Thursday, August 06, 2009

The Top 4: Strong Girls and Tiny Dudes

This year's So You Think You Can Dance top 4 is unlike any that came before. In most other seasons (including season 3, the only one in which the winner was female) the best two dancers have been male. Who can forget the epic season 2 battle of technique vs. popularity, or the season 3 faceoff between the enigmatic silent-type and the funny ladies man (both superb technicians). And last season's impossible choice between two multi-faceted hip hoppers who easily transcended their genre! But this year, the men are forgettable.

No, wait, that's not fair. Evan is remarkable: sweet as all get-out, charismatic, hardworking and really an impressive dancer. But he's, let's be honest, not quite good enough to be where he is, and should definitely not win. There is, however, every possibility that he might. The thing about Evan is that every time someone (Nigel) made any sort of fair/negative comment about Evan's performance, I wanted to stand up and defend him. His humility, work ethic and heart of gold make me want to turn against anyone who's mean to him. So Evan might win, because that's the kind of guy people pick up the phone for.

People do not, however, pick up the phone for people like Brandon, or at least that's what I'm banking on. What I'm hoping happens is that Brandon rubs American voters the way he does me: not well. I think he's a decent dancer who's proclaimed to be a glorious one, a cocky kid who pretends to be insecure and the kind of person who revels in the spotlight entirely too much. If he wins my heart will break a little bit (just as it did the second Mia caved and told him she liked him).

But for every disappointing thing about this year's (startling short) men, there are a dozen wonderful things about this year's top 2 women (who, incidentally, are both on the tall side and powerhouses of dancers).

Jeanine was my favourite from week 1. The producers had left her out of audition and Vegas footage completely, so when she took the stage in that wonderful Tabitha & Napoleon routine opposite Phillip I was surprised and delighted at how awesome she was. Funny and endearing, Jeanine suffered through her share of bad routines (hello Russian Folk) and reviews that congratulated her on "keeping up" with her partners (one of my least favourite things that are ever said to the dancers). But in each performance, Jeanine brought serious strength and technique alongside her boatloads of personality and unquestionable passion, making her this season's most entertaining dancer. She was the only dancer to perform brilliantly in all 4 of her routines in tonight's finale performance episode and a win for her would mark the first time the show's ever crowned my favourite dancer the winner.

Kayla, on the other hand, was never my favourite. She seemed, from the footage of her at the auditions, to be the kind of person I really wouldn't like. I thought she was the pretty girl who danced because that's what she'd always done and that was about all there was to her. But as the finals progressed Kayla simply wouldn't let me dislike her. She danced some brilliant routines with superb talent and commitment (the addiction routine has joined a short list of my favourite numbers ever on the show) and she is the first dancer since Danny (my all-time favourite) who's ever made me stop in my tracks and say "wow, she can really dance"; her extensions seemed to go on forever. But brilliant dancing isn't enough to stop my dislike, I'm not one who's easily moved. Luckily for Kayla, she's not just a brilliant dancer. One of the youngest in the competition (her and Jeanine are only 18), Kayla was also the most graceful under fire. She was sweet and diplomatic and always seemed sincere. She never went into an elimination expecting to be safe, always put every ounce of effort she had into making her choreographers proud, was consistently supportive of the other dancers and always made her partner look good (whether that meant taking a little heat off them, guiding them through the steps or dancing in flat feet when heels would make her look better). Throughout the competition, Kayla proved to be the best dancer in the competition (and, as Adam Shankman, my new favourite judge, said tonight, one of the best the competition's ever seen). And while tonight she only shone to her brightest capacity in one number (that frakking awesome Mia Michaels routine), Kayla's performance season-wide merits her the prize (which would mark the first time the actual best dancer of the lot has won).

In any case, though I fear both men have a shot, this is the first year in which a woman really should win (no offense to Sabra, but Danny should have had it. And while Katee was last year's best dancer, Joshua and Twitch were it's real stars). This competition should, in the end, come down to Kayla and Jeanine, at which point I won't care who wins.

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