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‘A love letter to my mother’: Utah dancer on winning ‘So You Think You Can Dance’

Alexis Warr Burton was ready to put everything on the line for the ‘So You Think You Can Dance’ finale

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Alexis Warr Burton is the winner of Season 17 of “So You Think You Can Dance.”

Alexis Warr Burton has won Season 17 of “So You Think You Can Dance.”

Ray Mickshaw, Fox

Going into the “So You Think You Can Dance” finale, Alexis Warr Burton was determined. Out of thousands of dancers who tried out for the competition, the ballroom dancer from Highland, Utah, was one of just two finalists.

For the finale, which aired Wednesday night, Burton and her fellow competitor, contemporary dancer Keaton Kermode, were tasked with performing five routines. At the end of the night, a live studio audience would declare either Burton or Kermode “America’s favorite dancer.”

Burton was ready to put everything on the line.

“My strategy is to go into each routine with an open heart and not hold anything back,” she said in a clip that aired during the episode. “Because the competition is on until that last vote is submitted. I’ve never seen a goal of mine in such close of a reach. I want it bad.”

Burton brought that intensity to all of her dances during the finale, which included a routine with her fellow Utah dancer and “So You Think You Can Dance” competitor Carter Williams, a dance dedicated to her husband, Jake Burton, and a duet with Kermode.

During the episode, the dancer shared how her entire time on the show has been a tribute to her mother, who has had ups and downs with brain cancer over the years.

I remember when I’d sleep with her, I’d always put my head on her chest just to make sure I heard a heartbeat, Burton recalled of her early childhood, noting how her mom eventually had the most miraculous surgery and was getting better until a recent doctor visit revealed that the tumor had grown back.

It’s been super difficult to see her in so much pain. She’s the strongest woman I know. But I found that dancing made her smile, Burton said with emotion. And every week I’m here is another week that I get to make my mamma happy. My mom and dad sacrificed a lot for me to dance, specifically financially, because they saw something in me that I didn’t see.

This journey has been a love letter to my mother, and I would love to seal that with a win.

Burton gave it her all during the finale, pouring her heart into each performance, so when all of her routines were over, there was nothing left to do but let the emotions wash over her when host Cat Deeley revealed that she had won the $100,000 prize.

“Honestly, every week has been such a blessing,” Burton said with emotion after being declared the winner. “There are so many things I learned about myself. ... I’m really grateful for the show for bringing that out in me.”