“SYTYCD” Season 7: Top 3 Performances

We’re mere hours away from finding out who will be named “America’s (Latest) Favorite Dancer,” and, more importantly (for us, at least), who will grace the cover of the November 2010 issue of DS!

After a season riddled with change (a revamped format and a new permanent judge) and career-endangering injuries, we’re ready for tonight’s inevitable happy ending. But, before we tune in to the finale, lets reflect on last night’s performances.

Kent and Lauren G.
Bollywood—Nakul Dev Mahajan

Though Kent may be, as Adam deemed him, the “feel-good dancer of the year,” this routine proved that he’s not a Bollywood dancer. The high-energy dance, filled with intricate and unfamiliar movements seemed to tire him out, and he was completely out of sync with his partner by the end. I understand that this style is far outside his wheelhouse, but I still found the dance to be surprisingly underwhelming for a finale-night piece. I can see why the producers placed it so early in the show—to make it easier for the audience to forget about it by the end!

Lauren and Twitch
Hip Hop—Tabitha and Napoleon D’umo

Tabitha and Napoleon have had a stellar season, but this routine left me a little cold. It was… fine. Maybe I’m just spoiled by the choreographers’ history of out-of-the-box ideas, but the campaigning concept was a bit too on-the-nose for my taste. Either way, Lauren and tWitch danced it well. The pair has great chemistry, and we’ve been lucky enough to watch them in action more than once this season. Lauren’s athletic strength and amazing sense of musicality helped her embody her character and keep up with tWitch throughout the routine.

Robert and Mark
Jazz — Tyce Diorio

Robert and Mark were made to dance together. Aside from their astounding physical similarities, the pair matched each other move for move throughout this classic, fast-moving, sharp jazz piece. Good job, boys!

Kent
Solo

Kent was surprisingly reserved in his contemporary solo. I was all set for 30-seconds, filled to the brim with tricks, leaps and turns, but instead was treated to a thoughtful, emotional vignette. Though Kent’s technique has been fairly flawless from the start of the season, this performance, along with last week’s duet with Neal, proves how far he’s come in terms of understanding and embracing the feelings behind his movement.

Robert and Lauren
Contemporary—Dee Caspary

This revolved around a pillow and it demonstrated both the advantages and disadvantages of incorporating props into choreography. Though Caspary’s concept, inspired by the contestant’s exhaustion after a long season, resulted in beautiful movement, it appeared that the dancers had trouble working with the pillow at certain points—a moment where Lauren appeared to get stuck while sliding across the floor on the pillow stands out in my mind. However, at other moments, the pillow enhanced the movements within the piece—when Lauren tossed the pillow on to Robert’s shoulder and it served as a cushion for her landing when she threw herself up there, for instance.

Kent and Lauren
Jazz—Mandy Moore
Man, the judges were pretty harsh after this one! Mandy Moore created a cute, upbeat, albeit simple routine that really gave Kent and Lauren room to show off their perky personalities. The judges complained that there weren’t enough traditional dance steps included for them to fairly assess the performance, but I, for one, still appreciated the routine for what it was: fun. Besides, the judges have been harping on the contestants for filling to “fill in the spaces” between the movements they receive from their choreographers. I’d say Kent and Lauren did an excellent job in that department here.

Robert
Solo

Honestly, I found it quite difficult to decipher the difference between Robert’s most recent solo and every other solo he’s performed throughout the season. He’s gorgeous and has beautiful technique, but I don’t find him to be particularly original in the moments where he’s asked to express himself. I think he has a great future as a working dancer, but I don’t expect to see him add many choreography credits to his resume any time soon.

Kent and Allison
Contemporary—Stacey Tookey

As with his solo, Kent used this number to show how much he’s grown up as a dancer. Tookey’s piece centered on a couple at a crossroads, at the moment they begin to get real about their problems. Tookey mentioned in the package before the performance that she wasn’t sure if Kent would be able to bring enough maturity to the table. However, Kent rose to the challenge, delivering a moving portrayal of a man coming to terms with the idea that the woman he loves might not be the woman for him. He captured the complicated mix of anger, confusion and sadness necessary for the character and executed the movements with the strength and intention of a seasoned pro.

Lauren
Solo

Think back to Lauren’s final solo in Las Vegas. Remember when Lil C’s eyes were wide open and he kept muttering “She’s soooo awesome”? That’s how I felt last night. Lauren is an incredible soloist. Her song choices are always spot-on and her movement is always the perfect mixture of sass, sweetness, and strength.

Robert and Kathryn
Broadway—Spencer Liff

Spencer Liff’s fresh take on West Side Story’s iconic “Cool” dance was a treat! Like the judges, I was thrilled that the choreography had a new storyline, but that the movement still reflected the flavor of Jerome Robbins’ original choreography.

Lauren and Pasha
Latin Ballroom—Tony Meredith and Melanie LePatin

This routine was fast, sharp and technically strong, and Lauren and Pasha made it sizzle in all the right places. Mia summed it up best when she told Lauren that if she were still dancing, she’d want to dance just like Lauren does. That’s what we’ve been saying all season!

Kent and Robert
Malevos— Miriam Larici and Leonardo Barrionue

So, raise your hand if you think the producers were stacking the deck for Lauren. I can’t think of another reason why Nigel would choose to have two dancers tackle a completely new style (one they’d likely never even heard of) just before the audience would be asked to pick up the phone. I love that “SYTYCD” has helped introduce the mainstream public to new dance styles, but I think it was wrong to make two of the three contestants go out on such an untested, unfamiliar note. Kent and Robert made valiant efforts to do the best they could with what they’d been given, which is really all we can ask. But there were times when this routine was almost hard to watch. It was painfully clear that the contestants were out of their elements and just fighting to get through it in one piece. For two hours, this piece was billed like a tough, sharp, fight to the death, but the result was, well, weak. Here’s hoping the voters took Kent and Robert’s work through the entire season into perspective before dialing the phone.

Whew! Made it to the end. Last night was jam-packed with performances. What did you think about it? Who did you vote for? Share your thoughts here. Only a few more hours until we know who wins!

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