IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

Dancers give chemistry lesson on ‘SYTYCD’

Top 16's performances show how important partner connections are to the overall dance .
/ Source: Entertainment Weekly

Sex is supposed to sell, am I wrong? Then why did I feel so incredibly unimpressed with last night’s “SYTYCD” performance night? We had a whole two hours chock-full o’ skimpy costumes, intense partner chemistry, and sexy numbers — including an admittedly stellar ode to the female derriére, courtesy of Mia Michaels (who 'da thunk?).

Yet I can’t seem to muster up enough excitement about week three. I just wasn’t feeling it. Maybe it was the fact that the episode came complete with more filler than Mary’s face (thanks for that one, Mom!). Or because last night’s choreographers didn’t quite manage to deliver any toe-curling, face-crushing, jaw-dropping numbers. Or maybe some of Nigel’s initial grumpiness rubbed off on me. But then again, he had more of a reason than I did to be so cantankerous: Based on that curious windbreaker, I can only assume he had just spent an arduous day in the eye of Mexico’s Hurricane Andres.

But before we get to the dancing tonight, I hope that you’re not too grumpy about seeing my byline on top of this TV Watch. Never fear, friends, Adam will be returning next week in order to fulfill your “SYTYCD” needs. And I might not have a snark demon resting on my shoulder, but I have 13 years of classical ballet training under my belt, so hopefully he’s left you in good hands!

Let’s get back to the episode, which I have to stay started on quite a bright note thanks to our venerable host, Cat Deeley. Opa! Does that girl do Grecian well, or what? And instead of being privy to Lil’ C’s “Siddhartha”-esque ramblings this week, we were treated to the impressively sober musings of living legend of hip-hop award-winner Toni Basil. My, that woman has gone places since Mickey. (Like Pier 1, where I imagine she purchased that bowl she wore on her head all evening.)

But last night, it was all about the chemistry, folks. Intensifying chemistry, waning chemistry, and newfound chemistry. But which couples have picked up their PhDs in the subject? (They could sure use the degree, too, considering most of their desired non-dance jobs — the subject of last night’s get-to-know-your-dancers fun fact — would likely leave them scrambling in debt. Acting? Singing? Cirque de Soleil-ing?) Let’s take a look at their success last night. And since I like to end things on a good note, I’m going to rank our couples from worst to best, based on last night:

Jonathan and Karla Oy. This lackluster hip-hop was a tough one to swallow, especially considering the fact that the couple had a huge amount of momentum after last week’s be-a-utiful contemporary routine. Karla put up a good effort, true, but she didn’t hit her moves hard or pristine enough to surge out of the relative anonymity she’s been fighting since week one. And she certainly didn’t bring enough to the table to compensate for poor Jonathan.

Now, we all know that the cute-as-a-button dancing newbie was hardly a “smooth criminal,” but I had faith he would have been able to get himself into character a little better than he did. Instead, the whole scene was like watching David Archuleta perform an Eminem song. Just wrong. Plus, his movements were far too out-of-sync and fluid for audiences to believe that he had truly nailed the genre.

Methinks the couple’s No. 1 placement on last night’s show — coupled with the fact that they have journeyed to the bottom three before — will all but guarantee them a spot in the bottom.

But before we move on, I have to address Nigel’s cranky assessment that the routine reminded him of “a Sunday School picnic outing.” Because if his Sunday School outings are anything like that number — bare midriffs! — then I think he might be encouraging a visit from Chris Hansen. Would you like some sweet tea, Nigel?

Vitolio and Asuka I really want to like Vitolio. Between his compelling back story and his ability to rock one heckuva(n) afro (designed by Kupono?), he has proved himself worthy of affection for anyone with a heart. But week in and week out, I can’t totally get behind his dancing. And tonight was no different.

Nigel praised the pair for their Mandy Moore-choreographed jazz routine — which Moore titled, in true Justin Timberlake style, “Thrash Rocker Jazz” — but perhaps he was too busy drooling over Asuka’s body stocking to notice its obvious flaws. The female half of the pair, for one, was hitting her marks way too hard, and the couple was unable to get in sync with one another for a good portion of the routine. Hard to believe, considering the tender moment they had shared during rehearsal when Vitolio comforted a befuddled, lost Asuka.

I’m not sure what it will take for the couple’s off-stage chemistry to translate in front of viewers — perhaps Toni will have to play matchmaker? — but they’ve got to do something soon, otherwise the pair will be slipping off their boogie shoes.

Caitlin and Jason Here’s the problem: When you use a song like “O’Fortuna” for a dance routine, your dancers have to really Bring. It. And Caitlin and Jason — a bit of a lightweight couple, as much as I like them — didn’t live up to their dance’s epic soundtrack. Their Paso Doble, choreographed by Jean-Marc and France Genereux, might have been technically proficient for the most part, but Jason’s slight figure threw me off. It was a little like watching a Care Bear compete on “American Gladiators”: He didn’t portray the strength necessary to make the passion of the routine believable.

And though I agree with Mary that Caitlin has beautiful lines, that girl has to stop relying on her tumbling experience to impress viewers. A handstand does not necessarily automatically translate to the dance floor. Of course, maybe I’m just being dismissive of this whole routine because I’m unable to get the image of Jean-Marc creepily ripping off Caitlin’s skirt in rehearsal out of my mind. Can we put in a call to HR, please?

Phillip and Jeanine Ready for my Kara DioGuardi moment? Okay then! Here’s the thing: Anyone as obsessed with “Singin’ in the Rain” as I am will appreciate my frustration with this Broadway routine, courtesy of Tyce Diorio. First of all, “Moses Supposes” is one of the most technically impressive tap routines to ever make its way onto film. You can’t just slap two non-Broadway dancers over this song, and have them perform a slightly above average number. It’s blasphemy, I tells ya!

Secondly, if you’re going to involve a couch in a number inspired by the film, please choreograph said dance to “Good Morning,” a sequence in the film that actually involved a couch. That way, those of us who have everything about the film memorized won’t be so frustrated and confused!

And lastly, any number based on a Gene Kelly routine should be performed by Evan from here on out, ‘mkay? Alright, time to get off my soapbox. Thanks for listening.

Phillip and Jeanine certainly brought the entertainment this week, and the result was a huge improvement over last week’s disastrous tango. True, the pillow-infused piece was a bit fluffy — no pun intended — and not as challenging as we’d like to see, but Phillip knows how to work the crowd. Not only did he merge into character, but he also let the audience laugh at his expense following his pants-ripping wardrobe malfunction.

And let’s give credit to Jeanine: the girl put her life on the line when Phillip jumped the couch in a move that would make Tom Cruise writhe in jealousy. (Perhaps he’ll attempt his own couch-jumping the night of Katie Holmes’ rumored appearance?)

But I have to pick a bone with Nigel: Though I understand why he’s urging Phillip to step it up, I’ve only seen improvement in our hip-hopper (of course, I’m pretending that whole tango didn’t happen). If he wanted to lecture him, why not do it last week? Either way, the number was far from a disaster — with the exception of Jeanine’s clip-on bangs — and I’ll expect to see flying pigs outside my window before the popular pair gets sent home prematurely.

Kupono and Kayla We have a new pair this week, folks! And it’s Kupono and Kayla, a couple made in herky-jerky heaven! I tuned into last night’s show fully expecting to see them tackle a funky Sonya routine, but instead they got stuck with ... the Viennese Watlz. Translation: The “SYTYCD” kiss of death.

But that being said, the two actually executed their dreamy Jean-Marc routine very gracefully, making me hope that they live to see another week. Though Kayla’s flowy green gown certainly helped amplify the number, I had a hard time finding something wrong with their work. (Toni did though: no shoes!)

And though I’m not as excited to hear about Kayla’s desired career choice (ugh, modeling? Really?), their waltz certainly sent the judges and yours truly into a happy stupor. And Jean-Marc too, who was probably wishing in his dream that he didn’t amuse me so darn much by looking like Joe Pesci.

Ade and Melissa Okay, you want to talk chemistry? Ade and Melissa won the Nobel Prize in the subject last night for their Tony Meredith Rumba. The number was so smoldering, it led Cat to ask the audience, “Does anyone else feel as though we’re interrupting something?”

The judges said that Ade brought a certain fluidity to the number, but, honestly, I’m just going to have to trust them — because I couldn’t take my eyes off Melissa the entire routine. Perhaps it was because I couldn’t help but admire how perfectly her outfit matched the dance’s Destiny’s Child soundtrack. (Did the “SYTYCD” costume designers hop in the DeLorean to raid Tina Knowles’ closet circa 2000?) Or maybe I was just waiting for Melissa to suffer her own wardrobe malfunction.

But mostly, I was just impressed with the ballerina’s ability to soak into character, especially since most tend to leave audiences cold. Of course, she had an advantage, being this season’s “naughty ballerina,” but it’s good to see she’s managed to avoid sickness thus far, considering the fact that she’s unable to keep that finger out of her mouth.

Brandon and Jeanette In my opinion, it was a close fight for No. 1 last night. But as much as I love this seemingly unstoppable couple — especially after learning that our spicy salsa dancer is pursuing a career as a loan officer — I have to place them at No. 2, since Evan and Randi had killer choreography on their side.

But Brandon and Jeanette made the most of theirs, via hip-hopper Dave Scott, molding into their roles and making it virtually impossible to corner either in a certain genre. Jeanette nailed her rocker attitude, and — for the love of Chbeeb — Brandon popped like a professional. Not to mention the fact that he also breakdanced. But the routine itself was a little shallow, especially coming from such a great choreographer as Scott.

In fact, after two weeks of ho-hum hip-hop routines, I’m starting to cross my fingers for Tabitha and Napoleon’s return. And that means a lot, coming from a girl who’s petrified of Napoleon, since he, you know, looks a little too much like Scott Peterson for his own good. But I should cheer up; after all, we got to hear Cat’s Cher impression, thanks to Nigel’s assertion that Brandon and Jeanette recalled 50 Cent and the great diva during their routine. So I believe, Brandon and Jeanette!

Evan and Randi Nigel might have accused Mia Michaels’ contemporary routine of being simple, but I found it far more interesting and physically taxing than some of her more serious routines. (And yes, that includes her overlauded throw-rose-petals-up-in-the-air-for-my-father dance.)

Let’s face it: We have to give props to Evan, for not only executing the routine (let’s ignore that shoe fumble) and making it believable, but also managing to do so in a pair of heinous parachute pants seemingly inspired by the wardrobe of Charlie Chaplin and Larry King.

But it takes two to tango, so we have to applaud Randi as well: You have to be one good sport to allow your partner to spank you in front of millions of viewers. And girl can rock a nightie. Here’s hoping that we get to see the charming side of Mia more throughout this season, as last night’s best number was quite simply — dare I say it? — fun.

Alright, friends, were you also a bit underwhelmed by last night’s show? Do you agree with my rankings? Who did you love? Who did you hate? Did you, like me, fall in love with Randi a bit more after learning that she wants to become a special education teacher? (Say it with me: Awwwww.)

And did you, like me, like Kayla a little less after hearing her choice profession? Who do you think is headed home? Finally, don’t forget to make your picks via our “SYTYCD” prediction challenge! ‘Til Friday!