'America's Next Top Model' recap: Just Dance (Don't Smize)

Your regular recapper, Margaret, had the night off, and I agreed to sub for one reason only: Benny Ninja. But even he couldn’t save this episode from being as pathetic as Sundai pulling out the Cabbage Patch when asked to express sadness through dance.

Season after season, we see contestants told that their dance backgrounds actually hurt their modeling. But as guest (5’6″)  judge Josie Maran pointed out at panel, dancers spend their lives looking in the mirror — so they should know their angles. Foolishly, I thought this teach might reveal the difference between good and bad dance influence, but no. All we got was Benny and Lil Mama looking disgusted at Nicole’s attempt at anger (“He asked me for angry, and I think my dance ended up being way more bipolar”), a quick routine from the Jabbawockeez, and the girls having an hour to choreograph group numbers that would convey happiness, sadness, and anger as they wore masks. NO SMIZING. You knew winning Team 1 — Jennifer, Rae, and Kara — gelled the moment Kara asked, “Can I do a cartwheel?” and the others jumped and squealed as though they’d just been told again that the prize was $17,000 in jewelry. Even though their “happiness” involved skipping around in a way that made me, for some reason, flash back to the little people onstage when Spinal Tap performs “Stonehenge,” the Fainting Rae move during the “sadness” segment was the highlight of all three group performances. I thought group 2’s idea of miming Double Dutch for happiness was actually pretty cute — they just needed to make it a bit more lyrical. Dance instructor Ashley should be fired for what she did with Group 3 (another Cabbage Patch?), though clearly Nicole’s scary/angry staring contest with the tiny audience was an homage to the Jabbawockeez number. Can you imagine being a member of that tiny audience and having to sit there and pretend that those “dances” were worthy of your time?

Moving on, Jay woke up the models at 4:30 a.m., so they could catch a flight to Vegas for group photo shoots with performers from Mystère because, as Jay said while in costume, “Miss Banks is a huge fan of Cirque du Soleil.” This was a cool concept for the annual do-you-stand-out? photo showdown, but surprisingly not that fun to watch. Even though the camera spent a few seconds on each girl, there was so much else to absorb in the frame that you couldn’t focus on anyone or get an idea of how the models played off each other and their Cirque cohorts. You could argue that it gave the photo reveal at panel more suspense, but even then I felt rushed. I wanted more time to see how Brittany being the “Bride of Frankenstein’s second cousin that is a model”* worked with the rest of the photo, and how Laura’s Gisele-like curve of the back stole her pic. She did look phenomenal, like she’d taken some “Fierce Juice.”**

So, what did you think of Benny Ninja’s teach and the group photo shoots? Do you agree that it was Ashley’s time to go? (Jennifer is so lucky that she had Rae and Brittany in her photo, or she would have been in the bottom two instead of Kara.) And would you invite Josie Maran back? I thought she started off shaky, but then hit her stride while describing the poses of Laura (“You look like you’re happy, you’re climaxing”) and Erin (“I think you look very high fashion because you’re kind of not doing anything with your face, but it comes off strong still” — it’s a weird statement, and yet, oddly accurate). Though I’m not sure I follow her critique of Rae’s appearance at panel: “You can’t be successful as a model if you don’t have any of your own personality in your style,” she said. (1) I thought designers liked blank canvases because you will become what they need you to be. (2) I have no idea what Gisele’s personal style is.

* and ** ™ Tyra

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  • Rox

    Sundai never smizes with her eyes yet Tyra goes all goo-goo over her. She seems to squint in all of the pictures. I feel like she has already picked her favorite, I hope I am wrong.

  • Wipeout

    Ridiculous that she won’t let those girls wear high heels at judge’s panel.

  • Reese

    You know…after 13 seasons,I think I’m done with this show for this season. None of the models this season are compelling, there’s no “drama”, Tyra is an egomaniac..yeah, I’m done.

  • sandy lewis

    ANTM NEEDS A SHOT IN THE ARM….NEXT SEASON TYRA NEEDS TO BRING BACK ALL THE GIRLS THAT WERE VOTED OUT FIRST….TO GET ONE MORE CHANCE…I ALWAYS FEEL BAD FOR THE FIRST ONE TO GO HOME….I HOPE THEY DO THIS… I THINK FANS WOULD LOVE IT !!!

    • Alli’s Mom

      That would be a cool show. Or, they could bring bring back past favorites similar to Project Runway and have the compete. But, they need to do something. These just isn’t doing for me.

  • Butters

    Time for Tyra to pack her bag already, this ain’t working no more.

  • lmnop

    I was really annoyed with Tyra’s criticism of Nicole in her photo. I thought Nicole was the best in the photo and I didn’t buy that Sundai didn’t “look her best” because they were editing for Nicole. The different photos they showed where Sundai was supposed to be amazing were actually quite unimpressive and rather blah.

    What was up with the focus on dancing this episode? Season after season contestants are told to forget about their dancing backgrounds because it hurts them in photo shoots, and then this season they have an entire episode which focuses on dance.

    And Tyra, LET THEM WEAR HEELS. Do they think we don’t notice or something? I think it’s ridiculous that they forced the contestants to wear flats. I get it, they’re short and Tyra is a giant. Stop trying to force it. Every episode I hear the girls get told to make themselves look “longer” in their shoots. If they want the girls to look tall, get some tall models. Jesus.

  • ugly nikki

    Tyra messed up in sending Lulu home. Most of these girls are throw away forgettable.

  • brett

    What was that song at the end of the show? Some like R&B remix of the theme song–it was kind of amazing. I need it.

    • jen

      that song was hilarious. love how it just kept repeating the words, “top model” over and over.

  • Dana

    Still like Nicole the best and the sheman sure does have a nasty personality! She looks like a guy in drag and does nothing but rip on and critisize the other girls.

  • OvenMitt

    Jennifer, Erin and Nicole are obviously the leaders of the pack. They will need to do some pretty terrible modeling (the verb!) to get booted. As for Sundai? Meh.

    • Kathy

      Um, no! Jennifer is hanging on by a thread and Nicole is having some troubles now. I think Erin, Laura and Rae are the leaders, and personally I have been rooting for Laura from the first episode. Love her (hate Erin…those eyebrows are icky!)

  • Amy

    I hate how these girls act like Tyra’s f-ing minions. They get excited over the stupidest things. The only person who I feel is genuine in her excitement for all things ANTM/Tyra is Laura, but I find it endearing, rather than annoying (she admitted that she used to “walk the runway” in the frozen food section of the supermarket, how can you not love that?). The rest of the girls just seem to have been brainwashed and have drank too much to the Tyra kool-aid.

    • Meg

      Laura is definitely my favorite this time around. She has a genuine personality and she seems to transform in every picture.

  • Mike

    I was terrified that Nicole was going home this week, because I felt that they were focusing too much on her. Thank goodness that didn’t come to pass…

    I think the final three are going to be Nicole, Brittany and Rae, with Nicole FTW.

    • Jennifer

      Love these three, and Laura. Unfortunately, I think the Cover Girl commercial will be Nicole’s demise. I hope I’m wrong.

  • megr

    i don’t even know how jennifer got onto the show – her eyes are narrow slits, and totally asymmetrical – its really disconcerting to look at. sundai is so plain looking. ashley definitely didn’t deserve to go.

  • Dayna

    After having watched every single episode ever of ANTM, I barely glanced at last night’s episode. I’m just not feeling any of this season’s contestants. Does anyone really believe that someone who is only 5’3 can have any sort of modeling career–not that any of the tall girls who’ve been on the show have had such stellar careers. I guess I’ll keep watching out of habit, but I’ll be glad when this season is over. Boooring.

  • KJ

    I really don’t get why Tyra is always fawning all over Sundai…what am I missing here? Her expressions all look exactly the same to me. Nicole is my favorite but I think Brittany is good too. I also think Laura’s enthusiasm is truly genuine-that’s why it works for her.

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