Originally aired on Tuesday, June 28, 2006
*** (3 stars out of 5)
The 16 remaining dancers perform a variety of routines live in front of a national audience. A fan vote follows the episode, so dancers have no choice but to turn in their absolute best performances.
- Heidi and Ryan display an equal amount of skill and sex appeal as they perform a stirring Cuban Rumba.
- Alison and Ivan surprise everyone with a technically perfect and beautiful rendition of an Argentine Tango.
- Donyelle and Benji continue to lead the pack with a magnificent Pop Jazz performance.
The show starts off with the same group dance routine as always, every one of the sixteen dancers getting a couple of seconds to show some cool move or something. Nothing special.
As she always does, the lovely Cat Deely walks on stage confident and composed. We recap last week's elimination of Jason and Joy, who both, frankly, deserved to go. No surprises there. Our guest judges tonight are the choreography team Cicely and Olisa, who join regulars Nigel Lythgoe and Mary Michaels.
A behind-the-scenes montage is particularly unenlightening, and we follow it up with a "special" guest performance by the dance troupe "Hop, Swing, and a Jump". They look like they should be performing at state fairs. But, then again, I'm no swing dancing expert, so maybe their reinventing the wheel. Whatever, I'm bored.
After a commercial, the dancing begins. All eight couples will perform a variety of routines, which were randomly picked out of a hat.
Ashlee Nino and Ben Susak - Hip/Hop
The couple is excited with the dance at first, but soon Ben realizes it is way far out of his comfort zone. He presses on, however, and turns in a solid performance. The judges all agree Ashlee was spectacular, she was, but that Ben left a lot to be desired. However, they commend his effort.
Heidi Groskreutz and Ryan Rankine - Cuban Rumba
Heidi thinks she has an idea what the Rumba is when they select it, but it turns out she's clueless. They struggle for a bit, but both start picking it up. The performance is the best of the season so far. Seriously. Heidi, who I don't find sexy, turns herself into a goddess here. And Ryan, man, what a routine to get. This is the kind of dance that I imagine Antonio Banderas doing in order to successfully seduce Angelina Jolie or Salma Hayek. All right, I'm babbling.
Aleksandra Wojda and Dimitry Chaplin- Waltz
These are new partners tonight and Dimitry talks about the need to form some chemistry with Aleksandra. It's hard to take the him seriously; he sounds like the effeminate brother of Ivan Drago. Anyway, they dance the Waltz to a Kenny Rogers song, which somehow seems wildly inappropriate. The dance went well, but the judges reactions are lukewarm. They liked the dance and Dimitry, but thought Aleksandra lacked passion.
Allison Holker and Ivan Koumaev - Argentine Tango
AI select Argentine Tango, the "War of the Feet", and are worried since they know nothing about it. Ivan, who looks like a twelve year old, is sloppy at first, but starts to get the hang of it. The performance is incredible, a combination of awesome skill and genius choreography. I want to go see a tango show right now. The judges all love it.
Donyelle Jones and Benji Schwimmer - Pop Jazz
The stars of last week's show, the couple selects Pop Jazz, which seems to be right up both partners' wheelhouse. The routine turns out great, and the two of them really have something special. The judges all cite how the couple "dance together".
Natalie Fotopoulos and Musa Cooper - Quick Step
The couple who I thought performed best last week, draw a dance style they both recognize as potentially very difficult. And it is. Musa struggles greatly with the dance in practice, this being light years away from his strengths. The performance is solid, but Musa is noticeably sloppy, although he still performs with poise. The judges praise Natalie and agree that Musa wasn't up to par, but did give the best effort he had. Nigel even calls it "inspiring".
Jessica Fernandez and Jaymz Tuaileva - Contemporary
The choreographer of this dance isn't too happy with this couple getting him, seeing as he had them once before and thought they were sub-par. However, they're better this time around and turn in a good, if not spectacular, performance that actually uses the whole stage, stairs and everything. The judges all heap loads of praise on the couple.
Martha Nichols and Travis Wall - Hip/Hop
Travis, who stole Vanilla Ice's haircut from the "Ice Ice Baby" video, isn't too enthused when the couple pulls hip/hop out of the hat. Just like Vanilla, Travis dances like a white boy. The judges give lukewarm reviews, and are displeased with the lack of cohesion within the group.
To wrap up the episode, Cat asks the judges who they think should be worried about getting voted into the bottom three by America. Nigel says Aleksandra and Dimitry need to watch out, Mary says Natalie and Musa, and Cicely and Olisa back up Nigel, saying Aleksandra and Dimitry are in trouble.
Overall, a very interesting show. The level of dancing is so high at this point, some people are going to go home who either a) don't deserve it or, b) got unlucky with the chosen style of dance. The coming episodes should be exciting.