Incredibly, we have made it to the semi-finals of this dog and pony show, and this year, the producers are offering redemption to the remaining contestants. This “redemption” comes in the form of extra work— a dance in a style that they didn’t do great at the first time around, with some mentoring from the judges.
The purpose of these redemption dances is for the celebrities in question to show some form of improvement, as if the dancing on this program will matter once they leave to continue their lives in peace. No matter! This is how we fill the two hours of airtime this show gets until it’s over, and so here we are, your indomitable dance critics, ready to proffer our judgments.
Megan: Here’s Mr. Rigsby, redeeming himself. The background is distracting, which is probably part of the point? I still don’t think Cody is as good as he thinks he is, but he has the energy, and the more I look at this background, the more I want it as wallpaper or perhaps an accent wall. Otherwise, it seems the producers are hoping that Cody’s sequined blouse will distract from this lackluster salsa. It does not, and I am glad he didn’t accidentally crush Cheryl Burke’s head between his meaty thighs during that fancy footwork at the end. 6/10, and most of those points are for the blouse.
Shannon: Okay, so I spent about six months in my step-cousin’s basement learning proper salsa technique in order to participate in her Sweet 16. This was a traumatizing experience for many reasons, but it also solidified for me what actual salsa dancing looks like. This 10,00,000 percent ain’t it! Cheryl’s footwork was technically sound, but I struggle to understand who looked at this choreography, paired it with the first Spanish language track that came on their shuffle, and patted themselves on the back thinking this would be a good idea. And don’t even get me started on the number of times Cody dropped Cheryl’s hand during holds. 5/10
Megan: This dance seems to trip everyone up, but also allows the non-dancers in question to explore their theatricality. With that in mind, Cody did his best while wearing what appear to be structured, formal pajamas. My understanding of the Argentine tango is that it should be like sex, but dancing, but not in the way sex but dancing is interpreted by horny teens at a homecoming dance. Using that rubric, I do not see anything even remotely sexy in this dance, and so, I’m sorry, Cody, stick to the bicycle! 4/10, one extra point for the formal PJs.
Shannon: The ghost of Emily Alford is calling out to me as I watch this dance and she wants me to mention, once again, that these two people have the chemistry of a couple currently going through a divorce, but is pretending that they are not for the sake of the married friend group. 3/10
Megan: This is JoJo’s forte, this is her power pose. This is muscle memory recalling every hour of her young life in a dance studio, pointing her feet in her jetés, dancing full out, as one of Abby Lee Miller’s many handmaidens screams for more, harder, faster, and better. There’s no doubt in my mind now that the dancer will take home the mirror ball, and I gotta say, she is a professional. She killed this. 10/10, no notes, no edits, file, print!!
Shannon: You can’t even critique this dance because it is perfect so I will aim my judgments at the lighting person who made it impossible to see JoJo’s clean-ass lines without squinting. 11/10
Megan: My previous assessment of JoJo’s first attempt at this style was that it wasn’t that good. Clearly, she has had some extra training now, and this iteration is sexier, slinkier, and also more precise? Essentially, this is closer to the spirit of the Argentine tango, more sinuous and refined. Good work, gals. 8/10, with 2 points docked because what if they kissed?
Shannon: The amount of trust between these two must be incredible because Jenna is really allowing a child to pick her up and toss her around. It all looks great! JoJo is really stepping into her next level, executing sensuality in a manner that feels natural and not like it’s being forced on her by the judges. 10/10
Megan: Okay, Suni Lee! This is precisely what I want from a celebrity or other famous person who is not a trained dancer! It’s no surprise that Suni did a killer job in this contemporary routine, which reminded me a teensy bit of Mia Micheal’s choreography from So You Think You Can Dance at its peak. 8/10 for the freakin’ commitment!
Shannon: Sadly, Suni Lee will no longer dance on our TV screens and I blame this particular number. The entire season Sasha has been leaning too heavily on Suni’s gymnastics skills to get them through and not giving her enough actual choreography. This routine felt like it was a slowed-down version of a floor routine from the team over at UCLA. It’s fine for what it is. 7/10
Megan: Thank you for allowing Iman Shumpert to be topless for this experimental jazz choreo. Again, where this man shines is in the lifts, bitch! He is hefting that woman above his head with ease and grace as if he could do this all day, and it looks effortless? My theory, as ever, is that Teyana Taylor has been grilling him in between rehearsals, but good lord, the way he spins that gal above her head as if it were nothing is a skill that many dancers wish they had. 10/10, lift me, Mr. Basketball.
Shannon: What is the difference between contemporary and jazz on this show? I cannot see anything that distinguishes one from the other! Whatever flavor of dance this was, I love it. I love it not just because of the lifts, but the fact that Daniella, Iman’s partner, figured out what this man is good at and has had him do it every single week. She could’ve just had Iman lift all day and phoned in her own performance. Instead, she is making herself bigger, more exaggerated, more lively, and filling the size gap between them. I actually forgot during this routine that she is small enough to fit into the pocket of Iman’s jorts. 10/10