‘So You Think You Can Dance’: Grab your pillows ‘cause we’re almost home


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I love “So You Think You Can Dance” but I confess I won’t mind having a break from these two-hour Wednesday night shows after this week. I’m sure the dancers feel the same way: Tonight they each performed four choreographed numbers in addition to their solos. No matter how you feel about this season’s dancers, you can’t argue that they were put through the wringer: Lauren, Kent and Robert are lucky just to have reached this point in good physical health.

I disagreed with the judges right off the bat tonight regarding Kent’s Bollywood routine with all-star Lauren. Adam called it “literally perfect” but I felt otherwise. Although Bollywood dances can be over the top and dramatic, I thought Kent was clowny and cheesy and actually a little sloppy in his performance. Actually, only Adam really praised Kent to the heavens: I agreed with Nigel that the dance had great choreography, great costumes and great dancing (in that order) and with Mia that it was “very Kentish.” I’d say it was my least favorite Bollywood performance to date.

By comparison, I thought Lauren did a great job embodying the character in her hip-hop dance with Twitch by Tabitha and Napoleon, who once again did a great job. I wasn’t sure at first that the concept of their dance about a political debate could work, but they did a very clever job (the vague resemblance to Barack and Hillary didn’t hurt either). I especially liked the move of Twitch trying to muzzle Lauren and her escaping his grasp. The judges all praised Lauren for her consistency and her balance of masculinity and femininity.

Next, Robert performed a Tyce Diorio jazz routine with Mark, a fun routine to “Whip It,” where the duo looked like a pair of New Wave twins. I liked it when Mia Michaels said the two reminded her of Adam Ant (and even more when Cat danced and sang “Stand and Deliver.”) I used to compare Robert unfavorably to Mark, but I think he matched right up to the all-star this time, and the judges agreed.

I loved the next dance, a Dee Caspary contemporary number for Robert and Lauren about the relief of going home after the show. It was a beautiful, peaceful dance with lots of gentle, delicate catches, and was, to me, rather sexy in a comfortable, restful way. I thought Robert especially demonstrated how far he’s come in the competition: I used to complain that he didn’t command enough onstage, but I agree with Mia that he’s the most improved in the competition.

Poor Mandy Moore. I was kind of glad that I wasn’t alone in thinking that the teenagery “Hip to Be Square” jazz dance Kent and Lauren did was rather cheesy and shallow for the finale, but the judges felt the same way, to the point where Cat even seemed to agree with Mia, who said she didn’t like the dance. Adam refused to even comment on the dance. Even though I’m not rooting for Kent to win, I thought it was very sweet and classy of him to stick up for his choreographer after the judges’ critiques.

Kent further endeared himself to me with the contemporary dance he did with Allison to Stacey Tookey’s choreography. I found myself watching Allison a lot at first, but I realized that Kent was really dancing like a man and not as a funny young guy. I especially liked the moves where the pair, playing the perfect couple that’s not so perfect behind closed doors, manipulated each other like puppets. Moreover Kent was really able to capture a scared, sad vulnerable man. Adam declared that Kent became an artist, not just a dancer tonight.

I enjoyed Robert and Kathryn’s Spencer Liff Broadway dance to “Cool” from “West Side Story”: I liked how Spencer took the song and changed the story to it, this time setting it in an interrogation room. The dance didn’t shake my soul or anything, but I thought Robert smoldered (and it’s hard to compete with Kathryn in that category). The judges praised Robert, in particular for showing off the different sides to his technique.

Although I wouldn’t necessarily have picked a ballroom dance for Lauren to finish the competition, I thought she did a great job with Pasha on the cha-cha. She’s come a long way in terms of harnessing her sensuality and she made the most of her hips and rear in the performance, which also featured some death-defying lifts choreographed by Tony and Meredith. Nigel declared her the show’s best contemporary female dancer to take on ballroom. Mia said that if she were still dancing, she’d like to dance like Lauren and Adam called it “exhibition-style perfect,” so, yeah, I think the judges liked it too.

Although Kent and Robert’s Malevos fight dance wasn’t my all-time favorite guy-guy dance on the show, I know the boys were exhausted and it was exciting to see this new, tango-style dance, so I don’t have much to really pick on. The footwork was impressive at times as were the lifts and twirls. Nigel pointed out that the dancers in this finale performed more than those in any other “SYTYCD” finale in history, and Adam proclaimed tonight’s three his favorite of the entire series.

Since Kent was criticized a bit for his Bollywood dance and the judges didn’t love the dance he did with Lauren, it could be argued that Robert had the best night tonight. I have come around on him since the beginning of the season, and since he’s improved so much, I’d be happy to see him win, although I’m a Lauren fan as well. I don’t think that Kent is less deserving than they are, but you can’t want everyone to win! Who do you pick to win, or rather, who would do you hope doesn’t win?

-- Claire Zulkey