Buckle up, dancers. "So You Think You Can Dance" has started, and it's going to be a wild ride until the winner is crowned. The Season 11 auditions kicked off with a bang in the Big Easy, and New Orleans certainly brought the talent. Here are the Top 5 moments from last night's two hour premiere event.
1. Battle of the dance dads. Dads were a big factor on last night's show. And while there was a truly touching storyline with second-time-around auditioner Caleb Brauner (whose father passed away this December, a few months after busting some moves with Caleb at last year's audition), I'm talking about the dad silliness that ensued. First, we watched bottle dancer Mike Rase, who, um, knows how to twerk. And then there was another dancing dad—which enraged Mike—and the two duked it out onstage. I'm glad at least daughter Shelby Rase made it to Hollywood with her gorgeous solo, because otherwise...embarrassing!
2. Megan Marcano. Before we saw her dance, we heard Megan's back story, which really made me root for her. Megan's been living on her own since age 12—when her mom was arrested and her family split up—and now she's finishing up college (at Texas Woman's University). And then...she danced. And... HOLY SMOKES SHE WASN'T JUST GOOD, SHE WAS AMAZING. Mary Murphy said it best: Megan "flew across the stage with ease." I can't wait to see more of her this season. Take a look:
3. Trevor Bryce. With his not-so-subtle cocky attitude before his audition, I wasn't too sure what to expect. I'm not even sure what to call his contemporary-pop-lock fusion style, but, Nigel loved it. He called it "one of the greatest solo performances on 'SYTYCD'." I'm not sure I'd go that far, and I'd prefer less mugging in the future, but I think Trevor's really got the chops to back up all his hype. Watch the quirk here:
4. Caleb Brauner. This Missouri dancer first performed a lighthearted solo to celebrate his dad's life in New Orleans. It was solid enough to get him to the choreography round, but unfortunately, Nigel gave him a big no. (And not very nicely, I might add.) But Caleb didn't take "no" for an answer. He hopped on a plane to Chicago, and with a "dancers never give up" attitude, he competed with a heavier-hearted solo in front of the judges. He was again moved to the choreography round. But this time, with a stroke of luck—or perhaps persistence—he earned a ticket to Hollywood. Congrats, Caleb!
5. Rudy Abreu's power move. We first meet Rudy with Nick Garcia—best friends from Miami who are...something else. The dynamic duo competed separately, and they both nabbed tickets to Hollywood. Nigel was especially taken with a step in Rudy's solo that he called a reverse cabriole. Watch it here—it happens at about 1:47 and then it's replayed at 3:06. Look familiar? Alexia Meyer taught us how to do "The Super Cabriole" (or as her dad would call it, "The Flying Squirrel,") in Dance Spirit's April issue. Check it out here, and then watch her break it down below:
Bonus: Justin Bieber and his choreographer Nick DeMoura introduced the first two dance crews battling for a chance to appear on the show. We met L.A.'s Poreotics (supposedly a fusion of robotics and popping) and the East Coast's Syncopated Ladies. You already know just how much we love Chloé Arnold and her crew. #SYTYCDladies.
Thoughts? Who are you most excited to see this season? What were your favorite moments of the evening? Leave it all in the comments and we'll see you back here next week.
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I don't know about you guys, but I'm still #shook. Like, beyond shook. I mean, remember when this season's "DWTS" cast was announced? Remember when we basically called it that our former cover girl (and "Glee" superstar and Beyoncé backup dancer) Heather Morris was gonna win it all? Yeah, that's not happening—Morris and her partner, Maks Chmerkovskiy, were sent home last night. So while that news sinks in, let's talk about the amazing dancing that happened (because there was lots of it, despite the crazy elimination). On to the dancing and the stars!
Team Girl Group vs. Team Boy Bands
I'm a sucker for lots of things, but specifically coordinated outfits, giant neon signs that say "Ladies Night" and the iconic TLC masterpiece, "No Scrubs." Seeing as the Team Girl Group dance had all of those things, it's getting a big shoutout. Team Boy Bands gets one, too, because they were equally as amazing, and it's not their fault they had #NoScrubs to dance to.
Normani and Val's Salsa
To say this dance was a highlight is an understatement—Normani can bring the heat. She and Val were living their best life out there. Her dancing skills are amazing to begin with, but her performance skills are literally beyond. The duo easily executed some super-tricky partnering and flips for a score of 38/40.
Heather and Maks' Rumba
If you look up "Perfect Rumba," chances are the example would be this video. Maks Chmerkovskiy is the definition of an attentive and trustworthy partner. Seriously, this dance was incredible. Every moment was picture-perfect, every flick of the wrist and développé was precisely timed, and every step was fused with musicality. Naturally, the judges felt the same way and gave the pair a well-deserved 40/40.
But apparently, perfect scores mean nothing and everything is a lie: Heather Morris and Maks Chmerkovskiy, aka The Couple That the Entire World Thought Would Win, were eliminated. It's a whooooole new ball game in the ballroom, so be sure to catch next week's recap—it's bound to be a very interesting episode after this shake-up.
NYC's Metropolitan Museum of Art has long had an impressive collection of still-life art about dance (much of it by a little-known fellow named Edgar Degas). But The Met as a hot dance performance venue? That's a pretty new thing—and a very, very awesome thing.
Last fall, as we were prepping to shoot our cover story on Andrea Miller's gorgeous Gallim Dance, the company gave a beautiful, innovative performance in The Met's Temple of Dendur. And now the museum has named Miller one of its 2017-18 Artists in Residence. That's especially major because Miller is the first-ever choreographer to hold the AIR title.
So, what does being a Met AIR mean? Next season, Miller will create several works that take advantage of The Met's iconic spaces—the first of which, Stone Skipping, will be performed back at the Temple of Dendur in October. You can find more info about the performance here.
Gallim's dancers won't be the only ones performing at The Met next season. Further solidifying its commitment to live dance, the museum has announced that choreographers Faustin Linyekula and Eiko Otake will also create pieces for its various spaces, and that Monica Bill Barnes' fabulous Museum Workout will return for another run (literally).
How cool is that?
Even if you've never been to L.A., you probably have a solid idea of what class at Millennium Dance Complex in North Hollywood is like. You can picture the vibrant red walls; you can feel the waves of dancers feeding off one another's explosive energy. Why? Because you—and millions of other dance fans—have watched countless class videos filmed at the center.
Class videos are a VIP pass, taking dancers and non-dancers alike inside the commercial world's hottest studios. And people are watching them obsessively, sharing them on platforms across the web, helping them rack up tens of millions of views. We turned to some of the industry's key players to find out more about what makes the class video format uniquely appealing.
Photo by Evolve Photo, courtesy Matt SteffaninaMatt Steffanina teaching at The Pulse
The viral class video is a pretty recent phenomenon. It's been almost a decade since choreographer Matt Steffanina began posting videos on YouTube, but it was only five years ago that he started to have his class videos go viral. "And I was one of the first dancers to get real recognition on YouTube," he says. "It's really blown up outside the dance world in the last two years." He attributes that explosion to the rising popularity of reality entertainment. "People are looking for that raw, authentic, unedited feel," he says. "They're more endeared to real people than production effects."
These days, choreographer Jojo Gomez likes to think of YouTube class vids as the new MTV for commercial dancers. "Tons of people started dancing in the '80s after watching Michael Jackson's music videos on TV," she says. "Now, class videos are doing the same thing, online."
Courtesy Jojo GomezJojo Gomez leading a class at Millennium in Salt Lake City, UT
In fact, Gomez says class videos inspired her to move to L.A. to pursue a career in commercial dance. While she received excellent training through a competition studio in her Massachusetts hometown, she felt like something was missing: "I'd procrastinate from homework by watching YouTube videos of Tricia Miranda, Kyle Hanagami, Janelle Ginestra and WilldaBeast Adams' classes in L.A.," she says. "There was something raw about their style, and I craved that energy in the studio."
Building a Brand
Starring in a class video is a potent—and relatively simple—way for dancers to earn major recognition. In 2013, Gomez appeared as a featured dancer in Adams' vid to Beyoncé's "Upgrade U," filmed by Brazil-Lionheart. Within a few days, the class video had more hits on YouTube than the official music video. "Everyone knew who I was after that," she says. "I was the blonde in the 'Upgrade U' video."
But class videos are even greater assets to the choreographers behind the steps, giving them an inexpensive way to develop a large following. When Gomez discovered her passion for teaching and choreography, she knew to turn to YouTube: "I began teaching in smaller schools in Orange County and posting 30-second clips of my choreo," she says. Eventually, she developed enough of a reputation to land a full-time teaching slot at Millennium, where she regularly puts out videos with popular producer Tim Milgram.
As a primarily self-taught dancer from a small town in Virginia, Steffanina also paved his way to teaching jobs by posting choreo clips. "I started getting contacted by East Coast schools that wanted me to teach," he says. "That's when the light bulb really went off." He continued building his brand through YouTube, and began to get commercial as well as teaching work thanks to his online presence. Singer Natalie LaRose and Taboo, from the Black Eyed Peas, are among the artists who've hired Steffanina after seeing his class videos.
Energy Is Everything
What is it about class videos that makes them so universally addictive? Dancer Allison Buczkowski, who frequently appears in choreographer Tricia Miranda's vids, chalks it up to energy. "The videos capture the vibe of the last 10 minutes of class, when we're done stressing over the steps, and we're just having a blast celebrating dance," she says.
Courtesy Allison Buczkowski Allison Buczkowski in class
Buczkowski admits that the energy in the class isn't always as explosive as it appears on screen. "But you learn to turn it on for camera," she says. Choreographers like Miranda, Adams and Gomez often have the dancers form an "energy circle," occasionally featured in the videos, before the final run-throughs of a combo. "It really helps hype everyone up," Buczkowski says. Fellow class-video favorite Kaelynn "KK" Harris agrees: "A good inspirational pep talk pre-filming helps us enter the choreographer's world and really vibe off one another," she says.
Keepin' It Real
The other key to a real, raw class video is maintaining the integrity of the class, even though cameras are present. "Filming can compromise the class experience if dancers come to be seen rather than to learn," Harris says. "YouTube fame shouldn't get in the way of the dancers' pure love of dancing."
For that reason, choreographer Eden Shabtai tries to get a two-hour slot when she's planning to film, so that filming doesn't eat into class time. "It's important to remember that it's not about the video," she says. She relies on Milgram's vision so that she can focus her efforts on teaching. "If people are truly learning and having fun, it'll make a good video."
Combos for the Camera
How do choreographers craft class combinations that read on film? Shabtai, who first blew up on YouTube with her combo "Needed Me" and has also worked on music videos, live tours and TV shows, says the formula is similar to choreographing for music videos—both require eye-popping steps and lots of energy—but there are a few adjustments. "In music videos, people are looking for signature moves and repetition," she says. A repeated sequence can visually correspond to the song's chorus, for example. In class videos, there's less of an emphasis on recurring moves. Instead, the focus is on creativity and abundance. "I try to put more choreography into class videos, without compromising moments of stillness," she says.
How do you land the center spot in a viral class video? The key is to master the basics before you add personal flair. "For the first hour and 15 minutes of class, I do the combo cut-and-dry to get the choreo the way the choreographer intends," says dancer Allison Buczkowski. "When it comes time to film, then I may add extra hair flips, and more of my own personality. But you can't train that way the whole class. You don't want to alter the choreography just to be seen."
Dancer Kaelynn "KK" Harris agrees that going over the top all of the time isn't the best approach. She recommends focusing on the combo's musicality instead. "People gravitate to dancers who make them feel the music coming to life," she says. "It's what makes them want to get up and dance too!"
We've talked before about how obsessed we are with "SYTYCD" Season 2 champ Benji Schwimmer's beautiful choreography for ice skaters. But how does a guy from the dance world come up with movement that reads on ice?
By dancing it out in a skating rink:
A post shared by Benji Schwimmer (@benjischwimmer) on Apr 23, 2017 at 7:59pm PDT
Schwimmer posted the clips of his chilly improv session yesterday. (He's developing a new routine for gorgeous figure skating champion Yuka Sato.) It's a fascinating peek at his creative process. And surprised as the Zamboni guy must have been, the idea makes a lot of sense. What better way to figure out ice-friendly choreography than to step onto the ice yourself?
(Is it just us, or do you guys have an urge to find a skating rink and dance around on it in sneakers now, too?)
It's not surprising that The Movement series by Elle magazine turned out to be really, really cool—I mean, how could a concept centered around dancers ever be bad? Especially when those dancers include Isabella Boylston and Sara Mearns?
A contemporary sighting of Moore is a rare occurrence these days. (She's been gracing the stage in Broadway show after Broadway show, and is currently strutting her stuff with Bette Midler in the revival of Hello Dolly! that opened on the Great White Way this past weekend.) Which is why Moore's video for The Movement is so great. In it, she pulls out her signature, dreamy contemporary moves, and captivates with her breathtaking fluidity and effortless grace. It's simply magical. ✨✨✨
Trust us, you're going to want to watch this one over and over and over...
If you're a dancer with a bust, you know the struggle all too well. Wear a sports bra, and ruin the elegant lines of your leotard? Or go without support, and risk tons of pain and discomfort? The sad truth is, even when dancewear has a built-in shelf bra, that's often not enough support for the full range of ladies who dance.
Professional dancer Caterina Mercante has created a bra that promises to fix all of those issues. She calls it the ONE Bra, and it's designed specifically for dancers, with all kinds of features that could prove to be life-changing:
1. Underwire to lift and separate
2. Compression mesh in multiple shades to match skin color
3. Side attachments, so no bulging hooks in the back
4. Convertible straps
5. Removable pads
6. Available in B-D cups
But don't take our word for it. Watch this video to see the ONE Bra in action.
It's an amazing feeling when everything in class just clicks—everyone's dancing full-out, the energy's high and the choreo just flows. It's even more amazing when a camera captures it all, and your favorite #BoySquad's slaying the choreo, AND the class is Tricia Miranda's.
That's exactly what happened the other day at Millennium Dance Complex, where Sean Lew, Gabe De Guzman, Will Simmons, Josh Price and TreVontae Leggins shut. it. down. Lucky for us, Gabe and Will shared the insanely ridiculous results on Instagram. You can't fake this kind of energy—it was some kind of #lit over at MDC. #BoySquad, we bow down to you.
if u did not show up to @1triciamiranda class that night, u missed out on one of the most mind blowing classes ever 💯🙌🏼 the energy in class blew the roof off the place 🔥🔥 love dancing with these insane aliens 👏🏼 @bigwillsimmons @seanlew @officialjoshprice @treydakiddbomb20 #OGBobbyJohnson 😈
A post shared by Gabe De Guzman (@gabedofficial) on Apr 21, 2017 at 1:56pm PDT
So this is what you missed in @1triciamiranda amazing class the other day!!!!!!!🙌🏾😭 The energy in the room was so insane and free!!!!💥🔥 We do this cause we love it!!!❤️ Dancing with my brothers @gabedofficial @seanlew @officialjoshprice 🤙🏾😜#ogbobbyjonhson #bigwillsimmons #dance #freestyle #triciamiranda
A post shared by Will Simmons (@bigwillsimmons) on Apr 21, 2017 at 1:16pm PDT