I wish the producers could have figured out a way to fit one more week of episodes in, so that we could have had the traditional final four performance show. Instead, we got a top six, with nine performances, no explanatory intros, no group dances, no guy/guy or girl/girl dances, and only one hour of dancing. It seems wrong that the contestants didn’t have a chance to dance their solos before the final votes were cast. I hope we’ll see some additional new performances on the final results show, but who knows if there will be time, with all the musical guests that will be appearing. I’m looking forward to Adam Lambert, but do we really need to be subjected to Jennifer Lopez? So, yes, I guess I’m a little bitter about how the show has been tossed around amidst the busy fall schedule this season. Let this be a lesson to them to stay put where they belong – in the summer!
Thankfully (for you), I won’t be Debbie Downer about the actual performances from last night, which aside from the weird post-mod one that Ryan and Ellenore did, were worthy of a grand finale. Here we go.
Round One – Russell was the winner of this round by a landslide, after his memorable lyrical jazz performance
- Kathryn & Ryan (Samba) – “Magalenha,” Sergio Mendes – This may have been the first time all season that I was more impressed with Ryan than with his partner. He needed a strong performance to prove he deserved to be in the finale, and I think this was it. Kathryn also did very well. They were both very jungle-esque and sharp with their movements.
- Ellenore & Jakob (Broadway) – “I Gotcha,” Fosse – I liked this performance – no surprise, really, since it involved Jakob. But Ellenore was the main focal point. She looked great, was almost completely in character, and danced her heart out. She and Jakob make a great pair, and they looked like they were fresh off of Broadway.
- Ashleigh & Russell (Lyrical Jazz) – “Angel Standing By,” Jewel – The moment this performance began, Russell became the star of the night, and leaped ahead of the competition. He was simply amazing and beautiful to watch. I was so moved that tears came to my eyes. I agree with Nigel and others that Ashleigh was simply a background dancer to Russell, so I don’t have much to say about her, except that the two had great chemistry and trust.
Round Two – Again, the winner is Russell, for his memorable Paso Doble. Ellenore would be tied with him for this round if the jazz hadn’t canceled out her paso doble.
- Ellenore & Ryan (Jazz) – “Kontakt Me,” Boyz Noise – I think they did a great job with this emotionless robot number, but haven’t the choreographers learned by now that the contestants receive more votes, especially during the finale week, when they emotionally connect with the audience? I’m afraid this dance may have moved Ellenore to the bottom of the pack, where Ryan was already going to be. (I’ll be shocked if he’s not the first person asked to leave the stage…)
- Ashleigh & Jakob (Foxtrot) – “Let the Good Times Roll,” Chuck Brown & Eva Cassidy – This was pretty, and it was nice to see this power couple back together, but I agree with Nigel that the choreography was too easy for this point in the competition. Why even throw a Foxtrot into the finale. No one votes for Foxtrots! It’s like the producers were trying to slow down Jakob’s momentum to give the other contestants a chance to beat him.
- Ellenore & Russell (Paso Doble) – “Village Attack,” Blood Diamond – Ellenore made up some ground for her previous dance by starting off strong on this one. Her silhouetted figure was perfect, from her dress to her hand movement. But then, out stormed Russell, sliding into view on his knees, and took away her glory. I’m telling you, it really seems like the producers were doing everything they could to make this Russell’s night. But despite any conspiracy on their part, Russell consistently delivered the goods. He was excellent in this piece, and just kept his momentum going. Ellenore kept up with him and looked beautiful in the process, but he was the star.
Round Three – Jakob returned to his pedestal in this round, and at least for the moment, is at the top of the pack. His contemporary performance showcased his technique, his natural talent, and his showmanship.
- Kathryn & Jakob (Contemporary) – “At This Moment,” Michael Buble – I highly anticipated the Desmond Richardson/Dwight Rhoden routine from the minute I spotted them in the studio audience. They are the dance legends who choreographed Will and Katee’s memorable pas de deux during season four. This dance lived up to my expectations. It was breathtaking, and chock full of emotion. (Sigh…) Kathryn and Jakob had great chemistry, but this was Jakob’s ultimate moment of the season, in my opinion. He had the opportunity to showcase his seemingly limitless talent, from the intricate movements to his full investment in the character. I was completely sold at the end when he pounded his fists (and his body) against the floor and then curled up into a ball. He is just so good. This performance, along with everything else he has done this season, is proof enough for me that he deserves to be this season’s winner.
- Ashleigh & Ryan (Contemporary) – “I’m There Too,” Michelle Featherstone – What a special moment for this married couple. Not only did they finally get to dance together on the show, but it was choreographed by Travis Wall, the master of emotional storytelling through dance. He gave them a chance to share tender moments on the stage, and it was so tender that I almost felt like we shouldn’t be watching this intimate moment between them (even though it was completely G-rated). Obviously they were moved as well, since they were both crying by the end. All that being said, the performance didn’t blow me away. It was too intimate for me to really connect with the performance. They were totally in tune with each other, but not at all with the audience. Still, this will be a popular (and rightly so) dance on the tour, unless the producers opt to let them dance ballroom together instead. It would have given them an unfair advantage to let them dance their own style during the finale.
- Kathryn & Russell (Hip-Hop) – “I Can Transform Ya,” Chris Brown (f. Lil Wayne & Swiss Beats) – After a couple of lackluster numbers late in the season, Tabitha and Napoleon redeemed themselves with this entertaining and hard hitting hip hop routine. Russell was totally on, and obviously comfortable in his element. (Again, the producers were giving him every opportunity to shine. I mean, not only did he get hip hop, but he got to close the show with it, so that the judges’ praise of him was fresh on the audience’s mind when they picked up the phone to vote.) Kathryn held her own, but Russell was on a different level all night.
My Favorite Performances
- Jakob and Kathryn’s Contemporary – In fact, this may be my favorite performance of the season.
- Ashleigh and Russell’s Lyrical Jazz – This was my second favorite of the night. It was outstanding, but mostly on Russell’s end, whereas Jakob and Kathryn were more equally matched choreography and performance wise in their contemporary piece.
Who Will Win?
If the winner were based solely on tonight’s performances, on a round by round basis, it would be Russell, since he beat Jakob two rounds to one. But, we all know that most people base their votes on everything that the contestants have done during the season – as they should! Russell was one of my early favorites, but until recently I had found many of his performances lackluster. Maybe Noelle is to blame, since she was a lackluster partner. Once the couples were split up, we saw him excel in many different styles. Jakob, on the other hand, has consistently wowed me from start to finish of the season. Kathryn has been a solid performer, but she has always been missing some of the personality that the others have. Ashleigh was one of my favorites in the first half of the season, but once she and Jakob were split up, she fell off my radar a bit. Ellenore had a string of bad luck in the early weeks as she was shuffled from partner to partner, but she was excellent these past few weeks, when it really matters. However, she didn’t stand out as much during this finale. And that leaves Ryan, who seems the only contestant out of place in this group. He probably should have gone home a couple of weeks ago, but I’ve actually enjoyed watching his performances since then, so he’s made the most of his extra time.
Here’s how I think the countdown should go on the final results:
- Jakob – Winner! (fingers crossed…)
Of course I think Jakob should win, but I’m a little nervous that Russell may steal his crown! I had decided to vote for both of them last night, but to call in more times for Jakob. Well, the line was busy some of the times I called for Jakob. But here’s the thing: I was never able to get through for Russell! And I tried from time to time over the course of an hour. I’ll be shocked if Jakob and Russell aren’t the last two standing. I guess I’d be happy with any of these contestants winning, since I love all of them, but I really think the title of America’s Favorite Dancer should go to Jakob. What do you think?