Nigel Softens Up: So You Think You Can Dance Week 3 Cuts

Was it just me or did Nigel seem to be much nicer this week? I think he must have got a lot of criticism. Maybe he's more sensitive than his American Idol counterpart.

After I was critical of him last week, now I'm sad to see Chris go! Especially since I thought his solo was the best he's ever done. And he does seem like such a hard-working, not to mention, sweet-natured, guy. But I do think of the other two in the bottom three this week, it had to be him. He and Comfort haven't had a perfectly on night yet, unlike the two other couples. And their routine this week was not only odd in terms of music and theme, but bland choreography-wise, with a lot of fast, bent-kneed kicks and bending at the waist then flipping the head up dramatically. All of this is not their fault of course, but I guess, like Nigel said, it was the type of dance that needed to be amplified as much as possible, there needed to be much more power and animalism in each step to make it work.

I was sorry, and surprised, to see Chelsea go though. I actually thought she looked better than Thayne on Wednesday night in their Quickstep. He looked a bit awkward at points, a bit pigeon-toed during some of the turns and forward steps. Maybe I just couldn't see any awkwardness from her because of the full gown, but she seemed more polished. There were some minor mistakes in the footwork at one point, but I couldn't tell whose fault they were. Her jete was larger than his, giving her a nice line but making them unbalanced as a partnership. I thought her solo was really nice, a good combination of heart and soul and "tricks" if you want to call them that (I prefer to call the pirouettes and fouette turns and big jetes athletics or virtuosic dancing, since they're not easy, rather than tricks).

I really liked Matt and Kourtni this week and was sorry to see them in the bottom three again. This was a great routine for them: it allowed each of them to show their brilliant technique and was fun and quirky and told a cute little story, with her pulling his tie, him somersaulting over her head, etc. Very playful and a bit cartoonish as it was supposed to be, without being ridiculously clownish. She had some excellent jumps and he just amazes me. He's so flexible he can make really beautiful lines with those grand battement kicks in first and second position (to the front, then to the side). And, not to sound silly, but he has great feet. At one point when he did a kick and sustained the position with his leg in the air, his point was so pronounced it almost look like a hook. Like David Hallberg's (scroll down to see dance pic) or Alicia Graf's.

So, onto the rest. Initially I wasn't blown away by Twitch and Kherington's Hip Hop, but after watching it a couple of times it grew on me -- with her handstand to his shoulders, into the lift where they were both rocking out, and the humorous points -- where he used the heels of her shoes as glasses and how they ended up hiding out in the audience. They were almost but not completely in sync and they both had elastic, rubbery look. She was a slight bit less precise than he was but that's to be expected since Hip Hop is his thing, not hers.

I think Courtney and Gev's Rumba was their best dance yet, though it wasn't completely perfect. Her hip actions weren't as sharp as they should be, but that's to be expected with a non-Latin dancer. I loved some of the lifts, like the first one where she slid down his shoulder -- so sexy! And her splits swing lift was lovely, perfect line. And, did he go down into the straddle side splits at the end? She was in front of him so I didn't see, but if he did, that's hard, much harder than a forward split!

It was sweet of Will to stand up for Jessica, say how proud of her he was and proclaim that she was "in no one's shadow" in light of the judges' criticisms of her last week. Their Hustle was great fun. I thought Jessica was a bit too bouncy - I prefer it to look more grounded (the way Will danced it), but Hustle's a social dance, so the movement is really open for interpretation, as long as the partners have good connection and it flows and is theatrical, all of which theirs was. She looked lovely in the lifts. I thought Will was a blast. He put some real funk into those little strutting walks. And I love the way he added some extra fancy footwork in there. And what a great tumbling pass, which he almost perfectly landed into their final pose. I actually didn't notice that his putting his arm on the ground over her to steady himself was a mistake until guest judge Adam said so; as it was the line kind of had that John Travolta feel.

Mark and Chelsie's Hip Hop was, again for them, awesome beyond words! Is there anything these two can't do? Every single movement of his was so precise, so sharp, so clear, so perfect. And he infused his movements - even the little things like the small kicks and the little running jumps - with so much emotion, you could really see his frustration. Of course he had the facial expressions to help express the emotions, but they were also made perfectly visible, perfectly compelling, with his body, which is the beauty of dance. And she was like a Hip Hop queen - those little moonwalks were excellent -- and she's a Latin dancer. I would never have known this wasn't her style. The dance had a great story and they really took the drama to its fullest. I think my heart skipped a beat when he looked at her chest, grabbed at it, and she stared up bewildered at what he'd just removed.

Joshua nailed that Samba! I think Samba is the hardest of all ballroom dances - at least the Latin - getting those pelvic contractions down in the first place, and then getting them to work along with the upper body action, the hips, and that little bounce produced not by jumping but by rising subtly to the balls of your feet - it's harder and more complicated than it looks to produce that whole undulating, snaky look. And he took a hold of that routine like he was a natural. Every part of his body was moving properly. I didn't think she was quite as good - she concentrated all of her movement in her hips, not her pelvis, so it looked more like she was just swinging her hips back and forth rather than fully rotating them; on her end of it, it looked more like a sexy, hip-py theater routine, like something on Broadway. Still, it is a very hard dance to learn and she was really animated and played the part very well. It looked like she'd really caught him under her spell. And her beginning leg stretch was gorgeous. Her standing leg was hardly bent if at all, making a beautiful line and showing her flexibility, and, with her positioning toward him, it looked very aptly sexy.

Wednesday evening's tribute to Cyd Charisse was really sweet. I didn't know Nigel danced with her. Wow!

One last thing: Nigel noted at the end of Thursday's show that the Contemporary dancers this season seem to keep ending up in the bottom three and said he didn't know why, surmising America may just not like Contemporary for some reason. Overall, the Hip Hop dancers do seem to be doing better with the popular vote so far. But last season three of the four finalists were from Contemporary, so I don't know if it's that, but it is interesting how it seems to vary from season to season.