Well Dance fans this is it (for real this time). Our co-winners are crowned on the ninth season finale of So You Think You Can Dance. So, did the most-deserving dancers win?
Let’s bitch it out.
Since much of this week’s finale show was a re-hash of the favourite performances of the season, we’ll reserve this review for new performances. We’ll also reconsider the season as a whole sincewe were unable to address certain issues on a week to week basis.
So, let’s take care of biz-nass right off the bat: this year’s favourite dancers are Eliana and Chehon. Out of the final four, these were absolutely my choices to win. I do however, hate the fact that there are two winners this year. I’ve been wracking my brain trying to figure out who thought this was a good idea. This competition is about finding America’s favourite dancer- not dancers. Some seasons the women are stronger than the men, or vice versa, but ultimately, what the past winners have (well, most of them) is technical skill coupled with charisma – that certain something that draws us viewers in to feel something. In my years watching the show, I’ve never felt that gender mattered in terms of these qualities.
This year, the show’s ending felt anticlimactic and more than a little bit awkward in those final moments. The girls were up first, which immediately gave the sentiment that America’s “favourite girl dancer” wasn’t as important as the “favourite guy dancer”. Although I love Chehon (quite impressed with his growth this season), if we compare him with Eliana in terms of who was the better performer, Eliana blew him out of the water. She was very quickly one of my favourites – I couldn’t look away most times she was dancing and the curly haired girl turned out to be an absolute pro in any genre that she was given. I can’t say the same about Chehon. Having co-winners diluted the prize, but if we had to have two winners, I’m glad Chehon was standing up there with Eliana. I’m hoping that we’ll go back to a single winner format next year, but something tells me we need to ride this out for a couple of years before we go back to what makes sense.
Which brings me to another point – “favourite dancer” vs. “best dancer”. In a season filled with needless semantic debates (saving vs. voting off; dancer vs. person), classifying the winner as the “favourite” just seems like a catchall term. This is the term that has allowed winners like Russell Ferguson from season six to take the title. Setting that season aside, I’ve been pretty satisfied with the winners of seasons past, and this year is no exception, even if the title was shared. I think having a “favourite” (instead of “best”) dancer allows contenders like Cyrus to end up in the finale without too much protest. This season I felt that the show was very conscious of injecting different kinds of dancers into the fold, which meant that the more technical dancers weren’t allowed to shine as brightly (like George. Sigh). As much as I would have loved to see a dancer like George go further than he did, I think the show was elevated with having unique dancers like Cyrus and Cole in the mix. I think this will bring out some more interesting talent in the audition rounds in future seasons and hopefully inspire more young dancers to pursue their dreams.
Alright, let’s move onto the dancing in the finale. First up was the obligatory Top 20 group routine, tag-team choreographed by Christopher Scott and Sonya Tayeh. In the limited five minutes of introductions before the routine, Cat and the judging panel somehow managed to over-hype the piece, thereby building unrealistic expectations. It even had a video-package trailer to introduce it! How could the routine possibly live up to this? The answer: it can’t. I think I would have really liked the routine had I just been able to enjoy it on my own terms, but was it the best opening group number in the history of the show? I think not. This one just read like a lot of running back and forth with a wind-machine set on “tornado”. Things hit ‘beautiful’ only when everyone was on the stage and dancing in sync. I would have much rather have had the routine shown without the preamble.
Mid-show we got a group hip-hop number featuring Cyrus, tWitch, Comfort and Christopher Scott himself. It was an interesting, yet simplistic concept: a poker game, with Scott’s signature Matrix-style pauses. This was a piece that totally worked for me and I wished that it would have lasted longer (always a good sign). And having the choreographer in the number itself? Brilliant. Just as I loved seeing Tyce Diorio in a Broadway number a few weeks back, Scott added that extra special something that made it appropriate for the finale. Cyrus doesn’t have to worry; he’s going to have a prosperous career long after the show is done.
In terms of guest stars, we got a nice little performance from the members of Dragon House, although it didn’t feel like a cohesive routine so much as individual solos lumped together. That critique aside, it was quite entertaining to see these guys do what they do best. This kind of showcase also makes it clear why the SYTYCD lighting team earned their Emmy this year.
Finally, we got a glimpse of what to expect on the SYTYCD tour as the Top 10 and All Stars took on a Nappy Tabs hip-hop jungle number. And it was ah-mazing. I think the judges must have gotten this one confused with the opening number when they said it was the best one they’ve seen because when comparing the two, this one takes the cake – no question. There was so much raw energy, a visceral experience that you couldn’t look away from. Bravo.
I’ve also got to mention the fashion train wreck that was the judging panel. What on Earth was going on there? Adam Shankman, you alone seem to be the only one capable of dressing yourself, but honey, could you take the time to advise your fellow judges? Lil’ C gets a pass as he looked pretty sharp overall. He only loses points when he pulls out his beard comb and starts grooming himself on the panel right then and there. I realize this might be his “thing”, but it was the equivalent to whipping out the nail clippers and going to town in public (gag). Dude, this isn’t your bathroom!
The rest of the panel was a hawt-mess: let’s start on the end with Nigel. He sported a black damask blazer (Yes, damask. Fabric that works best on couches and bedspreads), a black skinny tie with an ill-placed silver rose smack dab in the middle and a black & white polka-dot pocket square. One interesting accent is chic; it draws the eye and is intriguing. Three in a single outfit screams ‘trying too hard’.
And then we move onto Mary Murphy, who, from the neck up, is stunning. But it looks like the rhinestone parasites are back in full force, with a ginormous red poinsettia leeched on her shoulder while it pukes out a black feathered and beaded rose directly beneath. Someone get the bedazzler away from this woman. Mary – you can sparkle from within!
Next up was a poor confused Tyce Diorio, who at first glance, looks pretty sharp. But take a closer look and you’ll notice horrendous brown suede accents on his tuxedo jacket. A brown collar and arm patches on a tuxedo blazer? Really? Where the hell are we? SYTYCD community college? This outfit looks like a reject from a Project Runway hobo challenge.
But the most egregious of them all is poor Debbie Allen who looked like she just stepped out of a time machine from a prom in the early 80s. What is up with that hair? CHI-LD, are you trying to channel Queen Elizabeth I? And what about that jewelry that looks like it came from the bargain bins at Claire’s? But that black dress, oh my goodness. This is a pleated nightmare which cinephilactic affectionately termed “the crow dress”. Flap your wings and fly yourself to a stylist.
Cat Deeley, on the other hand, can do no wrong (at least tonight). She’s encrusted with rhinestones from head to toe, but a simplistic white dress with classic lines allowed her to look elegant and appropriately youthful. I also loved the way she casually brushed off the impending Emmy ceremony in which she’s nominated as Best (not favourite) Reality Host as simply a fun night out. She’s such a delight – fingers crossed that this is her year!
Some stray observations:
- Nigel tells Cyrus that “If a company doesn’t use you as the face of their product” they’re crazy. Am I the only one who has no idea what the hell that is supposed to mean? Are we going to see Cyrus in a pistachio commercial sometime soon? This is a weak attempt at an apology for what he said to Cyrus last week. More groveling is needed. I’m guessing Cyrus is going to return as an All-Star in the future, but for now, Nigel is repeatedly putting his foot in his mouth.
- Carly Rae Jepson performed and I was reminded why we haven’t seen singers on the show in a while. Because it’s a dancing show. These kinds of performances just don’t work on the show anymore. Thankfully I had the ffwd button on my DVR remote.
So that’s a wrap Dance fans. What did you think of the finale? Were you happy with the winners? Any routines you wished you could have seen again? How does this season measure up to seasons past? What will Season 10 look like? I’m hoping we’ll get an All-Star battle for “favourite” SYTYCD star. It would be fitting for the 10th Anniversary don’t you think? Let us know your thoughts in the comments and hopefully we’ll see you next summer (since the show remains on the Fox renewal bubble)
I like having two dancers, because it gave more room for duets, and less emphasis on solos, which I think are boring anyway. I think giving the spotlight to a man and woman is better for the industry too, because it’s about both sexes when it comes to dancing. I’m glad I saw the finale though, because sometimes, in the past, I missed a show when a sporting event changed the time of the show, like the Olympics did this year. Since I have my Hopper with PrimeTime Anytime now though, it records the show no matter what time it changes to, during prime time. That’s a relief when I’m expecting my DISH coworkers to come over for a finale party!
If you’ve seen tonight’s show already, you know Tyce’s contemporary number with Sasha and All-Star Kent was maybe the best of the night, and easily among the best this season. I do not type those words easily. Like many SYTYCD fans, I find Tyce’s routines to be dependably lackluster, a disconnected collection of well-executed-if-derivative moments that rarely add up to a cohesive whole. In fact, earlier this season, I said Tyce was “like the Michael Bay of SYTYCD choreography.” But from the very first moment I watched Sasha and Kent go through their steps in the ungodly-for-any-strenuous-exercise-let-alone-top-flight-dancing hour of 8:30 a.m., I realized Tyce had created a truly moving, meaningful, all-of-a-piece work of art. Blast it all, Michael Bay would never do that.