After some ado, a plethora of last dances, a soupcon of unnecessary drama and more twists than a pretzel, we've finally reached the end of "Step It Up & Dance."
We pick up the morning after Janelle's elimination as Nick cooks breakfast (which he seems to do 90 percent of the time, thereby making him that much hotter in my book) and the finalists reflect on what just happened and what's to come.
When the final four get to the studio, Elizabeth lets them know Jerry will be working with each dancer individually for a half hour. Nick goes first and his piece has a lot of humor in it. After a run-through, Jerry has him tell the story he's going through and gives him tips to tighten it up.
Mochi's next. Her solo is sort of a spar with herself with heavy Asian themes. Originally, she was going to wear a kimono type rob but Jerry points out that it obscures the beautiful lines she hits at the end and she figures out a place to take it off. She was very excited at the suggestion.
Miguel's solo has a double identity theme -- he's stuck doing someone else's choreography and then he breaks out into his own stuff. Jerry mostly gives him technical tips.
Last up is Cody. He's telling the story of his journey through the competition and how his eyes have been open. No tech tips, obviously, but Jerry really helps point out ways to improve his emoting. Of the four, I'm most impressed with what was shown of Mochi's solo.
After workshops, they're taken to the stage and Elizabeth drops the news that they'll be learning an opening number choreographed by Keith & Sharon Young. Keith did "Rent" and Sharon's starred in some big Broadway shows. Jerry lets them know that they'll be judged both on their solos and the group number.
Keith and Sharon start rehearsal with a big group hug. Nice. Since the song is Fergie's from "Sex & The City," he's going to emphasize the "friends in the big city" angle. Plus, lots of props and some costume changes. Miguel confessionals that Mochi is Miranda (mostly due to the short haircut), Cody is Charlotte ("prim & proper") and Nick is Samantha (he literally called him a "male slut"). Being that he's "curly-haired, fashion forward and never has a man," Miguel naturally designates himself as Carrie.
During a run-through, Miguel twists his ankle both ways. Keith and Sharon advise he goes to the hospital to get it checked on while Cody tapes it up. He returns a little after 2am with crutches and a diagnosis of a strain. He was advised to stay off it for a week and not dance the final but, um, I doubt that's happening. I feel bad for the guy but he's been such a punk, it's really hard to be entirely sympathetic.
Jerry sees him the next day and advises to forget about the $100,000 - his health and mind are far more valuable. But Miguel is still undecided. Meanwhile, Cody, Mochi and Nick walk through the changes they'd have to make if he drops out.
The obligatory arrival/prediction montage shows the past contestants, past guest choreographers, and other notables ( Mary Murphy!) on the red carpet and in their seats. Of course, Miguel decides to perform and Cody helps re-tape his ankle. Jerry comes in and says that he has another surprise. As Nick says, "If this is a twist, I'm going to clothesline his ass." But it's better than that, it's their families there to wish them luck. After kicking everyone out, politely, Jerry wishes the final four luck and says that no matter who wins, they'll all make a million bucks based on their talent.
Elizabeth, who looks fabulous in her sparkly black dress by the way, greets the audience and intros the dancers and judges, including Keith and a special second guest judge, Akon (whose music I can't stand). He announces that the winner of the group challenge will be featured in the next video for his protege, Colby O'Donis.
On to the group number. Miguel doesn't seem to be favoring his ankle much and had a lot of personality. Mochi had nice energy throughout (as did Miguel and Nick) and did great character work. Cody was good, though he seemed to be visibly concentrating at times. It might just be the way it was edited, though. Nick played the stage well and looked like he was having a good time. Elizabeth kicks the audience out...I mean, sends them on an intermission while the judges discuss. Akon announces that the winner is...Mochi.
With the audience back in place and Vincent and Nancy the only judges on panel, Elizabeth introduces Mochi for her solo. She really does have great lines. And she's working that kimono. It's a powerful little piece and she hits all her spots. I'm very impressed.
Miguel's next. The piece is full of a lot of sharp, staccato movements. I liked it a lot better than I thought I would based on the segment with Jerry. Third is Cody. Jerry really helped because I think this is the most I've seen him emote in a piece. And, as usual, it's technically fantastic. And last but not least, it's Nick. The number reminds me of old school musicals, which I totally dig. Very high with the showmanship and smiley Muppet faces. It was enjoyable. I think Mochi's might've been my favorite.
Elizabeth ejects the audience once more so the judges can deliberate. All that was told to them was that they really enjoyed the solos. Given the opportunity to say something before their fates are decided, Miguel thanks them for making him a stronger man and a better dancer; Mochi says that she left her heart on the stage; Cody expressed that he was glad to show what happens when something is said that you don't agree with (which Nancy responds to by saying she's glad he got mad about the "snob" thing since it pushed him to perform the way he did); and Nick said he wanted to make everyone smile with his solo and that he's recaptured his love of dance.
Michael and Nancy recognize that Cody made an emotional breakthrough. They all applaud Miguel's uniqueness. Vincent likens Nick to Gene Kelly, as in he's "a real guy" on stage while Nancy adds he's really taken in all their notes, calling him her "favorite dork." They all loved Mochi's fire and her storytelling.
And the winner is...Cody. Is anyone surprised? I'm not. The only way he wouldn't have pulled it out was if he couldn't emotionally connect and/or let himself go in his solo.
So, does anyone disagree? Which solo was your favorite? Any other thoughts you want to share? Congrats to Cody and all the finalists and Nick, you'll always be our buttered biscuit.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun