TV Time: SYTYCD Season 10 “Top 4 Perform”

Can there actually be too much of a good thing when it comes to dance?

For me, the answer will always be “no,” but even I have to admit that last night’s episode of So You Think You Can Dance sacrificed a little bit of quality for a lot more in terms of quantity. And while I was happy to see so much dancing on two hours of primetime network television, it was clear that some of the routines suffered from a lack of energy and focus from a group of dancers who should all be given awards for making it through those two hours without collapsing onstage.

I won’t waste my time talking about guest judge Gabby Douglas because, although I adore her, she was on the same level as Carly Rae Jepsen in terms of her clichéd, generic responses. They should have just kept the panel to Nigel, Mary, and Paul Abdul, whose heartfelt (if sometimes spacey) critiques and compliments can grace my ears any day.

But enough about the judges, we have approximately 5000 dances to recap (and I’m only half-joking)!

SOLOS

Jasmine: Remember when we all thought Jasmine’s relationship with Cyrus was going to be a major storyline this season? I cannot say enough about how thrilled I am that this was the only time since Vegas Week that her heartbreak was mentioned, because her narrative became all about her dancing as soon as she stepped on the SYTYCD stage. Jasmine has an incredibly believable duality to her personality: the humble, shy girl who comes alive and finds her confidence when she dances. Her solo this week was another lesson in projecting passion to an audience while never sacrificing technique. And watching both Jasmine and Cat get emotional when it was revealed that Cat got her into the Top 20 was my favorite moment of the whole show last night.

Amy: Amy is a beautiful soloist in terms of pure technique. Her legs are so strong, and her core strength blows my mind. However, sometimes her movements can feel a little choppy and rushed, with too much manufactured angst rather than pure emotion. I think she’s a brilliant technical dancer, and this was my favorite of her solos so far. But I just don’t connect with her solos emotionally in the same way I did with the best SYTYCD female dancers.

Aaron: Aaron makes me happy; it’s as simple as that. When he dances—especially when he taps—he exudes this infectious sense of joy that makes you want to get up and dance, too. I love a good Jason Mraz tap solo, and Aaron worked the rhythms in that song like he’s been dancing to it his whole life. He makes tap look easy, and I can assure you that’s as far from the case as humanly possible. But more than that, he makes tap look like fun—and I’m so grateful to see him as an ambassador for such an under-appreciated style of dance.

Fik-Shun: Fik-Shun knows how to craft solos that are the perfect combination of technical ability, musicality, and humor. I couldn’t stop smiling throughout this entire solo, and I loved that. Like Aaron, he’s a reminder that dance is meant to make people happy. This boy is a born entertainer, and he’s also one of the best hip hop dancers SYTYCD has ever seen.

CONTESTANT PAIRINGS

Amy and Aaron (Jazz): I’m going to be honest here: I forgot about this number almost immediately after I saw it. It wasn’t danced poorly at all. In fact, I thought Aaron and Amy were both very strong in and sold their performances well. I just thought it wasn’t an attention-grabbing dance for a finale show. It was energetic and technically sound, but for some reason it didn’t wow me. Maybe it was because Amy looked way too young next to Aaron to be wearing such a revealing costume. I would have rather seen Jasmine in this piece, because the extra something that was missing might have been a more adult, sexy kind of chemistry.

Jasmine and Fik-Shun (Contemporary): This was a work of art. Travis’s choreography was incredibly creative, and, more importantly, it played to the strengths of his dancers. The underwater theme made use of Fik-Shun’s smooth quality of movement and masked some of his technical flaws, and it showcased Jasmine’s ability to somehow appear both powerful and graceful at the same time.

Amy and Fik-Shun (Paso Doble/Tango Fusion): This dance was where I really started to see the strain on the contestants. I know the Top Four needed to be tested in terms of their versatility, but I’m not so sure introducing them to new ballroom styles is a smart plan when they’re learning so many other dances, too. I thought Amy was powerful and poised in this piece, but it was clear that Fik-Shun was uncomfortable. The lifts looked really labored, and there were more than a few wobbles (I actually got really nervous more than once). Both Fik-Shun and Amy looked like they were thinking really hard about the dance, and that kept them from letting the heat of the dance radiate off of them the way it should have.

Jasmine and Aaron (Samba): This is another example of why introducing a couple to a ballroom style on finale night is not a good idea. Jasmine and Aaron were the opposite of Amy and Fik-Shun: While the latter looked like they were thinking too hard, Jasmine and Aaron seemed to be trying to make up for a lack of technical ability by throwing themselves into the dance with reckless abandon. Personally, I enjoyed this tactic more than Amy and Fik-Shun’s approach. I know it wasn’t technically perfect (or maybe even technically good), but it looked like a heck of a lot of fun. And it was a delight to watch this couple show off their chemistry one last time. The skirt mishap is something that has happened to every dancer at some point, so I won’t blame them for it. Honestly, I don’t think they deserved as much criticism from the judges as they got. It wasn’t their best dance, but they performed the heck out of it.

Fik-Shun and Aaron (Broadway): This style was a perfect fit for the two best male performers to grace the SYTYCD stage this season. They were magnetic without pulling faces or looking like they were trying too hard. Aaron stood out a little bit more to me because I think his stage presence is a little more dynamic, but this was a great showcase for both men.

Amy and Jasmine (Jazz): Oh Mark, how I love you and your insanity. I thought the concept was fun, and it was danced well. However, I think the girls needed a little more time and focus to really get the essence of Mark’s style the way Jenna did. And the twin concept didn’t do them any favors: The wigs covered their expressive faces, and I kept sensing that Jasmine was dancing smaller and more contained than usual to match Amy’s style. With two dancers as talented as these women, I was expecting a little more, to be quite honest.

ALL STAR ROUTINES

Aaron and Melinda (Tap): I’m still not sure how I felt about this routine. I loved the rhythms put on display, the degree of difficulty, and the concept of two tappers having a conversation onstage with their feet. However, I didn’t like the song choice at all. I don’t mind tapping to slow songs, but this song is so sad and angst-ridden—and I love Aaron’s tapping because he captures the Old Hollywood easy grace and joy of tap dancing so well. I don’t need our one tap duet experiment to look like all the contemporary and lyrical hip hop dances this show produces every season. I can appreciate the skill involved from all parties, and I think this was danced as well as it could be danced. I just wasn’t crazy about the interpretation of the style.

Jasmine and Comfort (Hip Hop): This should be the dance that wins Jasmine the competition. First of all, she should be rewarded for choosing something different and for wanting to be challenged. Dancing hip hop alongside Comfort could have showed off Jasmine’s weaknesses, but it only ended up making her look stronger. Both of these women elevated each other and projected a ferocity that left me in awe of them. Jasmine looked like a star, and her confidence in this routine was as inspiring as it was entertaining. Who run the world (besides Beyoncé, of course)? Jasmine and Comfort.

Fik-Shun and Twitch (Hip Hop): Watching these two dance together definitely made my life awesome. Watching this routine was like being at a party you never want to leave; I wished it could have gone on all night. Yes, Fik-Shun looked like Twitch’s little brother, but he danced like his equal. These two are both master entertainers, and it was a true joy watching them share the stage (the “old man” gliding across the stage might be one of my favorite moments of the season).

Amy and Robert (Contemporary): Amy is insanely good at what she does. When she’s given choreography and a partner that are on her level, the result is magic (see her duet with Travis for another example). She moves with such strength, but what really impressed me in this routine was her emotional maturity. You could feel her giving herself over to Robert and to the story they were telling together, and it was so beautiful to watch. This was one of those dances where I held my breath while it was happening because I didn’t want to break the spell. It was—all hyperbole aside—simply gorgeous.

Prediction for Season 10’s Winners: Jasmine and Fik-Shun (but I honestly think it could go either way for both the men and women)

Favorite Routine: Jasmine and Comfort’s Hip Hop

 

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5 thoughts on “TV Time: SYTYCD Season 10 “Top 4 Perform”

  1. I agree! What a wrong choice make them dance ballroom in the finale! Actually, all the 4 dancers (maybe except Amy) show some difficult in ballroom in the previous episodes, so it was predictable they can’t do well enough, especially when they have to learn other 5 routines. Dmitri in an interview said that Jasmine and Aaron did a wonderful job considering they have NO time to prepare the routine. For me they had to give tango to Jasmine and Aaron and samba to Amy and Fik-shun: I think they can do better. Question: did they dance the opening routine??? I didn’t see it anywhere but on the Fox website there are photos of a Mandy Moore top 4 corepgraphy!

    • Thanks for the comment, and I agree with everything you said about their struggles with ballroom just being highlighted more because they had to perform it alongside so many other routines.

      “For me they had to give tango to Jasmine and Aaron and samba to Amy and Fik-shun: I think they can do better.” – I was thinking this as well. I think both couples would have benefitted from swapping styles.

      As for the opening routine, I thought there was going to be a group routine, too, but I’m wondering if they’re saving it for next week since there were so many routines in this episode already. I wish they would have included it this week, though; it’s nice to be able to compare all four dancers side by side.

      • I guess they have recorded the group routine because it’s clear looking at the photos on the website that they’re dancing and they were dressed like at the beginning of the episode (with all the white shirts and pants). So I don’t know why they didn’t show us the routine: poor guys, they had to learn six routines and one of them was useless! Maybe we will see it in the next episode, but why?!?!? I guess that in the next episode there will be something like top 20 routine and stuff like that.

  2. I liked your take on a bunch of the dances. For my money, Twitch and Fik-Shun had the dance of the night because two days later it is still making me happy (although my 7 year old would agree with your pick). As far as judges go, I only have one question – were Adam Shankman and Debbie Allen busy Tuesday night?

    Pet Peeve #1 – Is it just me or have each of the finales basically hosed the girls duet. I can’t recall one that was really stellar. Mark’s dance last night didn’t reach Wade Robeson bizarre and perplexing (Lacey and Sabra I am looking at you). But seriously, from Benji and Travis on through to last night the guys have traditionally just gotten better dances on finale night. Comfort/Jasmine’s dance proved it can be done, but in 10 seasons it hasn’t happened.

    Pet Peeve #2 – Top 4 dance number? I want the group number in a competitive setting. I want to compare the apples, oranges, bananas and grapes in a single routine. I will be happy to see it next week, but it was definitely missing for me last night. They could have pre-recorded it for time and to off set live performances.

    Jasmine for the win — If Jasmine wins it will be on the strength of her solo and decision to dance Hip Hop with Comfort. It was a balls to the wall move and in the vein of the solo Jeanine Mason did that I think was the moment that tipped her over the edge to win her season.

    That said I just didn’t connect withe the girls this year. Both Amy and Jasmine have just been an arms length away. In Amy’s case I think it is an immaturity when left to her own devices. When she has a strong partner she rises to the occasion, but for me that ‘it’ factor is missing. That first dance with Aaron made that clear as did her solo where I just kept wishing she would finish her lines and movements without rushing to the next move. With Jasmine, I suspect it is her personal lack of confidence that leaves her just short for me. Her lines are spectacular and I enjoy watching her dance, I am just rarely moved by her. A friend characterized it in a way that I think is true – she needs to breathe into the movement a bit more. When she has to slow down her energy still feels a little frenetic.

    The boys, I enjoyed Fik Shun throughout the season, but for as amazing an entertainer as he is, I just don’t think he grew like Aaron did. Aaron is a tapper who people forgot was a tapper. That he’s been dancing with a serious injury the last three weeks is amazing to me. Twitch and Joshua are my yardstick for all Hip Hop dancers on the show. I think Fik Shun is the closest they have come to meeting that standard in a long time (the unwarranted love and praise of Cyrus last year still baffles me). I also like a good story and 21st to 1st makes me smile. Much like Aaron has all season long.

    I am calling Amy and Aaron for the win. I think Aaron did enough all season long to take it and I think Amy is very very popular. That said, it’s probably the best Top 4 since season 3 and 4.

    • First of all, your seven year old has excellent taste. 😉

      I totally agree with your Pet Peeve #1. I feel like no finale has ever had a routine between the Top Two girls that has been able to showcase them as well as the guys. I don’t know why that is, and it makes me sad because there’s nothing cooler than watching two fierce, talented women share the stage (see Comfort and Jasmine). I remember being so upset when Lacey and Sabra had that ridiculous fox routine when Neil and Danny got Mia’s incredible “two princes” dance. This wasn’t quite on that level of disparity, but the guys’ routine was definitely more entertaining once again.

      I love what you said about comparing dancers in the group routine because I was so upset that there was none this week. Group routines are often where I separate the best from the rest, and that made comparing this Top Four much more difficult. Plus, I always love the Top Four group routines (starting with the perfection that was Season Two’s “SexyBack”).

      I can definitely see where you would connect with the guys more than the girls this season. Both men are such entertainers, and they really do dance with such unique senses of style. However, I connected with Jasmine almost immediately, and I might actually say she’s my overall favorite this season. My reasons for this are less about her style of dancing and more about what I see in her body language both onstage and off. She’s still very young (for as mature as she dances), and I love that we’ve been able to watch her find her confidence on the SYTYCD stage. She blows my mind with how she can go from being shy and reserved offstage to being a total diva and star onstage. I can feel how much strength she draws from losing herself in her performances, and I very much relate to that as a dancer. Her performances remind me of the way dance helped me develop confidence when I was younger. I think that’s why I love her partnership with Aaron so much; they have both grown so much, and both had to fight so hard to be taken seriously as contenders.

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