Hey now, you’re an all star, get your game on, go away!
Four dancers battled it out all summer leaving their blood, sweat, and tears on the stage for the title of America’s Favorite Dancer. Season 14 of Fox’s So You Think You Can Dance (SYTYCD) concluded Monday, night leaving Lex Ishimoto with the first place spot and $250,000. Ishimoto beat out Koine Iwasaki, who came in second, Taylor Sieve, who placed third, and Kiki Nyemchek, who landed in fourth place.
Ishimoto, a contemporary fusion dancer, was a viewers’ favorite from his very first audition and was a consistently well-praised dancer by judges Nigel Lythgoe, Mary Murphy, and newbie Vanessa Hudgens. Executive Producer Lythgoe was particularly impressed with Ishimoto’s signature tricks such as a triple tour and a double swipe jump; moves he said he had never seen before.
For many longtime fans, this season has been a disappointment mainly because of a large change in the show’s original format, which has gone through many different adaptations since Season 11. This year only the top 10 dancers were chosen to participate in the live show instead of the traditional 20, and each competitor was paired with an “all star,” or a previous contestant on the show. These all stars also served as the judges during academy week, an intensive week of learning choreography in all styles and many eliminations to determine a final top 10. During academy week, each all star selected one dancer to bring with them to the live shows. Formerly, all star dancers did not perform with the contestants until 10 dancers had been eliminated, but this season the all stars danced with their chosen contestant from the first episode.
Fans took to the Facebook comments of SYTYCD’s official page to express their opinions about the new format, many writing that the season had become “all about the all star dancers” who have already had their chance, instead of the new top 10 dancers. Additionally, seven of 15 episodes covered the auditions and academy week, and each episode was only one hour instead of two, significantly cutting down the amount of dancing shown to the viewers.
Many viewers also complained that Hudgens was a poor judge because she never had any constructive criticism for the contestants and after every dance repeated “you are amazing” and “I loved it” while giggling in a way that annoyed many fans. The ratings dropped rapidly throughout the season, with the premiere attracting 3.5 million views while the finale only brought in 1.9 million.
Despite the season’s flaws, Season 14 still produced some incredible numbers that were given an encore performance on the finale. Some of these numbers included a salsa by Iwasaki and Nyemchek, a broadway piece danced by Sieve and Ishimoto, a group disco routine, a group hip-hop routine, a powerful contemporary piece to spoken word poetry, and many duets from previously eliminated contests. These encores were chosen by the judges and the all stars to give the audience a chance to look back at the best of the season.
The finale also featured a special performance of “Reminding Me” by Hudgens and singer Shawn Hook, which was, for many viewers, mediocre at best. Close to the end of the song, all star Robert Roldan appeared on stage and whisked Hudgens away into a series of lifts as if to try and prove that she has dance abilities. Many viewers wrote on Facebook that the routine wasn’t memorable or interesting and the only redeemable thing was Hudgens’ surprisingly pointed feet.
Another special performance was danced by winner Ishimoto and Emmy-winning choreographer and Artistic Director of Shaping Sound Co. Travis Wall. The dance, titled “TEAR Part 1,” is part of the many pieces the touring company performs around the country. Many fans were happy to see Wall back on stage as a dancer, and Lythgoe praised the choreography and Wall’s creative process.
Fans will have to wait until next summer for the return of the series but until then, the SYTYCD top 10 competitors and all stars Jasmine Harper and Marko Germar will be going on a nationwide tour performing many numbers from the season. The tour will be performing inHollywood at the Dolby Theater on Nov. 15, a great opportunity for all to admire all of the great work done this season.