Ashleigh and Jakob: Another NappyTab hip-hop routine with a soft, rounded edge. I thought Ashleigh overdid the tragic faces, but I liked the way she and Jakob stood side by side and burst into unison at more than one point in the choreography; it gave the whole routine a certain narrative drive and cohesion. In my estimation, Ashleigh didn't complete some of the moves, while Jakob was full-bore at every moment. I love the control he had on that big slide across the stage; he wasn't just waiting for it to be over so he could start dancing again, he was using it as the basis for a coherent movement on top of the slide. Prediction: No problem, they'll sail through.
Karen and Kevin: Uh oh. They got stuck with what I thought was an uninspired, ill-suited Broadway routine to "If My Friends Could See Me Now" fromSweet Charity, and they struggled. It wasn't big enough or broad enough in the go-for-broke moments, and therefore the pauses for small movements didn't work by contrast. The two get an A for effort, but Nigel is right: neither of these guys are at home playing cute characters. Kevin was trying to be dancerly and Karen was trying to be graceful, and neither mode worked with the BROADWAY! big emotions needed here. Prediction: They'll be in the bottom three, and Kevin will go home. I hope Karen's prior performances and maybe a smokin' solo will save her.
Noelle and Russell: Russell gets his second chance at the foxtrot, and while he danced with confidence, the routine started slow. I know the foxtrot isn't supposed to dash, but the slowness felt like a tentative commitment to the style. But damned if it didn't get somewhere by the end. After that big lift, everything seemed to gel. Russell and Noelle both danced as if they believed that this particular couple had a chance to be graceful and elegant, and that's exactly what Kevin didn't seem to believe in his stab at Broadway. Prediction: Although praised by the judges, they could be in the bottom three because the foxtrot doesn't make for a very memorable routine, and because other dancers (see below) are cutie-pies. Russell ain't going anywhere, but if there's a showdown between Noelle and Karen on the girls' side, Noelle could lose.
Channing and Victor: Genevieve liked the Bobby McFerrin "Blackbird" cover as the soundtrack for this jazz routine, but I thought it took the routine in a bad direction -- all staccato and darting. Because of that, the dance seemed to take a long time to get started, with all the movement at the same pace and the same level. But in the last minute, that change; there were levels, the dancers separated and developed their own identities, and there were moments of stillness. And too, in that last minute, the camera angles were really kind to Channing, making her look powerful and joyful. A somewhat misbegotten attempt at cleverness that managed to find itself in time for salvation, in my estimation. Prediction: Probably not in any trouble, although something tells me Victor is not going to make it too many more weeks.
Kathryn and Legacy: I was inordinately excited when I saw the Legacy was going to get to take on the matador role -- a real chance for him to define himself as a powerful male dancer. Something went horribly wrong in that last lift and spin, but until then I thought the effect was equally matched between Legacy's strong upper-body stances and Kathryn's wonderful upper-body flourishes. Kathryn wins in the legs department -- her lines were more consistent and flamboyant -- and she's the real winner of this dance in the show-Donna-what-you-can-do department (Legacy passed that test two weeks ago). Prediction: Sailing through (get my naval reference there?).
Ellenore and Ryan: And finally the stars come out. Credit T-Wall for easily the most well-conceived, interesting, and varied choreography of the night, but credit the dancers for truly throwing themselves into the performance. Ellenore flung herself about the stage with such confidence, and Ryan's matching of her in the unison was quite moving. They're by far my favorite couple right now, even though Ryan just can't seem to keep his shirt on, poor boy. Prediction: Straight to the toppermost of the poppermost.
Mollee and Nathan: Even though this was leagues ahead of their disaster last week, I still think Mollee and Nathan should be in the bottom three. The routine was memorable and hard-hitting, but it didn't seem to live up to the rehearsal footage. What was missing? Perhaps the abandon that Ryan and Ellenore exhibited just minutes before. And while I love the way the pair is matched in size in the unison sections, I really missed a little bit more height or weight on Nathan when they did the struggle holds; an equal heft just didn't serve that movement well. Nathan outdanced Mollee, going faster and extending farther, but I'm not sure I was really with either one of them. Prediction: Very likely bottom three, and if they get there, Mollee will go home.
Now to the results! Early returns validate my predictions -- Kevin and Karen are back in the bottom. But Noelle and Russell are safe, putting Channing and Victor in danger. Mollee and Nathan round out the group. From that group, it's hard to imagine that Channing won't be the girl to go home alongside Kevin ...
But Karen turns in an unexpectedly nothing solo -- really, it's shockingly weak -- while Channing played to her best moves. Victor's solo is gorgeous and assured, reminding me of the dancer I don't feel like I've seen in weeks. Mollee's acrobatics were great, but was that really a good dance routine? Nathan's solo brought a different feel, definitely, but like Mollee's it didn't feel like a coherent statement of who he is. Based on solo, then, Kevin and Karen, the Kouple, should go down together ...
Nigel, thanks for reminding me that the solos are just opportunities to change the judges' minds and rescue yourself from otherwise certain ruin. On that basis, Karen is saved, and Channing, who's gotten tossed from partner to partner since starting the competition, gets the boot for having more technique than personality. No surprises on the men's side; Kevin's headed home.
- Another memorable group routine to Imogen Heap (by Wade and Amanda) at the open. Anybody else notice that a few dancers -- Channing and Russell, notably -- had trouble getting their large frames into these very quick positions? Both were cheating a bit toward the end by leaving the pose a bit early to get to the next ones, after being a bit slow off the mark in the early going.
- I hope that Ashleigh is never voted into the bottom two, because I'm deathly afraid of the solo that goes with that poodle skirt she's worn the last two results shows.
- Listening to the recap of the judges' comments after Mollee and Nathan's performance, I don't know why I was so sure that Mollee would be leaving tonight.
- Anybody else want a Bollywood group number to open next week's results show?