If you haven't watched tonight's So You Think You Can Dance, go do that before you read the rest of this post, cause I'm about to talk about the winner.
OK, ready? Because I'm actually not just talking about the winner — I'm talking to her!
After Thursday's results show, newly crowned America's favorite dancer Jeanine Mason headed backstage to reflect on her big win, her time on the show, and what's next for her after this Summer's tour. Despite a full night of dancing, Jeanine was bubbly and full of energy (and, amazingly, still rocking some high heels) as she chatted with reporters, hugging every single one of us as she made her way down the line. Here's our chat:
But that's not all. Some of Jeanine's judges, mentors, and fellow contestants also stopped by to share their thoughts on season five. To check out what they had to say, just read more.
- Every judge and choreographer I spoke with praised Jeanine and said she'd come on strong at the end of the competition. But there was another name on many of their lips, too: Kayla. The fourth-place finisher was the personal favorite of Mia Michaels, Shane Sparks, and Tyce Diorio, and Tyce in particular had some pretty strong praise for the show's own "White Lightning":
Her journey is going to be so huge that I don't think the world's ready for it. I think that Kayla is a superstar, and I mean a mega-superstar. Academy Awards for her — it'll be the Jennifer Hudson story for Kayla.
- Nigel Lythgoe, meanwhile, said he was "delighted and surprised" to learn that Jeanine had won, because it was a result that wasn't expected at the start of the season — or even in the middle of it. "This is something where she grew and grew and grew," he said. "And when Phillip Chbeeb left the competition, I think that gave her the opportunity of growing very quickly — because I think because of Phillip's lack of contemporary dance, she was kind of held back." He said he first truly noticed Jeanine the week after Phillilp went home, and that started her rise.
- Adam Shankman said he noticed Jeanine earlier than that — all the way back in the top 20's performance show, when she drew hip-hop. "It was that first night of the show when she did 'Mad' with Phillip" that she broke out for him, he said, "because I was like, 'Wait a second, I think she's a contemporary girl!'"
- Evan — who is just as sweet offstage as on — had some lovely words about Jeanine: "Obviously, technically she has this amazing skill, but she has this light and this personality — and that's what is so great. It translates through the glass, through the TV, and that's what makes people pick up the phone."
- Kayla, meanwhile, said she'll most remember Jeanine's personality: "She's really open, and she says what she wants to say, and she's very loud, so you always know it's Jeanine!"
Photo courtesy of Fox