The shriek of shock you heard around 9:58 p.m. ET last night came from our house, as an absolutely stunning Cat Deeley announced the (immensely surprising) winner of America's Favorite Male Dancer. For those of you who wonder whether someone as cynical as I am ever gets surprised, the answer is a resounding, "Hellz yeah!"
But before we dwell on how Season 9 ended with a bang, not my whimper, as well as Witney's proclaiming from the audience that she was going to faint, let's look back at last night's episode.
First of all, how amazing a host is Cat Deeley? Warm, funny, self-deprecating, nurturing of the nervous contestants (see how it's done, Seacrest?), and freakin' hot as hell, I really hope she wins the Emmy this weekend for Best Reality Show Host. (And when she gets her outfit, hair, and makeup right, as she did with her silver sheath dress that made Adam Shankman do his overdone eyes-popping-out-of-his-head gesture, she gets it really right.)
After a look back at the announcement of the winners from previous seasons (and the amazing dancers who finished in second place), we got to see the Top 20 doing their mini-solos! In couples! It's the soulless Alexa and Daniel! Amber and Nick ("Bubblegum and Oil") had to interact again (and Amber even acted reasonably interested)! It's Brandon and Janaya (wait, who?)!
And then my favorites started returningAmelia and Will (yummily adorable), Matthew (overdressed) and Audrey, Dareian (of the Fred Flintstone feet) and Janelle, Cole (break, heart) and Lindsay, Witney and George, and then your top four dancers, Ameriker! (Cyrus got to go last. Again.)
The judges panel was overstuffed, and not just with egos, as the glorious Debbie Allen (child), the verbose-but-sensitive Lil C, the hammily overemotional Adam Shankman, and a smarmy Keith-Tyce (wearing what appeared to be a bow tie and a Members' Only jacket) joined Nigel and Mary for the evening.
Nigel touted a group routine with the top 20 as "the best routine to open the show we've ever seen." That description was like the hyperbole some networks use to hype television programs"the best new comedy on Tuesdays at 8" or "the best new drama series not created by Shonda Rimes." But Nigel mentioned the routine also was choreographed in tandem by an increasingly adorable Christopher Scott and the well-dressed admin assistant who apparently has taken over Sonya Tayeh's body. (Seriously. What's with the pageboy wig and the St. Johns knit suit, Sonya? At least she kept the lip ring.)
The routine, to Nathan Lanier's Torn, was really cool. It looked like everyone was dancing in the midst of a wind tunnel, and there were lots of great acrobatics and lifts and Cyrus mostly crawled around the stage. And it was great to see Alexa front and center again. (He said, somewhat sarcastically.)
And with the group number over, that was the last we saw of most of the top 20 for the remainder of the evening, which was unfortunate. But each of the judges got to pick their favorite routine of the evening, most of which weren't particularly surprising.
Nigel picked Matthew and Audrey's contemporary dance to Unchained Melody, choreographed by Travis and inspired by the movie Titanic. It really was a fantastic routine, Audrey's leap from the chaise lounge still amazed me even as I expected it this time, and Matthew was still too dressed.
Lil C picked (inexplicably to me) Witney and tWitch's hiphop routine to My Homies Still, choreographed by Luther Brown. (You remember, the one that turned Jesse Tyler Ferguson into a sassy guest judge, and had Cat trying her "waiting for the bus" move?) Still think Witney was more sexy than street in this routine.
Debbie talked about Sonya's genius and then picked the routine she choreographed to Turning Page for Tiffany and George. I thought Sonya had better routines this season but George really is an absolutely gorgeous dancer. But he finished in the top 8 and Cyrus is in the final. Go figure.
Adam blathered on for a while about the beauty of dance, look at me, yadda yadda yadda, and then picked Cole and Lindsay's amazing paso doble, choreographed by "Jason Gilkinson" (nice, Shankman) to Unstoppable. That, Mary Murphy, is nailing the paso doble. And yet Cole, too, didn't make the final. Growl.
Keith-Tyce still seemed smarmy to me as he picked the awesome Nappy/Tabs hiphop routine featuring Will and Amelia dancing to The Lovecats. (So did Tabitha have her baby like a week ago, and she already looks fantastic? Gotta start hiphop dancing.) I loved this routine, although it wasn't as sharp this time.
If you figured one of the judges
Because we still had a lot of time to kill, and we apparently had no desire to see any of the contestants who finished out of the top 10 (except Amelia), each of the four finalists also got to choose their favorite dance. Eliana chose her pairing with Alex Freaking Wong to Stacey Tookey's routine to Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down). Ah. May. Zing. After the routine, Nigel told Eliana that after Vegas week, she was at the top of everyone's list of who should make the top 20, and apparently Desmond Richardson told Nigel that as soon as Eliana got voted off the show he was going to hire her. Sorry, Des. (As a cynical aside, Eliana has the hands-over-her-mouth shocked pose down pat by now.)
Cat got to pick her own favorite routine of the evening: Tiffany and Brandon's death-defying Doriana Sanchez disco routine (11 lifts!) to You Make Me Feel. Honestly one of the best of the season.
Chehon picked his Argentine tango with Anya, choreographed by Leonardo and Miriam to Breathing Below Surface, as his favorite dance. I had forgotten how impressive some of the footwork was, and forgot the lifts they did in the routine. And I was disappointed that Chehon's parents couldn't make it to the finale, but I guess it was expensive to come from Switzerland for at least a few weeks.
After a montage of the numerous hiphop routines performed this season (and not all of them by Cyrus, remarkably), Cyrus, tWitch, Comfort, and Christopher Scott teamed up for an awesome routine to Messinian's Holy Ghost, which Christopher also choreographed. It was so great to see Christopher dance alongside of (and hold his own with) some great hiphop artists. The routine started out with the four playing poker (in traditional card shark-type outfits) and really was terrific.
Tiffany chose to reprise her Mandy Moore-choreographed routine with Ade to Power of Love. She has so much power and finesse in her dancing, and I agree with Nigel's frequent comment that for someone so small, she dances with a much larger presence. The lifts were even stronger this time. Tiffany was really emotional during the show, and this is where Cat proved what a nurturer she is, giving her a tight hug. (I thought Tiffany's face looked strange all night, and it looks like she had a monstrous bump on her head. Hope it didn't happen during rehearsals of the disco number!)
Cyrus' roommates in Dragon House performed a routine to Cryosleep by Cyberoptics, which featured one of Cyrus' other roommates, Bryan Gaynor, who auditioned for Season 7. I was surprised Cyrus didn't show up in the routine. It was actually great.
After a performance from Carly Rae Jepsen (sadly, it didn't feature the cute guy from her Call Me Maybe video), to the surprise of no one, Cyrus picked to reprise his routine with tWitch from last week, to Like a Criminal. While Nigel acknowledged that he got a lot of flak from his comments last week about not voting for Cyrus, he never apologized for them. He told Cyrus he should be the face of some product, and toldhim he "stole the season" with his inspiring performances and energy.
I agree, Nigel, but not in the positive way you meant. Luckily the end result didn't utterly torpedo the show.
The top 10 and the all-stars teamed up for a Nappy/Tabs routine to Circle of Life (the District 78 remix) from The Lion King. It was pretty awesome, lots of fierce jungle drums, acrobatics, hiphop moves (Witney proved she's not all pouty sexy hair shaking when she dances hiphop) and an amazing leap over three dancers by someone I couldn't identify. Awe. Some.
Then it was time for Ameriker's results. Eliana got to do her whole hands-over-her-mouth thing again as she was named America's Favorite Female Dancer. Well-deserved, although I would have been happy with a Tiffany victory as well.
And then the shocker. Cat revealed that Chehon was chosen America's Favorite Male Dancer. He was stunned. Witney was going to faint. Alex Freaking Wong rushed the stage to congratulate Chehon and Eliana first. And Will hugged Cat and lifted her off the ground. (He does love cats, you know...)
I'm so glad that the better dancers won out in the end. As we've seen from the all-stars, the best dancers don't necessarily win, but they're successful anyway, and I'd imagine Tiffany and Cyrus will both be successful in their own right. And Eliana and Chehon get arguably the worst prize package for reality show winners everthe winners of Star Search back in Ed McMahon's days also received $100,000 each. But that was in like 1983!!
Thanks for accompanying me on this journey of dance. I'll feel a little empty for a while without a show to recap but I don't know that I want to sacrifice my soul to another reality show (although I admit I'm toying with watching the all-star version of Dancing with the Stars despite Bristol Palin).
Go Cat! Win an Emmy! Lord have Murphy...