So You Think You Can Dance
After a grueling So You Think You Can Dance season, which included both a Top 20 and the All-Stars, the four finalists -- Marko, Melanie, Sasha and Tadd -- faced off for the last time. So who came out the winner of Season 8?
Before we get to the results, the Top 20 returned for an intense, leather-clad group number. Sasha and All-Star Kent took the stage next with the contemporary dance backdropped by the wall, and finally fan-favorite pairing Melanie and Marko performed the NappyTabs hip-hop number.
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Among the other judges' picks for favorite routines of the season: Tadd and Lauren's jazz number to "Another One Bites the Dust"; Melanie and Neil's "Total Eclipse of the Heart" contemporary piece; Marko and Allison's contemporary dance to "I Know It's Over"; and Sasha and Twitch's heartwarming hip-hop dance to "Misty Blue."
For the group numbers, host Cat Deeley chose the Top 8 Circus number. The Top 10 girls also came together for the "Pop Drop and Roll" jazz number from Sonya Tayeh, while the boys teamed up for the "Velocity" piece with the doors.
Capping off the night, Melanie and Marko wowed the crowd with the contemporary statue piece from Week 1 that judge Nigel Lythgoe hailed as Emmy-worthy. The top two ladies took on the "Game On" jazz number before the champion of Season 8 was announced.
So You Think You Can Dance performance photos
And the winner is... contemporary dancer Melanie, the 19-year-old Ginnifer Goodwin doppelgänger whom we called a frontrunner from the beginning. In tears, Melanie could only muster up a "thank you," before being engulfed by her fellow dancers.
Sasha came in as the runner-up, while Marko and Tadd came in third and fourth, respectively.
It was no surprise that the Georgia native, who never once landed in the bottom three, won over America's vote. "I thought she'd be there at the end, of course. I think we've always said that," Lythgoe said following the finale, noting that the girls were far superior to the boys this season. "The boys were just of a good standard; the girls, for me, were a higher standard, so I thought a girl would win." Lythgoe also expressed excitement for the possibility of Melanie returning next season as an All-Star with the Top 20, a format he said they will continue in Season 9.
"I can't even believe it still; I don't even think it's real," a wide-eyed Melanie told TVGuide.com after winning. "I didn't expect it at all because I was standing next to three absolutely amazing dancers. I thought Sasha was going to win. The judges had said that I was the frontrunner, but I tried not to put that in my head because that always creates extra pressure. I put enough pressure on myself as it is anyways, so I don't need other people to do it for me. Now that I'm done, I want to say thank you for everyone supporting me so much throughout my journey."
Even during the competition, Melanie was already fielding job offers from guest judges Lady Gaga and Kenny Ortega, who said he'd love to have her in the new Dirty Dancing remake he's directing. "Kenny Ortega, I'm going to be hitting you up for that job!" she said enthusiastically. "Come on, nobody puts baby in a corner!"
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"I hope he follows through on that," judge Mary Murphy said. "Of course, if he comes back as a judge next season and he hasn't used her for Dirty Dancing, I'll probably be staring down the line of the judging table."
For her part, Sasha was honored to be part of the first all-female final two on So You Think You Can Dance. "I'm just happy to be here, and happy that I got this far," she said. "I would never be disappointed. I was happy I made it into the Top 20, that I accomplished something. I had auditioned two times before and didn't even make it to Green Mile."
Though Sasha, who was featured quite heavily with her sister during the audition rounds, had a built-in fan base, Murphy noted that she wasn't necessarily a frontrunner from the beginning. "Even when we were putting her through to the Top 20, at that point, the judges were putting her in and thinking that she was more toward the lower end of the Top 20, or the Top 10 girls," she said. "She proved herself week after week. Toward the last three weeks, holy smokes, that girl got on fire."
"We've never, I don't think, really had a frontrunner win this show, and now we have a frontrunner that finally won," Murphy added.
Are you happy Melanie won?