Thursday, September 6, 2012

'So You Think You Can Dance': 'Dance-tastic' evening, Fab Four headed to ... - San Jose Mercury News

It was an amazing show of dancing, dancing and more dancing as Season 9 of "So You Think You Can Dance" nears its end. Each of the Top 6 dancers -- Witney Carson, Eliana Girard, Tiffany Maher, Cole Horibe, Cyrus Spencer and Chehon Wespi-Tschopp -- performed a solo, a dance paired with another of the dancers, and a routine with an All-Star from a previous season.

The show opened with host Cat Deeley, clad in a glittery patchwork-type dress, announcing the expected group number. Since there were only six competitors, it was easy to see all of their moves, but I found the entire number kind of weird. However, I understood after Cat said it was choreographed by Sonja Tayeh, who specializes in offbeat routines and is a favorite of the show's producers. Judges Nigel Lythgoe and Mary Murphy were joined by actress/dancer Christina Applegate for the second time this season, and Cat announced that the next two shows would be on Tuesdays, instead of Wednesdays.

The first performance was a jive by Tiffany and Benji Schwimmer, Season 2 winner and a U.S. Swing Champion, and the routine by Jean-Marc Genereux absolutely exploded with energy. All I could think was "Wow!" and the judges were on their feet at the end of the performance. Nigel said the "energy lifted the audience" and he was right. It was an amazing dance by the pair and, in my mind, locked up a spot in the final for Tiffany. Mary thought they "kicked their patooties off" and

Christina, who said she knew Benjie from dance class, covered it all with "Wow!"

Next up was one of the solos, but before Witney could do her thing, there was a filmed bit with her family telling how much they loved her and so on. The program must have been slightly short of the two hours for the producers to tack on this tired feature for each of the dancers. Witney, a ballroom dancer, did a flamenco-style bit that was light on dance steps and heavy on twirling her skirt around like a cape. Yawn.

Cole's routine, a Sonja Tayeh number, was next and he was paired with All-Star Melanie, last season's winner. The routine was described by Christina as "androgynous" and she was right -- Melanie lifted Cole as often as he lifted Melanie. Mary thought it was a gorgeous piece and really different and told Cole that he had done "extraordinarily well in the competition." Uh-oh, that sounds like a bit of a kiss-off. I'd report what else Christina said except that the network bleeped-out almost all of her comments.

After the requisite family comments and tributes, Chehon's solo was next. He is an amazing dancer and his leaps often look as if he can fly.

The next routine was by Eliana, paired with All-Star tWitch. It was a hip-hop routine by Christopher Scott with tWitch as a letter carrier dealing with the amorous moves of Eliana. Christina said Eliana's dancing was so good that it was the dancing equivalent of "singing the phone book" to rave reviews. Nigel once more expressed how Eliana is his favorite girl dancer, which I think is totally out of place and unfair to the other dancers, but he didn't like the number, feeling it "relied a little too much on comedy" instead of dancing. Mary thought it was "a fun number and entertaining."

Then Tiffany's family offered their best wishes, and Tiffany did a solo emphasizing her contemporary style. It was more of the same thing she does for each solo.

Chehon and All-Star Katherine performed an emotionally charged routine by Tyce Diorio that had the judges teary and on their feet. Chehon did a great job of expressing the emotions, as well as dancing. Nigel said it was an "incredibly emotional routine" and that Chehon handled both the technical and emotional sides well. Mary said it was great to be able to witness magical moments, and Christina called a leap Chehon did across almost half of the stage "remarkable."

It was Cole's turn to solo and after his mom sent her comments, he performed a fierce routine that highlighted his martial arts-fusion style.

Next up were Witney and All-Star Marco who performed a lyrical jazz number. Mary said Witney was still a star to her and that the pair "danced beautifully together." Nigel loved the routine and Christina said it was "really lovely" but objected to Witney's "hairography" that covered her face. It wasn't the first time that judges have said Witney's flying locks were distracting.

Eliana's solo, following her family's remarks, flowed with beautiful movement and her ability as a fine dancer.

Cyrus is a judges' favorite and, noting the number of votes he gets, a viewers' favorite. But it just seemed a bit over the top that he, an animator and popper, would get to dance a hip-hop routine by Christopher Scott with All-Star Comfort, a hip-hop dancer. Cyrus explains that it's dub-step, but choreographed dub-step and not free style. Huh? All I know is that Mary nailed it when she said he was in his "Comfort" zone. Of course, the judges and audience were all standing and cheering and screaming at the end. Christina told Cyrus that the dance was "carved out for you." From Mary's remarks, we know the Twitter-verse is complaining about Cyrus' success but as she said, "We love you." And he is remarkable in the way he has learned each dance.

The first of the pairings was next with Witney and Chehon doing a cha-cha. Chehon just doesn't get Latin dances, and all three judges let him know that he didn't move his hips enough and he didn't let Witney show her ballroom moves. If he makes the finals, he'd better hope a Latin dance isn't one that he has to do.

The final solo was by Cyrus, after his mom sent her best wishes, and it showed just how incredible his own style really is. And he's been able to use his training on the show to make the moves even better. OK, I'm a fan.

Cole and Eliana were paired in a contemporary routine by Mia Michaels about hate and inspired by rams fighting, she said. The routine really highlighted each dancer and was a remarkable piece. Once more, the judges were on their feet, applauding. Nigel said both dancers were brilliant, Mary thought they were mesmerizing and Christina agreed with both.

Finally, Cyrus and Tiffany did a Broadway routine about two kids, left to do their homework but who get romantic, instead. The judges thought it was terrific -- Christina "loved it,' Nigel said it was a "terrific routine" and Mary said it was "the cutest number ever."

The dancers were soon to be reduced from six to four, but the process was more gentle than in previous weeks. A pair of dancers from the Axis Dance Company of Oakland performed an incredible piece that served as a buffer before the bad news.

Cat called out the three girls and announced that Tiffany and Eliana would be competing for the winner's title, sending Witney home. Then it was the guys' turn, and Cat revealed that Chehon and Cyrus would be in the final, eliminating Cole.

So now, the competitors are set for the performance final next Tuesday, not Wednesday, night. The results will be announced at the grand finale Tuesday, Sept. 18. Who do you think will walk off with the titles?

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