'So You Think You Can Dance' recap: The final four are chosen

It's all down to America's votes, and Christina Applegate returns to judge

"So You Think You Can Dance"

 "So You Think You Can Dance"

Credit: Fox

We're down to the top six -- which means that after tonight, we'll have our final four. But what's significant about tonight is that the judges can no longer save any dancers, rendering their commentary pretty much useless, especially as it relates to who is going home that night. They can be sad and chagrined all they want, but it doesn't matter how good someone is anymore. At this point, I've pretty much accepted that Cyrus will probably be one of the two winners, which is completely understandable (he's nice and smiley and works really, really hard) but also disappointing (everyone else works really hard, too, and they've taken some dance lessons). But the good news is that, no matter what, we'll see lots of performances tonight. Whether they're good or not, well, you can be the judge. Literally. 

After the opening number to a Kelis song, the dancers shimmy across the stage. Anyone else notice Cyrus didn’t dance his intro? 

At the judges' table, Nigel and Mary are joined by Christina Applegate. Her opinion will, like her cohorts, not count for anything. Still, it has to be more rewarding than "Up All Night."

Tiffany

The Background: She will be doing a jive with season two champ Benji, and it will be choreographed by Jean-Marc Genereux. You can't take the goofball out of Benji, so that's the same as it was during his season, but he’s heavier than he was seven years ago, and that's a significant change. Not just for him, but for Tiffany, who has to do paired cartwheels with the boy. 

The Dances: This is high energy, fun and man, if I didn't know better, I'd think Tiffany was a jive dancer. Her kicks are perfect. No one ever gets the flick kicks right unless they're swing dancers. I keep forgetting about Tiffany, but she is really one of the strongest dancers this season. 

The Judges: They give Tiffany and Benji a standing O. Nigel loved the energy. That she kept up with him is incredible and her kicks were dead on. Mary thought it was amazing. She likes everything about Tiffany. Christina takes dance class with Benji, so she was all about him, but she thought Tiffany flicked fabulously. 

Next, we do this tired package in which the families of each contestant say encouraging things. You know what would make this effective instead of boring? Cutting to a reaction shot of the dancer watching this. The dancer could even watch it earlier in the day so a camera guy wouldn't be interrupting them as they're about to go on stage. Still, it's their reaction that makes this relevant. Otherwise, it's just the same crap over and over again. We're rooting for you! You're really, really talented! Anyway, Witney's enormous family thinks she's really, really talented. She does a tango-style solo which is actually pretty impressive. Clever idea for sure. 

Cole

The Background: He'll be doing a Sonya Tayeh jazz routine with Melanie, the winner of season eight. Even though it's Sonya, she wants to show a side of Cole we haven't seen. Cole is sweet! She wants to show his soft, squishy side. I think it may be too late to show people he isn't the devil or addiction or something, but I'm glad she's going to try. 

The Dances: Cole is just so solid. He holds his own with Melanie, and it would have been easy for him to look weak in this -- but he doesn't. They go toe-to-toe, and kudos to Sonya, as I think she captures his vulnerability without making him look pathetic.

The Judges: Mary thought it was amazing and declares that it was really different. Melanie was lifting Cole as much as he was lifting her! And Melanie is, of course, a huge star. But good news, Cole drew her in. Christina thinks Cole is masterful and androgynous. Um, okay. But his foot was terrible in his pirouette. Christina's actually offering feedback? Good for her! I do feel like the judges are too often thinking strategically -- either there's no reason to see something constructive, because the dancer is going home, or they hope their reaction will direct voters for the next week. Anyway, Nigel thought Sonya showed Cole's strength and vulnerability. 

Chehon’s mom thinks he’s really, really talented. He does a solo that feels more contemporary than ballet (though there are definitely elements), which I think is wise. He's obviously a great ballet dancer, but he does have a broader base of skills, too.

Eliana

The Background: Eliana and Twitch will perform a Christopher Scott number about a hot ballet dancer who has a crush on a postman.Christopher is impressed with Eliana, who is surprisingly funky. I'm worried that this is one of those cutesy-poo routines that voters never get excited about. 

The Dances: Yes, she’s funky. But there's not a lot of funk here. The song choice is, despite the remixing, awful, and the routine itself just isn't all that challenging. Eliana is sexy, but she doesn't have to really bring it, either. 

The Judges: Christina poses the rhetorical question: Would Jay-Z ask Eliana to dance next to him? Then, she answers it: No. But still, she's so good! Nigel tells Eliana she's still his favorite, but it was too much about the cutesy. He can’t save her this week! And this routine sucked! Mary thought it was entertaining. Oh, oh no. I really hope Eliana doesn't go home for this craptastic routine. 

 

Time for news! There's going to be a 3-day "So You Think You Can Dance" dance experience in Vegas September 21 -23. If you're in Vegas (or can get to Vegas), you can have a dance experience with Tyce D'Orio or one of a host of other choreographers and it will be all kinds of awesome. I'm assuming there's a price tag, but there's no mention of exactly what that is. I guess that would be tacky. But head to the Fox.com site for more information.

Tiffany's family thinks she’s really, really talented. Her solo is fine, but it feels like the same solo we've seen from almost every contemporary dancer before her in past seasons. It's a little disappointing, honestly, as we know she can do more.

Chehon 

The Background: He'll be dancing with all-star Katherine to a Tyce D’Orio number about devastating event and a suitcase. Chehon is all about living out of a suitcase. It is going to be sad and poignant. 

The Dances: This is good, but is it me or is Chehon going a little broad with the emoting? That's probably necessary for TV, but I wonder if he isn't finally reacting to the judges nattering on and on about how voters don't connect with him. 

The Judges: Standing O. Nigel declares it incredibly emotional. Well, yes, I guess so. Mary thinks Chehon is moved by his own movement. It was magical! She was honored! Everyone's all choked up. Wow, I agree it was good, but it felt a little over the top. I guess that's what the judges have been hoping to get from Chehon. Christina loved the leap for the luggage. She says Chehon finally delivered emotionally. 

Cole's mom thinks he's very, very talented. And his solo? So Cole. I think there's a martial arts dance movie in his future. Quick, somebody write a script!

Witney

The Background: She'll be dancing with all-star Marco (whoa, haircut!) to a Ray Leeper lyrical jazz routine about a couple's wedding day. For the record, Witney doesn’t want to get married right now even if she is from Utah. So there! Witney is not a stereotype, people!

The Dances: I don’t love the choreography initially, but it ends beautifully. And Witney is just great throughout. Actually, I think she's better than her material tonight, unfortunately. 

The Judges: Mary loves Marco. But she also loved Witney. She’s a star to her. Christina thinks she’s a beautiful dancer. The only problem was there was a lot of hairography, which obscures Witney’s face. Nigel thinks Witney is a star, too, and so do all the choreographers. Witney shines, starlike. 

Eliana’s mom and stepdad think she’s really, really talented. The expected spectacular solo. But I’m a little worried for Elena next week (if she makes it through this week) because of that lame ballet dancer-and-postman routine. 

 

Cyrus

The Background: Cyrus will team with Comfort from season four for a Christopher Scott dub step. Cyrus is SO excited to get dub step! But it’s a choreographed dub step. It has to be clean and precise. It's not like free styling, yo!

The Dances: This is a very cool piece of choreography. But Cyrus seems to get lost a few times here – his arms get floppy while Comfort could be cutting glass with her angles. Still, he’s in his wheelhouse.

The Judges: But hey, standing O from the judges. Cyrus is tickled pink. Christina liked it a lot, but notes it was carved out for him. Well, yes. And she wants to play a game where she throws pens through Cyrus' ears. Nigel thinks it was incredible to watch. And Cyrus has never been in the bottom two, so America loves him. I’m noticing Nigel isn’t saying so much about Cyrus’ actual dancing. Mary thinks we love Cyrus because we connect with him. He nailed it. Really? She thought they looked like a perfect pairing. I think the judges know that there's no point in criticizing Cyrus, as it just makes voters angry and he's going to co-win this thing anyway. 

 

Now, the dancers pair up for yet another set of dances. This episode is just dance-tastic!

 

Witney and Chehon

The Background: They’ll be doing a cha cha by Jean-Marc Genereux. The hips must be a mean machine for this dance, and they need an incredible connection according to Jean-Marc. Witney is having fun and Chehon is out of his comfort zone.

The Dances: This doesn’t look like a cha cha to me. Heck, they’re not even dancing with one another half the time. I’m so distracted by the choreography I’m finding this hard to look at. Still, Chehon is not doing very well. Witney is fine, of course, but they’re so mismatched. Chehon is just not a Latin ballroom dancer. 

The Judges: Mary thought Chehon did a better job with this than the samba. Still, she thinks he’s clearly uncomfortable. She knows Witney is capable of more. Christina thought the deep plie was so sexy, she doesn’t remember anything from the rest of the dance. Nigel thought the lift fell apart. Nigel thinks Jean-Marc was trying to emphasize lifts to cover Chehon’s suckiness. Well, that's a theory. 

 

Cyrus’ mom thinks he’s really, really talented. And I will say his solo is all sorts of cool. As an animator, he’s just incredible.

 

Cole and Eliana

The Background: These two will be doing a Mia Michaels contemporary routine. It's a piece about hatred that was inspired by fighting rams. Just the rehearsal alone looks amazing. Oh, and if they miss by even an inch, there could be a casualty, according to Mia.

The Dances: Kind of weird to set this to Samuel Barber’s “Adagio for Strings,” but okay. It’s still amazing. Wow, amazing. Cole spins Eliana in this frozen grimace that’s just incredible.

The Judges: A standing O from the judges. And this one is definitely deserved. Nigel thought it was brilliant. Mary thought it was mesmerizing. Christina thinks there is light coming out of Eliana’s feet. Whatever that means, we can all agree it's really good. 

 

Tiffany and Cyrus

The Background: They do a Broadway routine by Spencer Liff. It’s like an episode from a '50s TV sitcom that never aired. Uh-oh, cutesy alert. 

The Dances: Tiffany is, yet again, great. I'm really impressed by her tonight. Cyrus isn’t quite her equal, but this is very cute. And short, it seems. 

The Judges: Christina thought it was fun and sassy. She thinks Tiffany is one of the best, and Cyrus kept up with her. And, again, she wants to throw pens through his ear holes. Okay, Christina, we get the joke. Nigel thought Tiffany is wonderful and she’s the girl next door. He thinks Cyrus has persevered. Mary thought it was the cutest number ever. Tiffany is a superstar! And Cyrus, she loves him. The judges just aren’t going to comment on Cyrus’ dancing anymore, I think.

 

Two dancers from Oakland’s Axis Dance Company perform, one in a wheelchair. I have not seen someone lift a guy in a wheelchair before, and for that reason alone it's impressive. But beyond that, stellar dance.

 

And, just as the eliminations begin, my internet connection craps out. I think my computer just can't handle the bad news.

 

Still, it turns on again just in time for the sad truth. Cole is going home? No! Oh, oh, I am so sad. And so is Witney. Oh, oh. Okay, This has to happen, but I really hoped Cole would last longer than Cyrus. And Witney, well, it's just sad to see her go. Two great dancers who will hopefully get lots of work now that they're leaving the show. We now have our final four. What do you think of them?

 

Do you think Eliana, Tiffany, Chehon and Cyrus are the best final four? Who are you voting for? Whose performances were strongest and weakest tonight? 

 

 

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Liane-bonin-starr-sm
Liane Bonin Starr is an author, screenwriter and former writer for EW.com. Her byline has appeared in the Los Angeles Times, Variety and a lot of other places. Her last book was called "a scandalously catty, guilty pleasure" by Jane magazine. Expect the same from Starr Raving.
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