SYTYCD Recap: Finalists Revealed; Dancers Perform Bway & 'Anything Goes'; Update w/ Pics
And then there were six. We are just two weeks away from the Season 11 (and possibly series) finale of "So You Think You Can Dance," and even though this isn't the six remaining dancers I thought we would have just a few weeks ago, that doesn't mean that the talent still on hand isn't as exciting as ever. With last week's surprising eliminations of Tanisha (that one still brings a tinge of anger) and Rudy, the field is slightly more open for dancers to claim a spot in the finale. Though Ricky is still the leader in the clubhouse in terms of guys, the girls' race is suddenly wide-open.
Coming into tonight's defacto semifinals there were a lot of unanswered questions; obviously, "Who will be in the finale?", but also, "What will the finale format be?" Fortunately, we had those questions answered in an overall impressive night of performances. There were a few wonky routines mixed in, but as a whole, the Top-Six delivered some great performances.
We will welcomed back Emmy-winner and Tony-nominee Christina Applegate to the judge's table tonight. Though I enjoy Christina, she did little to end the steady stream of worthless guest judge comments, like "I'm obsessed with you," "I can't even," and "Shut your face."
Ok, onto the performances. My full reviews are below, and I will be adding pictures when Fox makes them available. In the meantime, chime in on Twitter @BWWMatt or in the comments section below.
Choreographer: Nick Demoura
Genre: Hip Hop
Song: "Hide (Tropkillaz Remix)" by N.A.S.A. featuring Aynzli Jones
Three-Word Review: Skrillix Got Nothin'
The opening gave me a very definitive Iluminate and Blue Man feel, but after the dancers moved away from the turntables, it turned into a really impressive number; especially considering that it contained exactly zero Hip Hop dancers. Also, how cool is it that Nick mixed in a bit of the Bernie? Do you think that's what the SYTYCD Tour After Parties are going to look like?
Finale Voting Information: At the top of the show Cat told us that the four dancers remaining after tonight's show would have their scores from tonight and next week combined to determine the ultimate winner. I think that's a good decision; far better to let them have a larger sample size, than to punish a competitor who draws a tough genre, or lackluster choreography.
Ricky Ubeda and Valerie Rockey
Choreographer: "Hedwig" Choreographer Spencer Liff
Song: "I've Got the World on a String" by Frank Sinatra
Three-Word Review: Finally, Fun Broadway!
I have been bemoaning the fairly blah Broadway routines all season long, but this number was bursting with the joy and elegance that so epitomized the Golden Era of American musicals. As a theatre fan, this number brought a smile to my face, and a bit of a tear to my eye. I completely agree with Nigel that, of the six remaining dancers, these two are the most ready to join the cast of "On the Town." Zack has shown the tapping chops, but not yet the acting ability, we'll see if he has enough time left to prove himself. The speed and fluidity of this Broadway routine showed just how talented and enjoyable both competitors can be. The dancing was spectacular, but more importantly, it seemed to be an extension of a completely believable love story. And how ridiculous was Ricky jumping through a moving swing? That very well could have been a challenge on "American Ninja Warrior."
Wardrobe Malfunction Rehearsal Video: As if Valerie could be more adorable, her reaction to getting her skirt caught on the swing during rehearsal was completely perfect. As Christina alluded to, while Valerie is a great dancer, she is still in the competition because America can see her genuine warmth and charm.
Jessica Richens and Casey Askew
Choreographer: Doriana Sanchez
Song: "Dim All The Lights" by Donna Summers
Three-Word Review: Wednesday Night Fever!
Well hot damn! All season we've known that Casey could do a mean spin or 12, but apparently that even applies while holding another person above his shoulders in the splits. The speed and energy of the whole routine was contagious. Like many of the more niche genres on SYTYCD, Disco can either be a homerun or a strikeout, and these two knocked it out of the park. Despite Christina talking about Jessica trying to hold in snot (gross!), I thought she looked like she was having a (disco) ball... sorry, I had to! She was giving a lot of appropriate Disco-face and really seemed natural in the moves. Casey didn't seem to have the commitment to the character of the genre, but he more than made up for it in the dancing. The moves were crisp, fast, and fun. Best Disco I've seen since the last time I performed with my Bee Gees tribute band...
Ricky Solo Performance
Three-Word Review: What the What?!?!?!?!
I normally don't do extensive reviews of solos, but that one was crazy. I have no idea what they are called, but that series of six back kicks was breath-taking. Yea, Ricky's good.
Jacque LeWarne and Zack Everhart
Choreographer: Jean-Marc Généreux
Song: "Anything Goes" by Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga
Three-Word Review: Fortunately two more
Disclaimer: I know nothing about the Foxtrot, but what I do know is that this one felt like a bit of a mess. After the first two routines from the other pairs, this wasn't the performance that Zack and Jacque needed. I associate the Foxtrot with a smooth sense of floating and gliding, however, this one appeared to be a bit clunky and clumsy. That being said, the final 1/3 was much stronger. They went from a cool interlocking arm trick into a neat knee-bendy-movey-thing (I told you I know nothing about the Foxtrot). Fortunately for these two, they have two more performances to redeem themselves, should they survive tonight's elimination.
Jessica Solo Performance
Three-Word Review: Her Biggest Strength
Song: "Me & My Broken Heart"
Three-Word Review: Live Singing Props
Now that they perform, I have to admit I have actually heard this song before, but isi it just me or has every decent "summer song" that has been released in the last four to five years sounded like it could have originally been recorded by The Police? Between Robin Thicke, Bruno Mars, Gotye, everything sounds like it would have been better sung by Sting. I guess that's good news for "The Last Ship."
I do have to give these guys credit though, at least they did appear to be singing live, which is becoming more rare and rare for "live" televised performances.
Valerie Rockey and All-Star Stephen "tWitch" Boss (Season 4)
Choreographer: Will "Wildebeest" Adams
Genre: Hip Hop
Song: "Yeah" by Usher featuring Lil Jon & Ludacris
Three-Word Review: Twerk Baby Twerk
First thing's first, Valerie is not a Hip Hop dancer, she doesn't have the skills that tWitch does, but honestly, I could not have cared less. She nailed the style as much as any cute little tapper from Indiana could. I was shocked at how natural she was on the Poppin' section. While her charm, character, and commitment allowed her to shine throughout most of the number, that moment allowed us to see that she really can conquer just about any style. With an assist from her partner, Valerie completely delivered one of the most fun numbers of the season. In addition to some sexy twerking, we saw enough of The Macarena and Kid 'n Play for me to almost forget the fact that she dropped the garter.
Casey Solo Performance
Three-word Review: All on Floor
Valerie Solo Performance
Three-Word Review: Tap Dancing Vision!
Jacque LaWarne and All-Star William Wingfield (Season 4)
Choreographer: Sean Cheesman
Song: "99 Red Balloons" by Sleeping At Last
Three-Word Review: Beautiful Bounce Back
This was exactly what Jacque needed after her first number. The opening section with the giant red ball was absolutely beautiful. Even though dancing with props generally makes me nervous, I was disappointed when Jacque rolled the ball off stage. How naturally and smoothly she moved on that ball is undoubtedly a testament to the focus and repetition she put into her preparation. With the really effective gimmick out of the way, the rest of the routine was touching, but a bit of a letdown after the incredible opening. However, when they started moving amongst the red balloons, I admit, I might have developed a case of goosebumps.
Zack Solo Performance
Three-Word Review: Slides are Cool
Jessica Richens and All-Star Ade Obayomi (Season 5)
Choreographer: Ray Leeper
Song: "Boneless" by Steve Aoki, Chris Lake & Tujamo
Three-Word Review: Colorful, but Technical
With the spacy house music, colorful costume, and crazy hair, I wouldn't have thought that this number could have been so cold and technical. I know that Jessica's character is supposed to be somewhat detached and aloof, but I felt like she was just going through the motions; focusing on the steps, and forgetting about connecting to the music and character. The one moment where I felt like everything came together was during the "ponytail strut," as Christina called it. That bit reminded me of Jenna and Mark Kanemura's Jazz number from last year; unfortunately, Jessica didn't quite embrace the weirdness as Jenna did.
Jacque Solo Performance
Three-Word Review: Ballet Solos = Tough
Ricky Ubeda and All-Star Anya Garnis (Season 3)
Choreographer: Jean-Marc Généreux
Song: "Dare (La La La)" by Shakira
Three-Word Review: Can Do Anything
I don't know if it is his Cuban heritage, or just his insane dance skills, but Ricky looked like a better Latin dancer than a lot of the actual Latin dancers we've seen on the show over the last few years. All of the judges were right, Anya is a Latin Ballroom icon, and anytime she dances with someone other than Pasha, it's a challenge, but it was obvious that Ricky was up to it early on. Even though they are mostly ornamental, you could tell his arms had the control and movement necessary to sell the routine. Then as the steps started to speed up, his hips and feet did the same. The point of SYTYCD is to challenge dancers to perform in genres outside of their comfort zone, but thus far, there hasn't seemed to be anything that Ricky hasn't been comfortable with. While no one knows who is going to win at this point, I think it is pretty safe to say that Ricky is the best dancer on the show this year.
Casey Askew and All-Star Makenzie Dustman (Season 10)
Choreographer: Stacey Tookey
Song: "Over You" by Ingrid Michaelson featuring Great Big World
Three-Word Review: Just another routine
We have one week left of competitive routines, and thus far we have yet to have a definitive routine to remember the season by. Most of the time, but not always, that comes in the form of an emotionally-charged contemporary number. While this one had the potential to be just that, it didn't rise to the necessary level. While the steps were flawless, the routine seemed emotionally bland to me. I am sure there are many out there (including the judges) who will disagree with me, but at this point, I need something more from a routine than just good dancing. Everyone left is a good dancer; I want to see those who have something more than that to bring to a performance, and I think those dancers are separating themselves at this point.
Zack Everhart and All-Star Fik-Shun Stegall (Season 10)
Choreographer: Phillip Chbeeb
Genre: Hip Hop
Song: "Sail (Unlimited Gravity Edition)" by Awolnation
Three-Word Review: Progressive Animated Worm!
I was emotionally preparing myself for this to be an utter disaster, however, Zack more than held his own with last year's male champion. Look, Zack is just visiting this world, while Fik-shn lives here, but when they were working together to form human Rorschach tests, they looked like they had both been dancing this bizarre style for years. Zack didn't have the sharpness and aggressiveness that Fik-shun did in hitting each move, but together, they created some fabulous stage pictures; not to mention that they did a two-person, progressive, animated worm! So, props to Zack for providing the most shockingly strong routine of the night.
Eliminated This Week
My Rankings Going into Performance Finale
These rankings reflect both my opinion of their performance throughout the entire season thus far, and my assessment of their overall popularity.
Ricky Ubeda and Valerie Rockey
Do you agree with me that Ricky and Valerie delivered the best number of the night? How would you rank the remaining dancers going into next week's performance finale? Let me know what you think in the comments below, or on Twitter @BWWMatt.