Well, we have officially crowned America’s Favorite Male and Female Dancers. It just doesn’t have the same ring it used to, does it? The top 20 came back for one more evening of fabulous dancing and extreme hyperbole from Nigel before we bid our favorite (well, mine anyway) dance program adieu until next summer. My favorites of the night are in video form for your enjoyment.
Speaking of hyperbole, Nigel said that the opening group number was the best opening routine they have ever had on this show. See, I just don’t think you should set something up that way. The truth is the opening routine choreographed by Sonya Tayeh and Christopher Scott was very beautiful. It used gorgeous wind effects and costuming. But I can think of 3 group routines choreographed by Wade Robson off the top if my head that featured better musicality, more original choreography, and made better use of the space and number of dancers. That’s not to say that this routine wasn’t beautiful, but damn it, you said it was the best, and now I’m comparing it to every group routine I have ever loved. Oh, just thought of a NappyTabs one I liked better. Anyway, it was a good opening number though.
There were two other new group numbers choreographed for the finale. One was a NappyTabs Lion King themed hip-hop, which the show closed with. It was fun and high energy. Then there was a group routine performed by Cyrus, tWitch, Comfort, and Christopher Scott (who was AH-mazing). The choreography featured a lot of animation and popping and an amazing freeze and slow motion section near the beginning. It was super fun, super entertaining, and really well-executed. Loved it.
The six judges participating in the finale were Nigel, Mary, Tyce Diorio, Debbie Allen, Adam Shankman (I love you!), and Lil C (I love your alliterations!). Each of them got to pick a favorite routine from this season.
Nigel’s pick – “Unchained Melody”
Contestants: Audrey and Matthew
Choreographer/style: Travis Wall/contemporary
Would I have picked it? Absolutely. This was one of the most memorable pieces of the season. It was performed with real passion and chemistry.
Lil’ C’s pick – “My Homies Still”
Contestants: Witney and All-Star tWitch
Choreographer/style: Luther Brown/hip-hop
Would I have picked it? Definitely. This was without question the strongest hip-hop routine of the entire season, just in terms of execution. It was also a great example of Witney’s versatility. Plus the waiting for the bus move is cool.
Debbie’s pick – “Turning Page”
Contestants: Tiffany and George
Choreographer/style: Sonya Tayeh/contemporary
Would I have picked it? Probably not, but it definitely deserved the recognition. This was one of the most underrated pieces of the season. There were so many gorgeous and special moments in it.
Adam’s pick – “Unstoppable”
Contestants: Cole and Lindsay
Choreographer/style: Jason Gilkinson/paso doble
Would I have picked it? Yes. This was an incredibly powerful and passionate performance and made both Lindsay and Cole favorites of mine from the beginning.
Tyce’s pick – “The Lovecats”
Contestants: Will and Amelia
Choreographer/style: Napoleon and Tabitha D’umo/hip-hop
Would I have picked it? Although this was the beginning of a streak of mediocre and cop-out hip-hop this season, in its own right it was a wonderfully choreographed and executed dance and Will and Amelia were perfection in it. Still, it wouldn’t have been one of my top 10 picks.
Mary’s pick – “Eli, Eli”
Contestants: Chehon and Kathryn
Choreographer/style: Tyce Diorio/contemporary
Would I have picked it? Yes. This was an incredibly poignant and emotional piece and both Chehon and Kathryn were gorgeous. I also have a HUGE girl-crush on Kathryn.
Top 4′s Picks
Each of the final 4 contestants also got to choose their favorite routine to perform, allowing them to relive their best moments from the season. Eliana chose “Bang Bang” choreographed by the incredible Stacey Tookey, definitely Eliana’s most memorable piece this season and one of my favorites overall. Nigel gushed again about how Eliana is his favorite dancer this season. Tiffany chose “The Power of Love” choreographed by Mandy Moore, a light and breathtaking piece. Mary said that she hasn’t taken a wrong step all season and once again complimented her on her spirit and the person she is.
Chehon chose his tango with Anya, “Breathing Below Surface.” I was really impressed that he was the only one to choose something outside his style. This routine was a highlight in terms of ballroom this season. Mesmerizing choreography and it really was a turning point for Chehon. Mary talked about how special it’s been to see him grow as a performer over the course of the season. Cyrus chose his animation-style duet with tWitch, “Like a Criminal.” It was a really powerful routine. Nigel talked about Cyrus’ charisma and infectious hunger to learn.
There were a couple of routines I would have liked to see again. First and foremost, Tiffany and Benji’s jive choreographed by Jean-Marc Généreux, “What I Like About You”. Ballroom aside, this was one of my favorite performances all season. Her kicks and just the way she nods her head! She nailed it, and of course, Benji is just awesome.
I also wish we had been able to see Will and Lauren’s Christopher Scott hip-hop “Dance My Pain Away”. This was by far and away the best lyrical hip-hop. It had the most interesting choreography, was well-executed, and featured the most honest and mature performance we saw from Will all season. Finally, out of a multitude of really fantastic contemporary this season, I would have chosen “Leave”, Chehon and Allison’s Stacey Tookey piece from last week. It was just beautiful, breathtaking, and emotionally dynamic from both performers. Plus it’s the ultimate example of Chehon’s leaping and partnering skills.
I also loved Witney’s Travis Wall jazz with Nick Lazzarini about the ghosts of nightclub performers – it just had a cool, sexy feeling about it – but I’m not sure it would make my top 10 list. One of the best performances all season was Cole and Lindsay’s interpretation of Mia’s addiction piece, but as a routine from a previous season I get why it didn’t get a replay.
America’s Favorite Dancers are…
The finale also featured highlights from the audition tour (including a live performance from the Dragon House Crew from whence Cyrus hails), a live performance from Carlie Rae Jeppesen (with previous contestants Ryan and Nathan!), and Tiffany and Brandon’s Doriana Sanchez disco routine (random but awesome).
The Girls: I don’t think you can say that either of these girls didn’t deserve to be in the finale. They are both incredibly talented. It’s no secret that I have favored Tiffany for a few weeks now. Nigel complimented Eliana on being able to go from mature to goofy, but to me it feels like she only has two modes. Her goofy mode is a bit over-the-top for me. I feel like Tiffany brings more nuance and variation to her performance. I also think that Tiffany is a little bit more versatile, although Eliana may be more talented in her own style. Eliana held her own in other styles, but all her memorable performances were contemporary for me, while Tiffany killed basically every genre. All that being said, Eliana always brings 100% to her performance and my preference for Tiffany’s performing style may just come down to personal taste. In the end, Eliana won out of the girls, and she worked hard and earned it.
The Guys: I wasn’t a big Chehon fan at first, but I was definitely in his corner when it came down to the end (still miss Cole though). I feel like if Cyrus had ever been in danger, he would have been sent home ages ago. I won’t say he didn’t deserve to be in the finale because obviously he connected with America in a serious way and he always worked hard. Still, Chehon grew leaps and bounds (no pun intended) over the course of the competition and in addition to that, he is an incredibly gifted dancer who has trained his ass off for years to perfect his craft. America agreed with me on this one and Chehon was dubbed America’s Favorite Dancer (of the male persuasion) and there was much rejoicing.
So, there you have it for this year. How did you guys like the season? Did you agree with the choices the judges and dancers made for the finale? Any favorite moments? Were you happy about the winners? Share your thoughts! I’ll be re-watching my favorite dances over and over to tide myself over until next summer.
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Tags: So You Think You Can Dance