So You Think You Can Dance Recap: Who Should Win the Season 11 Title?

so-you-think-you-can-dance-sytycd-recap-season-11-top-4

You don’t have to go to The Louvre or The Guggenheim to see incredible art — at least not from May to August. And at least not as long as Fox doesn’t enter the 2015 Emmy race for Outstanding Boneheadedness in Scheduling by pulling the plug on the life-affirming, visually thrilling and utterly sublime So You Think You Can Dance.

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Among other things, tonight’s Season 11 performance finale allowed a pair of gorgeous contemporary dancers to sprout wings, take flight and possibly/maybe save some lives in the process; brought to life an intense relationship drama that will probably be optioned as a big-screen project before Labor Day by Kate Winslet; and (in the opening group routine) movingly celebrated the plight of gay and lesbian couples who paved the way for the legalization of same-sex marriage in 19 states (and counting).

Plus: ‘Da noise and ‘da funk — as Savion Glover might say — were brought by a trio of tenacious tappers.

With that massively hyperbolic wind-up, let’s get right into a discussion of tonight’s routines — then let you vote for your faves in our poll:

Dance of the Night
Ricky and All-Star Kathryn (Contemporary, Stacey Tookey)
I didn’t share Nigel’s literal “saved from suicide” interpretation of this routine, but given the subjectivity of dance, I won’t quibble with it, either. Yet whether saw a man avoid taking his own life or one who was being rescued from addiction or anxiety or a place of utter isolation, what’s inarguable was the insane quality of Ricky’s movement. From his backwards crawl-slide (I’m sure that’s a technical term) to the way he and Kathryn both seemed to take flight on their leaps, I found utterly swept up in the steps, verging on tears. Watching Ricky step into the light and get his “wings” — and then develop a mean case of the ugly-cry lip-quivers during judging reinforced the opinion I formed right from his audition: Ricky is our Season 11 champ.

Dance of the Night (Co-Runner-Up)
Jessica and Ricky (Jazz, Ray Leeper)
There was such brute strength and smoldering tension in this routine that I found myself scribbling down the term “sexual robotics” in my notes. The demanding choreography, the stark costuming and the soaring voice of Mary J. Blige all conspired to make this routine a standout, but I didn’t put down my credit card and yell “Sold!” until Jessica and Ricky brought it to life with flawless synchronization and a bit of wicked inner glee. In a season where sexy has been in short-ish supply, this one definitely didn’t disappoint.

Dance of the Night (Co-Runner-Up)
Jessica and All-Star Robert (Contemporary, Travis Wall)
The near violence of this dance about a woman realizing her partner won’t really miss her when she’s gone — apologies if that gets “Cups” stuck in your head — was jarring, but at the same time completely effective. I loved that Travis’ routine stamped out any hint of smiling pageant girl in Jessica’s demeanor — allowing her to explore darker themes in a believable way. Better still, as Nigel pointed out, was the way Jessica subtly shifted from desperate to disgusted following Robert’s choke-hold move. Her final move of discarding the ne’er-do-well lover was like a twist of lemon — stingingly bitter, overpowering and delish.

Most Forgettable
Jessica and Zack (Broadway, Spencer Liff)
Dear SYTYCD, Can you please widen your repertoire of Broadway choreographers beyond Spencer, who seems incapable of tapping into a deep emotion or pushing the boundaries of his genre? That said, while Jessica’s opening “Angelina leg” was a thrill, she never quite matched the sensuality of her Jessica Rabbit gown. And Zack, for his part, faded into the background a bit — except for that pirouette-drop-leap and the wrap-around lift he executed on the stairs.

Second Most Forgettable
Jessica and Valerie (Bollywood, Nakul Dev Mahajan)
Yeah, it was pretty — but the gals’ hand gestures often struck me as too flail-y, and it wound up feeling like a routine with which Jessica and Valerie were trying to survive, rather than transcend.

Biggest Gap in Execution
Valerie and Ricky (African Jazz, Sean Cheesman)
The judges were all “Gush, positive, luvvv, yay!” But surely they noticed how Ricky punctuated every move and extended every reach twice as far as his partner, no? Which isn’t to say Valerie’s not very good, it’s just that Ricky is, well, grrreat.

Most Unexpectedly Moving
Zack and All-Star Aaron (Tap, Anthony Morigerto)
A bartender and patron connect via tap dance to the strains of Billy Joel’s “Piano Man”? Srsly? But what looked on paper to be cheesier than a package of Kraft singles turned out to be a sweet, meditative conversation — told entirely in scuffed and stomped rhythms — that proved Zach’s emotional versatility and Aaron’s ridiculous personal magnetism. (Why hasn’t Fox signed that cat and Jasmine Harper for a rom-com pilot yet? #fromtheofficeofgreatideas!)

Best Acting
Valerie and Zack (Contemporary, Tyce Diorio)
If Valerie hadn’t taken the stage using a cane, I might’ve debated whether her character was supposed to be blind or a marionette. Still, the joy of her and Zack’s romantic awakening, the way their bodies reacted to each other through touch instead of sight, brought great beauty to the sometimes stilted movements of this tricky routine.

Most Surprising
Ricky and Zack (Hip Hop, Pharside and Phoenix)
Holy hell, the final two guys got down and drrrty (three Rs, hold the I) in this entertaining card fight between the King of Diamonds and the King of Spades. Pharside and Phoenix put the fellas through so many grueling moves — especially that moment of Zack drawing up Ricky to stand on his stomach, and of Ricky bobbing Zack’s head into his groin — that I came thisclose to naming it Dance of the Night. Unfortunately, though, both contestants’ isolations and hand work struck me as a half-step too sloppy, leaving it with my own personal ranking at No. 4 for the night.

Routine I’m Still Not Certain About
Valerie and All-Star Aaron (Tap, Anthony Morigerto)
Can we pause to swoon over Aaron in a brown suit and hat? [Siiiiigggghhhhhhhhhhhhhh.] But while Valerie proved an cute old-timey love interest, stomping her feet and giving Aaron the business, I’m not sure her quality of movement was enough to earn her the Season 11 crown or that she really brought me into the world she was supposed to be creating. Or maybe I was too busy paying attention to Aaron (aka one of the most charismatic fellas ever to grace the SYTYCD stage.) In the end, sometimes nice girls finish fourth, and there are certainly worse fates that that, yes?

Will Win: Ricky
Should Win: Ricky (that SOLO!)

What did you think of the SYTYCD performance finale? Which were your favorite routines? Who deserves to win? Take our polls below, then sound off in the comments!


Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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110 Comments
  1. LADY_in_MD says:

    Wow what a great finale!u favorite routines had either Zack or Ricky in them and in one case both!
    I really think overall Zack has been amazing all season no matter what he gets he tackles is and you wouldn’t even know that wasn’t what he is trained in
    Ricky is well Ricky he makes every dance look effortless
    I hope one of the guys wins I have loved Jessica a lot too all season but based on tonight one of the guys will win
    :-)

    • My Alter Ego says:

      I’m with you. Ricky is just superb, no matter how some of the choreography “may have been ‘dumbed down’ ” (and I’m not completely convinced of that).

      But I also appreciate Zach’s “spunk.” He’s just met every challenge with an attitude that is inspiring!

      In truth, I adore the both of them.

    • PIMB says:

      Poor Valerie looked like Ethel Mertz in the tap number. Too much contemporary. Ricky’s bottom half is much better than his top half. Some girl might have danced with Robert. Go BUCKEYES!!!

      • Mike C. says:

        I couldn’t agree more! Valerie’s costuming in that number was horrid. She looked 60. And I’m sorry, but I thought every routine, with the exception of the boys’ hip-hop number, was wildly overpraised. (And there needed to be some institutional memory here from Nigel and Mary, who completely blanked on Travis and Benji killing a very similar hip-hop routine in Season 2.) The girls were completely out of sync in the Bollywood piece. The African jazz piece looked like every other African jazz piece ever done on this show. WAY too much contemporary. Not ONE ballroom number. And I don’t care what anyone says, the “Valerie is blind” number was cheeseball central. C’mon, people–this show has gotten predictable and dull.

      • Mona Cattanach says:

        So true! While I think vintage was the intended effect, it just didn’t work and the hat was really not good. Surely there were cuter styles in the 40’s 50’s to choose from!

      • Sara says:

        Yeah, I don’t know what the costume department was thinking in terms of Valerie’s tap costume. They couldn’t have found something better to match her shoes? They knew she would be wearing those red shoes.

      • Rain388 says:

        “Some girl might have danced with Robert” My favorite comment ever and exactly how I felt! I haven’t liked most of this season, but seen Robert in that dance made the whole season worthwhile for me!!

  2. Marta says:

    The only statisfying end to this season will be a Ricky win. He has outshined and be consistently stunning throughout the season. One of the best male contemporary dancers they have ever had.

    • Zayne says:

      I just never got a wow moment from Ricky all season. The way I described it to people is that I don’t remember seeing anything, from anyone, this season that would make it into the new opening credits for season 12. I feel like Zack was more engaging overall than Ricky. I was a huge fan of Ricky in the beginning because his solos are incredible but I just have never really seen that kind of emotion and passion come from him when dancing someone else’s choreography.

      I know Ricky will probably win and that’s fine. He’s an incredible dancer. I just wish someone with as much passion and drive as Zack would be rewarded for the amazing amount of entertainment he’s delivered this year. I think Ricky would’ve gotten jobs thrown at him afterwards even if he’d gone out at the beginning of the top 10. I hope Zack gets similar opportunities if he doesn’t win the title.

      • Em says:

        Ricky dances with just as much passion as Zack does. Did you not see Ricky in tears after his routine with Kathryn? To me that does not sound like a person with no passion for dance.

      • writerchick says:

        I agree, I’m totally on the Zack train. Let’s face it, the judges have been crowning Ricky all season – not one word of criticism to him at all. Zack, a tapper no less, has shown growth, humility, personality and I think a real love for dancing. Like he was born with those tap shoes on. I’m pulling for him, even though it seems like Ricky has it in the bag. That being said, I think they’re all great dancers and that they have great careers ahead of them.

        • Kate Young says:

          Not Ricky’s fault they pimped him and he is just an amazing dancer. I have nothing against Zack and I am really happy he made it to the finale, but no one dances the way Ricky does.

      • maria gorman says:

        THANK YOU, finally someone else that feels the same as I do about Ricky. never a wow moment, always the same stuff.

        • rwgunn says:

          The only problem that Ricky had is that he works so hard on his routines that he consitstantly makes them look effortless. Many people seem to feel the need to see the effort to consider it actual work. Others can recognize how much talent and determination it takes to make the effort transparant.

        • SDLA says:

          The dancers are only as good as the choreography. Sonya Tayeh and Mia Michaels were sorely missed this season.

  3. Cori says:

    Before tonight I wasn’t sure if I wanted Ricky or Valerie to win. After tonight, I’m definitely pulling for Ricky.

  4. Elena says:

    Ricky is truly an amazing dancer (the solo was gravity-defying levels of insane), but honestly I would be completely ok with Zack winning it all. Ricky started out at a spectacular level and has maintained that throughout, but I have been equally impressed with Zack’s ability to adapt to other dance styles and his growth arc during this season. Their hip hop tonight was the definite highlight for me, and I would be thrilled with either of them winning.

    Also, so glad Aaron was back tonight! He is such an incredible tapper! I’ve been waiting all season for them to bring him back.

  5. Aki says:

    I understand why Ricky is so well loved, but I think Zack deserves this win. He went from flying under the radar to absolutely standing head and shoulders above the rest of the competition, with only Ricky to beat. And their hip-hop routine tonight was all out incredible, and Zack and Aaron were like a modern day Cary Grant and Donald O’Connor (in fact, I’d kill to watch the two of them recreate Moses Supposes, cliche as that may sound). Ricky may be the favorite, but I root for underdogs and I’m hoping Zack pulls a win out in the end, because Ricky may be good, but Zack has something really special that I think would work on Broadway really well. And hopefully, regardless of whether he wins or not, he’ll have a really successful career of dance.

    • My Alter Ego says:

      Aki, what a great idea! I, too, would love watching Aaron and Zach re-create the
      “Moses supposes” routine with their additions. That could be so amazing!

    • Alan Becker says:

      You got one of the 2 dancers who performed Moses supposes routine, Donald O’Connor. The other dancer was the brilliant Gene Kelly.

    • GTS says:

      He should be rewarded because he started out bad, or at least unnoticeable, then improved to be as good as Ricky, who has superb the entire season? I agree that he would do better on Broadway, but I want Ricky to have the money.

  6. analythinker says:

    Who should win? Ricky, of course. But I voted for Zack, no matter how nonsensical that is.

    • Carrie says:

      I hovered but, Ricky had me from day one and loyalty won. I have to say, tonight – total draw and if zack wins I won’t be disappointed. Ricky will have a great career regardless and Zack has been remarkable to watch and deserves it – I love in NY and will go see the show on Broadway to see either of these two perform!

    • Mona Cattanach says:

      I don’t think it’s nonsensical at all. Ricky is extremely talented, but last week I was pulling for Valerie, and this week Zack surpassed them all in my mind with his growth and his amazing performances tonight, so he got all my votes tonight!

      • analythinker says:

        I mean nonsensical because of the sentence preceding it. If I say Ricky should win, logic would tell me to vote for him, but I did not, so it’s not making sense, lol.

        But Zack really really impressed me this season. If Ricky doesn’t win, he’s still guaranteed to have a good career in dance. Zack, hopefully is too, but maybe not as certain.

    • Amy L says:

      Not non-sensical I would be happy with a Zack win! I would be shocked if a guy doesn’t win this year.

      • analythinker says:

        I would be shocked if Valerie wins, but I have to commend her for her efforts this season. While Jessica may be the better dancer, I feel like I’m always getting the same from her and the genres she was in almost looked the same to me. Maybe it’s her facial expression, I don’t know. And while Valerie seemed a little awkward and stiff in some of her movements, she did a great job in every (much varied) routine she was given.

  7. Kate says:

    I love Ricky. He’s a great dancer and I love that you can tell how much it means to him. Someone should have stopped Nigel’s suicide rambling. For one they said it was about hitting rock bottom so Nigel really read into that being a message about suicide, but two not an appropriate time to be giving his social commentary during the dancers critique. I thought it was also rude that he circled back to it during Zacks time so he could clarify his Lennon quote.

    • David4 says:

      Yeah it was very odd. If I wanted rambling useless badly worded social commentary I’d o watch Glee.

      • McFudge says:

        Not that odd. This is Nigel we’re talking about. Haven’t you realized by now that it’s all about him? If he name drops one more time I’m going to puke. Awesome, Nigel. You know/have met [fill in the blank with random celebrity]. Guess what? I. Don’t. Care. Focus! This is about the dancers!

    • GTS says:

      He seemed a little mean about it, too. He kept calling suicide stupid. While it may be, I thought he said it in the wrong tone and focused on how it was just “stupid” too much, instead of focusing on how you can get help and that someone is there for you. It just rubbed me the wrong way.

      • David4 says:

        I agree. If the dance was 100% about losing someone to suicide then it would make sense, but then he called it stupid and that’s just wrong. I don’t get why we attack people when they kill themselves when they have depression. We don’t attack people who decide to stop fighting cancer, and stop the chemo. It disgust me.

        • Temperance says:

          Agreed. Frankly, the extraordinarily level of self-involvement of people that have such disdain is evident. It’s never really about the person that committed suicide and their situation or feelings, but the issues personal (usually guilt) of the complainant (and that’s pretty nauseating).

    • The Beach says:

      I cringe every time Nigel starts in on one of his social commentary moments. They are always badly phrased, awkward and often even rude. Also, hey Nigel, you’re not funny, okay? Please stop trying to be as it always falls flat.

    • Kate Young says:

      Nigel always talks too much.

  8. Chang says:

    Ricky has touched me the most with his incredible dancing this season. His first Top 20 routine with Jessica and tonight’s with Kathryn have been other-wordly. His solos are breathtakingly stunning. And I think he adapted to every style he’s been given the best out of everyone.

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  10. DreamRose311 says:

    I’d say the biggest gap was during Zack and Jessica’s routine, which I feel was not at all forgettable on Zack’s part. I definitely think it should be Zack or Ricky but picking between them is about impossible for me at this point.

  11. Ash says:

    Ricky had me from the beginning but zach snuck up on me and made me fall in love I adore him and he has grown so much so I voted for him

  12. David4 says:

    If the show is canceled, which is likely, this is how to go up on top. The show was amazing. I normally have favorites (Ricky) and people I don’t think should be in the top. One of the four will win (hopefully Ricky) and no matter who it is I’ll be happy because they are all amazing!

  13. kevin says:

    Zack may have grown , but Ricky has been great since the very beginning. In their Hip-Hop routine, Ricky’s leaps were spectacular. Although, I won’t be at all disappointed with a Zack win. Ricky looks much better without that damn beard. His face is too small for that. Sorry, I had to say it.

  14. Babybop says:

    Ricky should win, no doubt. He’s the best dancer and he obviously really loves doing it. But I admit that the only routines that didn’t bore me tonight were the tap routines (which were both spectacular). Everything was Jazz and Contemporary… and I’m just starting to get bored with those styles. All the dances are beginning to look the same to me.

    • Denise says:

      I agree. After a while, with a few exceptions, all the contemporary and jazz routines started running together. They end up seeming like variations of the same dance. Emotionally fraught, dim lighting, similar movements.

  15. Lana says:

    Last year Aaron was my favorite so it was such a treat to see him again. This year Zach is my favorite so I am seeing a trend. What can I say I love me some tap, but Zach has been soo great in every type of dance that he has gone beyond tap and I am very proud of him. Plus his eyes are killer. I know Ricky will win because that is where all the hype has been, but Zach does deserve it too. Well to be honest I was impressed with all four dancers tonight and I will not be disappointed no matter who wins. I will admit that Ricky is a very beautiful dancer, but Zach was more believable in the different stories his dances were telling. Ricky does not really know how to act and that is part of the dancing, I was very impressed with how well Valerie danced as the blind girl, it was very believable and that was better than any kind of emoting Jessica or Ricky ever did. Sytycd is my favorite show on TV and I will be devastated if Fox cancels, but Fox has never impressed me with their choices on what shows to keep so I worry.

    • Temperance says:

      The blind dance didn’t do a thing for me, and I’m a Valerie fan. Ricky out emoted the rest of the cast, even if we just watched his feet. Jessica is great.

  16. Mona Cattanach says:

    OK, I’m ready to be booed off the list, but I just have to say this. Yes Jessica has technique and she is a beautiful girl, but for me I just don’t feel any connection when she dances. I feel like she isn’t really connected to the piece, like she is just doing the moves she’s been given and even her facial expressions and emotions seem to have been assigned with the steps.
    She did seem to be trying to appear more relatable during her critiques tonight. I always wonder if the dancers follow the blogs, or if their friends and families do and advise them on what the public is thinking. I couldn’t help but wonder if tonight’s marginal thawing of the ice queen was in response to a lot of comments around the internet last week about how her dad came off in his comments.
    Or maybe she was just really happy about her continuing amazing luck in dance style assignments. I get it was the finale and the producers want to end on a strong note so assign everyone their own style so they can shine. But wait, not everyone got their own style. Ricky and Jessica got jazz, hum isn’t that Jessica’s style and fairly closely related to contemporary, Ricky’s style.
    So that must mean when Zack and Valerie were paired they would get tap or something closely related, right. What’s that, they got contemporary-which by the way I thought they nailed-yeah that’s sort of like tap, not!
    And I’m sure this was based solely on proper pacing of the show, but who once again had the last spot in the all star dance, oh yeah, Jessica. This girl should buy a lottery ticket or head to Vegas with her luck!
    Now that the Jessica rant is over, I did enjoy the dancing tonight. Zack and Ricky rocked that hip hop, Ricky and Katherine were wonderful , I did think Ricky slightly out danced Valerie in the afro jazz and Zack was magical in the Broadway number.
    I enjoyed both tap numbers and it was great to see Aaron back, it was also nice to see Valerie and Zack more or less back to back. While they are both great tappers, Zack has a level of polish and fluidity that Valerie hasn’t quite matched yet, Though I’m sure it’s only a matter of time until she will.
    Valerie got my votes last week and I thought I was rooting for her, but Zack just really turned it on this week and he got my votes tonight. For me his growth won out over Ricky who came into the competition amazing.
    I would really love to see Zack take the prize but Valerie or Ricky would also be worthy winners in my humble opinion.

    • Carla Krae says:

      The dancers got their own styles for their dances with the All-Stars. Everything else was the normal mix of what they could pull.

    • The Costume Department says:

      No boos here. Jessica is clearly technically wonderful, but I’m with you – no connection. Zack is our favorite. He is ridiculously talented. When he dances we completely forget he looks like a slightly awkward high school boy.

      Was great to see Aaron again.

      And what were we thinking with the playing card motif on the hip hop number? Maybe we were hoping they could reuse them for bowling?

    • Amy L says:

      I agree I don’t connect with Jessica at all. I just don’t get all the praise I thought Bridget or Carly were far better female dancers. My mom also pointed out that during the opening credits Jessica was by herself while the other three were excited and celebrating together. Maybe she rubs them the wrong way too?

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  19. Alan Becker says:

    Jessica had a different partner every week and had to overcome that lack of chemistry and familiarity and she did it brilliantly. Ricky is great but he and Valerie were together all season and were fortunate with the choreographers they got to work with. Jessica grew so much emotionally and was able to project what here characters were feeling by her facial expressions, body movement ( the kiss) and sound (Christina Applegate commented several time about her breathing described the character she was portraying). She should be the winner!!

  20. Carla Krae says:

    Can production please make sure that fans don’t shrieking whistle the whole night long ever, ever again? I had to mute the TV over and over because my ears were about to start bleeding. And that person kept drowning out Cat. So rude!

    • McFudge says:

      Can I hear an “Amen”!

    • phyllis says:

      I think the producers think we’re too stupid at home to know what’s good, so they hype up The Screechers. These past 2 weeks it’s been better – earlier in the season it was like a cattle prod in the ear it was so distracting. I wonder how the dancers feel when they’re in a tender moment, and The Screechers let loose. Make. Them. Stop.

  21. I.R.E. says:

    I agree about letting Ricky win, but the runner-up should be Zack, IMO.

    I agree that Jessica should end up in fourth, but Valerie will end up like Katee Shean at third place and also get half amount of money of Ricky’s winning amount, IMO.

  22. McFudge says:

    Here’s the thing. First off, while I think they are all very good, the boys are better than the girls. Sorry, ladies.

    The tappers have spent their entire dance lives concentrating on a style of dance that is so technical and difficult that non-tappers aren’t even asked to attempt it on the show. The tappers, however, are expected to do everything but what they do best. Zack is clearly the better of the two tappers left, and was not outshone by Aaron in their dance (which gets my “favorite of the night vote). So while Ricky is an amazing contemporary dancer, the gap between Zack’s area of expertise and what he’s had to do on the show is greater than the gap between Ricky’s area of expertise and what he’s had to do. And Zack has delivered. Add that to the fact that Ricky’s beard is utterly distracting and that he makes hand hearts (/shallow), and my votes went to Zack.

    • Mona Cattanach says:

      Very well stated!

    • Denise says:

      Exactly! While I gave slightly more votes to Ricky than to Zack, I completely agree with you.

    • Temperance says:

      To me, Zach is, by far, the best tapper they’ve ever had on SYTYCD. He’s miles better than Savion Glover. He’s also improved dramatically, and to a extremely high level. That said, there are very few people that we’ve ever seen on SYTYCD that meet the level Ricky is on (including anyone else on this, superior, season). Allison. Twitch. Robert. Katherine. Ricky. And he’s barely 18.

  23. juliebug04 says:

    Quite frankly, while there were some ridiculously good ‘stand out’ routines last night, I acutally liked them all, which is rare for me. There is usually one that I dislike, but they were all good in a unique way.

    MAN, was it good to see Aaron. *sigh* He is a gorgeous thing, but it was really interesting to see him individually with both Valerie and Zack–and he was different in both pieces. I so TOTALLY get JTF’s crush. I think Aaron is one of my favorite dancers ever on SYTYCD. He was so versatile, and while I adore Fikshun, I wanted Aaron to win last season with Amy. I liked the piece with Zack more than the one with Valerie. He and Zack are both incredibly versatile, and strong tappers–the transitions were awesome. Anthony used fantastic music for tap in both routines. I actually liked both Valerie’s and Zack’s solo performances too. They were fun and uniquely them. I think Valerie’s best of the night was the contemporary piece with Zack. It’s hard to pick Zack’s best–I’d probably pick the routine with Aaron, just because it showed his multifaceted personality. I think he and Ricky had the strongest performances of the night, with ease.

    I must say I was very impressed with the hip hop with Ricky and Zack–both the choregraphy and the performance. That was incredible. I also really liked Ray’s jazz piece this week for Ricky and Jessica–the music was great and their quality of movement was stellar.

    I love Kathryn and Robert–was so glad to seem them this week too. They both have this inner light and an ethereal quality. Even though Robert was playing an a**, he was brilliant, and I thought that was Jessica’s best performance of the night.

    Ricky, Ricky, Ricky…..I truly think he is one of the most technically gifted dancers I have ever seen. His solo was brilliant, the jazz with Jessica was fantastic, the hip hop was surprisingly awesome, but that contemporary with Kathryn was true poetry. I’m not sure I would necessarily define it like Nigel either, as just pertaining to someone on the brink of suicide, but you could certainly use that as one example of someone at ‘the brink’ and finding that person that can pull you back. Whether someone is dealing with addiction in any form, abuse, etc., that scenario is all too real to many, and that piece touched me and many others, I’m sure.

    All my votes went to Ricky this week. I believe he is the best dancer this season, and he is my favorite as well.

  24. jm says:

    Ricky wont win. Have it ever a Latin Constant won a reality show where people vote?
    Survivor doesnt count.

  25. JAO says:

    My goodness what great dancing. I sure enjoyed seeing Aaron & Robert again. I truly loved everything!

  26. greggadams says:

    Nigel seemed like something was seriously wrong with him. He was babbling on and on and making absolutely no sense. Having Kathryn on the show really pointed up how mediocre both of the girls are.

    • Amy L says:

      Amen! Kathryn is so much better than Jessica the “favorite girl” of the season. The boys are so much more talented. Loved having Kathryn back on stage.

  27. sarah j says:

    I loved this finale!
    I have a different opinion on the dances that are in this review. Normally we agree on most if not all. Not this week. LOL.
    This was probably the best finale in a long time.
    All the dancers did so great there was not one dance that was bad, some were phenomenal and some were great.
    I love Jesse Tyler Ferguson, he is super funny. He seems like a guy that would be fun to hang out with.
    So is Nigel going to get in trouble for his rant about suicide? We are all entitled to our own opinions but he is on live tv and I was a little shocked with all that he said.

    • juliebug04 says:

      I was a little shocked by what he said, too Sarah. I know many people that feel that way, however I was a little surprised to hear him go on and on about how ‘stupid’ suicide was. I remember him saying that he had lost two people close to him recently by suicide, and I think that was probably impotent anger talking–it’s much harder on people left behind to deal with their guilt for not realizing how bad that friend thought their issue was, the pain and grief for their loss, and the inability to comprehend a decision that was foreign to them. I think Stacey was a little shocked by his comments too.

      I’m not sure if he will get in trouble, per se, but I’m sure his twitter feed was going bonkers, so I’m sure he will have some choice words for some…. might be an interesting read today.

  28. The Costume Department says:

    We think Ricky will probably win, but man, the Broadway people must be drooling over Zack for On the Town. How perfect would he be?

  29. Amy L says:

    Zack and Ricky’s hip hop was HANDS DOWN the dance of the night… must disagree with you Mr. Slezak! I’ve already watched it three times thank God for DVR. I enjoyed everyone in the top 4 this year but I will be hugely disappointed if Ricky doesn’t win. Zack for runner-up! Also, am I the only one that thought Valerie outdanced Jessica during Bollywood?

    • Mona Cattanach says:

      I agree that Valerie outshone Jessica in Bollywood which is not surprising to me. Valerie is a wonderful dancer, but what really sets her apart for me is her warm personality that always shines through. As I’ve said, I just don’t connect with Jessica. She seems unable to project any personality other than I am beautiful, I am technical, not exactly what Bollywood demands.

  30. Ricky will win, and it’s deserved….he’s a brilliant dancer. But Zack is by far my favorite. And it’s something that’s grown on me week by week. He’s a good dancer, but it’s also his demeanor and his personality and his confidence. Nigel said after the hip-hop dance that no one would expect swag from Ricky or Zack, but I would disagree. In the last few weeks, when they’ve done solos, I feel like you put tap shoes on Zack and he oozes swag. He’s just happens to be pretty good at all of the other stuff too. All in all, this season is ending with four very deserving dancers, in my opinion. I wouldn’t feel it was unfair if any one of the four was crowned the winner.

  31. Juju says:

    Zack and Aaron’s tap number was just so full of joy in the execution, even as they told the story the music (and the choreographer) wanted them to tell. I could watch that on repeat all day. So, a) I miss Aaron although I’m so happy he got to come back as an all-star, and b) Zack really proved his place in the finale. I’m thinking he might be the one of the top 4 with job offers once this is over. He’s just so versatile.

    • sillyemmy says:

      totally with you on this. I smiled and smiled the first time through, then the subsequent 14 times I rewatched that routine. I described it to someone who hadn’t seen it yet as “sublime.” I think On the Town would be crazy not to hire Zack, with or without the win.

      • Alice says:

        I’m so glad both Aaron and Zack are getting so much love in the comments. They’re very similar in that they’re both charismatic tappers who are able to sell any style they’re given. I hope that choreographers recognize how talented they both are–they deserve any dancing jobs they are given!

    • Temperance says:

      It was great to be reminded of Aaron’s megawatt charisma. And that number was easily one of the best of the season, and probably the best tap routine I’ve ever seen. Spectacular.

  32. nicademus11 says:

    First I feel like I watched a different show than our esteemed reviewer because I could (and probably will) watch that Piano Man routine everyday for the rest of my life. I am personally pulling for Zack because when I think about going to see On the Town this fall, he’s who I want to see.

    That said, here’s the thing about SYTYCD. The best dancer rarely wins. That has been true since the very beginning of the show. Lest we forget that the golden child of the series Travis Wall was a runner up to Benji. Sabra beat out the vastly superior Danny, Twitch as runner up to Joshua and even last season Aaron was incomprehensibly runner up to Fikshun. Many of whom were spectacular in their own styles but weren’t always the best overall dancer.

    Next week should be interesting either way and neither of the girls ever had a chance.

    • Christina says:

      I so agree with you. I absolutely loved Zack and Aaron together in their Piano Man routine and thought that was the best dance of the night without question. Although, really, all pieces were great and it was one of the best performance finales the show has had. But I’ve watched the Piano Man piece about 10 times already and would gladly watch it every day for the rest of my life. It was amazing and moving and I always end up with tears in my eyes at the end. You’re right also in that neither of the ladies have a chance to win. And as amazing as Ricky is, for me Zack is the winner.

  33. Kate Young says:

    I have the same problem every season – I hate for anyone to lose! They are all so talented. Having said that, Ricky has an unbelievable gift and an incredible work ethic, and only 18. I just love him and could watch him all day long.

  34. Aida La Brutte says:

    I have been a SYTYCD fan since Season 6. What a wonderful showcase for talented young people, what a wonderful way for us old folk to spend two hours each week. It is sad to think that it will not be around next season. Shame on FOX.

  35. Jan says:

    I really enjoyed the show; everyone seemed to “up” his/her game. So thrilled to see Aaron again … for me, that was the highlight of the night! [Michael, I like your idea for a show with him and Jasmine.]

  36. Daniel says:

    The dancing has been exceptional, as per usual; however, the fact that Ricky has been consistently better than the rest of the top 20 has taken away any element of surprise or anxiety about the competition. At this point the only real jaw dropper would be if he didn’t win.

    • maria gorman says:

      Ricky is boring stop putting him up on a Pedi stool…..how many women has he lifted, twirled, or threw around? NONE

  37. maria gorman says:

    Listen everyone, honestly, I cannot believe all the support that Ricky gets as a dancer. Come on now, can he even do the leg extension (which he wares out over and over again) with his left leg? Haven’t seen it yet. And he does the same thing over and over again in his routines, right leg extension, leap arabesque, (right leg again) reach, reach reach for the ceiling, roll around on the ground, reach reach reach for the ceiling, stand up, leap, and again, pierrot, and then reach for the ceiling, and what? cry? CRY?? like every dam dance, crying in the end.. come on people. ZACH is the most improved in the season, and has much better, MUCH better stage presence then any of them. Most importantly very seldom does he repeat himself… ulike RICKY. They also keep putting the spotlight on Ricky, make him center of all group dances, praise the hell out of him constantly, even when again, he is repetitious, really, how many right leg extensions can one take watching him dance? Honestly as a former dancer of Philadelphia college of Performing arts when I was younger, I was not impressed with him much at all. And HE DOES NOT LIFT THE WOMEN like any of the other guys can. I mean ZACH was having to lift Ricky over and over again when they danced together. Doesn’t anybody else see this crap? Not once was I impressed with Ricky when he danced with a female. He could barely lift Jessica a foot off the ground, in fact it made her look horrible, and I wonder if that was done on purpose. Because it seems to me the SYTYCD judges and FOX already have their minds made up that Ricky is going to be their winner, when in fact ZACH can dance that cheese ball out any day obviously.

  38. maria gorman says:

    RICKY has been the same all season. RICKY has never lifted a female more then a foot off the ground when he dances with one, in fact RICKY is repetitious and honestly I am bored with him. So he leaps high and his right leg extension is effortless. So what, can he do much more? I would like to see him lift Tanisha like Rudy did in his dances or even in Dirty Diana, bet Ricky couldn’t do half that stuff. What in the heck is it that you all are seeing in that guy? Right leg extension, perriot, arabesque, leap, leap, reach reach, cry, whatever. boring and nothing spectacular at all. Haven’t seen him improve at all like ZACH, in fact Ricky has been the same since the beginning of the show.

    • juliebug04 says:

      Wow…..jealous much??

    • BrazenSongBird says:

      Geez what are you? Zach’s godmother or something? There really is no reason to cut down one very young dancer for another. Both are extremely talented, but Ricky IS special. He’s the kind of dancer that other dancers will stop and watch, even in class, because he is what other dancers aspire to be. In sytycd terms, he’s part Travis Wall, Jakob Karr and Mark Kanemura all rolled into one emotionally accessible package. In real world terms, he’s the real deal; a one in a million technician with charisma and presence. In answer to your complaint, yes he does favor one side over the other; EVERY dancer does. That’s just human physiology. And he comes from the competitive dance world, where points are given based on flexibility and technique. OF COURSE, he’s going to put his best foot forward, so to speak. He’d be stupid not to, especially since this is yet another competition! One more thing, his left side in general? While not as spectacular, is still pretty damn good.

  39. rwgunn says:

    The biggest obstacle Ricky has is that his talent and perseverance in working on a piece until he gets it right makes the actual performance look like it’s effortless. Many people need to see the dancer appear to work at the piece for them to appreciate the effort that is actually being made. He’s in a class of his own.

  40. Ceylan says:

    king of clubs, not spades…

  41. SYTYCD is a rare reality show; one where you can cry from the beauty and the creativity and passion of the dancers and choreography. I watched it every season and will continue to watch it. I also like the Cinderella aspect of it. I appreciate all forms of dance. Aloha,

  42. chocolatfrog says:

    Problem with show like this, is the voting. Poeple don’t vote for talent but for popularity. I realized that the second year when Benji Schwimmer wins over Travis Wall.

    I hope Ricky, the most talented, will win this year.

    • Jose says:

      Travis the most talented? Benji was just as skilled in his genre as Travis was in his. Travis himself said he “wasn’t the best dancer in the world” and he was right. Both Benji & Travis had their issues when dancing out of their own genre. Their hip hop was cute, but neither of them could be mistaken as anything more than competent in hip hop. Benji’s contemporary left something to be desired, as did Travis’ ballroom numbers. I was glad Benji won because I considered him to be the more talented dancer.

  43. Carmen says:

    Ricky should take it this year..

  44. lee says:

    When it is down to 20, it’s rather absurd to “eliminate ” dancers. I guess it has to be a “contest” though. If only we could see more shows after the “winners” as the dancing is remarkable and so much bettter than other programming.

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