SYTYCD 7: Why Robert Should Win

So I’ll be the first to admit it, Robert was not my favorite… he has never really been my favorite… and he will probably not be my favorite. So why am I writing this? Simple, because Robert’s the “dark horse” in the competition. We as an audience know practically next to nothing about him during the audition episodes leading into Vegas and even during Vegas we still know next to nothing about him. He was one of those dancers that probably was very low key during the whole audition process preferring to let the dancing speak for itself.

And did it speak.

The best comparison that I could think of off the top of my head was Danny Tidwell the runner up to Season 3 of So You Think You Can Dance. Danny – if you recall – is Travis Wall’s adopted brother, who originally came from not so good family circumstances, came to Denise Wall’s dance studio for lessons and walked the who knows how many miles (10 miles according to Wikipedia) between his home and the studio to wait for the next lesson. He was talented in his youth despite starting at a later age. Denise took this lost soul under her wing and brought him up to be the dancer that we all remember him as. On the show Danny was quiet and reserved – most likely as a by-product of his youth growing up – which to some people came across as arrogant on screen. He was part of the Bottom Three boys several times during the show before eventually coming in second place in his season (runner up to Sabra Johnson).

In many ways Robert Roldan is the Danny Tidwell of Season 7… Robert’s childhood was broken in some ways and he relied heavily on his mother for growth and strength, eventually they found a stable family home and structure allowing Robert to blossom into the dancer prior to the show. In the duration of the show, Robert always did well in his routines but he never really shined. He was always very good at picking up choreography and getting the characterizations of the stories, however, for one reason or another the audience simply were not able to connect with him.

So what happened? Where did the surge come from? Personally I believe it started with the contemporary piece with Allison Holker choreographed by Travis Wall. It was a story that Robert was able to grab hold of, to cherish and get lost in. He was able to find a way to relate to the material… and once he was able to relate to it then his love and joy and connection came across the screen so much more. Suddenly (or not depending on one’s point of view) Robert was able to harness a connection to every piece given, and instead of doing well but forgettable, he was doing well AND memorable. Suddenly his dancing has a sparkle that isn’t exactly easy to forget.

His surge is coming later in the season, but there have been previous winners of the show that had surges later in the show or rather peaked at the right moment to outshine the rest in the final performance show their season (Season 5’s Jeanine Mason and Season 6’s Russell Ferguson).

Towards the beginning of the series, people voted on their favorites since day one, so for the first few seasons the obvious favorite since day one became the winner (Season 1’s Nick Lazzarini, Season 2’s Benji Schwimmer, and Season 3’s Sabra Johnson). Season 4 saw the shifting of the gears where America’s isn’t necessarily voting for their favorite dancer, but rather the one whose dancing shined the most… eventually moving into Season’s 5 and 6 where the winners weren’t outright favorites from the beginning but rather the quiet unknowns whose dancing won over America little by little every week. America loves a good underdog, and this season it’s Robert… the other contestants have every chance of winning as well, but if patterns are any indication, I see America continuing on the trend of the underdog and chose Robert this time around.