By Carly Mallenbaum, USA TODAY
The final six contenders on So You Think You Can Dance had a tiring night.
After their opening group number, they had to dance three more times: once with a SYTYCD All-Star, once with another finalist, and once by their lonesome. At the end of the show, judges Nigel Lythgoe, Mary Murphy and guest judge Christina Applegate, star of NBC show Up All Night (and Dance fanatic), didn't have to choose who would stay, because the bottom female and male vote-getters were automatically sent home.
The All-Star pairings:
MORE: Read last week's recap
Nineteen-year-old jazz dancer Tiffany Maher proved she could jive with Season 2 winner and swing dance champion Benji Schwimmer. The two were flick-kickin', liftin' and cartwheelin' throughout the energetic number. "You could have powered the electric in this entire building," said the adorably British host Cat Deeley. After a standing ovation, Mary said, "Well, obviously, we were on our feet. It was just amazing, you guys!"
Cole Horibe, 26, tried to escape from Season 8 champ Melanie Moore through emotional, graceful movements. The dance was a big change from his usual twisted characters, but the karate master pulled it off. "You adapted what you do normally, really well to this style," said Nigel. "Your foot was terrible in your pirouette," said Christina, "but I don't give a (bleep), because you're so good. And we'll see you next week."
Eliana Girard was a girly-girl in love with a postman played by Stephen "tWitch" Boss from Season 4. The routine was fun and entertaining, but "felt like a cheap burger for me. It didn't have any meat," said Nigel (though that's a complaint best directed at the choreographer). He added, "You're my favorite girl on this show ... and you had fun. But last time you had fun, we saved you (from elimination)." Christina complimented Eliana on her extraordinary technique and flexibility. "God did not intend for that to happen," she joked.
Ballet dancer Chehon Wespi-Tschopp, 23, and Season 6's Kathryn McCormick shared each other's pain (and one suitcase) in their contemporary performance. Though the emotion of the piece didn't translate for this viewer (maybe it was different from the judges' table?), the judges were almost in tears after their standing ovation. The dance "oozed with passion and power... one of the most amazing numbers I've seen on the show this season," said Mary. "Technically, you can dance circles around people," Christina told Chehon, but "you're a master" when you have special, emotional moments, she said.
Ballroom dancer Witney Carson was Season 8 All-Star Marko Germar's hesitant bride-to-be in a contemporary number. The two partnered "beautifully," said Mary. "We know you're not just a ballroom dancer," said Christina. "The only thing is, sometimes there's a lot of hairography," she said about Witney's hair flicks leaving her face hidden behind her gold locks.
Animator Cyrus Spencer, 22, danced to a dubstep routine with Comfort Fedoke from Season 4. He was certainly in his element for this one, with the slow-motion isolations and robotic stillness that have amazed the judges and Dance viewers (considering he's never been in the bottom) since Day 1. "Obviously, we liked it a lot," said Christina after the judges' standing ovation. "That (dance) was carved out for you, man," she said. "You connect with us, Cyrus. There's something very special about you," said Mary.
There were those quick solos:
Only the confident Witney could pull off a Paso Doble sans partner. The dance was sexy, per usual, and big on the matador-like skirt movements.
Chehon gave us something a little different in his solo: fierce, masculine ballet. And did we spy a body roll or two in that quick number?
Tiffany danced her typically skillful solo: beautiful extensions, flawless pirouettes, emotional arm gestures. Her slow-motion collapse at the end was new, though.
Cole performed in his intense, karate-fusion genre. He was awesome/eerie with his articulated arm movements, spinning kicks and silent scream.
Cyrus was back with his animation skills, twitching as if a strobe light was on. Whether or not you're a Cyrus fan, you have to admit: it looked pretty sick.
And the Season 9 partners were the following:
Chehon and Witney reunited for a cha-cha. Though it was "an improvement over the samba," Mary told Chehon, "the lift was struggling tonight." Said Nigel, "I really did want to see more of your hips, Witney. Disappointing, I'm afraid."
Cole and Eliana were haters/lovers in a physical piece inspired by rams, said choreographer Mia Michaels. Besides being yet another piece that featured silent screams, it was moving and standing-ovation worthy. "Both of you, incredible," said Nigel. "Eliana, there's like light coming out of your feet. You're the perfect dancer," said Christina. "I could see that resistance in that pain from both of you."
Cyrus and Tiffany were lustful teenagers in a playful Broadway number that was "the cutest number ever," according to Mary. "Tiffany, you really are the girl next door. Cyrus, you've been so inspirational for so many people," said Nigel.
The results had to be revealed, though:
Witney and Cole were eliminated, leaving Tiffany, Eliana, Chehon and Cyrus to dance in the performance finale Tuesday (8 ET/PT, Fox) for their shot at the title of "America's Favorite Female/Male Dancer," which will be handed out on Sept. 18.