I would just like to take one moment to say I CALLED IT!
From the very first week of the competition, I knew there was something special about Amy and Fik-Shun and Jasmine and Aaron. These two couples just seemed to click and bring out the best in each other in a way no other couple was able to this season. Both were perfectly matched and great compliments for one another—with the youthful energy of Fik-Shun and Amy providing a good counterpoint to the mature chemistry between Jasmine and Aaron. Both of these couples were made up of performers, dancers who come alive in a special way as soon as the music starts and the lights go on. They were power couples from the first week, and now they’re the only couples left standing.
As excited as I am to see the four best entertainers left in the competition move on to the finale, I can’t say I was 100% pleased with the results. While I agree that Haley’s time had come, I’m not so sure I was ready to say goodbye to Paul. He was clearly the best technician left, and I thought he had really grown into his own as a performer as well. In the last couple of weeks, I found myself falling under his spell and becoming more and more impressed with his versatility and stage presence. I would have liked to see him in the finale instead of Fik-Shun (I just think Paul has grown more and shown more versatility throughout the season), but saying goodbye to any of the guys this week would have been hard.
You know what wasn’t hard at all this week? Listening to Jesse Tyler Ferguson as the guest judge. He proved once again why he’s my favorite to fill the third seat on the panel with his jokes at Carly Rae Jepson’s expense, self-deprecating sense of humor, and adorable crush on Aaron. (Note to Jesse: Get in line, my friend.)
Ferguson was kept busy this week with a full slate of dances, so let’s start discussing them!
Fik-Shun: While I may not think he’s shown the same level of growth and versatility as Paul and Aaron, there’s no denying Fik-Shun’s genius in his own style. This solo was one of the best hip hop solos I’ve ever seen on So You Think You Can Dance; his musicality was perfect, his movements were ridiculously fast and precise, and his smile absolutely lit up the stage once again.
Paul: Ballroom solos can sometimes fall flat, but this solo was captivating from start to finish. Paul is such a chameleon that I sometimes forget what his specialty actually is, so this solo was a great reminder of just how good he is as a ballroom dancer. He oozed controlled power while still managing to exude the easy charisma that’s made him so likeable, which is a tough balancing act to perfect.
Aaron: I’ll announce my bias before I say any more: I’m a tapper. Tap holds a special place in my heart, and sometimes I get emotional just thinking about what this style of dance has given me. There’s a certain joy that tap gives me—the joy of a little kid putting tap shoes on for the first time and discovering that they can make music with their feet. And this solo was such a pure expression of that joy. Aaron’s love for this style came through in every part of his performance—from the genuine smile on his face to the relaxed and easy way he moved his upper body. It was like watching someone come home, watching someone in their happy place. Yes, his rhythms were incredible and his musicality was precise and thoroughly entertaining, but what really made me love this routine—what made me cry happy tears while watching it—was seeing Aaron show the world what I feel when I put on my tap shoes: the joy, the comfort, and the thrill of entertaining an audience with the music of my feet.
Amy: I love seeing Amy in pieces that force her to go to genuinely emotional places without the safety net of playing a cutesy character. This solo was danced with raw abandon, but there were times when that abandon got in the way of her technique. Some of her pirouettes could have been a little cleaner, but she attempted so many of them that I have to give her points for the sheer degree of difficulty alone.
Haley: I think Haley is absolutely beautiful, but her solos were not one of her strong points. It’s not that this solo wasn’t good; it’s that it felt generic. It was the same solo we’ve seen from female contemporary dancers for 10 seasons. There was nothing bad about it, but there was nothing great or groundbreaking, either.
Jasmine: There’s something special about this girl. She’s so much more than just a great pair of legs, and this solo proved that. She’s a beautifully controlled technician with a unique style of movement. She’s a master of musicality. And she’s also one of the most magnetic dancers to ever set foot on the SYTYCD stage. She dances with a fire that can’t be taught and carries herself with a mature presence far beyond her years.
ALL STAR ROUTINES
Paul and Kathryn: Jazz
I loved the opening shot of this routine and thought both dancers executed it well, but there was something missing. The whole thing felt a little boring and kind of uninspired in terms of its choreography—but maybe I’m just spoiled because of how brilliant and different the All Stars’ choreography was last week. While I thought Paul was smooth and sexy and Kathryn was as beautiful as ever, this isn’t one I’m rushing to YouTube or my DVR to watch again.
Haley and Joshua: Hip Hop
This routine was one of those cases where the All Star completely overshadowed the contestant through no fault of their own. I’d forgotten just how amazing Joshua is as a hip hop dancer, and this was one heck of a reminder. He was hard-hitting and fierce, and poor Haley was just trying to keep up. She did an admirable job, but this was no “Lauren and Twitch in Season 7” moment.
Aaron and Melanie: Broadway
A few things about this routine didn’t make sense: The talking at the beginning felt strange, and the acting throughout took the focus away from some good dancing. The song (“Faith” by George Michael) is not what I think of when I think of a Broadway routine with lots of acting in it. And I’ve never thought of Melanie as a great actress. This routine wanted to be great, but it never quite clicked. And that’s without mentioning the very obvious drop. You could tell Aaron’s injured shoulder was bothering him, but I liked his refusal to make excuses. However, I could have done without Nigel’s ranting about correcting his shoulders every week. From what I can remember, those corrections only happened last week and this week. It felt more than a little harsh and kind of out-of-the-blue.
Amy and Alex: Bollywood
Was anybody else terrified that Alex was going to hurt himself again, or was that just me? Thankfully, he kept both Achilles tendons together this time and was part of the best Bollywood routine since Katee and Joshua introduced the style to audiences in Season Four. It was athletic, it was fast, and it was a heck of a lot of fun, which is exactly what I want from a Bollywood routine.
Fik-Shun and Witney: Foxtrot
I have to agree with Jesse Tyler Ferguson on this one: It looked like Witney was leading Fik-Shun around the floor, and he was trying to hang on until the end. His charm comes through in every dance, but you could see him concentrating more than a few times in this routine, which takes away from the grace and ease a good foxtrot should have.
Jasmine and Neil: Contemporary
I can’t even give this dance a proper critique because I’m still blown away (pun intended) by how self-important Tyce Diorio sounded and acted when it came to this dance. He should have just let the movement speak for itself; his lack of trust in Jasmine and Neil’s ability to make the audience understand the story bothered me. He had not only two of the best dancers but also two of the best actors SYTYCD has ever seen, and he overshadowed their ability to emote through movement by hitting the audience over the head with blowing papers, audio clips, and one distractingly bad voiceover featuring his own voice to end the routine. Jasmine and Neil were beautiful together—fluid and strong at the same time. I just wish they would have been given something—or someone—better to work with.
Haley and Paul: Contemporary
This was sadly forgettable for me. I liked the way the choreography reflected the story (especially when Paul was standing behind Haley doing the same walking motions she was doing), and I thought the two of the them had good chemistry for only being together this week. But nothing about the routine jumped out and grabbed me. If I’m going to watch one of Paul’s contemporary routines again, I would pick “Edge of Glory” over this one every time.
Amy and Fik-Shun: Hip Hop
This routine was a great way to show how this couple has grown throughout the competition, especially Amy. Fik-Shun was still his adorable and charming self, which fit with what he was asked to do, but Amy was something entirely new. She was confident, sexy, and surprisingly mature. While their bellhop hip hop is still my favorite, this one was entertaining in a completely different way.
Jasmine and Aaron: Jazz
There’s a reason these two have been my ultimate power couple from Day One: They’re both so strong in so many ways. Physically, no one else could have executed this routine so well. Jasmine’s leg extension (the one where it went completely over her head to a 90-degree angle) was probably one of the most memorable moments of the whole season. But what really stood out to me was the strength of their partnership. They both bring out a fire in the other that only shows itself when they’re together; it’s that trust that allows them to attack routines with abandon because they know their partner is doing the same thing and always has their back. They move with such synchronicity, and their chemistry is different from any other pairing this season because it’s mature and tangible and more than a little hot.
Standout Performers: Aaron, Fik-Shun, Jasmine, Amy (No surprises here!)
Favorite Routine: Aaron’s Tap Solo
Ah, Tyce. Tyce, Tyce, Tyce. He is smug, he is smarmy, he is self-congratulatory, he is WAY too verbal when judging at auditions, and he should never ever ever ever do any routines but jazz. He’s an excellent jazz choreographer.
Wait, did a quick check – he did Allison & Ivan “Why” & Ade & Melissa “This Woman’s Work”. So thta’s 2 non-jazz numbers he did well. But we have Stacey Tookey now.
I too was hoping for Paul rather than Fik-shun, but then I missed Fik-shun’s solo, & everyone has been raving about it, so I’m off to find it.
The funny thing is I used to like Tyce. Back when he did “Why” it was one of my favorite SYTYCD routines ever. But somewhere along the way, his choreography began to grow stale (ESPECIALLY his Broadway stuff), and his smugness seemed to get worse. All of that seemed to culminate in the self-important tour-de-force we saw on Tuesday.
I hope you found Fik-Shun’s solo because it really was a joy to watch. He might not have been my favorite all-around dancer this season, but I can’t say the boy doesn’t have incredible amounts of talent.
Tyce believes his own hype and over the last few seasons it has reflected in his choreography, this season being particularly awful. It’s funny the comparison of last week’s all star choreography to this week really shows the need to have some change out of choreographers. At least Mia had enough presence of mind to back off when she was no longer inspired.
That said, I am all for the first tapper winning this thing. Not just because of your wonderful love letter to the genre, but because Aaron was an alternate. He didn’t make the original top 20 cut. He is the personification of talent meeting opportunity with humility. It’s been the best thing to watch all season long.
“It’s funny the comparison of last week’s all star choreography to this week really shows the need to have some change out of choreographers.” – I think it’s no coincidence that the week I found the choreography most lacking was the week after the All Stars injected so much life and energy into the show.
I love everything you said about Aaron. He was my favorite from the beginning, and he’s done nothing but impress me more and more each week—not only with his talent but with his humility. I hope to see much more of him long after this season is over.
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