”So You Think You Can Dance”: The final moves
Danny should win. Yeah, Sabra’s brilliance brings us all in, and Lacey’s a crack entertainer, and it’s the women’s turn this year, blah blah. Danny should win. Not just because he’s the best dancer So You Think You Can Dance has ever seen, either; as Nigel pointedly noted, this is a competition for America’s favorite dancer, and last night, Danny was mine. He should win. And, you know what, I think he actually might.
To be fair, Danny had the best night, in part because, of the four finalists, he had by far the best combination of routines in a night when the choreographers mostly failed to showcase the dancers’ strengths. We’ll get to all that in a bit, but I also have to say that, really, if any one of these dancers takes home the $250K, I’ll be totally happy — one of the few times in any TV reality competition show that I’m able to say that. Which is, all of my snarkiness about costumes and choreography throughout this season aside, reason #1932 why I love this show.
Speaking of clothing — Cat, we need to talk. It’s getting serious. At first, Grandma was excited that you were ”borrowing” her things to wear on the show. But she was really counting on wearing her gold Going Out dress — which she purchased at the Detroit Loehmann’s on final markdown in 1972, and such a steal it was then, too! — to the church canteen dance last Sunday, but when she went to her closet to put it on, all she found instead was one of those single pink daffodils you keep leaving behind. So, look, after the show’s over, give us a call and we’ll set you up with a guy I know. He’s really great with people who have your condition — geri-kleptomania, I believe it’s called — and Grandma won’t press any charges.
Phew. Okay, with that bit of unpleasantness behind us, let’s take on each dancer in the order of their solos and sit-downs with Cat-burglar Deeley:
Lacey Pretty much the front-runner entering last night’s show, Lacey didn’t so much make any major performance missteps — okay, there was that totally unflattering silver dress she wore in her otherwise acceptable solo — as she was just outclassed and outdanced by Danny and, to a lesser extent, Sabra. (Sidebar: I noticed that some of you people on the message board have said you were at Monday’s taping of the show, so can anyone tell the rest of us what Adam Shankman yelled out from the audience when he heckled Lacey?) It was telling to me that the producers placed her solo first and chose to remind viewers once again that her brother won the show last year — neither choice did Lacey any favors, and the judges were even a bit muted in their praise for her. It all made me wonder if someone had decided that as much as it would be good for the show for a woman to win this year, it would be just as bad, if not worse, for the sibling of last year’s winner to win. Just putting that out there.
Of her partner routines, surprise surprise, I liked Lacey’s Viennese waltz with Danny the best — elegant, fluid, classic, and yet, with Avril singing backup, surprisingly modern. The pairing also produced the best line of the night: Lacey giggling, ”My head hit Danny’s goodies!” after her head, well, hit Danny’s goodies. And I actually liked Lacey’s ”fox” routine with Sabra; it was certainly unlike anything we’d seen this season, and, for once, I couldn’t tell that Wade Robson had choreographed it. Liked, but didn’t love; it did seem more like a top 10 number than one for the finale, especially considering Wade’s killer group number from last year’s top 4 show. And as far as Lacey’s Lindy hop with…
Neil, well, I kinda hated it, which I guess makes me a boring person. I actually had to watch it twice; the first time, I completely spaced out as it was unfolding, too busy contemplating how obnoxious I found Lacey counting down the number of times she fell during rehearsal. Best I understand, falling is to dancing what typos are to writing — it happens, a lot, and I could see on Neil’s face how wearying Lacey’s complaints were becoming. Thing is, Neil took that weariness to the stage; he caught his partner, sure, but I’m pretty sure the Lindy hop is supposed to be about four times faster, and the kicks about four feet higher. And yet the judges raved.
Maybe they felt bad that they’d harped so much on Neil’s ”tricks,” or that, of the four, Neil is the only dancer pretty much guaranteed not to win, even if he was peaking at the end of the season. Not that he really got a chance to prove that theory; other than his solid solo, Neil was either felled by exhaustion (performing a Lindy hop after doing four other routines learned in less than 96 hours), sidelined by lackluster choreography (Shane Sparks’ disjointed hip-hop), or asked by Mia Michaels not to dance so much as act royally pissed off while being taunted and thrown around by…
Danny, who, it seemed to me last night, could do no wrong — and, more important, was finally comfortable enough in his own skin to drop his guard and just be himself. Which, it turns out, is a shy, doofus-y kid with a pretty awesome family. My favorite moment from last night, in fact, was after Danny’s (powerful, masterful, insane) solo, when the camera cut to his brother Travis jokily razzing him from the stands before rocking all the way back into his chair and then forward again, his cheeks expanding in a gasp of deep pride and amazement. Sorta said it all, really. (Anyone catch Ivan from season 2 sitting with Team Danny? Anyone catch Ivan’s totally ridiculous hair? Just wondering.)
Indeed, if Neil’s talent was supposedly peaking at the right time, Danny’s personality was never more relaxed and appealing than during rehearsals for the last — and best — routine of the night, Danny’s cha-cha with…
Sabra Poor Sabra. Despite the judges’ unending praise and acclaim, she really only got to shine once, with Danny — though, boy, did she shine brightly, between a dress so hot it had me contemplating switching teams and a routine (choreographed by this season’s true breakout discovery, Bette Midler — I mean Melanie La Patin!) that finally brought the unexpected, crowd-pleasing panache missing from the rest of the finale (save Danny’s solo). So of course the judges had to get all nitpicky and technical about it even as they tried to say that nitpicky technicalities aren’t important anymore.
Otherwise, however, Sabra was saddled with the aforementioned lackluster Shane Sparks hip-hop number and Wade’s love-it-or-hate-it time with the foxy ladies. Even her solo was a little underwhelming, especially after her final flip, which looked to me like she landed a bit wrong on her ankle, causing her to dribble through the rest of her allotted time. Not the best turn of events for the dancer who came into the night the not-so-underdog to win.
And yet I think she still could. Really, this is a three-way race. If the votes are based mostly on last night’s performance, I’d give the edge to Danny. If, however, voters heed Nigel’s surprisingly direct pleas to take into consideration the dancers’ growth through the season — and that a woman ought to win — then I’m going to go out on a limb and place Sabra a hair above Lacey.
Who do you think will win? Who do you think should win? If your favorite lost, would you be upset? And how many of you can’t wait to see Nigel and Cat cut a rug on tonight’s season finale?