After last week’s history making non-elimination, the Top 20 are back in full to perform another round of dances for So You Think You Can Dance 2011. And this week the guest judge is another member of the Will & Grace family!

Judges: Nigel Lythgoe, Mary Murphy & the legendary and super sassy Debbie Reynolds!

So glad they took a moment to show Debbie dancing in the “Good Morning” scene from Singing in the Rain. Like Cat, that is one of my all-time favorite movies. Love her.

Before  the dancing begins, we are issued a reminder that because of the non-elimination, this week we will have to suffer through a double elimination! Be sure to bring your hankies tomorrow. But for tonight we are going to focus on the dancing. And apparently in an attempt to prove this is the season of trying out new things – the dancer intros go by couple instead of individual dancer tonight! Huh….

So You Think You Can Dance Top 20 Perform!Ryan & Ricky
Choreographer: Mandy Moore (for you SYTYCD newbies, no this is not the singer/actress)
Style: Jazz
During rehearsal they kept talking about how sexy this one was and the routine was definitely a bit naughty. So naughty that Ryan ended up ripping her fishnets – on the inner thigh. So, wow. I was a little distracted by how much Ryan seemed to be looking at the audience versus Ricky, but the tension was great and they managed to get the right amount of oomph in the moves. Although all of that went a little into creepy territory when Nigel compared it to the sexual tension he has with Mary…. Oh well. And leave it to Debbie to point out that Ryan nearly flashed the audience on the top and the bottom, “you gave us your all.” Oh Debbie….

Caitlynn & Mitchell
Choreographer: Stacey Tookey
Style: Contemporary
Stacey’s assistants are Robert and Kathryn, so I will admit to being distracted a bit during the rehearsal footage. But it was nice to get to know Mitchell a little bit. Even though they showed him in rehearsal last week, it is amazing how disconnected you can feel when he isn’t the one dancing. Right from the start of the routine I’m sold – Adele’s Turning Tables is the song that is being used. The dance was just gorgeous. I loved it not only on its own, but we also got to see Mitchell dance! And we saw that Caitlynn wasn’t just riding on the strength of Robert last week. Although, Mitchell did punch Caitlynn in the nose and caused her to bleed…. But it is in character, so we are just going to pretend like it was part of the choreography because I loved the dance.

Missy & Wadi
Choreographer: Jean-Marc Genereux
Style: Cha-Cha
We are out of the comfort zone for both Missy & Wadi which is hard enough, but then Jean-Marc says it’s his hardest routine to date and the rehearsal just shows a lot of trouble for both of the dancers. For their first real foray into ballroom, minus a few hours in Vegas, I thought these two did really well. I have seen some very awkward Cha-Chas on this show (and that other dancing show…) and this was not one of them. However, Nigel had a lot of negative to find, at least for Wadi – his arms were not very strong and he was a bit weak, although did better in the partnering. Mary agreed, though said he was respectable. Nigel and Mary also agreed that Missy figured it out quite nicely. However, Debbie decided after Nigel and Mary spent so much time tearing down Wadi, she would take him home with her so they could Cha Cha. Sassy.

Iveta & Nick
Choreographer: Nakul Dev Mahajan
Style: Bollywood
Nakul has had some very impressive Bollywood routines in the past. It is a style I don’t always understand, but always respect because I realize how intricate it is. This week the choreo was fun as always, but the problem I noticed quite often was that the two were not really in sync and it threw off the entire dance. What was funny is some of the camera work almost seemed to try to disguise that they weren’t in sync. Don’t know if that was on purpose or not. As Nigel points out – it was certainly not up to the best Bollywood routine on the show – Katee and Joshua– but he thought it was fun and so did the other judges. Was it me? I couldn’t get past how out of sync they were! Oh well..

Miranda & Robert
Choreographer: NappyTabs
Style: Hip-hop
This week NappyTabs is taking on the character of a Woodpecker. Is this the answer to the Wade Robson’s famous hummingbird & flower routine? Probably not, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t a very creative, if not slightly bizarre, hip-hop routine. It gave Miranda an opportunity not to seem so shy, which was fun. She hit her moves with a lot of strength and was surprisingly adept at hip-hop. I was very happy to see how well she did. Robert did a great job as well. (Side note: I HATE when the judges coddle hip-hop dancers. Even when they do their own style the judges still make it out like they are still reaching farther than the rest of the dancers! “Oh… you did choreography and not freestyle! Yay you!” What is that?? Sorry… mini-rant over.) As Nigel pointed out, he also held back on the “woo” factor, which made him a much better dancer I think.  It was a lot of fun.  I think the shtick and Debbie doing a Woody Woodpecker impersonation is what will make it stick out for viewers though.

Clarice & Jess
Choreographer: Stacey Tookey
Style: Contemporary
We didn’t get any Travis Wall this week, so I was really happy to get two Stacey Tookey routines. This one is about a royal wedding… timely. The first thing I noticed was that last week I apparently didn’t realize how much smaller Jess is than Clarice. It seemed magnified when they were dancing together and not just side by side like they did in so much of their Broadway routine. The choreo was really beautiful, and part of me wished it was a Neil/Lauren G. or Kent/Lauren F. routine. When it came to the judging, Debbie tried to take these two home with her along with Wadi. Debbie is here to collect children, apparently. Nigel felt the same I did – it was off when they were together. They are both fantastic dancers. I don’t know…. still think they will be bottom 3.

Jordan & Tadd
Choreographer: Jean-Marc Genereux
Style: Viennese Waltz
This one is a killer. Contemporary and hip-hop dancers have a hard time keeping their frame solid, as the rehearsal footage shows. Although it can be done- Twitch is always my go to hip-hop guy who managed to get through ballroom weeks without a lot of problems. Now, I was a little distracted by two things during this routine. First, I kept thinking “A David Cook song? For a waltz? Really?” Then I saw the bench and thought, “Oh is that the bench?” (it wasn’t) But once I made myself pay attention, I was very surprised by these two. They did a lovely job with the dance, much better than I expected. But people don’t often vote for the Viennese Waltz, no matter how well danced, so I’m still worried.

Melanie & Marko
Choreographer: Mandy Moore
Style: Jazz
So here’s the thing… The music was hard hitting, but I felt the choreography wasn’t enough to match it. The beats were fast but the dancing seemed almost a little slow. I was surprised becaue Mandy is usually so good with the strong and hard jazz numbers. That being said, they danced what they were given incredibly well. And I’m not surprised because, as all the judges said, these two are the perfect pair. They match each other well in both strength and personality. You weren’t really expecting me to say anything bad about Melanie were you? I’m hoping she never falters so I don’t have to! (I promise I will if it happens though…. but I may cry.)

Sasha & Alexander
Choreographer: NappyTabs
Style: Lyrical Hip-Hop
If anything, I think tonight showed how versatile NappyTabs are. They went from Woodpeckers to a soldier coming home. This routine seemed extra topical tonight given that on the east coast the lead in to the episode was Obama talking about bringing troops home in 2012 – as Nigel pointed out. This routine was probably the first time I’ve been as moved by a NappyTabs routine since Bleeding Love. That one is still my favorite (always) but this one was very emotional, made even more so by Mary and Debbie’s tearful reactions. I honestly think everyone was a bit wrapped up in the emotions of it, because I didn’t feel as much of a connection between Sasha and Alexander as the judges did, but it was still well done and I don’t think these two are in trouble.

Ashley & Chris
Choreographer: Spencer Liff (he’s so cute…)
Style: Broadway
This was a very clever routine –  Ashley and Chris were on opposite sides of a bars (like a jail) the entire dance! I was slightly distracted, wondering if the bars were screwed into the floor properly, especially because Chris was hanging on it so much. Last week, these two were in my personal bottom 3 – this week they are most definitely not. I really enjoyed this routine. And so did Mary – they now have tickets on the Hot Tamale Train! They were both so strong. Even more impressive   was that they were really dancing together. Even with the bars between them, their connection was stronger than some of the other couples not held apart by a large prop. Really great job. More Spencer Liff!

Ok… so I’m going to go out on a limb and make a guess for the bottom 3. Iveta & Nick, Clarice & Jess and Missy & Wadi. This week is harder than last week to guess. Wadi is popular and Missy was so great, but they had some of the more negative reviews. Iveta & Nick didn’t stand out, and with a Bollywood routine that isn’t good. And Clarice and Jess… it was awkward in parts, and Jess doesn’t seem to be connecting.

What do you think?? Gonna be a tough night tomorrow! Remember to vote. And let’s hope Debbie brings them all back tomorrow from her house. I think by  the end of the show she was taking home at least 7 of them!

Written by Melissa Miller. Find her on Twitter @serrae

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