SYTYCD Week 9, Top 4—The Final Opus

courtesy 19 Entertainment and Dick Clark Productions

Well, we’re down to the end here—our final four contestants dance one last time for the audience’s vote before the season finale episode and the first ever dual champion announcement. The kids worked their fannies off last Tuesday performing an All-Star duet AND teaming up with each other in addition to dancing their solos.

Intros: Did Chehon just try to catdaddy?

Guest judge: Rob Marshall’s back for the first time this season—I suppose an Oscar for Chicago gives him some juice…if you’re into that kind of thing….

Eliana/Cyrus: Paso Doble
Interesting role reversal in this paso doble from Jason Gilkison: girl as matador and guy as cape. The few actual figures Cyrus did were pretty good, but it was definitely watered down for him. I loved the bravado, though, despite the posture issues. Gushing from Nigel and Mary…and some avoidance from Rob, though he did offer effusive—and well-deserved praise—to Eliana. Oh look—Mary and Eliana have the same hair. And Cyrus matched his gauges to his costume…he DID say he had a lot of them….

OK, I came into my recording after watching The Voice live and saw locs flying across the stage, so I’m like, RUSSELL! I forgot our darling William Wingfield has since grown out his hair. My good friend would have been delighted to see him half-nekkid. Anyway, this Sonya Tayeh piece has Tiffany in this Garden-like outfit doing a visual “recap” of her journey through the competition. More gushing from the judges, and she’s worthy for sure; it’s an excellent performance from the two of them. I need to watch this several times to really capture the piece in my head—it’s one of those pure themeless pieces of choreography you just have to appreciate for the pure joy of the art.

Eliana/Chehon: Classical Ballet
I CALLED IT, I CALLED IT, I CALLED IT! Pas de deux from our ballet finalists. Choreographer Marat Daukayev from the Kirov Ballet puts them through their classical paces with the Nutcracker Suite pas de deux. Deceptively simple-looking routine, but the amount of control it takes for Eliana to do those successive fouettés into multiple pirouettes and effortless développés into the stratosphere (all en pointe) is utterly amazing. (If the terminology throws you, basically it’s the last :30 of the dance.) For Chehon’s part, the double tours got great height and he without question is a great partner. And now that I see that the “handle” was just a shift in the boning on the tutu, I am back to wondering how they pulled off that final pose without hands. I am so glad ballet can get this kind of mainstream exposure and give people more of an interest in dance and the arts than backup dance performances and the few music videos that still exist.

Tiffany/Cyrus: Lyrical Hip-hop
From hooking up to breaking up–the kids have a rocky relationship this week in a Tessandra Chavez lyrical hip-hop. Tiff had a little more swag there—a little heavy on the acting and the staccato from my boy, though. I did like it, and judging from the judges’ push (Rob’s favorite of the evening, in fact), this will wind up being a tour piece.

Top 4 group by Tyce Diorio
Quirky contemporary—classical Mozart remix with everyone orchestrating their own style into one blended number (see what I did there?). The remix part of the music kicked in too late for my taste—District 78 could have left it as a wholly classical piece for what they actually contributed to that. A couple more sections in unison would have made it more cohesive for me, but the foursome danced it well. (After seeing the “Behind the Choreography” video and finding out they did this in 4 hours, that makes things a whole lot clearer for me.)

Eliana solo
Lovely blend of ballet and gymnastics. It just looks like there’s this large, invisible kid taking her anatomically perfect doll and moving and posing it all around the stage. If Melanie and Marko were beautiful statues come to life in Turn To Stone, Eliana is the real-life version of that. You KNOW there’s some genuine work and effort that goes into it, but it looks like she’s simply walking—even sailing—across the floor.

Pairs with Allison Holker for a Stacie Tookie contemporary about letting a loved one go to follow their dreams.

To quote Cat Deeley: “Excuse me—ONE HAND?!?” No words. Chehon, I imagine your parents have to be the proudest of you right now. I rate a damn close second. THAT was a complete performance in EVERY. WAY. Literally took Mary’s breath and powers of speech away. Mine too, if you want the truth—he is getting better and better at losing himself in the performance and turning an intricate piece of choreography from a dance routine into a moment. I don’t think I’ve seen any guy totally match Allison in performance level (and that piece with Kent was a damn good one for that).

Side note: my girls are REALLY lucky Allison has done this already and is an All-Star. I’m still happy with Benji as my Season 2 champ, but I do vaguely remember thinking she was voted out too soon.

Ray Leeper just made Eliana happy as a pig in slop—he brought in a pole for a burlesque-style Broadway jazz number. Now I gotta see if Tiffany can match up….and OH MY GOD I was seriously just thinking that I wouldn’t mind seeing “When You’re Good To Mama” on here but they’d never dare!

Damn, Tiffany—DAHELL did you pull THAT vamp out from?!? Grew up in a hurry for this one, did we? And Eliana, I saw the audition package, and you did NOT have on heels when you did that pole work. OH. MY. GAWWWWWWWWWD! I’m not sure which one of you miscounted on those pirouettes, but I don’t think I care…..

Rob, the line about Queen Latifah was PRICELESS—I think I was as spellbound by the number as well, because even though I typed it earlier, I STILL forgot you directed Chicago…..

Tour, please….

Cyrus solo
Nobody else can pull that off, mayn…..Joshua had small moments in his solos but Cyrus has a Ph.D. in those small, articulated movements. I have no idea where or how far this area of expertise is going to take him professionally, but it’s going to be interesting watching it happen.

Tiffany solo
Didn’t realize she was the only one of the four who didn’t get a straight ticket to Vegas…or much camera time. And I see I wasn’t the only one to notice the lookalike thing. I admire her all the more now. That solo had Allison Holker potential.

FOR THE LOVE OF GOD TELL ME THOSE POWER RANGER SHIRTS ARE A JOKE!!!!! Sonya Tayeh gets her hands on the boys for a routine enacting their struggle in this journey. Kind of the boys’ version of Game On, but not quite as fierce as Sasha and Melanie. Yet, they did quite an admirable job.

Completely out of left field aside, but damn if Eliana doesn’t look like she could have fallen out of Jennifer Beals’s family tree…..

A guest? And a one-legged b-boy at that?!? Inspirational, yes…but this could’ve waited for next week.

Chehon solo
Chehon actually does a duet with the girl that brung him—his Las Vegas ticket. I remember in Season 7 where Kent and Allison did their duet, and right after during commentary, Adam Shankman told Kent, “Dude, you don’t need this show. You are an artist.” That’s exactly what I was thinking watching this solo. It’s in our nature as dancers to always be doubtful and self-conscious…but Chehon? Seriously, don’t EVER doubt that you are beyond special. I think we all know how this ends…with a world of career opportunities exploding in front of you, firmly in your grasp.

Paired again with Alex Wong in a Travis Wall contemporary tearjerker. Again, no words. That torn ACL is the best thing that could have happened to Lauren Frodeman, ‘cause Alex had that ish SEWN UP. Eliana is now Nigel’s favorite dancer of all time. She was mine 3 seconds into her audition piece. She really CAN do anything.

Tiffany/Chehon: Rumba
Contemporary and ballet meet ballroom with alum Dmitry Chaplin. Let’s hope a slow Latin number is the third time charm for Chehon; I don’t remember Tiffany doing any ballroom outside of that foxtrot with George, so I think this is her first Latin piece.

Sooooo…..Tiffany is determined to make a liar out of me—and good for her. She’s fabulous. Chehon’s just hot period, but I KNOW they’re gonna trample all over their form…and now MARY’S making me out to be a liar. She did pooh-pooh the chemistry, though. *eye roll* But she loved Miss Tiffany there….I want to know what was in Ms. Maher’s water bottle this week to get these kinds of performances.

Cyrus/Twitch: Animation
Glitch and Twitch Animated….I’d buy that for a dollar. A Christopher MF’ing Scott piece (is there ANY area of hip-hop he doesn’t have his toe in?) introducing some new cyborgs off the assembly line. I know this is Cyrus’s style, but he looks so puny next to Twitch….however, THAT was nearly Game On worthy.

That face save from Nigel was a bit of a low blow….I guess waiting until the final number to tell Cyrus he wasn’t voting for him was better than throwing off his game mid-competition, but even if you were pulling for his competitor there was a WAY better time, place and method to do it.

Can I tell you guys how hard it is to TiVo-delay and try to critique, type AND vote at the same time?

I won’t go into my favorites again—y’all already know who I want to win and also that I wouldn’t be outraged if it went the other way. But I do want to mention how amazing this broadcast really was. These kids had one less day than normal to master FIVE brand-new, widely varied pieces of choreography along with perfecting their own solos, doing all their on-camera pieces, getting fitted for wardrobe, doing stage blocking and still finding some time to interact with their fans online while fitting in those incidental frivolous activities like eating and sleeping, and there wasn’t one train wreck on the stage. Even the hardest-core Cyrus detractors have to admit there was some great stage work done in this show. With this level of dedication in evidence, I can’t wait to get to the concert.


3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. mochazina
    Sep 24, 2012 @ 10:20:41

    re: pas de deux – Although I appreciated the skill exhibited in those fouettés, pirouettes, and développés, I got a lil weary of watching them back to back like that. I felt that knowing they only had 2 minutes, to spend 1/4 of it relatively stationary was a bit of a waste. Maybe it’s the TV/microwave generation in me speaking, but I got a lil bored with it. 🙂


    • dramaqueen1913
      Sep 25, 2012 @ 00:05:45

      It is definitely not “grab you by the throat” choreography. But as you said, it speaks to the generation–remember that this is at least a century-old piece of work (the revivals are even a minimum of 50 years old)…molded by an old-school Russian ballet master. Even the microwave generation at least needs the exposure to the classics. You know full well somebody was sitting at home saying,”That’s way easy–I can do that!”–and then tried it. And realized they either needed ballet classes, WD-40 or traction.


      • mochazina
        Sep 25, 2012 @ 15:42:50

        LOL – YUP! I think it was a good thing to include, but had I been some type of producer responsible for it, I would have simply placed it within a longer piece to expose more of the breadth of classical choreo.

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