Utahn Alexis Warr Burton was named “America’s favorite dancer” and won $100,000 on Wednesday, claiming both on the season finale of “So You Think You Can Dance.”
Warr Burton was overcome with emotion when she was announced as the Season 17 winner.
“Honestly, every week has been such a blessing,” she said, adding, “There’s so many things I learned about myself […] and so many amazing people that I consider family now.”
The 21-year-old also said that runner-up Keaton Kermode is “the best friend and brother a girl could ask for.”
In a segment in Wednesday night’s season finale, Warr Burton recounted the long battle her mother, Wendy Warr, has been fighting against brain cancer, which has recently returned.
“I remember when I’d sleep with her, I’d always put my head on her chest just to make sure she had a heartbeat,” Warr Burton said. “It’s been super difficult to see her in so much pain. She’s the strongest woman I know.
“I found that dancing made her smile, and every week I’m here is another week I get to make my mama happy. […] This journey has been a love letter to my mother, and I would love to seal that with a win.”
Warr Burton is the first female ballroom dancer to win “SYTYCD” and the second winner from Utah — Sabra Johnson won Season 3 back in 2007.
More than 30 dancers with Utah ties have made the finals since the show premiered in 2005 — a list that includes Allison Holker, Chelsie Hightower, Witney Carson, Lindsay Arnold and Jenna Johnson, all of whom went on to be professional dancers on “Dancing with the Stars.”
The just-completed season of “So You Think You Can Dance” operated on a compressed schedule and, for the first time, the winner was chosen by members of the studio audience instead of the viewing audience at home.
This season’s judges had high praise for the Utahn after she dedicated a dance to her husband, Jake Burton, in Wednesday’s season finale — one of five performances she delivered in the hourlong episode.
“Watching you dance is like watching Houdini do magic,” JoJo Siwa said.
“We really got to appreciate the levels that you have been bringing tonight,” said Stephen “tWitch” Boss, calling her performance “incredible.”
“It was so beautiful,” Leah Remini added.