This is the last week the couples will be performing together on SYTYCD.  And tonight they'll each be dancing two routines.  After tomorrow we'll have our Top 10, and next week, they'll be dancing with the All-Stars from previous seasons.

The guest judge tonight is Jesse Tyler Ferguson, a.k.a. Mitchell from Modern Family.  Love him!  Glad he's on.  Jesse said he did some Broadway, and three years of "theme park," so he really knows his way around a jazz square and a Grand Battement.  (I totally had to look that up--it's pronounced "grond-bot mon", and it is a big kick where the working leg is raised into the air and brought down again while both knees remain straight.  I'm picturing the Rockettes.)  Anyway, choreographer Sonya Tayeh is also on the panel tonight.  And of course we have Mary and Nigel. 

First up are Sasha & Alexander doing the first paso doble of the season, choreographed by Tony Meredith and Melanie Lapatin, who tells this is not your typical paso doble...it's a battle with love and hate and masculinity and femininity.  Song: "Alley Dash/March of the Trolls" by Taylor Long/Rick Powell.  I love me some paso doble, and these two didn't disappoint.  Sasha ended by kissing Alex and then pushing him away.  And it doesn't seem that the kiss was choreographed.  Nigel said Alex was much stronger tonight than he's been.  He thought Sasha did brilliantly.  Mary loved it, she said Alex had a breakthrough tonight, even though Sasha was a little bit stronger.  Jesse said Sasha is a pillar of strength and that Alex came up to her level.  Called it brilliant.  Sonya loves Sasha's strength, but that sometimes she doesn't trust Alex's partnering, but overall it was awesome.  Alex said that Tony & Melanie dedicated this to their friend Bob who is fighting cancer, and they want him to continue the fight. 

Jordan & Tadd are working with Travis Wall this week doing a contemporary routine about women taking advantage of weak men.  Jordan is a vulture, and Tadd is a deserted wanderer.  Song: "Brotsjór" by Olafur Arnalds.  Wow.  Fantastic and VERY dramatic!!!  It ended with Tadd breaking the vulture's neck.   Mary said, "Beatuful!  Dark!  Magnificent!"  She said Travis outdid himself again.  She loved it.  Jesse said, "Wow Travis took the classic vulture stalks boy, boy almost succumbs to vulture, boy kills vulture story that we all know so well...we've seen it over and over...and he made it into this brilliant, beautiful thing."  He then channeled Randy Jackson and said, "You are in it to win it!"  Sonya said this is the kind of dance that makes her want to cry.  She said the two of them are unstoppable.  Nigel said it was remarkable. 

Next are Ryan and Ricky, doing a Spencer Liff Broadway routine about a guy who sees a movie poster and fantasizes that the woman in the poster comes to life.  Song:  "All I Need Is the Girl" by Frank Sinatra.  Cute routine, and they performed well, but it was kind of dull, especially coming right after the vulture routine we just saw.  Jesse said it didn't "sparkle" for him.  He said it was muted and he felt they're capable of more than what the routine called for.  Sonya said it was okay, not their best.  Nigel agreed and said it's about style.  They weren't sitting in the comfort of the style.  Mary thought the first 30 seconds were great, but then they lost the style.  Even with the stuff they were given, she says they could've done so much more.

Caitlynn & Mitchell are up with LXD's Christopher Scott in a hip-hop routine where Caitynn and Mitchell are representing the children in Northern Uganda and Congo who are abducted and forced to fight a senseless war.  Caitlynn says it's about getting people to see them.   Song;  "Break the Chain" by Lupe Fiasco feat. Eric Turner & Sway.  I didn't see how that related to the children fighting war, but they did a good job--they weren't always in sync but both were very passionate in what they were doing.  Sonya said she had a hard time connecting the intention that was serious because the lack of clarity and unison between them wasn't there.  Nigel agreed, said it needed harder work.  Mary understood the disconnect with the story, but she felt drawn to what they were doing.  For her it just fell a little bit short.  Jesse said they dance with the power of a Mack truck (while he dances with the power of a tricycle).  A lot of that criticism falls to the choreographer (I think), but at the same time, C&M's performance was off.

And now it's time for a tango with Melanie & Marko, who are doing a Louie Van Amstel routine.  There's no story line...they're just characters of the dance.  Song:  "Triptico" by "Gotan Project.  Man!  That was s sexy tango!!  And the ending was amazing.  I can't wait until tomorrow to find a video--I had to record it tonight.  Not the whole dance--just the ending (sorry).

I just love these two so much and am sorry their partnership has to end after tonight.  Nigel said he doesn't know what happened between the dress rehearsal and now, but this was tremendous compared to what he saw earlier.  Mary gives a brief description of the different kinds of tangos.  In International tango, you cannot leave hold the entire time, and it goes very quickly around the floor, counter-clockwise.  Argentine tango can be fast which is lost of flurries of flicks and kicks, and the slow version which is very sexy and sultry.  What they did tonight is the American tango, which is the combination of everything, and Louis put it all in there.  Jesse commented that Mary Murphy might be a lost Osmond.  (She does look like them!)  Then to M&M he said they have a spark that can't be taught or learned, that will be them all their lives no matter how the competition turns out.  Sonya said every time she watches them dance, they make her lose her breath.  She can tell that every step they take comes from their soul.

Clarice & Jess are doing lyrical hip-hop with Christopher Scott.  It's about a woman's insecurities.  Jess is there to encourage Clarice.  Should be interesting watching Jess take this on...he's an amazing dancer, but I'm not sure about him and hip-hop.  Song:  "Just the Way You Are" (slow acoustic version) by Boyce Avenue. OK.  I stand corrected.  Jess can do anything, including b-boy freezes.  That was really nice....I loved it.  Mary said they're amazing just the way they are.  She said it was cute and innocent.  She loved every second.  Jesse loved it, and said he wants to marry Clarice, even though he and she both have boyfriends.  Sonya said they're so adorable, and said they slayed it.  Nigel said it was lovely and danced beautifully.

Now we move on to Round 2.

Sasha & Alexander are back for a Tyce Diorio jazz routine.  Tyce says it's about life.   Song:  "That's Life" by Aretha Franklin.  They did a great job, but it looked like they lost something toward the end.  Cat asked what happened, and Sasha said she's not sure.  Jesse was worried that they'd never come out of the shadow of their routine from a few weeks ago about the soldier coming home from Afghanistan, but he felt this was beyond.  He said it's his favorite number tonight, and told Sasha to tell her sister hi.  Sonya said Tyce is one of the most versatile choreographers she knows.  She's been hoping for Alexander to kill it, and he did.  She said it was amazing.  Nigel said that in a lot of the routines, Sasha has carried Alexander, but not tonight!  Said it was Alex's best ever.  Mary said there was a freedom and relaxed way about Alex's movement tonight...he let it go and went with it.  Nigel said their chemistry has come together, just at the time the couples are breaking up.

Jordan & Tadd's second routine is a Broadway routine by Spencer Liff about a Sleeping Beauty.  Song:  "Out Tonight" from RENT!!!!  I'm so happy to hear this music!!!!!!  BUT...they messed it up trying to condense it for time.  Boo.  The routine was cute, but it didn't measure up to their first routine.  Sonya felt underwhelmed, and she didn't see their abilities or their craft in this routine.  Nigel felt it could've been quirkier.  He felt it was okay.  Mary said it just wasn't strong enough.  Jesse agreed with the others...felt it was a grab bag of style, costume and music.  But he reminded us of the vulture dance earlier and said it's one of his favorites of the season.

Ryan & Ricky  are doing a Louie Van Amstel cha-cha.  Song: "Tonight (I'm Loving You)" by Enrique Iglesias feat. DJ Frank E.  It was supposed to be "HOT" and to me, it just wasn't.  Ricky's got the hip shaking down though.  This couple has already been in the bottom three two times, and I think they'll be there again.  Of all the couples, I don't think these two should be in the Top 10.  Nigel thought Ricky did a really good job.  He felt Ryan was overdoing it.  Mary said it's the fastest cha-cha she's ever seen.  She said Ryan started out good, but then it got sloppy.  She said Ricky was living the cha-cha likes she likes to see it.  She put Ricky (not Ryan) on the Hot Tamale Train tonight.  Jesse thought Ricky was brilliant, and said this was his favorite of Ricky's this season.  Sonya said Ricky was basking and celebrating it.  She thinks Ryan's conviction and the pressure she feels gets mixed up sometimes.  (I'm finding that Sonya's commentary is just as esoteric as Lil C's.)

Caitlynn & Mitchell get to do a Travis Wall routine set in the 1970s.  Caitlynn is a rock star and finds out the guy's she with is married.  Song:  "Piece of My Heart" by Janis Joplin.  They both did a great job on that one.  Mary loved it!  Jesse said he has Caitlynn's thigh-high boots in red.  He said it was fantastic.  Sonya said it was really, really hot.  She gave Mitchell a tip that when he's doing the partnering, he sometimes loses his character.  Nigel agree, and said the routine was sensational.  His only criticism was that they didn't need to include us, the audience, in the routine...by looking out at his.  It could've stayed just between the two of them on stage.

Melanie & Marko are back for a Dee Caspary contemporary piece about a couple slipping in and out of the light.  Melanie is trying to convince Marko that the light is a good place, because he's in a dark place.  Song: "Skin & Bones" by David J. Roch.  Simply beautiful.  These two are beyond the Top 10--they're the Top 2.  Jesse said this is his new favorite of theirs (replacing the statue dance).  Sonya said she's grateful that this is the future of dance.  She said thank you and asked them stay humble and true.  Nigel said he's excited about next week and splitting the couples, except for splitting this couple.  He says there's something magical about their partnership.  Mary's also going to be devastated when M&M are separated.  She said they are two shining stars on this show.

Clarice & Jess are with Tony & Melanie for a jive.  Song:  "Ain't Nothing Wrong with That" by Robert Randolph & the Family Band.  Very good!  It's hard for me to see what Clarice is doing because I can't take my eyes off of Jess.  He's so fun to watch.  Sonya loved it!  Nigel is only uncomfortable with their lifts, but the rest was good.  Mary agreed--said the leg kicks were fabulous, but that it lost steam as it went along.  She didn't see the animation in Jess's face, but Clarice had it.  Jesse said that Jess should ask Neil Patrick Harris for the keys to Broadway.  He then said that Cat should receive an Emmy nomination when they come tomorrow.

So...my favorites were both of Marko & Melanies, as well as the vulture dance by Jordan & Tadd.  Oh, and Clarice & Jess's first routine--the lyrical hip hop.  My least favorites were both routines of Ryan & Ricky. 

We'll see what happens tomorrow!

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