This is it! After So You Think You Can Dance premiered on May 21, 2009 we have arrived to the end and down to the final performances of the fifth season.
We have watched the show week after week, hungry for stars to come out from these unknown dancers, hungry for big memorable performances but we sit here on the Finale and we are left half-full- unsatiated, not fully satisfied. We keep comparing STYCD 5 from last Season and the season before that- it really fell short.
The judges make up for that fact by saying they have the most technical dancers out of all season and everyone’s equal but Nigel also keeps reminding these dancers even towards the last six dancers that they are still looking for the “stars” to come out. The only stars we see coming close to being called that are Evan Kasprzak and Jeanine Mason. The judges would insist on Kayla Radomski being a star- she has been the ‘judges’ pet (esp Nigel’s) since auditions, we think otherwise.
Again, these are all amazing, great dancers but somehow the x-factor is slightly missing. There’s an ingredient we couldn’t quite pinpoint that was there in Benjie, Joshua, Katee, Twitch, Mark, Chelsie, and Courtney, even Lacey, Gev and Kherington.
We feel this Season is between Evan Kasprzak and Jeanine Mason becoming “America’s Favorite Dancer.” But America could shock us by picking out Brandon Bryant or Kayla Radomski in the end.
Our own personal pick stand between Evan and Jeanine. I think they have the most ‘winning star qualities’ one could look for in a talent.
These are the current standing:
Out of all the dancers, Evan Kasprzak managed to remain “safe” this whole time. This guy has never been in the bottom three! Brandon was in the bottom three once. Kayla have been there three times while Jeanine twice. If this is a predictor of how America votes, then Evan can win this competition.
We have followed this season from the beginning and as it progressed we were hoping week after week that stars will emerge and we’ll really feel connected with the dancers rather than just become a viewer showing no interest to any of them. Last year and the previous years, there were stars and we could pick them early on. We became instant fans!
We are now at the Top 6. The final six dancers and we still don’t have any favorite male dancer. No one has emerged victor and a star. Evan is closest just because his style is unique but overall, he’s really not great with other form of dance. Ade or Brandon could be in the final two but Evan could be too; we have no problem because they’re all on equal footing. No standout. They could eliminate all three and we won’t miss them!
The only thing we can say at this point in the competition is We MISS MIAMI and wished she is in the Finale with Jeanine Mason. We want Janette Manrara in the finale! We couldn’t care about Melissa and Kayla no matter how we try. They are fabulous dancers and great at what they do but they are not “STARS” the way Janette and Jeanine are.
We are still griping over Janette’s elimination. America better not eliminate Jeanine Mason or else…
Here are our Top pick dances. Click on the link to watch them:
When you get to the end, it gets so hard to determine who will be the audience’ bottom two. We had the gamut tonight, from dancers that were in last place but launching themselves into first place, and from dancers that delivered consistent and professional performances throughout, but were still short of the first place couple’s dance. What is even more disturbing is that despite performing in the best dance of the evening, one dancer may still be in trouble.
OK, the judges love Kayla, we get that. And we do not deny how great she is, but the other three women are spectacular as well. And when you praise every woman, where do you leave the audience? In confusion perhaps?
The men were the weak notch this week and we are thinking this could be a woman’s year. There are men with confused personalities, but the women are as feminine as they can be, and it gives them an edge. In couples dance, it is all about a man and a woman. It is about their emotions and expression, and a woman that is a man cannot convey it any better than a man that is a woman. Gayness has nothing to do with our opinion of the dancers’ ability, but it does distort chemistry with the other sex in couples dancing. Paired dancing’s history goes back for centuries, and is an expression of the relationship between a man and a woman, and if, in any way, a dancer cannot convey that man or woman perfectly, the dance doesn’t quite have that spark. That dark, handsome and commanding man is just not there this year. But Season 2 winner Benji Schwimmer pulled it off so what do we know? (solo introduction and dance recap video at the near bottom of this post)
Here we go.
Kayla – We loved Kayla tonight and there is no doubt how feminine this lady is. How could she end up eliminated? Here it is in a nutshell. She has great lines, the judges love her, the femininity is there. But she isn’t any more feminine than the other gals, she isn’t sexy and she has an older than she looks feel. We believe that SYTYCD draws a very young crowd. Tonight’s first dance didn’t help in that regard even though she danced it beautifully. The Broadway style was sultry and wonderful, but it should convey sexy when it calls for it and we didn’t get that from Kayla.
In her second performance, she performed a dance that was some mix between Tyce Diorio and Wade Robson. Wade is of Killer Fame, and that is appropriate to honor after Michael Jackon’s recent demise. However, this came across as a mating of the two choreographers and the identity of neither. Still, the dance was extremely well performed… but… you know, Kayla is way too feminine for hip hop, so this is, as it has in past seasons, to be the one dance that hurts the feminine woman and helps the butch one. Kaya’s solo did nothing for us. (8/10)
Jason – Jason is working his ass off to be in this competition to the end. He has flaws, which the judges are often quick to indicate, but we would hate to see him eliminated. But Kayla didn’t convey the winner instinct in this week’s performances and Jason had no chemistry with her. A major part of couple’s dance, and the judges most often point this out, is chemistry. The feeling that this couple is entwined in love or some other bond that is stronger than life. These two look as bonded as oil and vinegar. Still Jason danced brilliantly.
In the hip hop routine, he was the better of the two and they delivered a terrific performance. He had the look, the outfit and the moves. But it may be too little too late. His solo, as always, was spectacular. This man deserves to be on stage alone, he is a consummate soloist. But his two paired performances could not make him stand out for us tonight. (8/10)
Janette – You know, some people are just in it to win. You know the type, they just don’t give up, they fight for everything and quite often they end up leaving as their challengers look on in awe of what they have accomplished. It is that drive, that hunger, that passion that makes winners. At the beginning of this season, we would never have picked Janette as a favorite. This week, despite great overall paired performances, ones better than those that occurred in her couplings, she was the best woman, and the sexiest. And only one dance leaves us in doubt… her solo. We just don’t think the solos turn out to be the deciding factor, even if memorable. (10/10)
Ade – There is something to be said for memory, something that gains votes. When people go to vote for a candidate for any political office, they often pick the person they recognize or the name they remember. There are two names in this competition we remember best. Ade and Janette. We have no idea why that is, but it says much for Ade. Unfortunately, Ade and Melissa drew a horrible dance for appeal to a modern audience and downright sucked at it to boot. We were thinking that Ade could be in clear danger with his goofy look and last week’s bottom two appearance, and we already picked Melissa for a trip to the bleachers. Then he and Melissa stormed back with a piece that would bring tears into the hardest and blackest soul. Ade was beautiful in this piece and showed true and memorable superior talent and diversity. His solo was quirky, but powerful. The quirkiness and that first dance could hurt him a tad. (9/10)
Melissa – This Samba wasn’t good. There was basically nothing we liked about it. Ade seemed awkward as though in a collision course with disaster. Melissa just couldn’t get the tempo. The costumes, which were supposed to convey a sexy passion, conveyed a clownish appearance which did nothing for the dancers, even if it was not their fault. The judges keep telling Melissa how sexy she is and what a great body she has. We don’t see it. She is by far the least sexy woman on the stage and does not have the allure to pull off a Samba.
But when it comes to contemporary, which is much closer to her style and focuses on emotion, this woman presents absolute excellence. The piece she and Ade do is one for the ages and brought every judge to tears, as it brought memories of Twitch and Kherington* from last year, but had more passion and was more dance and less theatrics. Yet, despite being more dance, it brought more emotion to the floor than any other piece by allowing the dance to convey the story more than theater. The art is not something words can explain; someone must clearly just see it. Melissa portrays a cancer victim, and it touched us deeply because a good friend just got the shock of his life when being diagnosed with cancer after spending a July 4th being the ultimate host and bringing pleasure and the best of hospitality to us all. Our prayers are with him.
The problem? Melissa isn’t sexy. Her solo was fantastic; ballet is an art form that takes incredible skill and dedication to master, and we appreciate that. We also realize now Melissa has drawn our longest paragraph, so perhaps we are justifying our position as we place someone in the bottom four we love. The less we say, typically the better. (8/10)
(*Thanks for the correction msg. Although we were also thinking of Twitch and Katee’s Emmy nominated “door” dance to the music of “Mercy” by Duffy 🙂 )
Evan – We always get the feeling looking at Evan he is out of his league, and then he surprises us. He has a Charlie Chaplin appeal. Some compare him to Gene Kelly and Fred Astaire, but while he imitates them, he brings a comedy to the steps more like Chaplain did to his films. The problem Evan has tonight is he is with Janette. She is so much sexier than he is masculine, it makes him seem off balance. She has more reach and more passion. But in the first dance, Evan was quite respectable. He was outclassed by Janette, but he brought a passion to the Jazz dance that was quite strong, but was it good enough for first place? Well? Then there was a romantic waltz. This just isn’t something we like to see a dancer do this late in the competition, especially with a woman much sexier than he. He tried, but try as he might, he didn’t have it. Then, he followed with a solo and, suddenly we remembered how spectacular a personality he is. Still, he cannot win this year. He isn’t as diverse as the other men. Like Benjie, he has the personality to stick around and eventually win on personality alone. Benji, though, was more original and overall …just better. (8/10)
Jeanine – There is a performer that always gets our attention when she dawns the stage. A performer that stops everyone and makes them want to watch. In her contemporary dance, Jeanine was emotional, beautiful and powerful. Her power almost seemed in contradiction to her incredible femininity. Her ability to convey emotion while she dances is something we have not seen the judges make mention of all season, and we cannot see how they are missing it. She also has chemistry with any with whom man she dances. You always believe her. Even if the man seems lacking, she appears as the angel that will eventually transform him. We believe she could dance with a chimpanzee and look spectacular. Jeanine’s solo is always the best of the night. Jeanine’s second dance was as a waltz, the kiss of death. But she made her partner look like he could love no other. Grace, elegance, lines…call it what you will. she had it all. (10/10)
Brandon – You know, Brandon is hot, he is diverse, he is powerful. We cannot say much bad about him except he cannot cast off his gay personna. Again, we have no problem with that, but acting is a huge part of partnering and most often, when we see him dance, we think to ourselves, he just isn’t interested in the woman, there is no chemistry. Brandon danced a spectacular solo, and danced flawlessly tonight. He gets a demerit for not showing enough passion, something Jeanine is never short of. Brandon’s solo was powerful as could be, but it was more gymnastics than dance. Perhaps he is overcompensating in his solo to make up for his femininity in the pairings. (9/10)
Well, wow, we feel like we ran out of dancers. We felt this week’s show was much bigger than the 8 dancers that performed. We saw a dance that, if it isn’t taken on the road, would be a disastrous oversight. But in counting up the numbers, this is the order of our performers.
OK, this makes it simple once again to pick our favorites. Jeanine could never be voted out this early. Janette is just way too entertaining and has proven she could be number one this year. Ade has been the least feminine of the males in dance, and delivered a spectacular piece tonight in his second dance which brought tears to the audience and judges. His expression combined with his strength is just a notch above. Brandon, we will give grace because of his incredible talent. Our problem with him is personality. He has to shake the gayness in couple’s dance or he is out of here. Maybe it even happened this week. but we don’t think so.
So that leaves our bottom four. Evan is wonderful, quirky and romantic, but only by himself. He has a wonderful personality, but nowhere near the diversity of his challengers.While Benji overcame that, we are not sure Evan can. But we do think he has America’s love, and his solo was a classic. Melissa is not sexy, she is not someone we just look at and awe, and she is not star quality without the beauty of her dance. This IS a dance competition, but other factors do get in the way, especially when it is close, so she is in danger. Kayla has the judges’ praises. They say how fantastic she is each week. And we agree, but these gals are all fantastic. Our criticism of Kayla is she doesn’t have have a familiar look. It is hard to pinpoint. Something that says that, while we adore her, we don’t know her. As another difficulty as she nears the finals, she is also severely lacking in the sexy department along with Melissa. We think she is in trouble. Jason is such a spectacular dancer, but once again, we think he is best in his solo. Both his dances tonight were strong and he was better than Evan, but not by much.
So, with all that verbiage, who lost? Wow. It is tough to give you the absolute bottom 2. So we won’t. You see our bottom 4 and it will come down to America’s choice. Flip a coin between Evan and Jason. And flip a coin between Melissa and Kayla. The others are safe, although we do have our dark horse pick for the bottom. Brandon came across too effeminate at times and may draw a low card. We have seen it before. Brandon could get nailed for his first performance. It is all a game.
But we will stick with our bottom four. We believe one of those four should go,and we believe that, of them, only one could win this competition, but it would take an incredible change in personality. Who are they? OK, we will say. Jason and Kayla. But we won’t say which is which.
We were very surprised to see Ellen Degeneres sitting in the judges panel, critiquing the dancers while being funny. She did add ‘some’ fun to the show but was sort of misplaced; even she herself looked as though she didn’t know what she was doing there- other than to watch the show and have the best seat in the house. The only time she was serious was commenting on Melissa and Ade’s memorable Contemporary performance where everyone else were either teary eyed, sobbing or crying.
Top 8 solo introduction and dance performances recap)
The Top 8 performances
Janette Manrara and Evan Kasprzak, Jazz- “Move” (Metronomy Remix) —CSS choreography by Sonya Tayeh
Janette Manrara and Evan Kasprzak, Rumba- “Heartless” —Kris Allen choreography by Tony Meredith and Melanie LaPatin
Jeanine Mason and Brandon Bryant, Waltz- “May It Be” —Hayley Westenra choreography by Hunter Johnson
Jeanine Mason and Brandon Bryant, Pop-Jazz – “Battlefield” —Jordin Sparks choreography by Laurie Ann Gibson
Melissa Sandvig and Ade Obayomi, Cha-Cha – “Yeah (Como Goza Mi Morena)” —Chino Espinoza y Los Dueños Del Son choreography by Tony Meredith and Melanie LaPatin
Melissa Sandvig and Ade Obayomi danced Contemporary – “This Woman’s Work” —Maxwell choreography by Tyce Diorio
Kayla Radomski and Jason Glover, Broadway – “Mr. Monotony” —Kim Criswell choreography by Tyce Diorio
Kayla Radomski and Jason Glover, Hip-hop – “They’re Everywhere” —Izza Kizza choreography by Shane Sparks
So You Think You Can Dance 2009 Top 8 solo music:
Kayla Radomski: “The Moment I Said It” —Imogen Heap
Jason Glover: “…Slowdance On the Inside” —Taking Back Sunday
Janette Manrara: “Seduces Me” —Celine Dion
Ade Obayomi: “Hater” —Various
Melissa Sandvig: “Heads Will Roll” —Yeah Yeah Yeahs
Evan Kasprzak: “Old Devil Moon” —Jamie Cullum
Jeanine Mason: “Let the Drummer Kick” —Citizen Cope
Brandon Bryant: “Ain’t Nothing Wrong With That” —Robert Randolph and the Family Band
Well, not much surprise for us tonight. The two we thought would be eliminated were, and on the women’s side, our second pick for elimination was in the bottom two. Ade was the only dancer that did not belong, and we thought it like last year when Twitch was threatened, but really, had no business even gracing the bottom anything.
By the way, we would like to mention we met Twitch at one of the performances last year in Boston. Twitch was more gracious and more willing to please his fans than any dancer we have seen. He signed and took pictures and tried to please everyone in a very chilly environment in which he could have easily waved and departed. Twitch was not our favorite last year in the dance competition, but he is our favorite personality from SYTYCD to date. He is our favorite SYTYCD performer since its inception because he has grace and presence with his audience as well as on the stage.
All that said, we were sad that we were right about Randi. Randi got a “luck of the draw” elimination. The Paso Doble eliminated her, and the costume directors eliminated her, and Kubono’s weak performance eliminated her. There was way too much weight on the poor girl. Tonight, she showed her incredibly cute personality, and you could see it was an error to have sent her home this week. But that draw of the cards was drawing a 2 on a high card draw. No matter how well you drew the card, it was still a 2. But she bowed out holding that two with total grace and personality, something we will remember her for.
On the men’s side, we were surprised that Ade made it to the bottom 2. We think perhaps it is his kind of goofy look that, at times, steals from his ability to be the leading man. Joshua had no such problem with any goofy smile. Oddly, Twitch did, but it endeared us to him and he better controlled it. Ade’s smile does not endear, it just makes you think he is a goofy kid. That is sad to say because we love his talent and think it nearly unsurpassed this year, but it may be his undoing. But then, Twitch learned and recovered, and so may Ade.
But the fact is… Kupono called it a night, and the audience called for Ade. Kupono was done tonight and had to be. Again, this was a partially because of a draw of the cards. That Paso Doble was very difficult. But the champions like Joshua pull those dances out of the fire and make them memorable. The lesser dancers cannot present the strength and personality necessary, and Kupono went down in flames taking Randi with him. Kupono dances much like his mentor, Mark Kanemura, but he has a feminine look and no evil or strong persona that could have pulled out that dance like Mark did in this one… He lost because he deserved to lose, combined with the luck of the draw because the dance he was forced to dance did not match his personality.
So there you have it. Kupono and Randi are gone. Randi should not be, and Kupono deserved to be. Melissa is skating on thin Nutcracker ice. We think she is in definite danger to be next. On the men’s side it is totally up in the air.