Is it too late to rethink the decision to name male and female co-champions of So You Think You Can Dance? Both Eliana Girard and Tiffany Maher have been so good and so closely bunched, it will be a shame that one will have to lose so that an inferior guy can take home his half of the title.
The SYTYCD final four was named on Wednesday night, with Witney Carson and Cole Horibe being sent packing based on last week’s vote. The viewers got it right in the case of Witney, who has charisma to burn, but had been frequently in danger in the vote, and wasn’t quite as consistent as the other two women. Cole leaving was possibly a slight surprise, but Chehon Wespi-Tschopp, who was in the bottom three as far back as the top 20 week, has been picking up support of late. And it’s also possible that Cole’s frequent appearances in sinister character made it difficult for viewers to warm up to him.
But Chehon is probably out of luck in the finale, as Cyrus “Glitch” Spencer still seems unstoppable, despite his obvious limitations. The judges have basically stopped evaluating his performances on the merits, which seems to be a sign that they know he can’t be beat and there’s no sense in talking down their future winner. Cyrus’s enthusiasm has struck a chord with viewers, and none of the other men have had the right mix of characteristics to put up a fair fight. Ballet specialist Chehon, for all his grace and strength, is still badly challenged by anything involving rhythm, so in his own way he’d be a flawed champion too.
As for the ladies, Eliana has seemed like the favorite all along. She got a lot of attention for her audition, and Nigel Lythgoe has flatly stated that she is the best woman in the field. But while Tiffany had a low profile when the top 20 started, she has really begun to stand out as the field has started to narrow; and unlike Eliana, she has never been in the bottom group. What’s more, Tiffany fits the athletic sparkplug mold of the last two SYTYCD winners, Lauren Froderman and Melanie Moore, so she might be what the viewers are looking for as opposed to the more precise Eliana.
Christina Applegate made a return appearance as the guest judge, and as is the case with most of the guests, took the “don’t say anything unless it’s positive” route when it came to her comments. There was no voting this week, so I’ll take less time than usual discussing the performances.
Eliana actually got one of the night’s few negative comments for her hip-hop routine with all-star Twitch – for the remainder of the show, I was worried this meant she would be leaving. Nigel’s beef seemed to be more with choreographer Christopher Scott, who relied on cutesy comedy to get around the fact that Eliana and Twitch don’t work in the same genre.
But her second partner dance, with Cole, was easily the night’s most memorable, if not its best. It was trademark Mia Michaels weirdness, with the dancers cast as rams who were butting horns (done to Adagio for Strings, of all things). The pair managed to tell a story, and the lighting accentuated the drama. It served as the final proof that Cole had plenty of dance chops to go along with the martial arts gimmick he was introduced with. His all-star dance with Melanie was less successful, as it came across as a rehash of “evil Cole;” and her lifting of him had the effect of making Melanie the star.
I was initially surprised to see Witney and Chehon paired on a cha cha, since Latin ballroom is her specialty, and Chehon is … um… not good in this area. The judges didn’t hold back in their criticism, but the routine makes sense now that we know Witney was eliminated and that Chehon will be able to face the voters fresh next week. It appears the brass wanted to allow her a nice sendoff doing what she does best. Her all-star performance with Marko Germar was a little awkward, since they were cast as a couple on their wedding day. Witney joked about not assuming she wanted to be married simply because she’s 18 and from Utah, but she handled the lyrical jazz capably.
Chehon was paired with Kathryn McCormick on a poignant Tyce Diorio piece about a couple facing deprivation together. If he ends up winning in the end, we can credit his ability to portray emotion in routines such as this, and his chemistry with talented partners.
Cyrus and all-star Comfort Fedoke introduced dubstep choreography to SYTYCD, and you could tell Glitch was thrilled to be back in his element with the show’s most talented female hip-hop alumna. Dubstep leaves me cold as music, so I’m probably not the best judge of the dance. He closed the night partnering with Tiffany on a cutesy Broadway routine, as the two played horny teenagers left alone for the night while her parents were away.
We already knew Cyrus doesn’t know about Bob Fosse, so it’s not surprising he wasn’t at his best with the much more on point Tiffany, but as mentioned above, the judges simply aren’t calling him out. Tiffany began the night paired with Season 2 winner Benji Schwimmer on a jive, and it was easily the best ballroom routine a non-ballroomer has done all season, highlighted by a nice cartwheel relay.
The final performance show is next Tuesday. Who do you like in the Tiffany vs. Eliana showdown?