First off, big thanks to Diane Trap for covering for me last week when I was traveling. Secondly, I HATE THE NEW FORMAT OF THE SHOW THIS YEAR.
So last week, we didn't vote, but this week we do, but next week is the actual finale, even though last week they called this week's show the finale? STOP DRAGGIN' MY HEART AROUND, Nigel.
I absolutely love Cat's red dress tonight. So classic, so pretty, and so shiny. Judges tonight are Nigel, Mary, and Rob Marshall (director of Chicago).
Eliana and Cyrus have a paso doble. And Jason Gilkinson has decided to switch the roles, with Eliana as the matador and Cyrus as the cape. And it's all set to Daft Punk,with Cyrus wearing a skirt over his pants, so we already know it's gonna be unusual. Y'all look, I love Cyrus's personality as much as the next fan, but Eliana clearly outdanced him there. It was slowed down far too much and lacked some of the in-hold moves I like to see in ballroom.
Nigel heaps praise on Eliana, but points out that Cyrus's technique still needs some work. Mary comments that she could've done without the cartwheel and one of the leaps (so, basically, the things put in specifically to play to Cyrus's strengths) and then comments that Eliana was "on fire." Rob praises Eliana's ability to tell the story.
There's a cute moment when Cat asks Cyrus to give her his best "Blue Steel" and he charmingly obliges.
Tiffany has a routine with Season 4's William Wingfield in a Sonya Tayeh routine. I don't remember Wil having these braids during his season and they look really good on him. I like this Moloko song they're dancing to, "Time Is Now."
Mary calls Tiffany a "fabulous" dancer and calls her with Will "a perfect partnership." Nigel praises tiffany as more than the "girl next door" and adds she's a fabulous dancer.
I'm so excited that with Chehon and Eliana being paired up we're getting an honest to goodness ballet routine. In this case it's choreographed by Marat Daukayev and is set to music from the Nutcracker suite. Also, we get Chehon in ballet tights, so that's a plus. Well, that went about as well as you'd expect with one dancer who attended the Joffrey and another who was at the Royal Ballet School.
Rob says that routine is what "separates the men from the boys." Nigel praises how good Eliana is and then throws out a lot of French ballet talk to back up his point. He also praises how easy Chehon made the lifts look. Mary's near tears with how special the dance was.
Cyrus and Tiffany have a lyrical hip hop choreographed by Tessandra Chavez, who I think is new to the show. I still remain bored by "lyrical" hip hop. I wish we could have swapped out half the lyrical hip hop routines this season for some sort of ballroom, particularly more tangos and quicksteps.
Nigel congratulates Cyrus and Tiffany on never being in the bottom per America's votes and then calls them both "incredible." Mary says they "killed it." Rob says both of them have "abandon", something he loves in dancers.
And now it's a group dance for all four finalists, choreographed by Tyce D'Orio. Eliana's en pointe and Tiffany's in heels, so I like it already. It starts out with the traditional classical "Eine Kleine Nachtmusik" but it's a remix that occasionally allows Cyrus to get weird. Overall, I give it a "meh."
In her clip package, Eliana makes some of the cutest goofy faces. Her favorite routine may have been partnering with Alex Wong. Her solo is done in toe shoes and doesn't feel that different from what he saw her do last week.
Stacey Tookey is choreographing for Allison Holker and Chehon to a song from "Once." During rehearsal, Stacey gets the giggles over just how good Chehon is. Gorgeous routine and it ends with a kiss, which makes the audience go wild. I have to admit, I watched it twice immediately and got chillbumps both times. The way they used their arms to communicate the emotion of the dance... just breathtaking. Cat points out he did a one-handed lift. So now I'll go watch it a third time to look for that. The things I subject myself to for you, loyal readers. Ah, there it is - he puts her up with both arms and then pulls one arm away to hold her with, yes, just one hand. Day-um.
Mary screams long and loud, she liked it so much. Oh, Mary, I don't think you're allowed to quote Martin Luther King, Jr. to describe a dancer, no matter how good it was. Rob says he gets now why Stacey was so ecstatic in rehearsals. Nigel spends too much time talking about Allison - she's not the contestant! When he starts talking about Chehon, he praises him for showing his emotional range. They show Chehon's parents in the audience and they're so European, it's adorable - all funky glasses and eff you hair.
Ray Leeper is "taking burlesque to Broadway" with a pole involved in their routine to "When You're Good to Mama" from Chicago (Rob Marshall synergy!). Side by side like this, it's no question to me that Eliana is the better dancer. Also, she's the only one that does any actual pole work - the most Tiffany ever does is hold on to it.
Rob says he's trying to imagine Queen Latifah doing that (She had that role/song in the movie version, even though they danced to the 1996 Broadway revival version.) The judges are unanimous in their praise, easily glossing over how Eliana was miles better than Tiffany.
Cyrus has a solo which looks like every other solo he's done. I generally find the solos so uninteresting, because these terrific dancers aren't usually terrific choreographers. And the solos are so short, it's difficult to develop any kind of character or story, so it's just about the tricks.
Tiffany talks about how her lack of exposure in the early shows made her think she wasn't going to make the top 20 and then how dancing with her lookalike Audrey was a hindrance. She's impressed that she's made it as far as she has. And not to say she isn't a good dancer, but I share her surprise. Tiffany does her solo. See above re: solos.
Now Chehon and Cyrus dance together in a routine choreographed by Sonya Tayeh. Where's Travis Wall been all this show? Sonya gets us, the audience, because she has both Chehon and Cyrus dancing shirtless. Although, can't say I'm super in love with the dubstep music.
Nigel is giving Cyrus the "you've improved so much" speech. And then tells Chehon that he's improved as a person and that he's Nigel's favorite dancer. And then there's a weird gratuitous mention of and cut to Jennifer Beals in the audience.
They give the dancers a much needed breather to feature b-boy guest Jean Sok who is missing his left leg below the knee and dances with a pair of crutches. He discards first one crutch and then the other, so he's standing only on his one leg by the end of the routine. It is really impressive and makes me wish I'd seen more of the Paralympics.
Chehon's journey includes him being goofy with a banana, which I wish we'd seen before. It also has a head duck near the end of his interview that is just the cutest thing ever. His solo is very, very good and uses all those tricks to just begin to develop a mood for the piece.
Ah! There's Travis - choreographing for Alex Wong and Eliana. Wait, did Travis steal Mandy Moore's iPod? This Harry Nilsson "Without You" is straight out of her playbook. Although she probably would've used the Celine Dion cover. I actually find the song distracting from some fine dancing from these two.
It was Nigel's favorite routine of the night. Hmmm. Can't say the same for me. I'd give it to Chehon and Allison for that contemporary routine. OH WOW. Nigel now says Eliana is his favorite dancer of all time on the show. Mary gushes over Alex and is glad to see him after his injuries in his own competitive seasons. Mary praises Eliana's passion and extensions.
Chehon and Tiffany are doing a rumba choreographed by Dmitry Chaplin. Rumba is my least favorite of the ballroom dances - as it's usually so slow and boring. I do like this cover of "Love Me Tender," though, by Norah Jones and Adam Levy. Also, both dancers are wearing shoes. So you know that makes me happy. Wait, was that another kiss? Is Chehon kissing EVERYbody tonight? Where do I get in line?
Mary compliments Dmitry on his choreography. Mary says this is the ballroom dance that should have suited Chehon the most, even though she doesn't feel like she saw the chemistry. Rob felt like he did see a connection between the two dancers. Nigel points out that this dance was actually sexier than the pole dance earlier. Nigel jokes that when they finally afford a shirt for Chehon they couldn't afford the buttons? Mary replies that it was, after all, Dmitry who choreographed it. Cut to Dmitry in the audience, who immediately rips open his shirt down to the navel. Love it.
And now, Twitch and Cyrus do the first ever "animation" routine on the show. Christopher Scott is choreographing. Cyrus is grinning ear to ear in rehearsals; he's so happy about the routine. Oh, cool! The routine starts with them behind glass frames, as if they've been lab specimens. And then they KICK OUT THE GLASS all over stage. HOT. And, yes, Cyrus is slightly better at the animation, but my eyes are always, always drawn to Twitch as he's one of my favorite ever contestants on the show.
The crowd goes apenuts and the judges are all standing at their table. Ok, during the rehearsal it listed Twitch as 6'0". So how tall is Cat in heels, seriously? Because she's STILL taller than him. Rob loved it. Mary loved it. Nigel praises Twitch for picking up the animation. Why does Nigel admit that he's not going to vote for Cyrus? All that's going to do is make America pick up the phone for Cyrus even more. It didn't need to be said. Way to piss on Cyrus's triumphant moment, Nige.
Tune in next Tuesday to find out who wins. I'm hoping it's Eliana for the women and Chehon for the men, but I'm guessing it's going to be Eliana and Cyrus.Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun