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So You Think You Can Dance: "The top four perform"

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And then there were four.  One more goes tonight — presumably the one that got tetanus in the last six days — followed by the finale next week.  We’ve got a livechat on tap for you next week, by the way, to help Genevieve, Noel and I pass the two hours before America’s Favorite Dancer is named.  But the job tonight is to figure out who among Adechike, Robert, Lauren and Kent is the weak link.


Before we start, I just have to say this: I never dreamed that Robert would outlast Billy.  They were a matched pair from the start, coming from the same dance company and having similar training, but having a Frank & Joe, Starsky & Hutch kinda opposites thing going on.  Robert is big and dark (and enamored of beachwear), Billy is compact and blond (and fond of an ascot).  Billy was clearly the better dancer coming out of auditions, but Robert developed in directions I never expected.  Nevertheless, I have to consider Billy’s departure last week, still under the cloud of having been saved by a dancing-optional injury the week before, to be a mistake.  When I think about my potential excitement level about these last two weeks with Billy versus without him, I feel like the season’s ending on a rapidly accelerating downward slide, despite my respect and affection for two of the remaining competitors.

Tyce not only gets a spot on the powerless judges’ panel, but also choreographs a group routine to a number I can no longer think of in any way other than “Luke Be A Jedi Tonight.”  Lauren gets the benefit, since she’s the only girl playing against three guys who worked mostly as a group, and since she has the eye-catching white dress.  It wasn’t clear when the routine started that the group was being judged rather than just doing an exhibition, but when Tyce attempted to anoint Kent and cut down Adechike, clarity thudded into the proceedings.

The Argentine tango with Pasha? Just give Lauren her trophy now. It’s too bad they didn’t save this routine for finale week, because it has winner written all over it. Cat had it right: “I feel like I’m interrupting something.” Fantastic intimacy and lines, a hold-your-breath kind of routine.  

The sexy continues with her jazz routine with Ade (and with that lace catsuit thingy she’s wearing).  Let’s hope this sets the tone for the second round of dances.  That lift Nigel mentioned wasn’t as impressive in replay — there was a hiccup at the top — but wow, the hand movements section and the unison section that followed it were electric.

Adechike: Notice how they didn’t show the contestants picking styles out of a box?  I think the producers are assigning the styles they want to see danced by each one. Witness giving Lauren ballroom and Adechike African jazz.  It’s not the style most clearly calculated to send him to the finale, though, and Adechike’s got to be considered the underdog in the four.  Thank goodness that it was a dance filled with motion and joy, as dedicated to moving around the stage as Lauren’s tango was to slow posing.  If it lacked slightly the utter abandon that the style demands, well, that’s the standard knock on Adechike, isn’t it?

Desmond Richardson choreographs Adechike’s second routine with Kathryn, which might be his last chance to impress America.  And I don’t think it worked out for him.  The music was hard to dance to.  The routine itself felt a bit scattered — a little bit of everything.  There wasn’t a kind of emotional focus to keep us engaged.  And the judges’ comments had the quality of eulogies (Tyce: “I want to just celebrate this moment”).  Adechike seems to know it, giving his thank you speech with accompanying tears.  I doubt it’s enough to pull him ahead of Kent (or Robert, who is probably his actual competition for votes), but I kinda wish it were.

Robert: There goes my theory about the dance styles, unless the producers have it in for Robert — the Viennese waltz surely isn’t Robert’s kitchen.  On the other hand, as he points out in his package, he’s done a lot of ballroom and been very successful with it on the show.  And he imparts an undeniable Prince Charming vibe here.  When I think about how awkward it would have been to watch Kent trying to do that, I reconsider my initial skepticism.  But I agree with Mia’s poorly articulated point about Robert not always looking relaxed and comfortable; there was a moment where the dance paused and the two partners backed away from each other when I was distracted by the pained and hesitant look on his face.

Hip hop with clowns.  Oh, NapTab.  It’s like you took all the faces I hate seeing the dancers pull and painted them on Robert and Dominic’s faces.  Memorable, without a doubt, but not my cup of tea.  The sooner the choreographers get over their various Tim Burton fixations, the happier I’ll be.

Kent: Disco. I couldn’t enjoy it because I was so terrified that Kent was going to drop her or collapse or just succumb to centrifugal force.  Nigel actually calls him on it — asking how many lifts were removed from the routine because Kent just couldn’t do them.  I’ll give Kent credit for the floor work, but I can’t quite figure out whether that ultra-rapid spin at the end was done as planned.  Mia goes way too far when she calls it the worst Kent’s done, but she has the right reason — that it had too much kiddie bounce.

Travis Wall choreographs a bro-breakup routine for Kent and Neil.  They danced it gorgeously, but this is a tough storyline to play “straight,” as it were.  (Not too fond of the overly literal stab in the back and foot in the face, with their accompanying agonized faces by Kent.)  I loved the dance, but I’m iffy on the story.  Mia takes that to be “uncomfortably real”; I take it to be just a bit underrealized as a piece of art.

And we end with the judges anointing Robert, Kent, and Lauren for spots in the finale, and sending Adechike off into the sunset.  I’d be very surprised if America doesn’t fall into line.

Stray observations:

  • When Cat appeared after the opening package about the dancers’ hometowns, I almost screamed, I was so frightened.  Noel pegged it as the walk of shame look — headed home in the cold light of day after making some bad decisions the night before.
  • On National Dance Day, Cat danced at home.  In.  Her.  Room.
  • I’m not the only one creeped out by Tyce telling Lauren that he wants to give her exactly what she deserves, am I?  (Then Mia said she just became a woman.  Did I see the airplane cut of this dance?  Was there a missing reel?)
  • Adam makes a political statement — “equality and decency were just restored to the state of California” — then undercuts it with a joke about marrying Nigel.  Careful, Adam — remember when Mia Michaels had to apologize for her anti-war dance?
  • Lauren’s dad says he’s happy with her “overall.”  Sounds like she needs to work on keeping her room clean and her clothes in the hamper!
  • Awwwwww … Robert loves his stepdad!
  • I never want to see Kent do his bizarre mug-for-the-camera going-to-commercial dance again.
  • How many times this season have you watched the rehearsal footage, then been shocked by how different the music is in the performance from what you imagined they were working to?  This week for me it was wha — Melissa Etheridge?!