(SPOILER ALERT: I'm gonna say the winner literally in the next paragraph, so if you haven't already watched, don't keep reading!)
Can you believe another season of "SYTYCD" is in the books? It seems like just yesterday we were blogging about the first round of Season 12 auditions. But alas, that was months ago and after all the jaw-dropping moves, breathtaking routines and overall superb dancing, Gaby Diaz was crowned America's Favorite Dancer (and our December cover girl!). It seems truly impossible to pick favorite moments from the episode, but I somehow managed. Behold, my top 5 highlights from this emotional, absolutely packed finale:
Jason Derulo's tuxedo Jason Derulo's choice of "Let's Go" as his favorite routine. I was SO happy to see this insane display of athleticism and musicality one last time. Virgil and All-Star Joshua are out-of-control amazing. I mean, can we please revisit this:
2) Al Blackstone's amazing Broadway routine with Jaja and All-Star (and Season 11 champ) Ricky Ubeda is another standout routine that so deserved to be recognized again. It had a lot more sparkle this time around, and I think that's because the pressure was off for Jaja—she looked so at ease and in character, making it all the more successful of a routine. Al Blackstone's choreo is so complementary of each dancer's strengths, and it was a particularly awesome moment in this finale filled with awesome moments.
Jaja and Ricky (photo via FOX)
3) American Ballet Theatre principal Herman Cornejo's surprise performance of a variation from Le Corsaire: We've said it time and again, people—ballet is having its moment, and we can only hope this moment lasts forever. Case in point: ABT principal Cornejo as a guest performer, clad in flashy gold pants, no less. Not only was it amazing to watch his soaring jetés and solid pirouettes, but to hear how much the crowd loved it, too.
4) Gaby and All-Star Joshua's Geisha-inspired routine was another one that I was so happy to see return for its last moment of glory. It showcases everything about Gaby that America fell in love with, from her movement quality to her commitment to her craft. She seemed so mature and at ease in this performance, especially, making it all the sweeter to watch her victory at the end.
(Photo via FOX)
5) The overall feeling of camaraderie throughout this episode was the perfect way to end this season. From Cat Deeley's teary-eyed speech introducing Travis Wall as an Emmy-award winning choreographer, to the "Audition Hero" bits to the amazing group hug that swallowed Gaby after she won, you could tell that each and every competitor truly loved, supported, rooted for and respected one another, which to me, is exactly what "SYTYCD" is about.
<3 <3 :) :) (Photo via FOX)
Honorable mentions: Jaja, who, after performing her Broadway piece, somehow managed to get backstage, redo her make up, braid her hair into pigtails and take the stage TWO MINUTES LATER for her Team Street performance. Literally HOW? Also, Jim's never-before-seen contemporary piece with All-Star Alex was breathtaking. Set to a haunting Max Richter song, these two enormously talented dancers gave it their all and allowed everyone to pause and remember that while this was a competition, everyone who's ever been on this show is so beyond talented in their own ways.
Jim and Alex in their painfully sad yet beautiful routine. (Photo via FOX)
Editor's note: Keep your eye out for our December 2015 cover, which Gaby Diaz will now officially be gracing!