After the sadness of last week and having to say goodbye to four performers, I’m ready for some dancing. And now that they have a little extra time with only 8 couples on So You Think You Can Dance 2011, they added an extra chair to the judges table.

Judges: Nigel Lythgoe, Mary Murphy, Lil’ C and Kristin Chenoweth. I literally giggled in excitement just seeing her. Love love love me some Cheno. Did I mention I adore her. Because of this and this and this and just her general adorableness. Love her. Moving on.

(Cat looks fabulous tonight, by the way, in twenties style beaded dress with her hair in a cute bob. I want the dress. Not sure where I would wear it though…. Seems a bit overdone for grocery shopping.)

As well as one more judge to fill time, we also get two group numbers!

Group Number 1:
(Ryan, Sasha, Clarice, Miranda, Chris, Marko, Tadd & Mitchell)
Choreographer: Tyce D’Orio
Style: Broadway
Tyce first thing tells the guys that the girls are dominating this season. Poor boys. Like any good fosse style number, this one involves chairs and fists. The performance was solid and the routine was very Tyce. I thought the girls stood out a little more, but Tyce sort of skewed it that way to begin with, didn’t he? It wasn’t moving on any level – just a well done group number. A lot of the use of all of the guys tricks.  (Judges do not comment on group routines, apparently.)

Sasha & Alexander
Choreographer: Dee Caspray
Style: Contemporary
This is another routine where the girl is supposed to just be a memory of the guy. It didn’t transfer well in the previous week when Ryan and Ricky attempted it. I enjoyed the use of the piano as a prop for the dancing and as a storytelling device. I think the “figment of his imagination” aspect came through better. Especially when she physically went inside the piano – although her hands coming out was as equally sad as it was creepy. Nigel appreciated the performances, which were so important in this dance. The judges all think Alexander still needs to work on character, although he made a noted improvement. Kristin talked about her hair extensions. Lil’ C – I don’t know. Listen, I love him and the thesaurus I’m sure he keeps under the judges table, but I don’t know what he is talking about it. He liked it though.

Caitlynn & Mitchell
Choreographer: Jean-Marc Genereux
Style: Samba
Jean-Marc talks about how the samba is all about the hips and the booty, so thankfully he has a song that features Beyonce, because she almost forces your hips and booty out just by hearing her voice, doesn’t she? Apparently she was inspiration enough for these two. This samba was hot. Mary hit the nail on the head when she mentioned that guys often look cheesy dancing this style, but Mitchell managed to stay masculine and did fantastic. I think this dance helped him to stand out. Caitlynn hit ever hip shake perfectly. The judges loved it and Kristin was slightly dirty discussing Caitlynn opening and closing her legs. Oh Cheno!!

Miranda & Robert
Choreographer: Tyce D’Orio
Style: Broadway
Apparently Miranda is playing a classy “working girl” in this one. So that is fun, yes? I thought it started a little slow, but once it got going you saw how much they have improved each week. Robert, whose off-stage personality is HUGE, has managed to reign it in for his dancing. He has figured out a way to be the character the choreographer gives him as opposed to “Robert as the character.” He has grown on me. Melanie has grown a lot too. The things that Tyce expected them to do in this routine were not easy and I was impressed with how well they handled it. Two weeks ago they would have been my pick to go, now, I’m glad they are still around. Whether or not this keeps them out of the bottom…. I don’t know.

Melanie & Marko
Choreographer: NappyTabs
Style: Lyrical Hip-Hop
Leona Lewis song + NappyTabs? This is destined for greatness! The story is about a guy (Marko)  who is left at the alter, and his BFF (Mel) comes to support him and then he realizes she was the one for him all along. At that point in the routine they have a minor make-out session, which becomes the obsession of the judges table. But before we get to that – the routine. They were amazing. I know, I’ve declared bias for Melanie since the start, but come on. They were amazing. They move together with such ease. They made me really feel the story, even without the smooching. Lil C called M&M a pair of Swiss Army Knives. They are a power a couple. Then Mary brings up the kiss…. so Nigel lays one on her. And I mean LAYS ONE ON HER! “That’s gross!” Cat shrieks. Then after explaining how moved she is, Kristin lays one on Lil C. Then Nigel lays one on Lil C. Cat quickly throws to commercial before anyone moves on to tongue. But really, I’m just happy my favorites are the judges favorites. Just saying…

Ashley & Chris
Choreographer: Sonya Tayeh
Style: Jazz
My favorite moment from rehearsal was Sonya wit her insane hair and outfit saying, “Why is everyone scared of me?” Oh Sonya…. She was feeling pretty creepy for this routine, apparently, because it is bizarre. I can’t tell you what it’s about, except I’m pretty sure it will give me nightmares. But they danced it well…. so there is that. (Side note – I love that Nigel says that he tells the Idol judges to stop harping on the song choice. Thanks, Uncle Nigel) Nigel didn’t really get it. He didn’t connect with it, and I kind of agreed. The rest of the judges were a bit nicer – liked the dancing, didn’t get the choreo. Not looking good for this couple this week though.

Clarice & Jess
Choreographer: Jean-Marc Genereux
Style: Foxtrot
This isn’t my favorite style in ballroom, but I hand it to Jean-Marc, he managed to pick just the right song/story for Jess to be highlighted. Jess  didn’t seem as awkward with the lifts this time. His personality still drives me up a wall, but I am always willing to admit when he does well, and he truly did tonight. Clarice was gorgeous. She seemed like a pro. It really was just a lovely performance. Though as Lil C pointed out, all of his praise may disappear the week Jess pulls hip-hop.

Ryan & Ricky
Choreographer: Sonya Tayeh
Style: Contemporary
Any doubt about keeping Ryan & Ricky has disappeared after this routine. And any negativity towards Sonya after her last routine is gone with this heart-breaking choreography. I felt the sadness in each movement, and tug of the fabric holding R&R together. Sonya understands emotion, and wears that on her sleeve. I’m glad that she was redeemed with this dance. Ricky & Ryan were both so raw with the performance. And, as Mary points out, dancing with the fabric prop added a major level of difficulty. It is so easy to get caught up in it. I’m really hoping that the audience connected with the routine as much as the judges did because they don’t deserve to be in the bottom 3 this week.  Although they didn’t last week either…

Jordan & Tadd
Choreographer: NappyTabs
Style: Lyrical Hip-Hop
This number is about a one-night stand. Any hope of this being a family show has gone out the window tonight, no? Cat was very nervous about how the judges were going to react based on previous kissing frenzies. The concept was a lot of fun (and racy!). The performance was pretty good, though as Lil C pointed out some of the moves needed a little bit more. What stood out to me was that they had great chemistry. They needed to be very comfortable with each other in order to pull off this routine, and they did just that. Overall, I don’t see them being in trouble with this one. But what do I know??

Group Number #2:
(Melanie, Jordan, Ashley, Caitlynn, Alexander, Robert, Ricky & Jess)
Choreographer: Dee Caspray
The concept of this routine seemed pretty literal thanks to the song choice. “Poison and Wine” means there will be poisoning as the story! Duh!  Melanie somehow ended up being the star of this one thanks to camera angles and the placement of the dancers. While I thought the routine was really beautiful, I don’t think Dee really thought about how this was going to play on camera. Half the time, half the dancers were facing the back of the stage. It was weird. Well danced, but weird.

One thing I liked, in general, about the group numbers – it gave the dancers a chance to partner with someone new. This is important if they make it to the Top 10. It is easy to get almost complacent dancing with the same person week after week and before they know it they will be switching it up.

Sooo… you want me to guess a bottom 3, don’t you? Darn. Ummm…. Well, Ashley & Chris almost for sure. As for the other two, I’m really just going off of previous week results/audience reaction/ the “one more look” at the end of the show/ my gut (In other words, I have no clue).  I’m going to say Ryan & Ricky and Robert &  Miranda. I have no real valid explanation.

What did you think this week? Who are your bottom 3 couples? And most importantly, how friggin cute is Kristin Chenoweth?

Written by Melissa Miller. Find her on Twitter @serrae

Read Small Screen Scoop daily for all the mellifluous goodies on So You Think You Can Dance Season 8. Darn it, Lil’ C’s language is rubbing off on me. It’s Bucc. (make it stop!)