Our Top 6 becomes our Final Four as two dancers are eliminated and the rest dance for votes.
Cat update...loose and wavy hair and beautiful in a stunning mid-calf flowing gown. I'm OK with trading LEGSSES for a mid-calf flowing, spaghetti strap gown that tastefully offers us some cleavage.
Nigel Lythgoe and Mary Murphy are joined on the panel by the always delightful Jesse Tyler Ferguson.
No bottom two gals or guys...it's just who moves on and who goes home at the end of the show.
It's lots of dancing...everybody solos, everybody dances with an All Star, and everybody gets a dance with another competitor picked at random.
Sean Cheesman choreographs the Top 6. Loved the steady, measured pace of that Afro Jazz routine. That made me smile.
Paul Kamiryan, a 22 year old Latin Ballroom dancer, is paired with All Star Kathryn McCormick from Season 6, for Jazz choreographed by Tyce Diorio. I've come to enjoy the way Paul commands a partnership as a strong male lead. This kind of crisp and staccato Jazz movement suits him. But he is equally at home when the choreography takes him to your standard Jazz walks and rolls. I love the way he seems to effortlessly control his movement. The piece was fast and sassy with a playful sexiness to it. You all know that I was doubtful about Paul to start the season. Now you may or may not know that the young man actually won a SYTYCD competition held in Armenia. So it should not have been a surprise that his style, his charm, and his talent has taken him this far.
Amy dances solo. Grace enhanced by power, rounded out by subtlety.
Hayley Erbert, an 18 year old Contemporary dancer, is paired with All Star and former champion Joshua Allen from Season 4, for Hip Hop choreographed by Tabitha and Napoleon D'Umo. The only thing I've seen her struggle with - and it was only a slight struggle - was Hip Hop. I think she would have been better suited to a lyrical Hip Hop routine with a more subtle story. But if you bring back Joshua, then you bring out hard hits in the pocket. I just don't buy Hayley in this kind of routine. I don't think this showed off what she can do. She wasn't awful and she had a few good moments. People who know more than I do...like judges...praised her technique and her performance. All I can really say is what I like, and this really wasn't something I enjoy. I think the piece was better suited to a male duo rather than a guy and a gal.
Fik-Shun dances solo. Personality, charm, and talent off the charts.
Aaron Turner, a 25 year old Tap dancer, is paired with All Star and former champion Melanie Moore from Season 8, for Broadway choreographed by Spencer Liff. It is outstanding to see Aaron dance with such a professional like Melanie. She is so adept at all of the little performance details, and Aaron matches that ability. A pause coming out of a spin with a little head turn...that stuff is performance gold. It's a shame they missed a hand hold, but they are both so in control and such wonderful actors that they made the mistake look like it was staged as part of the choreography. Nigel picked on Aaron for forgetting to keep his shoulders down, which is a problem that he needs to correct. If he doesn't, not only will he keep injuring his shoulder, but he'll find basic upper body movement way more difficult than it needs to be. Other than that, I loved this entire performance. Aaron is a favorite, and he did not disappoint me at all dancing with another favorite of mine.
Jasmine dances solo. I love how she uses her length and extension.
Paul dances solo. I have not been impressed with him in his owns style, however I was impressed by that solo.
Du-Shaunt "Fik-Shun" Stegall, an 18 year old Hip Hop dancer, is paired with All Star Witney Carson from Season 9, for Foxtrot choreographed by Jonathan Roberts. Jonathan! It's been so long since I've gotten to enjoy his work. Foxtrot would seem to suit our young man Du-Shaunt. Foxtrot is precise, but it's also about personality. He's got plenty of charm, but this is one of those times when his lack of technique is a hindrance. There isn't really enough outside the box in the choreography to give him a chance to make me forget that his is not well trained. He didn't seem light on his feet, which is a quality that I enjoy about Foxtrot. I didn't really feel a spark between the pair of them. Unfortunately I thought Witney danced beyond him. Fik-Shun did have a few nice moments...like a quality leap that was almost to the height of Witney's head. I can say that the young man got through it, and that's probably good enough.
Hayley dances solo. She has joy and passion for dance, and she communicates it in her movement.
Jasmine Harper, a 19 year old Contemporary dancer, is paired with All Star Neil Haskell from Season 3, for Jazz choreographed by Tyce Diorio. This is more of a theatrical jazz piece, so much so that it feels more like a contemporary routine. I like the way the contractions flow into smooth shapes and then into retractions. This was yet another wonderful marriage of music, choreographer, story, and dancers. The movement was suggestive of wind and storm, even without the actual wind machine adding to the ambiance. The movement alone could have given us the scene. Jasmine's work put me in mind of dancers I've seen in the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre. She really does have the whole package...amazing talent, beautiful lines and extensions, charming personality. She is a complete performer. A thorough professional.
Aaron dances solo. It's been so long since I've seen him tap. Outstanding work! And let me remind you that he was not among the original Top 20 chosen...he was invited to fill out our Top 20 when another dancer had to withdraw.
Amy Yakima, a 19 year old Contemporary dancer, is paired with All Star Alex Wong from Season 7, for Bollywood choreographed by Nakul dev Mahajan. Oh my gosh! She was so good in this! I think that's the best Bollywood I've ever seen on this show from a competitor. She kept her energy up throughout. Her leg kicks and bounces were as high as Alex's, and you don't often see that from the gals who dance this style. And the knee turns on the floor...fantastic! Every move was connected to the next seamlessly. It can be damaging to get Bollywood right before Final Four, but not this one. Amy looked like she had been dancing in this style her entire life. The choreography was so difficult. The routine kept going without a break, yet Amy still managed those little performance pauses and winks. Outstanding. And great work from Alex too, since the last time he was on the SYTYCD stage to dance Bollywood, he blew out his Achilles tendon.
Hayley and Paul dance Contemporary choreographed by Dee Caspary. I didn't like her Hip Hop, but I love her work in her own style. She is a wonderful technical dancer, but she also has an innate connection to music and motion. I enjoy the way she interprets each phrase. I don't think Paul needed to worry about being out of his element as he said in the rehearsal footage. He understands how to partner, and he was a solid foundation for Hayley in the lifts. His ballroom background gives him such amazing timing. He anticipates so that he can be there for his partner. He also carves out a space for himself without distracting from the whole. I was impressed by his foot flex at the end in those stylized walks. Hayley was brilliant. I liked the clarity they had in their movement, as well as the emotion they shared together. The other competitor pairings tonight were partners throughout the first weeks of the show. Hayley and Paul only paired up this week, but looked like they had been dancing together all season.
Amy and Fik-Shun dance Hip Hop choreographed by Dave Scott. I love that they get to do Hip Hop together. I also like that they get a little bit more of a grown up routine that doesn't rely so heavily on personality. The charm is there, as well as the chemistry between the two of them. But they also got to focus on a more adult relationship within the dance instead of the more playful Hip Hop routines they had earlier in the season. They danced amazingly well in those, but I thought this piece took it to another level. Personality and charm became tools in a master class that added to the whole. I think they proved in this performance that sometimes you don't really need to try to be sexy...sometimes you just are. Amy is such a splendidly versatile and complete performer, while Fik-Shun stakes his claim to a spot as one of the top Hip Hop dancers in the history of SYTYCD.
Jasmine and Aaron dance Jazz choreographed by Sean Cheesman. I'm also glad these two got back together before the finale. I look at them in partnership and see professionals. The concept for this piece is very creative. And also very difficult. And very powerful. The piece isn't something I would usually enjoy based on the style, but as it evolved it turned into another performance from which I just could not look away. Props to Aaron for keeping those shoulders down, which freed him up to hit every odd angle or shape he was asked to make in that piece, and smoothed out the work in hold. And for Pete's sake Jasmine! How does a person bend that way? She has wonderful extension in her legs, but now she bends another third of the way over her head and sideways! Hokey smokes Bulwinkle! That's just not fair. Excellent performance. Congratulations to Sean Cheesman for giving these two dancers such a vehicle in which to shine.
Now we must get to our Final Four for next week's performance finale. Here we go.
Gals...Amy is in the Final Four. Jasmine is in the Final Four.
That means Hayley is eliminated. She wasn't one of my early favorites, but she grew on me each week. This is a talented young lady.
Guys...Aaron is in the Final Four. Fik-Shun is in the Final Four.
That means Paul is eliminated. He's another dancer who was not on my radar early, but did something every week to get my attention.
So gang...Amy, Jasmine, Aaron, and Fik-Shun. That's the Final Four I would have picked, if you made kitty choose. In fact, I think kitty did choose that Final Four.
This is going to be a fantastic performance finale. You should check it out. Seriously.