Mayyas win 'America's Got Talent' season 17

The Lebanese dance troupe stun judges and millions of viewers

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Lebanese dance troupe Mayyas have won America's Got Talent season 17.

The group take home the $1 million prize and will now get the opportunity to headline a Las Vegas show.

Dancer Kristy Sellars came second, with Drake Milligan, Metaphysic and Chapel Hart rounding off the top five.

During the emotional two-hour finale, in which the results from public voting were revealed, the 11 finalists performed for the last time on America's Got Talent. Mayyas took to the stage alongside Sellars for a mesmerising performance against a backdrop of gold lighting, for which judge Simon Cowell gave a standing ovation.

Also during the show, Cowell got roasted, Black Eyed Peas sang Don't You Worry and host Terry Crews performed with Ukrainian LED dance troupe Light Balance to Justin Timberlake's Can't Stop the Feeling — to name a few of the highlights.

For Tuesday's final, Mayyas performed a co-ordinated dance featuring white feathered outfits and sparkling globes of light, winning a standing ovation from the judges and crowd.

“Fabulous,” shouted judge Sofia Vergara, who gave Mayyas a golden buzzer after their first audition. “Another level.”

Cowell said the performance was “astonishing”.

“Something has happened with you where I'm beginning to feel a buzz beyond the show. This has landed. It is global. It is huge. I don't think you can top that.”

Earlier this month, the group delivered a hypnotic dance in the semi-finals, performing a serpentine-like routine to Arabesque melodies, wearing gold bodysuits and masks, while the lead dancer wore bedlah-style attire, with a gold skirt and green long-sleeved top.

In June, the group made their America's Got Talent debut and impressed judges Cowell, Heidi Klum, Howie Mandel and Vergara so much that they received a golden buzzer and fast-track to the live shows.

Watch the full audition here

This is not the first time the dance group have appeared on a talent show.

Mayyas were founded in Beirut by Nadim Cherfan, who is also the act's choreographer. He started dancing at aged 14 and attended workshops in the UK, the US and India. He launched his own dance classes in studios around the Lebanese capital in 2012, before forming the troupe.

In 2019, they appeared on the sixth series of Arabs Got Talent and went on to win the show, receiving a new car and a 200,000 Saudi riyal ($53,333) cash prize. In the same year, they participated in Britain's Got Talent: The Champions, an international spin-off of the talent show on UK TV.

During their America's Got Talent audition, the group explained their name, saying it “is a word in Arabic that means the proud walk of a lioness”.

Vergara also asked the group about life in Lebanon right now, to which they replied: “Lebanon is a very beautiful country, but we live a daily struggle.”

To support Mayyas, the Lebanese Broadcasting Corporation International, better known as LBCI, launched Kermalak Ya Lebnen — For You Lebanon, a campaign from inside America aimed at Lebanese and Arab citizens living in the US who were eligible to vote for acts performing on the show.

With this, the LBCI created a variety of promotional advertisements that were shared on television, YouTube and via other social media platforms. In the clips, the women who form the group introduced themselves and demonstrated some of their moves.

The LBCI said the triumph would serve “as a message of hope and faith in Lebanon rising again”.

The group's family and friends shared the same sentiment.

“I can’t describe how I felt watching the final performance,” Ghady Al Hader, 20, told The National before Wednesday night's results show. “I’m a close friend of some of the girls, but I am incredibly proud of all of them.”

Karim Fattah, 21, another friend of some of the dancers, said the group's success is showing the world what Arab women are capable of.

Mohamad Ajouz, 21, also a friend of the dancers, said this was about Lebanon.

“Seeing a Lebanese group on the biggest stage in the world means everything to me and all the Lebanese people. They represent what Lebanese woman can do and what Lebanese citizens have to offer.”

Updated: September 26, 2022, 10:20 AM
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