This evening the judges were joined by actor and SYTYCD judges’ panel veteran Jesse Tyler Ferguson. The top six performed a joyful Sean Cheesman number to “Hlohonolofasta” by the Soweto Gospel Choir. The contemporary piece fused with African dance had some really lovely qualities reminiscent of some of the late Alvin Ailey’s choreography. It was Sean’s best work this season and definitely worth a watch.
Tyce Diorio had a “battle of the sexes” jazz number for Paul and All Star Kathryn to “Tied Up” by Yello. The use of a ladder and an enormous skirt were really interesting and visually appealing. The Latin influence was definitely evident in this fast-paced performance which summoned up memories of the musical Chicago (which is probably because of the costumes). Nigel declared that both dancers had won the battle and that Paul had unequivocally proven that he can do anything they give him. Mary’s reaction was “Wow, wow, wow!” and praise for the “fast” and “articulate” dance. Jesse said he was thrilled with Paul’s journey over the season (having been in L.A. for Paul’s audition) and that he was impressed with the range of movement achieved in leather pants.
Amy took to the stage in a solo to “Anna’s Theme” from The Red Violin. She performed a passionate, frenzied piece with a ridiculous number of pirouettes in succession.
Haley and Season 4 champ Joshua were up next in a Nappy Tabs boxing-themed Hip Hop dance to “Work Hard, Play Hard” by Wiz Khalifa. The choreography was great fun with a touch of comedy using a lot of motifs from boxing and training. Haley did a wonderful job even if Joshua was a touch more amazing. Mary quoted Mohammed Ali who said “They have to have the skill and the will” when she said it was evident that Haley truly showed the will to succeed. Jesse called Haley “consistently awesome” and Nigel also praised her talent.
Fik-Shun’s solo to “Look at Me Now” by Chris Brown feat. Lil Wayne was really exemplary. His movement was so fluid and dynamic that it left one wanting more.
Aaron and Season 8 winner Melanie were up next in another performance about an arguing couple struggling to play nice on stage. Spencer Liff treated them to a Broadway piece to “Faith” by George Michael. The premise to this one was fun even if Aaron did drop Melanie at one point-which, consequently, did fit with the dance rather well. Jesse said that Aaron had “risen to the top.” Nigel wanted Aaron to keep his shoulders down but said he “gets stronger every week.” Mary praised Aaron’s partnering despite the drop.
Jasmine’s turning and developpe-filled solo was performed to “Outro (Amazing Grace)” by Destiny’s Child.
Paul’s solo to “Mamba Negra” by HUECCO was very crowd-friendly and entertaining.
Fik-Shun and All Star Whitney were up next in Jonathan Roberts’ Fox Trot to “Sexy Silk” by Jessie J. The piece has some great moments with nods to Fik-Shun’s technique including C-walking and chest popping but, overall, seemed to showcase Whitney the most. Mary said Fik-Shun had a couple of rough spots but gave him “props” for hitting his lines so well. Jesse called him a “force” but felt he was being dominated by Whitney. Nigel didn’t feel that the transitions were particularly strong but called Fik-Shun’s earlier solo “fantastic.”
Haley’s solo filled with big, sweeping movement was set to “Be Mine!” by Robyn.
Tyce Diorio had a contemporary “natural disaster dance” for Jasmine and All Star Neil was set to “Unfaithful” from the Unfaithful soundtrack. The subject matter of struggling with devastation was what made this piece interesting. There were a lot of lifts and sharing of weight which are fairly typical of the contemporary work on the SYTYCD stage. However, Neil was breathtaking tonight and especially because of his memorable back walkover which melted beautifully into a dive to the floor. Nigel said it was a “beautiful routine” and told Jasmine he foresees a great career for her. Mary was emotionally affected by the piece and said Jasmine was “spectacular” Jesse said he felt the “heart and humanity” of the piece through the dancers.
Aaron’s fun tap solo to “Use Me” by Bill Withers was a great example of his showmanship.
All Star Alex was Amy’s partner for a Nakul Dev Mahajan Bollywood number to “Munni Badnaam Hui Darling” from Daabang. Who was the All Star and who was the competitor? The lines were very blurry in this performance which was gorgeous and exhausting at the same time. The two hit their lines so precisely and really shined in the complex changes in level and great knee turns. This is the performance to watch for the week. Mary said “It was crazy!” adding “Nuts!” and praise for their athleticism. Jesse’s clever quip was “Good golly, Miss Bollywood!” adding the exclamations “Insane!” and “fantastic!” Nigel said they “danced incredibly” and pointed out how complex the dance was even in comparison to past Bollywood choreography on the show.
Choreographer Dee Caspary returned to give Haley and Paul a contemporary piece to “I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles)” by Sleeping at Last. The delicate yet intricate movement was not necessarily chill-inducing but was well-danced. Jesse declared the performance “amazing” and “unbelievable.” Nigel loved “the flow of the movement” and called them “complete dancers” who “can do anything.” Mary seemed to hope for a little SYTYCD matchmaking with the pair because of their connection on stage.
The much-beloved duo of Amy and Fik-Shun were reunited for a Dave Scott Hip Hop routine to “Lemme See” by Usher feat. Rick Ross. These two together are also a winning combination. The performance was fun and also technically precise. There was also a little nod to Flashdance (whether intentional or not) which was a great little “Easter egg” in the choreography. Nigel praised their “wonderful chemistry” and got in a little jab at Miley Cyrus when he said Amy proved “you don’t have to put it in someone’s face to be sexy.” (Agreed!) Mary called them the “dream team” and gave Amy a wonderful compliment when she said “dance is just your pulse.” Jesse was happy to have the pair together again. He called Fik-Shun a “megastar” and said Amy’s performance “cleansed him from Miley’s twerking.”
Sean Cheesman’s second piece of choreography was a Jazz piece for Aaron and Jasmine to “Mirror, Mirror” by Lord KraVen. The story of the choreography was Aaron’s obsession with the woman in the mirror-whom only he can see. Jasmine was the women in the mirror who was trapped there because of her vanity. Overall, the most powerful movement was that done in unison although it could have done with less of Jasmine’s extensions a la seconde which seem to have lost their novelty. For those who are curious, yes, Aaron did a wonderful job of keeping his shoulders down this time. Mary loved the “phenomenal concept” of Sean’s choreography and the “deep conviction” displayed by Aaron and Jasmine. Jesse told Jasmine “I hate you because I can’t be you” and admitted to having a crush on Aaron. Nigel said they “compliment each other so well.” He also praised Aaron’s tap solo and said he and Jasmine had raised the bar (his words: “threw down the gauntlet”) for the competition.
And which 4 will be in the finale? Amy, Jasmine, Aaron and Fik-Shun will be going head to head in next week’s Season 10 finale for the titles of “America’s Favorite Guy/Girl Dancer.” But Kudos to Haley and Paul for their great attitudes and show of solidarity as they gracefully congratulated their peers. They will be appearing in the tour which is a wonderful consolation prize.
Albuquerque viewers can catch next week’s SYTYCD finale Tuesday, September 3, 2013 at 7 p.m. (MST) on Fox Channel 2. Reruns of the show are available for a limited time on hulu.com.