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Oh, NO. This week on So You Think You Can Dance, we’re back to the bad, fugly PromCat. Blinding sparkly silver tinfoil dress, matching giant sparkly bracelets, and enormous, poofy hair. I knew last week’s gorgeosity couldn’t last. Our top four dance on in, and they’ve all decided to give Cat a run for her money in the fug department. Donyelle is wearing jeans and an assortment of brown burlap rags. She flashes us her stomach, which is really ill-advised. I mean, I don’t do that, and there’s a reason. Hint: It’s the SAME reason.
The rest of them are no better. Benji has on a T-shirt that is way too pink and flowery, layered over a long-sleeved white collared item. Heidi is in by far the best shape, clothing-wise, but she is nonetheless wearing a bright green sack. And Travis has decided to dress up as a pretend biker. He has, yes, a black vest with random zippers and/or buckles, and big black shit-kickin’ boots, and even some spiffy black wristbands. But you know he’s going nowhere near an actual bike, because his boots are flapping open in the breeze, and he’s wearing manpris. Seriously, y’all, this is a bad clothes day for everyone. Maybe they’re trying to confuse us all before the vote.
Cat tells us that tonight each contestant will dance solo, and also, they’ll all dance with each other. And yes, I’m going to get my wish about the all-guy and all-girl pairings. (I wasn’t surprised by this, because a tuned-in commenter tipped me off after last week’s post, but I’m still delighted.) Then Cat blows my mind by telling me that we aren’t going to find out the winner until next Wednesday. Whoa – why is it taking them a week to tabulate the votes? Are they bringing in UN election observers to make sure there’s no coup d’état? Sure, I’m happy not to do two recaps in one week, but this seems like an awfully long time to attempt to sustain America’s interest.
Cat introduces the judges. Now, this is the very last performance show, so you’d think they’d bring out their all-star judges, the crème de la crème. Instead, they have Nigel, Mary, and a guy who, I’d like to remind everyone, once wore this:
Yes, it’s Brian Friedman, the second-biggest jackass I’ve ever seen on this show – second only to a certain someone known as James “Jaymz” Tuaileva. Luckily, we don’t waste any time talking to the judges. We also don’t see the contestants drawing styles out of that omnipresent hat. Instead, we plunge right into rehearsals of Heidi and Travis’s disco routine.
I think I’m solidly on the record with my feelings about disco routines. I used to instinctively love them, but the wiser among you presaged my current way of thinking, which is that the dancing doesn’t tend to actually be very good. On the other hand, I still love the costumes, and sometimes the music. BUT. Holler if you think Heidi was born to disco. Okay, now holler if you think Travis was born to disco. (Crickets chirping.) So this could be interesting. The choreographer is that scary Elvira lady, Doriana Sanchez. She says that the routines are extra-short this week, so this one will have to explode out of the box. Wow, she’s right – if I’m counting correctly, we’re going to have ten dances in one hour-long show. And little do I know that there is plenty of filler ahead, as well. No wonder Cat hustled us right into rehearsal.
The clothes do not disappoint. Heidi is in sparkly fuchsia, kind of like a figure-skating dress. Travis has the awesome purple shirt, white vest, and white pants combo. He opens up with a pirouette with his arms in perfect ballet position overhead – yeah, that’s not very disco, Trav. Anyway, they execute all of their disco moves, but they don’t have any soul. Heidi has that fake open-mouthed frozen grin that she gets sometimes. They’re technically strong but I don’t think they feel it.
Nigel tells Cat that she looks like a disco ball. That’s fairly accurate. He calls Heidi the best girl partner in the competition, and Travis is like, “True that.” Nigel thought the dance was a great start to the evening. Mary loved the song, BUT – and here she does a lame-o fake out about how she loved the dance even more. Brian Friedman also loved it; he throws in one highly technical criticism about something that Travis could have done on the lifts that would supposedly have made it even better, but he says he really believed that they were in the disco era. Wow, that is so opposite of how I felt. As usual, you should assume I know nothing, but I am actually happy to be 180 degrees opposed to Brian Friedman.
Benji and Donyelle are dancing a Viennese waltz choreographed by Jean-Marc Genereux. Hee – I like him. He has a freaky red-haired Goth lady assistant today. Oddly, it turns out that I like this dance, even though I usually find the waltzes on this show boring, and even though it’s set to that horrible, painful “I’ll Be” song. I’ve never been firmly on the Benji-Donyelle love train – I like them both more as individuals than I do in their supposedly magical pairing. But I think they do great on this waltz. I admit it, I like almost anything Benji does, because he brings so much personality, but they both have pretty leg extensions and all that stuff.
Nigel says that their lack of classical training showed; their arm positioning was wrong. He didn’t like the style of their legs, which was my favorite thing about the dance. He says that this routine wasn’t worthy of being on the finale. Mary was also disappointed; she thinks they should have improved a lot, since this was their second Viennese waltz. Ack! I thought they did improve; I remember not liking their first one. Brian agrees that it wasn’t smooth enough. Possibly that’s why I liked it, because they pepped it up a little. Brian says that their faces were great, and they both need to bring it in their next numbers.
Cat tells us that after the break, we will see the pairing of Travis and Benji, whom Benji then calls “Tranji.” Aaaaah – I hate those dumb couple names, but this one just might stick. (By the way, I think this whole “smushed-together couple names” trend started with daytime soap fans. Am I right about this? That was where I saw it first, and after a few years it trickled UP to the tabloids and then People and Us Weekly. “Bennifer” was the first real breakthrough; “Brangelina” took it to a whole new level. If I am correct, then this is one of the only times in my life that daytime soaps have been on the cutting edge of something, instead of copying everything after it has already fallen out of style. Just a little academic curiosity.)
After the commercial, Cat announces that even more cities have been added to the tour. I wanna go to the tour at least twice, y’all. I think I have some sort of brain fever. Cat then makes time in this wall-to-wall action-packed hour to deliver a lengthy plug for the movie Step Up. Well, I guess this answers my extremely naïve question from last week about whether Step Up had some financial affiliation with Fox or this show. We see that the Final Four got to go to the premiere in a limo. Supposedly, Heidi’s dress ripped in the limo, and Travis fixed it with safety pins. Post-fixing, the dress looks all punk and cool. Hm – smells like a setup to me. Travis says that the movie is about a hip-hop dancer meeting a ballet dancer; it’s like Donyelle meeting him. Okay, this goes on longer, but I’m not going to plug this movie anymore for them. Go see it, don’t go see it, whatever. I will say that I kind of wanted to see it before this pimpomercial, and now I want to see it a lot less. Good job, Fox.
Finally we get Heidi’s solo. She does one of her signature Latin routines, and this time, she has a big, plumey tail. It’s excellent, but it is the SAME solo she’s been doing over and over, right down to the dramatic fall to the stage at the end. Apparently, there’s no time for judges’ comments, which makes me even more resentful of the seventeen hours we spent talking about Step Up.
We jump right into Benji and Travis’s rehearsal footage. And – and – and – they’re wearing matching “TRANJI” hats. Guys! Why are you wearing sparkly hats that are thisclose to saying “TRANNY” on them? I mean, there’s being comfortable with yourself, and then there’s taping a “Kick Me” sign to your forehead. Literally to your forehead in this case. The choreographer is Shane Sparks. So I guess I’m not going to get my heartfelt wish after all, which was to see these guys dance ballroom together. (That’s what I want from the girls, too, and I bet I’m not going to get that either.) The guys romp around and play like adorable six-year-olds. Travis points to the camera and says, “Girls, you got what you want. You have a Tranji finale.” Yup, “tranjifinale” sounds like the name of some exotic venereal disease. Sorry, but it does.
The costumes for this dance are hilarious. Benji and Travis are dressed as nerdy English schoolboys – shorts, knee socks, Oxfords, giant nerd glasses, knapsacks, and caps. And then … oh my God. First they ditch the knapsacks; then they perform some extreme pelvic thrusts of a kind that I didn’t realize they were capable of. Travis starts his pelvis cranking first. Not sure if they were supposed to be in sync or not. Then they dump the glasses; then they unbutton their shirts, take them off, and molest them Chippendales-style. (No, they’re not topless; they’re just wearing T-shirts now.) Then, for a few seconds, they do a very standard Shane Sparks unison hip-hop routine. Then they start to lift and flip each other, and Benji spends some time with his head in Travis’s crotch. They tease us with glimpses of stomach; they shake their booties at vibration speeds. The very end is masterful; a school bell rings, and they run into each other, bounce, and both collapse onto the stage.
WOW. That did not disappoint. For one thing, it was kind of steamy; I thought network standards were going to dictate that these same-sex dances be completely neutered, but I was wrong. But it wasn’t just the novelty “Tranji” factor that made this number so awesome. It had speed, variety, power, characterization – this was Shane Sparks on top of his game. And the very best thing about guys dancing together is the fact that they can both lift each other. This is the main reason why I think it’s sad that they don’t have all-male pairs skating. Good for Shane for capitalizing on this.
The guys put their dorky hats and backpacks back on for the judging, which is cute. Nigel says that he loved the concept, partly because the “nerd” personas meant that they didn’t have to dance well or be in unison. He says that when they pulled their shirts up, he was afraid they’d both have nipple rings. Huh? So far, I’m totally lost. Then he says, “Bring back Dmitry.” He wraps it all up by saying, “Well done, great fun.” Hm – interesting. Nigel always responds way too personally to any sexual content in the dances; the vibe I get is that this one made him uncomfortable. Shut up, Nigel.
Mary loved it, and she thought that they were well-synchronized. Then she completely loses her marbles and starts talking to her own hand, asking it for confirmation that Benji and Travis are “completely deserving.” The hand apparently answers yes, because Mary and her hand let out a duo scream. Benji does some highly elevated jumps of celebration, and Cat points out, correctly, that “everyone’s gone mad.” Brian screams too, and then he and Mary scream at each other. Cat drops her microphone in mock disgust. Yeah, everybody is loose and having a good time right now; it’s fun to watch. Brian says that the guys were “dorktastic.” He loved the transitions, and he thinks Travis and Benji make a great team. Well, how about that – Brian and I are finally on the same page. Watch out for pigs flying into your windshield today. Incidentally, this right now is the most that I have ever liked Travis. More boy-boy dancing!
Next up is Donyelle’s solo. She does an earthy contemporary/jazz thing, very fast-moving. Thanks to the commenter who reminded me that jazz is, in fact, one of Donyelle’s specialties. Anyway, this solo was okay, and I am still a fan of the way that she does something different every time (*cough* Heidi *cough*).
Travis solos next, after commercial. His solo might actually be new and fresh and different, but he always has that same crap music, and it totally turns me off. This time, the song is called “Something Corporate” by Konstantine. Can that really be correct? The lyrics we hear are all, “I miss you, I miss you.” How can the song be called “Something Corporate”? Anyway, I hate it. Travis rocks harder than usual. He does a good job. I just can’t help but resent him for making my ears bleed week after week. Oh, and I hate not getting judges’ comments on the solos. Screw you, Step Up.
Tyce DiOrio choreographs the girls’ Broadway routine. We see Heidi shaking her boobs, for the second time tonight. Well, that was two times too many. We see almost no rehearsal footage. The dance is to “Big Spender,” from Sweet Charity. The outfits are totally sexy, but I think it would have been a lot better if they had just put Heidi in the same thing Donyelle is wearing. Exposing Heidi’s whole midriff while covering Donyelle’s, when they’re otherwise dressed identically – it’s just way too distracting. Especially since they’re dressed in black and Heidi’s midriff is pretty pale – it makes the two of them not match, and then you start to think about why, and it’s all bad news. Anyway, the dance is good, but it’s nothing special. The two of them just dance next to each other – they don’t really partner each other the way that Benji and Travis did.
Nigel says that he didn’t like this routine, in comparison to a lot of Tyce’s past great Broadway routines. This one was very simplistic. That’s true; they really didn’t do much. He tells the girls that he knows the choreography is not on them, but whenever you’re faced with simple choreography, you have to bring it to another level yourself, and they didn’t do that. Mary says they did “a great job with what they were given.” Ow – Tyce is really taking it on the chin. Brian says that they did their choreography correctly, but they didn’t succeed in being larger-than-life as performers. Tyce looks pissed off.
Benji does his solo. It’s his same old deal – Brian Setzer Orchestra; tie; legs moving at the speed of light. At the end, he flings himself backward off the stage; the crowd catches him and pushes him back up. No, THAT wasn’t rehearsed at all – yeesh. I wish Benji would do something different in his solos. He does so many different styles with such panache when they’re assigned. Oh well.
After the commercial, Donyelle and Travis dance contemporary. Yay – it’s Mia! She says that this piece is going to be “blues contemporary.” Donyelle says what I’m thinking when she asks what the heck that is. Apparently, the theme of the routine is “looking lazy.” Mia and Travis both claim that this is much harder than it sounds. I disagree – see, I’m doing it right now.
They have good music – Ray Charles singing “Georgia On My Mind.” The dance starts with them lying on the ground, looking up at the “stars.” Then they get up and this dance is just – drunken. I don’t know how else to describe it. They’re flailing around with big goofy grins on their faces; they’re dressed like dirt farmers; Donyelle has her hair in stupid pigtails. They stagger and flop, and I guess this is what Mia meant about it being difficult to look lazy. I see her point, but I stand by my assessment that they just look drunk. I don’t like this routine. This is Mia being interesting at the expense of being entertaining – she tried something weird, and a lot of times she hits the jackpot, but this time her vision just didn’t work.
Nigel says that the routine didn’t jump out and grab him; it was relaxing. He goes on like he’s going to slam them, and then he says that they were both great, and it was beautiful. He loved it. Mary agrees; they were captivating and made her want to have a mint julep and a Georgia peach. She seems to be claiming that this dance reminded her of being in the actual geographical state of Georgia. Um, I don’t see how, but okay. Brian says it was like watching a moving painting; it was art. That’s actually a good description. I definitely felt like I was watching something interesting and new, but for me, it didn’t cohere. Not every interesting idea turns out to be a good idea; it was worth a first try, but would not be worth a second try. Just my 2 cents.
Heidi and Benji are dancing salsa. Well, that seems like a bit of an advantage. Alex Da Silva says that they had the dance nailed within the first half-hour, and the rest of the rehearsal time was spent just improving it. We see a snippet of Benji borrowing Alex’s car as payment on some sort of bet. It’s a very fancy-looking car, but please, show, stop pimping Benji. We already love him and he’s going to win. Don’t make us hate him now, please.
If this number isn’t a total showstopper, it will be very surprising. Pressure! How come no one on this show ever actually cracks under the pressure and falls or drops his partner? I am suspicious that this does happen and is edited out. I personally think the show would be better with the occasional wipeout. Anyway, the dance. Well, it’s pretty great, but it doesn’t blow me away the way I wanted it to. First of all, Heidi is wearing no pants, and I am distracted by her shockingly skinny legs. Second, there is that cousin “ick” factor. Third, the dance showcases their control and unison, but it’s not actually a very fast dance, which is what I thought we’d get with these two.
Nigel says that they’re the two best partners and are sensational together; he loved their footwork, their lifts, everything. He guesses that Benji’s jacket, which has a guitar sequined onto the back, is Alex’s; Benji confirms that it’s an Alex Da Silva original. Mary says that she has to “hop on the Love Boat” too; the dance was terrific. Brian deadpans, “Will you guys do this at my next birthday party?” He wants them to jump out of a cake. Yeah, he loved it too. Sigh. I mean, it was good, but I enjoyed both of Benji’s other partner routines tonight more than I did this one.
There’s another commercial and then we get a special bonus group dance, choreographed by Wade Robson. We even get rehearsal footage of this. Wade says that this is a pop routine, and the plot is that they’re supermodels. Benji does a disgusting, gross, horrible move where he alternately distends his stomach and sucks it waaaaay in. Wade makes them pretend that a photographer is telling them to be “animalistic,” which is one of those words that you all of a sudden hear all the time. Basically, this dance is ripping off Zoolander. No objections here.
The song is “SexyBack.” We start with Travis sashaying down an imaginary catwalk in giant shades. Next comes Heidi in a fringy little black thing and ridiculous leopard boots/legwarmers. Donyelle and Benji are both in suits; they don’t look as exotic. I’m disappointed in the dance itself – it’s basically just another “Thriller” zombie dance. I mean, those are always fun, but this one was hyped up as something different, and I didn’t see it.
Nigel gushes about the last three dances of the night – the group one and the last two partner dances. He says that all four contestants deserve to be there. Nigel shouts out Zoolander, too. Mary says that all four of them were really tight, but Travis stood out. Brian says the same thing, but even more strongly; he says Travis stole it. All of the judges seem to have loved the “couture” theme of the dance, which I didn’t see at all, except for when they first walked out.
Cat recaps absolutely everything. It takes roughly ninety hours. She says we have at least two hours to vote. Is that it? I thought with the results being delayed for a week, we might have a few days to vote, but I guess not. She gut-punches me good when she says that next week’s results show will be two hours long. TWO HOURS of RESULTS? How is that even possible? Luckily, we’re getting two special guests – Fergie and Ciara. Oh, my. Let the games begin.