I always hate the Top 4 performance nights. One reason is that it means the season is ending. I love SYTYCD and am always sad to see it go. Well, besides the ill planned Season 6, which was doomed from the start. Another reason is that Top 4 night is never really good. The dancers are beyond tired, the choreographers are drained, and that last episode just asks for so much sheer volume dance wise from the both of those groups. In other words, the dances are never that great. Outside of Benji and Travis during Season 2 and Katee and Joshua during Season 4, there are no Top 4 routines I absolutely love. Finally, I never feel like anything that happens during the Top 4 night changes the way the season will turn out. The one exception to that would be Season 5, where Jeanine pulled out the ballroom solos to end all ballroom solos. Girl grabbed the title with that one. Other than that, though, nothing seems to happen that changes the course of the season.
Tonight, sadly, was no different. There were some solid routines, but in the end, we had a lackluster finale like always. I truly hate that, but have come to except it. SYTYCD is like Project Runway, where you know the last challenge will suck, but hope against everything it will not.
Sitting in on tonight’s panel alongside Mary and Nigel were Katie Holmes and Kenny Ortega. I liked Kenny, but wondered why he was in an orange-off against Mary. Too. Much. Tanner. Kids. He was pretty solid all around, but fawned too much for my taste. That last sentence should tell you how I feel about Katie Holmes’ performance. Lady, if all you can offer is “I love you’s,” get off my television screen. God the punctuation looks really off in that last sentence. Damn you Holmes, look at what you are making me do!
Thankfully, however, Cat was on her A game tonight. I could listen to her say “delicious” all night. The one part I love about Top 4 night is her interviews. She does so well with them, and can really pull out the dancer’s personalities. God love that eight foot tall glamazon.
Speaking of the interviews, they were rather good this year. Not that they are ever bad, but these four dancers understood what they needed to do in them. Be personable, be gracious, and most importantly, ne themselves. All four of these kids are good in my book. With all of that out of the way, let’s get to the show!
Melanie and Marko started out the show with the season’s first disco. Say what? Clearly, Nigel is trying to address all of the complaints about this season (not enough dance diversity and Melanie has not been challenged outside of her style) all in one dance. Honestly, however, this dance only proved those points correct, in my opinion. First off, the lifts themselves were fantastic. The transitions into and out of those lifts, though, were a little rough to say the least. Also, the pace of their movements seemed just a touch too slow for disco. Probably the most shocking part was that Marko finally outdanced Melanie in a routine. Sure, he was not great, but he was definitely grooving and feeling it more than her. Melanie looked awkward, especially around her shoulders and neck. They are still one of my all-time favorite couples, but it is clear that they do not have the unbelievable range stylistically that so many people assumed they did.
Sasha and Mark then danced a jazz piece. Wow, Mark has really grown as a dancer. He was always a good technician, and an excellent performer, but now he is quite phenomenal. Also, that body; I just cannot about that body, or this whole post will devolve into fanboy lusting. So instead, I will try and focus on the dance. When it first started out, I was really feeling it. I loved the slow feel to it, and thought we were about to have one of the best routines of the season. Then, the lighting went red, the music got weird, and typical Sonyah choreography just erupted all over the stage. To be clear, it absolutely erupted, as Sasha and Mark tore apart what was given to them. It is great to see Sasha dance with somebody on her technical and acting level, because she dances with such abandon when that happens. I just wish she had a better routine to do that with, than what she had here. I am totally fine with interesting and different movement, but movement with no purpose is just pointless.
Up next were Tadd and Season 4 winner Joshua with a hip-hop routine. More Season 4 love kids, as Joshua takes the stage to demonstrate how much talent that season really had. Season 4 slayed it, always. As for this dance, it was really good. There was no story, no narrative, just two dancers showing off their incredible skills. I liked what Tadd did, but I have to say, Joshua killed it. I tried watching Tadd, but my eyes kept going back to Joshua. Every single one of his moves was crisp, quick, and distinct. In comparison, Tadd just did not look as good. I think what hurt Tadd was that his personality was not given the chance to shine. Tadd always does amazing when he is given a story, some type of emotion to connect with. Here, all he was told to do was go hard, which is not really anything to go off of. That lack of connection showed.
Melanie and Robert then had a contemporary routine, shocking nobody. Like always, they did a good job, but I do not know. It just felt so typical. The routine definitely had beautiful flowing movement, nice partnering, and realistic emotions. It might be because we have seen her do so much contemporary by now, and better contemporary at that, but this just did not feel special. I was bored, which makes me fearful for Melanie’s chances at winning. Good dancing will make people vote for you, bad dancing will make people vote to protect you, boring dancing will make people forget you.
Sasha and Marko were up next with a Broadway routine. Show, never let Spencer Liff go, ever. Not only is he a fantastic choreographer, he is an excellent piece of eye candy. If it is not clear by now, I am all for eye candy at all times. The dance was quite adorable, and I do not mean that in a condescending or patronizing way. I do not care what Nigel says, I thought they performed the hell out of that routine. It was cute, it was fun, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I loved the little movements here and there, like Marko moving his foot up and down on Sasha’s shoulder. That is what sold the routine for me, because it was imbued with so much character itself. While a lot of people think Melanie has this season in the bag, clearly Sasha and Marko do not. It looks like they are fighting like hell to take home the title, and I love that.
Following that, Sasha and Tadd were asked to dance a cha-cha. I am sorry, but show, you pick the damn styles they dance. Pulling stuff like disco and cha-cha, which these dancers have never done before, in the eleventh hour is bullshit. I mean come on! You have all season to diversify the styles on this show, do not save it all for the final night. If you never ask people to stretch until the very end, they will not be able to! Ugh, whatever. Yes, Sasha and Tadd’s cha-cha was not awesome, but I did not think it was that bad. What it really looked like was a beginning of the season routine. Partly that is their fault, as they have had ballroom before. On the other hand, the show needs to take some responsibility, for all of the reasons I said above.
Season 7 winner Lauren then partnered with Marko for a contemporary routine. At the very least, I thought the dance was interesting. Mary said they were frolicking, and I think that was the perfect way to describe it. I would also say there were a lot of well-done intricate movements, which is not usual for this style. If it sounds like I am not ultimately convinced this was such a great routine like the judges were, it is because I am not. I liked the movement, but I just did not feel anything behind the dance. I think I have finally overdosed on contemporary routines for this season. Thanks show!
Melanie and Tadd then danced a jazz(?) routine, and the internets exploded in rage at Melanie having another contemporary-like dance. I can seriously feel the rage from here. Let’s be real, I could talk about the dance, but nobody will care. Why you might ask? Simply because everything that happened on that stage was great but standard dance and performance wise when it comes to Melanie and Tadd. Like always, they both attacked the piece and had some great moves and chemistry. Ultimately, though, we have seen better from them, both with other people and together. So, instead of really examining their dance, let’s talk about their outfits. Was that not a heinous look for Melanie? My soul died a little when she first appeared. On the flipside, I fully support what costuming did with Tadd. Also, this site? Fantastic. Wish I had thought of it actually.
Up next were Sasha and Melanie with the show’s 1000th contemporary routine of the season. Congrats, show! What a milestone! Also, I burst out laughing when they said Melanie was getting another contemporary routine. That poor, sweet girl, she is going to get hit by a backlash she does not deserve. Amazingly, I actually quite liked this dance. I know, right? For me, the reason I rather enjoyed it had nothing to do with the story or dancing. Well, in an indirect way it did. In my opinion, there was another narrative happening on that stage. That was a battle kids, and those two girls knew it. Go back and watch the dance again. There are clear moments when they are sizing each other up and bringing it even harder as a result. I loved the tension, which made the dance that much more interesting for it.
Tadd and Marko had a type of stepping routine for the final dance of the night. I am so sorry boys, Nigel just threw your asses under the bus. This was a clear and calculated move to ensure if Sasha and Melanie split the female vote, they will still win over Tadd or Marko. Oh, and I wrote those two sentences before Nigel made that even more clear with his comments. Seriously dude, bitch move. I refuse to critique this piece, because that was utter nonsense that they were asked to do. That is in no way a comment on the style itself, which when done masterfully, is amazing. It is just simply too much to ask somebody to learn STEPPING on top of everything else they were asked to do this week. It is like telling a person to learn to tap or clog. It is way too specialized.
As for the solos, I actually thought they were the best overall Top 4 solos ever. Sasha, Marko, and Tadd all saved their best for last. I would say the same about Melanie’s, only tonight’s was a close second to last Wednesday’s revelation. Still, even though it was her second best solo, it was the best for the night for me. Girl just brings it in her own style. I really wish she had more opportunities to do so this season, at least where solos were concerned.
So who takes it home? Before Nigel’s bitchassness, I would have said Melanie or Sasha, with Melanie still holding the edge. That move he pulled, though, it might actually backfire on him. Nothing could create and upset more like giving Melanie and Sasha’s fans security, while driving Marko and Tadd’s to the phone. Ultimately, however, my gut is still saying Melanie.
In my opinion, she deserves it. I love Sasha and the boys, but there is something about Melanie that just pulls at me. I am rooting for her to win, with Sasha coming in second, Marko third, and Tadd fourth. What about you?