We’re one away week from the final performance round, which means that it’s time to play dirty. It’s time for Cat Deeley to sing “Jason Derulo.” Cat’s singing everything tonight. She’s also coordinated her dress to Travis’ tie, like they’re going to a wedding.
Coincidentally, Team Stage, which has lost to Team Street for the past three weeks, and you’d best believe Travis is “FULLY AWARE,” claimed 55 percent of the votes this time. It’s the tie. The tie and the dress move in the same social circles.
Not really. It’s America! And now America gets to determine who’s in the finale.
Gaby and All-Star Marko
Choreographer: Ray Leeper, Jazz
Song: “Emergency” by Icona Pop
Are you HAPPY NOW, voters?? This routine has No Story. It’s just DANCE. It’s STEAMPUNK ANARCHY. Set adrift without context, the wardrobe department picked up on some “Ramalama”-esque moves and outfitted Gaby in a “Ramalama”-esque costume—which, sure, made me nostalgic, but it also hid her hip movements. And what is with the high-heeled boots this season? I hope she burns this ensemble on the altar of No Story. (Marko, on the other hand, should wear this every day.) I agree with Paula and Nigel that Gaby is a star, but I also think the energy of this routine was better suited to a large group number. I had that in my notes before Jason said it. I agree with Jason. What is my penance?
Jaja and All-Star Alex
Choreographer: Tessandra Chavez, Contemporary
Song: “Youth” by Daughter
Story is back. And so are my tears! Chavez casts Jaja as a woman with early-onset Alzheimer’s whose recognition of her lover flickers on and off, but the best thing about this routine is that it doesn’t limit itself to a love story. Jaja opens the number alone, sitting in a spotlight, trying to read. Witness: the fastest a SYTYCD routine has ever broken me. I really love reading. But I also love Jaja, who acts the crap out of this thing, from her moments of clarity to her lowest and most muddled. She isn’t even dancing—she’s just being (thanks Paula). There’s one move, just one, that could use a straighter leg, but other than that, Jaja matches up to Alex Freaking Wong at every turn and seals her fate as the dancer I’d most like to see win. If she’s a bird, we’re all DIRT. We don’t deserve her.
Megz and All-Star Joshua
Choreographer: Christopher Scott, Hip-Hop
Song: “Freedom” by Pharrell Williams
Megz has always been more at ease outside her style than in it, which I presume a high school guidance counselor has already made into a poster about comfort zones. Nothing good happens inside them! Or something. In any case, she’s freer in most contemporary routines than she is in this freedom-inspired hip-hop number—her leg works seems a little soft, and her whole demeanor feels more angry than determined. That said, it’s a cool routine; she comes into her own along with her character, and I can’t think of a more appropriate image of Megz than that final pose, with her arms lifted high. Nigel, speaking Paula’s language and mine, says that he can see Megz in West Side Story. YES. Something’s coming, something good…
Jim and All-Star Anya
Choreographers: Anya Garnis and Dmitry Chaplin, Samba
Song: “Chillando Goma” by Fulanito
Setting aside all of those technical samba terms—forgetting Nigel and Paula’s reasonable talk of hips and shoulders—is anyone else just really proud of Jim right now? The judges have been telling him all season to loosen up. They’ve begged him to let go of his technique and just dance. Jim did that tonight. He had fun. He was confident. Where is Mary Murphy when we need her? Where is Jim? He’s so sure of himself and so happy, even during his critique, and that’s worth celebrating. It’s not that Nigel and Paula make bad points. It’s just that they’re not listening to every point they’ve been making all season. In terms of pure showmanship, this routine was Jim’s breakthrough.
Virgil and All-Star Melanie
Choreographer: Justin Giles, Contemporary
Song: “All Is Now Harmed” by Ben Howard
Giles casts Virgil as a soldier coming home from war, while Melanie—Melanie!—is the wife trying to look out for him. So the first challenge here will be to look away from Melanie. I had to rewatch twice to tear myself away from her, but I think that’s less to do with Virgil than with the choreography, which just doesn’t challenge him as much as it could. Even so, he’s a solid presence, and his emotional connection to the piece comes through. Paula’s right when she calls this a mature performance. Nigel understands PTSD now, guys.
NEXT: Step away from the fedora