Thursday, August 7, 2008

SYTYCD: America's Favorite Dancer 2008 is the Cutie with the Booty from Texas

HipHop choreographer Shane Sparks directed the evening's first dance number for the top 20 as So You Think You Can Dance concluded its 2008 season. Shane's good for visual illusions, and this number had quite a few. This post is a recap of the 2008 final elimination episode of SYTYCD, and it includes the name of the winner, the one dancer crowned "America's Favorite Dancer." (If you're impatient, click here to know now.)

As usual during the final elimination show, we see recaps with the judges' favorite routines featured, and the six who did the choosing were Nigel Lythgoe, Mary Murphy, Adam Shankman, Lil C, Debbie Allen, and Mia Michaels. Nigel chose the first favorite of the evening, Katee and Joshua performing a BollyWood routine. It was as fun to watch tonight as it was the first time around.

Mary selected the next favorite and she chose Gev and Courtney's spicy Rumba. She said it was the perfect blend of innocence and maturity.

Next up was the first extra entertainment of the evening, a popper battle between Philip Chbeeb, 19, and the equally phenomenal Robert Muraine, 20. The judges voted for Robert overwhelmingly. He gave props to Philip and noted that this was the first televised popping battle. Most of the choreographers chose Robert because they believe he's highly unique. Li'l C said that the whole thing was "buck" but he chose Robert because the young man manipulates the beat. Mia said both poppers are unbelievable.

Following that, Adam Shankman chose a piece by Dave Scott, Shankman's movie partner and choreographer of The Step Up movies. It was the Twitch/Comfort performance to "Forever."

Li'l C's favorite piece was Mark and Chelsie dancing to Bleeding Love. He tends to say much and often quite eloquently, a trait for which he's been teased. He talked about the show being like a museum of great dances and the difference between dancing through your heart instead of with your heart. He believes the latter is better. Cat Deeley said she loves his analogies.

And then they looked around for Mary and she was nowhere to be found. Nigel said it was the most quiet she'd been all season. Mary turned up on stage dancing a Samba with Dimitri (Season 2) to Baila, Baila by Angela Via. It's the same song Katee and Joshua danced their Samba to during the Top 16.

Mia's first choice for favorite routine was the Desmond Richardson and Dwight Rhoden (no surprise there) Pas de Deux with Katie and Will. She said Richardson and Rhoden "gave this show a different heartbeat," and that two of her favorite dancers performed the piece. I smiled again watching it because I absolutely love the lines, especially the ending imagery. All the judges gave tonight's performance a standing ovation, and this time Will and Katee "nailed" the turn that gave them trouble the first time around. Will, speaking of Debbie Allen, his mentor being on the panel again, said "OMG, it's the best feeling in world."

Shankman's second favorite piece of the evening was the Sonya Tayeh routine to "The Garden", a jazz routine with Courtney and Mark. He said Sonya "must have a camera on me because it was like the last 8 years of my dating life" I think the pair performed it better tonight than they did the first time.

OKay, here's the first elimination. Deeley announced Courtney as the first of the final 4 to go. But before she made the announcement, someone in the audience yelled "I love you Twitch!" Courtney's so sweet so sweet, but this was expected. She said, "I'm not sad, I'm not upset." She didn't believe she'd get this far. Very humble. Last night she said she knew she wasn't the best dancer.

And then she quoted George Bernard Shaw with some say that "youth is wasted on the young. That will not be me. I've sucked up everything I've been given here." God, she's a positive little girl. Wonderful!

Following Courtney's elimination, we were treated to the Five Moes from the musical "Five Guys Named Moe." Nigel choreographed this number with Mark, Twitch, Joshua, Will, and Gev, and another choreographer helped with the "steppin'" segments. (One of my cousins is a dancer and he played Big Moe in that show here in New Orleans.)

The showcase piece of the evening for me was a preview performance from the cast of Criss Angel's Believe, which will premiere in Vegas September 12 at the Luxor. It was "Homage to the Rabbits" (Eric Serra), "Homage to all the rabbits who died at the hands of incompetent magicians." Wade Robson choreographed the piece and it featured performers from Cirque du Soleil who are also part of Criss Angel's Believe show. An imaginative, provocative routine, the performance made me want to go to Vegas and see more. Really quite stunning, precise and brilliant work!

Time for the second elimination. Katee was out! Katee is a fantastic dancer, but those guys have been so memorable. Nevertheless, Katee was exceptional in everything she did.

She weeped watching the clips of her journey on SYTYCD. She said, "I can't thank everybody enough for ... helping me grow." And then she got a big surprise. This year both the top boy and top girl received cash awards, and so Katee goes away with $50K. Not bad, not bad. She was nearly floored by the news.

My second favorite treat of the evening, after the Wade Robson homage to rabbit routine with Cirque du Soleil, was the Debbie Allen Dance Academy kids who danced to Boogie Wonderland by Earth Wind & Fire, a tap routine. What made it special was that Nigel, the #1 judge, joined the students on stage. They were precious and talented, while Nigel proved he's quite the hoofer. It's this kind of performance participation from the judges that makes SYTYCD better than American Idol. The judges put themselves on the line after criticizing younger dancers all season. Great! Allen said Chauntel Heath directed the routine with assistance from Nicole Nicholas of The Nicholas Brothers family.

Debbie said everyone on the panel should be required to dance and that drew applause.

Mary's next favorite choice was a relationship piece, that "Mercy" with Twitch and Katee. Mary thinks Mia Michaels deserves another Emmy for the choreography. It was also one of my favorite pieces even though I was tired by the end of the season of male/female fight routines. The most entertaining bit of the routine, for me, is when Twitch thinks Katee's gone (she's like stalker girlfriend) but opens the door and she's hanging from the top of it. I think this is another number that was even better the second time around.

The Jonas Brothers performed a "hit" from their upcoming CD, "Burning Up." Yeah, sweetie-pie, talented, boys, but not my cup of tea. I like their stuff, but not enough to buy it. Good for them that I'm not their market. The young girls go crazy for them. Very Disney.

When Debbie Allen announced her favorite routine, she teased Li'l C by imitating his sometimes pretentious speaking style. Her favorite piece was Twitch and Kherington's Viennese Waltz choreographed by Jean Marc Genereaux for his daughter who suffers from Rett Syndrome.

Nigel chose as his other favorite piece the Tabitha and Napoleon routine to "No Air" with Katee and Joshua doing lyrical HipHop. He tried to wax poetic also, taking a poke at Li'l C, but couldn't do it, he said.

Lots of dancers from previous seasons appeared to give their where are they now reports. For instance, Cedric from last season has since danced in a Herbie Hancock show. Donyelle from Season 2 is getting married and also has co-choreographed a movie musical. Benji, often her partner and the winner of Season 2, also made an appearance, but we've seen him choreographing on the show too. I think Neil from last season said he's in the play The Altar Boys. Really can't repeat or recall all of it.

It seemed like everyone who appeared in the clips also performed to a Rihanna song tonight, "Don't Stop the Music" It's good to see that they leave the show and get work doing what they love. The top dancers of this season came out to join them near the end.

Now for the big announcement of the evening. I'd already decided that between the two, Joshua and Twitch, I wouldn't know who to choose. I enjoy Twitch as both a dancer and entertainer of wit. Yet, who can ignore Joshua's sweetness and mad skillz? I was glad that both young men made it the finals. And as Deeley pointed out again, it was the first time any street dancer has made it to the end of the finale. In this case it was two untrained dancers.

After nearly 60 million votes, said Deeley, the winner of SYTYCD 2008 and America's Favorite Dancer is Joshua Allen, age 19. He wins big bucks and doors to opportunity, including the bonus of having a featured dancer role in Shankman's Step Up 3-D movie. Twitch held Joshua's hand up as the winner, and seemed genuinely happy for his buddy. Joshua's mom was shouting in the aisle like she was seeing glory in church. The camera also zoomed in on his father, who was bawling like a babe. So, we see that Joshua came by his crying honestly. OMG, I'm crying too!

Joshua said "Never let anybody tell you you can't do anything. The sky's the limit. No matter what you do you can always go far because God is in control With God you can do anything. So, thank you, God." (Can't promise I quoted Joshua perfectly, but it's close.)

I'll say what I've said before, "That boy is adorable."

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Mekhismom said...

I hope you don't mind but I linked to you in my blog post today. I love your recaps and wanted to direct people this way if they missed this season.

Vérité Parlant said...

Thanks, R. I started out just doing little pieces of the show and one night found myself writing entire recaps. :-)