Before we get carried away by the dancing, let's take a moment to talk about the music. The night was all about honoring the music of Michael Jackson. And as an inspiration to many dancers, the King of Pop's well-known tunes were used as a fitting theme and tribute.
[Side note: How stunning did Cat look tonight? Maybe she didn't want to get shown up by guest judge Jenna Dewan Tatum—who looked pretty good herself at the judges' table, as did Mary in a more formal look... and Valerie had a nice little makeover, too. Oh heck—all the women looked good tonight.]
Though results were given in the same (annoying) way as last week at the end of each couple's performance, each dancer also got to dance a brief solo in his or her own style. But if you blinked or had a hiccup attack, you probably missed one or two before going into a commercial break.
Ricky Ubeda (and Jaimie Goodwin)
Style: Contemporary, Choreography by Travis Wall
Music: "Smile" by Michael Jackson
Ricky has had a lot to smile about this season since each week he has continued to wow the judges, basically saying that it's his competition to lose. Actually, Travis Wall did say exactly that while rehearsing this tender and gentle contemporary piece. Beyond his technical skills, Ricky is the perfect contestant for this show because he loves every minute that he gets to be a part of it. The great thing is that we probably enjoy watching him just as much. There were moments where Jaimie's dress was a little distracting and you couldn't really see Ricky or what he was doing, but it didn't stop his momentum to blow Jenna away (in every way) and solidify his place as Mary noted, on an "upper level ability we haven't seen in a long time." Just in case it wasn't obvious enough already, Ricky is safe.
Valerie Rockey (and Ryan Di Lello)
Style: Samba, Choreography by Jean-Marc Genereux
Music: "Wanna Be Startin' Somethin'" by Michael Jackson
Going without Ricky last week resulted in a rocky performance for Valerie that she was looking to erase with a hot samba routine. The tapper doesn't scream sex appeal, so the wardrobe department gave her an appropriate (yes slight inappropriate) makeover to fit into the style of music and routine better. It was better than last week, but something is still missing. For someone who usually doesn't dance in high heels, she had good footwork, though movement in her upper body felt incomplete at times. The judges liked the piece; unfortunately, Nigel was worried Valerie's performance last week had already done her in. Oh wait—just kidding! Valerie is surprisingly safe as well.
Casey Askew (and Comfort Fedoke)
Style: Hip-Hop, Choreography by Pharside and Phoenix
Music: "Xscape" by Michael Jackson
After almost not making the top 10, Casey has suddenly come out of nowhere to emerge as a strong contender. This week's routine was definitely his biggest challenge yet; an explosive and theatrical hip-hop routine for the internal contemporary dancer. Mary and I agree that it's a little hard not to watch Comfort, but it's really a disservice by the choreographers to create a dance around the all star and not the contestant. But Casey was still able to break through at moments with bursts of energy and extreme passion, both for the dance and the fatal attraction of Comfort's spider character. He proved that he could handle the style and swag well, but maybe it was only because he was slightly in the background the whole time. Being uncomfortable last week in his Broadway routine however resulted in Casey being the first male placed in the bottom two.
Tanisha Belnap (and Nick Lazzarini)
Style: Contemporary, Choreography by Stacey Tookey
Music: "She's Out of My Life" by Michael Jackson
Tanisha is one strong woman and this week she was able to use her strength to show how easy she can make things look. Paired with season 1 winner Nick, Tanisha's routine was hauntingly beautiful. Her core has been her best friend all season and her leg extensions proved that it's still as strong as ever. The dance was both fluid and striking at the same time even if it did seem a little one note after awhile. The judges want something else from Tanisha... and that's vulnerability, the ability to show that she isn't as strong as she seems. If she wants to win, Tanisha can't be so one-note-good, she needs to be all-over-the-place great. For now, her place is in the bottom two (SHOCKING to Cat).
NEXT: A flawless Zack-attack