So You Think You Can... Episodes

2005, TV Show

So You Think You Can Dance Episode: "Top 8 Perform"

Season 8, Episode 18
Episode Synopsis: The Top 8 dancers perform. Lady Gaga and director-choreographer Rob Marshall serve as guest judges.
Original Air Date: Jul 27, 2011

So You Think You Can Dance Episode Recap: The Top 8 Perform Season 8, Episode 18

I'm back from Comic-Con and have resumed my recapping duties. Last week, the Top 10 paired up with all-stars for the first time and the next night bid adieu to Clarice and Mitchell, he of the floppy hands.

It's down to the Top 8 tonight, and they have a tough road ahead. Not only do they have to perform two routines, but Lady Gaga is sitting in as a guest judge. How distracting is that? Oh, and Rob Marshall, director of Chicago, is also on the panel. But really, it's all about Gaga.

Let's see how the dancers did:

Sasha and Pasha, quickstep
Choreographer:
Jonathan Roberts
Song:
"Puttin' on the Ritz," Terry Snyder
After last week's stellar hip-hop number, Sasha really has to maintain momentum, and quickstep is an intriguing departure. Overall, she's impressive, light on her feet and does the reverses and backward moves well. Her topline isn't quite natural yet, but she brings her signature energy and attitude to the piece, which makes up for any technical imperfections. And is that a slip at the end? 
The judges say:
Rob likes to see her in heels, classy and elegant. She's one of his favorites, but he thinks ballroom constrains her natural dancing abandon. Mary says she pulled it off with an amazing promenade and reverse turn that's the best of the season. Sasha probably should soften her knees a bit though. Nigel flat-out declares Sasha is his favorite dancer (by a hair's breadth) but says her upper body was a tad stiff. Lady Gaga says Sasha is shiny inside and out, and (gasp) disagrees with Nigel. She says that Sasha's "stiffness" is really an odd but artistic interpretation of the choreographer's routine.

Caitlyn and Ivan, lyrical hip-hop
Choreographer:
Marty Kudelka
Song:
"Let Me Love You," Mario
Anything has to be better than Caitlyn's other hip-hop routine about Ugandan slavery. And this is. Although she has some soul and sexiness, it's obvious that this genre is not her forte. She doesn't hit the beats quite right, doesn't play off her partner enough and definitely doesn't get low enough in the movement.
The judges say:
Mary goes on about the all-star, which is good, since Caitlyn wasn't "brilliant," but did a good job. Nigel starts with a critique: She needs to get down a little bit more, sit in that pocket. He thought she stayed in character though. The Lady says Caitlyn is "extremely sexy" and felt the connection, but she relied on her center too much, pausing too much. Rob says it's a beautiful style for her and suggests she lose herself more in the routine. Who's a good example? Rob points to Gaga. Well, sure. Just be like Gaga. Easy.

Jordan and Ade, jazz
Choreographer:
Tyce Diorio (sporting a new, shorter 'do!)
Song:
"Nutbush City Limits," Tina Turner
It's supposed to be a naughty routine, and it's actually a bit more cheeky and stars Jordan's legs. Seriously, was Ade even on stage? Jordan has crazy extension, and all the lifts really showcase them. It's a fun and athletic routine.
The judges say:
Nigel can't get over her pliable legs and says they go on forever. Gaga says Jordan gives her hope since it's no secret she has short legs and then goes on to show the gigantic platform shoes she's wearing. "They're a fashion catheter, so I don't have to go to the bathroom during the show." That's right, catheter. Thanks for that visual. Rob says Jordan shows abandon and he'd scream like Mary if he could. Mary helps him out and screams.

Melanie and Neil, contemporary
Choreographer:
Mandy Moore
Song:
"Total Eclipse of the Heart," Bonnie Tyler
First of all, this is Melanie, so it's going to be good. Second, it's contemporary, so it's going to be breathtaking and elegant. Neil partners her well, which is essential since there are so many timing issues and a killer lift when she runs and then leaps into his arms from a mile away.
The judges say:
Gaga takes her hat off to Melanie (literally and shows off her blue hair) and says she's her favorite. Rob says, "It's so poetic what you do. It's like magic." Mary rightfully points out that ridiculously "fearless" leap into Neil's arms. Nigel admits he's fickle because Melanie is now his favorite dancer again. (Sorry, Sasha!) And then he quotes Ellen DeGeneres, "You are a carpenter ... you nailed it!"

Ricky and Anya, jive
Choreographer:
Jason Gilkison
Song:
"River Deep, Mountain High," Celine Dion
Since he's such a good technician, he can handle the dance pretty well, but I wasn't feeling the proper strong male energy from him. I'm too aware of the work he's putting in and there's a horrible lift that looks labored. I wasn't feeling their connection either.
The judges say:
Rob says Ricky's smile lights up the room and praises his technique, even though he needs to get a bit more grounded in his movements. Mary acknowledges his problems (that lift, lack of proper bounce). Nigel says Ricky's too tall and the lift looked as if he were slinging a slab of meat over his shoulder. At that point, Gaga tries to distance herself from Nigel physically. She says that she has a sweet spot for Ricky and that he gave the dance a modern feel.

Jess and Lauren Gottlieb, lyrical hip hop
Choreographer:
Tabitha and Napoleon
Song:
"Take a Bow," Rihanna
He's shown that he can handle hip-hop, and he performs the movements adequately. He doesn't really own the staccato movements though. I wanted him to break free and really emote.
The judges say:
Mary says that he shows progress every week and this felt like his most honest performance. Nigel agrees that Jess has matured significantly, especially taking Neil Patrick Harris' advice from last week and not mugging too much."You did not overplay it."  Gaga also has a theater school background and appreciated his acting. Rob's known Jess since he was a little boy (well, he's still little, so let's say, "younger" boy) and says he's matured on the show. The routine was "simple and pure and beautiful."

Tadd and Lauren Froderman, jazz
Choreographer:
Mandy Moore
Song:
"Another One Bites the Dust," Queen
It's "Smooth Criminal"-esque as Tadd breaks out Michael Jackson moves and 'tude. At one point, he loses his fedora, which means he has to just gesture all the hat movements, but he doesn't let it faze him. Overall, he's good and convincing, but it wasn't amazing.
The judges say:
Nigel says this style suits him since apparently he can absorb every style like a sponge. Gaga says it's inspiring that he's such a dance chameleon. Rob gives props to Tadd for recouping after losing his hat and getting socked in the face by Lauren. "You keep surprising us. You're very, very special." Mary says he was strutting his stuff and has swag "nobody else on this show has." She predicts he'll land in the finale.

Marko and Allison, contemporary
Choreographer:
Sonya Tayeh
Song:
"I Know It's Over," Jeff Buckley
I think this routine has something to do with making amends with your mother, but it really doesn't matter. It's full of pain and love and anguish, which we know Marko can do after that "left at the altar" routine. You can't take Allison out of the number, and her unique articulation is part of the success, but he doesn't get lost in her brilliance; he magnifies it.
The judges say:
Lady Gaga has tears on her face and says she regrets some things she did growing up. "You really love to dance, and I know your mom's here." At this point, he's sobbing on stage and says, "I love you" to his mom, who flew in from Guam to watch him dance. Rob says his technical expertise is "ridiculous." Mary says that beyond the technical, he adds volume and finishing to the dance and that he is her favorite dancer on the show. Nigel points out that Marko accomplished something remarkable: He made it about more than a competition and made it about the message.

Caitlyn and Tadd, foxtrot
Choreographer:
Jonathan Roberts
Song:
"Top Hat, White Tie and Tails," Ella Fitzgerald
When Tadd must perform outside of his genre, he seems to really do the most surprisingly well in the ballroom dances. His Viennese waltz was impressive, and so this very old-school foxtrot really echoed Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. Caitlyn showed last week that she had ballroom chops as well with her Argentine tango, so both of them worked really well together and had great posture and arms. It's graceful and sweet.
The judges say:
Rob says that was "sparkling from beginning and end." Mary says it wasn't memorable and wanted more power and adds lots of technical things that I don't understand, but hey, she's the ballroom expert. Nigel says that the "b" in b-boy stands for "ballroom" and that he was just in heaven. Gaga gives Caitlyn a compliment about being a star but then kind of slaps her down, saying that it's a bit too apparent that she had won a lot of trophies. What? I don't get it either. Caitlyn has never struck us as over-danced or anything but humble. It's sad to see her force a smile there. Ouch.

Marko and Ricky, hip hop
Choreographer:
Tabitha and Napoleon
Song:
"Bad Boy for Life," Diddy featuring Black Rob and Mark Curry
They're waste management technicians so they have brooms, rags and caps. They handle the athletic portions with a great aerial) but it's not Alex Wong and tWitch. I cannot feel their swagger. In fact, it's not nearly "dirty" enough. They're too clean. My favorite part, however, is at the end when the tempo picks up. Their fast footwork is impressive and gives them the grounding they were lacking before.
The judges say:
Mary loved it and says the vibe was "right and tight" throughout. Nigel acknowledges how fun it was, says Marko was nasty (in a good way) but that he has reservations about Ricky. Gaga says they were both fabulous even though she didn't like the props and choreography. Rob is all into the NappyTabs though and calls the choreography "exquisite" (he really needs a thesaurus).

Jordan and Jess, rumba
Choreographer:
Jason Gilkison
Song:
"Set Fire to the Rain," Adele
Oy, this was painful because there was zero connection between the two of them and I was not feeling any of the sensuality of the rumba. There was one good lift though, but that's about all I can say.
The judges say:
Nigel also noticed and gives props for the back-reverse-spin lift, but points out the lack of chemistry. Then he critiques Jordan's swayed back, which he says he could eat off of. Grody. Gaga says there was "nothing wrong with it," but you can tell this is faint praise. Rob thinks they brought out the best in each other and felt their connection. Mary also bemoans the lack of chemistry and says that they didn't give the volume and sensuality needed in the dance.

Melanie and Sasha, jazz
Choreographer:
Sonya Tayeh
Song:
"Game On," District 78
Melanie and Sasha are arguably the best dancers in the competition, so pairing them is just asking for excellence. They're a couple of Grace Joneses on stage with their spiked hair and sexy bra/hot pants combos.  It's a visual, strange treat to see them dancing together. Neither has the same body type or energy, but making these strong, weird and beastly moves on stage just works. This isn't about emotion, but more of a power play. My favorite moments are the funny crabwalk and then almost gorgeously balletic posturing at the end.
The judges say:
Gaga says that when you want to compliment a dancer, you throw your shoe, so she tosses them one of her huge, pink, platforms on stage. I'm glad she had good aim because one of them could have been brained by that monstrosity. Gaga says their age, sex, race or income doesn't matter. "All I know is that that was the future. You were born this way and you are absolutely incredible." Rob says it was unbelievable. Mary says it had strength and power and then praises Sonya for her choreography. "Love, skill, masterpiece." Nigel doesn't know who is the best between the two of them. Perhaps she was feeling a bit lopsided, but Gaga then threw her other shoe at Sonya.

Who "nailed it" tonight? Can you choose between Melanie and Sasha? Did you cry? Who deserves to go home? What do you think of Gaga's shoe antics?

 

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I'm back from Comic-Con and have resumed my recapping duties. Last week, the Top 10 paired up with all-stars for the first time and the next night bid adieu to Clarice and Mitchell, he of the floppy hands.

It's down to the Top 8 tonight, and they have a tough road ahead. Not only do they have to perform two routines, but Lady Gaga is sitting in as a guest judge. How distracting is that? Oh, and Rob Marshall, director of Chicago, is also on the panel. But really, it's all about Gaga.

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