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The voters got it right narrowing down the contest to Jakob and Russell. While I extolled Jakob’s dancing throughout the season, I am absolutely fine with Russell winning; he legitimately earned it. SYTYCD is a bit like a horse race, Jakob in the lead throughout, but Russell slowly and steadily coming from behind to win by a nose. The two dancers presented very different strengths. Technically, Jakob is the stronger dancer, though Russell certainly has technique as well. But where Jakob outshone Russell in technique, Russell had more personality. There was a joy and full presence, and something very genuine and heartfelt in all of his dancing. Russell is a natural; he intuitively knows what it means and feels like to dance. Jakob did everything brilliantly but was a bit more reserved; he just did the movement. While he has tons of talent, Jakob has been trained to dance, which looks different and can sometimes get in the way of really letting go. Nigel likened it to Jakob being a polished diamond where Russell was an uncut diamond. I’d just as soon see raw talent then learned talent. Russell was an underdog, and we all know America loves to root for the underdog. Jakob was the golden boy who could do no wrong – the presumed winner. Perhaps people didn’t feel they needed to vote for Jakob assuming he was a shoe in. Russell had more of a human-interest story to sell, which does garner votes. Jakob was the average, vanilla boy next door. Russell came across more masculine/hetero, while one could assume that Jakob was gay. Could this have influenced voting? Russell grew so much throughout the season and peaked just at the right time while Jakob really didn’t change that much. How could he? He was brilliant to start with. I was actually less enthusiastic this week about Jakob, which I blame partly on his choreographers. He looked much the same in all his routines with his choreographers using Jakob’s strengths in the same way. After seeing him leap, lift his legs, do the splits etc. enough times, it starts to lose its interest and power. I would have enjoyed the choreographers pushing Jakob more, asking him to do things outside of his natural abilities and comfort zone. Russell was given more interesting and varied material to dance. In the end, he seemed more versatile and multi-dimensional.

We shouldn’t feel sad for Jakob; he will do very well in the profession, as should all the finalists. It’s too bad that Russell got hurt in this final show. I’m not surprised. The physical demands of the Hip Hop number in which the injury occurred were brutal. I don’t know how long someone can last doing these things to their body day after day. I still feel the winner would have been Billy Bell, who made it into the final twenty but never competed due to illness. I hope to see him in a future season. While it’s been fun to weekly blog about SYTYCD, I’m also glad the season and my responsibilities are done.

  • joan

    I couldn’t agree more, but it was great having you articulate what I was feeling. Thanks so much for being our RedThread reviewer. I’ve looked forward to reading your critiques and gotten out of them what I’d hoped for–a better understanding of dance.

  • Lloyd_Braun

    I liked Russell but I thought Jakob should have won. Oh well. maybe losing will propel him to greater heights.