So You Think You Can Dance Season 8 was one of the best seasons to date including the eight Emmy nominated Season 7.
The Top 4 finalists: Melanie Moore, Marko Germar, Sasha Mallory and Tadd Gadduang were loaded with charisma. Regardless of their talent and experience all the finalists struggled through unusual selections of dance styles. To put it bluntly some of the dance genres were lame. Also an unfortunate pronouncement by executive producer Nigel Lythgoe may have a backlash. He shared the girls would win the season and basically dismissed the exhausted boys after their final routine. The fans can be unpredictable and vote for the underdog rather than the presumed winner, but still all bets are on Melanie and Sasha.
The poor style choices left the fans disappointed with half the numbers. Also it was clear having the All-Stars as the finalists’ partners was the better way to go. The All-Stars elevated the routines and moved the show away from any “Dancing with the Stars” comparisons. Another “oh no they didn’t” was the introduction of a new dance style: Gumboot Stepping choreographed by Chuck Maldonado to “B.O.B.” It hurt Marko and Tadd rather than excite the audience as they struggled with the style mostly out of sync throughout the routine.
The ultimate dance style irony came with the first routine “I Feel Love.” A disco number by Doriana Sanchez proved to be the usual fast paced gaudy mess. Many fans have been complaining about disco for years wanting it removed from the competition. They must have grabbed their chests when it opened the show. If disco is allowed then perhaps Nigel Lythgoe should bring back the Texas Two-Step and the Russian Folk Dancing Jeanine Mason and Phillip Chbeeb made famous during SYTYCD Season 5.
However if disco were kept in the competition, most fans would rather see it as an unfortunate draw during the Top 20, but not in the finale. Melanie Moore and Marko tried their best with the polyester, smiles, lifts and flashing lights, but it failed to wow. In fact it temporarily gave modern dancer Sasha Mallory the lead when she drew choreographer Sonya Tayeh.
Sonya’s “Raise Your Weapon” with Sasha and All-Star Mark Kanemura from Season 4 was hard-hitting. Mark is an even better dancer after touring with Lady Gaga as her principal dancer (besides fans love his bare chest). Sasha gave it her all. The judges were relieved and commented positively and passed Melanie’s dance tiara to the “Little Warrior Princess.” Now fans wanted to see her top the Tyce Diorio “Wall” routine.
Next up was Tadd Gadduang and All-Star Joshua Allen delivering choreographer Lil’ C’s hip hop “Hustle Hard.” It was semi buck; only the most buck was Joshua Allen. Dallas fans were happy to see him again and were reminded why he bested Twitch during his winning Season 4. However Tadd’s dancing was good and his star quality glistened through his sweat. His routine was more successful than the earlier disco number Marko and Melanie fought through. Dallas fans in the viewing room wondered if there would be a Melanie Moore upset.
Melanie fired back with a beautiful Stacey Tookey number “Sacrifice” with All-Star Robert Roldan. Graceful, emotional, delicate yet powerful she showed the reason why she has been the fan favorite all season. Judge Kenny Ortega shared he was considering her for the lead role in his “Dirty Dancing” remake. Melanie was back on top.
Sasha and Marko hit the floor with Broadway number by Spencer Liff. It was a charming piece, but not up to the promise of a finale. Judge Nigel Lythgoe was disappointed. “Didn’t knock me out, I’m afraid.” Honestly most of the night the fans felt the same way. Sadly this led up to Sasha and Tadd doing a Mark Ballas choreographed Cha Cha. Tadd does not help Sasha in this piece and fans were longing for All-Star ballroom Pasha from Season 3. Tadd reminded viewers of “Dancing with the Stars” where the weaker dancer poses while the female dancer does most of the work.
Fortunately Marko drew Season 7 winner Lauren Froderman and Tessandra Chavez as the choreographer. This was a lovely piece with music and the routine gave Marko a needed boost. Tadd and Melanie danced a hot and witty Ray Leeper piece that gave both of them a step up. For Tadd it was a moment of redemption. Melanie’s disco number became a distant memory.
One of the most interesting routines of the evening was Stacey Tookey’s housewife piece with Sasha and Melanie. Both female dancers were professional and it was heartfelt. The 50s styled set, clothing and white picket fences imparted the trapped feelings of an era where women were left with few options. Smartly left as a final image, it gave the girls a much stronger finish. Marko and Tadd had to contend with the difficult polyrhythms and body articulation of Gumboot Stepping while the girls were in their comfort zone and familiar dance language.
All in all SYTYCD Season 8 was very successful. Many Emmy worthy dances were created. But what was crystal clear is the need to bring back the Top 10 All-Star partnerships without pairing the contestants. Also select stronger dance genres for the finale that will work better with the contestants.
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