'So You Think You Can Dance': Not quite a bang
As I said before, this has not been my favorite "So You Think You Can Dance" season, not because there's been anything wrong, per se, but I just didn't feel like it measured up, in terms of talent and personalities to the previous season. Part of me has already moved on to the sixth season, curious to see what its first fall installment will bring.
So perhaps it's not surprising that I didn't feel like this finale showcased the finest that the show has to offer. Did the huge crowd at the Kodak theater appear and sound impressive? Absolutely. Did the costumes and stage effects look amazing (especially in HD)? Sure.
But I didn't think the dancing itself demonstrated the peak of the contestants' talent, and part of this was because of the huge venue. I thought the constantly flickering video screens and strobe lights distracted from some of the dances, and something about the music at times also made the performers seem like a smaller part of a big production rather than the point of the show.
What was more interesting to me was the judges' input on the dancers, specifically Evan Kasprzak. Poor Evan. I think he knows that he's the odd man out in the top four, but if he didn't know it already Adam Shankman, Mary Murphy and Nigel Lythgoe brought it home for him, by telling him what a surprise it was that he's in the top four, that he didn't improve enough to qualify to be there, that he's SUCH a nice guy BUT...
The audience seemed to get angrier and angrier each time this was brought up, possibly because it almost seemed overkill. Part of me thinks Evan will win just because his loyal fans will call in extra hard to make it up for him. Since I like her personality the most, I have decided to throw my lot with Jeanine Mason, who the judges seem to think should win -- either her or Brandon Bryant. This was surprising to me since the judges have adored Kayla Radomski so much all season long.
As I said, with a few exceptions I didn't think the dancing was extraordinary tonight. I looked forward to Wade and Amanda Robson's jock-cheerleader group number but it bordered on the cheesy for me with the football and sunglasses and varsity jackets and pompoms, plus for a dance that was supposed to be so in unison it seemed a tad sloppy. Not finale material for sure.
I enjoyed Jeanine and Evan's Sonya Tayeh jazz routine but I didn't feel it was above or unlike anything we'd seen this season before.
Adam Shankman summed up Brandon's solo to me when he described him as a "super athlete" but also said that the solo felt "frantic." Brandon and Kayla's Tyce Diorio Broadway number, meanwhile, was a great example of the production upstaging the actual performance--the dance was over-the-top but it was hard to appreciate their moves when the flashing lights were even moreso (also, maybe I'm stupid but I didn't understand the choreography in relation to "Bye Bye Love" until I realized at the end that the table was a hospital table and it was in reference to "I feel like I could die.")
The judges adored Jeanine's solo and her pirouettes (although I thought her rose was a little cheesy, but I know some people thought it was adorable).
I totally agreed with the judges who couldn't buy Evan as a tough guy in Laurie Ann Gibson's "Nasty" dance, but to be honest, I couldn't buy Brandon as much of a tough guy either (although Brandon did outdance him, as Nigel noted).
I thought Mia Michaels' piece for Kayla and Janeane was the only dance of the night made for a finale, as the girls personified the battle to win the show, making their way slowly across the stage and shedding layers of their costumes as they went.
Poor Evan: The judges barely had any commentary for his solo (which, admittedly, was pretty much like the stuff he usually does), but still commented on what an inferior contestant he is compared to the other dancers. I couldn't get into the jive he did with Kayla; maybe it was their lack of chemistry, maybe it was the dancing, maybe it was Kayla's cowboy boots, but Adam even called out choreographers Tony Meredith and Melanie LaPatin for sub-finale-level moves. Mary praised Kayla for stealing the show, though, which was when an angry audience started chanting Evan's name.
I actually thought Kayla's solo was a little more interesting than what she usually does, but Adam didn't think it showcased her talents as well as it could have. Nigel admitted perhaps it was to Kayla's detriment that the judges heaped so much praise on her, because the audience then wouldn't want to leap to the phone (also, maybe some parts of the audience has a hard time rooting for the tall, blond, lithe, beautiful girl who never seems to do anything wrong. I'm not talking about myself, of course, because I have a strict no-calling-in-for-reality-show-contestants policy).
Finally, Jeanine's slide on the floor during her paso doble with Brandon was definitely an instant-replay moment in their sexy, "Matrix"-inspired performance. But, other than that moment and Mia Michaels' dance, I felt like the episode wasn't one of the best of the season, which is a shame.
So, readers, who do you think will win this season of "So You Think You Can Dance"? And who do you think SHOULD win?
-- Claire Zulkey