Amanda Kirby, 20 from Riverside CA who auditioned last season comes back for a shot at the Top 20. Last season, they spelled her name as Amanda Kerby with an “e.” Which is which? Montage of Amanda Kirby along with Brandon Dumlao, 21 of Concord MA, and almost naked David Hovyannisyan, 27 of Wauwatosa, WI. They all get tickets to Vegas.
Tonight breaks the mold because the dancers must all change partners after dancing with their prior partner for weeks. Partnering is a very difficult aspect of dance. Sometimes there is chemistry, sometimes there is beauty and sometimes there is just discomfort. It is conveyed by the dancers if the match is not right and it cannot be hidden.
But as time progresses, as they spend weeks together, a chemistry evolves as the dancers learn each others personality and movements. Their strengths and weaknesses. Their rise and fall.
And then, suddenly, just as the dancers get in a rhythm, they are split apart and thrown at new partners. This is kind of odd in another way, because it does not favor the dancers that lost partners like in prior weeks. A dancer that lost a partner was at a significant disadvantage while the rest of the dancers maintained their partnerships, but tonight, they all were broken.
Other than having to dance with new partners, the solos really come onto play now because every dancer has to suddenly do a solo that can impact America’s vote. And this is even more important because the judges can no longer save a dancer. It is down to America to vote. Whomever gets the lowest votes on the male and female side go home, no excuses, no whining, no second chances.
So, tonight, we have to do things a bit differently. We have to rank each dancer and how well they did in their pairing and solo. We have found in the past the solo weights much more lightly than the pairing because the pairing tends to be more memorable, but it can be a differentiator in a close race.
Before we start, we want to say that all these dancers are fantastic. We love them all and we do not think any should be eliminated. They should all win. Which is what is great about this show, because all these dancers did win. They will all be on the tour, and they will all have the chance to be professionals with exposure beyond most dancer’s dreams.
Let’s start… we shall go in order of the voting numbers.
1. Brandon – Brandon drew Melissa as a partner. She is the most graceful and composed dancer in this competition, so she helped him. They did a contemporary piece to “Aquarius” from the play “Hair”. The piece was the best of the night by any couple. Brandon was strong as ever, leaping with aplomb and yet remaining in character throughout. Brandon win this night among the men, but his masculinity is sometimes just not evident and, in dance, it is required, so we can only give him. Brandon’s solo was too frantic and did not help him. He needs to realize that less is more and timing the music is more important than squeezing in the most moves. (9/10).
2. Randi – Randi drew Kupono, and this was difficult, because he is the tallest man and she is not tall at all. The dance is also a dance meant for a matched pair, the Paso Doble and this couple was not well matched. We felt Randi did a commendable job, but she lost a major feature that has been an advantage in past weeks. Randi is by far the cutest look on the dance floor. She has that truly innocent girlish quality. And this week, she wore a dark wig that hid her personality in an attempt to make her sexy. It may have helped the overall dance, but it did nothing for her personally. She danced the better of the pair and we think America has a major thing for her, but that wig puts her in danger. Her solo was not strong either. It seemed, not frantic, but at times strained. We felt some of the moves were accidents as a result of a slip or stumble and we couldn’t say it was memorable. (8/10)
3. Kupono – Kupono drew Randi, and it was not a successful pairing. There was little chemistry and Kupono was weak in the dance. We have to say, though, we give him credit considering this is a new partner and this was, by far, the hardest dance of the night. But Kupono does not have strength. He studied under Mark from last season, but Mark had this ability to portray a dark personality and an evil strength. Kupono just can’t do it. This dance was not good. Kupono’s solo was quirky and creative as usual and it was among his best. But it can’t save him on that dance. Oh my. (8/10)
4. Melissa – Melissa drew Brandon and that is a great pairing. They did a contemporary piece to “Aquarius” from the play “Hair” and nailed every move. WE have to give Melissa the nod in this performance, but overall, both were fantastic. Melissa took her time in the solo, she was not frantic like so many others. We felt she could have taken some more risks, but we liked it. Still, there is something unappealing about her, which gets her a demerit. (8/10)
5. Evan – Evan was both lucky and unlucky in the partnering tonight. He drew Kayla, who is the tallest woman in the competition. She brings so much grace to the dance, but she also poses a problem for the shortest man in the competition. They did a Viennese Waltz, which is also trouble because this type of ballroom dance plays to the man’s dominance. The dance looked more like a regular waltz, but was still quite lovely. Evan wore heels to compensate and Kayla wore slippers with no heels. This helped balance them. Evan, we feel, did an amazing job.
There were some criticisms by Nigel, but they were misplaced. What was especially evident was how amazingly well Evan did the lifts. He is much stronger than people thought, as is often the case with compact men. His lifts were smooth and effortless and it made each of them memorable. Evan’s solo did something that only could be done by Evan. It was totally memorable, bringing out the Fred Astaire in the show and yet also proving he is no slouch as he flipped effortlessly near the end. It was the best solo of the night. (9/10)
Top 10 Solo introduction and dance recap
6. Kayla – Kayla is so incredibly graceful. Her points on her dance with Evan were incredible. Every move was graceful, but her dress was too ruffled and distracting. We cannot discredit her for wardrobe although the audience may without realizing why. Kayla’s solo was better timed than many of the women, and she can flip over upside down with both feet almost touching the floor at the same time while her head faces the floor. We have no idea how that is humanly possible. The dictionary shall have to be reprinted to place a picture of Kayla next to the word “flexible”. Kayla is just too diverse and too good to go home yet. (9/10)
7. Ade – Ade partnered with Janette. Now, this was an interesting hip hop piece in which Ade hypnotizes his partner into total funk. He did a commendable job and his strength and rhythm helped him in his performance. His solo, however, was not a help. Not because he didn’t have spectacular moves, but as is the case for so many dancers, he tried to do too much, looking frantic in the process rather than graceful. His acrobatics are undoubtedly the strongest of the dancers, but this is not a gymnastics contest. Still…(9/10)
8. Jeanine – Jeanine drew Jason, which is a good match of styles, height and talent. Jeanine had suffered with Philip, who was clearly inferior, and yet came through every week. Still, that could have been an advantage, consistently making her look superb in comparison. Jeanine is by far the prettiest girl here and it shows. Yet, she has the same cute personality that graces Randi. Her grace is unsurpassed, even by Kayla, who does, admittedly have better lines. Jeanine nailed this contemporary piece and is near the top this week. Her solo was flawless and well timed. She doesn’t do flips and gymnastics, it is just pure dance, and it is beautiful. (9/10)
9. Jason – Jason danced very well with Jeanine. and was on par for one of the best performances of the night, but we feel she outperformed him. The choreography was done by one of the best dancers the show has seen, Travis, who only lost to Benjie in season two on a personality vote. He introduced some incredibly difficult moves and Jason, while executing many of them, did not have Travis’s extension. Still, this was his first attempt at these moves, and Travis is a very tough act to follow. WE are torn on Jason. What can we do? Jason’s solo was cute and performed to character in what could be characterized as his best solo. It wasn’t as acrobatic as many, but it played to his strength and looked like a true performance, not some frantic attempt to get in more moves than the other guy. (9/10)
10. Janette – Janette and Ade did a great hip hop piece, but in our opinion, Janette stole the piece and she is anthing but hip hop. She is not the prettiest dancer in this competition, but she has the best legs and is the sexiest. That does draw attention to her when she dances. She also introduces a massive amount of expression and personality into her dance that makes you believe her. Now, the solo, well, that would of course be a problem right? Janette is all ballroom and a partner dancer. So, how do you pull off a solo with limited contemporary training? Well, Janette has the main component of a ballroom dancer doing a solo. She is sexy. And it shows and it makes her solo memorable where other ballroom dancers would fall. We are certain she can dance pretty much anything except extreme forms of contemporary. Her personality is top notch. (9/10)
So, where does that leave us? Shoot, it is easier to pick the best than the worst again this week. Sigh, it is so difficult to say who should go home, especially considering the luck of the draw can play such a major part in the result. Partnering with a new partner can’t always work, and it that dance doesn’t work, history has shown the solo can’t save you. Remember, this week, they are all ranked separately and the girl and guy with the least votes will go home regardless of whether they partnered or not. And the judges can only weigh in with their opinions, not votes this week.
Our bottom three men…
Kupono, Evan and Jason. How could this be? Look at our scores. These guys are fantastic. Kupono was here because of the dance he was condemned to dance, the Paso Doble. He was not believable. Evan is not as strong a dancer, but has massive personality. We think America will not vote him out, but we can’t place him in the top 2. And Jason, we felt, was not as strong as Ade or Brandon. So, who is at the very bottom? Our guess is Kupono, but this is a tight one.
Our bottom three women…
Randi, Melissa and Janette. Now this is tougher than the men to call. Randi, we believe, sacrificed her own votes for the dance. Wearing the wig hid who she was and America is voting for that all American look. She lost that this week. Melissa just doesn’t have the cute factor. She is graceful, but butch, and it doesn’t play well as we watch her perform. She looks like she is putting in a major effort to be female despite her grace. Janette is fantastic, but we have to give Kayla and Jeanine the night, so someone had to be in the bottom three.
OK, now our absolute bottom this week is Randi. We think the wig, as well as the dance style, blew her chance. And we also believe America had a love affair with Randi and Evan as a couple, and that was busted this week. We think Randi is at major risk. Melissa is also at risk, primarily because of the persona she conveys, and the fact that no one would vote for her above Kayla or Jeanine. If Janette goes home, it is because of the solo, which does not favor ballroom dancers. But we don’t see that weighing that much and think she is safe.
THE DANCES and the music:
The top five girls: Bollywood dance routine, Music to “Dlohna” from Pyar Ki Jeet, choreography by Nakul Dev Mahajan
The top five guys: African dance routine, Music to “Ballant Funk” by Ayanda Clark and Shawn Kelly choreography by Jeffrey Page
The couple routines were done to the following music: Kayla Radomski and Evan Kasprzak Viennese Waltz, “Kiss from a Rose” —Seal choreography by Tony Meredith and Melanie LaPatin Janette Manrara and Ade Obayomi Hip-hop, “Love Sex Magic” —Ciara featuring Justin Timberlake choreography by Tabitha D’umo and Napoleon D’umo Jeanine Mason and Jason Glover Contemporary, “If It Kills Me” (The Casa Nova Sessions)—Jason Mraz choreography by Travis Wall Randi Evans and Kupono Aweau Paso Doble, “Dies Irae” —Karl Jenkins choreography by Tony Meredith and Melanie LaPatin Melissa Sandvig and Brandon Bryant Broadway, “Aquarius” from the musical “Hair” choreography by Tyce Diorio
Brandon Bryant: “In Your Eyes” —Jeffrey Gaines
Randi Evans: “Dream” —Priscilla Ahn
Kupuno Aweau: “Marina Gasolina” —Bonde do Rolê
Melissa Sandvig: “Gabriel” —Lamb
Evan Kasprzak: “Zing! Went the Strings of My Heart” —Rufus Wainwright
Kayla Radomski: “Rock Your Soul” —Elisa
Ade Obayomi: “Unchained Melody” —The Righteous Brothers
Jeanine Mason: “Violento (Up Mix)”–Bailongo!
Jason Glover: “Train Fare Home” —Muddy Waters
Janette Manrara: “This is Miami” —Sander Kleinenberg
This week we have to work top down. Most weeks we are thinking we have to nail the bottom three. So we go bottom up and try to pick who we liked least. This week, we loved every performance. These dancers are true stars and a step above everyone else in dance. The choreographers do deserve much of the credit, and we believe that choreography may have more to do with the elimination of this week’s pair of dancers than the dancing itself. But maybe a fan base could save one or two from elimination. We think Philip and Evan have a strong following that will bail them out on the telephone in many cases, but will it help them this week?
As a note aside, this is the last week these couples will perform with each other. They have to face the music with a different partner next week. This could result in some very interesting mismatches. For example, we could never imagine Kayla or Melissa with Phillip.
When you get down to it this week, there isn’t a dance we disliked. There were no major flaws. So, it comes down to how each dance made us feel and expect that we are in tune with the audience. We aren’t always, but we think we can tell you what happened and who was the most likely to get votes this week.
Normally we go through the dances in chronological order, but this week we are going to list our dancers top down, top to bottom, best to worst, and ecstacy to pain. Let’s see how this goes… (Watch solo introduction and dance recap at the bottom of this post)
Janette Manrara and Brandon Bryant Argentine Tango to the song “Libertango” from Forever Tango choreographed by Miriam Larici and Leonardo Barrionuevo Janette Manrara and Brandon Bryant Jazz to the song “Ruby Blue” —Róisín Murphy choreographed by Wade Robson (Complete performance videos here with judges comments)
In every show, this couple has nailed every single dance. No slips, no flaws, just pure and perfect entertainment. Tonight exemplified their run with two of the best performances by any couple this season. One will definitely be on the tour. The first was a tango. Every move was executed with phenomenal precision. Jeannette is the dark horse here. We keep forgetting about her until she dances and suddenly we believe she could take it all. Every week she has been our number one or number two pick of the women. Brandon is brought out personality-wise by her. Her slightly cocky (in a good way) personality is exactly what Brandon needed to bring out his excellence as a dancer because it got him to lighten up. (Dance 1: 10/10)
The second dance will be on the tour. It was a jazz dance that has some of the sleekiest choreography we have seen. If executed correctly, it should have you laughing and still amazed at how well it is performed. This one had us laughing at the cocky character acting, but almost in tears over how amazingly delivered this dance was. You have to watch it, because if you don’t, we cannot explain it. If this were a final contest among couples, Jeannette and Brandon are well above the rest of the pack.(Dance 2: 10/10)
Melissa Sandvig and Ade Obayomi Disco to the song “Move On Up” —Destination choreographed by Doriana Sanchez Melissa Sandvig and Ade Obayomi Waltz to the song “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman” —Mary J. Blige choreographed by Ron Montez (VIDEO PERFORMANCES HERE with judges comments)
The first dance was disco, the second dance a waltz. Melissa did one split upside down that would have likely killed a normal human being. Ade was strong throughout. When he needed to lift Melissa it was effortless. When he needed to deliver that perfect dance move or spin, it was there. Melissa was the top performer in this couple, but both kicked it up a notch even in that difficult first slot. Dance 1 was fast and furious. It was not as good as last week’s disco by Jeanette and Brandon, but it was so very well performed nonetheless. (Dance 1: 9/10) Next was a waltz that brought both of these dancer’s beauty into perspective. (Dance 2: 10/10)
Kayla Radomski and Kupono Aweau Contemporary to the song “Gravity” —Sara Bareilles choreographed by Mia Michaels Kayla Radomski and Kupono Aweau Broadway to the song “The Dance At the Gym” from West Side Story choreographed by Joey Dowling
In their first dance, they drew contemporary and it was superbly performed. The synchronized moves were spectacular. The touch of craziness in the dance had us mesmerized. (Dance 1: 9/10) Kayla, though, outshines Kupono. The second dance was a jazz performance and we just couldn’t help but giggle at some of it. It had a truly off beat appeal. We loved both dances. Kayla was spectacular. Kupono quite good. This was difficult to score because we loved the dance, but felt Kupono did not perform up to par. (Dance 2: 8./10)
Randi Evans and Evan Kasprzak Hip-hop to the song “Halo” —Beyoncé Knowles choreographed by Tabitha D’umo and Napoleon D’umo Randi Evans and Evan Kasprzak Samba to the song “Ritmo De Bum Bom”—Jababa choreographyed by Anya Garnis and Pasha Kovalev
In the first dance, hip hop was their task, and Randi was able to hit the beat and lead us into the dance much better than Evan. We like Evan’s personality and style, but he hasn’t been as much of a dancing standout of late, and this was not his best performance. It looked like he was dancing a different style. On time, on the beat and off the mark. (Dance 1: 8/10) Randi is just so cute that as long as she shows up and doesn’t fall, she looks great on stage. Her perkiness and energy bring that cute nature home even more
The second dance truly demonstrated the dichotomy this couple presents to us. Once again Randi was stunning, made every move flawlessly and led the dance with pure dazzle. Once again, Evan was a disappointment, disappearing behind Randi’s aura and just not showing the style and personality of a winner. Evan has the personality, we have seen it, but he hasn’t been bringing it to the show the last couple of weeks. Unlike loveable dancers from years past, such as Benjie in season 2, he can’t bring his personality consistently to the floor. He looks like he is straining and just not having the fun he should be. (Dance 2: 8/10)
Jeanine Mason and Phillip Chbeeb Russian folk dance to the song “Kalinka” —Barynya choreographed by Youri Nelzine and Lilia Babenko Jeanine Mason and Phillip Chbeeb Jive to the song “Stuff Like That There” —Bette Midler choreographed by Tony Meredith and Melanie LaPatin
If Jeanine can dance as well as she has while partnering with a dancer as weak as Phillip, she deserves to win this year. And she has. Every single dance she has delivered pure perfection, and tonight was no exception. The start was a Russian dance that brought back memories of last year when Twitch and Joshua danced up an energetic storm of Russian movement. Jeanine was believable and on mark throughout. Phillip was not, but put in a commendable effort despite a stumble and being incredibly outmatched. Honestly, though, Phillip is way out of his league and is just plain no Joshua or Twitch (Dance 1: 7/10).
The second dance was swing, and once again, Jeanine shook the hips and took the dance away. Jeanine is championship quality, Phillip is not. But we think that quite possibly the judges promoted Phillip in these routines because they want Phillip’s entertainment factor on the tour. And only the top 10 are guaranteed to tour. Jeanine was so good in the second dance and Phillip put in an underdog performance worth noting, so this dance can’t be downgraded that much. (Dance 2: 9/10)
Caitlin Kinney and Jason Glover Foxtrot to the song “Minnie the Moocher” —Big Bad Voodoo Daddy choreographed by Tony Meredith and Melanie LaPatin Caitlin Kinney and Jason Glover Lyrical jazz to the song “Show Me Heaven” —Maria McKee choreographed by Mandy Moore
The first dance was a 40s type slow swing. The dancers executed the dance with aplomb. Our issue was not the performance, it was the choreography. The dance, while amazingly performed, was dull, and votes come from how well the audience remembers the dance. Caitlin is better than this dance showed her to be. Jason as well. (Dance 1: 8/10)
The second dance was Lyrical Jazz and was their exact style. And once again, despite some beautiful movement, it was dull. We cannot place our finger on it, but this was the couple we would be least likely to vote for this week. They did the one thing that cannot be done. They bored us. (Dance 2: 8/10)
Top 12 Solo introduction and Dance Recap
Now it becomes a bit more clear…We have two obviously safe couples…what about the rest?
Brandon and Jeanine are not going anywhere. They are spectacular and the best couple in this competition by a decent margin.
Melissa and Ade have strong movement and finesse that is magnified by the incredible strength of both dancers. Melissa is a bit butch at times, but never is anyting but perfect grace. Ade is strong and always at home. So, they are SAFE!
But then we get into the gray area. All these couples, with the exception of Caitlin and Jason, are tied. And Caitlin and Jason are not far behind. What do we do? Well, we won’t cop out, we will make our guess for the bottom three, but it may not be how the audience votes.
Let’s start by saying that Jeanine and Kayla are outstanding and carry their dances repeatedly. They are both easily top ten talents, but their partners? Well….not so much. Phillip is weaker than any man here, but has a major underdog factor combined with a lovable goofiness. And you have to give him a major A for effort in that second dance. So, how do we think it will go down. In this order.
Kayla & Kupono – They were marginally the best of the four.
Jeanine & Phillip – Jeanine gets 10/10 on both dances. Phillip gets an A for effort and just being on the floor with her and not looking downright stupid. They are lovable. But at the end of the day, someone has to dance for his and/or her life.
Randi and Evan – Randi, like Jeanine, gets top scores for her dances, but Evan had an almost sleepy quality to him as he danced. No pizzazz, no personality and just not a winner. And we really like Evan and are so disappointed. Perhaps he just isn’t cut out for the limelight? We just think he has to look like he is having more fun, but this is hard, and we think he is displaying a bit of stage fright.
Caitlin and Jason – Dead last for boredom. Neither stood out, both were equally dull, but much of it was the choreography which is just the luck of the draw. Jason is better than this and we think Caitlin is as well. But, at the end of the day, no matter what the champion draws, the champion only wins if he or she brings it, so we crave their next performance. These performances made us just plain not care if this couple was not here next week, and we think that the audience won’t care either.
We think that if it plays out the way we think, Phillip has to go home unless the other two dancers blow their solos. Phillip will perform a predictable hip hop solo that will be no surprise and that demonstrates that, in the end, he has little versatility relative to the other dancers. But, Evan could fall flat as well. This is mainly because he has been a disappointment, not only to us, but repeatedly to the judges. He has to nail his solo and remind us of what he can do, or he will be on the bus out of here.
Of the women, this is very difficult. We love them all. If we had to choose, we would prefer to see Randi and Jeanette move through. Melissa we think is spectacular, but we don’t see the personality in her that makes us want to vote for her. Caitlin is spectacular, but she has to nail the solo against some pretty stiff talent and we think she is last this week in our eyes as well as the judges. We think Caitlin will be shipped out.
America’s vote nailed Phillip and Jeanine and we were only right on two couples in the bottom three. But Phillip did a great solo and did not belong here tonight after he got hip hop again last night. He should have gone last week or the week before, but this week, he didn’t belong here. The other two couples unfortunately did, but only by a hair.
Randi and Evan thankfully escaped. We love them and think the judges were totally unfair in their criticisms last night. Still, we did see them at the top of the bottom three, and they survived without having to dance for their lives.
Kupono was not so lucky. We felt that he didn’t cut it last night, while he was great other nights, but he was thrust into the bottom. And his solo was horrible. But lucky or not, he survived.
So that left Vitolio, someone we thought could make the bottom three because of a rather unmemorable performance. The judges were cruel after his solo saying that at the end of the day all he had was a great presence on stage but the performance was lacking. These judges have been calling his praises for weeks and know that is far far from the truth. He had a bad night. His solo was better than Kupono’s. There were other factors at work here. But still, we did see him in the bottom three if Randi and Evan did not get in.
For the women, the best solo by far was danced by the one woman that did not belong here. Jeanine nailed the solo and literally embarrassed the other girls. She is a stunning dancer that has carried Phillip for weeks and she deserves to be in this.
So, that left Kayla and Karla. Not much difference in the names, but there is a difference in their talent. Once again, the judges missed the mark as to why. Kayla is just better. Karla could have spun cartwheels in the stars and not won this. The judges had already made up their minds. So their comment that Karla was lacking star quality was just stupid filler. If she isn’t a star, what do you call the top 20? They are all star quality.
And so we say goodbye to Karla and Vitolio. We think that Phillip is entertaining, but doesn’t belong here on the basis of his overall talent. We do like him though and he did kill it last night. And we think Kayla had better step it up big time, because while the judges are singing her praises, we, the audience, obviously aren’t getting it and she keeps getting the honor of doing survival solos.
Elimination recap from the judges and comments from Karla and Vitolio