Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

So You Think You Can Dance: “Winners Chosen”

Illustration for article titled So You Think You Can Dance: “Winners Chosen”

Wow. That turned out perfectly. After a season of remarkable highs and lows, America’s favorite dancers are Chehon and Eliana, and they certainly deserve it. The result is ideal for everyone involved, with Cyrus completing his tWitch-like journey as he ends up the runner-up rather than the winner. He’s now the loveable underdog who almost won, not the champion who got by on personality over talent.

Yet while the results may be favorable, this padded finale follows the same quality sine wave that defined this season. There are two great new group routines, but to fill time, the show has inserted obnoxious packages to hype the dances that we are going to watch in 30 seconds. It’s like all the filler they avoided by cutting out the results shows found its way to the finale. No one wants a top 5 countdown of people that didn’t make it on the show, but the producers need to fill those two hours somehow, so throw it in there.

This episode bizarrely doesn’t begin with a group number, instead having each of the top 20 awkwardly come out in pairs. Nigel says the Sonya Tayeh-Christopher Scott group routine is one of the best that they’ve ever opened the show with, but it would have been much more powerful if they, you know, opened the show with it. But when it does happen, it’s spectacular, with the styles of the two choreographers meshing together to create some beautiful stage pictures. Of course, for most of the routine, Cyrus is separate from the action as he animates in the eye of the dance storm. There’s a stunning moment when all the female dancers move together in unison, but the guys don’t get that same kind of choreography because Cyrus can’t do the movement with the precision required. Later, Cyrus dances in a new animation routine with Comfort, tWitch, and Christopher Scott; it’s fine, but nowhere near as sharp as the Dragon House performance later in the episode.

As is finale tradition, the expanded panel of six judges (and Cat) pick their favorite dances to see again, beginning with Nigel choosing Audrey and Matthew’s Titanic contemporary routine, which doesn’t quite have the same passion as their original performance. This is followed by Lil C’s choice of Witney and tWitch’s “accidentally thought this girl at the bus stop was a hooker” routine, which is performed with even more intensity and control from Witney. Buck, ratchet, whatever you want to call it, Witney has got it. Debbie Allen picks Sonya’s “Turning the Page” number for Tiffany and George, which showcases both dancers very well and really shows how strong of a dancer George is. Adam picks Cole and Lindsay’s paso doble, which is just as strong as it was when they did it in the top 20 episode. Tyce picks NappyTabs’ fucking garbage cats routine (that’s a literal description) because he’s the worst. Then Mary strokes his ego by picking his “Holocaust piece” for Chehon and Kathryn, which was originally touted as a dance about people coming to American from war-ravaged Europe with only a suitcase, and is now just “the Holocaust piece.” Cat closes out the favorites with Tiffany and Brandon’s disco, making Tiffany the only contestant to be in more than one of the judge’s favorite dances.

Surprisingly, dances from Eliana and Cyrus are ignored by the judges, but they still get plenty of opportunities to dance. Each of the top 4 picks their favorite dances from this season, and they’re all fairly predictable ones. Chehon’s the only person who picks a routine that is out of his style, and he tackles his Argentine tango with Anya with even more confidence than the original. Eliana does “Bang Bang” with Alex Wong, Tiffany does “Power Of Love” with Ade, and Cyrus does the piece he just did with tWitch last frickin’ week because So You Think You Can Dance bought all that stunt glass and by god, they’re going to use it. (Drinking game: Take a shot every time they show the clip of Cyrus and tWitch kicking through those glass doors.) Notice how all of their favorite dances were with All Stars? They all had their crowning moments when they ditched the other contestants and were elevated by the professionals at their sides.

The final performance of the night comes courtesy of the top 10 and the All Stars. Here is a dramatic retelling of mine and my viewing companions’ reactions while watching: We were sitting on the couch, reminiscing on the various achievements and failures NappyTabs had this season, from garbage cats and DayGlo babysitters to Marilyn Manson voodoo rituals and mechanical hip-hop ballerinas. Suddenly, the dance begins and we hear Rafiki’s signature exclamation from The Lion King, pause the television, and laugh hysterically. With the television frozen on the image of Comfort banging a drum, my roommate jokingly yelled: “The District 78 Remix!” We all had a good laugh at the sheer absurdity of the idea, resumed play, and then saw that it was indeed the District 78 of “Nants Ingonyama” from Disney’s The Lion King. More pausing, more laughing, but when we actually watch the dance, it’s breathtaking. The dancers are all used very efficiently and get to spotlight their respective styles, and the inclusion of the All Stars makes it a great way to end the show.


But that’s not the end. The end comes when Cat names America’s favorite male and female dancers, and she starts of with the girls. Eliana has been a favorite of mine since the beginning, but Tiffany was completely under the radar before blowing up in a big way in the top 10. Eliana is one of the best female contestants this show has ever had, though, so it would have been a big disappointment if she walked away a runner up. The big surprise is when Cat names Chehon instead of Cyrus as the winning male, and you can feel the collective shock from the audience, judges, and other contestants. Chehon was certainly not planning on hearing his name, but there is absolutely no question that he’s the superior dancer of the two. Last week, I said, “In a perfect world, two ballet dancers would win this season of SYTYCD.” It happened, and while this wasn’t the perfect season, the ends certainly justify the means.

Stray observations:

  • This show won a lighting Emmy this week! Now Cat just needs to snag Best Reality Show Host from Jeff Probst this weekend.
  • Cat looks fantastic tonight, from her luminescent strapless dress to her Pixar-shiny hair.
  • My favorite moment of this episode after Chehon’s win is when Nigel tells Eliana that Desmond Richardson wants her for his company when she’s off the show.  There’s so much gratitude and genuine surprise in her face upon hearing that.
  • During the package before tWitch and Cyrus’ dance, Cat’s microphone is left on and you can hear her talking to someone onstage about not being able to find something. I wish there was more to overhear.
  • Carly Rae Jepsen also performed. It was concentrated 1990s bland.