"So You Think You Can Dance" Recap: Vanessa Sees Ducks!
This week, we're in the Big Apple: home of Broadway, New York City Ballet, and Dance Spirit HQ! They say if you can make it here, you can make it anywhere. So who made it to The Academy this week? Pretty much everyone—with lots of amazing Vanessa Hudgens one-liners along the way. (We love you, Vanessa!)
Let's give it up for the night's standout performers—because they're all going to The Academy!
Kaylee "Impavido" Millis
She says Impavido is "Italian for 'to fear less," and that's what she stands for as a dancer. Kaylee has always wanted to be a dancer, and when she was young her parents were like, "Nah, you can pay for that hobby yourself." So, at 12, she got a job working at her mom's deli, and used the money to travel and dance. (If Kaylee looks familiar, it's probably because you've seen her as a PULSE Elite Protégé.)
The judges say: Nigel praised Kaylee's individuality and her "neat style" and "great face where you know you're pleasing people." He also liked her funk. Mary "absolutely loved it."
Vanessa says: "So beautiful! You are such a beautiful dancer! So much precision. Your groove is amazing. Beautiful, beautiful dancer."
The 4'11" ballroom dancer tells Cat Deeley in her pre-performance interview that she "wants to get on the Hot Tamale Train." Spoiler: She does. (Also, can we puh-lease get some more Cat Deeley up in here?) Ana and her partner (who isn't technically auditioning because he's "too old") perform a Colombian salsa, which, they explain, is faster and has more flavor and passion than a regular salsa. (Sounds like some salsa shade-throwing, amirite?) The lifts were great, but Ana seemed more focused on the steps than on having fun with them.
The judges say: Mary screamed really loud, then praised Ana for her stamina and called her a "little hot tamale." Nigel liked the lifts and said he "can't wait to practice some of those lifts with Vanessa." 😬
Vanessa says: "YAS QUEEN! Good things do come in small packages! That was so fun! The way you're like WOO when you're dancing!"
The Japanese-born dancer—whose parents are both sushi chefs—says dance "helps her communicate in a way that language can't." That is so beautiful, and so was her performance. Lots of deep second pliés, loads of emotion, and one very bendy back.
The judges say: Standing ovation! Nigel said she had power, strength, and tremendous technique, and that her performance was very professional. Mary appreciated the layers to her performance, as well as her beauty and strength.
Vanessa says: "Oh my gosh, oh my gosh. I got chills when you hit your last pose. Your control! Your precision! You showed so much. When you smiled, I literally said awwww and it just made me so happy."
Joseph "Klassic" Carella and Huwer "Havoc" Marchet
Their style is called "flexing," and you can read more about it (and see it!) here. It's a genre that originated in Brooklyn, and it involves "connecting, punchlines, grooving, gliding," and other elements. It's weird and different, and we would've liked to see them go to the choreography round, but...
The judges say: ...straight to The Academy! Nigel says it was very artistic, and he thinks Havoc is a genius. Mary says it was "sick."
Vanessa says: "You like, told a story. And there was like, some comedy." (Bless your happy heart, Vanessa.)
This guy! He's a professional Broadway dancer who toured with both CATS and Newsies, so there's that. He's also on faculty at Broadway Dance Center. As if this tapper's not going to get through. His sounds are clean, he's super classy, and he pirouetted for long enough that the cameras eventually cut away to Vanessa screaming "YAS!"
The judges say: Standing ovation! Mary says Chaz was the first tapper to get her teary-eyed, and Nigel says Chaz was one of the best tappers he's seen in years.
Vanessa says: "You are so good! So so good! I felt you through your dance. There was a certain yumminess to your dancing."
He's a quirky guy who has his own quirky contemporary style, and we love him. He says his style "sometimes confuses people" (foreshadowing), but it's nice to see some totally original work. He danced to "Time of My Life"—that Dirty Dancing classic—and took it in a totally unexpected direction.
The judges say: They didn't so much say words as they did just kinda fumble around looking for the right way to describe what they'd just seen—but they knew they liked it.
Vanessa says: "Your routine was really confusing to me. I saw a duck..."
That's all for this week! There's more to come from NYC, so we'll see you back here next time!
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."
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.
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.
Yesterday, the dance community was heartbroken to learn that Jaime Guttenberg and Cara Loughran, both 14-year-old dancers, were among the 17 people killed on Valentine's Day in the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, FL.
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.
"Whole, low-fat, or skim?" The question of which milk to drink has gotten a little more complicated lately, with a wide variety of nondairy milks popping up in grocery stores. To find out which ones are worth your milk money, we had registered dietitian Monika Saigal answer some FAQs.