We've come to the end, my friends. Superstars of Dance has only one more opportunity to entertain us, confuse us, and anger us with horrible camera angles on group performances. Will the Team USA's Groovaloos be scored higher than the Shaolin Monks of China? Will Ballet, Popping, or Northern Indian dancing triumph in the Solo category? Which Country will take the overall title? Who cares? I just want to see some good dancing.
Michael Flatley and Susie Castillo explain that medals are being given out to our top three finishers instead of just declaring a "winner." On hand, as always, is the collective insanity that is our judging panel from Argentina, India, Australia, South Africa, USA, Ireland, Russia, and China. In a slight change of pace, the judges (minus the "home country" of course) will lock in their scores without us knowing them until the placements are announced. That also means no critiques. Yay?
If you noticed a extra glint in Michael's eyes when he came out, it's because he'll be doing a number tonight. Susie likens not seeing him dance to "watching Tiger Woods not hit a ball." The number he performs is actually from his special "Celtic Tiger," not Michael dancing in real life (which is kind of disappointing). It starts with one of the blonde dancers parading around in a stars-and-stripes bikini while pretending to play "Yankee Doodle" on a piccolo while images of flags, parades, fireworks and sports play on the screen behind her. Oh my. Even on this recorded number, I'm reminded of how much charisma Michael has and why the replacement guy wasn't quite working for me. Now on to the actual live show.
Group – Team Australia
The number starts with two dancers doing head stands with varying leg movements as four of the other dancers do a lengthy sequence with their hands joined the whole time, which was cool. The directing isn't great this time around, but there are a lot of interesting things going on. I like them conceptually but sometimes the use of jumps-into-rolls gets tiresome. Athletically they're very impressive, throwing breaking-type tricks sometimes.
Solo – Robert Muraine, USA
This time around Robert dialed up the energy a bit by doing some quick-motion (well, regular speed but fast for him) flex tricks toward the end. He did mix it up well and I wasn't bored.
Solo – Maria Kochetkova, Russia
I really like her costume. The castanets from the first week are back, though I can't tell if this is the same routine. I don't think it is. Regardless, she has a very lengthy turning sequence to close out the number which was very good. Her technique is really very good.
Solo – Amrapali Ambegaokar, India
Speaking of great costumes, Amrapali's is gorgeous. She delivers a great number as always, showing a nice variety of motions and speeds to her moves. I'm a fan.
With a score of 51, Robert Muraine gets a Bronze. Not surprised. Amrapali gets Silver with 56 points leaving Maria to get Gold with 65 points. Amrapali got hosed. She should've scored in the 60s.
Group – Team China
Awful directing to start out. Just awful. The Shaolin Monks, however, were fantastic as always. One kid is in a headstand and the other is standing on one leg, the other stretched to his head, for the first half of the routine before they do their own fight demo. Leading up to that, there were two weapons demos and a lot of flips and forms. Honestly, I can't really describe it well enough to do it justice. Find it and watch it.
Duos – Giselle Peacock & Henry Byalikov, Team Australia
They bring a different energy this week by performing a Jive to "Ding Dong Daddy" by Cherry Pioppin' Daddies. The characters they bring are great. Very high energy, though there was a little bit of a sloppy moment towards the beginning. Overall, I thought it was a great way go this round. The number was very enjoyable and it showed off their great technique – Giselle's got great legs.
Duo – Victor Da Silva & Claudia Savvides, South Africa
Tonight is a night for great costumes – Claudia's outfit is fab as is her makeup. They're dancing to "One Night Only" from the movie Dreamgirls, not from the Original Broadway Cast which I urge you all to check out if musicals are your thing. I digress. The lifts are impressive, certainly, but I found the fast section a little awkward. I appreciate the change of pace but I'm not sure it matches their style well.
Duo – Miriam Larici & Leonardo Barrionuevo, Argentina
Leonardo is improving with his projecting emotions steadily. But it's hard when Miriam looks like she'd eat him up with a side of jam. It's like a candle trying to be as bright as the sun. Anyway, they were great as always. I'm thinking they'll get first place.
The Bronze medal winners are Giselle & Henry with 58 points. They suffered from going first and got low-balled. With 59 points, Victor & Claudia get Silver while Miriam & Leonardo get Gold with 66.
Group – Team USA
It's an interesting concept – they come out moving in slow motion while one member does spoken word with a shout-out to all the other types of dances (and hence dancers) on the show while a member does a mini-solo on the side. Then the music kicks into "Universal Mind Control" by Common — they pick the best songs to dance to. The number is basically an Ode to Old School with lots of popping & locking and b-boy stances. I dug it, though I liked last week's number overall better.
Australia gets the Bronze with 53 points — pretty low score. The Monks from China got 57 points, also kind of low, leaving the Groovaloos from the US with the Gold thanks to 66 points.
Though the Aussies as a whole were in the lead by 7 or 8 points before the Group numbers, the Groovaloos are just too enjoyable to deny. USA wins the overall title by 5 points with Australia in second and South Africa in third. And there was celebration and hugging and clapping and smiling and…they're playing "We Are The Champions" by Queen at the end. Really?
Assorted Bits & Pieces
The more I think about Flatley not dancing live and them just relying on a clip from a previously released special, the more it kind of chaps my hide. To extend Susie's Tiger Woods metaphor, essentially this was like going golfing with Woods but instead of him actually playing, he just shows you a clip from The Masters on a Zune.
When they do this again (and the ratings seemed strong enough/production costs low enough that they would), they need a major overhaul. If you're giving out medals, there should be some scoring rules to ensure consistency.
In the grand scheme of things, I did like seeing the different types of dances from each country. They should just move to a straight up showcase. I'd be perfectly happy watching without judges. And crappy camera angles.
I still think Philip Chbeeb should've been on the show instead of Muraine.
What are your thoughts about tonight's mildly grand finale? Have any opinion about the placings? How they can improve the show next time around? Any favorite numbers? Thanks for watching with me!