Entertainment behind the scenes
Jeanine Mason takes the title of “America’s Favorite Dancer”
It was a night of celebration and tears at the Kodak Theater as contemporary performer Jeanine Mason was crowned “America’s Favorite Dancer” on season five of Fox’s summer hit “So You Think You Can Dance.”
“I never ever imagined this,” the 18-year-old said following the announcement, adding she never thought she would be giving an acceptance speech on the same stage that hosts the Academy Awards.
More than 3,000 screaming dance enthusiasts packed inside the iconic Hollywood theater to hear the fate of the final four — Mason, Evan Kasprzak, Kayla Radomski and Brandon Bryant – after what was the largest vote in the show’s history.
“I was absolutely delighted and I think it is justly deserved,” Lythgoe said of Mason’s win, which he said he learned of early Thursday afternoon.
But before the confetti and standing ovation, the finale revisited the judges’ favorite performances from this season, including the energetic Bollywood number “Jai Ho,” performed by Jason Glover and Caitlin Kinney, the “Butt Dance,” performed by Randi Evans and Kasprzak, and a Matrix-inspired Paso Doble, performed by Mason and first-runner up Bryant.
Special guests took to the stage, including Talia Fowler — the winner of “So You Think You Can Dance Australia” — and the junior dance troupe Rage Boyz Crew. The judges themselves couldn’t resist the draw of the bright lights either as they donned white top hats and tails for a surprise appearance at the end of a top-eight performance of “One” from the iconic musical “A Chorus Line.”
“Dark horse” Mason faced a tight race on Wednesday night’s performance show, which was a feast for dance lovers as choreographers Mia Michaels, Tony Meredith and Melanie LaPatin, Tyce Diorio and Sonya Tayeh challenged the finalists to reach new heights for the $250,000 prize and the coveted title.
Mason and Kasprzak were the first couple to take the stage with a performance inspired by a woman who has fallen out of love. “I never saw Janine coming and you have dominated week after week,” Shankman said, “I so underestimated you and I will never forgive myself.”
Bryant, who began dancing at the age of seven, continued to wow the judges with his power and intensity. “You’re an extreme dancer. You’re like a super athlete,” Shankman said after he performed his final solo of the competition. “You are athletic, you are dynamic, you defy gravity at times,” Murphy said, adding the 19-year-old was born to dance.
Despite making it to the final four, Kasprzak couldn’t shake the criticism dished out by the judges, who chided him for his natural sweetness and lovable face. “You have the character but it felt like a character,” Shankman said of the “Nasty” number where Kasprzak found himself dueling against Bryant. In retaliation, the entire Kodak Theater erupted in applause and chanted “Evan” in support of the short man who dances large.
Radomski, a darling of the judges from her audition straight through to the finale, continued to inspire a flood of compliments for her work. Lythgoe compared the statuesque blond to a “thoroughbred” after the Mia Michaels number she performed with Mason. “There have been some of the best dancers I have ever seen of my life on this show, Travis Wall, Will, Danny, and Kayla you just joined them in that little special club,” Shankman said after she performed her final solo.
With tens of millions of votes tallied, do you think America got it right? Itching for more dance and a chance to have your say? Stayed tuned for Season Six, which begins on Sept. 2.
Captions: (Top Left) Jeanine Mason, 18, is a contemporary dancer from Pinecrest, FL. ©2009 Fox Broadcasting Co. Cr: Mike Ruiz/FOX
(Center Right) Judges Mary Murphy and Nigel Lythgoe ©2009 Fox Broadcasting Co. Cr: Mike Ruiz/FOX
(Bottom Center) “So You Think You Can Dance” host Cat Deeley ©2009 Fox Broadcasting Co. Cr: Mike Ruiz/FOX