Ugh, a cold open. With a remix of Putting on the Ritz (originally written by Irving Berlin, which was a shock to me). Backstage footage done like this isn’t really my thing, except during awards shows. Hello, Tabitha! And Travis Wall! Yay! They dance down a hall filled with production members nodding their heads to the beat. OMG, Nigel doing animation? I might have to change my mind. Travis wanders through again with a boa that looks smashing on him, and there’s Nick, too, I think. I’m glad to hear Shaping Sound is still doing well and going strong, though I don’t know what happened to their world tour. There’s Mary dancing with Jason Gilkison. The only thing that could top this would be if Cat joined in, but she doesn’t. Pout.

Cat gives a shout out to Herb Alpert, who was the guy behind the bar in the hall, with his trumpet clearly laid out on top of it. D’oh. The dancers have ten seconds to give us their life story, accompanied by silly bullet points.

Mariah and Carlos. Jive by Jason Gilkison. For a krumper, she’s doing pretty well, as far as I can see. She’s a big girl, tho, and Carlos seems to be struggling a bit with the lifts. Mary agrees with me, and, per uzh, gives great technical advice. Wayne does, too. Yes, he’s not known for dancing, but he does have training, people. Triple threat, that one. Quadruple if you count comedy/improv. Nigel thinks if the audience votes for energy, they’re safe. We’ll see.

Cat tells us all about some new super vote app. Evidently you can vote up to 20 times for however many dancers you like. Well, at least we’re no longer suffering mediocre dancers being dragged along by superior partners. I don’t have a smart phone to use the app on, not that I’m planning on voting anyway. America tends to eff it up on a regular basis in my opinion, and with the new “only one night a week” business, there’s no opportunity for me to vote to save someone everyone else wants to throw under a bus. Yes, I’m still bitter about this show (and DWTS) going this way. I’d rather see it done on a show like American Idol or America’s Got Talent. Or even The X Factor.

Jasmine M and Alan. Contemporary by Travis Wall. If you’ve read some of my other dance recaps, you might already know I don’t like contemporary. But I love Travis’ choreography as much as I love Derek’s, so I think I’ll dig this. They’re dancing blindfolded to an Ingrid Michaelson cover of Elvis Presley’s “Can’t Help Falling in Love”, which I always thought was titled, “Fools Rush In”. And the routine is simply gorgeous, as we can expect from Travis. They do quite well. Alan’s a little cutie, but I’ll try not to lust too much since he’s well below my cut-off. He’s almost as tall as Cat, who gives a shout out to Gene (and Elena) cheering wildly in the audience. Nigel has a good comment for Alan regarding showing emotion, then turns creepy uncle, again per uzh. Mary could feel the chemistry.

Malece and Jade. Jazz by Travis Wall. During Jade’s segment, we get to learn a new word, coulrophobia. That’s what Seeley Booth has. Malece is a beast. I’m in love with her now. Jade is doing OK. Nigel agrees with me about Malece’s strength, and compliments Jade on his partnering. Good point. Wayne gives some good technical advice to Jade. Mary likes Jade better than I did.

Jenna and Tucker. Broadway by Tyce Diorio. Tucker makes a great nerd, and he is just amazeballs. Such control over his body. Jenna kills it, of course. Two of my favorite dancers. There’s a spinning bit where they’re a mite off, but overall it’s fantastic. No, Mary, Dancing in the Sheets is a different song. Wayne loses his words and unintentionally pulls a Lil’ C for a second. Nigel calls them a power couple and I couldn’t agree more. That’s what I was thinking while I watched the routine; I just couldn’t put it into words.

Brittany and BluPrint. Afro Jazz by Sean Cheeseman. Hmm. I thought it was African Jazz. Pretty sure that’s what DWTS called it. Afro jazz sounds like they should all be wearing big, puffy, 70’s style wigs. They’re both completely out of their styles, but I think they do an incredible job. I don’t know much about African Jazz, but I’m just going to say Mark Ballas needs to watch this show. He could learn something. When the camera cuts to Sean in the audience, I realize he was also part of the opening number. Wayne and Nigel are complimentary, and Mary puts them on a train. Not sure it’s the Hot Tamale one, tho, since she doesn’t specify. Hard to believe I truly missed her screams the season she was gone.

After the break, we get to see a clip of Nigel and Adam demonstrating one of the moves from the Everybody Dance choreography for National Dance Day, which will be July 27. Cat asks Nigel if he’s done anything else. He denies it, and fake tries to cut her off as she segues into a funnyordie video of him and Adam parodying the latest exercise fad, prancing. At least the “woman” leading them is too tall to be Pearl McKay.

Alexis and Nico. Hip hop by Christopher Scott, with an assist – or not – from Cyrus. The two seem to me to have plenty of swag, and might even be bucc, for all I know, even if Nico does remind me of Justin Bieber in that getup. (No, MSWord, I am NOT adding that surname to my spelling dictionary.) Chris threw in a couple of moves for each of them in their own styles, and Nico does this amazing flip. He also manages to convince me Alexis really did connect further up on that kick than planned, but Cat quickly disabuses me of that notion. Continuing that theme, Nigel quickly disabuses me of the idea that anything about that was bucc. Or even swag. His mention of down and dirty reminds me it did all seem like they were just going through the motions.

Makenzie and Paul. Viennese waltz by Jason Gilkison, who seems surprised that Paul’s never done it or any other ballroom. Guess the Armenian SYTYCD didn’t require it, or, more likely, he never drew it. Paul’s another cutie, and though he’s older than Alan, he’s still below my cut-off. Sigh. But the routine just leaves me cold, and I don’t know why. I think their dancing is just fine. The judges all disagree with me.

Jasmine H and Aaron. Jazz by Sonya Tayek. Jasmine H. is another gal I love, and evidently they’re well matched in height, so I’m excited to see this pairing. Unfortunately, although they’re both great dancers, this is one of those routines I have difficulty separating from contemporary, and at times, it even reminds me of Sean’s Afro Jazz one. It’s definitely a Sonya Tayek routine, however. But you know how I feel about contemporary, and this looks like the only thing remotely jazz-like about it is the music. So different from Travis’ routine.

Wayne grabs Nigel’s dirty old man cape and asks Jasmine where she was when he was 20. He then cuts loose with another Lil’ C imitation, this one intentional. After that, he correctly uses an adverb, telling Aaron he dances “amazingly”. Nigel calls them another power couple, which I’m not sure I see, and calls out Jasmine’s incredible legs. He’s also glad that Aaron made it on the show. Mary agrees.

Hayley and Curtis. Hip hop by Christopher Scott. The routine feels more contemporary at the beginning, but when they get into actually busting a move, Hayley shows me what Alexis and Nico should’ve been doing. Curtis, who was rather tentative in rehearsals about being sexual with Hayley, seems to have transferred that to this portion of the routine. But I must make a caveat: Christopher Scott’s routines in general usually seem to be a lighter, sweeter version of street dancing; in fact, I’m fairly sure that criticism has been used by one of the judges before. Nigel agrees with me about it being what Alexis and Nico needed to do. Evidently the judges saw more swag in Curtis than I did, and Wayne tells his “little brother” he’s all grown up.

Amy and Fik-Shun. Contemporary by Sonya Tayek. Two of my favorite dancers, so I hope I like it. Wow. I loved it. Fik-Shun remains my absolute #1 male dancer this season. His emotions, his partnering, his control, his lines, just everything about him is exquisite. I think he’s this season’s Cyrus. And Amy was also completely brilliant. Sonya’s nearly in tears, Cat has chills, and all three judges as well as the audience are on their feet. Well deserved. Mary loved it. Wayne didn’t get to see all of the auditions, and he thought Fik-Shun was a contemporary dancer. Nigel calls them his favorite couple of the evening, Beauty (Fik-Shun) and the Beast (Amy), and predicts they’ll easily be in the top four next week.

That was my favorite dance of the night, I think. Second was Travis’ contemporary, third his jazz. My favorite female dancers are Jenna, Jasmine H and Malece tied for 2nd, and Amy (and possibly Mariah) in third. Favorite males are Fik-Shun, Paul, Nico, and Alan tied for 2nd,  and Curtis, Tucker, Jade, and BluPrint in a dead heat for third.