A couple other girls didn't receive such warm words, however. Two famous ladies got some serious shade thrown at them, and while one of those comments was admittedly funny (if slightly mean-spirited), the others just seemed icky and out-of-place.
At one point in the night, when Paul and Hayley danced a contemporary routine shortly before learning their fate, always-entertaining guest judge Jesse Tyler Ferguson critiqued them by saying, "I'm going to keep this Carly Rae Jepsen-short: 'It was amazing!'" Oh snap. Jesse, a funnyman who actually takes his part-time "SYTYCD" job very seriously, was snarkily referring to Carly's own guest-judging appearance on "SYTYCD" a few weeks ago, when she proved she's about as good at judging dance competitions as she is at pitching baseballs. (Carly may have been the worst celebrity judge in the program's history; "It was amazing" was pretty much the only "critique" she was able to come up with all night.) Jesse's anti-Carly remark may have been a little rude, but hey, it was amusing — and true.
But the proceedings got a little shadier, and squirmier, when Jesse and head judge Nigel Lythgoe targeted the pop starlet with the biggest target on her back right now: a certain foam-fingering, teddy-bear-twerking performer from this week's MTV Video Music Awards. Critiquing a hard-hitting hip-hop performance by Amy and Fik-Shun, Nigel said, "It just goes to show that you don't have to put it in your face to be sexy, Miley Cyrus!" Then Jesse chimed in by telling Fik-Shun, "Your solo erased everything that happened with Miley twerking; I was cleansed!" Huge audience guffaws ensued.
Sure, I have my own issues with Miley's VMAs performance. There was an annoying artlessness to it; she certainly did not display the moves or skills of anyone who's ever been on "SYTYCD" (except maybe that guy who tried out a couple of times years ago and called himself "Sex"). But still. On a feelgood show like "SYTYCD," which is usually all about celebrating talent, there was no room for yet more Miley-bashing.
And Nigel's hypocrisy was not lost on me. He of course made no mention that Lady Gaga, a former "SYTYCD" guest judge whom he openly adores, appeared on the same 2013 VMAs telecast wearing little more than a tiny thong seemingly fashioned from a candy necklace. And as a dirty old man known to occasionally make pervy comments about pretty young female contestants, he naturally didn't bring up the fact that Robin Thicke, a man almost old enough to be Miley's dad, was also a willing participant in Miley's "offensive" VMAs spectacle.
Okay, okay. Rant over. As for the actual dance routines, this week's show was more of a bonus episode: No phone numbers were given out, and fans won't get a chance to vote for their favorite contestants until next week, when the top four compete one last time. So let's just enjoy all the (twerk-free) dancing this week, shall we?
ALLSTAR PARTNER ROUTINES
Paul Karmiryan with Kathryn McCormick – Jazz
Tyce Diorio's routine about male-female power struggles played to Paul's Latin ballroom strengths, and allowed him to show off his sexy, swaggery personality. And of course, Kathryn was her usual fabulous self. But this was one of the weakest routines of the night, choreography-wise. In retrospect, I almost wonder if producers threw the week's most throwaway routine at Paul, or told Tyce to spend less time on this number, because they already knew that Paul was going home. (Another Tyce routine later in the evening, between Jasmine and allstar Neil Haskell, was much more powerful.) Paul did get a chance to shine later on, but this was not memorable at all.
Hayley Erbert with Joshua Allen – Hip-Hop
It was nice to see Season 4 winner Joshua back on the show; he's had so little involvement with "SYTYCD" since his victory in 2008, it's almost impossible to believe that he beat Twitch Boss that year. (I swear, the last time I recall Joshua being on TV, it was a brief stint on basic cable's "Dance Your Ass Off.") In this boxing-themed Nappytabs routine, Joshua once again proved he's a real champ, and he definitely upstaged Hayley, a sweet contemporary dancer by trade. However, I will say Hayley showed she's a real fighter. She came out swinging, and she handled the choreography surprisingly well, proving once again that she was one of the most well-rounded competitors this season. In the end, she just didn't quite have as spunky a personality as Jasmine or Amy to be crowned "America's Favorite Dancer," but she still coulda been a contender in my eyes.
Aaron Turner with Melanie Moore – Broadway
I thought the massive height difference between brawny Aaron and little sparkplug Melanie would be an issue here, but it wasn't. They still had chemistry. But you know what was an issue? The fact that Aaron DROPPED Melanie coming out of one of the big spins. Ouch. Luckily, Melanie was all right, and she defended Aaron, joking that the floor-drop was "totally in character." She wasn't completely wrong. This Spencer Liff routine was about a warring couple; at the end, Melanie even pushed Aaron to the floor, although that was a rehearsed move. However, this was a massive flub on Aaron's part. Thankfully, the drop didn't ruin the routine's playful vibe. (Did I mention it was awesomely soundtracked by George Michael's "Faith"?) But combined with Nigel's critique of Aaron's hunched shoulders (due to a previous injury, Aaron tends to protect his shoulder defensively), this was an overall miss. He's lucky this didn't occur in a week when the voting lines were open, because it could have cost him dearly.
DuShaunt "Fik-Shun" Stegall with Witney Carson – Foxtrot
Oh dear. Fik-Shun never quite gets sexy right. It's just not his thing. He and va-va-voom sexpot Witney were definitely an odd couple trying to foxily foxtrot to "Sexy Silk" by Jessie J. Choreographer Jonathan Roberts crafted a relatively easy routine for Fik-Shun to follow, and despite "some rough sots, some lines not so good" pointed out by judge Mary Murphy, he handled himself fairly well. And Mary did tell Fik-Shun, "I have to give you props for your closed dance position!" But this was another situation when a contestant was fortunate to not have to compete for votes. This was not a strong enough performance to clinch a win.
Jasmine Harper with Neil Haskell – Contemporary
This other Tyce Diorio routine of the night was a true standout. Inspired by tragic natural disasters like hurricanes and tornadoes, the dramatic, windblown dance required Jasmine and Neil to literally crash and smash into each other. It was violently gorgeous, or gorgeously violent, and all three judges gave it a standing ovation; Mary even cried a bit. "It was so beautiful to watch. It broke my heart, it was so beautiful," sighed Jesse. Tyce might get another Emmy nomination for this, and if voters still remember this routine next week when it comes time to vote, then Jasmine might come out a winner, too.
Amy Yakima with Alex Wong – Bollywood
Bollywood was the perfect genre for someone as naturally bubbly and vivacious as Amy, and Alex — who never got to show off his Bollywood skills back in Season 7, when he gravely injured himself during a Bollywood rehearsal and had to quit the competition — was a fantastic partner for her. This Nakul Dev Mahajan routine, with Amy cast as a young princess and Alex as her manservant/secret lover, was just so much fun. It really elevated the overall energy in the room, and Amy and Alex's energy never waned, despite the dance's very challenging choreography. Mary praised the pair's incredible athleticism, and Jesse joked, "My quads and hammies [hamstrings] hurt just from watching that!" I wouldn't be surprised if Amy is invited back as an allstar herself next year.
CONTESTANT PARTNER ROUTINES
Hayley Erbert & Paul Karmiryan – Contemporary
This Dee Caspary number was Hayley and Paul's final dance of the season; not long after this, they found out they'd been eliminated. But the two certainly went out in style. Sharing wonderful chemistry despite having never danced as a couple on the show before, they performed a swooningly romantic number (set to Sleeping At Last's cover of the Proclaimers' "5,000 Miles") that had Jesse shouting, "Oh my God, I'm so stressed that people have to leave!" Mary thought their connection was so amazing, she turned into a total shipper and suggested that Hayley and Paul date in real life. It wasn't a bad idea, actually. They certainly looked good together. Now that they're both off the show, maybe they can go off and console each other.
Amy Yakima & Fik-Shun – Hip-Hop
Ah, the reunion "SYTYCD" fans had been waiting for. It was a sad day on "SYTYCD" when Amy and Fik-Shun (the "dream team," according to Mary) were forced to part weeks ago; while both dancers remained great on their own, there was always something special about the two of them as a couple. They're just so damn cute. Even this week, when they were back together doing an "aggressive-type sexy" Dave Scott routine about "krumpers in love," they were friggin' adorable. Even Nigel and Jesse's snide Miley-trashing remarks after these two were done couldn't negate the cuteness. I bet it would have been cute even if Amy and Fik-Shun had twerked.
Jasmine Harper & Aaron Turner – Jazz
The other power couple of Season 10 reunited for this freaky-deaky Sean Cheesman number, about a spooky invisible mirror-lady, and together they were a force to be reckoned with. This was a sharp, syncopated routine requiring perfect timing, and they totally nailed it. Jasmine was especially fantastic, giving some smoldering Rihanna realness and executing a crazy double-jointed standing split that made her look like she'd dislocated her leg. (Jesse said she resembled a protractor or a "crazy robot"; Nigel compared her to his sister's dolls, which apparently he used to dismember as a child. Yikes. He was Nasty Nigel even then!) Nigel called this the routine to beat, and Jesse confessed to having a crush on Aaron, blushing as red as his hair. I have a feeling many viewers are crushing on both of these dancers right now.
All six dancers got to solo, and while they were all excellent, the real standouts were Jasmine, Aaron, and Fik-Shun. Fik-Shun is always at his best during his wildly inventive and entertaining solos; it's almost too bad he wasn't in the bottom more often this season, because I would have liked to see more solos from him. Ditto for Aaron, who never had to solo for his life this season; I'd actually forgotten what a skilled tapper he really is. And Jasmine danced to the Destiny's Child version of "Amazing Grace" and was both amazing and graceful; she may soon meet her destiny and win this show in two weeks' time.
So there you have it. I have no solid finale predictions this week, given the lack of voting, but I do know that these dancers, and the nation's voters, will have their work cut out for them next week. See you then, and cue music.
- Allstars come out for Nigel Lythgoe's Dizzy Feet Gala
- Nigel Lythgoe and Adam Shankman's Prancercise video
- More about "So You Think You Can Dance"
- Arts & Entertainment
- Nigel Lythgoe
- Miley Cyrus
- Aaron Turner