Did you watch the Emmys on Monday night? If so, you know that So You Think You Can Dance once again lost the award for Best Reality Competition Program to some show about racing around the world. You would also know that Modern Family beat out Orange is the New Black for Best Comedy Series. But let’s take a history lesson further back in time than just Monday night. The year is 1998 and a Broadway revival of On the Town has opened at the Gershwin Theatre, which marks the Broadway debuts of two young, talented and memorable performers. You might even remember seeing them Monday night on the Emmys.
Before Jesse Tyler Ferguson became a TV star on Modern Family, he graced the Great White Way as sailor Chip opposite Lea DeLaria (a.k.a. Boo from Orange is the New Black) as his love interest Hildy. (It goes without saying why this is funny, right?) It’s the perfect time for Ferguson to return as guest judge for tonight’s final four performance finale because next week when a single winner is crowned, one of the prizes will be… a role in the new Broadway revival of On the Town. Don’t let that flash mob fool you—JTF is arguably the most qualified judge this season on SYTYCD and it couldn’t have come at a more crucial time.
Can nice girl Valerie finish first? Is Ricky really too good to be true? Will Jessica crack under the pressure? Is there anything Zach can’t do? With no elimination, tonight the top four each performed a duet with one another and one with an all-star, so four total performances to judge (not including the 30-second solos). Since there is only one winner this season, would having a full solo performance be too much to ask for?
Valerie Rockey and Ricky Ubeda
Style: African Jazz, Choreography by Sean Cheesman
Music: “Voices of Savannah” by DJ Chus
This competition is a marathon, not a sprint, but we are still getting close to the finish line. Valerie and Ricky were challenged to perform this genre so late in the competition, but like most things they’ve done so far this summer, it didn’t look as hard as it probably was. The “Survival of the Fittest” dance was purposefully uninhibited and didn’t require perfection, which at some brief moments caused a couple of “Oh please don’t drop her!” moments. Valerie and Ricky were lucky that this was the opening number of the night because there is no way they would have been able to keep up with the stamina needed after performing multiple times already in the night. Like they now have to do.
Jessica Richens and Zack Everhart
Style: Broadway, Choreography by Spencer Liff
Music: “Hernando’s Hideaway” by Ella Fitzgerald
Jessica and Zack were just a couple of Broadway babies this week in this fantastically fun and sexy routine. Visually, the number was stunning—starting with Jessica’s homage to Jessica Rabbit’s red dress. Both dancers were having fun with the number and did a fantastic job listening to the music and accented certain movements as big as a kicked leg or as little as one finger moving to the beat. They also required a lot of control in the rhythm and tempo since the music was changing so much. Jesse said that Broadway could and should literally be calling these two tomorrow because they are good enough to be there now, win or lose.
Valerie Rockey and Zack Everhart
Style: Contemporary, Choreography by Tyce Diorio
Music: “Pearls” by Sade
Who would have thought there would have been two tappers in the finale? Who would have thought that they wouldn’t tap together then? Past that brief disappointment, this contemporary routine was arguably one of the hardest routines this summer and it had very little to do with the actual dancing. Valerie portrayed a blind woman relying on all of her other senses to make a connection with Zack—and America—in a touching and gentle piece. “That’s not just dancing, that’s acting… I think.” Cat, aren’t you technically an actress? Shouldn’t you know something that like? But let’s be honest, Cat could never do what Valerie did, especially considering she had fake Mike Tyson tattoos all over her body less than 20 minutes earlier. But don’t tell Cat that or else she might clock you in the face with her microphone.
NEXT: Dancing all over the world
Jessica Richens and Ricky Ubeda
Style: Jazz, Choreography by Ray Leeper
Music: “F For You” by Disclosure feat. Mary J. Blige
Romeo and Juliet, Antony and Cleopatra, Nigel and Mary, and now, Jessica and Ricky. Some of the greatest pairs known to man. Some thought that if Ricky and Jessica remained partners for the entire competition after performing together in the top 20 showcase, they would walk away with the competition. Well, I guess they didn’t really need each other because they were obviously able to get to the finale on their own, but the funky, fresh, and fun non-stop number just highlighted how adorable these little sprockets can be. Jesse, I don’t think you mean “adorable” so much as “powerful” and “a little terrifying,” but I get your point.
Jessica Richens and Valerie Rockey
Style: Bollywood, Choreography by Nakul Dev Mahajan
Music: “Ghahra” by Yeh Jawaani Jai Deewani
A quick recap within the recap—Valerie went from Africa to India and was blind in between her first three numbers of the night. Talk about contrast. The colorful routine was a classic Indian style dance with a mix of contemporary edge and you couldn’t help but just smile while watching. As Jesse noted, Bollywood requires expressive personality and incredible athleticism… not to mention clear pores for proper jeweled bindi placement on your forehead. These girls have all three of those things and a performance like this is something they can be proud of accomplishing no matter what happens next week. Everyone’s still in the game—but Valerie kind of just killed it in terms of versatility here.
Zack Everhart and Ricky Ubeda
Style: Hip-Hop, Choreography by Pharside & Phoenix
Music: “The Antidote” by District 78
When you first think of Ricky and Zack, you don’t think urban street dancing. No offense. When you think of the last men standing now, how will you be able to think of anything except this phenomenal explosive performance? Another metaphorical story about the end of the competition, Ricky and Zack had to battle it out and be as fierce as possible against each other. But there were so many tricks and so much height and passion and energy that the whole thing was almost too good to be true. The best part of the performance as Mary noted was that it was totally unexpected, not that the two wouldn’t be able to perform well together, just not this well in this genre.
NEXT: Last dance, last chance
Valerie Rockey (and Aaron Turner)
Style: Tap, Choreography by Anthony Morigerato
Music: “Love Me or Leave Me” by Sammy Davis Jr.
When Valerie entered the competition, she answered the title question with a tapping yes, I do think I can dance. Now after weeks of performing pretty much every other genre out there, Valerie’s last chance dance was back in her red shoes. Since Jesse kind of messed up his comparison he was trying to make, let’s fix it. Valerie is like Michael Jordan. Watching her has been like watching MJ in his baseball years. Incredibly impressed that he is able to even compete considering that his strengths are in another field literally. In this number, Valerie took back that basketball and performed like the champion she seriously has the potential of being. Nevertheless, she definitely has a winning smile and knows how to use that well.
Ricky Ubeda (and Kathryn McCormick)
Style: Contemporary, Choreography by Stacey Tookey
Music: “Not About Angels” by Birdy
Would it be too much to say that Ricky has been an angel sent from heaven this season? Maybe, but I’m saying it anyway. The combination of Ricky and Kathryn working with Stacey Tookey is heaven-sent itself and absolutely went above and beyond the already high expectations. Mary couldn’t contain herself in expressing how much she loved Ricky’s performance and just how much she loves him in general and all the incredible work he has done this season. Jesse might actually love Ricky (and Aaron too. Does someone need to remind him he’s married?) but the number especially hit an emotional chord with Nigel who said Ricky will make a “great addition to the dance world.” Addition? The dance world better look out—Ricky’s about to take over. He just has to win this little thing first.
Zack Everhart (and Aaron Turner)
Style: Tap, Choreography by Anthony Morigerato
Music: “Piano Man” by Billy Joel
Tap us a dance, you the tapping man Zack! Finally—we got to see Zack in his element and show what he is most passionate and knowledgeable about. It took a little bit for him to get comfortable with being comfortable onstage in his element, but once the song picked up, so did Zack and he took complete control and command while moving a lot throughout the stage and making literal music with his feet. Zack would win most improved hands down, but he could win the whole competition just as easily after showing his passion isn’t for tap dance—it’s really for dance in general.
Jessica Richens (and Robert Roldan)
Style: Contemporary, Choreography by Travis Wall
Music: “When I Go” by Over the Rhine
After over the top performances last week, Jessica did exactly what she needed to do for her final routine, take it down a notch. The simplicity in the structure of the number allowed for Jessica’s natural qualities to shine through, instead of trying to highlight certain areas she knows she is strong in. Confidence is definitely an issue with Jessica, noted in her being overwhelmed just working with Robert and Travis together and of course she did almost get eliminated twice. But this dance was full of fire and passion that felt appropriate and fitting to Jessica and that combination resulted in a spectacular number to end on, some (i.e. Jesse) may even say that they saved the best for last.
Alright then—the taps have been tapped and the pirouettes have been spun, it’s all up to America now. The winner will be crowned next week and is expected to be dancing on Broadway sometime early next year. You know, in between their magazine cover shoot and figuring out how to spend $250,000. Don’t you all wish you thought you could dance now?