E: This week, Cat has a throw back look. Her hair is tucked under, so it looks like a bob, and she’s wearing a short black dress with a sequined bodice and drop waist. At the top of the bodice are repeating bands of color which crisscross in a halter neck. The shape is flattering, but the dress itself? A little odd. Very 80s. Cat makes everything look good, though.
We get some good and bad news right off the bat. We won’t be talking about National Dance Day until tomorrow, which, fine. On the other hand, Tyce has joined Adam, Executive Producer Mr. Nigel Lithgoe sir!, and Mia on the judging panel to snap, screech and bray at us. Erg.
Instead of solos, Tyce has graced the final four with a Broadway routine, set to an instrumental version of “Luck Be a Lady” (specifically, the Crapshooter’s Dance) from Guys and Dolls. The high energy rehearsal footage actually looks promising., I’d have like the piece a lot better if they let Lauren dance, rather than just preen and make up to all three guys individually. Maybe it’s because it bears so little resemblence to any scene in Guys and Dolls, but I did not love it. And it’s not just my lack of love for Tyce, either, because his piece for Adechike and Courtney last week was slamming.
So. Anyhow. The judges and Cat implore the dancers to leave it all on the floor. They also begin ranking of Adechike, a trend of the evening.
From this point on, each contestant will dance with two All Stars. We don’t get to see them pick the styles. First up, Lauren, who has Pasha and the Argentine Tango, as choreographed by the smoking pair Miriam Larici and Leonardo Barrionuevo. The music is Astor Paizollo’s “Oblivion,” which is a sort of typical tango track. Sweet sunny Lauren plays a manipulative ex-girlfriend who’s found Pasha at a club and decided to play with his emotions. The stage opens with Pasha (in a white shirt and black pants) sitting in a chair, backlit; Lauren rises up behind him, sneaky, as the music begins. Its especially neat to watch since the tv audience doesn’t know she’s there. She’s got on a lacy black dress with a bias cut skirt, short and floaty and darkly sexy. There’s a cool split spin lift, and lots of smoldering and steamy hesitation. She really embodies this character. I’ve never seen tango performed quite like this, though – it’s not as sharp as I’m used to, not as fast and flickering. Pasha lifts Lauren above his head and doesn’t quite hold her up with the single arm, but she falls on him so beautifully, so languid and so purposefully that I can’t tell if it was intended that way.
The judges go nuts over it, so maybe there’s nothing wrong with it being less sharp. Nigel wants to dance with Pasha, and admires their magnificent control. Tyce start grunting weirdly about how their silence was golden. It makes no sense in the retelling, it just doesn’t. Mia goes on about little Lauren growing up, but Lauren spoils it by squeaking. “It felt voyeuristic to me, and I like that.” Adam take a moment to cheer for equality and decency (yay!) in the repeal of Prop 8 (yay!) and asks Nigel to marry him. Nigel says he’ll think it over because he’s quite lonely.
We get a cute little video about Lauren the high school student (that’s so scary) and see how far she’s come in a few months. She was a cheerleader, on the Dance Squad, got good grades, did volunteer work with little kids and also was the vice president of her class. Of course she was. She’s chock full of school spirit. (I sound sneery, but she’s clearly a great kid, and it’s nice to see her parents pride.) Cat asks her about the experience of being on the show. “The thought that I can do this and people actually enjoyed – well, I hope you enjoyed watching it, because I enjoyed living it!” We do, Lauren, we really do.
Next up, Adechike, who has magic totem Lauren and a Sean Cheesman African jazz routine. Sean tells us he’s thrown a little Carribean influence in, and that the two dancers are searching for the promised land, on the way to freedom, and though at first they’re confused, they see the path, and they rejoice. they dance to The Path, but Ralph McDonald; Lauren wears a rust colored, full length peasant skirt with a brown beaded cropped tank, and Adechike has on orange pants and a tight orange shrug. There’s a ton of fast, fun dancing, and you can clearly see the Island section. You sort of want to dance it yourself (even though of course you’d look like total crap). Of course I can already tell they’re going to roast him because you just don’t feel the joy coming out of him. Bah. I hate to say it, but it’s true.
And yes they do focus on that, indeed. Nigel says it’s good fun but why is your back still so stiff, Adechike? Tyce needs everyone to know he loves Lauren (great, although we did know that already) but wants Adechike to deepen his center. Where’s that missing element in the storytelling? Man, I can’t believe I’m agreeing with him. mia didn’t care for it; she liked the piece, but not the execution. She’s just not feeling the joy. Oh, dude, what a time to backslide on the performance level! Adam agrees with Mia, but wants Adechike to lose his center – to lose himself in the dance. I would feel bad for him – I do feel bad, even though I think the criticism is warranted – except I don’t think the judges viewpoint is going to make a damn bit of difference.
Next up, we have this week’s likeliest ejectee, Robert, who’s dancing his fourth ballroom routine of the season. Anya is, of course, his partner, but he’s got a new choreographer – Jonathan Roberts of Dancing With The Stars – giving them a Vienese Waltz. Stepping in for Toni, Robert and Jonathan both make sure we know that even though he’s done so much ballroom on the show, it’s certainly not a piece of cake. It might not be cake, says Cat, but he’s one delicious biscuit – it’s Robert! (Biscuit being British for cookie, by the way.) Robert’s in a white shirt with a dark vest and pants – navy, I think – and Anya’s wearing something floaty and white and belly-bearing and vaguely I Dream of Jeanie. The music is Anouk’s “Lost,” and it’s also floaty and romantic. They do a good job. There are some amazing side by side spins, and though you do occasionally still see the work on Robert’s face, his lifts are getting better. There’s a particularly nice one at the end.
The lifts blow Nigel away. You made a straight armed lift when Pasha couldn’t, he says, and Anya’s stunned and laughing. Tyce thought it was exquisite and fully invested; he wore it like a suit. An Armani suit, says Mia. You’re the prince of this season. He’s like an old fashioned movie star, injects Cat, and it’s true – he’s very Rudolph Valentino. Adam tells him this was the night to be brilliant, and he was. Wow.
We quickly step in a piece about Robert’s life and background, which (since we already know so much about his mom) centers on his parents devastating divorce and his mom’s wonderful new husband, who is very manly and from whom Robert gets his wacky sense of humor. We find out that he’s got an appartment in LA with a bunch of friends, although we only get to meet the girls – one of who is last season’s Channing! We get to see Robert cheering her on from the audience. Neat! Cat asks for his best moment on the show, and he says it was the first moment the top 11 got together in a room, filled with respect and fun and good vibes. I love that these kids really do seem to care for each other and support each other as competitors. It’s seriously inspiring. And then he tears up about being in Travis’ s “Fix You” routine. He hugs Cat close, and she smiles at being squinched in to his side.
Up next is the presumptive winner Kent, with Courtney and a Doriana Sanchez disco routine. I feel like disco could be a great fit for Kent – he’s fast and he exudes good humor. The show has a little fun giving him a disco pop quiz, which he fails miserably. We also get to see him drop Courtney a lot. Doriana says he underestimates the power of disco.
Kent is gussied up in blue and orange and sequins, and Courtney in purple and orange. They’re dancing to “Love Takes Over,” which is by David Guetta and Kelly Rowland and clearly not a classic disco track. I liked the moments when they were dancing side by side, but I thought the partnering work wasn’t so interesting as usual – and all in all, I liked the song way more than I liked the dance. I didn’t expect that. There is, on the other hand, a crazy lift at the end where they sort of make a t-shape – she’s lying straight out on his shoulders, parallel to the ground, and he spun ridiculously fast. That was breathtaking, and more in line with what I expect from their disco routines.
Nigel loved the choreography, but he asks them immediately how many lifts they cut out, because they only performed two, and usually Doriana includes about seven. Huh, good point. He does give credit for the one spectacular lift, though, and says Kent wasn’t cheesy. Tyce is meh on it, and thinks Kent needs to do research on disco, though he doesn’t articulate why well. Mia was not pleased. Unlike me, she liked the partnering aspects, but otherwise found him bouncy, squat and compact. Wow. Adam interrupts a booing audience to say she’s not wrong; Kent lacks the Ricco Suave attitude disco calls requires. I guess I can see that.
At this point we take the dusty road to Wapakoneta, where we find that Kent doesn’t technically live in town, but between Wapakoneta and Botkins. The idea of there being land between towns boggles my mind. He’s the only male dancer anywhere near where he lives – there aren’t that many female dancers. He hopes Hollywood doesn’t change him. We see him exchanging loud and enthusiastic greetings of all kinds with every person he meets in town or in his school. I love that you just say whatever comes into your head, says Cat, and (after he waxes poetic about people without resources still following their dreams) goes on to say he’ll be running for president once the show ends. Yes you can!
Sean Cheesman makes up for his length absense from the show with a second jazz routine, this one for Lauren (a femme fatale with a poisoned kiss) and Ade (her prey). It’s vampy and animalistic, and there will be hand choreography, we’re told. We’re really making up for last week’s lack of sexually based routines, aren’t we? Lauren’s got on a black lace body stocking with deep v cleavage and seriously high heelsl Ade wears a conservative suit. They dance to a remix of Kosheen’s “Hide U” and yes, there is hand choreography, and I think the whole thing is flat out awesome, from the chase to the kiss that kills. There’s a lift I can’t even explain where she starts upside with her feet on his shoulders and goes into more positions and flips – it’s super cool.
Nigel loves that lift. He felt like the choreography was masculine, done in a feminine way – strong sexy – and wants to see it replayed in the finale. Tyce snaps. Love the heels and everything but the less than perfectly ferocious ending pose. Mia says she’s a beast (hey, we already have a beast for this season) and that she owned it. Adam says he wants to hire her, and everyone goes nuts.
Adechike gets a chance to improve on his previous work with Kathryn – and he’s blown away to find that his hero, Desmond Richardson, and his partner Dwight Rohden want to choreograph a piece for him. That’s pretty amazing. Adechike had been a summer program they did for kids five years ago, and he’s just astounded. Cat never puts the routine in one style, and that’s for a reason – Richardson and Rohden want to reflect on the whole season, so the routine is has elements of many styles.
KAthryn wears a little red dress, and Adechike is in purple Hulk pants with a floaty unbuttoned shirt. The music is Melissa Ethridge’s “Fearless Love,” and that’s the second time I’ve like the music more than the routine. There are amazing elements to it – we can see ballet, jazz, hip hop – but it’s somehow not embodied. Poor Adechike. He can be brilliant, but he’s so inconsistent. Maybe he and Kathryn just don’t make good partners?
Nigel says the season has showcased Adechike’s skills, and he has many of them. He says he lost steam at the end of the performance, which makes me want to rewatch it, because I didn’t notice that. Tyce wants to celebrate how far Adechike has come, which wow, totally sounds like a pat on the head, like they’re not bothering to critique him anymore – either because he’s going home or because they know his fans don’t care. Mia doesn’t pull punches, though – she says he still isn’t living up to his potential. He has the potential, she says, to be a superhero like Desmond, and she wants to see more than glimpses of that. Adam says he laid it all out and can’t do more – it really is like they’re telling him goodbye.
Adechike’s biographical video tells us he hails not only from Brooklyn, but from the infamous Bedford Stuy, and he’s seen scary things. He also attended the Fame high school, where he won the school’s oldest award – one given to Arthur Murray, of the famous dance studios of yore. When Cat asks him to reflect on his experience, he starts bawling in his gratitude. He even thanks the network for providing this showcase. And yeah – thanks, FOX! It IS a pretty awesome thing, and I do appreciate it. Adechike is grateful, whatever the outcome. That sounds like he’s expecting to go home, too. That’s so funny, because I’m not expecting that at all. He’s never been in the bottom? Why does everyone think his voters will let him down now? Heck, he might even be able to win!
Robert’s up next with a style we’ve never seen him do – hip hop, with Nappy Tabs of course but with Dominic instead of Comfort. The idea is that they’re clowns and the Big Top has closed down, filled with confusion and anger which they don’t know how to express because they’re, you know, clowns. Now, I didn’t get any of that from the dance. What I did get was really terrific hip hop, set to “Scars” by Basement Jaxx. There are Clown costumes, and make up, and balloons – Nappy Tabs love their props like no one else on the show – but I’m still cool with it. I wasn’t sure Robert could do hip hop, but he does it like it’s his own style. I’m really impressed.
Cat says it reminds her of the Child Catcher in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, and if I could love her more, that reference would make me. Nigel wants them to do it on the tour, and thinks Robert is astounding. He does everything they toss at him. Tyce says you showed up and made it magic. Mia calls it hip hop theater (and still, I didn’t get the emotional story at all – emotion, yes, but would I have ever know why they were pissed off? no!) and perfect, dope, and everything else that is brilliant. Adam says Robert out performed Dominic, and Dominic agrees. You were sickness, he says – this night is yours. So does that convince the audience to keep him over Adechike or Lauren? I’d be surprised, but I was surprised last week, so I’m not going to bet on it.
Kent and Neil – that magical pairing of unoffensive, All American boy – end the evening with a Travis Wall contemporary routine. Ah, now we already know that’s going to be terrific. The story is two guys who were life long friends, practically brothers, but Neil has had enough of the friendship and will stab Kent in the back. Oooh. I wonder if this has something to do with season 3 contestant, Travis’s “best friend” Danny? They dance ot DeVotchKa’s “How It Ends” and it is, indeed, emotional. They start out with their arms over each other’s shoulders, but the stabbing comes soon, and then there’s fighting, and Neil has his foot on Kent’s face at one point, squashing him down. Kent claimed in the beginning that his character learns to just let his old friend go, but I don’t see that. It looks like raw pain to me. Not as moving as the “Fix You” routine, but still, I liked it.
Nigel must be thinking about Danny, because he asks Travis if the routine was based on his personal experience. Travis nods yes – you can see he’s too full of emotion to speak – and Nigel says he’s sorry for Travis’s pain in theory but is thrilled to have such work come out of it. So he’s not really sorry after all. He says it was chilling and the number of the show. He wants to see this, too, in the finale. Tyce says excellence was just delivered, and Mia can’t find the words, because it was so uncomfortable and awful. I’m sure it’s especially so when you know and value both people involved with the real mess. Adam gets all quiet and tells Kent that if this were the finale, he’d just have won.
And there it is, the last performance show before the finale! What do you think? I found it more inconsistent than I’d have hoped, but with some good work none the less. Is there any shot that Robert can be saved? And if he can, whose slot will he take? Will it be an all boy finale, or will Lauren hang on? Let me know what you think!