Jeanine Mason and Brandon Bryant danced Pop-Jazz to the music “Battlefield” —Jordin Sparks choreography by Laurie Ann Gibson
Jeanine Mason and Brandon Bryant danced Pop-Jazz to the music “Battlefield” —Jordin Sparks choreography by Laurie Ann Gibson
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.
Caitlin Kinney and Jason Glover in an out of this world performance- ‘an alien wanting the last living male on the planet for procreation,’ welcome to Brian Friedman’s world…
Pop-Jazz “Creator”—Santigold. Choreography by Brian Friedman
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
How does one judge a bag of nuts. Well, the judges were nuts, but that is not what we mean. You are given a basket of the best and freshest nuts. Walnuts, almonds, filberts, macadamia, cashews and pecans. Then you are asked to pick your least favorite. What would happen?
We know our choices. We would pick almonds and have a tough time between macadamia and filberts. But others that crave the walnut would beg to differ. And those that have that passion for the cashew, no other nut will do, of course we have to be wrong. And anyone knows that the macadamia is the most royal, creamy and perfect nut of all. But the champion of nuts that spans the entire spectrum of nut lovers because everyone loves it is the almond.
So what would you choose? It all comes down to taste. It all comes down a number of factors that are not exactly intuitive on the surface, but that make sense as you drive deeper into the selections. So, as we snack on peanuts, we shall judge the rest of the nuts.
First, let’s begin by saying we believe this show is a bit of a hoax. No, the dancing is fantastic and the judging real, but if anyone believes the judges are spontaneous, they are wrong. The judges are rehearsed. And the part that bothers us about this is the judges had to have their minds made up before the performance, which is kind of disgusting. There is no shock, no stammer, no loss for words. It is all staged and as choreographed as the dancers which is disappointing. The judges are great at what they do, but they are poor actors.
Tonight was a night when we saw every couple hit their number. Normally, we judge from the bottom up on this show (no we are not referring to the spectacular performance last week by Evan and Randi), but this week, we had to judge from the top down. Every performance was so well done that we were taken aback. Not one dancer flinched. None flubbed. There was no chance for anyone to lose, but someone has to.
That said, the dancers were given their time to perform in their niches tonight. It was no coincidence. This was no luck of the draw or you have to believe that you can actually beat the casino at roulette.
Well, does it come down then to the wheel, the dice or the machine? If the player isn’t winning, could it be the instrument? In this case, the instruments are the choreographers. And the choreographers on this show are so tremendous that it would be hard to judge them. But a new choreographer, not quite as well understood and not as adept at training dancers that must perform in this level of competition often do have weaknesses, and the dancers can pay for them.
To the dancers: (Solo introduction and dance recap at the bottom of this post)
1. Janette and Brandon – Cha-Cha-Cha “Hush Hush”—The Pussycat Dolls, Choreography by Jean-Marc Généreux
There is often a really subtle standout in the show that comes out as the show progresses. In this show, it is Janette. She is spectacular. Her legs are as fast as any dancer, and when you compare her to so many others on this show that had fast legs, that is a tremendous achievement. She is mesmerizing to watch. Brandon is a wonderful dancer, but is too effeminate. We hope he shakes that because he is truly talented. Even with his weakness, though, this dance was amazing. (10/10)
2. Kayla and Kupono – Contemporary “Eyes On Fire”—Blue Foundation Choreography by Sonya Tayeh
You know, we thought this was an absolutely great set. We love dark theme performances and this was no exception. Kayla, as usual, had awesome lines, but we didn’t see her being as much of a standout as in prior weeks. Kupono was great here as well, but we didn’t find the performance particularly memorable. The judges loved it, but it just wasn’t overall as good as they made it out to be and yet (9/10)
3. Randi and Evan – Broadway “Rich Man’s Frug” from Sweet Charity Choreography by Joey Dowling
Now, sometimes, someone just has to get art. You can look at a masterpiece and stare at it for hours and have no idea what makes it great. This performance had a twist of the odd in it. The most important part of the dance, independently of making every step perfectly, was the character acting. Evan pulled it off with amazing accuracy. His acting persona was spectacular. Randi was not quite as good this week as last, but that is like saying she was only genius. These two were once again fantastic. The judges had to find someone to criticize after praising the first two dances, but this dance was every bit as good. (9/10)
4. Caitlin and Jason – Pop-Jazz “Creator”—Santigold Choreography by Brian Friedman
There are times that being the oddest person in the group makes you stand out in a positive way. In other cases, no matter how wonderfully odd you are, you are just odd. We blame the choreographers for the fact we did not like this dance as much as the others. The judges could not place their fingers on it and blamed Caitlin’s distracting outfit, but she was supposed to be an alien for heaven’s sake, and it is not like the dancer’s pick their outfits. Stupid for the judges to mention it. But the quirkiness of the dance did not take away from Caitlin and Jason’s talent. They performed amazingly well. (9/10)
5. Jeanine and Phillip – Hip-hop “Love Lockdown”—Kanye West Choreography by Tabitha D’umo
OK, now let’s give Phillip a chance here. Give him what he does best so we can show why he belongs here. Fine, we get it. But so many other dancers have had to dance out of their element every week and as Phillip got in trouble two weeks running with that, they brought him back with this performance. OK, Phillip is amazing at this style and Jeanine can do anything, so we cannot take anything away from this performance. It was a delight to watch, the choreography was amazing and the dancers on mark throughout. So, what didn’t we like? We feel the show is giving Phillip a strong amount of favoritism because of his entertainment factor within his niche. The show may be right, we enjoyed watching this performance enormously. And we believe Jeanine is as good as any woman here. (10/10)
6. Melissa and Ade – Classical Pas de deux Romeo & Juliet: Provofiev’s Suite (No.1 Op 64b, 6th Movement)—Orchestre De La Suisse Romande & Armin Jordan Choreography by Thordal Christensen
This was perfect for Melissa to show her lines and specialty. Finally, she was given an opportunity to perform like the ballet artist she truly is. There was no doubt throughout who we were watching. Melissa floated through the air, pointed like the most talented ballerina and made the Nutcracker look like a show for amateurs. This was her best performance. Ade, on the other hand, was out of his element. The judges praised him, but to us, Melissa outclassed him so greatly that it made him look silly at times. Melissa was so graceful and perfect though that she totally disguised any lack of grace by Ade. In a lift that took us to a world of enchantment, Melissa arched her body and bent her legs so gracefully that it looked for sure like she could fly. During the lift, Ade was merely her support and little else, but no one was looking at Ade. In another move, it was grace by Melissa that made her look like she was literally flying across the stage like a real life tinker bell, and once again Ade was merely a prop. So, how do we judge this? (10/10)
7. Karla and Vitolio- Quickstep “Puttin’ on the Ritz”—Rufus Wainwright, Choreography by Jean-Marc Généreux
Ah, if only Vitolio could work that goofy smile into something a bit more serious. His smile tends to make us want to laugh when we see it. But he can dance. Karla needed a great performance tonight to pull out of the bottom three. This is a new couple, and that brings some very interesting and difficult challenges. In this performance, Karla pulled out all the stops and performed the best we have seen her. Vitolio was great, but somehow detached. The chemistry was not there for us. But it was still a performance one should not miss. (9/10)
Top 14 Solo Introduction plus Dance Recap
OK, now if we were judging, what do we do now? We have just said everyone is amazing and yet we have to have a bottom 3. Usually, in a given week, we see a blunder that stands out to us. But none stood out in any way this week in a negative fashion performance wise. So, now it comes down to taste.
We don’t like walnuts. Caitlin and Jason were our walnuts. We see them in the bottom three because we believe they will not make the final snack bowl. The choreography was too odd, and even their great talent could not bring it out in as positive a way as the rest of the group.
We love macadamia nuts. They are delightful and we know they could never be in the bottom three. Jeanette and Brandon were our macadamias. They were the number one or number two couple. No question.
Now, normally, we don’t care much for cashews. They are mealy at times and often much sweeter than we like a nut to be. But every once in a while, you get a perfect cashew. Jeanine and Phillip were out perfect cashews. If they are in the bottom three it is only because someone had to be.
Filberts are always a surprise the first time. They have a hard outer shell and look much like an acorn. Seems like food for squirrels, not for humans. But then you taste one, and you realize that they are among the best of nuts. Well, this is how we would classify Melissa but not Ade. Still, as a team, they were what makes a cashew lover remember why they crave them. No bottom three here.
Shoot, now we only have one bottom couple. What do we do? We have no choice but to place Kayla and Kupono and Randi and Evan in our bottom three. Not because they were not spectacular, just that they were a hair behind in a photo finish.
We still believe that in the long run, Phillip cannot win and has no diversity. We don’t believe he has any chance here, so the judges should make way for the more diverse and stop pandering to him. That said, he nailed his specialty so amazingly well this week that he cannot go home. That places Randi and Evan in our bottom three. And we love Evan. They were our almonds. The standby you love every time you have them. And yet, could you give them up for a great cashew? We think it more likely, though, we will be sending home the walnuts. But we can still use them in cookies that no one eats.
Hedging our bets on our bottom three though, we have to turn to the set that was least memorable even if well performed. This also places Karla and Vitolio square in the cross hairs. Anyone other than these four possibilities in the bottom three would be a mistake. But who knows what America will do with ballet? How cultured are we after all?
The solos will tell all. But our bottom three are:
1. Caitlin and Jason
2. Randi and Evan
3. Kayla and Kupono
4. Karla and Vitolio