I know this will come as a surprise to everyone (not!), but I really agree with Mary when she commended Evan for having introduced young audiences to a dance style that was in danger of dying: good old fashion Broadway / classic MGM — Fred Astaire, Gene Kelly and all that. To me that has been the highlight of the season. To me, none of the dancers really had the sort of overall star power that Danny Tidwell, for example, had a couple of seasons ago, but Evan shone for what he excelled at. And I really believe audiences went for that — not for his cute face, as Nigel put it, or his good guy-ness, but for the way he brought that classic Broadway / Hollywood style of the ’40s and ’50s charmingly to life with character and intelligence — and with very good technique.

I don’t understand why all the judges kept harping on him. I actually thought he outshone Brandon in the Laurieann Gibson routine (at the beginning, they both jumped and his was sky high, with better lines than Brandon’s). I thought both he and Brandon did well at the more hip hop-y parts, but Evan outshone Brandon with the jumps and turns. But people will probably disagree with me on that…

And I thought he was technically better than Kayla in Tony and Melanie’s Jive. I thought her arms were way too busy. In jive your arms aren’t supposed to be swinging about wildly; your legs and mid-section are supposed to be doing the work. I feel that if you use your arms too much, it’s like your center and legs are weak — it’s like using your arms to haul your body up during sit ups or something. Outwardly you’re doing the movement pattern, but you’re not using the proper muscles. Anyway, I thought his legs were fantastic — those jive kicks had so much strength. And the lifts were spectacular — I love how they slowed them down mid-air to keep in time with the music. They almost looked like they were in slow motion. Difficult! I honestly thought that jive — and Evan’s performance in particular — was one of the best I’ve seen on the show. And how much do I love the audience chanting for him when the judges were being harsh 😀

I do think overall, though, my favorite dance of the night was Jeanine and Brandon’s Paso Doble. What a triumph for Louis van Amstel — holy cow! Normally I don’t like non-traditional Paso music, but this (from The Matrix) worked well — can you say intense?! Great razor sharp movement for both of them, he had some gorgeous turning jumps, and what a beautiful jete into an assisted slide for her. I totally agree with Adam Shankman’s comment that the reason this worked so well is because they focused on the transitions  — the movement between the tricks — and not only the flashy things. As my former teacher, Luis, always used to say to me, the actual dancing takes place between the tricks. Nowhere was that better demonstrated than with this Paso. Kudos to everyone involved.

My other favorite moment of the night was Jeanine’s solo — by far the best of the night, I thought. That modern-y tango was so original — part Latin, part American Modern with the staccato, angular movement, the sharp stops, the isolations. And, contrary to Adam, I loved the rose stem held between her teeth. I thought it gave the dance character, and was a bit humorous to boot. And those pirouettes — totally agree with Adam there — WTF! Those were incredible! She began with a group of fouettes to give herself speed, then wound down into a combination of pirouettes that she somehow slowed to a perfect stop at the end, holding her balance after the last one ended, in perfect form. Astonishing — that was like something you’d see from Gillian Murphy and it made me think she’s been holding back all season…

But then … when she danced the Mia Michaels routine side-by-side with Kayla, I thought Kayla outshone her. I thought Kayla had greater height on her kicks and jumps, and overall more precision in her body. I think Kayla has the best modern dance technique of anyone on the show, and it really shows in the way she is able to dance with so much expansiveness, so much breadth, yet still keep such a tight form. In the group routine I found her to be the most expressive, to have the greatest range of movement in her head, neck and torso. And she’s got such stunning leg extensions. That Tyce DiOrio routine she did with Brandon — she really blew me away when she swung her right leg up, held it nearly to her ear, and then he threw her over his head in a split.

I wasn’t as in love with Brandon’s solo this week as I was last (and as the judges were), but I did love how he ended in that sudden straddle split. That is kind of his thing — making these sudden and intense lines. And his solo last week was to die for — so he’s definitely had his moments on the show.

Again, I have no idea who will win tonight. I feel that everyone has something: Kayla’s a great mover, Brandon has strength and intensity and can really blow you away at times, Jeanine excels with original solos and really brought it on this week and did something astounding, and Evan I love for bringing back Gene Kelly. Maybe Evan’s popularity on the show will lead to increased appreciation of Jerome Robbins?… Okay, I can dream 🙂


  1. I think in the end the judges' constant criticism of Evan has only served to make him more popular. I've thought Brandon and Kayla were flat out the best dancers from the beginning, but when they keep harping on Evan, it just makes me root all the more for him. Jeanine's solo work has always been really, really good. She can choreograph for herself so well. She's also a much bigger, better performer than Kayla. Kayla disappears into her roles so well, but Jeanine really fills the stage with whatever she's doing. She's also had so much more personality on camera than either Kayla or Brandon. It's a tough call.

  2. I agree that the paso was great, although I complained at great length about paso music choices earlier in the season. It was fierce and the rhythm was right, but most of all, they performed the hell out of it.

    I'll be happy for any of them if they win. I enjoy all of them and since Janette is not in the running, I don't have a favorite. Some people weren't as happy with this season as with previous seasons, but when I look back over the routines, there are a lot that were terrific and that I'll watch again, and they all grew on me.

  3. I really thought Evan (and Kayla, but especially Evan) looked great during that jive. It was a fun, exciting, and energetic. I'm no expert in the jive, but I thought Evan's technique and movement looked quite good for a non-Latin dancer.

    Sometimes I don't know what the judges are on about. They seem to have critiqued Evan several times this season as if he was a Latin dance (or other ballroom) specialist, while letting other people off the hook easily, for example, telling Phillip his jive was great, also telling Phillip that while his tango technique was bad, the performance was good, when Evan can't seem to buy a compliment for anything other than being a 'nice guy,' despite the fact that he seems to be one of the strongest performers of the season to me. Really, anytime a judge finds himself critiquing someones eyelids (ahem, Nigel), maybe that judge should take a deep breath and realize that he might be going a bit too far.

    Anyway, it doesn't matter to me who wins tonight. I think all four of these guys are great and have been very entertaining over the season. I was, however, thrilled to see Evan make it to the finale, because he has been my favorite and the show would have seemed markedly emptier without him.

  4. Hi Tonya,

    I, too, favored Janette for the win so my 2nd choice is Jeanine b/c she won me over after she lost Phillip as a partner. I love Brandon & Kayla, also, but I'm going for the female underdog. This season I feel the women have done an outstanding job more so than the men. Only Brandon stood out for me anyway. I see Evan winning only b/c he's a white male and with a black president, the recent Gates-Crowley thing, plus the last two season's winners being black, I see white America voting “unconsciously” for their color. Don't ask me why, it's just a feeling and the political timing of it all. I hope I'm wrong.

    Tonya, do you know what happened or could you find out what happened to Sabra Johnson being with Cedar Lake CB? I'm hoping you can get the inside scoop for us. CLCB is coming to Chicago this fall, and I had hoped to see Sabra perform with them.

  5. Um, wow, chimene, now Evan fans are racist? Why just Evan fans? Kayla and Jeanine appear to be white, too.

  6. Hey, I just finished watching Gene Kelly and Judy Garland in Summer Stock. First of all, Katie Holmes is no Judy Garland. This may be Garland's best movie and if you want to see how the Get Happy number should be done, go right out and rent it. But, it got me thinking…wouldn't Evan be charming in GKs part in Brigadoon? He'd be a less mature than Kelly's Tommy Albright, but that naivete Evan was so criticized for would work to his advantage in this romantic fantasy. Haven't thot of a Fionna…maybe Jeanine. Hmmmmm

  7. In chimene's defense, I don't think she was making any such accusation. If it is legitimate to decide who to vote for based on gender or history, then it is reasonable to expect that people will use race as well. This is not a mark of racism or of sexism, in the case of gendered underdogs. It is simply one factor in the decision-making process. When I had to choose between Brandon and Jeanine, I looked back at how many women had won this competition and attempted to balance the scales with my little vote.

  8. SwanLakeSambaGirl

    I'm definitely going to rent those films, DocRak! Yeah, I haven't seen Summer Stock but I can't imagine Katie Holmes is much of a Judy Garland 🙂 I've definitely got to see Brigadoon again; the Fancy Free movie (I forgot what it's title is — I think it's On the Town — it was created from the Robbins ballet) is freshest in my mind. I could really see Evan as a sailor!

  9. Contrary to public opinion, using the term white, black, brown, yellow or red does not make one a racist. Nowhere in my comment did I equate talent, superiority or inferiority with race. I was quite overt in stating that race may be a factor in who wins this competition and that it may be “unconscious” d/t the political climate that we find ourselves in right now. Now, racism may or may not be a part of that unconscious political climate.

    There should also be no “wow” about the subject of race or racism. Race and racism is a factor in a lot of stuff b/c we do not live in a color blind society or world. For example, I would be lying if I told you that I wanted Hillary Clinton to win over the “black” Barack Obama. I liked both of them for the different things that each brought to the table; but I don't inherently believe that Obama is of more intrinsic value than Clinton. But I did choose the black candidate b/c I liked him, thought he was qualified, and wanted to see how the race factor would play out in history. I'm also no stranger to covert and overt racism as a black female.

    I've traveled to many countries in the world and found that racism is alive and well in the world and in the USA, and I'm not just referring to white vs black. I'm talking about all colors of the spectrum against themselves and each other in all countries; some more than others. It's a human thing that happens when people negate our similarities and don't take the time to see beyond our differences, which sometimes occur between people of different racial and/or ethnic groups. When we use color and any of its associated or perceived stereotypes (factual or not) to assign a higher or lesser quantitative or qualitative value upon ourselves or upon another person then the practice of racism is occurring.

    Racism is more a matter of one's own perception of reality than any real tangible construct. Racism is also a learned phenomena; therefore, it can be unlearned. No one chooses their race, but we can choose and alter our behavior towards one another.

    We Are Spiritual Beings Having A Human Experience.

  10. Again, one's perception can and often does shape their reality. I never wanted to vote for Evan b/c the judges critiqued him harsher. I like him but never thought he was near as good as Janette, Kayla, Brandon or Jeanine so that is why I wouldn't have given him a pity vote. Bring it on the dance floor, and you'll get my vote. I should mention that this season, I decided to forgo voting so as not to take anything person.

  11. SwanLakeSambaGirl

    Hi Chimene — well, I just heard from the Cedar Lake publicist and he said unfortunately Sabra Johnson isn't with the company any more. Bummer! It's still a good company though. I'll keep my ears open about Sabra and will let you know if I hear what she's up to next.

  12. Thank you so much for looking into this.


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