In a definitely different direction, this year sees FOUR people in the finals, as opposed to the usual three. There is a LOT of dancing this time around! On Evening 1 there is the Judges' Choice, a Cha-Cha-Cha Relay, and - of course - the ever-popular, make-it-or-break-it Freestyle: not just any Freestyle, but "Super-Sized", where they could add dancers, props, whatever. This year was incredible all around, with all of those dances. Oh, and for Evening 2 was the "Instant Dance": the dancers were given their style ahead of time, but not given the song until the beginning of the evening.
On with the shows!
Zendaya Coleman's Judges' Choice was the Samba. She and Val were visited by Carrie Ann for pointers. The Samba is well-suited for her and there was definite improvement (if you can imagine Zendaya improving, as she's pretty top-rate to begin with).
Her Freestyle definitely showed a wide range in what she has learned on top of what she already had. She started with a straight-ahead Cha-Cha-Cha, which flowed seamlessly into a Contemporary piece - which was both heartfelt and artistic - which bopped right into a Hip Hop segment accompanied by a group of incredible little Hip-Hop Child Dancers. The kids emphasized and enhanced her, instead of drowning her out (see Jacoby below). Opening the dance was heard the voices of her parents giving encouragement, followed by chanting children. I loved it.
Jacoby Jones opened the show with a slightly lackluster Judges' Choice Jive, helped out by Len. His feet were better, but it just didn't seem to me to have as much pep. Not horrible by a longshot, and a definite improvement over his last Jive...but not his best.
He and Karina definitely took the concept of "Super-Sized" to heart in their Freestyle, adding a marching band, "Stompers", kid dancers (including little Sophia Lucia). While he showed a bit more heart than his Jive, he got completely lost in the shuffle with all of the other goings-on. All of the added characters more hid his dancing as opposed to enhance, as Zendaya's did.
Kellie Pickler got the Quickstep for the Judges' Choice, visited by Len. There was a lot of talk about keeping their "Knobbly bits" together, and keep together they did! Their Quickstep was fast and fun, fun, fun...and they stuck together like Super Glue.
In a great strategic gamble, Derek decided that the best way to "Super-Size" Kellie's Freestyle would be to strip it down completely. It was just him, her, and the floor. Done in a Contemporary style, the whole dance was completely emotional to the point of tears, with moves that were jaw-dropping (one of my girls could have sworn at one point that Kellie had wires or strings helping her, but it was all just them). It was one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen: both Len and Bruno wanted to give her 11s!
Aly Raisman's Judges' Choice Samba - visited by Bruno - was totally up to her usual, albeit improved, standards, but the judges weren't as kind to her as they were to Kellie and Zendaya. Where they both got Perfect 30s, she got 28. If they gave a "Generally Most Improved Dancer from The Beginning Of the Season" award, it should have gone to her.
Her Super-Sized Freestyle, however, while definitely entertaining, was bizarre. Mark conceptualized her parallel bar gynmastic routine, but made it vertical. While a lot of other articles mention the whole "pole dance" vibe, I didn't see that. I saw Concept Contemporary, with a touch of futuristic. Disappointly, she "flubbed" one landing after a lift, but the judges didn't seem to notice it, giving her a Perfect 30.
In between these two dances was the Cha-Cha-Cha Relay. This is where each dancer follows the previous, all doing the same dance and song, with the judges giving extra points: 5 for first place, then 4 for 2nd, 3 for 3rd and 2 for 4th. It started with Kellie and Derek, who were, as usual, technically perfect and sharp as tacks. They were followed by Jacoby (leaping over them for his entrance *sigh*) and Karina, who were a touch sloppy. They were joined and followed by Aly and Mark, who were good, albeit not great. The final ones were Zendaya and Val, who danced both traditionally and with their own flair. Their finishing order: Zendaya, Kellie, Aly, Jacoby.
The Second Show (aka Results show) was actually a bit of a disappointment. Yes, the show opened with all of the returning stars, but very few actually got to dance again. Most seasons have almost everyone getting to dance at least a little. This time, only Dorothy Hamill, Lisa Vanderpump and Andy Dick did. I was also hugely disappointed with their choices for musical guests. While I love Wynonna (and she was great doing what she does), I could have lived without Pitbull and, ESPECIALLY, Psy. I don't count Victor, Sean and Andy dancing with him. That wasn't a showcase: it was a trainwreck. I muted both Psy and Pitbull. One good thing: THERE WAS NO DANCECENTER!!! HALLELUJAH!!! That was always my LEAST favorite segment, and I'm glad it's gone.
Andy Dick danced his Alice in Wonderland Jazz again. No comment.
Dorothy Hamill danced a gorgeous Viennese Waltz (with Henry; ironically, Tristan had an injury), but they were later joined by Kristi Yamaguchi!!! It was so beautiful to see, especially knowing that Kristi was Dorothy's inspiration for even doing the show. I cried.
Lisa Vanderpump danced a Foxtrot with Gleb, but Len cut in! As much as I'm not fond of her, I thought that was adorable. Also, no dog (except in the audience).
Oh, and Kellie and Derek got the encore: their Freestyle was no fluke, as it was just as gorgeous the second time around.
Near the beginning of the show the fourth place was announced. In a complete shocker, it was Aly Raisman! After all that I mentioned went on, the Final Three performed their Instant Dances.
Jacoby had the Salsa, done to "Aguanile". It was definitely good, and an improvement over his previous evening's dances.
Kellie got Jive, to "Keep A-Knockin'". It was a lot of fun, technically spot-on, and Len said that Kellie reminded him of Julianne Hough!
Zendaya also got Jive, to "Rockin' Robin". She and Val moved so fast it almost made Kellie's dance seem like a Rumba. It was tight and fun, tho. Suited her.
No surprise: all 3 received 30s.
Third place was announced: to absolutely no one's surprise, it was Jacoby. This left the final two as Zendaya and Kellie. The Season 16 Champion is...KELLIE PICKLER!
Zendaya Coleman - Disney Star ("Shake It Up!") (11)
Andy Dick - Comedian (6)
Dorothy Hamill - US Olympic Gold Medal Figure Skater (1)
D.L. Hughley - Actor/Comedian/Writer (4)
Jacoby Jones - Football player/Super Bowl Champion (Baltimore Ravens) (10)
Wynonna Judd - Country Singer (2)
Sean Lowe - Bachelor (7)
Victor Ortiz - Champion Boxer (5)
Kellie Pickler - Country Singer (Champion)
Ingo Rademacher - Soap Star ("General Hospital") (
Aly Raisman - US Olympic Women's Gymnastics Team Captain (9)
Lisa Vanderpump - "Real" Housewife (3)
See you in September!