Oh! So much to talk about. First, I wonder (as Kelsey said in the episode rant/raves), *why* were they in the Kodak Theatre? Though, I have to admit it was cool to see 3,000 people there for the first half of the finale (and even cooler to have a good portion of those folks chanting Evan’s name). So overall? NOT a fan of Louis van Amstel’s work this season and worried that the judges are jumping the shark a little with how much steam the show’s picking up. Nigel’s turning into a major perv (was he always this bad, someone remind me), Mary’s not speaking nearly as eloquently as she can, in favor of screaming. While I loved that Adam could call the Tony and Melanie jive not finale appropriate, I hated that NO ONE said anything about the overproduction of Louis van Amstel’s paso doble. And then there is the moment that angered me mightily, as pointed out very well by Johnny Mar (again in the rant/raves post). Brandon reused his audition piece last week and got a standing O and not one of the judges mentioned that it’s his audition piece. Evan revisits his audition this week, varying it a bit, and Adam Shankman calls him on it. That is not cool. That being said, there were some moments and routines I *adored* tonight and I can’t wait for tomorrow’s show. And…next season after that phenomenal, heart-thumping preview (though I could do without the last image).
1. Jeanine – I want her to win and I really think it’s hers this season. Here’s why. Simply put: she’s the best combination of pure talent and that nebulous “personality” factor: it’s so easy to love watching her move. I can’t look away from her! Classy and funny, supportive of her partners and very gracious in dealing with criticism and the now multiple perv comments from Nigel. Plus, the girls have been stronger than the boys by far this season, so I think it needs to be a female winner. Jeanine’s peaking at the right time, as the judges say and had an amazing night. Though, I will say that the lighting and the volume of the music during Louis van Amstel’s paso doble was so distracting I had to try to ignore them in order to focus on the dancing. I had to *ignore the music* to focus on the dancing. Bizarre. It was phenomenal dancing, once you could get past the DRAMA!!!! of the routine’s production. I feel like Mia put Jeanine in the back too much in her routine with Kayla, especially given the length of Kayla’s limbs. But she stood out to me and just rocked it. I loved seeing her and Evan dance together and I think they enjoyed each other a lot. And her solo. HELLO! That slow, controlled pirouette. She incorporated so much of her growth during the entire season in her solo, which I think was a textbook example of what a “end of the line, all I’ve got” solo. A-m-a-z-i-n-g.
2. Kayla – She’s been amazing all season, technically superior to most everybody and finally relaxing enough to show her personality. Kayla’s had some incredible routines tonight. I thought her solo was the weakest, but really enjoyed that her song choice allowed for some different movements than she’s shown during most of her solos. The Broadway with Brandon was awesome and you could tell that she just really enjoys dancing with him, trusts him and his technical ability. Not so much with Evan, though there were some strong moments in it. I really enjoyed her in Mia’s contemporary, which was just a beautiful concept that both the girls executed beautifully. You could tell that they were bringing a lot of the emotions of their SYTYCD experience to it and I think Kayla really lived the piece and showed exactly why everybody loves her lines and extension so much. I don’t think she showed as much ‘tude as Jeanine in Wade’s cheerleader/football player routine, but she was definitely strong.
Here’s the hard part. Sigh.
3. Evan – According to the results so far on John’s poll, he should be #4. And maybe he will be. The only reason I bumped him up is that enormous chant that seemed to surprise everybody, him most of all. And you know Ryan wasn’t behind it, because it started waaaaaaaay back in the audience, not near Evan’s family. I will be the first to admit that Evan is, in many ways, especially technically, the most limited dancer, the one who’s “grown” the least during the season. He was rock solid in Broadway at the beginning of the season and he’s still demonstrating rock solidness…in Broadway. He doesn’t apply notes or encorporate other styles into his own, as the other dancers (and successful dancers of seasons past) do. However, all of that is really hard to care about when he dances. I’m tired of the judges’ condescending comments about the squishiness of his face because Evan is impossible not to enjoy (for me, for many others) when he dances. He’s the one my eyes go to. I really thought that he held his own in Wade’s and Sonya’s pieces and he was the one my eyes kept going toward during Lauriann Gibson’s piece (did anyone else HATE the song for a routine like this?), despite his lack of “nasty cred.” He struggles to take on characters outside his general persona onstage. However, I do think that he’s held his own or rocked in most of the routines he’s danced this season. And I love watching him move.
4. Brandon – I suspect that Nigel named him with Jeanine as the top 2 because Brandon is so technically strong and Nigel knows the same personality that Jackie and others have mentioned – on a more personal level, I suspect, than I do. I really liked Brandon’s interview, but I have to say he’s just my least favorite. As nice and supportive as he may be “in the real world,” I don’t personally feel like he gives good t.v. all the time. His ego (whether he’s confident or not confident, both are results of the ego) becomes too much of an issue in his dancing, I feel. Maybe this is only an issue when there’s a camera zooming in close on his face. I don’t know. I think he felt confortable with Natalie and it’s taken him the whole season to figure out how to be more comfortable in front of the camera. He’s a beautiful dancer, but I’m very apt to look more at his partner – whether that partner is a beautiful girl or a dancer not as technically strong as him, like Evan. I think he’s done extremely well on this show and grown so very much. I enjoyed watching him with Jeanine quite a lot, and in the Wade group routine. I did feel his solo was very frantic, as Adam said. Though, you know what? I *loved, loved, loved* his extended split at the end of his routine and his face, which just sort of announced, “Yeah, I’m doing this and it’s awesome.” That was a wonderful moment tonight for me, he was at his “cocky best” right then.