SYTYCD Recap: Final Four Dazzle in Performance Finale; 8/27 Full Results!
This "Performance Finale" has me easily the most excited I have been for an episode of So You Think You Can Dance all season, and man, it didn't disappoint. Even though I picked three of the four finalists as major contenders when the Top-20 was announced (and five of the final six, thank you you very much), this is definitely not the Final Four that I thought we would have just a few weeks ago. That being said, each has managed to have a breathtaking moment or four, however, with the exception of Ricky, each has also had their share of missteps as well, and that theme kind of held true tonight.
In addition to the fact that each dancer had some astounding moments, the fact that SYTYCD's best celebrity guest judge, Broadway and Modern Family star Jesse Tyler Ferguson, was back to join Nigel Lythgoe and Mary Murphy on the panel, and this ended up being one heck of a night. In addition to JTF, there was a special performance by Jason Mraz, who performed "Love Someone," from his latest album, "Yes!"
Ok, now onto the performances. Let me know if you agree with me in the comments below, or on Twitter @BWWMatt. Alright, now down to the task at hand (I will be back to add photos of each performance as soon as Fox makes them available)...
Choreographer: Broadway alum Travis Wall
Song: "Wind Beneath My Wings" by RyanDan
Three-Word Review: That Didn't Work
The story of the song is about taking for granted the love of a friend; but the choreography seemed to being telling the story of a pair of lovers. While I have no problem with the two pairs being same-sex, I have a problem that what they danced seemed to be completely incongruous with the words and music to which they were dancing. Did it look fancy? Sure. But, as he has a few times this season (which makes sense since he choreographers eight routines a week), it seemed to me that Travis Wall was trying just a little too hard.
Ricky Ubeda and Valerie Rockey
Choreographer: Sean Cheesman
Genre: African Jazz
Song: "Voices of Savannah" by Chus L. Esteban
Three-Word Review: Circle of Life!
Surprisingly enough, African Jazz has been one of the stronger genres of the season. When coupled with Jacque LeWarne and Zack Everhart's routine from Top-20 Week, African Jazz has provided two very enjoyable routines. Both dancers seemed able to channel the style and character perfectly, but unfortunately one appeared to do so far more comfortably. Ricky was so much more smooth and natural, while Valerie's movements seemed more technical and labored. Fortunately, Valerie is by far the most charismatic of the remaining dancers. I have enjoyed watching these two dance together this season, and I am happy that they are both still here, as it seems that both have benefited from the partnership.
Zack Everhart and Jessica Richens
Choreographer: HEDWIG AND THE ANGRY INCH'S Spencer Liff
Song: "Hernando's Hideway" by Ella Fitzgerald
Three-Word Review: Talkin' Steeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeam Heat!
First off, I'm really mad that both Cat Deeley and Mary mentioned that Jessica looked like Jessica Rabbit, because that was going to be my opening line. Fortunately, I get to attack what Nigel said instead. He claimed that Broadway has been one of the strongest genres of the season, and until last week, he couldn't have been more wrong. Yes, Valerie and Ricky's "I've Got the World on a String" routine last week was fantastic, but that was the first musical theatre number of the season that didn't anger me for besmirching the great name of the Broadway. Fortunately, this number picked up right where that one left off and transformed last week's cute into this week's hot. Zack, a regular in the ensemble of the Atlanta Lyric Theatre, and Jessica proved that they not only had the dancing ability, but acting chops to join ON THE TOWN if they were to win. The number was fun, quick, and character-specific.
The SYTYCD PTB are giving fans the chance to pick a routine from the season to be on the finale. I think I am go #SYTYCDgetlow; which one are you pulling?
1) #SYTYCDgetlow | Emilio Dosal and All-Star Jasmine Harper
2) #SYTYCDskeleton | Carly Blaney and Serge Onik
3) #SYTYCDhustle | Caset Askew and Brooklyn Fullmer
Zack Everhart and Valerie Rockey
Choreographer: Broadway alum Tyce Diorio
Song: "Pearls" by Sade
Three-Word Review: There's No Dancing
When Valerie appeared on-stage with a cane, I was really hoping for a sequel to "The Miracle Worker" where Helen finally finds love. However, instead, we were the ones who weren't able to see any dancing, because there was next to none in the entire number. However, what there was plenty of was Valerie acting her a$$ off. I admit that she is my favorite to watch of the remaining four, but she is probably the weakest dancer, at least in terms of what the show requires, but there is just something about her that makes her extremely compelling to watch. There is nothing that Zack did poorly at all in this number, he just didn't have much to do. Can we just all accept that Tyce isn't cut out to be a part of this show anymore? I honestly think that his choreography has become a major detriment to the dancers who get stuck with him. Too harsh?
Jason Mraz Performance
Song: "Love Someone"
Three-Word Review: He's Got Talent
Can we all agree at this point that while Jason Mraz's choice of hats can be a bit infuriating, that he is incredibly talented and just seems like a good dude? While I feel that his vibe might have been even more mainstream a few decades ago, I am so glad that someone is making interesting, intelligent mainstream music.
I know that Mr. A-Z generally has a dorky vibe, but look at his all female-band, the guy is smooth.
Ricky Ubeda and Jessica Richens
Choreographer: Ray Leeper
Song: "F For You" by Disclosure featuring Mary J. Blige
Three-Word Review: "Liebe meine Apschminki!"
I'm really not sure what that number was all about, but I sure liked it. I always enjoy good jazz routines, because they often combine the technique and emotion of contemporary with the funk and unexpected movements of Hip Hop. While there wasn't a whole lot of emotion is this one, it looked spectacular. There was a move that Ricky and Jessica did in unison where they looked like they had just demounted a horse after a cross-country ride... and they enjoyed it. To be fair, I enjoyed it too, even though I still have no idea what was going on.
Also, how perfect was JTF's reference to "Sprockets"? "Liebe meine Apschminki" indeed.
Valerie Rockey and Jessica Richens
Choreographer: Nakul Dev Mahajan
Song: "Ghagra" by "Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani Soundtrack"
Three-Word Review: Two Different Levels
Bollywood is by definition extremely high-energy and fast-paced. That would theoretically play to the strengths of my girl Valerie, with her experience in the fast-twitch movements of tap-dancing. Unfortunately, she seemed to struggle to keep up with the much more comfortable Jessica. I'm not a big believer in the idea that these dancers grow a tremendous amount during the few months they are on the show, but I really believe that Jessica has improved with each passing week. Her ability to transform into whatever style and character that she is asked to show. It hurts my heart, but Jessica was just on another level than Valerie in this one.
Ricky Ubeda and Zack Everhart
Choreographer: Chris "Pharside" Jennings & Krystal "Phoenix" Meraz
Genre: Hip Hop
Song: "The Antidote" by District 78
Three-Word Review: Funky White Boys
At this point, it doesn't surprise me at all that Ricky can do anything that choreographers throw at him, but after his number last week with Fik-shun, Zack has proven to be incredibly funky as well. Both of these seemingly nerdy white boys got down. It was hard-hitting, it was gritty (or as gritty as you can make playing cards), and it was well danced. While it's been clear since Day One that Ricky is the best guy of the season, Zack has worked his butt off to prove that he deserves his spot in the finale.
Valerie Rockey and All-Star Aaron Turner (Season Ten)
Choreographer: Anthony Morigerato
Song: "Love Me or Leave Me" by Sam Davis Jr.
Three-Word Review: Love My Tappin'
I needed this routine so badly. I was starting to worry about Valerie's chances next week (I know she's probably not going to win, but I don't want her to finish fourth). Coming into tonight, I thought she was stronger in other genres than she was in tap, but DAMN was I wrong. That routine was nothing short of flawless. Perhaps it is my love for classic Broadway, but I watched the entire routine with a gigantic grin on my face, and even had tears of joy in my eyes by the time it was done. For me, this might have been my favorite routine all season. While she might not be as well-rounded as some of the other dancers, Valerie proved with this one dance, that she is more than just a cute face and infectious personality; she is one heck of a dancer. Also, how has Aaron not been on a Broadway stage yet? I said it all last season, but dude should be a musical theatre leading man.
Three-Word Review: He'll Get Jobs
Ricky Ubeda and All-Star Kathryn McCormick (Season Six)
Choreographer: Stacey Tookey
Song: "Not About Angels" by Birdy
Three-Word Review: Another Missed Opportunity
As I've said in recent weeks, I have been waiting for a signature routine to make an indelible mark on this season of SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE. When they announced this number, I thought this just might be it; the season's best dancer in Ricky, the gorgeously talented Kathryn, and the phenomenal Stacey Tookey; however this was ultimately disappointing. Was it well danced? Of course. Was it well choreographed? Well, duh. But there was something missing; something just didn't coalesce, and I am still waiting for the number that defines the season; unfortunately, I think we might be running out of time.
Three-Word Review: Totes Adori Dorbs
Zack Everhart and All-Star Aaron Turner (Season Ten)
Choreographer: Anthony Morigerato
Song: "Piano Man" by Billy Joel
Three-Word Review: Step Off Haters
Through 10+ years of SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE, it has seemed like tap dancing has been the red-headed step-child (sorry Jesse). The genre has been derided as more percussion than dance, and the assumption has been that you can't effectively tell a story, especially one with emotion, when your feet are moving so quickly. Welp, Zack and Aaron (and Valerie earlier) completely proved that all to be wrong. The conversation that Zack and Aaron carried on throughout their tapping was as if it was an Aaron Sorkin dialogue. It was fast, it was athletic, it was intelligent. I still think that Ricky is the favorite to win, but the two tappers have made a serious charge in their final duets of the competition... and nothing could make me happier.
Three-Word Review: Hubba Hubba Hubba
Jessica Richens and All-Star Robert Roldan (Season Seven)
Choreographer: Broadway alum Travis Wall
Song: "When I Go" by Over the Rhine
Three-Word Review: Beautiful, Sensual, Heart-breaking
While it didn't rise to the level I have been looking for in a definitive routine, this one was a fantastic number to end the competitive season. Jessica and Robert made for an extremely sensual pair, and I felt all of the pain that Robert was putting Jessica through. There were some fascinating lifts, and some touching moments, like when Jessica put her feet on Robert's as he tried to walk away. While I have been disappointed with much of the Contemporary work this season, this one got me.
Three-Word Review: Decent Final Solo
Should Be Order of Elimination
About halfway through I was ready to put Valerie at fourth, but with her tap routine and solo being so intoxicating, I don't want anymore. But that puts me in a tough spot, because I don't think after tonight that anyone deserves to be fourth. It makes me wish there was still a male and female winner, just so that fewer people have to lose next week. But in the end, as much as I love her, I don't think that there is any choice other than...
4) Valerie Rockey
3) Zack Everhart
2) Jessica Richens
1) Ricky Ubeda
With all that being typed, I do not think that Ricky is going to win. He is the best dancer of the season, although I believe the gap has closed considerably in recent weeks, but the best dancer rarely wins. I am going to go out on a limb and predict an upset. I have no idea who is going to win (I think all four still have a shot), but I have a sneaking suspicion it won't be Ricky.
Ok, now that all of the competitive routines have been danced this season, who do you think deserves to be crowned "America's Favorite Dancer"? Which of our four finalists would you like to see on stage at The Lyric in ON THE TOWN? Which routine was your favorite of the night? Let me know in the comments below, or on Twitter @BWWMatt. Do you agree with my views on the night?
Photo Credit: Mike Yarish | Fox