The time has finally come for the real competition to begin. The dancers have been paired up and spent the past week learning their first routine. Get your tickets for the Hot Tamale Train ready because this week the Top 20 dancers perform on SYTYCD 2011!

Judges: Nigel Lythgoe, Mary Murphy and Megan Mullally. (In case you didn’t know, Megan went to American Ballet Academy and has been in several Broadway musicals. I had the great pleasure of seeing her as Rosemary in How To Succeed in Business Without Really Trying when Matthew Broderick was starring in it. She was fantastic!)

Can I just say that Cat Deeley is looking incredibly hot this evening?Those shoes! Dang girl. She has mentioned on Twitter she is thinking of starting to do a web series during the week from her dressing room and back stage. I’m hoping this happens.

INJURY REPORT: Mitchell was injured during rehearsals, so he is not performing tonight and will automatically be in danger tomorrow. He was in the audience crying. Sad Face.

Okay, let’s get to the dancing!

Jordan & Tadd

Choreographer: Sean Cheesman

Style: African Jazz

I always find this style fascinating. It is very dynamic and requires a lot of strength from the performers. And in this case it also requires you to be practically naked. Nigel, Mary and Megan all agreed that it was a very strong routine, it had the crowd excited and everyone was very proud of Tadd for doing so well outside of his style (hip-hop). I agreed, a fantastic way to start this season’s competition!

Sasha & Alexander

Choreographer: Travis Wall (YAY!)

Style: Contemporary

Despite lucking out and getting their own style for the first week, rehearsal was tough – literally. There was a montage of Sasha beating up Alexander. Seemed to work out for them though. What a beautiful routine. Like Mary said, you don’t see those transitions coming with Travis’s routines. He has a way to tell such powerful stories in those 3 minutes. As for the Sasha and Alexander, I’m not especially connected to these two dancers, although I’ve enjoyed Sasha. But man, she knocked it out this week. Immediately understood how to take on a character. The judges felt that Alexander didn’t do that as well, even if he danced it beautifully, and I have to agree.

Clarice & Jess

Choreographer: Tyce DiOrio

Style: Broadway

Well Jess is a happy camper to get Broadway, isn’t he? (OMG OMG OMG, Kent Boyd is helping in rehearsal!! I’m sorry, I didn’t pay attention to anything else in that part of the segment) So here’s the thing with these two – I don’t know much about Clarice because she was not a focus during the entire audition process and Jess, well, he rubs me the wrong way. That being said, they danced the heck out of that routine and you could see Jess was BEYOND happy to be doing it. I want to like him because he is so good – as Nigel pointed out that descending/ascending pirouette was flawless. Clarice, I still don’t know you and barely saw you. Hope to get more out of you next week!

Ryan & Ricky

Choreographer: Chris Scott

Style: Lyrical Hip-Hop (love they are finally differentiating this from regular hip-hop)

I was very excited to see the first non-group routine from Chris Scott, and I was not disappointed. Lyrical Hip-Hop is a great stepping stone for contemporary dancers into the world of hip-hop. The story made it a little difficult to follow because the pair obviously had a strong connection, but the story Chris told had them as separated. This was a major discussion point with the judges, especially when it came to Ryan and her smiley face. But what everyone agreed on – they danced it beautifully.

Caitlynn & Mitchell (but for tonight: ROBERT ROLDAN…. I swoon)

Choreographer: Sonya Tayeh

Style: Jazz

Caitlynn, you lucky girl. Getting to dance with the oh so pretty Robert. Besides being so pretty, he also brings out the best in his partners. If Mitchell is cleared to come back and make it through tomorrow’s elimination (which for his sake I hope he does), I hope she is able to have as much connection with him as she did with Robert. Sonya’s routine was powerful and really highlighted how gorgeous a dancer Caitlynn is. Seriously – those splits! Wowza. Caitlynn really could not have asked for more from a first routine. Except for her partner to not get injured, but again… ROBERT! (As you may have guessed, last season I had issues with inappropriate crushes when it came to Robert and Kent….. )

Miranda & Robert

Choreographer: Jason Gilkinson

Style: Latin

This routine was far outside the comfort zone for either dancer and if you keep that in mind, it was incredibly well done. The Mod style of the routine was a bit strange, but it was also really cute. The dancers seem like they have fantastic personalities, and the audience loved them. But, technique was off for both of them. Week 1, it is hard to really critique because everyone is just so excited to be there. If they make it through, they need to work a whole lot harder. (Side note – fun to see that married couple and season 6 contestant, Ashleigh and Ryan are Jason’s assistants!)

Missy & Wadi

Choreographer: Sean Cheesman

Style: Jazz

In rehearsal Wadi “accidentally” gave Missy a boob grab. Nothing like a boob grab to bring new dance partners together. On to the dance – if I didn’t know this was a Sean Cheesman routine I would have bet a lot of money it was a Sonya Tayeh routine. So creepy and sexy and the use of the leg extentions… very Sonya. Mary said they opened up “a whoop-ass can of dancing.” I’m not sure what that means, but I agree. I’m telling you right now, if Wadi is not a top guy in the final I will be shocked. If there is a new Twitch in this group, it’s Wadi.

Melanie & Marko

Choreographer: Travis Wall

Style: Contemporary

Before we get to the dance, I am on the west coast, so I saw all the reaction tweets for this episode on the east coast. Everyone was FREAKING OUT over Travis’s “statue” routine. I kept thinking to myself, “let it be Melanie, let it be Melanie” because I so wanted her first dance to be fantastic. When Cat did the tease after Wadi & Missy showing Melanie as a statue I had a minor heart attack. Longest. Commerical. Break. Ever. Also, finding out Marko was her partner – SO HAPPY because he is so talented. And love that Travis seemed as happy to get them as they were to see him! Now, on to the dance. I honestly do not know what to say here. It got a standing ovation from everyone, including the judges. I cried through the whole thing. We haven’t even had the announcements for the Emmys for last year yet, but I already expect to hear Travis’s name for this one in July 2012. (BTW – as soon as I typed that, Nigel said the same thing.) It was danced to almost perfection by both of them. Their chemistry was fantastic From the still moments to the fast moments they were in sync. And Nigel said Melanie was the best girl. Get in line, Nigel, I’ve been saying that for weeks. Just ask her. I’ve been harassing the poor girl on Twitter about it. LOL. And in case you want to see this dance again, here you go. I could go on and on about his, obviously. I’m simultaneously stunned silent and wanting to gush. Let’s move on though…..

Ashley & Chris

Choreographer: Christopher Scott

Style: Hip-Hop

This routine involves Ashley pulling a bra out of Chris’s pocket, so there is entertainment value right there. The routine was just alright for me.(My Randy Jackson impersonation! Melanie and Marko were in it to win it!) There was a little TOO much acting, I think. And the moves could have been a bit tighter. But overall it was a lot of fun and Ashley is especially cute. I wouldn’t be surprised if these two were lost in the shuffle and wound up in the bottom. It’s hard to tell at this point. I just don’t have too much to say. And neither did the judges, apparently, because Megan was talking about the costume/hair/makeup!

Iveta & Nick

Choreographer: Jason Gilkinson

Style: Ballroom – Quickstep

Iveta is obviously ready to do a quickstep. You know, as a world champ and all. Nick needed a little help. Before we get to the routine, I love the use of the song Ballroom Blitz for this routine. Made it infinitely more fun. Iveta was gorgeous in this. Flawless, of course. And I am so so SO proud of Nick. I really enjoyed finally getting to see him last week, so I was rooting for him. As a tap dancer he has the footwork ready to go, but as for anything above the waist, he has no real background. But he was so fantastic. It did not look like Iveta was carrying him at all. Well done and a great way to close the show!

Who was your favorite couple? No need to really tell you mine, is there? HA!! Be sure to vote each week. Besides the weekly phone numbers/texts you can also go to to vote online.

Tomorrow night – an elimination of two dancers!! Sad face. Normally, I plan to watch/blog at the same time with those episodes as well, but I won’t be home tomorrow night, so it won’t be up until Friday morning. But be sure to watch without me! Then find me on Twitter so we can discuss!

Written by Melissa Miller. Find her on Twitter @serrae

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