The competition is getting tougher as the top 16 performers do their thing tonight on SYTYCD 2011.

Our guest Judges are Lil “there’s no actual glass in my “glasses” C and the teeny tiny star of stage and screen, Kristin Chenoweth.

This week, we were treated to opening and closing numbers by the top 16 broken into two troupes of eight (great idea, by the way – who came up with that?).  The opening group routine tonight was choreographed by Tice (whom I love, by the way!).  A jazzy little number to “Hit the Road Jack” by Ray Charles (one of my all time favorites).  This routine was fan-stinkin’-tastic!  I loved everything about it.  (And Cameramen, a shout-out to you this week – thanks for not making the dance impossible to watch with crazy camera angles.  I “heart” you!)

This week’s “get to know them better” theme was beyond boring as each of the dancers explained to us what their first live performance was and included adorable pictures and videos of them in their early years.  Adorable childhood pictures?  Yes.  Interesting?  Uh… no.

Sasha & Alexander led the night with a love story routine.  It was interesting, powerful and incorporated their key prop – the piano in beautiful ways.  The way Alexander lifts her makes it look like she doesn’t weigh a thing!   Really beautiful.  Loved the use of the prop, beautiful moves, just mesmerizing.  Nigel still insists that Alexander needs to control the audience more.  Not so sure about that – he had me paying attention.

Caitlynn & Mitchell’s super fun Samba, choreographed by Jean-Mark was great!  Jean-Mark told them to use their hips like speakers and that actually made sense to me.  Go figure.  They took that direction to heart!  But, I just gotta say, that it wasn’t their hips that caught my eye, but Mitchell’s (ahem) glutes!  Are those for real?  Good thing Debbie Reynolds wasn’t there tonight or we’d be pulling her off that poor boy!  And what did our illustrious guest judge have to say about it?  Eh, not so sure, but Kristen was shutting doors and windows and anything else she could shut except her ridiculous monologue.  You’re cute and all Kristen, but dang girl!  This was weird!.

Tyce Diorio choreographed Miranda & Robert’s Broadway number.  These two are truly a force to be reckoned with.  But did it bother anyone else that the song they danced to included the sound of tap dancing when the dancers weren’t dancing tap, nor were they dancing to the rhythm of the tap in the song?  Distracting!  Lil C had the most quotable comment of the night when he told Miranda, “With legs like that, who needs arms?”

Melanie & Marko had probably the best story line of the night – best friends realizing that they should be together.  It was a nifty little hip-hop, Napoleon & Tabitha choreography.   Talk about unique!  She lifted him and what’s this? another big smooch in the middle of a routine?  What’s going on here?  They are declared a Power Couple and according to Nigel, “The couple to beat!”  Wow – that’s some statement this early in the season!  And, in the most awkward, most bizarre moment of the season to date, we witness a  kiss fest.  Nigel + Mary.  Kristen + Lil C.  Nigel + Lil C?  (This is the point where you either cover your children’s eyes or pray you have fast forward to get through it.)  Oh!  The humanity!

Ashley & Chris danced a very odd Zombie jazz number choreographed by Sonya Tayeh and can I just say I didn’t enjoy that at all.  Sorry guys – it wasn’t their fault; I just don’t enjoy her choreography.  There was no connection between the two of them; they were just two people doing the same dance side-by-side.  They do get props for their make-up though – that was fun.

I wouldn’t have thought that I would say this, but Clarice & Jess’s Foxtrot was one of my favorites tonight.  Jess actually lifted Clarice and made it look effortless (did you eat your Wheaties this morning, Jess?)  And, thanks to good choreography, he got an assisted lift by using the stairs later – smart move (choreographer) Jean-Marc.   Huge compliments all around for them.

You guys know I love Ryan & Ricky, but this choreography had me worried.  While I loved the symbolism of using the fabric length to imply a person who is bound up in love, I found myself paying more attention to the fabric – who’s pulling it?, will they trip over it or get tangled up in it? I found it to be more distracting than powerful.  And again, it was a Sonja Tayeh piece – so…

Now my favorites, Jordan & Tadd rip it apart in a hip-hop – Napoleon & Tabitha number.  Very great, very naughty choreography (what else would we have Jordan do, right?) , clever story line.  Kristen’s shutting doors again (not sure how that’s a useful critique)…  (best thing for me was hearing that Jordon sleeps with pillow pets! And she’s not really a naughty, naughty girl!  Ah, so sweet!)

The final dance of the night is the Second Group Dance; a Contemporary number that has the women poisoning the men.  I enjoyed this quite a bit (and not because I’m a man hater!) but because it was choreographed well.  However, my only negative comment is that the guys never actually drank from any of the cups.  Or did I miss it?

This week I found myself creating and awarding various titles to each couple.  Here’s my take on the evening:

Prettiest dance of the night – Sasha & Alexander

Most hip action of the night – Caitlynn & Mitchell

Most entertaining dance of the night – Miranda & Robert

Favorite/Best dance of the night – Melanie & Marko

Least favorite dance of the night – (not their fault) Ashley & Chris

Classiest/jazziest dance of the night – Clarice & Jess

Most prop-centric dance – Ryan & Ricky

Sexiest dance and best use of a large prop – Jordan & Tadd

Overall, my favorite dance of the night was Melanie & Marko’s Napi/Tabs Hip-Hop dance; while my least favorite was Ashley & Chris’ bizarre zombie-inspired dance.   What did you think?  Who were the best dancers and the worst dancers tonight?  And more importantly, who do you think is going home tomorrow?


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