Witney and Cole go homeThis Wednesday was yet another sad "So You Think You Can Dance" night when the shocking difference between "America's favorite dancer" and America's best dancer was made abundantly clear. Remember when Russell Ferguson beat Jakob Karr in the Season 6 finale? Or when Twitch Boss edged out Katee Shean in Season 4? Yeah, it was sort of like that.
Let's just cut to the chase here: This week, this season's token untrained street dancer with a heart of gold, ever-polarizing popper Cyrus "Glitch" Spencer, remained in the competition, while the arguably more deserving Cole Horibe (the martial-arts master who was my personal favorite male dancer of Season 9) was sent home. This should not have happened.
It would have been interesting to see what might have gone down if the judges had had a chance to save either Cyrus or Cole, this week's bottom two male dancers. I have a hunch that they would have told Cyrus (who had never been in the bottom before) that he'd had a good long run, but it was time for him to go. However, with the final four showdown only a week away, the judges no longer had any say, and the results rested solely in America's hands. And America chose Glitch.
Perhaps it was not too surprising that Cyrus prevailed: The man IS entertaining and talented, and with his vivacious personality, fantastic attitude, and willingness to learn and grow, it's easy to see why he's a fan favorite. It was perhaps more surprising that the other boy who snagged a spot in the final four was Chehon Wespi-Tschopp. A flawless, classically trained technician whose subdued (some might even say cold) demeanor has caused him to have difficulty connecting with viewers and has landed him in the bottom multiple times, Chehon is basically the Danny Tidwell of Season 9, and he couldn't possibly be more different from Cyrus. When Cyrus and Chehon square off next week, it'll be a total battle of opposites.
I just thought that Cole combined the best of both Cyrus and Chehon--likable personality AND fantastic technique--into one high-kicking, butt-kicking package. I thought he was the one who could win it all. I mean, come on...before he got eliminated this Wednesday, he danced an amazing Sonya Tayeh allstar jazz routine, during which he managed to keep up with Season 8 champion Melanie Moore. Is this not the performance of a champion or what?:
Sigh. Anyway, as for the girls' elimination, that result--Witney Carson--was much less shocking. It didn't bode well for ballroom bombshell Witney that she'd be up for elimination multiple times, or that even ballroom expert Mary Murphy tended to accidentally call her "Lindsay," the name of her lookalike ballroom-competition-circuit friend who was cut from the show last week. Lindsay and Witney always seemed to cancel each other out, but they went further than most ballroom dancers ever get on "SYTYCD," so that's something. And Witney definitely went out with a bang this week, brilliantly dancing with last season's Marko Germar and once again proving her beyond-ballroom versatility.
So let's get past the ranting and on to the actual recapping, shall we? Each contestant danced two routines this week--one with an allstar (including the fabulous Cole/Melanie and Witney/Marko numbers above), and one with a fellow contestant. Here's how the remaining four did...
DANCES WITH ALLSTARS:
Tiffany Maher with allstar Benji Schwimmer - Jive
Benji was back! The lovable and Energizer-Bunny-like Season 2 winner had never been an allstar before, and his return to the "SYTYCD" stage almost seven years after his victory was a truly special occasion. Tiffany had her work cut out for her matching Benji's boundless energy in this wildly fun Jean-Marc Genereux routine, but she made it look easy. My only concern was how Tiffany was going to have enough stamina left for the rest of the two-hour show! These two were a perfect match, and this number was a fabulous opening to the episode, earning a standing ovation from all three judges. "The energy that was generated there just lifted this entire audience. For Tiffany to manage to keep up with Benji tonight was remarkable," said Nigel Lythgoe. "You guys were kicking your little patooties off! Tiffany, if you ever wanted to enter a swing championship, you'd be right up there with Benji," said Mary Murphy. And guest judge Christina Applegate, who actually takes dance classes with Benji, said, "This wasn't like, 'the swing dancer' and 'the contemporary dancer,' it was just two great performers."
Eliana Girard with allstar Twitch Boss - Hip-Hop
This playful, retro routine wasn't very hard-hitting (it was the typical hip-hop-lite that choreographer Christopher Scott often brings to "SYTYCD"), and its simplicity didn't really allow the phenomenal Eliana to show the full range of her talent. But it was a great showcase for her huge personality alongside personality-plus Twitch--and as I've pointed out before, in this popularity contest, personality is as important as, or even more important than, technique. I enjoyed it, and so did two of the judges. "Would Jay-Z hire you? Maybe not, but who cares? You could do 'YMCA' in front of me for hours and I'd be happy," said Christina (explaining that her "YMCA" comment was the "SYTYCD" equivalent of "American Idol's" frequently used "you can sing the phone book"). "You seem to be able to do anything. You're a chameleon. Whatever you do, you do it on point," said Mary. Only Nigel was unimpressed, griping that he "felt this routine relied a little too much on the comedy and the character...It felt like cheap burger to me, very little meat."
Chehon Wespi-Tschopp with allstar Kathryn McCormick - Contemporary
This powerful and stunning Tyce Diorio routine, about getting through tragedy and starting over, really showed just how much Chehon has grown in this competition. There was a time when I never thought I'd ever see this sort of raw emotion from Chehon, who was always so stiff and composed and controlled. This dance was a massive breakthrough for him--that "silent scream" was just a pure goosebumps-upon-goosebumps moment. "What an incredibly emotional routine. To capture emotion in the art of dance is when it really affects you," marveled Nigel. A choked-up Mary said, "One of the best things about my job is I get to sit here and witness magical moments in someone's dance career, and I feel that for both of you. It was an honor."
Cyrus "Glitch" Spencer with allstar Comfort Fedoke - Dubstep
Considering that Cyrus is a hip-hop dancer by trade, I expected this Christopher Scott routine to be better. But the fact of the matter is, Cyrus is a freestyler with very little experience following structured choreography, something that's crucial for any aspiring professional dancer or "SYTYCD" winner. Cyrus gave this a good effort, and the routine picked up midway through when the music did, but much of the time, he seemed unsure, looking at his feet or at his more seasoned partner Comfort for guidance. But the judges, of course, once again went easy on Cyrus. Christina called him "fantastic" and blew him big air-kisses. "We know how good you are, Cyrus. America loves him, people!" declared a defensive Nigel. Mary joked that Cyrus was in his "Comfort zone" and howled, "We love you! You connect with us! There is something very special about you!" I agree, Cyrus is special, but for me, the Glitch magic only really happens when he solos.
DANCES WITH FELLOW CONTESTANTS:
Chehon Wespi-Tschopp & Witney Carson - Cha Cha
This original couple reunited and danced together one last time, before Witney went home about a half-hour later. Witney, however, was the one in her element during this Jean-Marc Genereux number, while Chehon struggled, as he often has during Latin routines. "I thought this was a big improvement over the samba, but still, the Latin dancing is not sitting well on you," sighed Mary, before accidentally, embarrassingly calling Witney "Lindsay" one final time. Nigel said he wanted more hip action, complaining that Jean-Marc had choreographed too many lifts in the routine for Chehon's benefit. It's true that Chehon just doesn't have the feisty fire that the Latin genre really requires, but I think he did fine here, and he wasn't as off as the judges claimed.
Eliana Girard & Cole Horibe - Contemporary
At least Cole, one of the few contestants who didn't disappoint during this season's ill-advised Mia Michaels tribute week, got to do one last stunning Mia routine before he was sent home. And the physically demanding number, inspired by rams in combat, definitely allowed him to showcase his martial-arts-warrior background. However, Eliana--the girl I'd like to see win Season 9--was just as revelatory. Everything she wasn't able to show earlier, in her cutesy hip-hop-lite dance, she put on full display in this potentially Emmy-worthy routine. "Eliana, you see now why I like you DANCING!" pointed out Nigel. Mary called this performance "absolutely mesmerizing." And Christina raved, "Eliana, there's like light coming out of your feet. You are the perfect dancer for anyone to see."
Tiffany Maher & Cyrus "Glitch" Spencer - Broadway
This sassy Spencer Liff number, about a naughty 1950s teen couple, definitely worked well with Cyrus's fun personality, but he wasn't quite convincingly sexy. Sexy is just not Cyrus's thing. Tiffany, however, was a little spitfire, giving off a total Ann-Margret vibe, and I was shocked that Mary didn't hand her a first-class Hot Tamale Train ticket after this. "Thank God I have two sons, because if I had a daughter I would never let her come on this show," laughed Nigel. Nigel praised Tiffany's "girl-next-door" appeal, and Mary declared this routine "the cutest number ever!!!!" and called Tiffany a "superstar"--but Cyrus received praise too, with Christina telling him, "You just keep up with the best of them!" and Nigel saying, "Cyrus, you have been such an inspiration for so many people...Wasn't it worth it? It's been an incredible trip for you." Nigel's little speech almost seemed like a fond farewell, and I assumed he was cushioning the blow for the bad news Cat Deeley was about to tell Cyrus. But, as you know by now, I was wrong.
So now we know our top four: Eliana, Tiffany, Cyrus, and Chehon. One boy and one girl will be named co-champions this season, but who will it be? Eliana and Tiffany are pretty evenly matched, as both have great technical prowess and likable personalities; I'd like Eliana to prevail, but with Tiffany being the one who's never been up for elimination so far, she seems to have the edge. As for Cyrus versus Chehon, Cyrus seems unstoppable at this point, but it's possible that disgruntled Cole fans' votes will now go to Chehon, giving him an advantage in the final stretch.
But what is interesting is that there was NO voting this week, in what was yet another confusing twist in a season filled with odd format changes and momentum-killing hiatuses. And because there was no voting, that means no one will be eliminated next Tuesday. (Yes, next week's episode is on a Tuesday, just to confuse you more.) So this week's episode was more like an exhibition. It's next week's top four show that will determine which two dancers will be crowned on September 18, so really, it's still anybody's game.
But, let's face it, it's probably going to be Cyrus's game...
- Chehon & Cyrus perform at the Dizzy Feet Gala
- Benji Schwimmer comes out in emotional interview
- More on "So You Think You Can Dance"