It was the grand finale of Season 9 of "So You Think You Can Dance" and if you think the guys in charge, led by head judge and producer/executive director Nigel Lythgoe, were going to tell us who won at the start of the show, think again.
What stands out about this season for me is that picking a favorite from the four finalists was like comparing apples to oranges. Tiffany Maher's specialty is jazz/contemporary while Eliana Girard is a ballet dancer, tutu, toe shoes and all. For the guys, the difference is even wider -- Cyrus "Glitch" Spencer does animation and hip-hop, but Chehon Wespi-Tschopp is trained in classical ballet.
While the prize for each winner is $100,000 and the cover of Dance Spirit, the final prize really is having a better chance of landing a dance job and starting a career in dance, one of the toughest fields to break into. The hopefuls on SYTYCD are vying for their futures, instead of taking a break from an established career like the celebrities on "Dancing With the Stars."
The judges' table was full. In addition to Nigel, there was Lil' C, Debbie Allen, Adam Shankman, Tyce Diorio and Mary Murphy -- What in heck was that on her dress? A sequined poinsettia over a black rose with a spider on it? The audience must have been 90 percent teenage girls and women because the screaming level was almost deafening. Host Cat Deeley, clad in a sparkly silver and white dress, kept thing moving along, avoiding Nigel's gushing and
There were a lot of performances, from an opening group number by Sonya Tayeh and Christopher Scott that was heavy on the Sonya, to the favorite routines of the judges, from favorite routines of the finalists, to the five most memorable auditions. While I understand that there were two hours to fill, it seemed at times to be too much recapping and rehashing. However, all of the dancers seemed to be more relaxed and their dancing seemed stronger without worry about the judges' remarks or elimination.
The judges' favorite routines of the season, the ones that best summed up Season 9, ran the gamut from All-Star tWitch and Witney Carson's awesome hip-hop, to the cat dance by Amelia Lowe and Will Thomas. The finalists all performed their favorites -- Tiffany selected her routine with All-Star Ade; Chehon said his tango with All-Star Anya was a breakthrough for him to show emotion; and Cyrus picked his duet from last week with tWitch as his favorite. Nigel gushed on about the guys, and after last week when he told Cyrus he was voting for Chehon, he took the time to tell Cyrus that he "stole the season" with his enthusiasm and hunger to learn.
My favorite of all was Eliana's chosen dance, a routine that she did with All-Star Alex Wong to "Bang Bang." I agree with her that this routine really brought her to viewers' attention and votes. But as Eliana stood there after her dance, Nigel started gushing again about how she was his favorite female dancer and how Tiffany was perfect all season, and on and on.
The memorable moments from the auditions were the overweight man who helped start afterschool programs, the mother and housewife from Dallas who put off a career for her kids, the "Ninja Twins" who were hysterically funny, and the guy who did the "exorcist style" of dance. Finally, Cat introduced the number one audition, the guys of Dragonhouse, but it was a live performance, instead. I was disappointed that Cyrus, one of the group, didn't make an appearance for a few steps.
And now was it time for the results? Nope, it was time for Carly Rae Jepsen of "Call Me Maybe" fame to sing her new tune, "This Kiss." Whoopee. And if we thought we'd seen all the memorable moments, we were wrong because it was time for another montage, this one complete with comments by the judges. Nigel had better watch out or he will have a reputation as a dirty old man. There was just enough time to squeeze in an awesome group number by the Top Ten dancers and the All-Stars, choreographed by Tabitha and Napoleon to a song from "Lion King."
At last, Cat stood with Eliana and Tiffany, ready to announce the results. But first another montage, from their auditions to the finals. It didn't seem like the show needed more padding but there it was. And the winner was ... Eliana! She screamed and fell to her knees, as her parents in the audience cheered and waved signs. She said, "What's happening?" as Cat reminded her to breathe.
Now for the guys ... and it's another montage of their "journey" to the finals. Cat stood next to Chehon and Cyrus, opened the envelope with a click and said the winner was ... Chehon! Cyrus almost looked like he expected it, and Chehon got all teary. Then the two locked in a strong, emotional embrace. They broke apart, Eliana came back and the other dancers mobbed the stage. The confetti cannons went off and everyone continued screaming.
Now all of the dancers in the Top Ten will hit the road for a 29-city tour across the United States, beginning in October. The season started with Nigel's statement that "we decided to look for uniqueness in our dancers," and they succeeded. Hopefully, they can repeat that success with, Fox willing, another season.