Another season of Fox’s “So You Think You Can Dance” reality show has come to a close. But Gold Derby’s Daniel Montgomery, Susan Wloszczyna and Denton Davidson have some lingering thoughts about the outcome of the Season 16 finale that aired on Monday.
Let’s start with the winner, 19-year-old b-boy Bailey Munoz, the first-ever break-dancer to win the title of America’s favorite dancer. As judge Mary Murphy told Gold Derby, he was the Rudy of this year’s competition as he rose to every occasion and relished the challenge of doing every style of dance from cha cha and jazz to Bollywood and Broadway.
Says Daniel about Bailey’s triumph, “He definitely had the strongest rooting factor, he was the most versatile. It wasn’t a foregone conclusion but by the end it felt like there was a pretty strong groundswell of support for him.” As for the three contemporary finalists, “Mariah Russell finished second, Gino Cosculluela finished third and Sophie Pittman finished fourth. I felt first and fourth were pretty guaranteed. But how two and three would shape out was more of a mystery.”
Denton wasn’t really surprised by the outcome. “I thought it would be close. And Cat (Deeley, the host) did say in the results that second and third was less than 1%. It was very close between those two. I thought Gino was going to get second, just based on how this season has gone. What Cat did not say was how much Bailey won by, which made me think it was probably a lot.”
Denton does note that at one point the audience was chanting Bailey’s name when other contestants were on stage with him “and I felt bad for the other ones because it was pretty obvious what was about to happen.”
As for Susan, she wanted Gino to come in second place. “I think Mariah was pretty much what she was the whole season, which was good. But he had to kind of add some pizazz to himself and not just be in his head. He did a very good job, better than Madison Jordan did. That “Girl From Ipanema” routine, I could watch that every day and be very happy.”
Daniel adds, “I really liked how Gino was progressing over the course of the season. That’s one case how short the season was really benefitted Mariah for that runner-up slot because she peaked earlier, her first couple live show performances were phenomenal. Then as the season started getting to the end, Gino was starting to rise. … another one or two weeks of live shows, he would have crossed that 1% threshold and been the second-place finisher.”
One giveaway that Bailey was ascendant was how many of the judge’s picks for their top finale routines featured the b-boy. As Daniel says, “I know Bailey performed about 73 times or so.”
Denton’s favorite routine with Mariah was a hip-hop number done to “Tempo” by Lizzo. “To me, that was the one performance all season where Mariah out-shined Bailey when they were together. To me, that was her best piece.” As Susan notes, “She patented the twerk split” during the number. She also noted that they switched out a motorcycle from earlier in the season to an all-terrain vehicle: “Not very sexy.”
Susan liked the fresh opening number with all of the Top 10 “because it was well-lit for once and you could see who was who on stage.” All three regretted that tap dancer Eddie Hoyt, who was the first to be cut from the live shows, only got to do a few seconds of hoofing in the opening number. That was in spite of the fact that Gaby Diaz, the only tap dancer to ever win “SYTYCD,” came back as an All-Star but did contemporary with Ezra Sosa instead.
Daniel, Denton and Susan go on to discuss how Eddie would have benefitted from a longer season and might not been so quickly done in by one not-great jazz funk routine. And they all were puzzled over why hip-hop dancer Anna Lindstruth stuck around longer than ballroom dancer Stephanie Sosa, Ezra’s sister. Especially since Anna did not hide her attitude about the judges comments about her performances.
The three go on to judge the new judges on this season, choreographer Laurieann Gibson and show alum Dominic “D-Trix” Sandoval, give a tip of the hat to terrific choreographers like hip-hop specialist Luther Brown who did “Tempo” and Mandy & Elizabeth‘s “Slide” that featured a rooftop. And, lastly they applaud top judge Nigel Lythgoe’s on-air suggestion that next year should feature the Top 20 on live shows while skipping the Academy episodes.