"SYTYCD" Celebrates Mamma Mia Michaels

I'm guessing most of you are already pretty psyched to watch "So You Think You Can Dance" tonight, seeing as the show has been off the air for the past two weeks in deference to the Olympics. But there's another reason to get excited: Tonight's episode will also be a special tribute to the one, the only, Mia Michaels.

What would "SYTYCD" be without Mamma Mia? Many talented choreographers have earned national fame thanks to the show, but it was Michaels (along with Wade Robson—come back, Wade!) who took the limited "SYTYCD" format and stretched it into something much bigger, something truly significant (and, frequently, something Emmy-worthy). Her pieces bring out the best in the "SYTYCD" dancers, who describe working with her as a transformational experience. Mia's been off doing some very impressive things recently—starring in Step Up Revolution and making moves for Tom Cruise, to name just a couple—but here's hoping she never gets too busy for "SYTYCD." I think a lot of us will always consider it her home.

Tonight we'll see a new group number, choreographed by Michaels, of course. Then the Top 14 will perform seven of her classic routines from past seasons. If you'd like to refresh your memory before the show—or if you just want to watch some beautiful dance—here are the memorable Mia pieces that'll be revived tonight. Enjoy!

"Time"

Lacey & Neil

Season 3

"Hometown Glory"

Katee & Joshua

Season 4

"Mercy," aka "The Door Piece"


Katee & Twitch

Season 4

“Dreaming with a Broken Heart,” aka "The Bed Piece"


Kherington & Twitch

Season 4

“Calling You,” aka "The Bench Piece"

Travis & Heidi

Season 2

“Gravity,” aka "The Addiction Piece"


Kayla & Kupono

Season 5

“Koop Island Blues,” aka "The Butt Piece"


Randi & Evan

Season 5

Dancer to Dancer

Much of Janelle Ginestra's career has been about helping others shine. She's dedicated herself to supporting and cheerleading her partner, WilldaBeast Adams; the emerging talents in their dance company, ImmaBEAST; and the countless dancers she inspires at master classes and conventions. Her YouTube channel has become a launching pad for young talents like "Fraternal Twins" Larsen Thompson and Taylor Hatala, thanks to viral videos featuring Ginestra's creative vision.

But Ginestra's a skyrocketing success in her own right—an in-demand choreographer, a social media influencer, and a dance entrepreneur, building a legacy one eight-count at a time. It's time for her turn in the spotlight. And she's more than ready. "I want to be a legend in whatever I do," she says. We'd argue that she already is.

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Win It
Courtesy CAA

You read that right, people—Dance Spirit's giving away two tickets to the "SYTYCD" tour in the city of your choice, complete with an exclusive meet & greet with select cast members! Read on for the complete prize listing and official rules.

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Week five of "Dancing with the Stars" proved to be one of the best weeks of the season so far. (And we're not just saying that because Mickey made a cameo debut on the piano during one of the routines—although that certainly didn't hurt!) Everyone brought their A-game, and with such a fun theme the contestants were able to really let their guards down. There was true sincerity in their dancing that we hadn't seen before. But not all Disney stories end with a "happily ever after," and one couple still had to hang up their dancing shoes.

If there's one week you should watch all the routines of it's undoubtedly this one... But, ICYMI, scroll below for our highlights of the night.

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Via Facebook

Almost a month out, Puerto Rico continues to suffer the devastating aftereffects of Hurricane Maria. Many of the island's residents still lack power, clean water, and safe housing. Ballet classes? For Puerto Rican dance students, they must feel like an impossible luxury.

But a dance studio in Florida is working to allow a group of young Puerto Ricans to continue their training. And it needs your help.

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Gianluca Russo (via Instagram)

Yes, I am a dancer, and yes, I am fat.

There's nothing quite as soul-crushing as the reactions I've received when I've told people I dance. They can range from disbelief to confusion to shock. To many people, it's somehow incomprehensible that a plus-size person like myself could grace a stage. While the body-positive movement has been trucking along at full force over the past few years, it hasn't made much progress in the dance community yet. In fact, the words "body positivity" and "dance" are almost never used together in the same sentence.

Despite that fact, dance is what helped me learn to love my larger frame. In honor of National Body Confidence Day, I wanted to talk about my first time in a studio, and about the tremendous progress I've made since.

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Okay, so it's also Friday the 13th. (Eek! Be sure not to let any black cats cross your path on the way to the studio!)

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Dancer to Dancer

If you've ever seen a Janelle Ginestra class video, you know how lit her combos are. What you don't see in those clips is how devoted Ginestra is to her students. We went behind the scenes at one of her sold-out IMMA SPACE classes to see Ginestra in her element, mentoring some of L.A.'s most talented dancers. It was an inspiration feedback loop.

All photos by Joe Toreno.

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Dancer to Dancer

In our "Dear Katie" series, former NYCB soloist Kathryn Morgan answers your pressing dance questions. Have something you want to ask Katie? Email dearkatie@dancespirit.com for a chance to be featured!

Dear Katie,

I love ballet, and I've been told that I have a lot of potential. I can see myself dancing professionally one day. But I'm also working toward my black belt in karate—and I'm passionate about that, too. How can I keep up my technique while also making time for the other things I love? Is that even possible?

Megan

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