At last, City Kids! It’s the Thrilling Finally. Er, the finale. The SYTYCD team brought all the contestants back for one more performance and announced the two dancers who have earned the big prize: the cover of Dance Spirit magazine and more than $100,000.
Cat Deeley, stylish in an art deco-looking dress, introduced the top 20, who took the stage in their original pairings—except Malece, who danced solo because Jade’s injury had forced him to quit the competition, and the top 4, who each had a full eight counts to themselves. There were a few flips in those introductions, and not all were stellar (Carlos’s backflip was particularly rough). Fik-Shun danced a cute Charleston.
Cat also introduced our judges, who weren’t judging but just enjoying themselves: Mary Murphy, executive producer Nigel Lythgoe, Adam Shankman, Paula Abdul, and Stephen “tWitch” Boss. Happily, Nigel informed the viewers that the show will definitely be back next year for Season 11.
Our first trip down memory lane came even before a Top 20 routine, as we remembered the auditions and tearful Vegas Week. It’s sad, there are so many talented, outstanding dancers, but the weeks are so full that it’s easy to forget them. That’s why these reminders are so important.
The show also took viewers through the 5 top moments from the audition tour starting with Shanshan Qiao-Rothlisberger, the Mongolian bowl dancer we met in Memphis, who confused everyone with what is usually carried in those bowls (here’s a hint: it’s not whore’s milk). Shane Garcia’s story was as touching this time as it was in Austin when we learned how his animation and flexing allows him to speak freely despite his severe stutter. Four-year-old Anthony was also as adorable as we remembered from his Austin “audition,” and we all shared the mix of embarrassment and amusement to see Mary again receive a lap dance (practically) from Will "Sysko" Green in Detroit. The number one audition moment was a new, live performance from Movement Box, John Tesoriero and his musician, vocal percussionist Gene Shinozaki, from Boston. So exciting to see them perform again, with great musicality and fun interaction.
The Top 20 danced a fun new fusion routine to Paul Anka’s “Wonderwall,” choreographed by Season 2’s Ivan Koumaev, his first time choreographing on the show. He collaborated with others incorporating different styles like hip-hop, jazz, Broadway, swing, and tap. It even included the “Miley special,” that stiff-legged lean-over-and-shake-your-tail-feathers move that Cyrus did in lieu of twerking (though everyone called it twerking) at the VMAs. But unlike Miley, these women are talented dancers who could do more than just shake their bums.
Time now for the judges to introduce their favorite routines, starting with Paula’s choice: Makenzie and Paul dancing Mandy Moore’s beautiful contemporary routine “Edge of Glory.” The choreography is still lovely but the dancers were not as surefooted, losing some of the unison and power of the original performance.
Adam requested the “Twitch and Twitch Jr.” (Twitch and Fik-Shun) routine from last week, choreographed by Luther Brown, to which Twitch replied by ripping off his jacket and tie and jumping up on stage. Guess that’s a yes, then. It was still hugely entertaining, and both dancers can be sure that the sneaker company will come knocking for them to shill in their commercials.
Speaking of shilling, we were privileged to see a sneak performance from the upcoming movie Battle of the Year, choreographed by Dave Scott and featuring a fierce crew of hip-hop and break-dancers including Season 3’s adorable Dominic Sandoval. Those men flew around in unbelievable flips and leaps, spinning on their heads. It’s amazing they didn’t have any injuries (that we know of). But where were the women? We know there are women hip-hoppers, but none of them were present in the movie trailer.
Nigel and Twitch both picked our favorites: Anthony Morigerato’s tap routine from the Top 20 with Aaron, Curtis, and Alexis, and Nico (sigh) and Hayley’s Sean Cheesman Broadway routine to "Kiss of the Spider Woman." Both routines were fantastic. The first had great musicality, fast moving slides, clean rhythms, and silences (it’s still so thrilling that a tapper made it to the final 4). The second had that amazing lift with Nico pulling Hayley over his head by her leg. The last lift looked a little rough; Nico probably faux-knocked his head around one too many times.
Mary chose Robert and Tucker dancing Travis Wall’s Medicine routine, equally as powerful and emotional as the first time. "Good choice, Mary," said Cat. As if there were any doubt. We’re calling it now: That routine will probably be up for an Emmy next year.
Not to be outdone, Cat also picked a favorite routine: Jasmine and Comfort in last week’s NappyTabs. Amazing, strong, and fierce. Girl Power indeed. Why didn’t Dave Scott hire them for his movie?
The Final 4 also encored their favorite routines. Jasmine revived her Ray Leeper jazz number to Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines” with all-star Marko. The song looked much better here than at the VMAs; it was still sharp, clean, and full of personality. Amy and Fik-Shun happened to choose the same routine for their encore: the NappyTabs “After Party,” aka the bell hop routine. Fun but we would have preferred to see something else (like perhaps their Viennese waltz—especially considering there was no ballroom this evening). Aaron chose his Stacey Tookey contemporary routine with all-star Kathryn. It must be difficult to bring some of these routines back, especially after working so hard on many others. While lovely, the last lift looked scary, almost as if he started to lose his grip on her and brought her down early.
What a jampacked evening. We were treated to a few other encores and even a new routine. Amy and Travis encored “Wicked Game” and Jenna (the perennial judges’ favorite) joined Mark to dance his giant lip-couch wacka-do jazz piece, both from three weeks ago; the Top 10 guys reprised Christopher Scott’s brilliant sand dance, and we again saw the mind-blowing routine that started off the season, NappyTabs’ incredible “Puttin’ on the Ritz” routine that traveled through the backstage area with lots of guest spots from choreographers. NappyTabs also choreographed a new routine for the Top 10 and the all-stars, a psycho-beach party number set to the B-52s’s “Rock Lobster,” complete with a section of strobe flipping (across the universe). When it ended, Cat (somewhat randomly) pointed out that the legendary dancer Ben Vereen was in the audience.
One last treat before the final business: Mary and Nigel hysterically revised Amy and Fik-Shun’s “Let’s Get it On” routine, with a surprise appearance from Adam. What a ham Nigel is. They clearly had lots of fun with it, and what a treat to see that historic footage of Nigel in the 1960s. Classic.
Finally, it was the moment of truth. Are you ready for the winners? Ladies and gentlemen, your favorite dancers are... Fik-Shun and Amy!
Cat told us that Amy had brought in the highest number of votes on the show, which is encouraging considering how much of the audience is female. We had expected Jasmine (and Aaron) to win and suspect that it turned around for Amy only in the last week or two. We also think many people would have been happy with either result. How about you? Did your favorite dancer win?