On a night when performances ranged from comical to wonderful, one thing was clear: So You Think You Can Dance 3 is still up for grabs.
Dan Karaty joined Mary Judo and Nigel Tae Kwon Do at the judges’ table. Mary got the evening off to a good start by telling Nigel, "Quiet down, English Muffin," before Cat Deeley introduced a clip package of the Top 4’s greatest hits.
The first performance of the night had the group dancing a Tyce DiOrio Broadway routine to Liza Minnelli’s "Mein Herr," from Cabaret. There was plenty of sex appeal, and the routine ended with the dancers running up to the judges’ table. Danny’s and Neil’s athleticism really showed through.
Lacey’s Solo — Daft Punk, "Technologic"
An awkward outfit (her dress was so big, it looked like she’d borrowed it from Cat) distracted from Lacey’s dancing — at least until she fell into the audience (deliberately) in a cool ending maneuver. Nigel told her to stop the ballroom "ooh, ahh, finger pointing" gestures and facial expressions.
Sabra & Neil — Hip-Hop
Choreographer: Shane Sparks
Song: Kat DeLuna, "Whine Up"
During footage of their rehearsal, Neil said in response to a request from Shane, "Asking me to be sexy is like asking Nigel to be British." But this routine wound up more playful than sexy. Nigel called it a "bright summertime" dance that could’ve been more "funky" and "loose." Mary said, "I was expecting a little bit more at this point," and Dan agreed that the pair had given better hip-hop performances earlier in the season.
Lacey & Danny — Viennese Waltz
Choreographer: Jean-Marc Genereux
Song: Avril Lavigne, "Keep Holding On"
With so many lifts, there was little time for closed hold dancing — but the routine was lovely. Nigel said, "It was like you were dancing on ice at one point." Mary was impressed with their technical execution, and Dan said, "The two of you together aren’t even fair.
One of the best moments of the night was when Lacey and Danny started arguing on stage during the judges’ comments — "having a domestic," in Cat’s words. Lacey told Nigel she’d practiced with a Popsicle stick in her glove to help her keep her hand straight, and Danny said incredulously, "She totally made that up." Lacey gave Danny the evil eye, which got even more evil when Nigel said to her, "It’s really good to know you take notes, even if you lie about them." Lacey mouthed, "I’m not lying!" as she play-punched Danny.
Neil’s Solo — Shawn McDonald, "Gravity"
The moves were good, but there wasn’t much interpretation of the music. My hubby said that Neil, with all his jumps and twists, dances "like a fighter from Tekken." Mary said he danced with "maturity," and Dan called him "dynamic."
Lacey & Sabra — Jazz
Choreographer: Wade Robson
Song: Nitin Sawhney, "Koyal (Songbird)"
This routine was about a mother fox and a baby fox, and Lacey and Sabra pranced about with scarves in their mouths. It was ridiculous. Nigel said, "I didn’t get that at all, I’m afraid. You didn’t really do anything apart from stay in character." But he said the fault was the choreographer’s, not the dancers’. Mary agreed that the routine was impossible to critique. Dan noted that people will love or hate the routine, but he appreciated the dancers’ attention to detail.
Danny’s Solo — Gavin DeGraw, "We Are the Champions"
Danny interpreted the music well; he’s willing not to be moving all the time if it suits the song. Mary cooed, "You’re just crazy, aren’t you," and then screamed. Dan wanted to know what was in the water at Danny’s mom’s studio to produce such a wonderful dancer.
Danny & Neil — Contemporary
Choreographer: Mia Michaels
Song: The Presets, "Are You the One?"
Mia’s concept was two princes battling for the throne, and the routine was chock full of daring tricks. Mia said, "They’re just throwing each other around and being dudes." It was cool, and elevated dance-fighting beyond cheesy West Side Story (or Zoolander) stuff. Nigel said, "It was great." Mary screamed, "Okay, I loved it! Mia, I just loved this piece!"
Sabra’s Solo — James Morrison, "Wonderful World"
This solo really highlighted Sabra’s strength and athleticism. Mary said, "You have everything that it takes to be the champion of this show." Dan confessed that, early in the season, he thought Dominic was carrying Sabra, but his opinion changed: "You deserve to be there."
Lacey & Neil — Lindy Hop
Choreographer: Nick Williams
Song: The Big Elliot Swing Orchestra, "Bill’s Bounce"
Neil said, "The basic steps aren’t very basic when they’re that fast." It may not have been perfect, but it was tremendously fun to watch. Nigel said Lacey & Neil were "both excellent." Mary appreciated the difficulty of the partnering skills and lifts, saving her loudest scream of the night for them. Dan grinned and said the performance was "entertainment at its best."
Sabra & Danny — Cha Cha
Choreographer: Melanie LaPatin
Song: Celia Cruz, "Gotta Get Down"
This dance was pretty cool, and it would’ve been nice if these two had gotten a chance to partner together earlier in the season. Nigel overlooked any technical slip-ups and just enjoyed the performance. Mary noted that once they reached the middle of the routine, Sabra & Danny relaxed enough to give a great performance. Dan agreed.
As the show ended, Nigel advised fans to take into consideration the dancers’ body of work from the whole season. And he mentioned that, from a producer’s perspective, it would probably be good if a girl won.
Tomorrow night, along with performances by the top twenty dancers and special guests, Cat will be dancing with Nigel.
If I were voting based solely on tonight’s performances, I’d have to vote for Danny. His battling princes routine with Neil was very entertaining, and he continues to be my favorite soloist. Based on the entire season, well, I’d still give my vote to Danny. As much as I like both Sabra and Lacey and would like to see a girl win, Danny’s just better than everybody else.