Melanie LaPatin on 'So You Think You Can Dance': Sasha is 'a moving work of art'


Hi, everybody! Hope you’re all doing well! I apologize in advance if this blog makes it seem like I’ve got my head in the clouds, but the fact is, I kinda do. I’m always on planes lately! But that’s good. I only ever really fly for exciting things, like going to Canada to work on SYTYCD there or L.A. to work on SYTYCD here… Here? There? Well, you know what I mean.

I’ve also been doing a bunch of interviews, some for Leading Ladies, the movie I did with Benji (the winner of SYTYCD/US, Season 2), which is out on DVD next month;  some for Ballroom Remixed, the “dance” album on which I make my debut as a rapper (go ahead and laugh, it IS funny!); some just to talk about salsas and such, and what we do at the studio in New York. I think the only thing I haven’t been interviewed about recently is my cats, which is a shame — they really ARE fascinating! ;)

But you’re not here to hear about my babies, you’re here to read about SYTYCD. So let me buckle down and get to it, what do you say? Of last night’s performances, my favorite three (well, four) performances were…

·       Sasha, in her contemporary piece with all-star Kent. By now, I’m almost out of adjectives to describe how beautiful a dancer she is. But it occurred to me while watching her in this number that what she is, is a continuous painting, a moving work of art. I’m so glad that this show exists to provide a frame for that art.

·       Melanie, in her Broadway number with Tadd. She’s so reliably incredible that it’s like she’s from another planet — the same planet that all-star Alison is from, if you ask me. She’s so good that it makes it hard to watch anyone BUT her. Which wasn’t really a help to Tadd. Initially, I remember thinking, “This kid could win it all.” Now I think more, “He’s lucky to still be in the competition.” A very good dancer, but there are better.


·        Caitlynn and Marko, in their jazz routine. He’s always a fearless dancer, at times breathtakingly so. So it wasn’t any big shock that his performance here was exceptional. What WAS a shock, however, was Caitlynn. To me, it’s a surprise that she’s still on the show, but in this number, I saw WHY she’s still there. In THIS number, she finally, really, truly rose to the occasion and danced with the fearlessness of an all-star. A total wow.

As for the rest…

·       Melanie, in her hip-hop number with all-star Twitch. I didn’t think her best qualities — of which we all know there are many — were really on display here. I kinda felt like I was waiting for it to really get started, and it kinda never did.

·       Marko, in his paso doble with all-star Jeanette. Yes, the bit where he used her as his cape was spectacular. But his grapevines and paso walks were awkward, and his lines could have used some more shape. Not his best dance.

·       Tadd, in his contemporary routine with all-star Ellenore. In the final analysis, I felt like I wanted to see more actual dancing from him. Maybe that’s because, even when he was dangling from the chandelier, I couldn’t take my eyes off of her. He got outdanced.

·       Rickey, in his and all-star Jaimie’s contemporary number. This was a very mature piece for him, and he danced it well. But at this stage in the competition, that isn’t really what you want, is it? You want “amazing,” not “good.” So, not bad at all, but not his best number.

·       Caitlynn, in her samba with all-star Pasha. She had some good moments here performancewise, but techniquewise, it was awkward. For instance, she didn’t use her supporting leg to get the “samba bounce,” and hello, she needed to.

·       Sasha and Rickey’s whacking number. He looked a little stiff, she looked a bit more natural, so I came away feeling like she’d outdanced him. Hey, she’s a force of nature; that’ll happen.

And that’s it for Lady Cha-Cha! I’ll try and answer some more of your questions in next week’s column. This week was just a blur — like a quick step in fast-forward! ’Til next time, keep dancing!

Check out Melanie LaPatin’s album of wacky ballroom dance songs, ‘Ballroom Remixed’, featuring Broadway babe Kerry Butler, electropop upstart Kyle Brylin and British chanteuse Elouise.

Read more:
‘SYTYCD’ recap: Animal Instincts
Cat Deeley talks killer heals, busted fingers, and Ryan Seacrest

Comments (46 total) Add your comment
  • MDEP

    Finally, someone notes that Melanie’s Krump routine was not great. She definitely got some softballed critiques from the judges on that one. She is amazing over all, so it would not have killed her to hear the truth. She was not hard enough, sharp enough, or emotional enough, and just barely kept up. An admirable try, but the routine was tough, and I kept thinking that she was holding the routine back. Her solo was definitely amazing.

    • ley

      MDEP, I agree with you. I’ve waited for Melanie to get hip hop for several weeks. Last night’s performance was exactly as I thought it would be. My definition of America’s Favorite Dancer is one who can excel at multiple genres. Aside tWitch, with Nappy Taps instruction, and it still left me cold.

      • tnosnibor

        In Melanie’s defense, it wasn’t a lyrical Tabitha & Napoleon hip hop number, with which Melanie probably would’ve fared better. I agree, though, that this was probably Melanie’s worst performance on the show thus far.

      • Aunt Sassy

        To me it sounds like you are all a bunch of negative people desperately trying to find fault in Melanie. I personally thought she did great – she stayed in synch with Twitch throughout the routine and brought her own style to the routine. Was it “ghetto” like lil C wanted? Probably not. But who says that all hip-hop routines HAVE to be ghetto?

      • Derek

        Ummm..,Melanie had already dome hip hop. She & Marko did a hip hop number a few weeks back & she nailed it. She didn’t quite last night, but it was hardly terrible.

    • richromanceix

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      –“She’s so good that it makes it hard to watch anyone BUT her. Which wasn’t really a help to Tadd.”———–

    • christine

      This was not a krump routine.

  • Chris

    Hey Melanie, I hadn’t heard of Leading Ladies before, and I’m so glad you mentioned it. I can’t wait to see it!

  • tnosnibor

    “She’s so good that it makes it hard to watch anyone BUT her. Which wasn’t really a help to Tadd.”

    I found myself watching them both. I hope he makes the finale. I like him a lot.

    P.S. Melanie, have to say, I LOVED, LOVED, LOVED the tango that you and Tony choreographed for Melissa and Christian on the Canadian show this week. It was so awesome!

    • kyrjar

      That piece was my favorite of the night. Yes, Marko/Caitlyn’s was really good and Sasha was great in the dance with Kent — but those sort of blended in with other very good contemps over the years. That Broadway piece was fantastic and Tadd was right there with Melanie.

      • alan of montreal

        I agree about the tango–wish some of our American neighbours could see some of the awesome choreo we’ve been getting up here!

    • Lucy

      Agreed. Loved loved loved loved that tango. For me, that was easily the best number on both shows this week. Seek it out, America. It’s phenomenal… and it doesn’t hurt that Christian is yummy.

      • alan of montreal

        it’s not online yet, unfortunately, though Sean Cheeseman’s amazing jazz routine for Joey and Jordan is.

    • Squishmar

      You’re right, Alan, I tried to find it (on YouTube at least) and it’s not there. I love a good tango and would love to see it. I’ll have to check again. If you happen to find it anywhere, would you mind posting the link? That would be most appreciated! ;)

  • Perri

    I agree with MDEP. Her hip hop was very average. She is beyond great in her genres, but I also think SYTYCD handle her with kiddy gloves the entire season, because of that reason she cant do hard hitting movement dances. I think it is not fair to Melanie, the other contestants, and the fans how they handle things. I was glad to see fans were complaining to force SYTYCD hands to getting her something out her genre, but its one episode b4 the finale. She is great, but let her compete like everyone else who are working their tales off doing dances they never imagined doing.

  • Ty

    Sasha is a moving peice of art? Let’s hope she moves it on home tonight. And she can take her crocodile tears with her, please.

    • Nikki

      Ugh, I agree!!! I can’t stand Sasha, to me she reminds me of Mowgli from the Jungle Book in the way she moves and carries herself. She has NO personality. I feel like her bubbly chubby adorable sister had all the personality and that she is getting by on what we saw from her sister’s personality, I have seen many comments “Oh I LOVE Sasha, and her sister!!!” If Sasha’s sister hadn’t been such a doll and they hadn’t FLOODED the beginning episodes with them she would have been off the show weeks ago!!! She needs to go home this week!!

      • beasty

        mowgli from the Jungle Book???!!!
        thanks for the straight up racism!

      • Dancefan

        Mowgli is actually a pretty funny comparison…all skinny and angular. I quite like Sasha but I see where you were going with that.

      • Bluesky

        Totally agree!

      • Annie

        Look, if you have real dance training and you think Melanie is better than Sasha, I would put it down to racism. It’s something in your ‘inside’ and not reality. Melanie is a great dancer, and Sasha is just insane. They would both have great careers. Too bad people wanted the rich white girl to have more money. Just seems typical, and not in a good way.

      • Squishmar

        I think Sasha was just as middle class as Melanie… And you know, if you cry “racism” at every turn, it devalues real racism which is still alive and well. No need to inject it where it isn’t. And I’ve seen so many trained dancers say that Melanie is by far the better technical dancer. Even ones that prefer Sasha because she moves them more admit Melanie is the better in technique. Whatever. I love them both. I don’t care who’s better (it’s obvious that even *that* is subjective) I know who moved me more consistently and who I felt gave her all more consistently and that is Melanie. Sasha was incredible when she felt it. But she couldn’t *make* herself feel it–she either did or she didn’t. Melanie is also a great actress as well as dancer and she could psyche herself up or alter herself enough (or whatever it took) to feel it no matter what it was she was doing.

    • dove

      Wow – really?!?

      I adore Shasa – she has been my favorite from the beginning. I hope she takes the crown

      • alan of montreal

        me too!

    • wolfeman

      Amen !!!!!

  • Perri

    Ty, who sound like a hater. She dance great! That is all you can judge her by.

  • TV_Pete

    I didn’t love Sasha’s number, although it was very emotional (especially being thrown to the floor by Kent). I don’t see the softness in Sasha. She is beautiful, but something is missing and I haven’t seen growth there, yet.

    I thought Tadd has been treated with kid gloves and graded on a different scale all season. Go back and see how much actual dancing he has EVER done. Tadd is my favorite personality, but should have been gone last week, IMO.

    I was impressed with Caitlynn’s performances where she has certainly improved.

    Melanie is my favorite dancer, but as expected she could not hit hard on the hip hop. She dances most everything else (except maybe harder-hitting ballroom) so well that I still would vote her my favorite dancer this season… followed by Marko.

    • Perri

      I agree with alot you had said TV_Pete. Tadd is a good personality, but they have graded him on a different scale. Since tryouts I told my family that Melanie was going far. She was my first pick however despite her greatness I would like to see her do more challenging routines. Caitlynn did hiphop twice!! and Sasha done plenty of routines far from her genre (what was with that Waaacking!). I agree with Sasha and the softness, but you compare her dances to Melanie, its like the SYTYCD is type casting them to that role. Melanie had several beautiful elegant contemporaries, and Sasha had got alot of emotional intense dances. I like SYTYCD better when the contestants pulled from the hat. It is becoming too controlled by the producers on who they want to go far.

    • Holly

      I thought the same thing about Sasha. She should have left that shirt on last night because she is too hard and muscular to be feminine like she should be in a piece like that. It was distracting.

  • ley

    @ Aunt Sassy. I think your comments have spoken volumes about you, no? None of the comments you responded to made reference of “ghetto” nor did Lil’ C. If one dances lyrical, the judges would want to see fluidity; ballroom, sharpness. Hip Hop, hard hitting. But I’ll let you use “ghetto”. Anyway, obviously there’s been enough question about Melanie not having to dance the genres that are furthest from her comfort zone as Nigel made reference to it in his critique.

    • Squishmar

      Lil’ C absolutely used the word “ghetto” in his commentary last night.

  • Judy Miranda

    I looked on my flixser “AP” & did not see “Leading Ladies” listed as DVD’s coming out soon. I saw the trailer & really want to see the movie.

  • Marilynn Boyko

    For the record, last night’s routine with tWitch was Melanie’s second hip hop. She had a lyrical Nappy/Tabs number with Marko on week two or three.

    • Squishmar

      Yeah, but that apparently doesn’t count for the Melanie haters out there.

    • sparkle

      Lyrical hip hop aka hip hop made easy for contemporary dances. Is that what u r referring to?

    • Squishmar

      And I rest my case.

      • Bluesky


      • sparkle

        Don’t get me wrong I love melanie in contemporary but if she were to go up against jeanine or someone like lauren froderman who did everything and kiiiiilled it I don’t think she would win. Sasha hasn’t been given as much as people from other seasons either. Its like the producers are picking everything now.I mean what’s up with them still choosing in the top 10?

      • Squishmar

        Agreed. And, as far as I know, Nigel hasn’t made any explanation about the change. Very odd. I personally don’t mind the judges having the final say in the Top 10 but I would have liked to hear why they decided (last minute, apparently) to change it. I was just watching some old routines from seasons past and Janette, Chelsie, Brandon, Joshua, Robert, Ellenore… they were sooooo good. I also want me some disco! Those dances are brutal and I would have loved to have seen someone try to tackle one of those numbers!

  • alan of montreal

    I thought Tadd more than held his own last night–he was very expressive and mirrored Melanie movement-for-movement in the Broadway routine, and I actually liked Sonja’s routine (though not the music). Ricky is the one who doesn’t inspire me–I feel like there’s never anything going on in his expression. And Nigel is right–the levels are missing from his dancing. I thought Caitlynn was overpraised yesterday, too.

    • sherab

      i agree with you about tadd, alan of montreal ~ i thought he more than held his own with melanie, and i thought he was good in sonja’s routine though i also wish she had given him more dance steps. he moves like water! and has a great and open heart, some maturity ricky doesn’t have yet… i think he deserves to be in the finale/

  • Bluesky

    Melanie is definitely my favorite dancer this season. However her recent hip hop performance reminds me of Alex Wong. He nailed it. Maybe Melanie is a little bit too soft and elegant.

    • joan williams

      Nigel is a Racist pig.He is doing everything to make things difficult for Sasha.That the reason he sent home the African American males,all of themj were better than TAdd.Tadd only Break dance.
      Tonight the racism is bold.Sasha gets the difficult numbers and was put to dance with TADD the ass.What did they expect.
      No one on the show has Sashas, agility or techniques.
      Nigel go to HELLLL

    • Squishmar

      joan, you must be on crack. See? Now *that* could be construed as racist (if you are indeed black, which I have no way of knowing). Don’t put racism where there isn’t any or you insult people who have truly been affected by racism. And in case you happened to miss it… both Tadd and Marko are not white. You are a complete moron. I’ve heard some really out there conspiracy theories before but yours takes the cake! I think it’s clear to anybody who watches the show that Nigel is not racist and if you watch the interview with him he says straight out that Sasha is his favourite dancer (before the interviewer jokes with him and gets him to waver and change to Melanie). But at first, when he was asked point blank who his favourite dancer was… he said Sasha.

  • Monchi

    Its really unfair that Sasha keeps pulling out contemporary or lyrical jazz. They should make her do ballroom/waltz, just more complex dances. She hasn’t shown that she’s versatile. Yeah she’s a great dancer but it would be nice if we could see her do some other dances other than contemporary.

  • linksoflondonsale

    Great article. I cant wait to hear more about your research tool. If it is as good as your other products, then you will have another winner. Your article pretty much summed up what I have been seeing too. Great to see some hard data.

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