E: It’s here, you guys! We’ve made it! While the Season Seven contestants don’t get the Kodak Theater like the Season Five kids did, at least they’ve got a proper finale show, one far better than last season’s frantic rush.
On the other hand, they’ve got to perform 4 pair dances each, and a solo! Crazy. Cat’s in a sparkly black dress with lace and sequins and a sweatheart neckline under a lace top and elbow length sleeves. It’s a little crazy, but not to the level of the rainbow sequin vintage number of a few weeks ago. Oh, Cat. The winter will be so cold and lonely without you. Before we get the performances, we get a little recap of the season – we see great auditions (chiefly from contestants who didn’t make the show, like Adrian Lee, Ida Saki and Nicole Knudson) and other luminaries like Anthony Burrell and Ryan Ramirez, getting rejected. We get brilliant routines like “Outta Your Mind”, “Halleliuah,” “Boogie Shoes” (yay! do it in the finale!), “Fix You,” The Prom, the Chair/Girlfriend routine, and “Mad World”/Homelessness Dance. Ashley confesses she’s in love, Adechike cries, Nigel ranks on Jose, and Alex only hurts in his heart. That just kills me. And we get it all to my favorite song of the summer, Florence and The Machine’s “The Dog Days Are Over.” Doesn’t get any better than that, folks.
Oh, wait, there’s live dancing to be had? Sweet! Lauren’s got her hair up in a sleek updo – must be ballroom! Yay, she’s so good at it.
Kent starts things off with All Star Lauren and a Nakul Bollywood routine. They’re supposed to be getting married, but he has cold feet. Kent promises us cheese. Alrighty then. The music is “Om Marigalam,” which features a little spoken word and some hip hop overtones, and it I have to tell you, the first time I watched this, I was completely underwhelmed. But I watched it again, and now I think it’s clearly the best Bollywood of the season. It was really good, and I don’t quite know what I was thinking at first. It’s fast, and hard hitting (as important in Bollywood as in hip hop) and bouncy and fun. Sure, I didn’t get the story much beyond him tossing the garland away at the start, but for pure dancing, it was good stuff. Maybe it was Kent’s swirling silver coat that overwhelmed me, or the fact that Lauren’s pale pink and silver costume was a bit drab on tv. Anyway, I can’t explain why it took two viewing for me to like it, but I do like now.
The judges love it. Nigel loves the hip hop feeling, Mia thinks it was perfectly tailored to Kent’s Kentishness and nicely hard hitting, and Adam thinks that the Energizer Bunny should retire so Kent can take his place. Adam thinks Kent is the feel good dancer of the year. Is this a position? I hadn’t heard.
Next up, Tabitha and Napoleon have a gimmick routine for Lauren and Twitch; they’re presidential candidates squaring off in a tv debate. There are podiums and everything. Lauren promises to hit hard and be pretty (gr); then she gets called Lo Fro, which is much cuter. Twitch walks out in a suit, and Lauren’s in pants, a shirt and tie, and a vest in red and navy. Hah – I was so wrong about the updo! They dance to Kanye West’s “Power” and it’s really fun. There’s a lot of mirroring movement to their hands and arms, and they each have moments when they’re running the other to the ground – Twitch rolls, Lauren flips away from him, he pushes her back with the force of his rhetoric and then she bounces back up from a crazy back bend. Most impressive. They end with campaign signs – Lauren’s face on a stick. “Can she do it?,” Cat asks. “Yes she can!”
Nigel’s blown away by her strength. He starts telling us how close the votes are, and how all three of them are so terrific and deserving he doesn’t care who wins (which he says is very unusual). She nailed it. Mia says she’s filthy, and Cat calls out “aren’t all good politicians?” Maybe not the good ones, Cat, but that’s a clever response anyway. She’s impressed with Nappy Tabs this season (with reason – especially after the utter dud that was last season, they’ve turned out a flurry of terrific routines) and says that Lauren is everything a choreographer looks for – she’s perfectly consistent, knocking every routine out of the park. She hasn’t had one bad routine. (Well, I think that’s rewriting history a bit. The judges told her several times at the start that she didn’t show enough emotion, and they didn’t all love her vampy Broadway, but after the wardrobe malfunction perhaps Mia’s forgotten that. It’s generally true, however, and for the record, I think the judges were overly harsh on her at first.) Adam thought the campaign theme was ironic and wonderful. Watching her makes him proud to be a judge. She’s his favorite girl of any season. Oh, Adam. You ought to listen to what Mia’s saying about consistency. Do you really love her more than Kathryn and Allison and Kayla and Jeanine? I doubt that very much.
Next up, Robert and Mark tackle a Tyce jazz routine. It’s about the transfer of power (again, nice metaphor for the finale) and electricity. The song is Devo’s “Whip It;” the dancers are wearing white pants and black jackets with white piping. It’s all very slick looking. It starts with Mark plugging a cord into Robert’s back. They’re leaping, sizzling, swooping – it’s very unusual for Tyce, and I kind of love it. Of course, it’s Mark, right, and it’s a very very Mark piece. They spend some time shaking as if being electrified. It’s really cool. I have to say, though, it’s hard for me to concentrate on another guy when Mark is dancing, even when they look and move so similarly. Cat calls them “two lovely elements of kooky bonkers in handsome packages”. I don’t know how that fits together grammatically, but they are two kooky and handsome guys, so I’ll take it.
Nigel thinks the piece is fun and remarkable. He tells us that when Alex was forced out, he assumed Kent would be the winner – but not anymore. Now, he thinks it’s anyone’s game. And again, he doesn’t care who. Wow. Is this just manufactured drama for when Kent wins, or is Nigel hedging his bets because he sees the results and it was really Lauren who got the most votes last week? Interesting, interesting. He notes that Robert’s gotten stronger over the course of the competition. Mia calls Robert the most improved dancer on the show, and says Mark and Robert are fabulous together. Is Sonya sitting at home pissed off that she didn’t get to choreograph this piece? Adam says it’s a testament to the success of the All Star system (gag) and that Robert danced like he’s not competing. AND Robert is finally learning to leap up. Woot!
They play a tape where Cat interviews Kent and asks him to make goofy faces. He does. He’s cutely inarticulate. His favorite piece was The Prom; Cat makes hilarious kissy noises at him. It’s awesome. We cut to his solo – appropriately danced to Train’s “The Finish Line.” He’s got on a yellow button down (unbuttoned) and subtle plaid shorts. It’s not his most memorable work.
Robert and Lauren dance together to a Dee Caspary contemporary routine, which is supposed to be about leaving So You Think You Can Dance. They’re exhausted, and toss a pillow back and forth between them. The music is quite lovely (“That’s Home” by Cinematic Orchestra) and while I honestly don’t get the whole “journey after SYTYCD” thing, it’s soft and light and moody and beautiful. Robert – shirtless – wears brown pants, and Lauren has on a pink slip with cream lace. The lifts – Robert’s Achilles heel – are gorgeous, soft and flowy. I was fearing the pillow would be gimmicky, but the dancers use it beautifully. Nigel thought there were touches of genius, and takes takes time to thank not only Dee (who appears teary eyed, but I think that his gaze may normally be watery) but all the season’s new choreographers. He compliments Lauren’s remarkable strength, and tells the two they’re beautiful and that yes, they can dance. Mia loves Dee, thinks Robert’s delicious, and that Lauren is perfection. She’s so proud. Adam loves the loving way the two supported each other. It’s all very love love lovey.
Kent and Lauren – poor Lauren, she’s got to be wrecked at this point – take on a Mandy Moore jazz routine. Huh, lots of jazz and contemporary in this first half, huh? The idea (perhaps inspired by the success of “Boogie Shoes”) is to be as quirky, nerdy, cute and weird as Lauren and Kent are. Without kissing. Kent might want to kiss Lauren, but Mandy will not let him. They dance to “Hip to Be Square” from the immortal Huey Lewis, and it’s a lot of walking back and forth. They’re in jeans (hers is a denim A line skirt) and white button down short sleeved shirts (his is buttoned up to the neck, hers has cut outs in the back) and white belts and glasses. I think Lauren’s flagging a little. At the end of the routine, she punches Kent as he tried to kiss her – and we find out from Cat that Kent got a black eye while they were practicing that last bit. Youch! Lauren apologizes adorably for “defacing” Kent, as if he were a monument and not a person.
Nigel frowns and says it wasn’t challenging enough, and I have to agree; I could probably do 50% of that routine, and that’s not good. Poor Mandy, though. Mia thinks Kent and Lauren killed it, but she didn’t like the routine. It was too fun and cutesy. Adam says he loves them and tells them to get off the stage. He repeats this line, experimenting with ways of saying it, three times. Kent and Lauren defend Mandy and say they’re thrilled to get a chance to show their inner dorks, their true selves. Cat calls them Gleeks, “in the best sense of the word”. That word, I do not think it means what she thinks it means.
In Robert‘s interview package, he says he never thought he’d last so long, even though it was his goal and hope to make the finale. And it’s true, between Billy and Alex it’s a surprise that Robert is there. “Fix You” was of course his favorite piece, because it expressed his soul and his feelings for his mom (and made her cry, in a good way). What would you do with a quarter of a million dollars if you win, says Cat, who likes to think of the prize money in terms of how many shoes she could buy with it. “I want to walk up to my mother and say ‘what do you want’, ” says Robert, “because she’s always given me everything I needed.” Aw! All the mothers in America start speed dialing. Seriously, that kills me – he means it without question, which makes it so endearing. Robert’s solo, to The Postal Service’s “The District Sleeps Alone” is a cool combination of contemporary and locking, and has a real shape to it. Kent’s was a bit flailly, but this is fantastic.
Speaking of Kent, he’s up next, doing a Stacey Tookey contemporary routine with All Star Allison. They want to make him grow up – reach deep within to find a less cheesy place. The story is about a couple who seems perfect, but when they’re alone, have terrible issues. They’re undressing after a fancy party – Allison tosses away a full length ballgown to stand in a navy chemise, and Kent has on the shirt, pants and loosened bow tie (helpfully sewn to his shirt) of a tuxedo. Joshua Radin’s gorgeous “Sundrenched World (Live Sessions)” plays, which you’d think would be a miss, but supports the idea that they appear to be this golden couple. They circle each other. They push. There’s tackling. They pull each other’s strings literally, which is an awesome physical manifestation of the conceit. There are waves of anger and regret and confused longing. And – praises to Stacey – there’s real emotion from Kent which is not cute or happy. (Although, I admit it, this too looked better to me the second time around; at first I couldn’t help thinking how much I’d rather have seen another guy do it.) Allison excels at being wrecked.
Nigel tells Kent his lines just get better, and praises his honesty. Mia notes that Kent is still freaked out. She wonders what he said to Allison at the end of the routine, while she was sliding down his back, clutching him: Mia thinks she heard him say “get off me,” and he nods his ascent. He can’t speak. Mia loves that he was able to get to a place that was so real. Where was he, they want to know. “It’s personal,” he says, and I love him for that, but then he goes on to say that he wasn’t doing the steps, he was living the dance, and Adam goes ape. “It’s like a break through in therapy! You just became an artist!” Kent can barely muster a smile when Cat gives out his number.
In her interview clip, Lauren tells Cat how thrilled she is to be here. The Prom was her favorite dance, too; Cat makes her blush over it. She says she’s never shared an experience like that on stage with anyone. Aw! It’s not as adorable as Robert and his momma, but you’re still super cute, Lo Fro. She pulls out some of her sexy cheerleader tricks to Mary J. Blige’s “I’m Goin’ Down” which is slinky and athletic and really quite impressive. Adam just about jumps out of his seat, he’s so agog at her prowess. This is the only time we hear anything from the judges after the solos. Nigel can’t shut about about the split jump thingy. Go, Lauren!
Robert‘s third partner dance is a Spencer Liff Broadway routine (gosh, I really like Spencer’s work – I always get so thrilled when I hear his name) with All Star Kathryn. The idea is that Robert is some sort of criminal who’s been interrogated by lots of people, and then the police sends in the sexy detective to wring the truth out of him. Okay, that’s kind of cool and noir, and also kind of horrifically porno. Anyway. The start is very cinematic, set to West Side Story‘s “Cool” (ooh, I love this song so much!). Robert has his shirt sleeves rolled up, and he looks every inch the 30s movie star. You can literally see him exhorting himself to stay cool under pressure. Then in walks Kathryn, with the skirt of her short gray suit slit up to her waist, practically, with a folder that holds either evidence or a confession for him to sign. I love the style. I totally adore it. They have the beat of the song, and you can feel it as an homage to the great gang routine from the musical even though it’s totally different. Of course, you see some strain in one spectacular lift; seriously, Robert, this is the fourth time you’ve worked with Kathryn. She can’t really be that hard to lift, can she? She does get him to confess, though.
The judges generally spend more time talking about Spencer and the music than the dancers, which is a shame. They hardly react when Cat points out Robert has split his pants. Nigel says that “Cool” is one of his favorite pieces of music ever, so hearing it made him nervous (and it’s true, that music is so closely tied to the classic number) but he’s impressed. And he’s so thrilled with Robert’s development on the show. Mia also notes the iconic status of the music, and praises Spencer for using Jerome Robbins’ dance vocabulary. The piece had a classic feel with a new story, and there was genius dancing. Adam has performed that piece from West Side Story at least ten times (and believes it’s the best choreography in musical theater), and he too was freaked out by the use of the music. But he too believes it worked. It worked so well that he thinks Jerome Robbins would have hired Robert. There’s a sign in the audience that says “Robert is The Sickness.” Awesome.
Lauren and Pasha take on a Tony and Melanie cha cha (Cat calls Melanie Meredith, which I bet she gets all the time considering it’s Tony’s last name). Oh, awesome. You know her previous cha cha was one of my favorite pieces of the season, so I’m quite excited by this; I’d call it a softball, but considering she’s not a ballroom dancer, it’s probably not that easy. She just takes to ballroom like a duck to water is all. The idea of the dance is that Lauren gets all dirty and out of control when she sees Pasha. Well, duh! Don’t we all? Lauren’s a bit taken aback that the choreographers all want her to be a maneater. The dance is set to “Not Myself Tonight” by Christina Aguilera, and it’s a very close thing to say whether or not it’s better than their previous cha cha, “Telephone.” He’s wearing black with a sheer open black shirt; she’s got on a spidery looking affair in silver and purple with half a skirt. They both look hot.
Nigel right praises an amazing lift, says it was damn near perfect (oh, how I long for Mary Murphy’s definitive authority!) and tells Lauren that she’s the best they’ve ever had of a contemporary dancer doing ballroom. Mia blows Lauren away by say “If I were still dancing, I would want to dance just like you,” and goes on to praise Lauren’s ability to make so many different styles seem effortless. Mia’s astounded by her multi-faceted talent. Lauren almost cries. “You’ll never know how much that means to me,” she squeaks. Adam tells her that she feels music like no one else on the show, that she dances like most people breathe, and that if music were a person, it’d be Lauren.
Hmmmm. Sounds like at least one judge is in Lauren’s corner rather than Kent’s. Make that two, maybe.
To close the show, Robert and Kent dance a Malevos fight – a gangster version of the Argentine Tango where the men duke it out while they’re waiting for their women. Miriam and Leonardo provide the choreography as usual. The boys are dressed as classic gangsters, in fedoras and suits (in shades of gray) with spats. Love the spats. Taylor Long’s “The Chosen/Drum Addict” is the music; what a great title for a song, don’t you think, the drum addict bit? Love it. There’s a cool slow-mo punch moment, there’s a lot of circling, a somersault, and generally it’s just what’s promised – a tango fight between two men. I think it’s a bit uneven, however, which is shame in the last number; there are moments in close hold when the guys have gripped each other’s forearms and do that leg flicking tango thing, and the hold is messy (they look like they’re afraid they’re going to tumble over) and the leg flicks aren’t as hard and precise as they should be.
So many people want something for nothing, Nigel says, but dancers know the value of hard work. (Uh, which means that Robert and Kent know they don’t know enough about tango to have done it well? Or that they were horribly overworked this week?) Mia loved the feel of the dance, debonair yet hood. She acknowledges that the leg work could have been better (ya think?) but doesn’t care. It’s the last piece, she loves these kids and is on a high from the over all awesome caliber of dance. Adam agrees that it was lacking in precision, but says they’re his three favorite dancers ever. Oh, spare me. I totally believe he means it in this moment, but he will mean it just as fervently with someone else next summer because they happen to be the super talented people in front of him, which means he has no memory, fidelity or proportion and so his compliments aren’t really as complimentary as I’d want them to be. Erm, sorry. He notes that these are the youngest finalist they’ve ever had; barely 20 year old Robert lords it over his 18 year old rivals. Wow. That really is impressive.
And there it ends! Will Kent win, as everyone expects? He’s terrific, but I kind of feel like the other two out performed him. And seriously, is it just me, or is anyone else melting at the idea of Robert offering his mother anything he can buy with $250,000? Are the judges as indifferent as they claim? And even if there’s less than 2% difference between the dancers, that’s still hundreds of thousands of votes. I’m totally delighted to find out – and especially to see the repeat performances of the judges favorite routines. Yay, So You Think You Can Dance!