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So You Think You Can Dance Review: Fearsome Foursome

_MG_2236And we have our So You Think You Can Dance finalists, folks! At long last, the final two boys and two girls were selected by America to dance and compete one last time for their viewing pleasure, and QUITE a pleasure it was. Jesse Tyler Ferguson, who’s joined Nigel and Mary on the judging panel four times prior, was a great guest judge to give criticism and praise to the contestants one last time. Though not a dancer, he’s a consummate performer, extremely entertaining and a real fan of the show. (He even got a dig in at Carly Rae Jepsen’s horror judging.) In essence, he’s one of the brood!

I have to be honest. I found this to be one of the most emotional episodes of the show. Not only am I extremely invested in five of the six who were left standing at the beginning, but because the producers have really ratcheted up our connection to these dancers through some great storytelling. I don’t often talk about the packages once we’ve gotten to know each dancer, but this week’s clips of their parents and their pride made me tear up. It really put this reality show into perspective, reminding me how this is truly one of the only reality competitions that create careers out of unknowns. Twitch or Kathryn McCormick may not be in the spotlight and making loot like Kelly Clarkson or Carrie Underwood – but those are random phenoms – they will have long, fruitful careers as dancers and most likely choreographers, if not something even greater. Alright, enough of my sappiness!

Each week has gotten harder and harder to rank, so why would this one be any different? But instead of ranking each performance – of which we had our contestants pairing with an All-Star, pairing with competitors and soloing – I want to focus on ranking the remaining dancers. And to make it all the more relevant, I won’t bury the lead. Paul and Hayley were sent packing. It was a forgone conclusion at the beginning of the show, but they really did give their all, not knowing the news yet. The night began with an inspiring African piece by Sean Cheesman to the harmonious sounds of the Soweto Gospel Choir. It was organic and beautiful.

PAUL KARMIRYAN

with Kathryn McCormick | Jazz | Tyce Diorio | “Tied Up” by Yello

with Hayley | Contemporary | Dee Caspery | “I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles)” by Sleeping At Last
There was no question he would fall to the bottom of the pack in my eyes, not for lack of skill or passion or personality. He has all of the above, which is probably why he won SYTYCD Armenia. But, I’ll say it again – he’s already won a SYTYCD! Maybe a much smaller scale one; maybe one that’s not watched worldwide, but I still found myself a little miffed every time he was praised for how well rounded of a dancer he is! He’s competed in a similar format and won! Hmmm. I wonder how he did that. Maybe it was because he grew to be better-rounded the last time around. Tonight, however, I did feel sad for the guy who knew how to perform from the beginning, and really continued to grow through THIS competition. Paul really shined during his Tyce piece with Katherine, showcasing his inner entertainer, while his second routine with Hayley allowed him to convey a more emotional, deep side. At least, he went out on top!

HAYLEY ERBERT

with Joshua Allen | Hip-hop | NappyTabs | “Work Hard, Play Hard” by Wiz Khalifa

with Paul | Contemporary | Dee Caspery | “I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles)” by Sleeping At Last

Now, Hayley is another story. She’s really grown on me the past few weeks, proving herself a contender and that she deserved to make it to the finals. Of course, I wouldn’t have picked her over Amy or Jasmine either, given that I couldn’t remember who she was for most weeks. I guess the plus side is she’s leaving and has forever imprinted on my mind. Mission accomplished? What I can say is that I really didn’t love her first piece with Josh as much as the judges and that sealed my own personal need to justify why she shouldn’t be in the finals. Josh killed the hard hitting (boxing-themed) routine, and she had such a fun character to play, but she was always half a second behind and never hit each step as hard as her partner. Thankfully, she ended with that gorgeous Dee piece.

DU-SHAUNT “FIK-SHUN” STEGALL

with Witney Carson | Foxtrot | Jonathan Roberts | “Sexy Silk” by Jessie J

with Amy | Hip-hop | Dave Scott | “Lemme See” Usher featuring Rick Ross

I’m usually a hip-hop supporter, especially the boys, but Fik-Shun just hasn’t grown enough in my opinion. Greatly, yes. Still, not enough. He had a particularly difficult style to pull off in the Foxtrot, and he really looked like he enjoyed himself. Behind the scenes, I hear that he’s amazingly dedicated and such a hard worker. You can tell by what he’s conquered since Top 20, and succeeded at. This just wasn’t the week. They tried to throw in some glides and tricks to make him feel more comfortable, but it only took what would have been a C to a B. Then, he got hip-hop, his own style, with Amy and killed it. He should have, though, so it’s hard to really give him bonus points. I put him above the two dancers who went home because I really feel that he earned a spot in the Top 4 due to his body of work and how much he’s grown. His solo was also the only one I wanted to rewind. No one can do what he does and that shouldn’t be forgotten.

JASMINE HARPER

with Neil Haskell | Contemporary | Tyce Diorio | “Unfaithful” from Unfaithful

with Aaron | Jazz | Sean Cheesman | “Mirror Mirror” by Lord KraVen

The top three are so close it hurts. I could have toiled over the second and third spot endlessly, but I just went with my gut. Jasmine has been one of my favorites from the start. She has that spark. She can play hard, goofy and sexy. Then, there are the endless legs and her grace. Basically, she had it all, and yet, she never appeared too polished or trained. When she dances, I feel like it comes from her heart, and I know it to be true. She proved that this week when she gave herself fully to Neil in such an emotional number, and then jazzed it up with Aaron later in a totally unconventional, sharp number. The difference with my love for Jasmine than the next dancer on my list is that my love for her pretty much started off high and plateaued.

_MG_1557AMY YAKIMA

with Alex Wong | Bollywood | Nakul Dev Mahajan | “Munni Badhaam Hui Darling” from Dabangg

with Fik-Shun | Hip-hop | Dave Scott | “Lemme See” Usher featuring Rick Ross

My love for Amy, on the other hand, bubbled up and exploded on me. And she did it much faster and more in your face than Hayley did. It’s like she knew all the brunette contemporary dancers would start to blend together, and so she danced like she was shouting for you to watch her. Plus, she was paired with a partner that production focused-on very early on, so that didn’t hurt. What did help her, unlike Fik-Shun, was that she was an unknown, so when she does pull off something like the tough and strenuous Bollywood routine she was charged with this week, the audience has to wonder, “Where’d this girl come from?” Then, it turned into, “This girl kills it every week.” Her relative anonymity at the beginning, and then being so quickly thrust into the forefront with her partner, really worked to her advantage. The connection she had with Fik-Shun, easily seen in their routine this week, also helped.

AARON TURNER

with Melanie Moore | Broadway | Spencer Liff | “Faith” by George Michael

with Jasmine | Jazz | Sean Cheesman | “Mirror Mirror” by Lord KraVen

I love this guy! Jesse might have a crush on him, but watch out if I get to him first. He’s so sweet and strong and funny and talented, and all-around Capt. Awesome. “Faith” is such a cool song; it never grows old. It was perfectly paired to the story of an in love couple, but twist, they know how to push each other’s buttons. Throw in Melanie, one of the best actresses to ever grace the SYTYCD stage (Jesse’s words, but agreed!), and you have a comical piece full of character. Once more, I could have killed Nigel for critiquing him on his shoulders when so few critical judgments are given at this point, but Aaron took it in stride and actually improved upon i for his second, funky number with Jasmine.

Okay, so, I said it! I choose Aaron. I know I was leaning that way for a while, so it may not be a shocker. But somehow I feel so weird not rooting for the contemporary goddess or hardworking hip-hopper. Usually that’s the norm, and when has a tapper EVER made it to the top four? Just for that, he deserves to win! Jesse said it best when he alluded to the fact that no one in the competition could tap, yet he’s conquered so many of “their” genres, and he’d love to see them try tap one year. Of course, Nigel would never let them. It’d be a totally disaster to our eyes and ear. And though Aaron’s number one in my heart, we all know two winners are crowned, and Amy would be a fabulous Queen.

Now that I’ve given my two cents, I’d love to hear yours. Next week, there one more chance for the finalist to perform before the winners are crowned. Did Paul and Hayley rightfully go home? Who are your top girl and your top guy? If you had to go back to voting for a sole winner, who’d it be? Sound off!

Season 10, Episode 14: Top 6 Perform/2 Eliminated (originally aired August 28, 2013)

For more So You Think You Can Dance, check out our other reviews.

Images courtesy of Adam Rose/FOX.

SYTYCD airs Tuesday and Wednesday nights at 8/7c.

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