So You Think You Can Dance: New Winner Crowned!

sytycd_finale_004So You Think You Can Dance may have fallen down the rabbit hole this season, but it was, at least, a fun ride. For one, there were six finalist this season. That’s a first. Other firsts include the first krumper and the first married couple ever to make it to the finale. There were also countless injuries and shake-ups. Though not many people stood out from the pack this season, I attribute it to the fact that so many contestants, trained and untrained, were just that good. With all the changes, the season felt a little awkward, but that can’t deter from the fact that I would be perfectly happy having Jakob, Russell, Kathryn or Ellenore make it to the end. Alas, only one will win so Tuesday night’s performance was all about proving to America why they deserve to be crowned the champion and win the big bucks.

Each dancer had the opportunity to perform with each contestant of the opposite sex, i.e. three dances per person. (Did anyone else miss seeing the boys perform a number and the girl perform one? And don’t get me started on the lack of solos.) I appreciated that the routines were non-stop, but one hour just didn’t seem enough. Like Glee’s mid-season finale, I could have dealt without a two-hour, fluffed-up show but would have liked a nice super-sized one, maybe an hour and 30. But let me stop nitpicking. I’ve ranked my choices, but that’s not to say that’s who I think America would have picked. We’ll get to all that a little later.

1. Kathryn and Ryan performed a Jason Gilkinson to “Magalenha” by Sergio Mendes. Ever since Dance With Me, this song makes me think Vanessa Williams and body rolls. I enjoyed the performance in that movie more than this one, but it was still sexy. 9

2. Jakob and Ellenore danced a Tyce Broadway number to “I Gotcha” from Fosse (Original Broadway Cast). These two performed as equals, and Ellenore was sexy AND normal. 10

3. Ashleigh and Russell performed a lyrical jazz routine by Sonya to “Angel Standing By” by Jewel. It’s not often Sonya gives us something so soft and simple. The piece was gorgeous, and I would never though these two weren’t jazz dancers. 9

sytycd_finale_0024. Ellenore and Ryan danced a jazz piece by Gary Stewart to “Kontact Me” by Boys Noise. Last time Gary pulled into the SYTYCD station, I wasn’t quite on the train, but this one grew on me. Nigel called it a technical exercise and devoid of emotion, but it was really intriguing and clearly difficult. 9

5. Jakob and Ashleigh performed a Foxtrot by Jean Marc to “Let the Good Times Roll” by Chuck Brown & Eva Cassidy. I can’t say I was incredibly riveted by this work, but there’s also nothing bad to say. It was a nice piece, performed well, and it looked pretty. 8

6. Ellenore and Russell danced a Jason Gilkinson Paso Doble  to “Village Attack” from the Blood Diamond soundtrack. Now, this is a ballroom number. There was nothing but drama, skirts swooshing, chest bared and hard, foot stomping. Yes. 10

7. Kathryn and Jacob performed a contemporary piece by Dwight Rhoden and Desmond Richardson to “At This Moment” by Michael Buble. And no, my score is not a typo. Nigel dubbed this one a showstopper. And I dubbed it perfection. If this beautiful and emotional dance doesn’t get an Emmy, I’ll cry. 11

8. Ashleigh and Ryan performed a Travis Wall contemporary routine to “I’m There Too” by Michelle Featherstone. Usually Travis bowls me over, but Nigel was right when he said for the umpteenth time that Ashleigh had more chemistry with Jakob than her husband. 8

9. Kathryn and Russell dance a hip-hop number by Nappy/Tabs to “I Can Transform Ya” by Chris Brown (feat. Lil Wayne and Swizz Beats). And Nappy/Tabs is BACK! It took them practically all season. They dropped the characters that had turned their routines into more cheese and less dance as of late and just focused on the steps and the attitude. Bomb. 9

sytycd_final6THE FINALIST
FIRST. Jakob performed an energized Broadway routine that really flexed his technical side and his smooth, classy style. I know that many people may feel that Jakob doesn’t really deserve to win because he had crazy skills from the get-go, but I say WAH WAH! Nigel said that he hoped Jakob would join a Company so that he’d be surrounded by people at his talent level who could push him. Amen to that brother! I’d buy a ticket to that show, and I be 100% confident that I’d see an even better dancer in him. Adam called him selfless for how committed to his partner he is when, with all he could do, he could just steal the show.

SECOND. Russell is the quintessential SYTYCD choice. Since the beginning, the judges made it clear that he was their favorite, and he continued to surprise them and the audience, I believe. I think his piece with Ashleigh encapsulated perfectly how he’s grown as a performer. He was pointing his toes, flowing effortlessly, emoting and doing double spins in the air. I could barely watch Ashleigh because he was so commanding and strong. This is a krumper who not only excels in his genre, but can morph into this soft and touching jazz dancer. He brought Mary to tears in his first number!

THIRD. Kathryn caught me by surprise. I wouldn’t have put any money on her during auditions, and though I discovered her talents quite early in the season, I still didn’t expect her to make it this far. At least not then. Of course as the last few weeks have progressed, her potential only became more apparent. It’s always a little easier for the prettier people, and she’s gorgeous, but she’s also a beautiful dancer. When she’s doing something like contemporary or jazz, she’s effervescent. When she pulls Hip-Hop, she somehow musters up a helluva lot of flavor. And when she gets ballroom, she’s muy caliente. Nigel often called for more emotion from her since he could rarely pick on her technical prowess, but though she may not play characters as well as her old partner Legacy, she always seemed to emote joy when she danced.

FOURTH. Ellenore was easily my favorite girl for a long, long time. Unfortunately, some of her off-stage quirks overshadowed her dancing. When she pulled an odd-style number, the judges either always focused on how it should have been perfect for her but was too strange or was perfect for her and was still strange. It couldn’t have helped her to repeatedly have the words odd, weird or quirky fly about every time she was critiqued. I still believe she‘s insanely talented, and these last performances really proved it even more. Though her number with Ryan was “weird,” she was awesome in it. And as Adam said, she really was the most beautiful I’d ever seen her when she performed that jazz number with Jakob and super hot in her paso doble.

FIFTH. Ashleigh is one I truly felt bad for because in her opening number with Russell, he completely overshadowed her. I always felt like she didn’t, exactly, deserve to win. Though she does get an award for winning me over when I kind of despised her during the audition rounds. But it became clear that she had no chance after that first number. No matter how much you evolve, how can you compare to a krumper’s transformation? I will say her Foxtrot was her shining moment. She was graceful, beautiful to watch and poised, but she lost a lot of momentum since she was unable to perform the prior week.

sytycd_finale_007SIXTH. Ryan is extremely likable, and I think that he stuck around because who doesn’t like to watch a guy in love with his beautiful wife, who’s supportive, nice to look at, strong and can spin you in circles around the dance floor? He also conquered challenge after challenge. (That’s if we act like hip-hop never happened.) But he managed to stay in the background when he partnered, and his solos, although often entertaining, were never inspiring or breath-taking. He was always fighting a losing battle.

About 45 minutes into the show something went terribly wrong. Not so surprising since this is the cursed season and all. As Cat brought out the top six, her mic stopped working. She was handed a new one and then the intro/outro music was cued. This left Cat asking what was going on. Then only three contestants appeared. Left are Ryan and Ellenore to help Russell onto the stage. He was practically bawling and his leg clearly hurt. But the show must go on however torturously uncomfortable the atmosphere. And for the first time in a long time, I was completely gripped by the tube. Seriously, I was watching SYTYCD sans DVR so it felt as if it was happening in real time. ::Shivers::

There are many reasons to explain why my memory is  worse than a goldfish’s, but I swear I forgot about two-thirds of the dancers who came back. Good thing Kelley Abbey, a deftly hidden choreographer, reminded me with her jazz number of how amazing they were, even if many still remained nameless.

It was strange to see a panel of judges again, since they’d been missing all season, but I really did miss them. Lil C chose Kevin, Legacy and a Russell number from the “showcase” episode. With this hip-hop routine as the opening number, I had a really good feeling that this was going to be a night of great routines performed even better the second time around. These boys hit it hard and fast. (THAT’s what she said.) Then, Adam picked a Sonya contemporary piece danced by Ellenore and Jakob. This one will go down as one of the best finale performances ever. Predictably, Nigel chose a tap number by Derrick Grant, including Phillip, Peter and Bianca. It was okay the first time, and meh on this illustrious night.

One number was very out of place, and that was Mary’s pick. Ashleigh and Ryan were allowed the rare opportunity to perform their own jive. Clearly, this was just a ploy to get the married coupled together in a dance of their style since they didn’t have one all season, but I’m getting sick of their married this, married that, blah blah. Nigel picked a repeat of Kathryn and Jakob’s fantastic number from the night before. It was nice to see a little ethnic diversity with Tyce’s pick of Nathan and Mollee’s Bollywood dance.

One of the performances was impeded by Russell’s injury, like the African jazz “Frog” dance chosen by Debbie Allen. Instead they played a tape. The audience must have felt jipped, though I couldn’t tell the difference. I did feel for Noelle who must have been excited to dance again, especially after all that practice, but she’s in the top 10 anyway.

The last few dances included Lil C’s choice of Arianna, Jakob, Channing and Nathan “Crying” contemporary number and Nappy/Tab’s hip-hop routine with Russell and Kathryn from the prior night. And to close out the evening, Nigel picked this season’s top 20 (really top 19 without Bill Bell who’ll probably be auditioning next season again or Brandon Dumlao) opening, group number, choreographed by Wade and his wife Amanda. It’s, by far, one of my favorite group numbers in the show’s six seasons. It showcased all the dancers well (especially pre-whiney Nathan) and Jakob. All-in-all, a enticing trip down memory lane. (With four out of 11 dances hailing from the ‘Meet the Top 20′ night, I have a feeling that’s not the last we’ll see of the new format.)

With Adam Lambert, Leona Lewis (singing the Avatar theme song), Mary J. Blige and Jennifer Lopez gracing the stage, FOX really pulled out all the stops. The fall season didn’t catch on with every SYTYCD lover which is understandable. I was a little daunted by the workout that my DVR and Hulu would get because of the amount of time per week that would have to be devoted to one show where there once was none. So the finale is their last ditch effort to grab some numbers. (Don’t you love how they exhibit other dancers, groups and troupes all season and then throw a concert for the finale?)

sytycd_finale_011I hate being pandered to, but I didn’t complain that I got to see sneak peaks of Avatar on the big screen behind Leona Lewis’s performance. (Zach Morris Time Out: The song put me to sleep, and Leona sucked. Guess which was a surprise.) The Groovaloos a b-boy/hip-hop group spun, flipped and danced their butts off, and then Adam Lambert got a reprieve. Unlike the AMAs, he’s dressed in in a sharp, slate suit, though a tumor was growing from his shoulder, and there wasn’t a lick of pelvic thrust or tongue action. Boring! I actually enjoyed the song, but I’m still non-plussed when it comes to his singing. (See: my AI reviews.) I did feel his “Whataya Want From Me?” squeals. Prime lyric choice.

Later, Mary J. brought down the house with “I Am”, looking fabulous and making me want to murder for her outfit. (All jealous of how 15 years look like five on her.) Though Jennifer Lopez (Don’t let her hear you call her J. Lo?) lip-synched to “Louboutins,” she reminded me of the woman who used to put on a great show instead of the one the paparazzi forgot about. The girl’s also still got moves and brought some SYTYCD alums on the stage with her. Bonus points!

Out with sixth place is Ryan, and then his wife Ashleigh followed. At that point, I was two for two but I guess those were the easiest ones. Ellenore got a standing O when she went out in fourth place. Nigel had spoken earlier about the fact that all the choreographers raved about her, so she must have been a tough one for the judges to see go. Yet, the kid inside of me was jumping up and down that things were still going my way. (I know I say that I’d put money on things a lot. Now, I wished that I literally did.) Kathryn was awarded the bronze medal, and it’s official. This recaper is psychic! AND the winner was…..not Jakob! Russell was overcome with emotions as he went from tearing off his shirt and growling to crying. Cat had a hard time reeling him in, but she eventually did even if the credits were rolling over their faces.

So my house of cards didn’t quite stack up in the end, but I’m happy with the final outcome. I can only imagine insanely wonderful things for Jakob in the future, and Russell definitely transformed into a new man and dancer. This season has had some crazy lows and some major highs and a whole lot of firsts. It won’t be the most memorable season or the most thoughtfully produced, but I’m thankful, this holiday season, for fall SYTYCD and the beautiful dancers and innovative choreographers it brought with it.  Until next season!

For another take on this week’s episode, check out This is It! by Trisha Huntsman.

Season 6, Episodes 23 & 24:  The Top 6 Perform & Finale: Winner Announced (originally aired December 15 & 16, 2009)

For more on So You Think You Can Dance, click here.

Tuesdays and Wednesdays at 8/7c on Fox

Photographs courtesy of Fox and IMDbPro

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