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