'So You Think You Can Dance' Finale: Russell Ferguson wins season 6, injured
It's already the end of season six on "So You Think You Can Dance," and though Tuesday's hour-long episode was disappointing, Wednesday's "SYTYCD" finale is filled with drama. Unfortunately, it's not entirely the good kind of drama. But accidents aside, we did get to re-watch some great performances, and I do love a happy ending ...
We begin with a very cool group number, featuring the top 19 dancers save our six finalists. It starts with an awesome reminder of why we loved Legacy, and continues with some great large group choreography that we haven't been able to see lately, including solid use of chair-ography. Enter the Top Six, to much dramatic effect, and commence the effort to keep 19 dancers in sync as they rock some poptastic moves. Man, I love the finale.
Our judges this evening are Lil' C, Tyce Diorio, Debbie Allen, Adam Shankman, Mary Murphy, and Nigel Lythgoe. After a recap of last night's madcap rush through nine -- count 'em, nine -- numbers in one hour, we're treated to performances of the judges' favorite routines of the season:
Lil' C - Kevin, Legacy & Russell's hip hop routine: God, I forgot all about this one since it was way back in that Top 20 introduction episode. I think the guys have only improved since the first performance, and their energy is fantastic.
Adam - Ellenore & Jakob's Sonya routine: This is a leading contender for my favorite routine of the season, no question. I wish Ellenore had gotten something even half as good as this last night! These two are just incredible, as individual dancers and together. It earns a standing ovation from the crowd and the judges.
Nigel - Philip, Peter & Bianca's tap routine: Hmm. I mean, I know Nigel loves tap, and I really do love seeing three fantastic tappers, but I wasn't head over heels in love with this routine when it first aired compared to many other numbers, and am even less so on second viewing. The music doesn't really seem to gel with the dance, and even almost muffles the dancers' efforts to be fun and show personality.
Mary - Ashleigh & Ryan's jive: Interesting ... Mary asked them to perform a new-to-us routine they choreographed themselves, since she so wanted to see them dance together in their own style. That's new, huh? Between this and the three-person genre numbers, this is shaping up to be an eclectic judges' picks showcase. Anyway, Ryan and Ashleigh are really fantastic, as expected. And even better, they look like they're having a seriously fun time up there.
We take a quick break for
an "Avatar" commercial
a performance of the "Avatar" theme song by Leona Lewis. Seriously, between this and a recent episode of "Bones," I'm really, really over all the "Avatar" promotion on FOX. We get it! It's the greatest movie of all time ever, opening this Friday in theaters everywhere!
Next, the Groovaloos, a hip hop dance group, perform a really fun number. I can appreciate a hip hop group with a sense of humor about themselves, and these guys really seem to have that down while still being good at what they do. And daaang, one of those guys spins on his head for a ridiculous amount of time. Not to mention the seriously cool acrobatics. But back to our dancers!
Nigel - Jakob & Kathryn's Dwight Rhoden & Desmond Richardson routine: Well, we just saw this last night...but it's still freaking fantastic.
Tyce - Mollee & Nathan's Bollywood routine: I'm really happy to see this routine in the finale. It's fun, different, and danced with enthusiasm - and, of course, skill.
Oops, Cat has a bit of a microphone malfunction, but that doesn't stop her from very faintly introducing our six finalists...or from coping with an awkward late cue for them to come on stage. Three of them, that is. Live TV, people. Wow. With prompting from Cat, Ryan, followed by Ellenore, helps a limping Russell onto the stage, who cries that he's messed his leg up. Oh my god!
After Cat confirms he's seen a medic, she gamely continues with the elimination, promising to get Russell offstage as soon as possible. It looks like he's in pain, though - this is really hard to watch! Cat quickly announces that Ryan is the sixth place contestant, as expected by pretty much everyone. He accepts the result and stays by Russell in case he needs support, until Russell is presumably helped off the stage as soon as they cut to Ryan's reel. This is really crazy, you guys. Will they just have to show tape of Russell's routines? I hope he's okay!
They've got some time to regroup during Adam Lambert's performance. And wait, wasn't he the "American Idol" runner-up? Why did the winner perform in an earlier episode, and the runner-up is getting the finale slot? Scheduling, or is Adam Lambert that much more popular? Without updating us on Russell's condition, which is presumably still being assessed, Cat follows the script and introduces a clip reel with favorite moments from the audition rounds and performances.
Our finalists are back on stage, with Russell seated. Cat: "It's amazing what people will do for a stool, isn't it?" Ha! Guess it's not too serious to joke about, then. She announces that the dancer in fifth place is, again as I think we all expected, Ashleigh. So far so good, America. I think I can be happy with any result from here on out. Not to detract from what Ashleigh has accomplished, but between her injury and her limited performance last night, this isn't a surprising result. And we're back to the judges' favorite performances, with Cat joking about (and, I'm assuming, reminding people of) the live nature of tonight's broadcast.
Adam - Ellenore & Legacy's Travis Wall routine: Awesome, I loved this number! Upon second viewing, it's interesting to look at how it's somewhat different from the routines we generally expect from Travis, but still very much focuses on the relationship between the two dancers. And Ellenore and Legacy really do have surprisingly good chemistry.
Debbie - Noelle & Russell's African jazz routine: Like I figured, due to Russell's injury they show a tape of the original performance. It's too bad, because with Russell's incredible growth in recent weeks, I would've loved to see him perform this number again. I bet it would've been even more fantastic. It's also a shame Noelle doesn't get to perform in the finale outside the group routine!
Cat announces that Ellenore is our fourth place dancer, and she receives a standing ovation from the judges. Awww. I'm not surprised by this result, but I can't help but be a little disappointed, since she's been my favorite gal from the beginning. And I can't help but wonder if things would be different if she'd had better luck with her routine selection last night. Ah, well. I love her to death, and fourth place is still pretty darn good (and means that she'd have been in the real finale, if it were four dancers like usual). And now, more routines!
Lil' C - Ariana, Channing, Jakob & Nathan's contemporary routine: And another routine from the Top 20 introductions! The choreographers are either gravitating toward routines with more than two dancers, or they didn't have enough outstanding routines to choose from in the regular season. It receives a standing ovation from the judges.
Mary - Kathryn & Russell's hip hop routine: Again, due to Russell's injury they air the tape from last night. Yep, still great.
After a Mary J. Blige performance (and seriously...remind me again why we had to cram nine routines into last night's hour-long show, but we have space for what seems like a new musical performance every ten minutes tonight), we continue with one final dance performance.
Nigel - Wade Robson 1930s group number - Okay, agreed that this number was super fun, but that's a lot of routines tonight from the Top 20 special! Guess they'll be doing that again this summer... And again, we get a tape. Makes sense, since we're missing Billy Bell as well as Russell in this case. But since the Billy Bell absence isn't a surprise, I wonder why they didn't originally choose another earlyish group number they could've performed live? The Wade & Amanda museum one, for example? I get wanting our top three to be ready immediately after, but it seems like they could've worked that timing out. But whatever, obviously a moot point.
Speaking of our top three, they're about to become a top two. And while Kathryn, as the top female, will supposedly be performing at the Academy Awards (along with the winner) thanks to co-producer Adam Shankman, she will not be in the top two. You know, I'm really amazed at how she went from someone we didn't even remember from the audition rounds, to undeniably one of the best dancers on the show and voted into the top three. And I'm gratified that two out of the top three dancers are beautiful performers who were in my opinion unfairly accused of lacking personality - which was likely due to editing, for the most part. (Russell, of course, is also very fabulous, but no one's ever even hinted that he might be boring.)
After a Jennifer Lopez performance featuring past and present female SYTYCD contestants, because she's totally a fan of the show (note: THIS is proper use of a musical performance so that it isn't just filler), we reach the moment of truth. First we go to final words from Nigel, who points out the obvious contrast between Jakob (a "polished diamond") and Russell (an "unpolished diamond"), both of whom are in any case fantastic. And to be fair, I'd note that Jakob would probably be a bit unpolished if he were dancing krump.
After a clip reel of their time on the show up to now, Cat announces that Russell is the winner of season six of "So You Think You Can Dance." Okay! While I do believe Jakob would be the winner of America's Best Dancer, Russell could definitely be seen as America's Favorite Dancer. He's been one of our favorites from the beginning, and though he didn't consistently stand out early on in his paired performances, he only got better at partnering and technique in general, and his charisma is obvious.
He certainly has a ways to go until he's the same caliber dancer as Jakob, but if the show isn't about who's the very best dancer technically, I can rest happy with a Russell victory. I mean, the dude's a krumper! With other training, but still...pretty cool that he's the winner. And I do like to be surprised, and after last night's show I thought Jakob's beautiful technique would clinch the win (yeah, okay, I got spoiled later by dialidol.com, but I'm going to pretend that didn't happen). And I think Russell's overwhelming margin of victory, if dialidol.com is to be believed, may have been due to the judges overselling Jakob to the viewers.
Anyway, congratulations Russell, who is so excited about his win that I'm afraid he'll injure himself even more! He calls Kevin up to the stage since he's "been with [him] all this season," and adorably talks about how he's been dreaming about this since birth. His speech is gracious, and emotional, and I'm seriously loving Russell and this show right now. Even though I think we can all agree the fall season was a bit of a mess, and probably unlikely to be repeated. Ah, well. At least it introduced us to some fantastic dancers and brought us some great routines! Can't say I didn't enjoy watching it.
Thanks for sticking with this slightly off-kilter season! What did you think about the results? Were you surprised? Disappointed? Thrilled?
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Photo credit: FOX