Tuesday, December 15, 2009

SYTYCD Season 6 - The Strongest Performance Finale EVER.

Hands down, Russell and Kathryn were the top boy and girl tonight - NO CONTEST. Tonight's show was only 1 hour, so the brass opted to forego the solos in favor of 9 dances from the remaining 6 dancers. It sounded awkward, and people weren't initially feeling the whole final 6 thing, but, remarkably, the show delivered some of the best dances this season.

Round 1:

The first 3 pairings were exceptionally strong, which went a long way to starting the show off on the right foot. First, Ryan and Kathyrn performed a samba Sergio Mendes' Magalenha from "Dance With Me," starring Vanessa L. Williams - at least, that's what memory that song always triggers. Not immediately remembering who choreographed this routine (Jason Gilkerson), but Tony Meredith and Melanie Lapatin DID the choreography for that movie (see from 5:45). I'm just sayin'. Anyway, Kathryn's moves were really grounded and her hips were hypnotic - she has been consistent in Latin throughout the competition. Ryan partnered her really well, but my eyes stayed with Kathryn for the duration of the routine. It's a compliment to Ryan, really. Had he pulled my focus, it would have been because she wasn't keeping up with him. Bravo.

Next, Ellenore and Jakob were paired up for a Tyce Diorio Fosse-esque routine. I wasn't horrified by it (huzzah!). They still had some residual chemistry from their last go-round, so they played off of each other well. Ellenore looked especially fetching tonight, very Zeta-Jones as Velma Kelly which helped to sell the piece. Jakob was given more jetes to do (surprise, surprise), but for once I was feeling the whole Joel Gray comparison thing, it was in keeping with the mood of the piece. I would have liked more Fosse-ful movements, but the ones there were were lovely. These two really enjoy sharing the floor together and that saved the piece.

Last in the round were Russell and Ashley dancing a Sonya contemporary to Jewel. Russell killed this piece. Ashley's part was relegated to that of a "guardian angel," and that was not a bad thing. In fact, it was a very restrained performance for her and what she did, she did gorgeously. Russell, though...wow. He was doing double toras (2 turns in mid-air), pointing his toes, and the elevation on his assisted leap from Ashley's arms was superb. You forget he's a krumper sometimes. Ashley's lines were exquisite - she had a definite breathy quality to her movement tonight. If she was feeling pain, I wasn't seeing it. Great job. And we're only 3 dances in!!

Round 2:

Ryan and Ellenore are back together for a jazz routine by Gary Stewart, the choreographer who does that very staccato, machinist, knee pad style. I wasn't really feeling it - they didn't really get a chance to establish a flow of movement, since most of the moves were very sharp and robotic. It's a style choice, but I think the dancers were robbed of any opportunity to emote or relate to the song, which isn't fair at this stage in the competition. Mary disagreed with me, Nigel and I saw eye to eye, and Adam was Switzerland.

Next, Ashley and Jacob performed a fox trot. The music was traditional - a flirty and old-timey male/female duet, and the couple really made it work. Ashley still irks me with all that latin dance pointing she does, but she manages to get away with it so much as Nigel doesn't even mention it. Jakob and his jetes-a-plenty find their way into the routine despite not belonging AT ALL, but its okay because these two look right at home in the dance from start to finish. Mary mentions that Jakob could use more work in hold. Adam says they are consistently great together.

For the last dance this round, Russell and Ellenore performed a Paso Doble - OH, NO!! Disaster? Actually, no. Where I thought Russell was great, Nigel heaped all of the praise on Ellenore, saying her performance captured him from her first pose in silhouette at the start. Wha?! I call shenanigans. The Paso is usually hardest on the male dancers in this competition, who tend to struggle with finding the right balance of intensity and technique for the character required to make the dance work. Instead, Russell was right there. Was he perfect? No. Could he have been more forceful in hold? Absolutely. But, he was very believable. And shirtless, again, for the second time tonight. Squeee! Ellenore embodied the character well enough, but I felt she was lacking a bit of the seductive quality required, and Russell really overshadowed her in a dance where the man is the frame and the lady is truly supposed to be the picture.

Round 3:

Jakob and Kathryn danced a show-stopping Dwight Rodan and Desmond Richardson contemporary to Michael Buble. Oh. My. God. Holy EMMY nomination, Batman! There were some amazing moments in this routine. No story, but so much emotion and technique. Kathryn's extensions were splendid, and Jakob partnered her beautifully. I have to give him props - he really knows how to showcase his partners, and Kathryn took great advantage. Adam calls the dance a gamechanger. He is sooooooo right. There's this sequence where Jakob and Kathryn just keep flipping/rolling/weaving through each other until he's in a heap in the corner and she's standing over him lifting his head up with her fingers by his chin - ooooh, child, it made me clutch my pearls - I got chills. Mary got choked up, Nigel was astounded, and Adam cut himself off to preempt his weeping. Awesome.

Next, the married folks Ashley and Ryan danced a Travis Wall routine. On the heels of the last routine, I was a little worried for them but as it turned out the performance was very affecting. Mostly because they really seemed to be feeling the emotion the piece inspired. The lift sequences were flawless and the seemed very in-sync. Adam says the tenderness he saw made the piece. Mary noted the rarity of their experience dancing together on a world stage like this and says that they made a memory. Nigel says they should be proud, despite people questioning their presence (or rather their reason for it) in the finals.

The final dance of the evening is a Tabitha and Napoleon Hip-Hop routine, and I am really worried the season is going to end on a low note. Sorry, but I haven't really enjoyed any of their choreography this season. Something was off and none of the dancers really seemed to connect with their style of movement. So, Russell and Kathryn are the final (lucky?) two, and folks, this routine is sick. Not only did Kathryn keep up, she killed it - I mean, she was ter-rific. Kathryn had demonstrated earlier this season with Legacy that she could handle hip-hop. Tonight, she got gritty and grimmy with it, and I believed her movement completely. Russell was at home for certain. I mean, there was not a hint of thought process to his movements, it was pure. There was this great sequence where Russell's on his back and Kathryn bends back over his feet to flip, then somehow ends up sitting on his shoulders while he steps/krumps and the music says, "I can transform ya," and its perfectly timed. What an amazing end to the show.

So, for my money, here's how I think things will shake down:

6. Ryan
5. Ashley
4. Ellenore
3. Jakob
2. Kathryn

..and Russell for the win. Though I have to admit, the top 3 spots are interchangeable. What do you think? Thanks for reading!

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