‘America’s Got Talent: The Champions’ recap of February 10 performance finale [UPDATING LIVE BLOG]

Monday night the 10 finalists of  “America’s Got Talent: The Champions” season 2 performed their final routines for the votes of the “AGT” Superfans. The finalists showed a wide range of talents this year, including three acrobatic acts: American trapeze artists Duo Transcend and Sandou Trio Russian Bar, as well as India’s acrobatic dance group V.Unbeatable who are in turn joined by two other dance groups: Britain’s Boogie Storm and America’s Silhouettes.

Then there’s Germany’s Alexa Lauenberg and her multi-talented dogs whose act is very different from the musical-based talents of singers Angelina Jordan and Marcelito Pomoy as well as violinist Tyler Butler-Figueroa. And rounding out the slate of finalists is, of course, Hans, the accordion playing singer-dancer who is pretty much every talent in the competition rolled into one.

SEE ‘America’s Got Talent’ winners: Where are they now updates for first 13 ‘AGT’ champions [PHOTOS]

Terry Crews returned to host this season, but there was another shake-up of the judges. Simon Cowell and Howie Mandel remained on the panel but the other two judges from last season’s “AGT” — Julianne Hough and Gabrielle Union — were gone. In their place were long-time “America’s Got Talent” judge Heidi Klum and Simon’s pal from “Britain’s Got Talent” Alesha Dixon.

Read our minute-by-minute recap below to find out which four acts from Monday’s episode moved on in the competition.

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8:04 p.m. – The night of performances kicked off with Alexa Lauenberg, the dog trainer from Germany who first performed for the “Got Talent” series at the age of just 10. The incredible thing that she and her dogs bring to the competition is how many tricks her dogs can accomplish in one act. Tonight, as always, the 10 dogs began on their own pedestals in the back until Alexa called some of them forward at different times. Her mastery in having unique calls for 10 different dogs that they all obey allows her to stand apart from other dog acts across the series. The dogs were able to show off their skills in jumping rope, flipping, hurdling and then their signature move of creating a conga line in order of size. Howie was especially impressed with Alexa’s composure under the pressure of the night, but Simon took a step back to say that for this performance she wasn’t up to the standard she set for herself in past performances.

8:12 p.m.Duo Transcend‘s story on AGT is very much a personal one and it shows that their journey together as a couple and family is what inspires their art. Tonight they dedicated their final performance to their son and promised something they’ve never done before. While they typically save the blindfolding for the end of their routine, tonight they started off with blindfolds and continued through one of their most dangerous routines using only touch and each other’s bodies as guiding posts. You could tell by Mary’s emotions at the end of the act how intense the tricks were. The judges were effusive in their praise of the routine, with Simon pointing out what a giant risk they took and saying that it was by far their best routine to date.

8:30 p.m. – First round Golden Buzzer act Angelina Jordan took the stage next, looking to defend her “Norway’s Got Talent” title and to live out her dream (to sing in front of Simon) one more time. With the audience lighting the crowd with their phones, Angelina delivered a gorgeous rendition of Elton John‘s piano ballad “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road.” It was a mature, confident and incredibly controlled performance that showed off many facets of her voice. Self-named “Golden Buzzer mama” Heidi called it an “incredible” performance and Alesha said it was “beautifully delicate.” It was also the first act that Howie was completely on board with after he was underwhelmed by the first two.

8:40 p.m. – The second Golden Buzzer act to perform tonight was Boogie Storm, the dance group that is one of Simon’s all time faves. You’ll remember that it was Simon who gave them the free pass to the finals even though they performed the night it was Howie who controlled that power. As pointed out in their package, their Golden Buzzer moment was one of the more controversial choices, especially on social media. To surprise Simon, and perhaps to thank him for his support, they incorporated a video of his son into their presentation, but at the end of the day it was still just a medley of dances by a group of people in storm trooper costumes. Like me, Howie was not impressed, stating in his critique that the “dancing is not fantastic and there’s no message.” That was all after Howie hit his red X button mid-performance! Alesha at least acknowledged that they aren’t the best dancers, but she was more on the side of Heidi and Simon (who loved it) than on the side of Howie. Even Simon’s praise of them is about the gimmick of their costuming (seriously, he speaks of them as actual storm troopers) than about their talent. Shrug!

8:51 p.m. – The finals continued with another dance routine from a Golden Buzzer act, this time by Alesha’s choice Silhouettes who first performed on the series in 2011. Silhouettes are truly masters of their craft, using light and shadow to tell stories through dance. Tonight their message of giving and caring for the homeless (a family whose house was foreclosed on them) struck a chord with the panel, leaving both Alesha and Heidi in tears. Alesha loved that they tackled a major issue with such clarity in storytelling. Howie backed up his critique of Boogie Storm’s non-messaging by highlighting that Silhouettes are great because they use the platform to bring attention to serious issues. Simon was the odd one out on this one, claiming that it wasn’t their best performance and that they should have stepped it up more.

9:05 p.m. – It was the feathers appearing on stage that clued Heidi into Hans being the next act to perform. The extravagant entertainer returned tonight with the confidence of knowing that he’s already changed Simon from non-fan to fan. Unfortunately that love was short-lived because halfway into the performance tonight Simon hit his red X. But like the star he is, Hans remained unphased by that slap and continued with his high energy performance to a remix of Jennifer Lopez‘s “Let’s Get Loud.” Hans was comedic, energetic and confident, but Simon found it all to be “torture.” Lucky for Hans, the vote tonight is’t up to the judges and he at least had the support of the other three judges who adore his energy and the fun he brings to the show.

9:17 p.m. – Hoping to not receive the third red X of the night was violinist Tyler Butler-Figueroa. Last week in the semis Tyler brought a vocalist on stage with him, a decision that Simon was not particularly happy with. Instead Simon thought he should be confident enough to stand on stage alone with his own talents front and center. Tonight he did just that, performing a cool and confident rendition of Jeff Buckley‘s “Hallelujah.” The judges gave him a standing ovation, with Simon noting that the stripped back version of the iconic song made him “vulnerable and endearing” and that it gave him a shot of actually winning the competition. Heidi found it a very confident move to scale it so far back in comparison of how loud the other performers can be in their performances.

9:28 p.m. – Next up was Howie’s Golden Buzzer act V.Unbeatable, the acrobatic dance troupe from India. The group made the finals in their original season, but were left disappointed as a runner-up after many expected they’d be crowned the winner. Tonight they did not come to play, instead showing exactly how powerful they can be when performing at their best. They showed off their insane sense of timing, remained perfectly precise and successfully completed multiple daring tricks. They used bicycles, large tires and acrobat ribbons to make some of their tumbles and tower-building even more impressive. No one was more supportive of them in their praise than Howie and Alesha thanked him for hitting his Golden Buzzer for them because she believes they “danced for their lives.”

9:39 p.m.Marcelito Pomoy‘s talent is that he can sing just as well as a tenor as he can a soprano, going back and forth between the two within one song. Tonight he went with the well-known ballad “Beauty and the Beast” as the vehicle to show off his fascinating vocal style. I think the song actually moved at such a fast pace that it was a big risk for Marcelito, and a few cracks did show in his delivery, but ultimately it was an impressive performance that sets him firmly apart from everyone else in the competition. For Heidi, Marcelito’s talent is something that “never gets old” and she appreciates that he always picks songs that they know. Alesha and Howie both thought he upped his game from previous performances and Simon, who last week thought maybe the surprise of it was over, enjoyed it, but still called the song choice predictable.

9:53 p.m. – The night of performances was capped off by danger acrobatic act Sandou Trio Russian Bar. This is an act that had an embarrassing send off in their original run on season 6 of “AGT.” Leaving the singing attempts behind them, the trio has had a strong run this season with just their Russian bar act standing on its own. Last week they performed with fire at their feet and tonight they switched the flames out for 160 nails pointed straight up…. but only for the first few tricks. Because nails weren’t enough they then lit them on fire…. but not just for one trick. Because of course they also had to add a blindfold and a flaming bar for the final flip! With the scare hanging in their bellies, the judges leapt to their feet with successful completion of the flips, cheering the group on with “epic” support. Alesha appreciates the show-womanship of the act, saying that they get better and better every time and their command of the stage is top notch.

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