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SYTYCD: Dirty Dancing With The Dirty Dozen

Lyndsey Parker
Reality Rocks

Tonight marks a crucial turning point in the So You Think Can Dance season, as the six remaining couples compete for a coveted spot in the top 10. But what's also important to note is this is the last week in which the Thursday-night elimination process will include the all-important input of the judges. This week, the judges still have the veto power to save dancers they think are wrongly in the bottom; but after this week, eliminations will be entirely in the hands of the voting public. And let's face it, sometimes the voting public does get it wrong. So if, say, Will ends up in the bottom again, there will be no outraged Mary Murphy or slit-eyed Nigel Lythgoe to save him anymore.

Maybe that explains why the top 12 turned up the heat so much tonight. Some of the routines this evening were in fact so sexy, viewers might accidentally dial 1-900 numbers when they attempt to vote.

The first couple dancing for a top 10 spot tonight were Mark and Chelsie, dipping into a salsa. But sadly, for me, it was more like a mild salsa. Like that pale green stuff at the salsa bar at Baja Fresh, you know? It was tasty enough, sure...but it didn't quite have the spice I craved. I've certainly seen these two be more caliente during routines on previous episodes. But Chelsie sure did look like a hot little tamale in her barely-there showgirl outfit. Surely she deserved a ticket on the Hot Tamale Train just for rocking that half-on, half-off leotard, and for managing to keep it from slipping and showing her not-ready-for-prime-time private parts when she was shimmying at such a dangerously high speed!

Next were newly coupled-off Comfort and Thayne--and much to my delight, this week they were assigned a routine in hip-hop, Comfort's specialty genre. Finally we'd all get to see Comfort in her comfort zone again! And her choreographers would be the totally awesome Tabitha & Napoleon! Yay! But then...not so "yay," really. This routine was oddly disappointing as well. I'm not sure if Thayne dragged Comfort down a bit, despite his valiant effort, but whatever the reason, this couple's number was just weirdly lacking in oomph. I think with the two of them, it really might come down to simple chemistry--or lack of chemistry, more specifically. Come on, Bill Nye The Science Guy generates more hot television chemistry than Comfort and Thayne!

But on the subject of chemistry....oooh boy, Jessica and Will sure had it during their stunning Tyce Diorio-choreographed "Garden Of Eden" routine. Smoke is coming out of my laptop just from me typing about it now. I know I've given Jessica a particularly hard time in previous blogs, but really, only on a show with such high talent as SYTYCD, and only alongside a true phenomenon like Will, could a dancer as good as Jessica come across as consistently underwhelming. And while she was still upstaged a little bit tonight by her amazing partner, that might've had more to do with the fact that he was SHIRTLESS and wearing little more than a LOINCLOTH.

Seems like each week Will wears fewer and fewer clothes. I guess after last week, when he danced weating only PJ bottoms and didn't end up in the bottom, he realized he might get a few more (female) votes if he showed more skin. This is a trend I wholeheartedly encourage. A Greek-god bod like his shouldn't be kept covered up. Anyway, Jessica looked nicely savage too, playing Jane to Will's Tarzan, and as Nigel put it, she "kept up with Will." Together they created a truly pulse-quickening piece of erotic art that I'm kind of surprised even made it past the Fox censors. I bet during the live East Coast broadcast, some nervous Nelly over at the FCC had his twitchy quickfinger on the five-second-delay button for the duration of this steamy routine--a routine Mary Murphy declared to be one of the greatest dances ever danced in SYTYCD history.

Sexy and chemical in their own, very different way were tonight's fourth couple, Courtney and Gev. (Doesn't Courtney have a boyfriend? I'm wondering if she will for long....) These two work beautifully together and always look like they're having fun in each other's presence, no matter what genre of dance they're given. This week they did a disco-fied cha cha choreographed by former finalists Anya and Pasha, to a remix of Rihanna's "Don't Stop The Music"--and I really didn't want it to stop. Too bad it wasn't a mastermix. Courtney and Gev cha-cha'd like the hottest couple at the hottest Studio 54 disco dance party ever...and Courtney, who was such a squeaky-clean good girl in her Broadway number last week, managed to outsexy her mentor Anya this week! I didn't know she had it in her. (I have a feeling Gev knew, though...)

Speaking of not knowing she had it in her, next up bubbly smileyface Kherrington attempt to krump. And it was a successful attempt! She pulled it off, held her own alongside her street-dancing partner Twitch, and basically dance the buck out of that buckin' Lil' C routine. I was buckin' impressed! And she never smiled once. No, she looked badass and pitbullish, almost like a gangsta girl you wouldn't want to meet in a dark alley. How did I ever underestimate this lady? What the buck was I smoking? (For those of you who aren't regular readers, way back around episode 1 I expressed doubts about Kherrington. I've since shut the buck up.) The judges certainly didn't underestimate the couple known as Twitchington in this case. Nigel twisted his face into an Incredible Hulk/constipation grimace, and guest genius judge Mia Michaels called it "dirty and disgusting and nasty and stank and buck." Both of these were compliments, by the way. They totally dug it.

The last couple to dance were my other favorites, Katee and Joshua, doing a Viennese waltz to "Iris" by the Goo Goo Dolls (who I'm pretty sure aren't from Vienna, but I'll let that slide). This routine was just a'ight. I know what these two are capable of, and it's soooooo much more than this number indicated. The judges weren't all that impressed, either. I hope that Katee and Joshua aren't in the bottom this week--and that if they are, the judges will take note of Katee and Joshua's past body of work and use their last "Get Out Of Jail Free" card to save them.

Mark and Chelsie returned for heir second dance, a Tyce Diorio-choreographed Broadway number, and it couldn't have more different from Tyce's earlier Garden Of Eden routine. It was snazzy and zippy and brassy. It also wasn't nearly as good. I've always loved this couple, especially Mark, my favorite individual guy on the show. I hope he makes the top 10, but after tonight, I'm not so sure...

Two dancers looking less and less likely to make the top 10 this week are Comfort and Thayne, sadly. For their second dance they got to work with the amazing choreographer Mandy Moore, to the gorgeous George Michael ballad "A Different Corner," but I have to agree with the judges here: This "A Different Corner" contemporary routine should have been done by different dancers. Comfort really was the wrong dancer to fully execute Mandy's vision. Her limitations as a dancer were glaringingly obvious tonight.

Jessica and Will went next, doing a quickstep--the dreaded dance that was the undoing of Chelsea just a couple weeks ago. Well, it may be this couple's undoing this week. Or at least Jessica's undoing. All of the brilliance she'd shown during her first dance was gone, and she seemed nervous and upstaged by her obviously superior partner once again. Mia Michaels flat-out told Will: "You look tired of carrying her. You need a new partner."

Oh my, did Mia actually say that out loud? Hey, she was just vocalizing what all of America has been thinking, and what I've been blogging, for weeks now. And she was right. (Will answered Mia so diplomatically, he should consider a career in D.C. politics if this dance thing doesn't pan out. But who am I kidding? This dance thing is totally going to pan out for Will. Just maybe not for Jessica.) Meanwhile, the judges continued to heap praise on Will, with Mary even going so far as to blame his stiff shoulders on his constricting dinner jacket. But I have a feeling Mary was just upset that Will had covered up his upper body with clothes.

Attention, SYTYCD stylists: Don't ever put Will in a long-sleeved jacket again! Let him roam the stage bare-chested and free!

Anyway, Courtney and Gev then jazzed it up on a supercool Mandy Moore-choreographed dance to a song by the Creatures (the tribal side-project of Siouxsie & The Banshees' Siouxsie Sioux and Budgie, which made this number that much supercooler). The dance's premise had something to do with them being lost in the jungle fighting over a map (think Blair Witch Project: The Musical), and while having to dance with an everpresent prop like a map could have been tricky, Courtney and Gev pulled it off. Some of tonight's couples were stunning during one dance but faltered during the other, but in Courtney and Gev's case, they were great in both instances. Tonight they put themselves on the map, so to speak.

Twitchington were in surprisingly, uncharacteristically bad form for the smooth tango they did for their second dance. It wasn't as bad as the disappointed judges made it out to be, but let's just put it this way: This routine was supposedly based on Mr. & Mrs. Smith, but if Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt had had as little chemistry on their movie set as Twitch and Kherrington did during this particular dance, Brad would still be with Jennifer Anniston now.

The final dance of the night was a SYTYCD first: a big Bollywood number! Katee and Joshua got all decked out in kohl eyeliner, bindhis, and beadwork, and they introduced a whole new artform to much of America. And not only did they totally rock it, but they totally proved that dance is a universal language. (Nigel very astutely pointed out the similarities between Bollywood dancing and hip-hop, for instance.) It was fabulous, and it completely redeemed them after their earlier unexciting waltz.

So...if I have to predict who won't make it into the top 10 tomorrow, sadly, I must go with Comfort & Thayne. Mark & Chelsie and Jessica & Will might be in danger too--but I can't imagine the judges deciding to cut any of them out of the top 10.

As usual, tune in tomorrow to see if I'm right!

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