Amy Yakima and Du-Shaunt “Fik-Shun” Stegall (by Joe Toreno)
On “So You Think You Can Dance” Season 10, Amy Yakima and Du-Shaunt “Fik-Shun” Stegall had no shortage of magical moments. There was their first routine as partners: an emotional Sonya Tayeh contemporary piece that earned them a standing ovation from the judges. There were the fun numbers—Tabitha and Napoleon D’umo’s hip-hop bellhop routine and Tyce Diorio’s quirky hobo jazz piece—that showcased Amy and Fik-Shun’s endearing personalities. And there was their elegant Viennese waltz, a celebration of all they’d accomplished together.
Once in the Top 10, these two powerhouses proved they were every bit as good apart as they were together, with numbers like Amy’s stunning contemporary duet with Travis Wall and Fik-Shun’s too-cool-for-school hip-hop routine with All-Star Stephen “tWitch” Boss. So was it any surprise that they ultimately took home the “America’s Favorite Dancer” titles?
Not according to judge Mary Murphy. “Amy and Fik-Shun solidified themselves early on as formidable competitors,” she says. “They just kept giving great performances. Together, and with other partners, they were tremendous.”
Despite being from very different dance worlds, Fik-Shun and Amy had a clear connection with each other—and with viewers. Read on to learn more about where they came from, what their “SYTYCD” experience was like and where they hope to go next.
Amy Yakima (by Joe Toreno)
Amy started training at Noretta Dunworth School of Dance in Dearborn, MI, at age 3, studying ballet, tap and jazz. As time went on, she added contemporary, hip hop, gymnastics and more to her roster of styles. “I discovered that dance is how I like to communicate,” Amy says. “It became my passion. I was at the studio every day, and I loved it.”
Longtime teacher Loni Lane Padesky remembers Amy having something special from the very beginning. “She sparkled onstage,” Padesky says. That performance quality, combined with steadily improving technique, helped Amy find success at competitions including West Coast Dance Explosion and L.A. DanceMagic, where she started winning titles as early as age 9. Stellar stage presence also helped 9-year-old Amy land the role of Clara in the Detroit production of the Radio City Christmas Spectacular. Amy performed as Clara in Detroit for three years, and at 12 she danced the same part in the NYC production.
Middle school and high school brought more competition titles, including Miss West Coast at WCDE and 2nd runner-up Teen Outstanding Dancer at New York City Dance Alliance Nationals. But she was never in it for the trophies. “I remember dancing onstage more than what awards I was given,” she explains. “For me, it was always about being able to touch someone’s heart with my performance.”
The summer before her senior year, Amy won a scholarship to Marymount Manhattan College through NYCDA. She spent her freshman year in NYC, and then realized she wanted to take a different path. “I’m the person I am today because of Marymount,” she says. “I needed that year of training to see where I wanted to go with dance. I decided I wanted to start auditioning and working.”
She moved home to Michigan and took a position as an assistant on WCDE’s convention tour, traveling to a different city each weekend. “Assisting taught me about work ethic in an actual job setting—being ready for rehearsal, being on time, acting professionally,” she says. During her year with WCDE, the “SYTYCD” audition tour passed through Detroit. Amy auditioned on a whim—and the rest is history.
Du-Shaunt “Fik-Shun” Stegall (by Joe Toreno)
When it comes to dance training, Fik-Shun’s experience couldn’t be more different from Amy’s. “I got my start watching YouTube!” he says. Growing up in Kansas, and later Las Vegas, Fik-Shun was always dancing on his own—and searching online for dance videos.
“I would watch other street dancers do their thing and figure out how I could mimic them. I would try to get into their heads, to see how they came up with different moves and combinations, waves and pops and hits,” he explains. “I would find someone who did something well and see if I could throw a little of that into my style.”
Fik-Shun’s two years of basic dance training—mostly jazz, as well as some improvisation and a little ballet—came courtesy of Las Vegas Academy of the Arts, a magnet high school where he spent his junior and senior years. “I was in all lower-level dance classes,” he says. “If people knew my name, it was only because of hip hop.”
Even more influential to his dance life was meeting someone who would become his inspiration, his rival and his friend: Deytral “Kidd Stylez” Eaviance Fletcher. “The first time I saw him dance, I thought it was crazy that we were the same age and he was so much better than me!” Fik-Shun says. “We met in high school, and we battled a lot. He pushed me to train and grow.” The duo went on to become street performers together on the Las Vegas Strip.
At 16, Fik-Shun got a taste of the television stardom that was in his future, thanks to two appearances on Paula Abdul’s show “Live to Dance.” At his initial audition, Fik-Shun won rave reviews from the judges. Unfortunately, he was eliminated in the semifinals. “That experience was really cool,” he says. “Seeing Paula again as a guest judge on ‘SYTYCD’ three years later, it felt like everything had worked out the way it was supposed to—especially since I only auditioned for ‘SYTYCD’ because I missed the deadline for ‘America’s Got Talent!’ ”
Side by Side on “SYTYCD”
Amy had been a fan of “SYTYCD” for years. Fik-Shun had seen YouTube videos of standout audition solos, but had never watched a full episode. Amy soared through Vegas Week. Fik-Shun remembers Vegas Week as “the scariest part” of the audition process. But once the live shows started, this seemingly odd couple turned out to be the perfect pair.
“Our chemistry started naturally because we’re both hard workers,” Amy says. “Through the weeks, we learned how to communicate with each other. I figured out how to explain technical things so Fik-Shun could understand. And he has the best musical ear I’ve ever known. I’m a counter, but he taught me to live in the music.”
Fik-Shun and Amy in their Tabitha and Napoleon "After Party" hip-hop number (by Adam Rose/Fox)
“I was nervous to work with Amy—I didn’t want to hold her back,” Fik-Shun says. “But we worked well together. When we butted heads, it was because we’re both strong-minded and we wanted things to be good. We really did bond, and I couldn’t have asked for a better partner.”
Both dancers tackled the show’s challenges with an all-or-nothing gusto that propelled them toward the finale. “Amy annihilated everything,” Murphy says. “It’s rare to find a dancer who isn’t just competent, but extraordinary at every style.” Of Fik-Shun, guest judge and All-Star tWitch says, “He has a special ability to make people feel good when he dances, whether it’s his own style or somebody else’s. He has so much potential.”
Amy and Fik-Shun (by Joe Toreno)
Two Bright Futures
Amy and Fik-Shun both view their “SYTYCD” experiences as the ultimate jumping-off points. “I don’t want to close any doors,” Amy says. “I want to tour with an artist, do a music video, perform with a company and eventually have my own company. I want to check everything dance-related off my bucket list.”
Fik-Shun is setting the bar just as high. “I want to be on the big screen as much as possible,” he says. “I also want to tour and see dance in different parts of the world. When you set big goals, you can be surprised by the journey along the way. I’m looking forward to pushing myself further.”
Amy Yakima (by Joe Toreno)
Fast Facts: Amy
Birthday: November 8, 1993
Favorite foods: Nutella and pineapple
Favorite movie: She’s the Man. ”I can quote the whole thing.”
Favorite TV shows: “I’m obsessed with crime shows like ‘Criminal Minds’ and ‘Law & Order: Special Victims Unit,’ even though I’m scared of blood!”
What she’s listening to: “I love classic songs. I did my last solo on ‘SYTYCD’ to ‘Unchained Melody’ because I’d been listening to it on repeat.”
If she weren’t a dancer, she’d be: An FBI agent
Dance inspiration: Allison Holker
Favorite “SYTYCD” routines: “Wicked Game,” with Travis Wall; “Elsa,” by Sonya Tayeh, with Fik-Shun; “Say Something,” by Stacey Tookey, with Robert Roldan
Advice for DS readers: “Don’t compare yourself to anyone else. There will be competition for parts and at auditions, but you have to stay true to yourself. Always try to be better than you were before.”
Du-Shaunt "Fik-Shun" Stegall (by Joe Toreno)
Fast Facts: Fik-Shun
Birthday: September 2, 1994
Favorite food: Pizza
Favorite TV show: “I was addicted to ‘Jersey Shore’! If I missed an episode, I was really upset. I also love watching anime.”
What he’s listening to: “Lots of Michael Jackson.”
If he weren’t a dancer, he’d be: “A couch potato!”
How he became Fik-Shun: “In high school, my friend Marcus saw me dance and said it looked unreal, so he named me Fik-Shun. It just stuck.”
Favorite “SYTYCD” routines: “Hello Good Morning,” by Luther Brown, with tWitch; “Elsa,” by Sonya Tayeh, with Amy; “After Party,” by Tabitha and Napoleon D’umo, with Amy
Advice for DS readers: “Go for your dreams, no matter how unattainable they seem. Give 100 percent and don’t let anything stop you. And be yourself throughout your journey. People will notice you for being you.”
Our winner, Kathryn Thies (left), and her friend Samantha Simmons on the red carpet before the "So You Think You Can Dance" Season 10 finale. (courtesy Kathryn Thies)
Thousands of you entered our sweepstakes to win an all-expenses paid trip to the "So You Think You Can Dance" Season 10 finale. And while we wish we could've sent you all, we had to choose just one winner and randomly selected Kathryn Thies. (Lucky girl!)
We caught up with Kathryn to hear all about her trip of a lifetime.
Dance Spirit: What was your reaction when you learned you'd won a trip to the finale?
Kathryn Thies: Disbelief. And then super excitement. It still didn't feel real a week later. I don't think it actually really hit me until the day before the trip.
DS: Who did you bring as your guest?
KT: I brought my friend Samantha, who I've been friends with since high school. Her place used to be the midway point on a long drive I made on a regular basis. I always used to stop for the night and we usually ended up watching "SYTYCD." I was super excited to share the trip with her!
DS: What was your favorite part of the trip?
KT: I felt so lucky and spoiled this trip! I tried a lot of awesome new food, learned a lot and laughed a lot.
DS: What was the most unexpected part of the trip?
KT: We got to sit front row at the finale!
Reserved parking for Nappytabs!
DS: Do you have a favorite memory from the night?
KT: There was such a talented group of dancers this season. Seeing them perform in person was even cooler than watching them on TV. At the end, seeing Allison and tWitch together made my heart melt! And seeing the choreographers pride in the dancers after the taping stopped was awesome, too.
DS: What was it like watching the show live vs. on TV?
KT: We were front row, so you could see every little detail and every movement. Somehow, it's just all more exciting in person! I also got a thumbs up from my favorite dancer (I went a little fan-girl and shouted his name as he left stage, so he turned and gave me a thumbs up).
Kathryn visiting Ginger Rogers star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
DS: After watching the live performances, which dancer is your favorite?
KT: Aaron and Jasmine have been my favorites from the very beginning. I think all four finalists were awesome in different ways, but Jasmine's grace blows me away and Aaron's ability to master all of the genres made them my favorites.
Amy and Fik-Shun!
Your winners! (Adam Rose/FOX)
Congratulations to Amy Yakima and Du-Shaunt "Fik-Shun" Stegall, winners of "So You Think You Can Dance" Season 10. Not only will they each take home $100,000, but they'll spend today with Dance Spirit editor in chief Alison Feller and art director Josephine Daño at a photo shoot for our December cover.
The finale was packed with the best performances of the season. Here are some of the winners' standout routines from last night:
Amy and Travis
Fik-Shun and tWitch
And finally, Amy and Fik-Shun!
We couldn't be happier for these two outstanding dancers. And we can't sign off without mentioning Jasmine and Aaron—they, too, were phenomenal and we can't wait to see them (and the rest of the Top 10!) on tour this fall.
Now it's your turn! What did you think of the finale? Did the right dancers win? Tell us in the comments below!
Oh, "So You Think You Can Dance," you always sneak up on me. How are we already down to the Top 6 dancers?! I'm not ready for it to end!
But, I am ready for tonight's show. Not only is my favorite Jesse Tyler Ferguson joining the judging panel tonight, but they've also got a stellar All-Star lineup. Check 'em out:
Melanie Moore, Season 8 winner
Alex Wong, Season 7
Joshua Allen, Season 4
Witney Carson, Season 9
Neil Haskell, Season 3
Kathryn McCormick, Season 6
Are you as excited for tonight's episode as I am? Who do you think will be paired up? Personally, I'd love to see Neil and Amy dance together—it would be contemporary magic! Let me know what you think in the comments below.
Last night we said goodbye to tappers Alexis and Curtis. (Adam Rose/FOX)
What. A. Week! Yesterday was a really long day for me, so I was super-tired when I sat down to watch “So You Think You Can Dance.” Naturally, I thought I’d keep zoning out into sleepyland, but this turned out not to be the case—at all. The show’s producers kept switching things up left and right and I was totally loving it. I may have even made some crazy faces and hopped up and down on the couch a little bit. (Yes, I’m that kind of TV watcher.) But enough about me, let’s get to the Top 5 Moments that rocked my Tuesday-night world!
1. Here’s hoping this wasn’t the last time they show the contestants as little kids. All outrageous doses of cuteness aside, it was really cool to see how far the dancers have come since their very first performances. And how else are we going to get the inside scoop on their most embarrassing stories? My favorites: Aaron as the evil stepmother in Cinderella! Amy’s crazy-curly ponytail, leopard-print jazz pants and waaaaaaaaaay out-there facial expressions. Malece peeing her pants from nerves right before she went onstage. This package gets a perfect 10 for entertainment value. Hey, FOX: Keep fun stuff like this coming!
2. Forget National Dance Day for just a minute—this was definitely Sonya Tayeh Week! Her choreographic hand print was all over this episode, from collaborating on the awesome opening number with Dmitry Chaplin to making an exciting piece for (full disclosure: my all-time favorites) Makenzie and Paul. Plus, Nigel gave her a shout-out for her recent Emmy nomination (congrats, Sonya!), and she even got a little goofy in rehearsals. I don’t know about you, but I never thought I’d see the ultra avant-garde Ms. Tayeh jumping around and sing-songing “I love dance!” Gotta love reality TV for giving us these fabulously random moments.
We love you, Anna! (Adam Rose/FOX)
3. Anna Kendrick made for a really interesting first-time guest judge. Okay, so she’s not really a dance expert. But she owned up to this right from the beginning, admitting that she “doesn’t always get ballroom on this show.” Still, her weird, hilarious, yet somehow insightful commentary makes up for any deficiency in the dance department. It’s like Anna says what all of us are secretly thinking, but makes it come out funnier than we ever could. Case in point: “I mean, it’s like boring how good you guys are.” And to Cat: “You’re great. You’re so tall and pretty.” What’s more, she seems really sweet and humble! Anna took a moment to acknowledge the amazing camera operators, and ended with a really heartfelt comment about how dance deserves more exposure in the mass media. Love her.
4. Poor Curtis! I hadn’t really paid much attention to him before this episode, but suddenly I had no choice. Basically everything that can go wrong for a “SYTYCD” contestant happened to him—all in one week! First, Cat announced that because he’d hurt his shoulder in rehearsals, his doctors told him not to perform this week. Then, he ended up in danger of elimination. Finally, he was eliminated along with fellow tapper Alexis without even getting to dance for his life (for obvious reasons). I really felt for the guy, and I’m sure you all did, too. Luckily, it seems like Curtis is a positive person who’s going to move on to great things. He and Alexis were all smiles after their elimination, laughing at a video montage of their best moments on the show and joking about buying each other new tap shoes. Curtis even said that he loved every minute of his experience this season. What an amazingly good sport, right?
5. Not to end on another serious moment, but hooray for dances with a social conscience! Bonnie Story made a huge splash with her first piece for “SYTYCD” by taking inspiration from the timely issue of bullying. To get her group of dancers in the right frame of mind, she had a close friend share with them how he’d been tormented by bullies. Boy, did it work. The contestants threw themselves into the steps with abandon and intention, alternately falling to the ground and striking desperately at invisible opponents. Story described her piece as an exploration of how people see the issue of bullying in their communities, but insist on “looking the other way.” I certainly won’t be looking the other way the next time Story’s work appears on the show. Intelligent choreography about real-life issues? That’s some good stuff.
What score would you give Anna Kendrick as a guest judge? Do you think Curtis should’ve been eliminated while he was injured and unable to dance? Let us know in the comments section!
And don’t forget to enter our “SYTYCD” finale sweepstakes contest—you could win a trip to the Season 10 finale!
Oh Paula, what is that outfit?! (Adam Rose/FOX)
Before we get to the good stuff, a few observations:
- Nigel actually listens to viewer feedback! We all hated learning which dancers were heading home at the beginning of last week's episode (and then painfully watching them dance their routines), so they switched up the format. This week we learned who's leaving the competition at the end of the episode.
- Jade tore his meniscus, has to have surgery and won't be able to dance for 3-4 months. BUMMER.
- Paula Abdul (in neon lace?!) was at the head of the judges' table in Nigel's seat this week. But since he waited 10 seasons for her, I guess that makes sense. Erin Andrews also made her "So You Think You Can Dance" judging debut this week and is now on my list of favorite guest judges.
- Cat Deeley was looking smokin'!
Now, here are my Top 5 Moments:
1. The opening number. I loved Christopher Scott and Sonya Tayeh's choreo (Cat said it right—they really are the dream team!), but mostly I just wanted to play on the volcano set. Anyone else want to jump into the foam pit? My only complaint is that the number was about a minute too short—give me more!
2. Amy and Fik-Shun's Paso Doble. I loved Jean-Marc Genereux's Matrix-y take on the ballroom style, and Amy and Fik-Shun looked strong and technical doing it. Fik-Shun was a great partner (he handled all those crazy lifts like a pro!) and Amy, unsurprisingly, more than held her own.
3. Jasmine Harper and Aaron's Broadway routine. Oooh, I love me a little Spencer Liff! As usual, his choreo and concept did not disappoint. Plus, how cute are Jasmine and Aaron together? They have great chemistry and it makes them a blast to watch.
4. Jenna and Tucker's hip-hop (or "jazz-hip") routine. I was thrilled to see one of our favorite up-and-coming power couples Keone and Mari Madrid making their choreographic debut on the show. The moves were subtle and intricate, yet totally hard-hitting. And Tucker and Jenna looked pretty darn great sailing through the routine. But someone please tell me, what in the world was Jenna's costume? Yikes.
5. Malece's contemporary routine (with all-star Marko filling in for Jade). Sonya's on fire! This routine was one of her best yet. And, Malece! I feel like she really turned a corner this week. This was some of the most technical dancing I've seen Malece do so far. I think she's going to be one of those dancers who really comes out of her shell and improves insane amounts over the course of the show.
Since Jade had to pull out of the competition on his own, the judges only had to send a female dancer home this week. I was sad to see Jasmine Mason go, but I have no doubt we'll see her doing amazing things soon. Can't you totally picture her on tour with Beyoncé?
Be sure to tune in next week for more "SYTYCD" action. And in the meantime, don’t forget to enter our “SYTYCD” finale sweepstakes contest—you could win a trip to the Season 10 finale!
The Bottom 6: Mariah, Carlos, Alan, Jade, Brittany and Makenzie. (FOX/Adam Rose)
“First is the worst, second is the best…” Okay, so the first part of that saying might not be true here (last week’s episode was pretty amazing, too), but I’m willing to bet that this second episode with the Top 20 is the best so far this season! There were so many jaw-dropping moments last night (even if we did have to say goodbye to Brittany and Carlos in the first five minutes—what?!), it’s going to be tough for me to pick my own Top 5. But seeing as “SYTYCD” is a competition, it seems only right to spotlight the best—and the craziest—of the best…
1. Makenzie’s in danger?! Wait, no, she’s saved by the judges! This just floored me. After all the critical acclaim Makenzie had racked up in previous weeks, she’d landed squarely in my sights as the girl who was going to kill it technically—and on a regular basis, too. I mean, she practically radiates consistency, right? While it seemed that America didn’t initially agree with me, the judges took pity on this utter diva, immediately bailing her out. Thank goodness for that, because the fembot/mad-scientist routine she later danced with Paul promises more mesmerizing performances from her in the future.
2. Speaking of mesmerizing, there must’ve been something in the water this week at “SYTYCD.” Nearly every routine was smolderingly sexy, from Stacey Tookey’s sensitive and intimate choreo for Nico and Alexis, to Jenna and Tucker’s blazing hot cha-cha. And can we talk about how Curtis grabbed Hayley’s derrière for, like, ten years during their aggressive jazz number? Pretty sure that crossed the line from sultry/awesome to just kind of awkward.
3. Guest judge Christina Applegate gets full marks for awesomeness! Mary and Nigel (but especially Mary) can sometimes get a little carried away with the gushing. Of course I agree that “SYTYCD” contestants are out-of-this-world talented. But really, there are only so many ways to say, “Oh my gosh, you’re a really good dancer and I love the way you just danced!” Christina brought a breath of fresh air to the judges’ panel by humbly offering constructive criticism. While also offering her fair share of compliments, she also suggested paying attention to a song’s lyrics (not just to its instrumental elements) and to focus on telling the story of a Broadway piece. I couldn’t agree more. Thanks for stopping by, Christina!
4. A rare fashion miss from Cat Deeley. Please tell me I’m not the only one who thought that quasi-bikini top just didn’t work. Maybe I was just disappointed because I love to see Cat in all her super-blonde glory, and her braided chignon this week confined those gorgeous waves. Here’s hoping next week’s Cat-tire is as chic as usual—and incorporates some form of sparkle!
5. Mariah and Carlos’ contemporary routine to Ellie Goulding’s “Dead in the Water.” For me, this dance represented all that is good in the world of contemporary dance. I’m talking cool lifts, genuine portrayals of emotion, poetic lyrics, and moments that simply take your breath away. In that instant when Mariah sat frozen on Carlos’ shoulders, her arms raised helplessly, I’m pretty sure I had a mini contemporary catharsis. (Yes, I just invented that term. But I think you know what I mean.) Adding to the piece’s high emotional level was the fact that Carlos had already been eliminated, and Mariah barely escaped elimination herself. Oh, reality TV. Why must you pluck at my heartstrings so?
Yikes! I really didn’t mean to end on such a gloomy note. If you now find yourself in need of a smile, I highly recommend Fik-Shun and Amy’s adorable bellhop dance. If bouncy Nappytabs hip hop on a luggage cart doesn’t cheer you up, I don’t know what will.
Don't forget to enter our "SYTYCD" finale sweepstakes contest—you could win a trip to the Season 10 finale!