. I thought this would be one of those, but it wasn't -- clever and fun but not memorable.
Tonight, however, we'll see plenty of memorable routines as the show celebrates its 100th episode. You'll see some of your favorite routines from the past and a fabulous dance number from Katie Holmes and that's only the beginning. This is one dance party you won't want to miss -- unfortunately, at the end of it, two dancers will still be going home.
Watch So You Think You Can Dance Wednesdays at 8:00 and Thursdays at 9:00 on Fox.
Photo: Fox Broadcasting Co.