SYTYCD Season 10 Finale: Untrained Melody

all images courtesy of 19 Entertainment, Dick Clark Productions and FOX Entertainment

all images courtesy of 19 Entertainment, Dick Clark Productions and FOX Entertainment

A night that will live in FAMY….. (the pun was RIGHT THERE….)

Season 10 of So You Think You Can Dance wraps up in its usual grand fashion and for the second time crowns a pair of dancers as America’s favorites.

Gracing the judges’ panel for this year’s finale are panel fixtures Mary Murphy and Nigel Lythgoe, who are joined by Adam Shankman, two-time Season 10 judge Paula Abdul and the officially multifaceted Stephen “tWitch” Boss. Yes, kiddies, you read that right–Season 3’s finalist is now that much of a mover and shaker that he has a place on both sides of the stage.

The Season 10 Top 20 reunion dance–a lovely, lush, 40s-inspired Broadway spectacle worthy of the silver screen–is made more special by both the inclusion of contestant Jade Zuberi as the bartender (to accommodate his recovery from surgery on the competition-ending injury he endured), and the announcement that this piece of genius was choreographed by Season 2 contestant Ivan Koumaev. Any of you who can go that far back as a fan knows that Ivan entered the competition under hip-hop and largely untrained, and for him to have amassed that much expertise since his time on the show to create such a beautifully classic and complex number practically shouts the merits of this show’s existence. FOX execs, the next time you have a question as to why this show needs renewing, watch this.

Moving to the “best of/future Tour pics” section, we have not only picks from the judging panel and the finalists themselves, Cat again get to pick a favorite and, in a first, so did the audience via Web vote. First up is Paula Abdul’s choice of Mandy Moore’s Edge of Glory with Makenzie and Paul as forbidden lovers meeting in secret. Looking at Makenzie’s costume makes me think that the initial choice was Lindsay Nelko’s No Day But Today contemporary, as that’s the dress Makenzie’s wearing tonight. I would actually have picked that pairing over this one from these two, but this piece was good, too.

Adam is next, selecting the Double Diddy Twins Fik-Shun and tWitch and their Luther Brown hip-hop performed the previous week in the performance finale….as I predicted. So the sight of tWitch in a tuxedo on the judges’ panel didn’t throw me for one second–and neither did tWitch ripping off the tuxedo shirt and jacket and emerging from the table in the grey t-shirt, black pants and tennis toward the stage, leather jacket in tow. This dance will NEVER. GET. OLD. NE-VER.

Nigel, after delighting the crowd with the announcement of Season 11’s greenlight, goes for the completely obvious pick and resurrects the tap trio from the Meet the Top 20 show, choreographed by Anthony Morigerato and performed by Alexis, Curtis and finalist Aaron. Curtis has channeled his energy a lot since the first performance and that end pose was firmly nailed by all this go-’round. Oh PLEASE let Alexis and Curtis sneak on the tour….

Fresh from the stage and back in his seat and his formal wear, tWitch selects the wildly athletic and dramatic Sean Cheesman Kiss of the Spider Woman piece performed by Hayley and Nico. (Lovely of him to remind everyone his show debut was a Broadway number–and a damn good one, too.) This number will never cease to frighten me–I literally do not breathe until after that damn flip lift is done. A little less intense than the first one, but just as well danced.

Mary rounds out the judges’ choices with a redemptive offering from Travis Wall that wound up being a story unto itself: Tucker and Robert’s cathartic performance of Medicine. More technically perfect this time, but not as much emotional tether. I don’t much care which version we get, as long as we get it. Thanks for that, Mary.

As for the finalists, Jasmine chose the Ray Leeper jazz Blurred Lines with All-Star Marko Germar that challenged her the most; Aaron picked the Stacey Tookey contemporary I’m Kissing You with All-Star Kathryn McCormick that transformed his as both a performer and a person; and in the “We Really Shouldn’t Be Surprised” department, both Amy and Fik-Shun picked the Nappytabs hip-hop duet they performed with each other, the bellhops at the After Party.

This year repeats the selection of the Top 5 Audition Tour moments.

5. Mongolian bowl dancer Shanshan Qiao-Rothlisberger, who despite causing a minor controversy with her accent’s effect on the word HORSE performed so beautifully that she got a Vegas berth AND a pass through the first two rounds.

4. Hip-hop/animator Shane Garcia, who uses dance to help express everything his stilted speech is unable to. THIS should have been Number 1 on the list….and I most certainly DID NOT STUTTER. This was tops, hands down. I’m glad, though, it at least made the list.

3. “18” year old Anthony “J-Freeze” Naylor–this 4-year-old wonder apparently saw Cyrus on TV last season and began to teach himself to dance, resulting in the first audition in the history of the show to garner three judges yeses for a trip to Disneyland. Hey J-Freeze, Brandon Bryant lied about HIS age too and wound up a finalist and an All-Star. See you in 2027, kid.

2. Magic City comes to Detroit–Hip-Hop/Animator Will “Sysko” Green displays some other, ahem, talents, and invites Mary to a front-row seat onstage to witness them. It’s a really good thing Mary had on a dress with some red in it; otherwise, that facial flush would have looked more like sunburn.

Thanks to the return to the single-show-fits-all format, the season’s only two guest performances grace the stage tonight. Right after the obligatory Final Four field trip package to the movie preview of Battle of the Year (featuring Season 3’s Dominic Sandoval), the BOTY dance crew performs live on stage.

And no, I didn’t forget to complete my list, as the top audition moment went to John Tesoriero, a hip-hop/animator who came to the Boston auditions with his friend as musical accompaniment. The two, as duo Movement Box, were the second and final guest performance of the season.

Four more dances get an encore of sorts: we were treated to encores of the Sand dance performed in the Meet the Top 20 show by the male finalists, as well as the brilliant, beyond awesome one-shot take of Nappytabs’ MOBBED-inspired hip-hop with the Top 20 and the evening’s judges and choreographers. Christopher MF’ing Scott and Nappy MF’ing Tabs. All hail.

The third bonus number was a result of an incredibly risky but highly successful (and hopefully repeatable) experiment of using the All-Stars as both performers and choreographers. All of the numbers were incredible, but the jazz piece performed by Jenna and All-Star/choreographer Mark Kanemura simply HAD to be repeated live. (The eyeball artwork and lips couch were pretty much dead giveaways….although the more I watch this piece, the more I want that couch and a house worthy of displaying it. Not to mention Mark’s funky square glasses.) The weirdest, wildest, most wonderful number Mark has performed since he and Courtney Galliano did The Garden as contestants in Season 3. I Am The Best, indeed.

Last, and possibly least, we get an encore of Amy and Fik-Shun’s Christopher Scott café hip-hop…..from the couple that consistently does the most, Nigel and Mary. Nigel stumbles over props and Mary dolls up in a pink beehive wig (with TWO big plastic rollers in tow) and a pair of cat glasses. Frighteningly, THAT’S not the outrageous part–THAT honor belongs to the last 12 counts of the number as the daily special is served: a healthy helping of Ham Shankman upstaging the pair. This CANNOT be unseen.

As mentioned, this year the audience got to select a number: Travis Wall was a busy young man this season, and as such two of his numbers were selected for the audience to cast their votes for via Facebook and Twitter. The resounding winner was his offering for All-Stars Choreographers’ Night–the Wicked Game contemporary piece he performed with Amy.

Nappytabs is at it again for the 10 + 10, and as last year, this number did not disappoint. With some added filmed beauty shots of our Top 4 at play on the beach and a few stunning props, we get Beach Blanket Bingo revisited in the form of the B-52’s Rock Lobster. Bright, colorful, fast and awesome. And again, way too short. Although I will need the set crew to better secure those tall props–Robert was making me nervous dancing atop that shaky lifeguard’s chair.


Winner’s moments are always great to watch, even though I would have been perfectly happy to have the show end right here and let all four wear the crown. I don’t believe there will ever be a more grateful or humble champion than Fik-Shun. At each stage leading up to the finals, you would find him thanking and congratulating his competitors. Let me say it again–he’s thanking and praising the guys he just BEAT. Guys he KNOWS have way more formal training than he does. Tonight’s victory as America’s Favorite Dancer was no exception–after breaking down in tears he immediately hugs Aaron, telling him “It’s been a pleasure.” Yes, the older dancer/tapper/New Orleans connection was my sentimental favorite, but I can’t say I’m disappointed with America’s choice. Call it validation from last year for the untrained dancer or simply laurels for a one-of-a-kind, once-in-a-lifetime performer, Fik-Shun proved himself worthy of both a national stage AND a national title. And what could be a better cap to the evening than sharing it with the girl that brung him? Amy’s nearly equal reaction (and my nearly equal sentimental attachment to the other side) was just as heart-warming. Had Season 4 had an official Top Girl/Top Guy classification, this would just be a delightful repeat….but Amy and Fik-Shun are officially the first couple to go from beginning to end and make it to the top together. I can honestly declare that hearing any two of the 20 names called as champion would have made me happy, but Fik-Shun and Amy have that special ring to it that’s music to my ears.

Anxiously awaiting the Tour and the start of Season 11!



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