Your guest judges are Kenny Ortega and Katie Holmes, who is a human wasteland. Damn, is that a whole season without Adam Shankman? Shame. Adam’s nice, and usually tries to give reasonably good criticism. The final episode of the season is usually pretty weak because the dancers are exhausted, but let’s see what happens.
Melanie and Marko: disco. When Doriana Sanchez explains that her vision of “the best disco ever” is “lots of lifts,” I just kind of groan – and, as expected, the lifts were very, very long. Don’t get me wrong, the fact that they can spin that much without losing accuracy is impressive. Melanie and Marko were both game for the cheese factor of disco, which I appreciate, but the entire thing felt lacklustre and a little slow: they clearly weren’t comfortable with the technique and tried to get by on performance, and endless boring spins aren’t going to cut it.
Sasha and All-Star Mark: contemporary. Man, Mark got Sasha’s haircut! Anyway, this was absolutely fabulous in every single respect: the best routine Sonya has put together in… god, maybe since Alex/Allison last year? And danced perfectly. Mark is an excellent partner for Sasha – and well, yeah, he’s an excellent partner for everybody because Mark is astoundingly good at basically everything, but even in that regard he was particularly exceptional with Sasha. This was so good. Seriously.
Tadd and All-Star Joshua: hip-hop. Lil’C doing not-krump? Huh. This was interesting, because although both Tadd and Joshua danced this quite well, during the first third of the routine Joshua was hitting it harder and more accurately than Tadd, then they balanced out, and then for the final third Tadd was hitting it harder than Joshua, which almost never happens: when one partner is better than another, usually it’s consistently so or the result of one partner starting or ending a routine weakly. Nigel complains that Tadd is too nice, because
Melani and All-Star Robert: contemporary. Nigel pointedly emphasizes that Stacey Tookey is Canadian, for what reason I am not sure. Anyway, this was very good in the sort of way I expected it to be very good: in a way that didn’t particularly excite me, but the excellence of which I nonetheless appreciate.
Sasha and Marko: Broadway. You know, it’s actually really rare for an SYTYCD Broadway routine’s comedy to be something I actually find funny, but Marko’s reactions here were genuinely great, and the little beats Spencer Liff put into the routine – that paired head-turn and ankle-cock early in the routine, for example – worked very nicely.
Melanie’s solo: Perfectly decent. She’s a really great contemporary dancer, of that there can be no doubt.
Marko’s solo: Really impressive. Marko’s speed and accuracy in his solos always impresses me.
Sasha and Tadd: cha-cha. What has come to me to be standard for American SYTYCD ballroom: hit the big tricks, simply not have the basic technique. The judges destroy them for something that was rightfully terrible, throwing Tadd under the bus to give Sasha at least a little bit of protection, because after all Tadd isn’t gonna win this and everybody knows it.
All-Star Lauren (season seven edition) and Marko: contemporary. This was really quite nice, although of course Kenny Ortega hits the nail on the head when he says the routine is a “gift” to Marko, as if every dancer wasn’t given their own style to dance once with an All-Star. (Well, except for Tadd, who didn’t get a B-boy routine but rather straight hip-hop, but whatever, it’s only Tadd.) Anyway, this was lovely.
Tadd’s solo: Much more musical than I’m used to from Tadd’s solos, which generally don’t grab me.
Melanie and Tadd: jazz. I am tremendously amused that they found a way for Melanie to remove the heels within the first third of the routine. Anyway: meh. Technically competent, didn’t especially grab me in any way: Melanie is usually a really good actress as dancers go, but this just felt generic and forced, and it translated to her dancing, which I thought was laboured. Tadd was a better scoundrel and felt more comfortable, and carried the routine.
Sasha’s solo: Like Melanie, perfectly good contemporary solo.
Melanie and Sasha: contemporary. Aaaaaaand that’s 3/1 for “Melanie dancing in her style” versus “Melanie having to dance out of style” on the night, which was about what I expected. Also, I like Stacey Tookey’s choreo, but any piece about 50s housewives where Sasha and Melanie are afforded equal status just doesn’t work for me, because in the 50s Sasha would have been the help. Yes, yes, I know, they’re playing roles, but… even so, you know?
Marko and Tadd: hip-hop. True story: before this aired, I said in email to a friend that I was certain that if Tadd and Marko got to dance together, they would get buried with something impossible because since day one this season has been All About The Girls and the judges have constantly said it’s All About The Girls, and Tadd and Marko are unfortunately not girls. And I was right! A stepping routine! Incredibly hard and intricate, nowhere close to either dancer’s style, no point during the routine where you could hear the stepping and slaps which is more or less the point of stepping, and of course probably the most energetic and aerobic routine of the night is saved for dead last, so when Marko and Tadd predictably blow it and blow it hard, Nigel can sanctimoniously say “well I told you a girl was going to win.” Shut up, Nigel.
Final four order should be: 1.) Sasha 2.) Marko 3.) Melanie 4.) Tadd.
Final four order will be: 1.) Sasha 2.) Melanie 3.) Marko 4.) Tadd.