Partner-go-round on 'So You Think You Can Dance'

Evankasprzak_sytycd_s5_290 Our first evening with randomized couples on "So You Think You Can Dance" brought great highs and one great low.

Brandon gets the Best Intro Non-Award. I liked Kupono's too and bonus points to Evan for the hat tricks. Sadly, I found the girls' intros to be weak overall. Host Cat Deeley's dress is a lovely emerald color but there's this weird black stripe going down the back and partially around the bottom. Not sure how I feel about that.

Joining Nigel Lythgoe and Mary Murphy is the legendary Debbie Allen. I always like when she's on. For those who don't remember how the Top 10 works, the dancers will pick their partner as well as their genre from the proverbial hat. Each dancer will also perform a solo to help you decide who to vote for since each person gets their own number.

Group Number - Ladies
Style/Choreographer/Song: Bollywood/Nakul Dev Mahajan/"Dholna" from the "Pyar Ke Geet" Soundtrack

The concept of the number has them starting in an imaginary riverbed gathering water in a traditional bowl, the name of which I don't want to mess up. Nakul nicknamed them the "Bollywood Bombshells." Oooo...I love their costumes. There's this part where they have masks with mustaches on the back of their headdresses and perform the male part of the song. It's fantastic choreography and they look great as a group. I cannot understate what a great job they did. Janette is the biggest stand-out for me followed by Jeanine and Kayla. Nigel couldn't say enough nice things, Mary called them "stunning," and Debbie loved how they really articulated and embody the dance.

1. Kayla & Evan
Style/Choreographer/Song: Viennese Waltz/Melanie Lapatin & Tony Meredith/"Kiss From A Rose" by Seal

So of course the first random pick is the tallest girl picking the shortest guy. At one point during rehearsal, Melanie has Evan put on Kayla's heels. Awesome. For the number, Kayla is barefoot but with sparkly bits on her feet and he's got heeled shoes. The height difference is a relative non-issue because they danced very well and Evan a strong, strong partner. All three lifts were done beautifully and with ease and they have a natural chemistry. Nigel didn't think it was particularly Viennese Waltz-y but they danced it very well. Mary said Evan's technique wasn't up to par but was a great partner, then slobbered over Kayla. Debbie thought it was a wonderful surprise and that they were beautiful. She also called Kayla "White Lightning" and revealed the judges had nicknamed Evan "Gene Kelly" during auditions, which he was extremely honored by.

Solo: Brandon
Song: "In Your Eyes" by Jeffrey Gaines

It had the appearance of Contemporary with some African influences, like one of Vitolio solo's on steroids. He had a lot of air on his jumps, an interesting quality/mix of movements, and a connection to the music.

2. Janette & Ade
Style/Choreographer/Song: Hip Hop/Tabitha & Napoleon/"Love Sex Magic" by Ciara ft. Justin Timberlake

In contrast to the first couple, the shortest girl picked the tallest guy. The concept is that Ade is "The Funk Doctor" and Janette is lacking. What's funny is they use the afro pick Ade always wears in rehearsal as prop to "hypnotize" her. They had some sync issues at time but only because of the height difference. I really liked it overall and their personalities really helped pull it off. Great choreography. Nigel and Mary dug it, with Debbie rounding out the love-fest by calling them "mesmerizing."

Solo: Randi
Song: "Dream" by Priscilla Ann

The thing about Randi is she's great dancer and can do interesting choreography for herself but I just don't make an emotional connection to her. At least she wasn't wearing a unitard.

Solo: Kupono
Song: "Marina Gasolina" by Bonde Do Role

I liked this solo a lot and I liked the music. The thing that puts Kupono at a disadvantage is he doesn't just throw in a bunch of tricks just because he can if the music doesn't inspire him to do so. That puts him at a disadvantage in the judges' eyes...but I guess that doesn't really matter anymore since it's in America's hands now.

3. Jeanine & Jason
Style/Choreographer/Song: Contemporary/Travis Wall/"If It Kills Me (The Casa Nova Sessions)" by Jason Mraz

The two folks who lost their partners last week have been thrown together. This is Season 2 runner-up and all-around stud Travis' first time choreographing for the show. The concept is that they're best friends since childhood who are flirting with becoming more, but Jeanine isn't sure. Really, really great choreography and they danced it superbly. Loved it. Loved, loved, loved it. The judges and everyone in the audience gave them a standing ovation. Nigel said it was "fabulous work that was only bettered by the two people who danced it" and they've become stars tonight. Mary was lost for words at first then called them stars, later giving them a silent scream. She also almost started crying saying how proud she was of Travis. Debbie called them a "magical pair" adding she can't wait to buy the ticket to see them dance on the road.

Melissasandvig_sytycd_s5_290 Solo: Melissa
Song: "Gabriel" by Lamb

She moves really well but wasn't particularly dynamic tonight. Unless she pulls something amazing out of her hat during her partnered number, I think she'll be going home.

Solo: Evan
Song: "Zing! Went The Strings of My Heart" by Rufus Wainwright

He's dressed in a white tux jacket and black pants. The choreography was a great mix of technique and personality. He really is Gene Kelly-esque and I love every minute of it. It's so refreshing after 80 Contemporary/Lyrical Jazz solos.

Solo: Kayla
Song: "Rock your Soul" by Elisa

It was better than some of her past solos but I didn't find the choreography particularly engrossing. Not to say she didn't move beautifully becase she did. She pretty much always does.

4. Randi & Kupono
Style/Choreographer/Song: Paso Doble/Melanie Lapatin & Tony Meredith/"Dies Irae" by Karl Jenkins

There is something...off here. I'm not sure what the problem is. Perhaps they're concentrating too hard at times. Kupono is into the character, Randi seemed to be there too but not always at the same time. Or something. It was just off. It was like Kupono didn't have enough gravity and Randi had too much. Nigel didn't think the dancing was as strong as the choreography and noted a lack of chemistry. Mary didn't find it believable and agrees there should've been more strength and passion. Debbie says there may have been a lack of trust but thought they executed a lot of things well.

Solo: Ade
Song: "Unchained Melody" by The Righteous Brothers

I loved the choreography. I kind of wish he picked a different song because it didn't quite fit the music. He's up there with Brandon in terms of crazy awesome moves thrown down tonight.

Solo: Jeanine
Song: "Violento (Up Mix)" by Bailongo!

A really smart move to pick this Tango flavored Electronica song. It really sets her apart from the other girls' numbers. It was a good solo, though considering her number with Jason, she could've pulled a Lauren/"Popozao" and should be safe.

Solo: Jason
Song: "Train Fare Home" by Muddy Waters

Another really smart music choice. The piece had a lot of personality and he danced well. But again, he could stand there taking off his jacket for 45-seconds and he should be safe.

Brandonbryant_sytycd_s5_290 5. Melissa & Brandon
Style/Choreographer/Song: Broadway/Tyce D'Orio/"Aquarius" from the Tony-Award Winning new Broadway Cast of "Hair"

A Tasty Oreos number is like playing Russian Roulette with three bullets in the gun. A couple weeks off and getting challenged by the presence of another Broadway choreographer helped. Though I can't tell if the choreography is good or if it's because Brandon is doing so much heavy-lifting (and I'm not talking about Melissa). They both danced very well. When it finished, Cat said "I smell patchouli." And that's why I love her. Nigel thought it was great, Mary shrilly called it "unbelievable," and Debbie said they were brilliantly, seamlessly different and a joy to watch.

Solo: Janette
Song: "This Is Miami" by Sander Kleinenberg

For me, Janette is up there with Heidi and Lacey in terms of crazy beautiful legs. That fast footwork was fabulous. She's probably my favorite of the girls.

Group Number - Guys
Style/Choreographer/Song: African/Jeffrey Page/"Balent Funk" by Ayanda Clarke & Shawn Kelly

I do believe this is the first time we've seen Mr. Page's work. The concept is that they see a beautiful girl and want to show off for her...and he's not pulling any punches. This is authentic choreography, not "Hollywood style." It's no freaking joke. They must be exhausted after this. A really great job by everyone. Nigel said it was one of the toughest routines they've ever had on the show and that everyone was great. Mary adored it and called it "exciting." Debbie is proud of them for performing so well.

Favorite Numbers: Clearly Jason & Jeanine's Contemporary. Honerable mention to Janette & Ade's Hip Hop.
Stand-out Individuals: Seven of the ten had a good to great night - there's reasons to applaud almost all of them.
Disappointments: Melissa fell flat during her solo and Randi & Kupono were a disaster as a couple. I'm more disappointed in Randi since her solo didn't do anything for me.


All right my little twinkles of light, what did you think? Did anyone surprise you tonight in a good or bad way? Is Randi a partner killer who's flown under the radar thanks to Evan or was it just a case of genre incompatibility? How fab was Travis' choreography?

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