So You Think You Can Dance: Season 9 – “Top Four Perform’

Courtesy of FOX

In the words of Cat Deeley, “This is it people”. So You Think You Can Dance delivered its final ‘voting’ show of the season, utterly exhausting the final four dancers so we can adequately vote for our favourites. How did they fare with learning a whopping five new routines?

Let’s bitch it out.

With a move to Tuesday nights, all of this talk of ‘finale’, and a fully diamond encrusted Mary Murphy, I naively thought this would be the last episode of the season. Little did I know that we would be treated to a two-part finale. I should have known – as in season’s past – it’s been tradition to run the finalists into the ground by forcing them to learn a bucket-full of new routines. I’m blaming idiocy on the confusion of putting voting and results in the same show all season long.  Let’s get right to it:

Former partners Eliana and Cyrus reunited for a paso doble. Cyrus totally sells it with his facial expressions (aka his ‘Blue Steel’), but in terms of dancing, I didn’t much care of this one. I didn’t feel the passion or the tension; it just felt slow to me. It was as though Cyrus was waiting for Eliana to finish doing the hard stuff so they could complete the next move. It’s a shame because I felt that Eliana probably killed it, but I was too focused on Cyrus, willing him to be less awkward.

Courtesy of FOX

Tiffany was up next with All-Star Will, who was unrecognizable from his season four days. They tackled a Sonya Tayeh jazz routine, and anyone who’s read my reviews of jazz performances past knows that I have a really hard time getting into this genre. There were absolutely beautiful movements, and lifts that were pulled off with ease and grace. They must’ve be extremely difficult, but even with that knowledge, this routine wasn’t overly memorable to me. I have no doubt of the dancers’ talents and athleticism, but ultimately I was left wanting. I appreciated that there wasn’t a cumbersome ‘story’, but I needed something to hold onto and that something simply wasn’t there. Perhaps I’m just suffering from dance overload, but this one didn’t do it for me.

Courtesy of FOX

Eliana was back with Chehon dancing a ballet routine. It was quite the treat having dancers who aren’t Cyrus put squarely in their genre. Although this routine was precious to watch, I can see why the show has been reluctant having competitors dance a traditional ballet routine. Ultimately, it felt slow, and Chehon wasn’t featured enough in comparison to Eliana. But when he did that leapy-spinny thing (totally a technical term) near the end – it sure made up for it. And can we talk about Eliana? The girl is en-pointe for almost the entire routine! Anyone who doubts the sheer difficulty of this should try and spin (and balance) on their tippy-toes. If you think that’s hard, this girl is the TOPS of her toes. Come on now – that is some difficult shizz.

Courtesy of FOX

Next up were Cyrus and Tiffany in a smooth (aka lyrical) hip-hop routine. This one was quite good and Tiffany finally got rid of her distracting perma-grin (for this routine at least). Cyrus did well with some very intricate choreography and the synchronicity was tight. Passion emulated from both dancers and I appreciated that there were highs and lows throughout the performance. Will this be a routine for the ages? No, but it was entertaining nonetheless.

Courtesy of FOX

Mid-way through the show we got a group number choreographed by Tyce Diorio. Cat Deeley described it as “quirky” but I found it straight-up weird. I appreciated that the routine was meant to feature all of the dancers in their individual genres, but half-way into it things just started to feel unfocused. It read almost like they were asked to improv the second half, which I suppose was the point, but ultimately it felt like organized chaos and I didn’t think it resonated.

Courtesy of FOX

After that we got a wonderful palate cleanse with Chehon and Allison dancing a gorgeous Stacey Tookey routine. The story and music were a bit obvious, but oh my goodness was this routine ever amazing. This was another routine that transcended the show: I wasn’t interested in critiquing; I just wanted to watch. The lifts were just effortless (including a one-handed one!) and the acting completely believable. The only quibble I had with this number was at the end: perhaps the two stayed in character just a bit too long or Cat chimed in a moment too early, but it took away from the power of that ending. Tookey needs an Emmy for this one. Chehon might have won the competition with this routine. A piece of this caliber is one I would gladly shell out money for.

Courtesy of FOX

Next up was an all-girl routine with Eliana and Tiffany pole dancing in a burlesque-Broadway mash-up. It was very sensual routine, but displayed some serious skills, especially in an ending move where both girls twirled on the same pole! It was just breathtaking to watch and both dancers pulled it off with complete ease. I think Eliana had a slight advantage over Tiffany, as her extensions were just a little more graceful, taking the time to move in and out of them. Tiffany was a slight bit choppy, but only in comparison to Eliana (since they were side by side it was inevitable to compare them). Again, I don’t think I will remember this routine in a couple of weeks, but at the time I was gob-smacked.

Courtesy of FOX

Chehon was paired with Cyrus to dance a Sonya Tayeh “warrior” routine. It was revealing that the judges gave more general comments about the dancers rather than their work in this particular piece. I can only assume that they felt as I did: this routine fell flat. With the two guys dancing directly next to one another, mirroring the same movements, it mostly highlighted Cyrus’ deficiencies. I don’t know if it was because he was exhausted, but he certainly looked it. And it was evident in more than just the tricky movements. Even when the two were marching mid-stage at the beginning, Cyrus’ posture just wasn’t as austere and powerful as Chehon’s. This was something Cyrus could have easily corrected with just a little more awareness and effort. It was interesting that Nigel made the distinction between his favourite person and his favourite dancer. I’m not sure which side of that coin I’d like to be on if I was a competitor.

Courtesy of FOX

In an interlude to finally give the poor dancers some rest time – we were treated to B-Boy sensation Jean Sok, a dancer with only one leg. Personally, I thought it was really inspirational because he used every part of him to express the beautiful musical accompaniment. There were moves he did that would be quite difficult for even an individual with two legs to perform, which made it all the more inspiring.

Courtesy of FOX

Next up were Alex-FRICKIN-Wong (AFW) and Eliana in a Travis Wall routine. Stop. The. Presses. This trio is deadly and had me salivating during the entire rehearsal video package. And thankfully, this routine completely delivered. The dancers flowed like buttah from one move to the next, bringing just the right amount of facial expressions and performance. And when I say ‘facial expressions’, I don’t mean just pulling the face in angst. It’s the authentic angst that hits you right in the back of your throat, bringing you into the emotion of the piece. It’s not about a ‘story’ or the technicalities of the movements; it’s about being completely enthralled and in the moment. Guest judge Rob Marshall said it best when he said the routine was like poetry: something you get lost in. This routine represented everything great about the show. We feel pieces like this – they stay with you. I think Eliana sealed the deal with this one.

Courtesy of FOX

Next up was a sultry rumba with Chehon and Tiffany. The routine was supposed to be “so hot it’s uncomfortable” but sadly it was not. It was more ethereal than sensual, but I thought on the whole, both dancers did a great job. The perma-grins were out in spades from the both of them, which actually distanced me from the piece. Admittedly I was definitely on dance overload at this point (one routine was blurring with the others) but I remember enjoying this in the moment. Much like the other routines of the night, I just found it ultimately unmemorable.

Courtesy of FOX

Finally we had the eagerly anticipated pair up of Cyrus and tWitch doing a full-on animation routine. Is there anything that tWitch can’t do? The dance was great, but I think it suffered from over-hype. The build-up was way too much – I was expecting to be blown away, and I think I would have been had it not been for inflated expectations. The synchronization was slightly off, and again, Cyrus’ fatigue was evident. tWitch’s extensions were just bigger and tighter, which ended up working for me because it provided contrast throughout the routine. I will give Cyrus some allowance as he did dance five other routines tonight, but side-by-side, the scales slightly tipped in tWitch`s favour.

And then came the ultimate buzz-kill of the night: Nigel gets the award for ‘Debbie Downer of the Century’  when he told Cyrus that he doesn’t have Nigel’s vote. Where the hell did that come from? I know that Cyrus was really excited about doing this number and all gripes aside, it was pretty damn enjoyable. Couldn’t Nigel have told Cyrus this later? Or perhaps in private? Or not at all? Why not let the poor guy enjoy his moment? I don’t know if it’s a rouse to sway more viewers into voting for Cyrus (Editor’s Note: This was my take on it). If this was Nigel’s attempt to increase the voting, thereby making the results show a nail-biter, I think it was unnecessarily cruel considering this routine was Cyrus’ best performance of the night. I mean they were all standing up applauding! Nigel didn’t tell us who he was voting for in terms of the girls, so why single Cyrus out? It was in poor taste and I lost respect for Nigel because of it.

What do you think Dance fans? Which dancers will take it all? How did you feel about Nigel’s final comments? Did you think it was overkill having all those dances, or was it just enough to showcase the amazing talent of our final four? Sound off in our comments section below.

So You Think You Can Dance airs its real finale next Tuesday night at 8pm EST on FOX

About tvangie

Angie is a TV addict currently pursuing a PhD in media studies. A freelance researcher and writer on the side – she really misses talking about her favourite shows because none of her friends watch them. Help her out.

2 thoughts on “So You Think You Can Dance: Season 9 – “Top Four Perform’

  1. I think that Eliana and Cyrus are going to take home the prize this season. Personally I would have liked Chehon to win over Cyrus, but if those two win it won’t be too bad. It even would kind of symbolize the how this competiton awards America’s Favorite (Cyrus) Dancer (Eilana). I was talking to a coworker at Dish about the show, and she thought that Chehon may have made some ground last night. I think that his performances were more impressive, and he got to show how much better he was when they were performing side-by-side. I was really upset last night when I realized that I had missed the final performances, but luckily my Hopper automatically recorded it for Primetime Anytime. I am so glad that I was able to catch it because it was the best episode from this season, and one of the best in the history of the show.

  2. Nice recap. There are so many uninformed people writing up “reviews” that leave me scratching my head wondering what show they’ve been watching. I hope Chehon and Eliana take it despite Nigel’s manipulations, which could’ve hurt him in particular. Regardless, he’s clearly the most spectacular dance talent I’ve seen in a long time.

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