"SYTYCD" Recap: Week 1, NYC & Miami Auditions
"So You Think You Can Dance" is back! And to be honest, I'm a little nervous about what this season has in store after last night's show. I don't think the Season 7 winner will be coming out of NYC or Miami. There were some good dancers, but there were also some disasters. Onto the recap...
The first round of auditions happened in NYC (We were there! Check it out.) with judges Adam Shankman, Mia Michaels and Nigel Lythgoe on the panel. It's great to have Mia back and we're definitely excited to have her on board for the whole season.
The first dancer we saw was Sarah Brinson, a 22 year old from Philadelphia. Her contemporary routine to "Stand By Me" was sweet and earnest. A self-proclaimed "big girl" growing up, we loved that Sarah finally seemed comfortable and at ease with herself and her body. Her confidence got her a ticket straight through to Vegas. (And Nigel, we love you, but the pervy comment about her mom playing golf with Tiger Woods? Ick.)
Next up was Giselle Peacock. LOVE her. She was a total standout in Broadway's Burn the Floor—she shone even when dancing behind then-engaged Maksim Chmerkovskiy and Karina Smirnoff. Her sizzling Latin ballroom routine got Mia to simply say "Oh my God, you're so hot." Adam told her she was "a huge turn on," and with that she was off to Vegas.
Then we had our first disaster: Mike Perlman of the "1 2 3 Party" boys. Sure he was kind of cute (OK, really cute) and certainly good for a laugh with his lime green T-shirt, knee-high socks and pink and purple bike shorts. But ultimately he wasn't a dancer. No Vegas for him, but thanks for the giggle.
Returning hopeful Teddy Tedholm came back to NYC to audition, this time in a more understated outfit. Gone were his checkered pants that he wore during Boston's Season 6 audition round, this time replaced with a simple black suit. Both Adam and Mia were (for the first of several times last night) nearly in tears at the end of Teddy's contemporary solo. Mia called him brilliant and said he "represented the unpopular kid at school." Adam said "Oh my God" and cried. Per usual. 18-year-old Teddy, for the second time, was given a ticket to Vegas.
After that we were given brief clips of Briana De Falco and Daniel Baker, both of whom were also sent through to Vegas. Then came Chris "Isolock" Dixon, who reminded me of Phillip Chbeeb. His IsoLocking (a mix of isolations and locking, in case that wasn't clear) was pretty cool, though not overly impressive. He made it through to the choreography round (taught by returning All-Star Courtney Galiano from Season 4 and Season 5's Jason Glover) before he was cut.
On the second day of NYC auditions, Nigel begins with some advice for the contestants: "Be yourselves. Be unique. Make sure we haven't seen anything like you," he told them. And yet, we were shown another slew of contestants who didn't quite stand out. Lots of contemporary solos, lots of the same stuff we've seen before.
Up first was Wadi Jones, with his impressive tricks, who made it through to the choreography round. Forgettable. Anthony Burrell came next. He was strong, mature and fantastic. Straight through to Vegas! Then we saw Megan Davis (Shout out, she's from my home state and actually teaches at my old studio—yay New Hampshire!), who was a Dance Spirit fashion model last year. The judges loved her and handed her a ticket to Vegas.
Edward Spots, a dancer in Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater's preprofessional program, was next. His jumps were high, his turns were quick and his baby face was pretty adorable. But his feet were less than stellar and overall I didn't find him to be memorable. He was followed by Megan Carter, who was the second dancer to bring Mia to tears. Megan may be a bigger girl, but she's got one heck of a penchee and some seriously impressive extension. As Mia said, she proved that everyone can dance, no matter what size we are. Granted Nigel knocked her down a bit afterward by saying she'll have a hard time getting jobs... But still, it was touching and she was talented.
Then we moved on to MIAMI! On the panel this time: Nigel, ballroom expert Jason Gilkison and fan favorite Sonya Tayeh.
I have to be honest, in all the shots they showed of Miami, it didn't look like there was much of a turnout for auditions. Twenty contestants were given tickets to Vegas from this sexy city, which was actually surprising since the talent they showed during the episode wasn't much to write home about.
First up was German ballroom dancer Michael Petr. Loved him! He earned a nod of approval from Jason Gilkison, and another one from us. Tyrelle Rolle came next. A contemporary dancer, he's only been dancing for seven years (because he "didn't want to deal drugs") and was sent through to Vegas. Joining him on the Vegas bandwagon was Henry Rivera, who was adorably nervous during his on-camera interview, but truly shone during his audition.
I'd like to forget that painfully awkward father/daughter dance, so we'll move on to Ami Aguiar-Riley, the mom who was good but not great (though her 6-year-old son is wicked cute). She made it through to the choreography round and, ultimately, was given a ticket to Vegas. Candace Craig, the boobalicious dancer with the fantastic legs, also made it through to choreography but was then cut. Loved her personality—she just needs to figure out how to rely more on that and her dancing than her body.
Rose Neptune came next with a "ballroom" routine that I don't want to talk about, prompting Sonya to sigh and say "I'm disappointing in Miami." Us too, Sonya!
Lastly came Jose Ruiz, a stellar B-boy who was sent right to Vegas. With his cornrows, mile-wide grin and rapid-fire headspins, the judges compared him to Legacy and we can't wait to see how far he makes it in the competition.
Next week: Auditions in Chicago and L.A. Check back for the recap!
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.