The final four of "So You Think You Can Dance" Season 10 (Jasmine Harper, DuShaunt "Fik-Shun" Stegall, Aaron Turner, and Amy Yakima) competed for the last time this Tuesday, and it's not hyperbole when I say that this may be the closest "SYTYCD" finale yet. Next week, one girl and one boy will be jointly crowned America's Favorite Dancers, and really, all of them have a shot.
All of them have the kind of unique underdog stories that captivate viewers. Jasmine is the ex-girlfriend of last year's fan favorite Cyrus "Glitch" Spencer; their relationship fell apart while he was competing on the show. Fik-Shun is an untrained Vegas street performer who only two years ago couldn't make it past the semifinals on Paula Abdul's failed CBS series "Live to Dance." Aaron is the first tap dancer to ever make it to a "SYTYCD" finale, and he wasn't even supposed to make it to this year's top 20 (he only squeezed in at the last minute, as an alternate). And Amy was overshadowed by her original personality-plus partner, Fik-Shun, before she finally came into her own over the past few weeks. And of course, all of them can dance like nobody's bizness.
So this week, each dancer had multiple opportunities to literally strut his or her stuff: dancing with each other, dancing solo, and dancing with allstars in genres of their choice. Not all of these routines were equally great (there were a couple mildly disappointing moments), but in the end, all four dancers proved that they deserved to be in this year's finale.
Here's how everyone did in the last showdown for the Season 10 title:
ALLSTAR PARTNER ROUTINES
Aaron Turner with Melinda Sullivan – Tap
Tapping is a rarity on "SYTYCD," obviously due to the miniscule number of contestants who specialize in this dying art. Sassy tapper Melinda only made it to ninth place in her season, but Aaron may be the first tapper to actually win this show (which would no doubt thrill Nigel Lythgoe). So it was great to see Aaron choose to dance in his own style with Melinda back on the show and by his side. This Anthony Morigerato-choreographed number was hardly a typical tap routine, set to the ballad "When I Was Your Man" by Bruno Mars, but the song's relaxed pace really allowed this couple to tell the emotional tale of warring lovers. They convincingly emoted and really held the audience's attention; at the end, all four judges (Nigel, Mary Murphy, and guest panelists Paula Abdul and Olympic gymnast Gabby Douglas) gave them a standing ovation. Paula called Aaron "the ultimate storyteller of this season." Mary called this routine's intricate rhythms "music to my ears!" And Nigel shouted happily, "I love that people love tap! We mustn't lose tap, people!" Don't worry, Nigel: Young, exciting talents like Aaron and Melinda are definitely the type of dancers that can keep tap alive.
Jasmine Harper with Comfort Fedoke – Hip-Hop
Jasmine is a contemporary dancer by trade, but unlike Aaron, when she got to choose her style for her allstar routine, she ventured outside her comfort zone, no pun intended. Instead of going with contemporary, she chose some Nappytabs hip-hop. This was definitely a risk, but one that paid off: Not only did she end up getting one of the most delightful, fun, and funky routines of the night, but she really showcased her versatility. She even got to ride a bicycle onstage! Yes, Jasmine and Comfort were total biker babes on wheels, and even hostess Cat Deeley wanted to join their gang. So did I! These two hit the stage hard to Beyoncé's "Run the World (Girls)," and Jasmine matched Comfort step for every swaggy step. By the end, the crowd was roaring. The judges were barely audible over the undying applause, but I did hear Paula say something like, "If these two girls ran the world, our lives would be really fun!" Mary told Jasmine, "You danced that like you choreographed it," which was a huge compliment. And Nigel namechecked his old "American Idol" friend Randy Jackson and told Jasmine, "You are in it to win it!" Nigel was right, dawg.
Fik-Shun with Twitch Boss – Hip-Hop
Fik-Shun's dream was to dance with Season 4's Twitch, one of the biggest stars in "SYTYCD" history. And when he finally realized his dream, during this infectiously energetic Luther Brown routine, it was a real torch-passing moment. Twitch really seemed like Fik-Shun's funky uncle or big brother (Nigel described this dance as "like Twitch and Twitch Jr."), and the result was just adorable. Despite his youth and inexperience, Fik-Shun admirably kept up with Twitch and proved that he has what it takes to be an allstar himself someday. Fik-Shun certainly has a Twitch-sized personality, which will help him go far, long after this show is over. "Every time you dance, you amaze me," raved Gabby. "I loved every second of it…You're going to be very proud when you see this played back," Mary told Fik-Shun. This was definitely the kind of routine I'd play back over and over again, myself.
Amy Yakima with Robert Roldan – Contemporary
Well, this number ticked a lot of the "SYTYCD" boxes for me. It featured Robert, one of the best "SYTYCD" alums ever and a fan-favorite comeback kid. (He recently returned to the show after nearly dying in a serious accident.) It was choreographed by the always-amazing Stacey Tookey. And it had one of those classic, angsty, push-pull "SYTYCD" storylines, about a man unrequitedly in love with his best friend. It was a swooningly romantic routine with a tearjerking ending (I wanted them to wind up together; apparently so did Nigel, a real softy at heart). Paula said it was her favorite dance of the night. Gabby said she was "blown away." And Nigel said the couple's "combination of emotion, technique, and performance was intoxicating." After this, Jasmine no longer seemed to be in the lead.
CONTESTANT PARTNER ROUTINES
Amy Yakima & Aaron Turner – Jazz
I didn't think Ray Leeper had it in him to choreograph such an aggressive, primal routine — but more importantly, I didn't think cutesy, bubbly Amy had it in her to smolder like this. She really owned this dance, owned the stage, and owned her sexiness. I was shocked. I never looked at Aaron once; my eyes were riveted to Amy in her amazing TRON catsuit. Nigel said Amy and Aaron "laid down the gauntlet." Mary loved how they "attacked it" and "ate it alive." Gabby loved their attitude. Paula called this "fantastic" and a "nice departure" from both dancers' usual styles. This was a really strong showing for both Amy and Aaron, but it was especially a coup for Amy.
Jasmine Harper & Fik-Shun – Contemporary
I had no doubt that the gorgeously leggy and graceful Jasmine would pull off this poignant, ocean-metaphor-laden Travis Wall routine about a couple drifting apart. But I had my doubts about Fik-Shun. These two just looked all wrong together. But then they started dancing, and it was all so right. Yes, Jasmine was definitely the star of this piece; she was in her element, and she looked STUNNING in her windblown gown, dancing seemingly effortlessly. But Fik-Shun was surprisingly superb. His growing maturity over this season has been marvelous to behold (his story arc is really what "SYTYCD" is all about), and he achieved a lot here, especially considering that this sorrowful routine forced him to totally suppress his goofy personality. Mary gave the couple a standing ovation, then said, "I thought this wouldn't work out, but was I wrong. Jasmine, you're so captivating to watch. Fik-Shun, I thought she was going to eat you alive, but that didn't happen." Gabby said she had goosebumps. Paula called Jasmine "exquisite" and described her old friend Fik-Shun's journey as "remarkable." Nigel also praised Fik-Shun's transformation from "Bambi on Ice" to serious dancer, then told Jasmine, "You extend beyond extension. You just go on forever." I still think either of these dancers could go all the way to the winners' circle.
Amy Yakima & Fik-Shun – Argentine Tango
The cutest couple of Season 10 was together again, but this was not their finest moment. Both adorable dancers had to get totally fierce for this paso doble-inflected tango by Miriam & Leonardo, and Amy was a lot more successful than Fik-Shun. Yes, Fik-Shun's ability to lift Amy was impressive — he was a solid partner for her most of the time, minus a few awkward moments — but his performance just wasn't memorable. Usually Fik-Shun is such a scene-stealer, but this time, he faded into the background. This was not a winning finale performance. "I think this was probably your toughest challenge so far this season…It was a brave attempt, but not strong enough," Nigel told Fik-Shun, although he did heap Amy with praise. Mary told Fik-Shun, "There were some sections that were not as strong, a few little weak points, but you were there every step of the way." Paula told Fik-Shun, "I thought you were handling your woman pretty darn well," and told Amy, "It's hard to critique perfection." Amy continued to surge into the lead, with this.
Jasmine Harper & Aaron Turner – Samba
Season 10's power couple were reunited here, but somehow they ran out of power when they hit the stage. This just did not work, and it was unfortunately the weakest (and most harshly critiqued) number of the night. I'm not sure what went wrong (allstar Dmitry Chaplin's choreography was a ton of fun), but their usual chemistry was missing, and they had some technical issues as well, like when Aaron tried to remove Jasmine's breakaway skirt and a struggle ensued. Jasmine definitely brought the va-va-voom sex appeal, but Aaron was uncharacteristically awkward. And after Aaron's slip-up last week, when he dropped his partner Melanie Moore, he really couldn't afford to have a number like this. "This is hard for me. I didn't think it was danced very well," sighed Mary, although she added, "Jasmine, you fared a little better; you can shake it!" Nigel scolded them: "You're in the finale now. Every single thing you do tonight has got to be outstanding. I wanted more. I didn't feel the chemistry was there."
Aaron Turner & Fik-Shun – Broadway
This here was another odd couple — a big, brawny bear of a man, and a little hip-hop pipsqueak — so I was surprised by how well this Tyce Diorio routine, about two boys on the loose in the big bad city, worked for both dancers. The one thing these guys have in common, as Paula pointed out, is they're "the top two showmen of the season," so they both PERFORMED. Nothing was held back. Aaron was definitely more suited to the Broadway style, so he stood out, but Fik-Shun brought great energy to the stage and looked like he was having a blast on that Jamiroquai/"Virtual Insanity"-style conveyor belt. Mary called this routine "the cutest thing ever" and said Aaron was "back on top." Said Nigel: "You didn't stop dancing from the moment the music began!" This was a fun last dance from both boys.
Amy Yakima & Jasmine Harper – Jazz
This wackadoodle routine by madcap allstar-turned-Lady Gaga principal dancer Mark Kanemura wasn't quite as astounding as the ponytail-pulling one he choreographed for Jenna Johnson a couple weeks ago, but it was still kookily Kanemurian and a wonderful way to end Season 10's wild ride. Playing "Siamese twins from the fierce jungles of Saturn" in black bobbed wigs and hooped Judy Jetson dresses, Amy and Jasmine flailed all over the place and really did prove that they can dance ANYTHING. Mary proclaimed, "crazy, quirky, creative…If I could tie both of you for first [place], I certainly would!" Paula watched this space-cadet dance and joked, "I finally feel I'm home! I loved it." Nigel couldn't tell who was better in this routine, but said the "girls stole the show" overall this evening.
All four finalists also had a chance to solo, and while they were all amazing, this really was Fik-Shun's time to shine. Fik-Shun is always at his best when he solos, and this week, horse-dancing and rump-shaking to "Gangnam Style," he was a hoot and a half. Nigel called him the best performer of the season. Will this PSY solo be what gives him the edge over Aaron? Aaron brought a lot of personality to his own (more serious) solo, so we will see.
So now, it is prediction time. If I HAVE to guess, I think the female co-winner will be Jasmine, and the male co-winner will be Aaron (the only contestant in this final four who was never up for elimination all season). But I wouldn't recommend that any of you out there bet serious money, or even casually participate in your office pool, based on my predictions. As I noted before, this one's going to be close. We may as well just pull the winners' names out of Cat's hat.
Tune in next Tuesday to see who prevails…and to see a supersized panel of judges pick their favorite routines of the season! (That other Mark Kanemura jazz routine better be reprised; just sayin'.) See you then, and cue music.
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