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Only three dancers remained when So You Think You Can Dance revealed its finale episode this week. The Top 3, Madison, Anthony, and Dakayla, survived five challenges that exposed them to different parts of the dance industry, and this week, they had to prove who had learned the most and worked to become America’s Favorite Dancer.

To open the finale, the full Top 10 cast returned for an opening number to “Fly As Me” by Silk Sonic. The number was choreographed by Luther Brown and featured the judges in their own fly looks alongside the contestants in jazz-styled office clothes including suspenders pinstripe pants, loafers, and blazers.

In a return to a more classic SYTYCD format, the finale episode was about stage performances. Each of the Top 3 danced a duet with an eliminated Top 10 dancer of their choice. The panel of judges would eliminate a dancer based on those duets. The Top 2 had their last chance to prove themselves with solos ahead of the judges’ final decision.

The Duets

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Madison and Braylon

Madison was first to perform her duet. Working with choreographers Kayla Radomski and Tucker Barkley to perfect a jazz-funk routine, Madison chose to bring Braylon back to dance with her. They wanted to pull off a routine that featured full-out dance, lifts, and tricks while being mindful of Madison’s injury.

Dressed in neon pink and green, Madison and Braylon came onto the stage, blazing energy and bringing eye contact JoJo requested during a rehearsal visit. Madison’s hip injury might have been a feature of last week’s challenges, but it didn’t seem to faze her this week. JoJo was the first to praise the performance for showing everything Madison is capable of, and Maks agreed calling her a “femme fatale” ready for anything.

Anthony and Mariyah

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To say these dancers went out with a BANG is an understatement ūüí• Catch the rest of tonight’s #SYTYCD FINALE on @FOXTV!

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Anthony brought back “the queen of movement” Mariyah to dance a routine choreographed by Ivan Koumaev and Diana Matos. This duet told the story of a Bonnie and Clyde-like couple of Western bandits who robbed a bank and are celebrating their accomplishment. Their surprise visit was from Maks who reminded them that not only did the dance have to be good, but they needed to show strong connection and chemistry on stage.

Making use of their moves and the space the stage offered them, Anthony and Mariyah worked to demonstrate a combination of dance, prop, and partner skills. “Youre ready to get hired right now,” Maks said after their hip hop contemporary fusion. Compliments from all three judges weren’t the only thing rewarding for Anthony. For the first time this season, Anthony’s mom was able to be in the studio audience.

Dakayla and Easton

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Dakayla & Easton held each other up this season and during this duet ūüĎĮ #SYTYCD

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Talia Favia is the mastermind behind Dakayla’s contemporary duet. To achieve her dreams of working with such a renowned choreographer, Dakayla brought Easton back to the stage just after his elimination last week. Ahead of the stage performance, Allison visited rehearsals for an inside look at the routine. During her visit, Dakayla revealed that the routine was about change in her life, opening up, and making new connections, and her confidence in the face of it all.

Strength and grace were the keywords when Dakayla and Easton took the stage. When they were done, more than one member of the audience was in tears, Allison and JoJo among them. “I am so in awe of you right now,” Allison said. “There is something about being a good dancer, and then something about someone who can make someone feel something at home, and you always deliver on that.”

The Top 2 Revealed

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At the halfway point, Season 18 Top 10 dancers Olivia, Avery, Jayling, and Roman returned for a number to Natasha Bedingfield’s “Unwritten” which included a performance from the star herself. SYTYCD stars Alex Wong, Baylee Munoz, Alexis Warr, and Jasmine Harper also joined them on stage. Dressed in bright yellow, the SYTYCD alumni were beams of sunshine surrounding Natasha as she sang her hit anthem.

Halfway through the finale, it was also time to reveal the Top 2 contestants. Madison, Dakayla, and Anthony walked on stage hand in hand to hear the judges’ decision. After auditions, injuries, and so much determination, Madison was named the Top 3 dancer of the season while Anthony and Dakayla continued on to their final duets.

The Solos

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Anthony’s Solo

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So You Think You Can Dance, Anthony? Anthony: #SYTYCD

‚ô¨ original sound – SoYouThinkYouCanDance

Dressed in a simple white costume, Anthony brought cheers from the audience with his ability to fly across the stage. “You asked him to do a solo,” Cat said after Anthony’s performance, and Allison called the performance “a professional routine.”

Dakayla’s Solo

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Dad ‚úÖ Boyfriend ‚úÖ #SYTYCD Finals ‚úÖ Regardless of what happens, Dakayla has already “won” this season. ūüėČ

‚ô¨ original sound – SoYouThinkYouCanDance

To say the judges were speechless after Dakayla took the stage is an understatement. Ending in a shocking backend, Dakayla proved to the judges that she worked across Season 18 to grow and earn her place. “You came into this competition. You didn’t really know what you had,” Maks said. “But that journey that you’ve shown us, you really found your confidence. I’ve never seen someone go through a 10-week transformation such as this. I thank God I was here to witness that.”

The Winner

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Standing side by side as the Top 2 (and a couple!), Anthony and Dakayla waited for Cat to reveal the judges’ decision. After a season of changes and challenges, the tension of the SYTYCD finale was not lost in Season 18. Cat shared that this season’s win was “the closest result we have ever had in the history of So You Think You Can Dance.

The winner of SYTYCD Season 18 is Anthony! Gold confetti showered the stage. Anthony and Dakayla celebrated with equal shock and excitement. Alexis Warr presented Anthony with his trophy.

That’s is for Season 18 of SYTYCD. The format changed the ways the contestants were pushed and how we tracked their progress, but it came down to performance ability in the end, and the ways each dancer connected with their audience when they took the stage. We’ll be waiting to see how SYTYCD continues to experiment with these changes in Season 19.

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Veronica Good has been with Showstopper Magazine since 2016. When she isn't keeping you updated on the latest trends, she is at home with her many pets or probably playing The Sims 4. Veronica has a BA in English and an MA in writing from Coastal Carolina University. She is also a writer of fiction and poetry, and her work can be found in Archarios, Tempo, and Scapegoat.