E: The tension is mad in the studio tonight. Who’ll be our finalists? For once the voters have decided. Will that mean any disruption in the obvious for the last month trio of Marko, Melanie and Sasha? Could Caitlynn have saved herself with that terrific jazz routine? Will Ricky beat Tadd out for the second guy slot? Cat, resplendent in yellow, wants to know, too. “So what have you done, America?”
Tonight’s dress was a bit of a departure for Ms.Deeley, and a pretty fantastic one. It was full length, and featured a strappy top with a bunch of keyholes. The bottom half had several slits in it – really, more than a continuous piece of fabric, it felt like a bunch of scarves sewn together. But in a really good way. I was less sure about the bundle of rosettes on her right shoulder, especially since some of them were beige. It reminded of Lena Lamont’s big corsage from the Dueling Cavalier, there to hide her microphone.
Anyway. Did anyone else wonder if the enormous red flower (carnation? rose?) in the opening number was a projection or some sort of trick for the home audience? It became clear eventually that it was there in the studio with them, but at first, I wondered, especially with that spectral white/red lighting. The boys are in white – fitted pants, buttoned shirts with the sleeves rolled up, brown belts. They stand in a ring (triangle?) facing the flower. They turn, and the girls arrive, stepping quickly to pair with them, in white fitted sleeveless tops and white a-line skirts. With, again, what looks like a belt for definition. It’s dreamy and tailored all at once, set to Lia Ices’ “Grown Unknown” which begins with clapping and an ethereal, Enya-like voice.
When the lighting returns to normal, at the point that the band kicks in, it’s clear that the women are actually wearing colored clothing; Caitlynn’s in a beige dress, Melanie has a white top and pink skirt, and Sasha’s in ivory. Very neat trick, seeing the clothes washed out. I can’t really make sense of the dance, though; are they worshiping the flower? Is it a stand in for a maypole? Something to do with The Bachelor, with the flower an outsized symbol of aspirational romantic love? The Beast’s enchanted rose from Beauty and the Beast? And if that last, does it make the guys the beauties? I genuinely have no idea. It’s pretty, though. As it ends, the flower rises up into the ceiling, with the dancers in a ring looking up at it, and now I’m forcibly reminded of The Claw from Toy Story.
Cat credits one Justin Giles for the routine. Dude, what was up with that? I really want to know. When she introduces the judges (woot for the wizard of wordplay, double hash tag Lil’C) it’s clear that Christina Applegate has not made the trip again. Aw. I don’t want to have to take back my approval of you! Nigel tells us that the public has indeed finally made this choice, and that all the dancers will do solos, and they won’t be separating people into the top and bottom, because they don’t want us to know who the top vote getters are. Hmm. Interesting. Does that mean that the top vote gets AREN’T the obvious (Melanie and Marko)? Or that it is them, but they don’t want those fans to take anything for granted? Or do they not want the dancers to know, so the middle two don’t give up? I suppose it makes sense.
So here we are, straight into the solos. First up, Sasha, who takes the stage to an absolutely huge cheer. She’s wearing jean shorts and a white t-shirt with LOVE written on the from an the outline of a heart on the back. She’s so unique. I just love her. Her solo is so in tune with the music (“We Gonna Win” by Miri Ben Ari, featuring Styles P), it kills me. The judges stand for her. Next we have Caitlynn, dancing to Natasha Bedingfield’s “Touch.” She’s in black and white, kind of like her outfit for Sonya’s piece last night, and it’s kind of frenetic. She just throws ever leap and crazy thing she can into it. But the judges stand for her, too. That diminishes their praise for Sasha in my mind, but maybe they just want all the dancers left to feel affirmed. Last for the girls is Melanie, who receives a standing ovation for her take on Sia’s “My Love.” She starts it on her back on the floor, and like Sasha’s it’s pretty great.
Before we get to the boys, we see some more National Dance Day footage. Nigel sells it all as fun exercise, and they emphasize how many videos they got from around the world. They also show a lot with cute animals – it looks like Sea World made a submission, because we see dolphins and seals doing routines with their trainers. Also, there’s Valerie the elephant.
Tadd starts his solo in the audience, as is his wont. Dude uses the studio like no one else. He dances to Tower of Power’s “Only So Much Oil in the Ground” and generally, I really enjoy his taste in music. For a typical Tadd ending (ie, display of insane b boy prowess) he finishes the routine going down the stage steps on his hands. Damn. Marko goes next, and he’s cute and boyish in khaki shorts, a gray t and open black short sleeve shirt. He’s using some acoustic James Morrison again, but a different song, “You Give Me Something.” It’s really musical, with quite a bit of athletic tumbling. Ricky, of course, takes the athletic tumbling to a whole new level. And he’s got some crazy pirouettes going on, and some very neat quirky moments that look somewhat like his nightmare dance character. He’s been dancing to “Requiem for a Tower” by London Music Works and Clint Mansell.
As Cat had promised last night, we get to see Kent and Lauren do a routine. I assume this meant a new one, but as Cat goes to introduce them, it’s immediately clear they’re doing a premise of “Collide,” the prom dance that they inexplicably didn’t perform in last year’s finale. Awesome! I love this dance. Seriously, it’s wonderful. What a nice waltz with nostalgia – for high school, for last season, for golden youth, for summers past. And that kiss! Aw. They haven’t lost their touch. When they’re done with the smooching, Cat lets us know that next week’s All Stars will be Lauren Froderman, Robert Roldan, Mark Kanemura (YES!!!!) and season 4 winner Joshua Allen. Hmmmm. What a shame this doesn’t mean that 3 girls will make it to that finale. But does Joshua’s inclusion mean they want a b-boy off for Tadd? Was that a bit of a spoiler?
And with that, she brings out the girls. We see Caitlynn’s proud, weeping papa in the audience (back from the Black Sea!). We’re cautioned that the first person put through to the finale is not necessarily the top vote getter. But because otherwise there’d be no suspense to the last pairing, the first name called is Melanie. She’s got tears in her eyes, and her grandmother is just the most adorable thing, sitting in shock as the crowd (and Melanie’s mom) explodes to its feet around her.
The boys are dragged up; Ricky’s got his enormous smile, Tadd’s making silly faces (and not on purpose either) and Marko looks stricken, as usual. The not necessarily top vote getter is Marko, of course. As if there was ever any doubt who the top boy was? Marko runs off stage and into Melanie’s arms. Which means they’ll get to dance together next week! Yay!
Before we get to the other two finalists, we’re asked to sit through Bad Boys of Dance: Rock the Ballet, who strike me immediately as Il Divo for dancing, as ballet Chippendale beefcake. There are 6 shirtless guys, and one blond woman in a black catsuit. They’ve picked “Derezzed” from Tron: Legacy, which I think is pretty awful, and it doesn’t do much for me in general. It feels very packaged, somehow.
We get the final female finalist next. Nigel takes the time to say that Caitlynn dances from her head, Melanie from her heart, and Sasha from her soul. Whatever happens, the winner is dance. And then Cat calls the last finalist, which – thank God – is Sasha. I really think Caitlynn is terrific, but Sasha’s my favorite in the entire competition, and it would have been physically painful for them to have a finale without her. You know, this is the most obvious outcome, but she had such a great night last night I was (apparently unnecessarily) nervous. Melanie and Marko just look sad, looking up at Caitlynn, but she’s glowing. Cat calls her beautiful inside and out. We don’t see her cry until they’ve gone all the way through her goodbye film.
Before the boys get the word, Pia Toscano sings her single. And I realize I like her song better than I thought I did. Pretty decent. It’s really goofy to watch her harmonize with herself on the backing tracks, though. Couldn’t spring for some backup singers? Her band is rather large, no?
With about three minutes till the end of the telecast, Cat calls up Tadd and Ricky, Ricky and Tadd. Cat repeats Nigel’s note – whatever happens, the winner is dance. The ejectees tonight won’t even be going anywhere, because they’re needed this week for finale rehearsals. Ricky smiles. Tadd makes an even worse face. Just as we’ve been guessing for weeks, the last person in the finale is Tadd.
Getting on the show was a huge accomplishment, Ricky says in his goodbye package, and I’m crazy proud of myself. It was the best experience of my life, Caitlynn adds simply. Aw! Kenny Ortega and Katie Holmes will be the guest judges for the finale. Alrighty.
And there it is, a half Asian finale, 3 jazz/contemporary dancers (I forget how they classified the girls, frankly), 3/4th minority dancers. Will we have the first ever all female top two? Can anyone beat Melanie? Questions, questions. I’ll be compiling a wish list to share with you next week, for routines I hope they reprise during the results show. It’s one of my favorite parts of the whole season! What are you guys looking forward to? Did America make the right call? Sound off below!