Oh no, now Billy too?! Well, at least the doctors don't seem to think his knee injury is that serious, so hopefully he'll be back to dancing next week.
First on were Lauren and Twitch in a Tabitha and Napoleon hip hop. This was fun and I thought she did quite well with it, even dancing next to Twitch. Loved those somersaults -- wow, what form she had in those and throughout! She really had the attitude down, and you can tell she worked really, really hard. Every movement was right on the beat, was totally sharp. I thought she actually stood out more than Twitch, which is saying a lot with a hip hop routine.
Next were Jose and Allison in a contemporary routine by Sonya Tayeh. Well, Allison is really blowing me away this season. That was SO Sonya Tayeh; she danced that perfectly. As for Jose, I thought it was clear he worked really hard and this was actually so much better than he did with anything last week. He acted it very well. But I think the judges were right on about Tayeh giving him a more amateur role based on gesture than a technique-based one. He just didn't have Allison's form at all. It was supposed to be about two people not sure about each other, then sure and in love, then kind of falling back into not being so sure again -- like the stages or layers of a relationship. With Allison I got that; with Jose I didn't so much. The movement was supposed to be fast and passionate, then slow and unsure, then fast and passionate again, then slow and unsure again. And his stops and starts weren't sharp and powerful enough. Also, a recurring motif for his character seemed to be his using his hand to push his head toward her, like he had to force himself to look at her at points, and then look away. And someone like Mark Kanemura would have made that so much more clear. But it wasn't really clear from Jose that that's what was going on.
Next, Robert danced a Tyce Diorio jazz routine with Lauren. I think this is the best I've ever seen from Robert. And not because it was sexy and he licked her leg! (Everyone in the audience screamed at that part -- hilarious!) I think I liked it so much because this didn't require a lot of expansive movement as in the contemporary routines he's done, and so what normally bothers me about him wasn't present here. Instead, he moved so well, so fluidly, but all the same made the perfect jazz lines, and hit every beat right on. It had a lot of soul. Good for him!
Adechicke had the first solo of the night. I liked it but it didn't really blow me away. I feel like the jeans might have restricted his movement a bit. The sequence of turning jumps was nice; I've just seen that kind of thing done so much more magnificently.
Next, Kent and Kathryn danced a Sonya Tayeh jazz number. I thought he did pretty well in this. I didn't like this routine overall as well as Sonya's other one -- this one was more basic and less original, but Kent danced it well. His movement was fluid, his jumps were high and energetic, his handspring over her was stunning, his form was excellent -- his arabesque in attitude -- overall, really good form.
Then was Robert's solo, which I thought was pretty good. Maybe he dances with more breadth -- longer leg lines, fuller shapes, more weighty jumps - in his solos? Because I don't see that same kind of movement at all in his partnered routines.
Lauren's solo was one of my favorites of the night. It had everything - loads of energy, intensity, spark, passion, range. I loved it. I think after Billy, she may be my favorite.
Next was Adechicke dancing a Tabitha and Napoleon hip hop routine with Comfort. Wow, my favorite routine of the night, and I'm really not much of a hip hop fan! Both of them just nailed that, both passion-wise and movement-wise. I mean that was so intense. It was about a relationship gone bad, the woman deciding to leave the man, and I so felt her immense frustration at him, and his at her, and all that anger, and his desire to keep her there. And that stomping on the ground that was both stylized dance but also real and human and conveyed so much meaning. I usually think of hip hop as fun and funk but not so expressive of narrative and emotional depth.
Next on was Jose's solo, and, again, he blew me away with it. When he does his own thing, his own moves that he choreographs himself, he is really brilliant. Those legs moving in the air at lightning speed, their twisting and turning around each other! And that kind of movement takes razor sharp precision to keep from fumbling. It's really too bad he can't bring that to the other dances.
I thought Kent's solo was okay but nothing earth shattering. He can move well, he just doesn't seem to have that extra something that really stands out that other contemporary dancers of the past and present have -- Billy, Jacob from last season, Danny and Neil from season three. You know what I mean? He seems to have a real fan base though.
Now, onto the contestants dancing with each other:
First, Lauren danced a Dmitry Chaplin samba with Robert. I thought this was fine, but to me it still looked like two contemporary dancers dancing Latin. It was okay; it just wasn't Pasha and Anya. The polish and precision weren't really all there; it was more like watching two people shake their butts. Mia mentioned that Lauren did too many plies and that brought weightiness to the routine. Latin's not supposed to look light and feathery like ballet but I understand what she means. It's like they were both plie-ing too much and that made some of the movement too jazz-like. There's a rule in Latin that you shouldn't take a step larger than the length between your shoulders, because if you do it starts to look too jazzy, it becomes more about the legs and less about the hips and movement within the torso. And they both kind of did that. They still moved their hips -- particularly Lauren -- but it just didn't look as sharp as it could have if the steps weren't so large. Also, I thought Lauren's bachachatas (the small backward steps with the rolling hips) were too bouncy. That's where it needs to look weighty, so the hips can really work.
Next, Adechicke and Jose danced a Dmitry Chaplin Paso Doble. Well, that wasn't really as thrilling as I was hoping for. I did think they both acted it tremendously well and Jose tried very, very hard, which is what ultimately makes him so endearing. Adechicke's form was just so much better than Jose's -- his posture, his shaping, that gorgeous jump. They both had good attack, but Jose looks more like a regular guy in most of the dances that aren't in his style. He works incredibly hard and he always gets the emotional aspect right, but he just doesn't have the polish of a trained dancer in anything but his own style, which he does superbly. I thought even though the routine was a bit bland that Adechicke really brought a lot to the table. I thought he did quite well with this. Very good night for Adechicke.
And we ended with Kent's stepping routine by Chuck Maldonado danced with Twitch (who replaced Billy). Ok, did anyone else think this was a bit ... off, for lack of a better word? I'm definitely no stepping expert; my only experience with that dance comes from watching a movie about it a couple of years ago, but the stepping in that movie looked completely different from this. Twitch looked like he was doing a jumpy version of hip hop, and Kent just seemed to be jumping around. But the judges thought it rocked. Adam said Kent kicked ass. And, Nigel, who said he himself did a stepping routine in an earlier season (which I vaguely remember) said he knows stepping and that Kent did it perfectly. So I guess I'm wrong...
I really hope Billy isn't going home tonight. I have a feeling it may be Jose.
Anyway, thanks for all the great comments last week, you guys! This show is so much more fun to write about than Dancing With the Stars because people actually talk about the dancing and not all the celebrity crap.