Wednesday, August 10, 2011

SYTYCD 8: Top 4 and Finale: The Queen of The Beasts Takes Her Crown!

(um... spoiler alert? perhaps you already heard...)

This is it, Dance Fans! Top 4. Part 1 of the Finale. It all comes down to one performance night and then we crown the winner in the season finale! 4 more All-Stars are on hand! In terms of the contestants, we've still got 2 Contempos, 1 Jazz Hands, and 1 Breaker left to dance for us. Tonight's guest judges are Kenny Ortega, and Katie Holmes. I'll tell you right now that neither of them says anything relevant the whole night and their comments won't be recapped. Also, I watched this live with my friend Sles who was very annoyed with KH for dressing down for the occasion. It's true, she looks like she's off to play tennis on a public court. She looks even more silly because she's next to marry who is wearing a lovely evening gown. It should also be noted that Mary's hair is out of control in terms of length. She looks like she's Rapunzel. I'd flat out say it's too long, but since she's survived cancer I'll say she's free to wear and wig or weave she damn well pleases... just maybe a couple inches shorter? Anyway, time for dance! Each contestant will dance 4 routines and a solo tonight. You read that right. I won't address the solos other than to say they are all good and that before hand we get treated to our annual sit down chat with Cat interviews. We don't really learn anything special though. It's been an amazing journey for all of them, basically.

Here we go!

Melanie and Marko, disco w/ Doriana Sanchez. Dancing to: "I Feel Love," Donna Summer. Concept: Uh... it's Disco! Oof. This routine is not good. It's definitely set to a classic disco song but the music is not propulsive. All the lifts look labored. The skimpy style of costume is not flattering to Melanie's frame. Marko, for his part, looks flat out exhausted. How's he gonna make it through 3 more pairs routines and a solo? It feels like Doriana did not choreograph this piece to their strengths at all. It's a shame that after so many great routines, Melanie and Marko's last routine together is something of a misfire. The guest judges are very gentle in their critique, not really saying much of anything, but Mary thinks the lifts and transitions looked rocky. Nigel also thought it was something of a struggle - especially for Marko. This dance will henceforth be known as the Unfortunate Disco of 2011. Hopefully producers stuck this one at the beginning so we'd forget about it after watching 15 more routines... dude, there are 15 more routines!!! Fasten your dance belts. It's gonna be a bumpy night.

Sasha and Mark, jazz w/ Sonya Tayeh. Dancing to: "Raise Your Weapon," Deadmau5. Concept: Sasha as explored through dance. Ooh, this will be good! Mark and Sasha are a great match. Mark, straight off the Gaga Tour, has become such an impressive dancer since his season and he's in such amazing shape. It's a strong routine with lots of intense and angry movement. There's some wonderfully weird section where Mark movers her around like she's a spider taking part in a wheelbarrow race. It's really a great routine. The judges all rave about it. Mary thinks Sasha matched Mark in power and intensity. Nigel reminds us all of the "warrior princess" arc Sasha has been delighting us with for the past several weeks. Battle On, Sasha!

Tadd and Joshua, hip-hop w/ Lil' C Dancing to: "Hustle Hard," Ace Hood. Concept: N.O.S. Just go with it. It's Lil'C. Tadd is doing fine here, but Joshua reminds us why he won this competition from among the stellar competition featured in Season 4. He just hits it so hard and has deniable charisma. Tadd gets a little outshone here, even though he does well. It's the danger of this kind of choreo where there is not a lot of partnering so the all-star can't dance in service to the contestant. Mary says he brought the hustle hard, but you can tell she doesn't 100% believe it. Maybe she 80% believes it. Nigel still thought Tadd was too sweet. I thought Tadd was too sweet only because of who was dancing next to him.

Melanie and Robert, contemporary w/ Stacey Tookey Dancing to: "Sacrifice," Sinead O'Connor. Concept: unrequited love. Melanie, of course, acts the hell out of it. The movement is quite beautiful and again Robert really comes through as a great partner. It's a little sad though. I hope Melanie gets a really fun, high powered moment tonight. Nigel thought Melanie picked up gauntlet thrown down by Sasha. Kenny says he'd push to the front of the line to work with Melanie, so Cat corners him about putting her in the Dirty Dancing remake. Cat then turns around and demands 20% from Melanie as an agent's fee. Cat is a smart lady!

Sasha and Marko, Broadway w/ Spencer Liff. Dancing to: "Whatever Lola Wants," Ella Fitzgerald. I wonder if Tyce will ever do Broadway on this show again? I hope he sticks to contempo and jazz. Concept: Marko is a nerdy waiter and Sasha is in a really sexy evening gown trying to seduce him. I like the character work and dancing here a lot. They are a cute couple. Maybe there is too much of a full set here. I usually find that distracting. There are some creative lifts here and overall it's a lot of fun. Much much better from Marko than in the Unfortunate Disco of 2011. Mary thought the comedy really worked for the number. The Clark Kent glasses confused her that it was even Marko! Sigh. Nigel, to my surprise, kinda pisses all over the routine. It didn't knock him out. I honestly don't know what they couldn't done better here. Cat's a little baffled too, but keeps it all moving along so we don't dwell on his crankiness. I love her.

Sasha and Tadd, cha-cha w/ Mark Ballas. Dancing to: "Raindrops," Basement Jaxx. What's the DWTS dude doing here? Anyway the concept is basically a naughty cha cha. The execution on stage is really a mess. As part of the routine, Tadd slaps her behind right at the beginning of the number which struck me as tasteless. There's nothing inherently wrong with a little pat on the toosh in a dance, but this one felt wrong. That's not what sinks the number though. There are a million missed hand connections, the energy is weird, the music is weird, and it just doesn't look like a cha cha. Fatigue has set in for these two. This is even worse than the Unfortunate Disco of 2011. In judging Mary's like "let's get real." Too many elements were missing and it went nowhere. Nigel thinks it was uncomfortable to watch. Agreed. The judges are happy that there is still more ahead for these two, so they can end on a better note than this.

Marko and Lauren Froderman, contemporary w/ Tessandra Chavez. Dancing To: "Shirk," Me'Shell Ndegeocello. Concept: Another Sad Relationship. This one is very emotional. It's very beautifully danced and Lauren and Marko have a great connection. I'm so glad Marko got to have this moment after the Unfortunate Disco of 2011. In judging Mary says Marko thrust greatness upon himself. She really has been Marko's champion this season. Everyone has praised the girls throughout but I feel like Mary has tried to not let Marko get lost in the shuffle. Nigel says he's been disappointed so far during the finale, but that Marko brought it with this number.

Melanie and Tadd, jazz w/ Ray Leeper. Dancing to: "Show Me What You're Working With," Sista Monica. Concept: Fight and rip Tadd's clothes off. Melanie is bad ass and is acting the hell out of the piece again before anything even really happens. I love her!! Then she takes off her shoe and flings it right into Tadd! Then she goes on dancing in one heel! and she looks amazing! She just keeps her other foot in the shape as if it had a heel underneath! It's awesome. Eventually she gets to be completely barefoot as Operation: Undress Tadd goes into full effect. They battle and dance and Tadd winds up in novelty boxers with giant hearts. This was a very fun number and had high energy which is nice for Melanie's shot at the title. Nigel notes Melanie's character work at the beginning. Mary says Tadd was fabulous and loves how Melanie can strut across the stage like nobody else. All in all, a nice recovery for Tadd and a great showing for Melanie!

Melanie and Sasha, contemporary w/ Stacey Tookey. Dancing to: "Heart Asks Pleasure First," Ahn Trio. Concept: Oppressed housewives. Each of the ladies has their own triangle of misery lined with a picket fence. I don't care for the fences. It's my thing again with too much scenery. These two are good enough to CONVEY feeling trapped without me seeing the literal boundaries. Anyway, the dresses look gorgeous. The costume department must have wanted to kill themselves when they saw how many numbers were in the pipe for this week. Sasha and Melanie are beautiful together here. I prefer this dance of their to the Sonya one from a few weeks ago. Mary applauds them for being amazing for the whole season and this dance is no exception to that. Nigel suggests they both join dance companies after the tour because anyone would be so lucky to have them. AGREED!

Marko and Tadd, Gumboot Stepping w/ Chuck Maldonado. Dancing to: "B.O.B.," Outkast. Concept: Coal Miners. This is actually a version of stepping from South Africa. Also? It's kind of a weak performance from the guys. Tadd is hitting it pretty well, but Marko isn't as sharp him, so they're out of sync. But after two hours of dance, they are both exhausted. Perhaps this dance was a little too ambitious given the amount of dancing being asked of them in one week's rehearsal time. Or maybe it's just positioned too late in the show. Ooof. I can't watch. Is it over? It's over. Mary sees no reason to dump on them since they obviously are not going to threaten Melanie or Sasha for the title, and they did their best while clearly running on empty. She just tells them they did great. Nigel, however, doesn't see it the same way as Mary, and takes this opportunity to say that a a girl will win the competition. The rest of the panel and Cat all give him "WTF?" faces while Marko and Tadd just smile and cling to each other for support and are all, That's great. Can we go sit down backstage and drink some Gatorade?" Nigel could've been a lot classier here. Not the first time I've thought that over eight seasons of show, is it?

Tonight's Dances in order of my preference!
Sasha and Mark's contemporary
Melanie and Tadd's jazz
Marko and Lauren's contemporary
Melanie and Robert's contemporary
Marko and Sasha's Broadway
Melanie and Sasha's contemporary
Tadd and Joshua's hip-hop
Melanie and Marko's Unfortunate Disco of 2011
Tadd and Marko's Gumboot stepping
Tadd and Sasha's Cha-Cha

Part 2 of the Season Finale should come down to a contest between Melanie and Sasha. Both are so deserving!

Results Show. Dude. It's the FINALE. We start with a top 20 routine that features the Bottom 16 going to town Mad Max style all over the stage to "Wanna Get Hype" by Route 78 with choreo by Sonya. It's cool and kinda awesome that they get to come back and do an original number for the finale. And despite the giant hair and crazy make up, it's fun to try and pick out who is who. I see Nick and Ricky and Missy and Jess and Iveta and... wait who of the guys dyed their hair platinum blond??? Oh dear. The top 4 come out for the last little bit of the song and end up center stage. Yay!

Crammed behind the judging table tonight are Lil'C, Robin Antin, Tyce DiOrio, Sonya Tayeh, Jesse Tyler Ferguson (yay!!), Mary and Nigel. All the judges go down the line saying nice things to the final four. The only thing that really stands out besides JTF hilarity, is Nigel publicly apologizing for dissing the guys at the end of last nights show. That was big of him.

Then we get a montage of the season and I tear up. It was really intense, guys! It was a very good season. Time for the the encore performances selected by the judges. We get:

From Mary: Sasha and Kent's Wall Dance. Amazing again.

From Nigel: Melanie and Marko's Kiss Hip Hop. Even better than the first time. They are feeling the moment in the best way.

From Robin: Tadd and Lauren's Hat Dance. Really? I'd have preferred Tadd and Jordan's Vulture Dance. The first time through Tadd lost his hat for a key part of choreo and Lauren accidentally punched Tadd clean in the face! But the second time through they are flawless and awesome.

Then we get a hilarious clip package of the choreographers trying to explain the concepts behind their crazy routines.

More encores!:

From Lil'C: Robert and Miranda's Woodpecker Hip Hip. Hmm. I'm glad they featured non-finalist routines, but I would've preferred Nick and Iveta's quick step. But this routine is fun and they are obvs thrilled to get a featured moment in the finale.

From Cat: the Top 8 Circus Routine. This one is taped. Presumably the stage set up and intense costume and make-up was not adaptable to the live show with a million other routines to service.

Then we get another original number. The current UK Champ, Matt Flynt is joined by Nick and Jess to do a tap routine. It's part of Matt's prize for winning in UK to perform here. They are amazing! I have to feature it here. SO GOOD!

More Encores!
Mary: Melanie and Neil - Total eclipse of the heart. This one is a SMIDGE below the level of the original performance. Just a smidge. It's still super-amazing.

Jesse: Marko and Allison - Crying Mom Contempo. Super intense. They both are emotionally wrecked at the end.

Tyce: Top 10 Girls - Geisha Routine. Still 10's across the board. For real. The girls are so strong here. Hi Ryan! Hi Caitlynn!

Then we get a recap of last night's show. Most of the negative comments are edited out except for that Cha Cha, which was unavoidable. The recap is mostly narrated by Melanie and Sasha with a few comments from Marko and Tadd. Take from that what you will!

Then it's time to go from 4 dancers to 3. The first one out is Tadd. He takes it super well. His montage includes messages from the three other finalists. I get choked up a little bit. Tadd is gracious and lovely in his goodbye, gets a giant bouquet and walks off stage. Congrats, Tadd. You rocked.

More Encores:

Lil'C: Ashley and Chris in the Prison Dance. It's fun to see these two get a moment in the finale too. I would've preferred one of Ricky's numbers though. It doesn't look like we'll be getting one of those. Too bad! The scarf one would've been cool.

Then the Final Four get sucked into a commercial for the Glee 3D Concert movie.

More Encores:

Nigel: Sasha & Twitch - Misty Blue Breakfast. So so good. These two are great together.

Sonya: Top 10 Guys - Matrix Doors Routine. This one is really great again. Alexander is the one who dyed his hair blond! Oh, Alexander.

Jesse: Caitlynn and Pasha's Tango. Taped?? Pasha was around the whole effing season and he's not available for the finale? It's great, but since the show is live I'd have preferred to see Caitlynn and Mitchell's Celine Dion number. That was really great and they are both in studio. Still this is undeniably a stand out routine of the season.

Mary: Melanie and Marko's Statute routine. They don't have time for the statue make up, but I swear it's even better than the first time. There's so much more between them now then when they first danced it. They know THIS is their last time dancing together on the stage, not that Unfortunate Disco of 2011. And they are so present with each other. It makes me cry.

Now it's time for three to be trimmed to 2. And it's Marko who is out next. Melanie vs. Sasha is in effect. Marko hugs the girls and they head off stage to hug and cry. They are the first all-female finale two in 8 seasons. Cat congratulates him on being the last man standing. His montage is really lovely. I get choked up AGAIN. Jeez, Show. "Money's paper. Contracts are paper. This is our life." Marko says tearfully. He is the best. Melanie is losing it in the pit beneath the judges table, and Sasha is trying to get her head back in the game. They are all so amazingly supportive of each other. Quite a bunch of artists they found this year!

Final Encore!

Nigel: Melanie and Sasha, Beasts Unleashed! This is actually MUCH much tighter than it was when Gaga was in the studio. It's still not the piece that affects me most emotionally of the season from either of them, but it's a strong showcase of their power and dominance of the season.

So it's time for a joint montage for Melanie and Sasha. Again, I cry. I love these two! It's finally time for the final results. The runner up got 32% of the vote and the winner got 47%. Oh, wow. That's not even close. Before Cat says it, I become certain it's Melanie. I would've thought it could be Sasha in a tight race, because she came on so strong these past few weeks, but Melanie has been so dominant since her first audition, I can't imagine she'd get such a small percentage of the overall vote comparatively.

And I'm right! MELANIE WINS!!! Wow, she defied all the rules of Showmentum. She started strong and just never gave up her lead or faltered. Sasha would've been a totally acceptable and enjoyable alternative winner, but Melanie's skill, artistry and popularity was simply undeniable. Confetti explodes out of everywhere. Melanie cries and is overwhelmed with joy. Cat hugs her and closes out the season as the rest of the Top 20 rush the stage and put Melanie on their shoulders. It's delightful. The End.

This was really a delightful season with lots of memorable routines and contestants. Good work, show. Good luck at the Emmys next month. Also a special shout to the youtube poster SYTYCDFanS08V2 who has such high quality clips of all the season's routines, highly organized in different playlists arranged by episode. This is my trusted embedding source!

I'll be seeing you next summer, Dance Fans!! Goodnight!

(Thanks for the Dance, Class of 2011! I hope to see some of you show up as Future All-Stars!)

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