SYTYCD 11 Finale–Victor Victorious: The Ricky Redemption

Image courtesy of 19 Entertainment and Dick Clark Productions

Image courtesy of 19 Entertainment and Dick Clark Productions

It’s the finale of Season 11 and the results are in!

As has been standard over the past few seasons, several dances from the season are revisited based on judges’ choices, finalists’ faves and a fan pick based on social media vote…with all of the choices being likely fodder for the upcoming concert tour.

Tonight’s judging panel, along with stalwarts Nigel Lythgoe and Mary Murphy, include early judges Tara Lipinski and Jenna Dewan-Tatum, and in their first panel appearances this season, legends Adam Shankman and Debbie Allen.

Mary Murphy is up first and picks Casey and Jessica’s Week 5 breakout contemporary, Travis Wall’s “Like Real People Do.” It lost some of the first time organics but it’s still a good piece, and they naturally nailed it technically, as usual.  They’ll get it hammered out for the Tour….Debbie Allen makes her first appearance this season and picks Valerie and Ricky’s hip-hop duo courtesy of Pharside and Phoenix.  The minute I heard “Turn Down For What” start I knew this was destined for heavy repetition.  Considering it actually made me like the song, that’s a pretty good thing.  Nigel’s choice was a nice little brag session, picking Rudy’s duet with FORMER All-Star Allison Holker–now a cast member and the latest SYTYCD alum on Dancing With The Stars–in the Ray Leeper “Dirty Diana” jazz from Michael Jackson Week. Nice cross plugs, Nigel…but how you mentioned everybody BUT Chelsie Hightower in that list is unfathomable.  For shame!  Jenna loves her some Rudy as well, as her selection is the Sonya Tayeh jazz piece “What You Need” performed with Tanisha in Top 20 week 2.  That was a good piece and an excellent showcase for Tanisha’s abilities. Adam Shankman, also in the studio for the first time this season, gives the best intro EVER: “I want to let those two kings know that THIS queen is a fan!”  Naturally, he’s referring to the fresh from last week Pharside and Phoenix hip-hop number “The Antidote,” given to Zack and Ricky, and I have to say those boys were just as filthy (Adam’s words) this week as they were last week.  Tara brings back the Nappytabs hip-hop “Get Low,” performed by my boo Emilio Dosal and All-Star and Degree pitchwoman Jasmine Harper, which is lucky for them as you’ll see a few paragraphs down.

Blessedly, there was no official ranking this year, but we were still treated to memorable moments from the auditions.  Most were expected–Courtney “How you doing?” Barnes, Jerrod “Hey Ms. Mary!” Swain and the 18 1/2 year old J4–but also included, and greatly appreciated, was Dani Platz, a young lady re-entering the dance world after a stint in recovery for an eating disorder.  Her emotive expression of her experience through her dancing, and judge Christina Applegate’s recognition of her voice in that piece, was touching and inspiring, and I applaud the producers for including it.

The top four kids also get to pick their favorites:

Zack goes with his breakthrough contemporary, Sonya Tayeh’s “Europe After the Rain” with All-Star Amy Yakima; Valerie sticks to her roots and picks the “Sing” tap Anthony Morigerato created for her and fellow finalist Zach Everhart; Jessica reprised the “When I Go” contemporary from the previous week, choreographed by Stacey Tookey and performed with All-Star Robert Roldan; and Ricky went all the way back to the first performance show and pulled his “Vow” contemporary from Sonya Tayeh, that he performed with fellow finalist Jessica Richens.

The evening would not be complete with an over-the-top foray from Jesse Tyler Ferguson, who not only “attempts” some Travis Wall choreography onstage but whips out his own ticket to Vegas for next season…who’s gonna tell him they’re back in Pasadena now?

Since we’re back to a single champion, we get that dramatic drawn-out results reveal, and the 4th place contestant is announced–Zack Everhart.  (Objectively, I have to finish this piece, but know that I call complete and total bullshit on America’s vote.  At the very least I think he should have been Top 2 for the astronomical growth he’s had this year.)

The audience got to select from three hip-hop numbers in the course of the season: the snake piece from Emilio and All-Star Jasmine Harper (#SYTYCDgetlow), the skeleton piece from Serge and Carly (#SYTYCDskeleton), and the piece from Week 4 with Casey and Brooklyn (#SYTYCDhustle). In a move that once again proves I TOTALLY cannot read the America audience, the popular vote went to #SYTYCDskeleton, the piece “Senile” with Carly and Serge.  Whaddayaknow, the audience can appreciate subtle skill after all. (However, I was partially correct in my surety that we’d be seeing “Get Low,” since as mentioned above it wound up being Tara Lipinski’s choice for an encore.)

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Image courtesy of 19 Entertainment and Dick Clark Productions

Also on tap were the clear and overwhelming winners of the Crew contest–The Wanted Ashiqz.  All four crews were great and had their own something special, but there was that extra edge from Wanted Ashiqz that gave me the feeling that they would wind up on the finale….and they did not disappoint.  The hip-hop/Bollywood fusion group has an incredibly high production value with moves and precision to match.

Image courtesy of 19 Entertainment and Dick Clark Productions

Image courtesy of 19 Entertainment and Dick Clark Productions

Alright, it needs to be said–Sonya Tayeh and Christopher Scott, just get married already and have a SYTYCD baby!  The Top 10 + 10 get blessed by the Miracle Duo’s latest concept piece, which is basically just  people helping people and being kind whenever you can.  I sure hope they can make this work with 13 people, because this not being on the Tour would be criminal.

Even Cat gets in a pick, and as it happens, it’s a duet from what is determined as the top two finalists–Ricky and Valerie reprising their very first partnership, the contemporary “Oh Darling” from Travis Wall.  Which, of course, means that Jessica falls short of the title in 3rd place…and, like Zack before her, is eliminated immediately after her last performance of the night.  Something tells me more people knew the results beforehand than have let on….

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Image courtesy of 19 Entertainment and Dick Clark Productions

So it’s down to another couple, and America’s vote goes exactly where I thought it would (despite my hopes for a surprise win from a tap dancer): Ricky Ubeda.  Honestly, I really have nothing against the kid other than it’s yet another contemporary dancer taking the title.  But that’s not really fair to let my hang-ups and wishes color his victory.  In truth, any of the four finalists possess a level of technique and passion that was worthy of a win.  But you could definitely see something extra special in Ricky.  On top of that absolutely insane level of technique embedded in his muscle memory, the high degree of passion displayed every time he stepped onto the stage essentially cemented America’s choice.  Nigel called him a magician of dance very early on, and I have to admit that he’s right.  The combination of skill and joy is entrancing, and what makes the experience even more profound is watching Ricky AFTER performing.  The boy was literally spent and either near or in tears after every single performance–I honestly believe we as an audience felt a mere fraction of everything he put into his routines, which were often superhuman but looked as natural as breathing.

So Ricky is the latest So You Think dance ambassador, and he definitely earned it.  As a former teacher myself–and as a big fan of Ricky’s teacher, Season 6 contestant Victor Smalley–there’s a certain feeling of pride and joy when you see one of your students excel at pursuing their dreams…and when those dreams just happen to be ones you yourself reached for and just missed, that extra vicarious thrill of victory has got to feel incredible.  I imagine both of these Miami boys are over the moon right now, with no signs of coming down anytime soon.

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Miami boys represent!

UPDATE: I am ashamed to say that in my haste to publish on time I missed a few things. Enrique’s performance was lovely (and why is he doing the one name thing? SMH), but I was focused on the dancing. And I have to go watch again and fully appreciate the Les Twins performance. But it is absolutely shameful that I did not even mention Michael Demecki, winner of So You Think You Can Dance Australia….where do I even begin? That boy has moves Blake McGrath can only dream of….and I LOVE me some Blake McGrath. AND he danced to Cole and Lindsay’s paso song? Let’s just say it’s a good thing Ricky wasn’t competing there. Bravo, young man.

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Image courtesy of 19 Entertainment and Dick Clark Productions

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SYTYCD 11, Top 14–Ten at 11

A quadruple elimination looms tonight (thanks SO much FOX executives for shrinking the show’s air time *raises sarcasm sign*)

Christina Applegate makes her first appearance this season, joining the usual suspects on the judges’ panel tonight.

Image courtesy of 19 Entertainment and Dick Clark Productions

Image courtesy of 19 Entertainment and Dick Clark Productions

Top 14 contemporary

A meeting of the gods and goddesses on Mount Olympus—it’s very smooth and non-quirky so on surface value Sonya Tayeh is not jumping out at me.  I’m not ruling her out, though…

It’s a Stacey Tookey joint, and apparently Ricky is the new soul being welcomed into heaven. Close enough.

The Top 14 dancers are called out to whittle down to 8—the top vote getters’ names are read this week instead of the Bottom 6, who will actually be dancing for their lives on top of their other performances.  Let’s see who America wanted to see on Tour……

Bridget, Emilio, Jacque, Ricky, Tanisha, Rudy, Valerie, and Zach.  Four couples immediately through, and not many surprises on my end.  That leaves Casey, Jessica, Emily, Teddy, Carly and Serge in the Bottom 6.  I’m kind of surprised about Carly and Serge—Serge has been in the bottom before and danced his way out to two judgment-free week; considering he had one of his better performances last week it’s a bit of a head scratcher.  I have NO CLUE why Carly’s down there.  Truthfully though, all six have had really great moments on the show and as two are staying instead of leaving this week this decision is going to be brutal.  Yeah sure, any or all of these cut tonight have strong possibilities to be chosen as Tour alternates, but still….

This week’s theme: the kids give kudos about their partners’ strengths

Emilio/Bridget (Miss Congeniality and the potty mouth…hey, if you gotta cuss, you gotta cuss.)

Jazz—Ray Leeper

“So you’re on a mission from Hell……”  Well that’s attention grabbing, Ray….kind of S3 Neil/Lauren G. but with both dancers hunting souls. Let’s see if they can lure us in.

OK, the theme of “Night of the Dancing Flame” but the feel of that Season 8 jazz Melanie and Marko did.  Definitely hip but not disturbing.

Nigel thought it was fun and thought Emilio was fabulous, though he cautioned him to work on lowering his shoulders; he thought Bridget was a little too cautious and upright and could have sunken more into the movement (I got that vibe too—she played it a little TOO cool).  Christina dug the routine and is impressed with Emilio’s transformation into a more all-around dancer, and gave both Emilio and Bridget advice about maintaining their intention in their heads to hold the “face” of the routine.  Mary agrees as well and thought the number suited them well.

Tanisha/Rudy (Hiccups? Quiet demeanor—Rudy?)

Contemporary—Mandy Moore

A story of seduction…not sure who’s seducing who but let’s take a look.

This is worthy of a ballroom cabaret competition—all those lifts and throws, and the actual on-the-ground choreography feels very rumba-like.  Tanisha pulled focus as usual, but Rudy’s got to be putting in great work in order for that to happen.  I don’t understand why she registered as a ballroom dance, as I have enjoyed all of her routines EXCEPT the ballroom number.

(And now Cat is starting mess with Rudy and Jacque’s two older brothers sitting in the audience…..SMH)

Christina stands clapping, entranced.  AND she can’t speak.  I can’t be positive, but I think she liked it. 😉  She did manage to string together a few syllables about how connected the partnership was, though.  First Mary screams of the evening, so I’m guessing she’s cool with it, too…strong, powerful and dynamic only a few of the words thrown around.  Nigel just told Rudy that he’s so loud he keeps thinking he’s Mary’s love child (they DO match each other holler for holler) but praised their lifts and called them tremendous.

First solo of the night and it’s Serge…that boy has some fast feet, and the fact that he’s hot doesn’t hurt one bit.  I think it’s safe to say that barring a colossal meltdown on his other numbers he’s going on tour as the last ballroom man standing—whether that’s a Top 10 position remains to be seen.

Jacque/Zack (Excellent customer service skills and rapping….okey-dokey)

Paso Doble—Jean Marc Genereux

“A bloodsucking paso doble” (Cat’s words), and the couple walks in to Jean Marc as a Moulin Rouge version of Lestat.  Silly as he is, I know he knows his ballroom, so this should be a power packed dance if they can master the choreography.

Had Zach been a vampire in Twilight, I might have paid attention.  That boy had command of the stage from the first note.  Have no idea where Mary’s gonna rip into his technique but he had that bravado down cold.  Jacque was a little too reserved for me—she was probably trying to keep to the technique but her sinister personality did not come through well enough for me.

WHYYYYYYYYYY are the three of these goofballs wearing fangs?!? *facepalm*  Mary said this different take on the Spanish paso was “love at first bite.”  Mary loved their shapes but thought the routine lost a little steam at the end (I noticed that as well, right after that jump Zach did).  Nigel agrees and was glad the concept didn’t overshadow the execution of the routine.  Christina makes three and hails Zach’s growth and his presence in the routine, as well as Jacque’s abilities.

Second of the solos—Carly.  She had a very good sampling of skill and technique, and that turn combination was insane; however, it was a bit slender in the connecting moves, which is something that has been criticized greatly on this show. This could possibly hurt her chances at Top 10.

Emily/Teddy (Ah, the business degree….and Teddy’s elasticity)

Broadway—Warren Carlyle

A game of cat and mouse, for sophisticated actors who dance.

Nice nod to Fosse and Kiss Me Kate in the opening bars—not quite as loose as Bob would have been but Teddy danced admirably.  Emily dialed back just enough to let Teddy shine alongside her without muscling over him with her personality.  Not sure what went on with that end pose…..

Nigel acknowledged the stamina and skill it takes to perform that style, but was disappointed with the end of the number, calling for more elevation and saying that it was not as strong as it needed to be particularly on such a difficult night.  Christina did note that they got a little wobbly but did praise Teddy’s growth (and his arms) and Emily’s technique—and also urged them to watch the inspiration number in KMK to absorb the nuances of the style.  Mary thought the routine went in and out but enjoyed it.

Time for Casey’s solo—he’s a turnmaster just like Carly but not enough wow in that solo.  Not solid on his chances, as there’s already a pretty boy in the Top 10 in Ricky.

A commercial break, costume change and regroup and then Emily’s right back out on the stage performing her solo…which is awesome.  Beautiful flow and technique and just the right amounts of power and reserve—so far the best of the solos. If she gets to the Top 10 this will be why.

And then Casey’s also gets a quick turnaround for his duet with Jessica….

Casey/Jessica (Awkwardness/turning ability)

Contemporary—Travis Wall

Finding the person that centers you and you can escape from the world with—complete with stage kiss.

Didn’t like the end pose.

That was it.  Everything else was flawless—beautifully in sync and fluid and perfect.  Jessica might have gone a little over with the movement amplification, but they danced well.

Screams and standing Os from audience and judges alike, leaving Jessica surprised and overwhelmed in tears….. “Travis Wall—shut your face!”  So I think Christina might have liked this a little. 😉  Totally enthralled with the performance, the intention, the technique—and not only reaffirmed her assertion that Jessica could win the title but that Casey could give her a solid run for the money…as well as threatening America within an inch of their lives if the two of them ever wound up in the bottom again.  Throwing out words like “life changing” means she ain’t coming over for tea.  Mary absolutely seconds those sentiments and adds breathtaking and amazing to the mix, praising their fast chemistry and performance.  Nigel muses about Casey’s nerves following the loss of both of Jessica’s partners—I swear this old man needs to pay attention…she lost THREE partners—but acknowledges the magic that exuded from the new partnership to make this dance so special.  (Cat, you can encourage free kissing in there all you want, but remember how out of hand the shenanigans got in Season 8 after Melanie and Marko did “I Got You”….)

Teddy’s the final guy solo of the night—and he does this hip-hop/contemporary/Broadway-ish hybrid of a number in a full tux with ankle wiper pants.  Kind of smooth and quirky and offbeat, and a little more understated than I thought he would go for in a winner-take-all situation like this.  Hard to call where the judges will go on this.

Carly/Serge (emotions, and the “bronytail”?  No sir—not even Pat Morita could pull that off in the Karate Kid movies.  Get a headband, I beg of you.)

Quickstep—Jean Marc Genereux

“Let me tell you about the quickstep: the upper body needs to take a chill pill, and the lower body needs to be on four espressos.”  (You have to layer on Jean Marc’s French accent for the full effect.)

Serge is smooth like Godiva chocolate—I don’t know how much traditional ballroom experience he has but he performed well (and I guarantee you Mary is not gonna be all up in his DNA about his technique like she was with Marcquet last week….). Carly was lovely to watch and it seemed to me like she held her upper body frame really upright.

Mary thought they coped well with adjusting to the framework—and true to form only criticized the lack of power through his legs but was otherwise pleased with him as well as with Carly.  Nigel liked the piece and liked that they enjoyed themselves and continue to grow every week.  Christina channels her inner Carrie Anne Inaba and takes a poke at DWTS, but called it sexy without being vulgar, flirty yet demure and fabulous.

Our final solo and quick turnaround from Jessica, who composed herself well enough to display her musicality and technique to Beyoncé’s version of Fever.

Valerie/Ricky (Tomboy energy and Cuban coffee. I have a feeling there’s gonna be an extra tour bus just to haul the coffee….)

Hip-Hop—Christopher Jennings and Krystal Meraz

And just before Academy of Villains hits the stage tonight, Pharside and Phoenix are back to do a funky/scary twisted hip-hop routine.  The witch doctor is struggling to bring the voodoo doll to life.

That was pretty tight hip-hop out of a pretty boy contemporary dancer and a cutie-patootie tapper.  Props to the choreographers, even though I know that’s going to be a problem for the Syncopated Ladies.  That leg lunge/weight transfer (or leg wave, as Nigel puts it) from a seated straddle that Valerie pulled off was DOPE—and difficult.  I kept thinking about Dmitry and Ashley from Season 2 with this, only more hip.  Turn down for what?  For Tour, that’s what.

Nigel thought they were outstanding and was just as wowed as I was about the leg wave, but also praised Ricky for transforming and adapting into an entirely different dance style with as much ease as weeks past, calling him outstanding.  Christina just fangirled over the pair, saying she’d been watching for weeks and looking forward to meeting the two, and not adding much more than “I could watch that all night.”  Mary’s best number of the night as well, and she was impressed with the musicality—so much so that she threw out every possible hip-hop descriptor imaginable (sick, frozen, buck, ridiculous, a crime scene and “murdered it”)

More small groups—girls and guys this week….

Image courtesy of 19 Entertainment and Dick Clark Productions

Image courtesy of 19 Entertainment and Dick Clark Productions

Girls—Contemporary, Mandy Moore

Mandy doesn’t want pretty, she wants powerful—strong women dancing together.

I already love “My Immortal” for so many reasons, and putting it on these ladies tonight was a great choice.  It had the same feel and strength of the fountain piece (“Young and Beautiful”) from last season.  The unison and sharpness and flow were phenomenal, and when you consider that there’s a ballerina, tapper and ballroom specialist among contemporary girls, that’s an amazing feat.  Although I’m gonna need to re-check Tanisha’s qualifications and experience….personally I think she took enough ballroom classes to look polished and is really a jazz and contemporary superstar.

A room full of applauding, standing people has GOT to be a good sign that it wasn’t just pretty, but also powerful, Mandy….Christina has again lost her breath and the power to speak coherently, but she spits out enough to hail Valerie and Jessica—as well as the other ladies, because they rocked as a unit—and said they were all at eleven.  (Spinal Tap reference might be a little out there for them but I think they can grasp a 1 to 10 scale analogy.  Try that next time.) Mary is choked up by the symbolic sisterhood of it all, and Nigel reaffirms Christina’s comment about the piece being a gift and extends to defy Misty Copeland’s pronouncement about the boys being at a higher level this season.  No Nigel, she was right—the girls just put on their big girl dance trunks and brought it up a level this week.  NOW we’ve got a battle coming.

Brief pause to allow the Academy of Villains their shot at the finale spot…and I already see blacklight ready material….LEGGO!  That was a lot to look at in low light but there was a little bit of everything in that—breaking, tutting, acrobatics, jazz/contemporary…you name it, they threw it in there.  The elaborate skeletal/animalistic face paint helped blend the dancers together as a unit instead of delineating gender, which might prove a smart move as it focused our attention to their strengths as dancers without qualification.  Good effort from the group.

Image courtesy of 19 Entertainment and Dick Clark Productions

Image courtesy of 19 Entertainment and Dick Clark Productions

Guys—Contemporary, Travis Wall

Before the break Cat announced that the boys are going to be up close and personal with the front row.  I’m sure all of those spectators are SOOOOO disappointed…..

From Sonya’s Broken People last week to Travis’s Lost Souls of the Sea this week….boy oh boy do y’all have some imaginations!  Travis decides Emilio needs to go flying in the air with a basket toss…you let that boy break his nose again and love or no love, I’m coming after you. *side eye*

Ladies and gentlemen, THIS is how you present boys in skirts.  The apron over straight but loose pants is perfect….and seven extremely yummy-looking chests don’t hurt things at all.  Since they’re a nice sea-colored blue-gray I’ll even forgive you for shoving the waistlines under their armpits again.  The boys did well keeping the movement liquid and synchronized, though there was one person in the center that was off by a fraction in the middle section (I think it was Casey), but I’m really splitting hairs here.  That ending visual with them just falling off the edge into the deep end….I mean, what?!?  Dude….I can’t even….and I’m well past the age where that phrase is appropriate.

I think Travis just broke Christina….Mary starts off with memorable, smart and important, and continues to gush from there. Nigel likened them to a coral reef in the deep sea with the ebb and flow of their movement and was equally appreciative of Travis’s “gift” to the audience.  “Maybe Misty was a little right (about the boys).” I done told you about doubting me, Nigel…. Christina said “Shut your face” and “I can’t stand you” to Travis this time—I actually expected her to say the second one once her jaw hit the floor and she grabbed her forehead—she’s so emotional.  “Do you know why I come here? Because I get to have THIS.” Yeah…pretty much the reason I still watch and write faithfully whether I agree with the choices and decisions or not—because we ALL get to have this.  LOVE that she lightened her own heavy mood by telling the guys that their boobs were showing….but shut up, mayn—I was enjoying that view!

Time to reveal the last two in the Top 10—and sadly, the next four dancers to leave the competition.  Best solos came out of Serge and Emily, best duet came from Casey and Jessica.  I’m still thinking Serge for the boys because he was most solid all around AND because he’s ballroom, and probably Jessica for that duet.  Carly and Emily are on pretty equal ground in the face of that, and Casey and Teddy’s solos were good and OK, respectively.  Still, who knows what criteria the judges will employ to make this tough choice?

That duet was the clincher—Casey and Jessica round out the Top 10.  Serge got about three more rounds than his original partner Brittany Cherry, and I claim validation for the both of them in that.  Plus, like I said, I’m betting all six of these kids are going to wind up on the Tour.

Now for the final bit of business—the freshly minted Top 10 get their All Stars!

Rudy gets Jenna Johnson (Season 10)

Jacque gets Chehon Wespi-Tchopp (Season 9)

Zach gets Amy Yakima (Season 10)

Bridget gets Brandon Bryant (Season 5)

Ricky gets LoFro (Lauren Frodeman, Season 7)

Tanisha gets Ryan Dilello (Season 6)

Emilio gets Jasmine Harper (Season 10 and new Degree spokesdancer)

Valerie gets Ade Obayomi (Season 4)

Casey gets Kathryn McCormick (Season 6)

Jessica gets….tWitch?!? (Stephen “tWitch” Boss, Season 4)
I don’t remember her hip-hop in callback week, but we’ll see what happens….

Image courtesy of 19 Entertainment and Dick Clark Productions

Image courtesy of 19 Entertainment and Dick Clark Productions

PRE-SENT All-Stars–time to crank it up, Season 11!

SYTYCD 11, Top 18–Checkmate

Week 3 has begun and yet another round of eliminations is on the board for tonight.

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Image courtesy of 19 Entertainment and Dick Clark Productions

Guest judge: Misty Copeland apparently didn’t get enough last week, so she’s doing again this week.

Top 18—Hip-Hop
A battle on the chess board…Christopher Scott, with a technical assist from Sonya Tayeh.

Welp….didn’t see that one coming. Fresh blood—Christopher “Pharside” Jennings and Krystal “Phoenex” Meraz from Academy of Villains. Who, I will assume, is the crew on tap for tonight. Let’s find out. (No AoV tonight, but they’ll be performing in the weeks to come.)

Bottom 6:
Bridget, Emilio, Emily, Stanley, Jourdan, Teddy

America, you suck. Emilio is my highest concern, and I want Stanley to have a better shot…so that leaves Teddy. As for the girls, I’m calling Emily right now but that may change once everyone has danced.

Jacque/Zach
Hip-Hop—Keone and Mari Madrid

They’re back! I haven’t scoured their YouTube videos but hopefully this is totally fresh and a snarky fan won’t pull them up doing it after the show. The story is about a couple that’s about to get together, and the ballerina and the hoofer are both having trouble nailing down the intricacies of the choreography.

If acting could win this, Zach would have a lock on the finals. He seemed to grab on to the steps pretty well, and Jacque hung with it, too. Still a bit smiley, and though I’m sure there were probably some moments where she was supposed to gaze at him adoringly, it was more of a pasted performance smile than a “I think I’m falling for this guy” smile.

Cat had recollections of the Mark/Chelsea “Bleeding Love” routine from Season 4; I got more of a Phillip/Jeanine “Mad” vibe myself….Mary is enjoying the versatility coming from the two of them, and was impressed with the interaction between them; Nigel feels that Jacque is doing very well looking like she belongs in the styles she’s been given, and is thrilled by the high level of commitment Zach throws into his work; Misty co-signs with the others and praises them on the deepening and improvement of their partnership.

Jourdan/Marcquet
Contemporary—Dee Kaspery

A couple trying to disappear, and needing to find a place to be happy.

Trying to understand why the umbrellas are there and how they connect to disappearing (or not disappearing)….Dee and these props. They looked out of sync in the unison section and some parts had Marcquet looking like a solely hip-hop trained dancer attempting contemporary for the first time. Jourdan managed to take off enough of her edges to not be balletic in this.

Cat, don’t invoke that song…I beg of you….

Nigel thought the routine was challenging and they did well enough, but is not quite able to connect with them personally as a couple, acquiescing to Misty regarding Marcquet’s form—she notes his shakiness in his bottom half that could be better grounded by shifting his weight more forward over his toes, and also remarks on a lack of vulnerability in Jourdan’s facial expression detracting from everything else that she is executing well. Mary agrees with the other two but does note a bit of magic in their opening pose, as well as a connection with Marcquet in his partnering.

Jessica/Stanley
Jazz—Tyce Diorio

Funky carpet ride…and they have to make it fly with their performance.

I’m not sure exactly how complicated the choreography really was, but they made it look effortless. Not sure about their connection in such a short span of time.

Also, I’m not entirely sure I want to know what or where a mosquito’s tweeter is…. O.o

Misty thinks Jessica and Stanley are both overdoing it a touch with their faces and advises them to tone that down and let the superb work their bodies are doing shine; Mary is impressed with Stanley’s fearlessness and agrees about Jessica’s overselling the facial expressions; Nigel agrees with the others about Jessica and advises Stanley to rein in some of the strength and power flying through his limbs and channel it toward his core for a stronger dancing base.

Bridget/Emilio
Jive—Anya Garnis and Pasha Kovalev

Typical struggles of non-ballroom dancers trying to pick up one of the fastest styles in one week. Bridget, could you NOT try to break his nose again? I’d like Emilio to dance a few more weeks, please.

OK, y’all can’t possibly in good conscience vote off a couple that danced to “Happy”—that automatically has to be on tour, and thusly, you have to get these two to Top 10. Fortunately, they do a passable job in pulling off this jive. It does help that Anya and Pasha put in a lot of elements that are within their own styles and comfort levels, but from what I could see the flicks and kicks were sharp and the passes were decent.

Mary was impressed at how well they did with a foreign style (but she’s getting Sometimer’s disease or something, because she dubbed Anya the originator of the Hot Tamale Train, and I CLEARLY remember her putting Sabra and Dominic on with their rumba in Season 3. Maybe I need to go back a few episodes to double check….) and thought they had lots of energy, and while she gave Emilio feedback on improving his technique she felt Bridget seems to grasp and execute it quite well. Nigel commends Emilio on doing well with the very-outside-the-norm jive and thought Bridget was gorgeous in technique and appearance. Misty thought their performance level was on point and that Bridget embraced the note from last week about blending her strength and femininity.

Emily/Teddy
Contemporary—Tyce Diorio

A look deep into a soul that’s saying “Don’t ever leave me.” Well they’re definitely going to need to be connected tonight, aren’t they?

Very abstract and out there, but Teddy’s contemporary form is really something. Emily was good too, but that’s her area.

Nigel thought their performance got very close to touching the human spirit and they danced beautifully; Misty said even though Emily doesn’t speak French, her body does—and was delighted by the articulation in her feet (“you should dance like you’re barefoot every week”). She was also wowed by Teddy and feels that he translates into every genre with ease. Mary feels the same about Emily as Misty felt about Teddy, and was mesmerized for the first time by Teddy.

Brooklyn/Casey
Jazz—Bonnie Story

A boy at a high school prom who wants to ask a girl to dance. Bonnie is very adamant that they keep in character and away from the “technique face” while they’re dancing. I’ll look and see if I can tell what she’s talking about.

This should have been a jive, with Michael Bublé putting his jazzy spin on Freddie Mercury, but it was cute…except for that wanna-be beehive on Brooklyn’s head. That nearly distracted me from watching for the technique, which was really good especially in their unison sections. Didn’t see much face action, but I’m sure the judges will have something to say about it.

Misty was impressed by Brooklyn’s improvement (but noted a little “technique face” when performing outside of genre dance skills) and completely enamored by Casey; Mary thought it was really fun and agreed with Misty’s assessment on both dancers; Nigel makes three and while he did note that Brooklyn coped well with the difficulties of the routine compared to her skill set, he did caution her to dance up to Casey’s level in order to remain safe from possible elimination.

Valerie/Ricky
Viennese Waltz—Lacey Schwimmer

It’s nice to see both the Schwimmer kids working—first Benji last week, and now Lacey this week. I’m guessing the DWTS experience honed her Viennese waltz expertise, since I thought she was mostly Latin trained…but hey, she’s here and doing it, so let’s see what’s on tap. Or, it seems, I should have said on TAPE….did she really duct tape those children together?!? Yessss indeed….

I will say that Valerie is working her little fanny off to capture the styles thrown at her; while some of her attempts to hit certain positions seems a bit choppy she was rounding her arms and doing her damnedest to make them fluid. I’ll defer to Mary about Ricky’s posture and form but it seemed to me that his leading arm had a little too much play in it and should have held stronger. Still, the performance level and connection between these two is really something special. I liked it in spite of hearing this particular Jason Mraz song for the bazillionth time on this show…..

Damn—NIGEL stood up?!? Wow—can’t wait to hear these comments. Mary was quite taken with the pair—praising Ricky’s topline while cautioning him to smooth out the rise and fall in the lower half, and then giving Valerie’s performance glowing reviews while admonishing her to tighten her core to do the head lean instead of dropping into her sides. Nigel declined to speak on their technique and chose to hail their performance level as “beyond reproach,” and thought Valerie’s improvement in rising to Ricky’s standard was stunning and remarkable. Misty agreed with Nigel on all fronts.

(I don’t know what’s on these children’s faces, but as I didn’t see Sonya’s purple hair in the audience, I don’t think it’s her doing.)

Carly/Serge
Hip-Hop—Luther Brown

I haven’t mentioned anyone else’s “deep dark secret” this week, but I have to do this one: Serge—DUDE?!? You’re practically family with the Chmerkovskys and you didn’t channel Maks last week for that contemporary? I’mma need you to do better.

Skeleton people—not something I expected out of Luther Brown. He’s impressed with Carly’s swag, though (guess that dance team experience is paying off). Serge is trying to find his “creepy yet gangsta” sweet spot—I’m wondering if this will have any of the feel of the Pasha/Lauren G. routine from Season 3.

This was definitely more Carly than Serge, but he gave a really good effort. I think he put a little too much slouch in where he was trying to be less erect in his posture, which kind of made the creepy gangsta look more like slouchy sloth. Hard to tell if either did as expected since this number was incredibly laid back.

Nigel thinks this number may make it difficult for the public to rush to vote for them—not because of lack of execution but because the amount of intricacy and effort may not be readily picked out by the viewer. (In short, he basically gave voice to the misgivings I expressed above.) Misty somewhat disagrees, feeling that the public should be made to know how difficult it is for the dancers to switch genres, and ultimately gain a better appreciation for the routines and their execution. Having said that, she went on to compliment Serge on becoming an all-around dancer and Carly on shining in the number. (“But I’m from this generation….” Did she just get in a sly dig on Nigel? Misty, you bold, girl!) Mary also thought Carly was a beast and was fascinated with Serge’s efforts.

Tanisha/Rudy
Broadway—Warren Carlyle

Classic Broadway with canes. Let the mishaps ensue.

The number was “Sing, Sing, Sing,” the version from Fosse, and I dare say, Rudy pulled off some Fosse-like jumps in that. Mixed with a little Gene Kelly, Donald O’Connor, and dare I say, Jess LeProtto—Rudy could get that role if he stays the course in this competition. I’m not particularly drawn in by Tanisha on a general basis, and as this is not as in-your-face as her jazz performance last week, my eyes were drawn to Rudy most of the time. She hit all of her steps but it wasn’t the same strong energy as I’m used to from her…either that, or Rudy’s star really was supernova bright tonight.

Standing O from the judges……Misty thought Rudy was IT, and said the pair danced in unison but let their individual personalities shine through. She did give Tanisha notes on lengthening herself in pirouette to stay on balance, but loved the number overall. Mary called it a showstopper, and was just as impressed with the pair; while Nigel thought their through-the-roof energy brought magic to the stage.

Now see, I was trying to be nice and give these children some breathing room, but since the “secrets” interviews pretty much outed Jacque and Rudy, Cat somehow feels compelled to put them on national blast. Those poor babies turned beet red under those hot lights and all that grilling….but this little crush is too cute!

A Great Big World (whose “Say Something” was probably heavily instrumental in securing Amy Yakima’s victory last year) performs on the stage tonight, reprising that tune on the stage where it made them household names, backed tonight by the West Los Angeles Children’s Choir.

Eliminations are up, and I dread hearing about the guys. I don’t want any of them to go, but again, if I have to go on weakest performance, I’m afraid my Stanley is next to go. I think Emily saved herself with the contemporary, so unless there are serious misgivings about Bridget’s jive that went unvoiced, that extremely abstract piece of Jourdan’s will be her swan song. Dee Kaspery numbers have not fared well on this show so far, so that’s another strike working against her chances.

After deliberating, the judges decide to go with America’s vote (more proof that y’all suck) that it is indeed Stanley and Jourdan going home. I hate that I called two weeks in a row correctly, and this week is a bigger shame because I think given the right number Stanley would have blown the voters away. Though I’m not particularly attached to any of the girls this season, it was my hope that both ballerinas could get to the Top 10. I can’t be totally angry, as one has already triumphed and there’s still one in this year’s race, but I’m still saddened for Jourdan. Her partner, Marcquet, will make Jessica’s third—the public saved her last week but as one-half in another weak number her chances are marginal.

I’m not sure exactly where America’s heads are at (I have an inkling, but I’m trying to be polite) as far as who is grabbing the popularity vote, but this is one crazy ride.