"So You Think You Can Dance" Season 11 Recap: New Orleans & Chicago Auditions
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.
Harper Watters is a ballet dancer for today's generation. A social media maestro and a charismatic performer, the Houston Ballet soloist is equally at home in front of the camera hosting his hit YouTube series, "The Pre Show"; interacting with fans on his crazy-popular Instagram account; or showing off his beautiful classical technique onstage. It's a multifaceted identity that's proven to be invaluable to his career—and it's taking him to places he never even dreamed of.
Getting corrections from our dance instructors is how we grow, and as students, it's important that we do our best to apply every correction right away. But sometimes—whether it's because we're in physical pain, or have a lot on our minds, or are just not paying attention—those corrections don't sink in. And from a teacher's standpoint, giving the same corrections time and time again gets old very fast. Here are 10 important corrections dance teachers are tired of giving. Take them to heart!
The dancers who take our breath away are the risk-takers, the ones who appear completely fearless onstage. "When you see somebody trying to travel more, go farther, push the limits of their physical abilities, that's always going to be inspiring," says Ballet BC dancer Alexis Fletcher.
But dance training can feel like it's in conflict with that idea. We spend thousands of hours in the studio trying to do steps perfectly, and that pursuit of perfection can make us anxious about taking risks. What if we fail? What if we fall?
Luckily, fearlessness is a mental skill that you can work on, just as you work on your technique. Here's how you can learn to push yourself past your limits.
When we think of a dancer who's broken barriers, American Ballet Theatre principal Misty Copeland tends to be the name that comes to mind. And though Copeland has been a crucial advocate for equality in the world of ballet, Raven Wilkinson—a mentor of Copeland's—is considered one of the original pioneers of the movement.
In 1955, Wilkinson became the first African American to dance with the renowned Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo. Her fortitude in the face of bigotry and hate cemented her legacy. Now, with the release of the new children's book Trailblazer: The Story of Ballerina Raven Wilkinson, a new generation of dancers will be inspired by her tale of overcoming obstacles to achieve a dream.
The book details Wilkinson's life, from her experience as a young dancer training in Harlem, to her run-ins with the Ku Klux Klan while on tour with Ballet Russe, to her later ballet career in Europe. "There were times where my heart really hurt because of the situations I had to deal with," she says. "But I always had faith that I was made to be a dancer and that I was gonna dance."
Dance Spirit spoke with Wilkinson to discuss the new book and get her take on racial equality within the ballet world.
Postmodern pioneer Trisha Brown redefined how dance is seen and felt. A founding member of Judson Dance Theater, Brown frequently collaborated with other experimental artists like Yvonne Rainer, Merce Cunningham, Twyla Tharp, and Steve Paxton.
She embraced pedestrian movement, pairing everyday gesture with rhythm and fluidity. "It's liquid," says Wendy Perron, who danced with Brown in the '60s and '70s. "Like a river with many tributaries, water coming out of a faucet, or being on a raft and seeing the water move away in different directions." Brown also pushed beyond stages with choreography in fields, museums—even on the sides of buildings.
There's a common misconception that a dancer's body has to be thin. But the truth is that talent knows no body type, and the number on the scale never determines an artist's capabilities. Here are some extraordinary dancers fighting the stereotype of what a dancer "should" look like.