In the end, it was the hard-hitting krumper, ”unpolished diamond,” and all-around sunny delight Russell Ferguson who successfully out-bucked his competition and was officially announced America’s Favorite Dancer. And rightfully so: This guy has been a clear fan favorite since he first arrived all rough and tumble at the Boston auditions so many eons ago, and as the season progressed we’ve seen him grow by leaps and bounds and get all but slobbered on with the judges’ constant praise. Maybe Nigel was smart to put him in the bottom four in that first week of Top 20 competition. It seems as though the viewers have been hot to keep this gem on their direct dial ever since — enough so to vote him all the way to the coveted SYTYCD season 6 title. So in the words of Cat Deeley, let’s hear it for him, it’s Russell! Buck yeah!
As much as I was fully expecting a Russell win (and props to Kate Ward for calling it after Tuesday’s performances), I would have been okay with either him or fellow top-3 finalists Jakob or Kathryn taking the coveted prize. Clearly the ebullient krumper’s megawatt smile and matching personality won out over Jakob and Kathryn’s technical superiority. Though if there is any justice in this world, this won’t be the last we’ll see of any of these stellar dancers.
But man, Russell is a man of surprises. Not only can he do a down and dirty hip-hop number one minute and a delicate lyrical jazz routine the next, but he can also spring back from an injury and whip off his shirt faster than you can say Dance Spirit centerfold. Impressive! Not quite as impressive as Megan Mullally belting ”no hydrogenated oils” in a supermarket song and dance number for I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter, but still. The leg injury that hampered him early on in the program was suddenly a distant memory. No doubt it was the adrenaline surging, but was anyone else a little surprised by his heavy lean on Jakob one second, and then his bounce amidst the flurry of confetti the next?
But no matter. Russell’s coronation as America’s next top Dance Spirit Magazine cover model marked the end of a very uneven season, as well as another strange results show. Wednesday night’s fits and starts seemed to encapsulate the fits and starts of the whole season. There were the technical microphone difficulties. Then there was the parade of judges who came back to introduce their favorite dances — but that also seemed unusual, given that they were absent the entire voting season. And even the usually unflappable Cat appeared to be tongue-tied and out of sorts.
And then there was Russell’s sudden, tearful injury. Not that I blame Russell — obviously he couldn’t help getting hurt (though what happened is a mystery. Did he land awkwardly during the hip-hop routine? Was he clubbed with a crowbar by a fellow competitor?). But I was a little bummed to have to watch taped dances, particularly when these repeat performances are usually the highlight of the filler-heavy program. If I wanted to watch taped performances again, I would go back to my DVR or YouTube, not tune into this program. And no doubt Noelle would have liked the chance to perform the African Jazz number live one more time, if just to have another shot at strutting her stuff in front of a national audience.
NEXT: Leona Lewis and her performance armor