"So You Think You Can Dance" Recap: And Then There Were 8
Before we get into this week's recap, let's all show some love for Travis Wall, who had a day yesterday. Just hours before "So You Think You Can Dance" was set to air, Wall was at Disneyland (with friend and "Modern Family" star and aspiring Shaping Sound member Jesse Tyler Ferguson, NBD), where he found himself at a bit of a standstill—literally. "Not gonna be able to make 'So You Think' tonight...because I'm stuck on Indiana Jones," Wall shared on Instagram yesterday afternoon.
But hooray! He eventually did get off the stalled ride, and was in the audience alongside Mandy Moore. We're glad you made it, Travis!
On to the show:
This week, the Top 9 performed solos and duets with their All Stars. You know the drill. As always, we'll skip the solos and get right to the good stuff. (Though the solos were, like last week, so good.) Here's how it all went down.
The opening number
This hip-hoppy-Afro-jazzy Luther Brown piece was...nice. It wasn't our favorite opening number, TBH, but anytime we get to see all these dancers onstage together is a good day. Standouts included Comfort, Lex, Jenna, and Gaby—so, Lex, basically—though it was admittedly hard to recognize some of the dancers under the flashy costumes and giant headpieces.
Logan & Allison
Choreographers: Emma Slater & Sasha Farber
This World War II-themed piece (in a sort of happy way, not a Pearl Harbor way) was so much fun. It's obviously ridiculous that Logan landed in the bottom three last week. That back flip! That kiss into the backward roll into the handstand! Look, we know Logan is fantastic. Maybe the audience wants to see him establish more of a connection with the camera, the judges, or Allison. Like many a virtuoso before him (Danny Tidwell, Jakob Karr, even Travis Wall), Logan has the technical chops to win this entire competition. He just needs viewers to fall in love—and pick up the phone.
The judges said: Mary said Logan had it all, and that it was boppy and fun and kicky (though, she said, the triple-step was a little too skippy). Nigel said he doesn't want to see Logan in the bottom three again, and that as long as he keeps dancing like he just did, he'll be safe. And Vanessa said it was "so so good" and that Logan was "such a rockstar up there." (Vanessa is the most joyful "SYTYCD" judge ever, right?)
Koine & Marko
Style: Hip hop
Choreographer: Dave Scott
Oooooh, Koine got down as a pageant girl gone rogue, and it was good. The concept was cool on its own, but Koine's delivery took it to another level. She had the angsty thing down pat, and the stylized, lyrical hip-hop movement totally suited her. (Sorry, Marko. We love ya, but we didn't even look at you once during that routine, because Koine just smashed it.)
The judges said: Standing ovation! Nigel called Koine a "feral wild animal," and thanked Dave Scott for the choreo. Vanessa said it was amazing and incredible, and she liked that Koine got a little grimy. And Mary said these two, as always, have amazing chemistry, and she liked that Koine "got gangster on us."
Dassy & Fik-Shun
Choreographer: Ray Leeper
This routine was sexy, and these two were really fun to watch. You have to be such a superstar performer to stand out alongside Fik-Shun, but Dassy pulled it out (and in high-heeled, thigh-high boots, no less). These two always look like they're having a blast. Dassy never made this piece look like it was about the steps—she kept the focus on the performance.
The judges said: Vanessa said Dassy was sexy and that it was "so much fun," but she wanted more "rawwwwwr." Mary said there was quite a bit of "rawwwwwr," and said they definitely brought the funk. She also praised Dassy for her confidence, and said Fik-Shun's best decision ever was picking Dassy as a partner. And Nigel said it wasn't just sexy, it was "slightly naughty," and that he "won't sleep tonight." (Ew.)
Mark & Comfort
Choreographer: Talia Favia
Can we give it up for Talia Favia, please? This piece was beautiful, different, and emotional. There were moments of strength—like when Mark and Comfort basically played airplane—and moments of silence, like those paused hinges in perfect unison. The partnering was fantastic, and it was great seeing these two relaxing their groove a bit.
The judges said: Mary praised the rawness, realness, and passion of the performance. Nigel said Mark is willing to do anything and everything that's asked of him, and that he gives it his whole heart. And Vanessa agreed with everything they said. (But Nigel, again, a plea: Please spend less time praising the All Stars. We know you love them. We do too! We get it! But let's keep the focus on the contestants.)
The All-Star Group Routine
Travis! Not only did he heroically make it off the Indiana Jones ride (we don't know how it actually happened, but we like to imagine him leaping and turning his way outta Disneyland backed by a fully choreographed entourage), but he also choreographed this hauntingly beautiful piece for all 10 All Stars (welcome back, Jasmine!). When Marko dove over all the All Stars? Yeah. These dancers are magic. Also magic: the way they were suddenly in different outfits at the end. How?! Tell us your secrets, Travis!
Lex & Gaby
Choreographer: Warren Carlyle
While it's tempting to say this "isn't Lex's style," it kind of is: The well-rounded dude starred in and toured with Broadway's Billy Elliot back in the day. But this choreography was a little faster and a lot more energetic than what a pre-teen Lex did as Billy. (Though Lex sweetly told Gaby that this choreography reminded him of why he started dancing in the first place: "for the pure fun of it." Aw!) Lex was so smooth, and even though the piece was, indeed, quick, he didn't miss a beat, nailing that speedy triple pirouette into a massive battement. And the final tour en l'air? Awesome.
The judges said: Standing ovation! Nigel said he went to see Hello Dolly! this weekend. OK, Nigel! Vanessa said it was "so good" and "amazing." And Mary said they danced their patooties off, and that it was "one great moment after another after another," and then she welcomed them on board the Hot Tamale Train. Naturally.
Sydney & Paul
Style: Hip hop
Choreographer: Luther Brown
This routine was colorful and quirky, but it was also kind of forgettable. It wasn't quite hard-hitting enough, it wasn't quite groovy enough, and it just wasn't quite enough enough to stand out in this very competitive season. Was it enough for Sydney to prove her staying power after landing in the bottom last week? We weren't sure.
The judges said: Vanessa said, "Wow! Here you are with some hip hop, doin' ya thing! I like it!" She wanted more of a stank face, though, and said it could've been dirtier. Mary said words like "sick, frozen, lit, disgusting," and then said the ballroom duo did a "respectable job" tackling hip hop. And Nigel said it needed more stank, which is hard to do when you're "cute" and "beautiful."
The Top 9 Group Routine
Chris Baldock's high-energy routine was colorful and super fun, and Lex, Kaylee, Kiki, and Taylor (that développé!) definitely made the most of their screen time.
Kaylee & Cyrus
Choreographer: Spencer Liff
We've said it before and we'll say it again: Kaylee is amazing, and she's just not getting the fanfare we think she deserves. This piece was slick and stylized, with plenty of jazz hands thrown in. All those sharp, precise movements? Kaylee nailed 'em. And no one dropped a hat, which is always an applause-worthy feat when working with (and throwing around) tricky props.
The judges said: Mary loved watching them, but admitted parts of it looked labored. Nigel thought the quirky style worked for Kaylee, and he appreciated the Gwen Verdon-like moments. And Vanessa liked the control and tension.
Taylor & Robert
Choreographer: Jean Marc Genereux
These two! They are on it, no matter what style they get. Their chemistry is incredible, and Taylor just shines and sparkles in that spotlight. We loved this sultry samba, but...
The judges said: Nigel didn't feel a flirtatious spark between them. (What?!) Vanessa said it was very impressive, but she wanted more fire and anger. And Mary said it's not easy being at the top, and that this piece wasn't super technical. Agree to disagree, judges.
Kiki & Jenna
Choreographer: Mandy Moore
While Kiki is admittedly not the most flexible nor the most balletic—and the rehearsal footage indicated this piece could've been a disaster—he pulled it off. He connected with Jenna and tossed her around like it was NBD. There were times he looked a little too ballroom-y, and it would've been nice to see him let go a bit more, but Keeks, man, you did it. (Can we call you Keeks, BTW? We're gonna call you Keeks.)
The judges said: Travis Wall, Indiana Jones Ride Survivor, gave it a standing ovation. And so did the judges! Vanessa giggled and said it was amazing, then praised the couple's tangible chemistry. Mary cried, which made Jenna snuggle up to The Keekster (can we call you The Keekster?), and it was so cute. Nigel said he refuses to stop telling Jenna she's fabulous, and admitted he was still in shock from Kiki's incredible hip-hop performance last week.
After all those highs, Cat reminded us that this is, after all, a competition—which meant someone was getting sent home.
After last week's votes, the bottom three were Dassy, Sydney, and Mark.
The judges immediately saved Mark, and decided to send home...
(But don't worry: You'll see her and the rest of the Top 10 on tour!)
Next week we do it all over again. In the meantime, let us know who you're voting for!
Misty Copeland. Her name is synonymous with exquisite artistry and outspoken advocacy. And her visibility has made a huge impact on the ballet world. Ballet's relationship with race has always been strained at best, hostile at worst. But Copeland's persistent message and star quality have finally forced the ballet industry to start talking about racial diversity, inclusivity, and representation. "The rarity of seeing ourselves represented is sad," Copeland says. "The more we see every hue and body shape represented on the stage, the more possibilities young dancers feel they have for themselves."
The Olympics are always full of inspiring Cinderella stories, where athletes no one had heard of mere months ago end up blowing all expectations out of the water, and maybe even nabbing a medal in the bargain. But we've recently caught wind of a different kind of Cinderella story—and it's one we really, really hope shows up in the Closing Ceremonies of the PyeongChang Olympics, airing tonight on NBC starting at 8 pm Eastern/5 pm Pacific time.
Being a dancer comes with the task of having to entertain the same questions over and over again from those outside the dance world. Of course, we love having our friends and family take an interest in our passion—but if someone asks ONE MORE TIME whether or not we've met Travis Wall, we might just go crazy.
Here are 10 questions that dancers hate getting asked.
Contemporary phenom Christina Ricucci has super-flexible hips, which means she can stretch her legs to unbelievable heights. But when she noticed herself making contorted positions in class, Ricucci realized she was approaching her extensions all wrong. "I went back to the basics in class, squaring my hips and using my turnout," Ricucci says. "I learned to create proper positions, rather than whacked-out versions of them."
Some dancers are so wonky they have a hard time supporting their high legs, while others struggle with limited flexibility. But no matter your facility, you can find a balance of stretch and strength to achieve your fullest range of extension. It's not about how high (or not) your legs can go: It's the quality of the movement, and how you get those legs up, that counts.
Last month, we asked why there wasn't a Best Choreography category at the Oscars—and discovered that many of you agreed with us: Choreographers should definitely be acknowledged for their work on the super-dancy movies we can't get enough of.
Now, we're taking matters into our own (jazz) hands.
We've decided to create a Dance Spirit award for the best cinematic choreography of 2017. With your input, we've narrowed the field to four choreographers whose moves lit up some of the best movies of the year. Check out our nominations for best choreography below—and vote for the choreographer you think deserves the honor. We'll announce the winner on Friday, March 2.
Once upon a time (until the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi concluded, to be exact), figure skaters had to compete to music without words. Before this rule change, a skater faced an automatic point deduction if the music even hinted at vocals. Understandably, there were *a lot* of Olympic programs skated to classical music, and you'd tend to hear the same music selections over and over and over.
There are plenty of current Olympic figure skaters who'd make beautiful dancers (first among them Adam Rippon, whose gorgeously choreographed long program won the internet, if not the gold). But today, as we wait for the women's figure skating competition to crown its new champions, we wanted to throw it back to one of the most beautifully balletic skaters of all time: Sasha Cohen.
The high-flying leaps of grand allegro are meant to be incredibly exciting. But at the end of an intense ballet class, when you're exhausted, it can be hard to give them the attention they deserve. Want to pump up your big jumps? Follow these 10 vital tips from Jennifer Hart, curriculum director and instructor at Ballet Austin.