updated 08/11/2011 AT 3:00 PM ET
•originally published 08/11/2011 AT 3:10 PM ET
Coming in to Wednesday’s So You Think You Can Dance performance finale, the judges believed it was a race between Sasha and Melanie, but after the first few routines it was clear that it was anyone’s game to win.
“You were a little uncomfortable with the style,” judge Nigel Lythgoe told Melanie and Marko after their disco routine. “I hope I’m going to see better from you in later routines.”
“On paper it looked like it was going to be good,” Lythgoe told reporters of the super couple reuniting for the first time in weeks. “But did it translate? Not to me.”
A little later Sasha and Tadd also received feedback that their routine was “uncomfortable.”
“This did not work tonight,” judge Mary Murphy told the duo of their Mark Ballas-choreographed ballroom number.
“I think this was a little ambitious,” added guest judge Kenny Ortega, who pointed out that each finalist had to learn four routines this week, practice routines for Thursday s finale and choreograph solos.
“They did look exhausted. They’ve worked so hard across the entire series,” Lythgoe said of the rigorous demands this week that left Marko telling reporters “everything” was hurting.
Four Amazing Dancers
Regardless, Lythgoe was admittedly “a little disappointed” with some of the finale performances.
“[The finale] didn’t feel as special as it normally does,” Lythgoe said, looking back on the show. “But we’ve got four amazing dancers up there, each deserving to be there.”
And the dancers did seem to shine when partnered with all-stars.
“They didn’t have the luxury of wallowing in [the criticism],” Murphy said. “They only had a few moments to slap on another costume and come out because they danced so many times.”
As a result, Sasha got a ride on Muphy’s “hot tamale train” after her contemporary routine with season 4’s Mark Kanemura that had Lythgoe claiming she “threw down the gauntlet.”
“I don’t think I ever felt a competitive inch in my body,” Sasha said. “I was just taking in that it was the last time we would, in competition, get to perform for America.”
Later, Lythgoe claimed Melaine “picked up the gauntlet and slapped [Sasha] in the face with it” after an emotional routine with season 7’s Robert Roldan.
“I don’t think I slapped her in the face with it. I wouldn’t do that,” Melanie said. “But if there is a challenge on the table, I’m definitely going to accept it.”
Not to be left out, Marko’s routine with season 7 winner Lauren Froderman was deemed “magical” by guest judge Katie Holmes, and Tadd wowed the judges by “hustling hard” with season 4 winner Joshua Allen.
Who Will Win?
“In our opinion, we’ve already all won,” Marko said. “The friendship and knowledge that we’ve gained - that’s the prize we’ve all been wanting.”
And even though they faltered a bit with some of their co-ed routines, the top 4 closed out the show with a “beautiful” routine from Melanie and Sasha and a stepping routine from Marko and Tadd that Murphy called “absolute gold.”
But despite the solid showing from the boys Wednesday, Lythgoe was still confident enough to publicly declare that a woman will win the season.
“Both the girls were stronger than the boys tonight,” Lythgoe said ahead of Thursday’s finale, where viewers will make the ultimate decision. “The women were beasts this season.”