SYTYCD: Final 4

OK, I’m not going to be able to watch tonight. (I have to work late) But I figured I’d put up a post now so others can comment.

Here’s my predictions and commentary in anticipation of tonight.

First this isn’t the final four I’d have picked. While Jeanine and Kayla are excellent dancers I think Melissa and especially Jeanette are better performers. With the men it’s trickier. Brandon I knew would be there from day one. Evan I really like but he’s made it this far via a kind of bashful charm and his solos rather than dancing the choreography. As I said last week I think Ade is by far the stronger dancer and performer however Evan’s been far more consistent with the added load of dance. So ultimately I don’t mind Evan being there.

Who will win? If Brandon doesn’t there’s simply something wrong. This isn’t like last year where Twitch, Joshua and Katee were all outstanding. (Although Joshua definitely deserved to win) This year Brandon is just head and shoulders above the others. There’s really no comparison. Brandon has only had one maybe two bad dances and those weren’t really bad at all. But he’s had most of the outstanding solos and partner dances and has danced strong week in and week out. The only other contestant as strong as Brandon was Benji back in season 1. Maybe if Jeanette were still in the contest there would be some competition. But I think things are already decided, baring something extraordinary.

All that said I look forward to tonight’s performances. Usually they really pull the stops out for the finals. This season’s choreography just hasn’t been as good as prior years. (Despite a few outstanding pieces) So I’m hoping they can redeem themselves a bit.


40 thoughts on “SYTYCD: Final 4

  1. Seriously. Mary is smoking something! When Evan was CLEARLY dancing his butt off on the jive and carrying the obviously going for “drunk cheerleader trying to dance in a bar” Kayla and then she had the nerve to say Kayla carried the routine? Blech. Evan, while not the strongest in the hip hop (it was very Broadway instead of hard hitting) did not deserve all of the “we hate Evan” chorus going on.

    Jeanine’s solo was AMAZING. I love Sonja’s contemporary, as well as Mia’s. I think Jeanine has a shot to win tonight. Not so much Kayla, though.

  2. All the butt kissing of everyone but Evan and the dumping on Evan all the time was getting a little blatant and annoying. I’m not an Evan partisan, but the judges have almost made me want him to win. And, even though he’s not always my favorite, if he wins he will be deserving. It’s America’s “favorite” dancer, afterall. The point of the game is to get people to vote for you. He’s very good at that game. Plus, to my untrained eye, he does a great job most of the time.

    For the most part, the routines tonight were kind of so-so for me. They finally had danceable paso doble music, and it was the first paso doble that didn’t suck.

    The butt kissing got really out of hand right out of the gate when Nigel praised Brandon and Kayla’s side-by-side twirly things without mentioning that they were easily half a twirl out of sync by the end. If Evan had done that they would have been all over him.

  3. Oh, I’m HOPING Evan wins. Just to shut Mary up. And he will deserve it because the judges trashed him so much! He’s not the best technical dancer, but he’s a strong partner and does well and is a good dancer who is fun to watch. I don’t think they give him enough credit at all.

    I was heartened by the “Evan” chants after one of the tongue lashings…

  4. I haven’t watched the episode yet, but your comments remind me of Benji. Benji was not the best dancer when he won (Travis was better than he was), but he was *the* Mr. Personality. I heard Nigel say something earlier this season about how with so many great dancers on the show this year they were sure to end up with someone who would do something with their win, and it made me think maybe he was referring to Benji, who turned down the opportunity to be in the Vegas show (was it Celine Dion’s show?) that was part of his win. But maybe not, Benji has done other things. He choreographed on Dancing With the Stars once, and I think he’s been back on SYTYCD as a choreographer, too.

    You guys heard about Paula leaving Idol and possibly joining SYTYCD? I think it’d be so funny if she actually choreographed some stuff on this show.

  5. Oh, crap, please don’t let Paula ruin SYTCD. As a one-time publicity stunt choreography appearance, I could handle her. But as a judge or even guest judge? Perish the thought!

  6. I like the dancing. But Cat Deeley and Mary Murphy are excruciatingly annoying. Paula Abdul would be one crazy broad too many.

  7. Finale dances: The women’s piece (by Mia) was really beautiful – I wish it had been longer. Very artistic and well-crafted. And, I think Jeanine completely out-danced Kayla on this one. The men’s piece was horrid. They really need to get rid or that choreographer, she’s awful. She didn’t play to either guy’s strengths, the music choice and movement was old, tacky, and just plain garbage. Poor choice for the finale, I strongly believe. And all the Evan-bashing is really unprofessional from those judges. The paso-doble was very strong – because of the two strongest dancers and incredible choreography by Louis van Amstel. He really is a superb choreographer. The jive was horrid, and I completely disagree with the judges – Kayla was a huge mess. Evan’s dancing was strong and clean – he was the one who held the dance together. The other dances were completely forgettable (except for Brandon’s amazing solo.)

    And now for the results: I think Jeanine is a worthy, deserving winner. Her dancing has continued to grow, her performances have always been strong and clean, and last night’s solo was absolutely breathtaking. Brandon is indeed a truly amazing dancer – phenomenal – but I can also see why he wasn’t quite America’s FAVORITE dancer. It’s been an interesting season – I can hardly wait for season 6 to start in a month….

  8. OK, just finished watching the final four competition but haven’t watched tonight’s finale and winner. I read the comments up to about 6 tonight but not since – so I don’t know who won.

    First I was wondering just how bad to Evan the judges were given the comments. Wow. I was still shocked. There was one point where they were being pretty personal I thought. Fortunately they followed up, the next routine, with some complements. But Wow. I thought some of the criticisms were pretty valid but what bugged me is that other contestants were doing the exact same bad thing but were getting praised.

    Take the fact Evan’s solo was a copy of his tryout and not that original. All true. But Brandon’s solo last week was his tryout and his solo tonight had pretty similar music and moves as last week. Still great, but then Evan’s was great too. (Minus the pit sweat)

    Then the jive. First off there’s something suspicious, now that we know (due to the ballet) that the dances aren’t random, about Evan getting that twice. It’s a hard dance but I thought it was Evan’s strongest tonight and I thought Kayla screwed up several times. But she doesn’t get called for it?

    Then there was the “what’s the nastiest thing you’ve done” comment. Come on. He’s to blame because he’s a nice guy? That really pissed me off.

    Yeah, Evan was arguably the weakest in the final four. But all of that was uncalled for. Brandon out danced him but I thought Evan was pretty respectable in that routine.

    Now on to the others. First I was disappointed in Brandon. He still danced solid but his solo was just a modification of what he did before. If he doesn’t win it’s in part because of the solo. I liked the Paso, but it lost steam at the end. Fortunately his partner was his strongest competition in Jeanine. So since she lost steam there it probably didn’t hurt Brandon. But overall I felt like Brandon peaked last week whereas Jeanine is peaking this week. This just wasn’t Brandon’s strongest week by half when it needed to be up there near the top.

    Kayla I have to agree finally brought out more personality. I think ever since she danced with Evan more and more has been coming out. Had it happened several weeks earlier I think she’d have had a chance tonight. But she made several mistakes tonight. She looked tired. And the other two (Jeanine and Brandon) are just ridiculously solid.

    If Jeanine manages to pull this away from Brandon it’s probably on the strength of her solo which was great. While I didn’t care for the Mia Michaels routine she danced it well. The Paso was the best of the season, but that’s not saying much. She lost steam halfway through, but then she’d been dancing hard all night and so did Brandon.

    The winner? I don’t know (and I suspect everyone is discussing it) I’ve picked it correctly every year prior to the final week. I’d said Brandon but I think there’s a chance he won’t pull it off.

  9. Clark, I’m sorry I jumped the gun. This is your train and I was out of line. I’ve really enjoyed reading and participating on your blog. I didn’t think my schedule was going to allow me to contribute anything about the finale, and I wanted to share my 2 cents worth. I should’ve been more patient.

    There have been some great comments and observations from those contributing. It has been so interesting to see everyone’s perspective. I look forward to next season.

    Above all, as a dancer I’m just grateful for a great show that highlights truly talented people, both contestants and choreographers. It’s about time we had this!

  10. Oh – others can post. Please do! I was intentionally looking at the message count before the airing and then not reading anything since then. My comments weren’t to cut off discussion but merely point out I didn’t yet know who won.

    Sorry for any confusion.

    Of course this morning as soon as I read the news headlines I saw who won. Mea culpa. I’ve still not seen Thursday’s show. So I can’t comment on that.

    A few more comments. First off even though Brandon lost, I think Jeanine was pretty deserving. Even though I didn’t have her even in my final four, the fact was that the women were much stronger this year than the men. And even while watching I thought there was a chance Jeanine would pull the upset. I think it ultimately came down to the solos as well.

  11. Above all, as a dancer I’m just grateful for a great show that highlights truly talented people, both contestants and choreographers. It’s about time we had this!

    Which is exactly what has me fuming about this show (and why I boycotted this week). Nigel goes off on how wonderful this show has been for the art, but whatever respect this show has for dance is secondary to the popularity contest the show has become.

    My solution would be first to kick Mary Murphy back down to occasional choreographer/judge (like season 1); I’ve had enough of her weekly screaming. Then each week have Nigel and one other dance expert critique the actual dancing/performance with informative and constructive criticism. A third guest judge who is a popular celebrity (e.g., Ellen) could offer a type of “color commentary” each week, saying things about how cute someone is or how their wardrobe was ugly or whatever else 12-yr olds think about.

  12. I do think the popularity contest is too high of a value. I also wish they would give the vote numbers.

    That said, I think the first half where the judges eliminate people tends to ensure everyone who gets to the popularity contest is at least good.

    To me the biggest problem is actually the choreography. Too much is decided by the luck of the draw of who gets what choreography. There’s just too much luck in it all.

    So I think they do need to think through the way dances are assigned.

    The other problem was that there was a lot of bad choreography this year. Even those who think there was as much good choreography this year as prior have to agree there were some real stinkers. (Jeanine in the finale said that she was crying before going out on stage for that Russian folk dance – it was a good dance but for the audience clearly not something that was going to grab them)

    That all said, every year the final 8 are usually pretty solid and you always can pick several who don’t make the final 4 who are deserving.

  13. Brian J: I agree with you. Unfortunately, this is the best show we’ve got for dancers right now. We can hope and pray something better comes along. And it would be wonderful if Mary was knocked back to occasional judge. She never has anything constructive to say, only screaming and parroting whatever was said first.

    Clark: I, too, hate the way dances are “randomly” drawn. I mentioned a few weeks ago that they should reinstate everyone dancing the same dance (they all performed a solo by Wade Robson one year.) Or, maybe have all top 5 couples perform the exact same dance. Then we could really compare them.

    The popularity factor is way too big. Absolutely no arguement.

    And there really was a problem with choreography this year – the bad far out-weighed the good. (Laurieanne Gibson should never be allowed to choreograph on the show again. I’ve seen better college composition pieces.)

  14. And, if everyone, including judges, claim the quickstep to be the “kiss of death,” why the heck do they keep putting it in the show???? It automatically drops that couple to the bottom of the ranks, regardless of who they are. And, PLEASE no more Russian folk dance! (And for me, the jury is still out on the Bollywood stuff.)

  15. Quickstep is great when they nail it though. How about a polka too? (I hated dancing polka in my dance class in college – for the life of me I can’t fathom how I pulled off an A)

    I just finished watching the final. There actually were quite a few good dances. I’m glad they had Brandon and Jeanine redance that Paso. They danced it much better the second time. I think the first time they were juste exhausted. It was great choreography though. Nice to see one that didn’t suck.

    I did wish they did one of my favorite routines: the Age of Aquarius dance with Brandon and Melissa and then the heist dance with Brandon and Jeanette. Although the latter they probably couldn’t pull off given how it used the stairs.

    It was interesting seeing some of the dancers redoing old dances. I thought Evan did much better tonight with that “bum dance.” Even though he didn’t do as well as others he really did grow as a dancer.

    I did like the Bollywood they redid. I’m also glad (and a bit surprised) they redid that Salsa with Kayla. She also danced it much better. She learned how to perform on the show rather than just do the technical dance. As I said I think it was partnering with Evan that did that.

    I hated the whole Fame bit BTW. I’m going to guess it bombs.

  16. Didn’t Vittolio and Karla perform a very nice quickstep this season? But they were out before they even danced it. I really don’t think it deserves this “kiss of death” nonsense.

  17. btw, related to the “kiss of death” subject, I was curious to see which choreographers were the kiss of death; i.e., whose choreography is most likely to send you packing?

    I scored each choreographer based on whether the dancers were safe (0 pts.), in the bottom 3 (1 pt.), or sent home (3 pts.). I only went back as far as Season 2 because the first season was kinda weird. I could look at choreographers based on their overall score, a weighted score (based on how many times they choreographed), or by the percentage of their dances that got people in trouble. The scoring suffers from blaming choreographers for things unrelated to their work; e.g., maybe a couple was in jeopardy because of the other dance they did that week. But I figured that over many dances that kind of bad luck would even out.

    Any guesses who the kiss of death choreographers are?

  18. Mia?

    I sometimes like her choreography very much, but other times she’s so “out there” I hate it. That kind of risk taking could lead to many people disliking the dance and, by extesion, the dancers. I know the judges sometimes don’t like Mia, although other times they rave about her.

    I would guess that more dancers get sent home after doing a contemporary routine or a hip-hop routine than after a more traditional routine.

  19. Mia is definitely NOT the kiss of death routine. She tends to elevate the couples.

    I would say Shane Sparks. Or Tony and Melanie.

  20. Okay, enough suspense. (I didn’t really mean to drag it out, but I thought people would want to guess first.)

    Based on choreographers with 5 or more dances, seasons 2-5, and excluding final four dances, you should be worried if you get (% of dancers that get booted):
    1) D’umo (36%)
    2) da silva (36%)
    3) Montez (29%)

    …but you should be happy getting:
    13) Sanchez (8%)
    14) Michaels (4%)
    15) Robson (0%)

    If even the thought of being in the bottom three gives you chills, beware of (% of dancers in jeopardy and/or booted):
    Tayeh (58%)
    Hunter Johnson (57%)
    Montez (57%)
    D’umo (54%)
    Sparks (53%)

    …but have no fear drawing:
    Meredith (32%)
    Michaels (25%)
    Robson (0%)

    That’s right: No dancer has ever even been in jeopardy following a Wade Robson routine. Is that partially because he makes the most out of the peculiar strengths of his dancers? (e.g., Hummingbird and Flower from season 3, featuring the worst combination of styles coming together in a beautiful dance.)

    Although, to be fair, maybe Wade just hasn’t choreographed enough. Here are the number of dances from each choreographer (not including group routines or final four):
    diOrio, 33
    Meredith, 25
    Genereux, 19
    Sparks, 17
    D’umo, 14
    da silva, 14
    Sanchez, 13
    Moore, 13
    Michaels, 12
    Johnson, 7
    Montez, 7
    Scott, 7
    Tayeh, 6
    van Amstel, 6
    Robson, 6

    Where would this show be without Tyce di Orio and Tony Meredith, who combined have choreographed over 1/5th of all dances?! (Including all choreographers on my list, not just those with 6 or more dances.)

  21. 1. Isn’t da Silva the guy arrested for sexual assult of some sort this spring?

    2. I was totally right w/ hunter & sparks. Whoo!

    3. Wade & Mia are my favorites…

  22. Interesting about Tyce Diorio. I looked up the dances for this year by him. Interesting. Two I liked. The Age of Aquarius from Hair with Melissa and Brandon which I was hoping would be picked as one of the season’s best. Then the Cancer song. I thought the Randi & Evan “Only Have Eyes for You” was OK. I really dug Jeanine and Philip’s Singing in the Rain bit even though I know the judges didn’t.

    So he might be the mark of death in some ways, in other ways he’s also saved a lot of people. (There was no way Jeanette was going home had it not been for Ade & Melissa getting the Cancer dance)

    Agreed about Wade Robinson. I missed his choreography.

    Da Silva was arrested for rape. Creepy. He did do some good choreography though.

    Montez I had to look up. He only did season 3, didn’t he?

  23. Wade choreographed the cool Jazz routine Crash Test Dummies the first week (Ashley and Kupono), the totally awesome Jazz routine Diamond Thieves week 5 (Janette and Brandon), and two group dances.

    Ron Montez was mostly in Season 2, but also did one dance this season (waltz, Melissa and Ade, “You Make Me Feel Like a Natural Woman”).

    Da Silva was arrested for rape.

    In that case, he’s the choreographer dancers should fear most, and not Sonja Tayeh. Whew!

  24. gabby:

    I was totally right w/ hunter & sparks.

    True, but I think you owe Tony Meredith a little apology. C’mon, show the guy some love!

  25. Doh. Thanks Brian. I should have looked it up before spouting off. Wow. He actually made Ashley and Kupono look really good. And the Diamond Thieves dance was one of my favorites. I can’t believe I screwed that up.

    Interesting Montez. (Should have looked that up too) That dance could easily have sent home Melissa or Ade. I don’t think it was bad choreography, despite what some said. But I don’t think it acknowledged their weaknesses. It was a pretty challenging piece for anyone but a ballroom dance.

  26. I like Tony. I LOVE Melanie (her stepping in to dance with Pasha last season nearly made me swoon like a schoolgirl!). I just assumed since they usually have tricky choreography / dances, they may make the list!

  27. I’ve really been thinking about this Wade vs. Mia head-to-head. Both are indisputably geniuses, but who is more geniusy?

    I’m going with Wade….

  28. Those were awesome Clark, thanks. It’s just a pleasure to watch them move.

    I’d go with Mia, Brian, but I’m a sucker for her emotional punches.

  29. I’m mixed on Mia. Sometimes I like her but she can be really, really opinionated about good solid dancers. She hated both Benji and Brandon at first. (She really didn’t want Benji to win)

  30. My vote would go to Wade. While I LOVE Mia, her stuff is gorgeous and memorable and lovely. But Wade? Wade is INCREDIBLE.

  31. I remember Mia not wanting Benji to win. I figured it was because she’d actually worked with him and knew how limited he was, while I just knew I loved his personality and how he shined while on stage.

    I figured he turned down the Celine Dion contract because he knew his own limitations as well.

  32. The problem with Benji was that he just didn’t have the training as a contemporary dancer. A lot of the technique the Mia wants wasn’t there. He had amazing technique for ballroom. And Mia gives contemporary dancers a huge break in ballroom. So (IMO) there’s a big double standard going on.

  33. EW’s Top 15 dances

    I’m just amazed they were able to find clips on YouTube. Dick Clark productions has been pretty aggressive shutting them down. It’s been kind of frustrating. I think pretty counterproductive to the show as well. I think that were people passing YouTube videos around it would generate more traffic for the show. Especially considering neither Fox nor Hulu show clips and the show isn’t in reruns. I’m not sure what they are thinking.

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