Cat kicks things off by reintroducing the top 20 (in their original pairings! since we have two original couples left! Although Malece is without Jade who is still injured.) all the way through to the top 4 who are then announced individually. She directs our attention to the Final Judge's Table which this week is comprised of tWitch, Adam Shankman, and Paula Abdul along with our resident judge's Mary, and Nigel. Everyone is dress in their very best finale outfits to mark the special occasion. Each judge will pick a favorite routine for an encore, Cat will pick a favorite, each finalist will pick a favorite and there will be several old and new group numbers. Don't forget the audience vote (HAHAHA!) routine as well. And plenty of montages from across the season. I feel compelled to note that I don't consider these "filler" segments. The montages buy the dancers a little breathing/costume changing times in between partner dances or group numbers and this year especially the padding seems justified.
I wonder what routines will be selected for encores this year. There are so many great ones to choose from starting with Meet the Top 20 week all they way through to the performance finale. I would like to see Travis's Brothers Dance and Amy and All-Star Alex's Bollywood. Also something from Comfort, because she has been an amazing All-Star all season. Encore routines can be a mixed bag. The best routines either have a hard time recapturing the moment, or soar beyond the original once they are free from the pressures of competition. We'll have to see how everything shakes out tonight.
But before we get to the encores we have a new top-20 routine choreographed by Ivan from Season 2! It's set in a speak easy and danced to "Wonderwall" covered by Paul Anka. It's one of those pieces where there are 20 people on stage so the cameras have a hard time picking up all the action all the time. Still it's got good style and the Top 20 look happy to be back dancing together. Both Malece and Jasmine Mason get some nice featured screen time in this number. Jade is making a cameo tending the bar.
For those who haven't been paying attention the last few weeks, Cat reminds us that there's both a male and female winner this season, and they'll be on the cover of Dance Spirit magazine sometime soon and will also win over $100,000 each. So... like $100,000.99? That's such a nonspecific amount. Anyway, on to judges picks!
PAULA'S PICK: Makenzie and Paul's "Edge of Glory."
As we await the President to interrupt the finale for talk on Syria, Paula wants to see a dance that's all about love. This originally aired in 12 to 10 Week. I thought they KILLED IT that week. This one is very very strong as well. There's one little point where I don't think Paul nailed a headstand move, and it might be missing a little extra emotional oomph, but there is also a nice beat where Makenzie and Paul take each other in and smile huge smiles before they run across the stage together that's pretty magical. I'm glad these two got to take a final bow together as a couple.
Next, Cat introduces a rundown of 5 memorable auditions from this season from people who didn't make it past Vegas. They are spread out throughout the show but let me just list them here. They go like this: 5) The Mongolian bowl dance by Shanshan Qiao-Rothlisberger, along with the accompanying who said horse milk/whore's milk vaudeville routine. 4) Shane Garcia from Austin, who stutters but has mad dance skills with which to communicate. 3) Cute-ums kiddo Anthony from Texas, who loves to dance and loves Cyrus (and met him on Ellen.) 2) Mary's lap dance in Detroit by Will "Sysko" Green. 1) Movement Box. The Human beat Box and Dancer Duo are brought in live on stage and they do a really entertaining routine. Thanks to all the auditioners!
JASMINE'S FINALIST PICK - "Blurred Lines" with All-Star Marko.
I'm always excited when Jasmine chooses not to showcase her contempo skills and stretches for something else. This was the first week with All-Star partners in Week 10 to 8. I grew to really like this routine upon repeat viewings. I just didn't like the intro-package. I like it even better in encore. Jasmine looks so RELIEVED. She seems to be loving the opportunity just to dance. She's gorgeous. And I love Marko. His spinning vertical split kick thing that he does here is just as impressively executed the second time around. Love them!
ADAM'S JUDGE PICK - All-Star tWitch and Fik-Shun's hip hop.
Adam wants the routine that features one of the most internationally beloved All-Stars ever, dancing with his heir apparent. tWitch rips off his tux at the judging table to reveal his costume for the routine they performed on the Performance Finale and runs up to the stage with Fik-shun. I think it's even better than it was last week. They are having so much together up there. Two super-showmen.
Next we see that the Final Four went to see Battle of the Year starring SYTYCD Season 3 All-Star Dominic. The Final Four loved it so much they come up with such great post-show compliments like, "Wow, this dance movie was made! And it had so much dancing! And the 3D was in 3D. And it has a release date that's very soon!" High praise indeed. But I hope they keep making dance films so our Alums can make some dough. Back live in the studio, the dancers from the movie take the stage for a pretty awesome routine choreographed by Dave Scott. It's heavy on tricks and charm which is how we like it around here.
NIGEL'S JUDGE PICK - Tap Dance Trio!
It's no surprise that Nigel loves his tappa tappa tappas, and this routine from Meet the Top 20 week really is worth revisiting. It's really great. They all look so happy performing it. Nigel also tells us that Fox has renewed the show for Season 11. That's fantastic news! Usually we're left to wait a few months before Fox decides about our show of shows. The quality has been so high this year. I'm really glad they're not pulling the plug. I never really know if this show does ratings that warrant it's production costs, but we're now going to be 11 seasons in, so I guess they're still doing alright! I'm as excited as Serena is after winning this year's US Open!
TWITCH'S JUDGE PICK - Hayley and Nico's "Spider Woman."
I'm glad Hayley and Nico got an encore routine in the finale. It looks like everyone in the Top 10 is getting an encore. (But maybe no one outside the top 10? hmm.) This one was very well done the second time through. Maybe a little bit sloppier at points with a lot more adrenaline than in 12 to 10 Week. Their two major flips are still amazing though, especially the over-the-back leg catapult move they do. It's insane. I'm happy for them to get this moment. Enjoy the tour!!
AARON'S FINALIST PICK - "Kissing You" with All-Star Kathryn.
... Are we not getting an Aaron and Jasmine routine tonight? No Mirror Dance?? Oh, how I'd love to see that one again! We're running out of picks here! I'm getting nervous. Still, this one is of course worth seeing again. Aaron's doing amazing partner work here and Kathryn's mesmerizing as always. It's not a let down from the magic of the first time they performed it in 10 to 8 Week, but Aaron does look kinda... out of gas already tonight. Is he feeling well? There are still lots of routines to go. Hold tight, Aaron! Don't forget your second wind!
GROUP ENCORE: Top 10 Guys "Sand Routine."
Is this really a live encore or are we just seeing a clip from Meet the Top 20? I'm not sure. But Jade is dancing and I thought he was injured, so I'm thinking they're just playing the old footage. HEY! WAIT A SEC! That's how fake that Audience Vote was - one of the dancers from the routine predestined to lose is still recovering from surgery! Oh, how that fake choice makes me feel so insulted. Putting all that aside, this routine really was something special. Individually, the guys may have lagged behind some of the girls, but they were really tight as a unit.
CAT DEELEY'S HOST PICK - Jasmine and Comfort's Hip Hop.
Not a surprise here either, given Cat's affinity for Jasmine, but it's still a total delight. This is even better than it was last week (although Comfort did kind of abandon a leg trick by Jasmine halfway through! oops!) They are still both sexy as hell and loving and hitting every second of it.Really glad we got to see this one again.
INTERMISSION - PRESIDENT O HAS THINGS TO SAY 'BOUT SYRIA!
When we return, we get a montage of the choreographers describing the sometimes absurd stories behind their dances. Siamese twins from the fierce jungles of Saturn wins every time.
MARY'S JUDGE PICK - Tucker and All-Star Robert's "Brothers Routine"
This is the final judge's pick and it's a good one. This was one of the most emotional routines ever on the show given that both dancers are survivors of life-threatening accidents and Travis' relationship with his adoptive brother and fellow SYTYCD alum Danny. I actually think this routine is even better in the encore, if that's even possible, than it was in Week 10 to 8. It's so good. These two guys are perfectly matched in this dance.
GROUP DANCE FLASHBACK: Top 20 One-Take Intro!
They can't duplicate it here tonight, but this one-take opening number from Top 20 Performance Week has to be acknowledged in the Finale, for sure. It's fun to see where all these kids started as the Top 20. This routine took an entire extra day of planning and rehearsal than any group number they had done before. This show keeps pushing its limits. That's why it keeps getting better every year!
ALL-STAR CHOREO ENCORE: Jenna and All-Star Mark's "Sofa Lips."
A tribute to the highly successful All-Star Choreo/ 8 to 6 Week leads into an encore for Jenna and Mark. They are fantastic. It doesn't lose any of the hotness or weirdness from the original performance. I cannot understand how that long whip of a braid on Jenna's head never manages to smack her or Mark in the eye. Somehow they get through unscathed. It's quite brilliant. It's a little crazy to me that given all the strong partnerships this season between the contestants, we've only seen two partner dances that didn't feature an All-Star. The show was already really good this season before the All-Stars showed up. No one seems to remember that!
AMY and FIK-SHUN FINALIST PICKS - Bellhop Dance aka "After Party."
As if hearing my cry, Amy and Fik-shun pick their own partner dance as bellhops back in 20 to 18 Week. I really didn't like their white gloves back then. Haha! That sounds kind of absurd now, but it bothered me. I did really like their dancing though. I think they do a great job with this one again tonight. Wow, the encore performances were generally all really strong tonight! This was the routine where Nigel originally declared they'd make the Final Four. He wasn't wrong!
Next we get a montage of Nigel and Mary. There's some amazing old footage and pictures of both Nigel and Mary (Mary comes off better) but Cat tells us their love died, but they've decided to make up through dance, and sort of re-enact Any and Fik-shun's "Let's Get It On" waitress routine from 14 to 12 Week. Mary has a giant pink wig. Nigel is hammy it up too. I wish they took it more seriously. I want to see them really dance together! At the end, Adam Shankman slides onto the stage, trying to steal focus.
VOTING AUDIENCE PICK (HAHAHA!): Wicked Game with Amy and All-Star Travis.
Of course we were getting "Wicked Game," again, and this one is even better that the first time. I didn't think it could improve over what they did on 8 to 6 Week, but they did improve. Tonight it's really perfect. I just can't with these two. They're too good! Also, given how the night has been structured, it seems pretty obvious that Amy and Fik-shun have won. Jasmine and Aaron haven't performed a partner dance in the second hour of the show. That's pretty telling.
So what didn't we get for encores? No partner routines for anyone outside the Top 10. No Sonya Tayeh. No Tyce. No Mia Michaels. No Aaron and Jasmine. Nothing from Week 16 to 14. No ballroom. No Bollywood. There were a lot of great routines and not a lot of time. I bet the tour will be top notch. It's too bad it's not coming to NYC this year! I'd go!
FINAL GROUP PERFORMANCE - TOP 10 & ALL-STARS: Rock Lobster by NappyTabs
We get an intro video of the final four going to the beach, and then we jump back to the studio for the group dance of my LIFE. Listen, Rock Lobster is like my weirdo JAM. I've loved it since the first time I heard it decades ago. That the final group dance would be to this song, seems like a gift just for me. Also the dance is CRAY. So many of the female dancers have over the top hair-do's and sunglasses and bathing suits, you can't always tell who is who. But everyone is hitting it hard. The boy-finalists sorta just jump around off to the side, but everyone else gets some dope moves. All-Star Robert gets heavily featured as a lifeguard. Toward the end, the guys make this diamond formation and rip off their shirts. Robert can't quite get his off on the beat and he has to wait a few beats before he gets another chance. Luckily he's in the middle of the formation so it doesn't quite look like a mistake.
Everyone is really throwing themselves into it and the energy is amazing and it hits the perfect note of silliness and precision. It ends with our four finalists climbing up on the giant lifeguard chair. I swear that bare chested Aaron is still being hidden from view as much as possible. It seems ridiculous. His stomach is FINE. But he's constantly put in the back or framed from the chest up. If this was a sitcom and he were a girl, you'd think they were trying to hide a pregnancy. But whatever. Before the final commercial, Cat tells us the highest vote getter of the finalists was a girl. Amy smiles. Jasmine looks a bit panicked..
Before the final announcement the judges thank all the dancers they've seen along the way for being wonderful. Nigel says he heard a lot of criticism that Season 10 was too "artistic" and he'd be happy to hear that complaint for the rest of his life. Nigel will be gleefully engaged in twitter wars for the rest of his life. Now to the boys! We watch long recaps of both their journeys. Cat then announces that America's Favorite Male Dancer is... Fik-Shun! He bursts into tears of joy, Streamers explode from EVERYWHERE. Aaron gives him a huge hug. Fik says this means everything to him, and he's totally sincerely touched to win. He thanks everyone in is life. Including you Dance Fans out there who voted.
Now for the girls' clip packages showing their journeys. Both ladies totally deserve to win. But only one can be America's Favorite Female Dancer, and it's... Amy!More streamer and confetti explosions. Fik-shun comes back out on stage with gigantic flowers (they are his, not hers. Some other dude is holding hers right off-camera) and they share a moment of glory in victory together. Cat wraps up the season and says goodnight. It's nice to end things knowing we'll meet up again like old friends next May.
So we end with worthy winners after a very strong season of routines. This show has really become being a part of a community of artists. We get to follow artistic journeys of contestants long after their initial runs on the show. We see them develop as All-Stars and choreographers and professional dancers and actors. It's great to see these talented kids embraced in that way. That's what makes this show so special. That's what makes it such a joy to recap. I hope you've enjoyed reading my thoughts about it as we've gone along. I look forward to picking up with Nigel, Mary, our beloved Cat Deeley (may she win the Emmy for Reality Competition Host next Sunday!) and a whole fresh crop of fierce contestants who were BORN to dance, honey. Oh Thank Heaven, There's Season 11!!!!
(One last image for next year's kids to aspire to. BRING IT!)
Thank you to all our fans and viewers for your support, honesty and passion throughout Season 10. I hope we can bring even greater talent 11
— Nigel Lythgoe (@dizzyfeet) September 12, 2013