July 21st, 2011
11:38 AM ET
From the moment I heard Neil Patrick Harris would be a guest judge, I knew Wednesday night's "So You Think You Can Dance" episode would be a great show.
And wouldn't you know it - last night's contestants totally proved me right.
Sure, NPH did take himself a bit too seriously (I love that you're actually commenting on the dances, dude, but can you have a LITTLE fun with it?). But between the technically near-perfect ballroom routines and the gorgeous, character-driven contemporary and hip-hop pieces, who has time to notice the judges?
Our top 10 dancers – no longer in their original pairs – each performed a solo and a routine with one of this season's all-stars. To quote beloved (and Emmy nominated! Finally!) host Cat Deeley, let's see how they got on.
Right after Cat complimented judge Mary Murphy's spirit fingers – and I'm totally impressed that Cat can tell the difference between jazz hands and spirit fingers, by the way – Marko and all-star Chelsie opened the show with a spicy samba. It was nice to finally see some ballroom this season that actually looked polished and professional.
And speaking of amazing ballroom, Caitlynn's number with all-star Pasha was easily the best tango we've seen on the show since Janette and Brandon during season 5. The lifts appeared absolutely effortless, and Caitlynn really got into the intensity of her character, receiving much praise from the judges (including a standing O from ballroom guru Mary).
Rounding out the night of fabulous ballroom was season 8 favorite Melanie, who performed a Viennese waltz, also with Pasha. Viennese waltz isn't always my favorite – or the voters' – but the pair seemed to float across the stage, capturing the emotion of the piece while maintaining their technique.
The live audience favorite of the night was clearly Christopher Scott's passionate hip-hop routine, performed impeccably by Sasha and all-star partner tWitch. The story of a woman fed up with the lack of passion in her relationship came through beautifully, and the pair had unbelievable chemistry. Their performance made me cringe a little for Tadd, who'd danced hip-hop earlier in the evening with all-star Comfort. Not that they were bad, but they seemed generic and immature compared to Sasha and tWitch.
Other standouts for me were Ricky in a Tyce Diorio jazz piece and Jordan in a contemporary routine by Desmond Richardson and Dwight Rhoden. The choreography for both was outstanding: Judge Nigel Lythgoe described Desmond and Dwight as "two of the world's best contemporary choreographers," and Tyce's nightmarish jazz number was outside his usual comfort zone and, in my humble opinion, one of his best pieces of choreography on the show.
Of course, it doesn't hurt that both Ricky and Jordan (and their all-star partners, Allison and Brandon) have nearly perfect technique. I haven't seen pirouettes like Ricky's since season 3's Danny, and Jordan's extensions are to die for. I'm not the biggest Jordan fan, but the Desmond/Dwight piece showed off her assets so well that it made me one.
So what fell flat? Mitchell's Broadway performance lacked the necessary Fosse attitude, and he's definitely in danger tonight. Tadd's hip-hop could also put him at risk. Jess was good but not great in a contemporary piece, which I fear will be painfully obvious compared to some of the other outstanding routines. His solo, however, was totally charming (he's so light on his feet!), so that might save him.
Clarice was fun and strong in her Bollywood performance, but again, there were so many standout pieces that it could prove forgettable. I also hope the voters don't neglect to vote for Melanie since she's such a strong frontrunner; that happened to Janette in season 5 and it was totally devastating.
What do you think? Did you enjoy the routines as much as I did? Who do you think is in danger? And are you fed up to the back teeth with all the gimmicky kissing on the show ever since that NappyTabs routine a few weeks ago? Let us know in the comments below.
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