E: Before announcing the winners, Nigel shared his opinion that this year’s top four are so beloved he felt that people would be happy whoever won. It’s no more than what I said to Mr. E a few minutes before. Each of these four deserved it. I don’t always think that, and even when I do I often have a strong preference for one dancer over another. But no, this year I couldn’t decide; each time my mind would propose a favorite, all I could think was “but ____ is so wonderful! Think how much winning would mean to them!”
Of course, that also means I’m equally disappointed on behalf of the two who didn’t win.
Before we get to the announcement of the winner, let me set the scene. As her final outfit for Season 10 host Cat Deeley chose a shimmering charcoal leather minidress – at least I think it’s leather – with a burnished metallic sheen and intricately sewn panels which looked like leaded glass window panes. Very cool. Joining Nigel (bow tie, heavy polka dotted black suit) and Mary (navy gown with floral-like embellishments on the shoulders and neckline) were tuxedo wearing Adam “Blue Steel” Shankman (yay!), SYTYCD poster boy tWitch, and Emmy winning choreographer (who knew?) Paula Abdul. Paula, who is wearing her hair up and huge, a gold halter on top of a wide white trapeze top on top of a back sheath dress. That is a lot a lot of look.
Just because we’ve had a week off and why not, the program is bookended by a few new routines. It’s also interspersed with some lame comedy, a list of the top five fun audition moments, a promotion for and performance by the Battle of the Year dancers, and generally a lot of appropriate nostalgia for the season. First, the top twenty minus Jade dance at a speak easy, choreographed by Season 2’s Ivan Koumaev. (Is this awkward with Travis in the audience? Have they made up the feud allegedly documented in Season 7’s dramatic “How It Ends“? Sorry, gossipy.) This might suggest it was a hip hop piece, but no. It was really more Broadway, reminiscent of West Side Story’s “America” where dancers watch each other and perform in sections based on their talents. Everyone looked fantastic in period dress, but it didn’t particularly move me. I did like Paul Anka’s version of “Wonderwall,” though.
Cat tells us that the five judges and the four finalists will all get to choose a piece to reprise from the past season. Many of them were listed in a post I did a few weeks back, although I didn’t cover the performance finale which got a surprising amount of attention. Like-wise, there were a few pieces I felt sure would get attention that sadly didn’t. Of course there’s never enough time, and no one’s taste is the same, but we didn’t get the stylistic diversity I was expecting for sure. In any case, here’s what they picked:
Paula’s pick: “The Edge of Glory,” danced by Paul and Mackenzie and choreographed by Mandy Moore. I doubt anyone else is geeky enough to be bothered by this, but for some reason Mackenzie wore her costume from “No Day But Today” which felt too floaty for this piece to me. It wasn’t one of my personal favorites, but I’m not surprised it showed up.
Jasmine’s pick: Ray Leeper’s “Blurred Lines” with All Star Marko, because the jazz pieced challenged her more than any other. Well, a challenge that she responded to the best, perhaps. But sure. This is a good piece and I enjoyed seeing it again.
Adam’s pick: This was drawn from the finale, Luthor Brown’s deliciously fun “Hello, Good Morning” for Fik-shun and All Star tWitch. Love it, even more than the first time. Adam butters tWitch up quite a bit, but I’m not sure any of it is undeserved, and either way I’m enjoying the camaraderie.
Nigel’s pick: After nearly giving me a heart attack by implying there’d be no Season 11 when in fact there will be (YES!), Nigel did me a solid by picking what just might be my favorite routine of the season – “You Really Did It” for the three tappers from the Meet the Top Twenty episode. Outstanding. In the audience, Anthony Morigerato looks close to tears as usual.
tWitch’s pick: Our hip hop expert was drawn to one the season’s many amazing Broadway numbers, Sean Cheeseman’s dramatic “Kiss of the Spiderwoman” featuring Hayley and Nico. Great choice, another of the season’s runaway best. And, as Cat jokes, it features a door, which makes it a fitting pick for tWitch.
Aaron’s pick: I had a feeling about this one: like Jasmine, Aaron opted for an All Star piece, “Kissing You” with Kathryn by Stacey Tookey. I liked this piece the first time around, but the depth of the emotional connection this second time? Damn. Kathryn and Aaron didn’t start dating during the show, did they? Because that was every kind of sexy.
Cat’s pick: Yes, because she can, Cat picks her favorite routine of the season – NappyTabs girl power hip hop bicycle masterclass for Jasmine and All Star Comfort, stomped out to the pounding rhythms of Beyonce’s “Rule the World (Girls).” So fantastic! Thanks, Cat!
Mary’s pick: “Medicine,” choreographed by Travis Wall for Tucker and All Star Robert. Lovely. I had a feeling this one would show up, and there it is. Not that I don’t appreciate a good love story, but when the choreographers break out of that restrictive box it can be pretty freeing, and rarely more so than in this tale of the prodigal brother.
Amy and Fik-Shun’s pick: it should surprise no one that this pair picked to dance with each other. In fact it makes me a little sad that Jasmine and Aaron didn’t do the same thing. I thought it would come down to two routines – the Tyce jazz hobo routine to the Triplets of Belleville, and their actual pick, “After Party” by NappyTabs. Great choice, cuties. That routine is some serious fun.
Random pieces that were also included even though ostensibly no one picked them: “Sand,” choreographed by Christopher Scott for the top ten boys (I suspect that this was simply shown on film because it features Jade heavily); Mark Kanemura’s bravura choreography debut, “I Am The Best” for himself and Jenna; the unrepeatable one shot wonder, “Putting on the Ritz” (now that’s how you do a top twenty number, Ivan). Finally, we get the utterly predictable Travis Wall-off winner, “Wicked Game.” Love it! The live dancing ends with “Epic Summer,” a NappyTabs surfing piece for the top ten and the touring All Stars (Alex, Witney, Comfort, Melanie, Kathryn, Allison, Robert, Neil, Marko and Joshua.) Interesting; there’s almost nothing they performed tonight that can’t be done on the tour – it’s only the group routines and the Top Twenty Tap, right?
And – sigh – because I am a completist I will tell you the top five moments from the auditions: ShanShan Rothlisberger doing her Mongolian folk dance and cracking up the judges with her talk of whore’s milk; Stuttering bone breaker Shane Garcia; adorable four year old animator J Freeze; creepy Will “Sisco” Green sexing Mary up; and in the number one spot the amazing talents of Boston breaker and beat boxer combo Movement Box. I love that we get to see them perform, even if we don’t hear the dancer’s name again. (It’s John Tesorioro, in case you were wondering.) Gene Shinozaki, you are the shiz. You are so damn cool.
All that remains to tell is a comic version of Amy and Fik-shun’s adorable “Let’s Get It On” starring Nigel and Mary in a huge pink beehive (why!). Right. It’s as game as it is lame. And that brings us to the big moment.
After a big emotional packages, we find out that Fik-shun and Amy are our winners – our delightful, huggable, bite-sized, perfect to take home in your pocket winners. If there had been only one, it’d have been Amy, which is definitely right as far as her ability and technique; to reuse Nigel’s phrase, she really hasn’t set a foot wrong the entire season, and she’s the only one of the finalist – much as I love the others – of whom this can be said. Okay, technically she did fall once, but I wouldn’t consider that her fault at all; if you have to place blame, it has to be on Fik-shun for accidentally tossing the wet towel where his partner was going to dance.
However, I don’t believe that should be counted against her; in fact, finding out how much she blamed herself for that incident made me – well. Like her more is not the right way to say it, but gave an insight into the vulnerable perfectionist behind the giggly sweet facade, which I liked. Growth is good. And there is no denying, she’s faced every challenge supremely well. She’s always gotten the style right, from tango to foxtrot to hip hop. And Fik-shun; what’s not to love? His squeaky joy warms me. Don’t you just want to squeeze them both?
I’ve adored Aaron and Jasmine all season, so it’s hard to see them lose (Jasmine is immediately dragged away as Amy gapes in shock; Fik-shun manages to hug Aaron before the latter is towed off behind an enormous bouquet of lilies, no doubt chosen for their ability to shield the loser from prying eyes) especially after Aaron’s fairytale narrative has collapsed around him. And poor Jasmine. (It may be that Jasmine was the second highest vote getter, which would have been irrelevant but interesting information to have.) I hope being on the show was still worth giving up Ciara’s tour. It must be, right? Anyway, how do you guys feel? Did the right pair win, or did you not even care? I hope to see all four of them back as All Stars next season. Now I think I will be off; time to research tickets for the tour.
*Update – foiled! The last seat for the only tour appearance in New England was just sold in front of my eyes. Bah! Next summer I’m going to have to be more on the ball.