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Review: So You Think You Can Dance - America's Favorite Dancer (season finale)

by Jason Hughes, posted Dec 17th 2009 1:45AM
So You Think You Can Dance, Top 6
From six to one, it was a night of eliminations on the sixth season finale of So You Think You Can Dance. They even trotted out six judges to sit in on the festivities. Joining Nigel Lythgoe, Mary Murphy and Adam Shankman on the dais were Lil' C, Tyce Diorio and Debbie Allen.

This allowed the show to have the judges "pick" their favorite performances of the season and have them performed again. I'm always suspect as to just how many of these choices are truly the picks of each particular judge, or if the judges are just chosen to introduce the dances the producers want to showcase again.

We also got guest appearances by dance troupe The Groovaloos, and a quartet of singers: Mary J. Blige, Jennifer Lopez, Leona Lewis and Adam Lambert. They didn't all sing together, but could you imagine that performance if they had?

Opening Number
Top 20 (Hip-Hop)
"Scared of Me (Radio Edit)," Fredde le Grand feat. Mitch Crow
Until the top six were revealed about halfway through this piece, I found myself struggling to figure out who these people were on my screen. I thought all 20 of the dancers were out there at first. It was a good routine, but it was odd that the fourteen dancers who got eliminated first had more to do, and better moves, than our finalists.

Judges' Picks
Lil' C - Russell, Kevin & Legacy (Hip-Hop)
"Beggin' (District 78 mix)," Madcon
Our first look at the hip-hop dancers on the show was showcased again, but it wasn't as impressive to me the second time around. It did, however, prove that these guys were cut in the right order.

Adam - Ellenore & Jakob (Contemporary)
"Tore My Heart," OONA and Dave Tweeds
One of the best marriages of a choreography (Sonya Tayeh) and a dancer (Ellenore), I loved this the first time around and loved it all over again this time. Ellenore is truly one of the most enjoyable dancers to watch I've certainly seen on this show, and Jakob is just as near perfection in movement as you can get.

Nigel - Phillip, Bianca & Peter (Tap)
"Take the 'A' Train," Ella Fitzgerald
This was a very tight rendition of this performance; much sharper than that first week. Here are tap dancers worthy of being in the Top 20. I'm guessing they had a little more time to practice it this time around.

Mary (new piece) - Ashleigh & Ryan (Jive)
"Straight to... Number One (Duck's Radio Mix)," Touch & Go
Not only was this our first chance to see the married couple dancing in their own style, but they choreographed it themselves. It was a high energy and very fun showcase for their talent. This may be the best I've seen the two of them in a ballroom style all season; they definitely are impressive together in their chosen style.

Nigel - Kathryn & Jakob (Contemporary)
"At This Moment," Michael Buble
A deserving flashback from last night's performance finale, this was one of the strongest routines of the entire season and I really do think I could watch it over and over again.

Tyce - Mollee & Nathan (Bollywood)
"Azeem O Shaan Shahenshah," Jodhaa Akbar
By adding an element of story and just a touch of Western flare, we got the most accessible and enjoyable Bollywood routine every seen on the SYTYCD stage. Maybe that's what the Russian Folk Dance needs!

Adam - Ellenore & Legacy (Contemporary)
"Machine Gun," Portishead
One of the coolest "fights" we've ever seen, and a great choreography job by former contestant Travis Wall. I don't think it's the best dance we've seen from him, but I found myself enjoying it even more this time around.

Lil' C - Channing, Ariana, Jakob & Nathan (Contemporary)
"Crying," k.d. lang
This was a bit of a hot mess, as opposed to the "orgy" Lil' C was looking for. I felt bad in that I didn't even remember Ariana when she was out there, and I'm pretty sure she got dropped at the end.

The rest of the performances of the night were video replays because they all featured Russell. Unfortunately, when the final six came out for the first time to get their results, it was revealed that Russell had injured himself through the course of the night. As such, there's no real point in talking about those routines again, but I will include them for the sake of completeness.

Debbie - Noelle & Russell (African Jazz)
"Frog Dance," Mickey Hart & Planet Drum

Mary - Kathryn & Russell (Hip-Hop)
"I Can Transform Ya," Chris Brown ft. Lil Wayne & Swizz Beats

Nigel - Top 20 (Jazz)
"Comanche," The Revels

Musical Guests
"I See You (Avatar theme)," Leona Lewis
The song was incredibly boring, but she sang it well. I think I might be feeling Avatar hype overkill. This thing better be as good as Titanic at this point!

"Whataya Want From Me," Adam Lambert
He was in beautiful voice with a performance much more subdued than what he did at the American Music Awards. I always liked Lambert better when he showcased the control he had over his amazing voice, as opposed to the screaming fits he sometimes got into during his run on American Idol.

"I Am," Mary J. Blige
Mary J. is a consummate performer, and she gave a performance as solid as you'd expect from her, with a nice showcase of some of her looks throughout her career by a quartet of background dancers.

"Louboutins," Jennifer Lopez
Her backing dancers featured several female contestants from seasons past, which was nice. I can't tell if she was lip-synching or not, but if she wasn't, she sounded just like a recording -- so that's good.

Dance Guests
The Groovaloos
"Groovaloo Street," Rapier & Burns
Breakdancers very much in the style of Legacy, they were raw at places, but had some amazing tricks in their repertoire.

The Results
Surprisingly, it went down almost exactly as you predicted in last night's poll. Everyone agreed with Ryan for sixth, and Ashleigh for fifth. It's interesting to note that if we had gone with a final four, this couple stood a very good chance of getting voted out on the same night.

Next out, as you predicted, was Ellenore. Kathryn, then, was the last woman standing and it would end for her there as Cat placed her in third.

In our poll, you have Jakob and Russell tied with the exact same number of votes. In the end, Russell pulled out a well-deserved victory. For all the technical brilliance Jakob possesses, it is "America's Favorite Dancer," and Russell was far more engaging and likable. Plus, America loves an underdog, so putting up a street dancer with no formal training against a dance god like Jakob is almost a no-brainer. Still, it would have been nice to see how close the vote was.

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I'm glad Russell won although I was rooting for Jacob. He was always so unassuming that even though you know he was amazing he'd still blow your mind with some of his moves. It's too bad that it seems that dancers who are technically amazing have no chance of winning the competition but I guess the experience and exposure are reward enough!

December 18 2009 at 4:49 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Ok, someone please help me with this. Cat introduced "your top 19". This was prior to Russell coming out wounded. Who was missing??? It's impossible for me to tell by watching, because they don't focus on anyone or anything long enough for me to tell who is who. No explanation. And later when Russell did come out wounded, Cat appeared honestly startled by his hobbling out, so I don't think he was the missing 20th person. No explanation at all.. Also, any idea what did happen with Russell? Because again, no explanation at all besides him telling Cat he "messed up" his knee. The show itself seemed rather scattered.

December 17 2009 at 11:24 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Denise's comment

I'm assuming they were referring to the fact that there was originally a top 20, but Billy Bell had to drop out because he became sick with mono. He is set to appear next season which is why he did not appear this season at all. As for Russell, he sprained his ankle at the end of his Krump number with the other two guys. I think everyone was thrown when Russell injured himself, and I bet there was some big time scambling backstage until they got it together so your comment about the show looking scattered is probably quite correct

December 18 2009 at 1:23 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I, too, want to know what spooged on Adam Lambert's shoulder. The dude, or his handlers or whatever, is an idiot. People enjoyed his singing when he was on Idol. Since then, he seems more concerned about making a statement or causing some sort of a scene than actually just singing well. In other words, he's fast becoming more of an attention whore than a singer. Notice now we're not talking about how great his performance was(it wasn't..), we are discussing the mess on his costume. I'm sure he's proud..?

I'm glad Russell won. I agree that he grew throughout the show, and I became more and more impressed with what he was pulling out each week, especially with his street dancer background.

.....Umm... Mr. Hughes, please tell me you're being facetious about not knowing if JLo was lip-synching or not?? First thing my mother said was "look.. her mouth isn't fitting the words right.." and me: "oh. Nice lip-synch there." Seriously, that was so blatantly NOT being sung live.

December 17 2009 at 11:18 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Granted, for a partner dance, they had no choice but to show a recording of Russel dancing. However, I was really disappointed that they had to show a recording of the top 20 dancing. Really? 19 other dancers missed their chance to perform because just one was hurt.

By the way, he didn't look that hurt when he learned he won.

Regardless, Russel was actually my favorite to win. I loved him throughout the season. The director/producer really screwed the pooch on the finale though.

December 17 2009 at 9:57 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
The Deej

Total lip sync with the J Lo number. I could tell by the lame spoken part.

December 17 2009 at 12:55 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to The Deej's comment

Without a doubt she was lip-syncing. The way she was huffing and puffing while talking with Cat made that obvious.

I thought all the music was sub-par.

December 18 2009 at 3:09 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

What a mess that show was. The dancing was good, but the sound went, Russell got hurt and it seemed to take a while for them to get him help. What crapped on Lambert's shoulder? I couldn't stop laughing at that outfit. Pee Wee wants it back now.
After the title song for Avatar I am convinced it will suck big time, bring on the Chipmunks squeakquell.
All commercials should be as good as "I can't believe it's not butter". I am sure Lopez's song is being rehearsed as we speak for the upcoming "Ru Paul's Drag Race" show. It is a perfect Cross Dressing/TS song. Too bad they waited for the last show to dress Cat in something flattering.

December 17 2009 at 11:35 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to sjackson's comment

Oh yes. I can't agree with everything you said - but "what crapped on Adam Lambert's shoulder" is outstandingly accurate. The show was a mess. Interestingly, Russell - who was never my favorite - was crying and so "sweet" and when he won - he turned ghetto and street and calling out to his people - what a sham. Ellenore was my choice and the commercial was better than many of the dancing.

December 17 2009 at 7:04 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

The dry shriveled intestines of ABC executive and homophoes

December 18 2009 at 1:22 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Very cool to see that SYTYCD has finally brought choreographer Kelley Abbey to the US -- it's just a pity that she wasn't available sooner. Last night's opening number was a clear shout-out to an opening piece she did for season two of SYTYCD Australia, which IMHO is one of the best things *any* SYTYCD has ever aired.

That Jennifer Lopez song was utterly loathsome, but it was great that she was backed by former and current contestants. Still, I wish Cat had pressed J-Lo to actually *name* a few of her favorite dancers from the show.

December 17 2009 at 11:02 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I knew whose name would be called each time and I hadn't seen the final poll...I think it was really pretty clear all season who was best liked. It is funny, I voted for both Russell and Jakob the other night (my one vote each, that's all I ever do) but even though I voted both and am crazy for Jakob's skills, I wanted a Russell win so am happy today.

December 17 2009 at 8:18 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Someone tell Russel God doesn't give a shit about his Dance Competition.

December 17 2009 at 8:09 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Kesey's comment

Wow really? You should tell him since you are so sure.

December 17 2009 at 10:00 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Very happy with the result, especially since Russell was my pick as well. I really wish the judges had picked more of the competitive performances rather than replaying most of the top 20 show, and I'm a little disappointed that my favorite routine, Kathryn and Legacy's contemporary piece about battling fear, wasn't showcased again. But it was a great finale to a great season.

Btw, astonishing how accurate your poll turned out. Next season, they should just let tvsquad readers decide.

December 17 2009 at 4:41 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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