For only the second time in the show's five-year history, a female won the title of America's Favorite Dancer on So You Think You Can Dance. Eighteen year-old contemporary dancer Jeanine Mason prevailed over second-place Brandon Bryant, third-place Evan Kasprzak and fourth-place Kayla Radomski.
Jeanine took a page out of the playbook of American Idol Kris Allen, overtaking the early front-runners despite seeing little airtime prior to the voting shows with a slow but steady rise to the top. She was never identified as far as I can remember in audition and Vegas rounds until she was announced into the Top 20 and then paired with fan favorite Phillip Chbeeb. She and Phillip had a strong start with a hip-hop number that ended up being one of the best hip-hop routines of the season but fizzled the next week with a sloppy tango (not Jeanine's fault!). Their first trip to the bottom 3 in the Top 14 really started Jeanine's run to the title. Being able to do her own style for the first time, she delivered an amazing solo that really caught everyone's eye.
After Jeanine lost Phillip as a partner on Top 12 week, things really opened up for her. In the Top 10, she danced what many have called the best dance of the season with Jason Glover, the Travis Wall-choreographed contemporary to Jason Mraz's "If It Kills Me". For the Top 8 show, she had the standout "Battlefield" routine with Brandon plus a kick-ass solo to "Let The Drummer Kick". And in the finale, she slayed every single dance she did, particularly her tango solo and paso doble with Brandon.
Couple her outstanding dancing and her somewhat underdog status with her sunny personality and hilarious quips ("Cue reel of lifts" and "We have chains all over the place at our apartment" ... not to mention her comment after winning: "I never thought I'd be making an acceptance speech at the Kodak. Thank you Academy." LMAO she is so awesome), and you got yourself a winner winner chicken dinner.
Jeanine and Brandon being the Top 2 was perfect (well, as perfect as you can get considering Janette Manrara was not in the finale). They had most of the most memorable dances of the season, and it showed in the finale when the judges picked their favorites. Both had 3 dances performed - their Paso Doble from Tuesday, Jeanine & Phillip's "Mad" hip-hop, Jeanine & Jason's Travis contemporary, and Brandon & Janette's Argentine Tango and disco. They could easily have included Brandon & Jeanine's "Battlefield" and Brandon & Janette's cha cha, but that would have been overkill on those two.
Also picked for reprises were Melissa & Ade's breast cancer contemporary (after Tyce delivered the great news that his friend who inspired the piece just found out that she is cancer-free), Randi & Evan's butt dance (Evan's only reprise of the night), Kayla & Kupono's addiction contemporary, Kayla & Max's samba, Caitlin & Jason's Bollywood, and Asuka & Vitolio's waltz, plus group performances by the Top 20 (Tyce's "Brand New Day" picture frame Broadway dance), Top 16 (Dmitry & Nappy-Tabs samba/hip-hop) and Top 12 (A Chorus Line, joined at the end by the choreographers).
Jeanine is going to have the shortest reign ever as America's Favorite Dancer. So You Think You Can Dance Season 6 begins on Sept. 16, and this weekend is Vegas week. I'm calling Ryan Kasprzak as a finalist in Season 6. As last man cut in last season's Vegas round, I'm looking at him as the runner-up, just as Brandon was this year (he was last to get cut in season 4) and Twitch the year before that (last to get cut in season 3). Plus, he's a sibling of a finalist. Siblings have never won either (Danny was 2nd, Lacey was 4th, and Faina was out in week 2).