"So You Think You Can Dance" Season 11 Recap: The First Cut Is the Deepest
If only every episode of "So You Think You Could Dance" could be like last week's: a glorious buffet of everyone dancing in their own styles, with no cuts to be made. But, alas, this is a competition show, and eventually, someone has to win. This week, we got down to business.
But before we get to the bittersweet farewells, let's start with the good stuff. Here it is folks—this week's Top 5 highlights:
1. Misty Copeland's spot-on critiques. It may be too early to call this, but I think Misty could win the award for Best Judge this season. She had creative and smart advice for just about every Top 20 dancer. Two of my personal favorites? She told Rudy, who performed a Sonya Tayeh jazz routine, to think of his legs as tree trunks, rooted into the ground in order to hold up the flowers (aka his partner Tanisha). And she told Bridget, who performed a Luther Brown hip-hop routine with her partner Emilio, that she shouldn't be afraid to get down "on his level." Misty stressed that there are many kinds of sexy, including "strong sexy," and that women should feel like equals to their male counterparts when dancing hip hop. #GirlPower.
Misty Copeland: The next Lil' C
2. The contemporary pieces. We got two very different love stories this week. Travis Wall brought us "the one that got away," while Sonya Tayeh represented "the unbreakable love." Beautiful dancers + beautiful contemporary choreography + beautiful backstories? It's kind of a no-brainer that these pieces were huge successes. Contemporary dancer Ricky and his tap-dancing partner Valerie showed great promise in Travis Wall's routine. The chemistry isn't quite there yet, but I'm excited to see how the two grow together throughout the show. As for contemporary dancer Carly and and Latin ballroom dancer Serge in Sonya's piece? OMG. This had to be my personal favorite piece of the night. It was set to Sam Smith's acoustic version of "Latch," and latch is exactly what they did. Leave it to Sonya to think up some of the most breath-taking partnering out there.
Be still my heart—such love between new partners Serge and Carly.
3. Argentina wins! The tango, that is. Latin ballroom dancer Brooklyn and her partner contemporary dancer Casey were smokin' hot in a Miriam and Leonardo Argentinian Tango. From the moment the light hit Brooklyn in her stunning red dress, I knew this was going to be good. She had this perfectly subtle smirk on her face that just exuded confidence. The dancers managed to have chemistry with one another and the audience simultaneously—an impressive feat considering this is their first week dancing together! They also demonstrated remarkable control, and as Misty aptly pointed out, they brought the sexy.
4. Quite possibly the most ridiculous unitards I've ever seen. Okay, so the unitards aren't actually a highlight. But the dance they accompanied sure is. Ballerina Jacque and tapper Zack were absolutely delightful in a Sean Cheesman Afro-jazz piece. I mean, the two were completely out of their element, yet they adapted to the style seamlessly. Let's face it: The things they did with their backs you just don't do in ballet or tap. The routine won a standing ovation from Mary and a ticket on the Hot Tamale Train! (Fortunately for her fellow judges, Mary's accompanying scream was somewhat subdued.)
5. Chloé Arnold and the Syncopated Ladies. You already know that we think these tappers are #Flawless. But seeing them up there on the "SYTYCD" stage was somehow all the more sweet. Their taps were crystal clear, their formations were on point and they sold it with their performance. What more could we ask of them? Misty Copeland wanted sexy strong, and these ladies brought it.
They woke up like this.
OK, now for the not-so-fun part: the eliminations. Brooklyn, Jourdan and Malena were the bottom three girls and Casey, Nick and Serge were the bottom three guys. After last night's performance, the judges decided to send Malena and Nick home. The first cut is so hard!
Are you upset about who ended up in danger? You can do something about that! Be sure to vote for your favorite(s). (You can vote up to 20 times.) And check back here next week to see who makes it to the Top 16.
What a week in the "Dancing with the Stars" universe, amirite? After we bid farewell to Drew Scott and Emma Slater on Monday (in a surprise to pretty much nobody, despite the duo's strong performance in a super-fun freestyle that evening), it was time, last night, for Season 25's Grand Finale. And goodness, I don't know if we've ever seen quite so many perfect scores thrown around the ballroom. The final three—Frankie Muniz and Witney Carson, Jordan Fisher and Lindsay Arnold, and Lindsey Stirling and Mark Ballas—performed a total of six routines on Tuesday, and five of them earned straight 10s. Yes, those scores were well-deserved; the finalists danced their bedazzled behinds off. But it also felt like the judges were channeling Oprah. YOU get a 10, and YOU get a 10, and YOUUUU get a 10!
Turkey is great and all, but the best part of Thanksgiving? It's watching some truly fantastic dancing on television, courtesy the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. On Thursday, when your arms are sore from mashing potatoes and/or you need to escape crazy Aunt Linda, head to the living room to catch these super-dancey parade highlights:
Taja Riley's bold, full-out presence and unique ability to mix hard-hitting hip hop with smooth, sensual choreography paved the way for her success in the commercial industry. She's danced with music icons like Chris Brown, Janet Jackson, Ne-Yo, Kanye West, 50 Cent, Pitbull, and Bruno Mars, and has assisted with choreography for Britney Spears' Femme Fatale tour, Demi Lovato's Skyscraper tour, and Beyoncé's Mrs. Carter tour. She also appeared in Beyoncé's groundbreaking visual album Lemonade. Raised in Virginia Beach, VA, Riley grew up training at Denise Wall's Dance Energy. Currently, she's on faculty at New York City Dance Alliance, where you can catch her touring the convention circuit. —Courtney Bowers
P!nk, known for her high-flying, acrobatic awards show sets, has literally raised the bar for pop stars everywhere. For her performance at last night's American Music Awards, P!nk decided to break out some flips and tricks ON THE SIDE OF A BUILDING. WHILE FLAWLESSLY SINGING HER FACE OFF. You know, just casually, like you do when you're a full-on goddess.
After 13 seasons, "So You Think You Can Dance" viewers probably thought they'd seen it all. From "Ramalama (Bang Bang)" to Bollywood, Travis Wall to tWitch, it seemed like there couldn't possibly be any room left on Mary Murphy's Hot Tamale Train.
Then came 19-year-old Lex Ishimoto. When Lex showed up at the show's Season 14 NYC auditions with an improv solo in lieu of a choreographed routine, the judges were shocked—and then brought to their feet by his show-stopping creativity. From there, the jaw-dropping moments kept coming. In week one of the live shows, Lex busted out a super-crisp tap (!) routine. In his Episode 12 solo, he pulled off a triple (!) tour en l'air. And in Episode 14, he and fellow finalist Taylor Sieve revealed that they'd been dating on the down-low (!!!).
To dance insiders, Lex's name isn't new: It first popped up in playbills when he joined the national tour of the musical Billy Elliot at age 11. Last year, he was featured in Sia's "The Greatest" music video, and he's toured with Travis Wall's critically acclaimed contemporary company Shaping Sound. But now, Lex is officially a household name as America's Favorite Dancer—and has a first-class ticket on that Hot Tamale Train.
Oh hey there, Hallmark Channel! The producer of all those sweet, homey movies best watched in your PJs with your mom has a super dance-y film on its holiday lineup this season: A Nutcracker Christmas. And the casting is—to use a very Hallmark-y pun—perfectly on pointe.
A Nutcracker Christmas tells the story of a talented professional dancer, Lilly, whose supportive sister dies just as Lilly is about to perform the role of Clara in The Nutcracker with New York City Ballet. (Nit-picky fact-checking: In New York City Ballet's Nutcracker, she's known as Marie and danced by a child, but OK.) Lilly's boyfriend and dance partner, Mark, keeps her from performing in the show, which makes Lilly declare she'll never dance again. Fast-forward a couple of decades, and Lilly's niece, Sadie, is about to dance Clara in a different company's Nutcracker—a company run by, of all people, Mark. And tons of drama ensues.
Yes, it's a whole lot of plot to wrap your head around. But the real story here is that Sadie is played by none other than the phenomenal Sophia Lucia, and the ever-dashing Sascha Radetsky is also involved in the project. (Radetsky's exact role is unclear from the press material, but he seems like a pretty natural fit for Mark, no?) The odds seem good that we'll get the gift of some very high-quality dancing. Merry Christmas to us!
Sophia Lucia showing off those banana feet (via @sophialucia5678)
You can catch A Nutcracker Christmas on December 10 at 8 pm. Get your slippers and hot cocoa ready.
When you think of a dancer, a double leg amputee may not be the first thing that comes to mind. But Eric Graise, who's one of the stars of the upcoming "Step Up: High Water" YouTube Red series, hopes to change that. Graise, whose legs were amputated as a child due to missing fibula bones, will play a character named King in the new dance series, set to debut early next year.
We all suffer from Nutcracker fatigue sometimes. After a zillion performances, it's hard not to. But there's nothing to restore your little-kid sense of Nutcracker wonder like a look at the sheer scale of a world-class Nut.
New York City Ballet's iconic production of George Balanchine's The Nutcracker opens on Friday, and for the past week, the company has been Tweeting out some seriously eye-popping #NutcrackerNumbers. The stats cover everything from the number of jingle bells used on each Candy Cane costume (that'd be 144) to the watts of light used in the show's grand finale (ONE. MILLION. WATTS.).
One of the most beautiful things social media has brought us is the ability to feel like we're up close and personal behind-the-scenes with all our favorite dancers. And one of our favorite stars to Insta-stalk are actually two casts of 36 scintillatingly synchronized precision dancers. I'm talking, of course, about my mild obsession with the legendary Radio City Rockettes.
Have we mentioned lately how much we love dance dads? Especially ones who show up to their daughter's ballet class sporting a tutu, like Thanh Tran.