Carly Blaney and Rudy Abreu
Style: Contemporary, Choreography by Stacey Tookey
Music: "Take it Easy" by Jetta
Rudy wins on personality alone. When it comes to dancing, he's not so bad either, but he knew he would need to become a (lower voice) more serious Rudy for his contemporary routine with Carly. The piece was about enjoying life, and it was clear from rehearsals that the two young dancers are having the time of their lives just being here, but somehow needed to focus that energy into something positive. Again, being so damn likable gave the boy a slight advantage over the girl here, at least in whom fans will remember to vote for.
Teddy Coffey and Emilio Dosal
Style: Hip-Hop, Choreography by Christopher Scott
Music: "Nightshift" by The Commodores
Emilio didn't make it to the top 20 last year, so now that he's here, he has nothing to lose. Including his right to privacy apparently as he shamelessly tried to give out his phone number before his dance. Luckily, his confident swagger worked well for the guy duo as the two strong soloists were able to both find moments to shine and still connect with their partner while telling a fun story through movement. Plus Teddy was able to handle that mop as if it were the third partner in the routine. Both performers were able to mesh their styles and their personalities seamlessly.
Jessica Richens and Ricky Ubeda
Style: Contemporary, Choreography by Sonya Tayeh
Music: "Vow" by Meredith Monk
This is the dance you're going to want to watch again and again on YouTube, if they don't start showing it again and again on the show. Nigel put it best by saying it was "another level entirely" and important that America should be able to note that. He also literally could not be stopped from going on and on about his love for the routine and specifically Ricky, his magician of dance because he reminds Nigel of Harry Potter (for some reason) and called the routine one of the best he had ever seen on the entire series. And this is the first week of the live shows y'all. Nigel did note it was a good thing that Jessica and Ricky couldn't be partners again next week because they would have run away with the competition. It definitely looks like Ricky has at least a head start.
Tanisha Belknap and Nick Garcia
Style: Cha-Cha, Choreography by Louis van Amstel
Music: "I'm a Freak" by Enrique Iglesias feat. Pitbull
Nick is Rudy's friend from back home, and you can seem elements of each other in their passionate and fun style of dance. For the dance to work, Louis noted that the chemistry needed to be real between Tanisha and Nick. As it has always been Nick's dream to hold a girl's face up close on the show, they took that note very seriously and even got some lip contact (on purpose) with a mid-dance kiss. The judges took too much time talking about how much they loved Ricky and rushed through their comments but overall thought it was a strong end to an overall very strong night.
Follow Jake Perlman on Twitter @JDPerlman.