'So You Think You Can Dance' recap: Michael Jackson night

  • Top 8 contestant Jessica Richens (R) and all-star Will Wingfield perform a Contemporary routine to "Earth Song," choreographed by Mandy Moore.
Top 8 contestant Jessica Richens (R) and all-star Will Wingfield… (Adam Rose )
August 14, 2014|By Amy Watts | For The Baltimore Sun

Apparently this going to be an all-Michael-Jackson night. Blergh. I expect to see way-too-many crotches being grabbed tonight. It'll probably take a crowbar to get Rudy's hand off his junk.

On an editorial note, allow me to apologize for getting some of the All-Star dancers announced last week, and the week before, wrong. I write this recap pretty much live with the show airing. SYTYCD doesn't see fit to say or display the All-Star dancers surnames on the show, nor do they put the information on their website. So I'm left to my own devices with only a first name, a small picture, and my GoogleFu. If y'all want to follow me on Twitter (@amywatts), I'll absolutely take any help I can get ID'ing dancers.

Anyway, on to tonight's show. Our top eight, in order of introduction, are: Jessica Richens, Zack Everhart, Tanisha Belnap, Ricky Ubeda, Valerie Rockey, Rudy Abreu, Jacque LaWarne and Casey Askew.

The shiny robot opening number to "A Place with No Name" was done by Michael Jackson's choreographer, Travis Payne.

Regular judges Nigel "Smooth Criminal" Lythgoe and the "Off the Wall" Mary Murphy are joined tonight by "Pretty Young Thing" Jenna Dewan Tatum. If you've not seen "Witches of East End," I highly recommend it. It's a deliciously campy, soapy bit of fun.

In addition to the couples routines, we're also getting solos from each of the dancers tonight. Tanisha is up first. She's wearing a bikini and three-quarters of a skirt. As in, it only goes three-quarters of the way around her waistband, entirely open over the front of her legs.

Ricky was inspired by Victor Smalley (Season 6), who gave him a scholarship to study at his studio. This week, he's dancing with Jaimie Goodwin (Season 3) in a Travis Wall contemporary piece. In the interview, Travis says that he's told Ricky, "I want his bones to try to escape his skin."

They're dancing to Michael Jackson's cover of the Charlie Chaplin-penned standard, "Smile." In case you're not familiar with it, it's a song called "Smile" that is extremely, extremely sad and is always performed at the tempo of a funeral dirge.

I wish they hadn't put Jaimie in such a long flow-y skirt - it not only obscures the lines at times, it also seems to get in the dancers' way a little bit.

Ricky admits to Cat that he was crying a little bit even before the routine started. He admits to being a complete sap, keeping all of Cat's cue cards and things to paste in his journal.

Jenna loved it and particularly praises the connection between Ricky and Jaimie as partners. Mary loves it so much she manages not to scream like a banshee. Nigel says that Ricky is now at the point where he's almost transcending technique.

Cat reveals that Ricky is safe and he literally jumps for joy. HAPPY ELFIN LEAPS! She also goes on to reveal that next week, he'll be dancing with All-Star Anya Garnis (Season 3, Ballroom).

Zack taps at us while wearing a trilby. Oh, Zack.

The person in Valerie's life who inspired her to dance is dance instructor and studio owner Kathy Simpson. Valerie calls her "Miss Kathy," which is SO Southern to me, but maybe Indiana is Southern in that way.

Jean-Marc Genereux is pitting Valerie in a samba battle against Ryan Di Lello (Season 6, Ballroom) to "Wanna Be Startin' Somethin'." It's weird to see her with the long extensions and in a skimpy costume. Where's our little Valerie?

Uh-oh! Looks like she maybe didn't quite master the samba rolls. She also looks like, I don't know, she's holding back? Like how when judges critique a dancer for dancing "too safe."

Mary says Valerie looks gorgeous. I hate when the first thing said to a female contestant is about her physical appearance. Mary compliments her on finding her grounding in the high heels. Mary's very enthusiastic about the dance, with only a minor criticism.

Nigel says Valerie looks "vivacious" tonight. Nigel says he's forgetting last week's routine -- SO WHY BRING IT UP? Don't be a bummer, Uncle Nige.

Cat lets us know that based on last week's votes, Valerie is safe. YAY! And her All-Star partner for next week is Twitch (Season 4, Hip Hop)! Great news on both counts.

Casey does a solo full of spins, pirouettes and flapping of hands. It's evidence for my argument that not all dancers are good choreographers.

Rudy's solo is his idea of masculine. Bare chest, dramatic museum, "look at my wingspan, I could kill you all" choreography.

Casey's biggest inspiration is his two dance teachers, "Miss Terry and Miss Mandy," Terry Schulke and Mandy Rogers. Is this a thing now? Calling dance teachers "Miss [Firstname]"? Sheesh. I'm old. My dance instructors were either Miss/Ms./Mrs. [Lastname] or in one memorable case, a Dr. [Lastname] who we were also allowed to address as "Madame." And these women were all dance instructors in the heart of the South!

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