“SYTYCD” Season 9: Meet the Top 20
After a grueling Vegas Week filled with tears, lectures and heartache, the final group of dancers (an insanely talented bunch!) headed to Hollywood to walk the famed Green Mile and learn whether they would snag a spot in the "So You Think You Can Dance" Season 9 Top 20. Like always, the announcements were brimming with drama and suspense. And the judges were up to all of their old tricks: The pitting-best-friends-against-each-other trick (but, surprise! They took them both!), the you-really-weren't-good-enough-but-we'll-take you-anyway trick and, of course, the no-explanation (Kaitlynn Edgar, whaaat?!) dismissal.
So without further ado, meet your Season 9 Top 20!
Alexa Anderson, 19, Contemporary
Amber Jackson, 21, Contemporary
Amelia Lowe, 18, Contemporary
Audrey Case, 18, Jazz
Brandon Mitchell, 27, Stepping
Cheyon Wespi-Tschopp, 23, Ballet
Cole Horibe, 26, Martial Arts Fusion
Cyrus "Glitch" Spencer, 22, Animation
Daniel Baker, 24, Ballet
Dareian "Dare" Kujawa, 20, Contemporary
Eliana Girard, 21, Contemporary Ballet & aerialist
George Lawrence II, 19, Contemporary
Janaya French, 20, Lyrical Contemporary
Janelle Issis, 24, Belly Dancing
Lindsay Arnold, 18, Latin Ballroom
Matthew Kazmierczak, 21, Contemporary
Nick Bloxsom-Carter, 20, Ballroom
Tiffany Maher, 19, Jazz
Will Thomas, 19, Contemporary
Witney Carson, 18, Latin Ballroom
Now onto the best part of the night—the performances. Here are our Top 5 moments:
5. Eliana, Daniel and Cheyon's contemporary ballet piece. We couldn't have been happier to have a contemporary ballet number kicking off the season. Complexions Contemporary Ballet artistic directors Dwight Rhoden and Desmond Richardson choreographed an edgy, technical piece and the boys absolutely killed. While Eliana definitely gave a valiant effort, she had a few technical issues. But we have to give her credit, we can't imagine dancing in pointe shoes on that stage. [Side note: We swear Eliana and Lauren Gottlieb could be twins. They look so similar.]
4. Travis Wall's Top 10 girls routine. While we absolutely adore Travis, this wasn't our favorite piece he's ever done (the idea felt a bit unoriginal). That said, the performance was jaw-dropping. The girls were technically flawless and their precision and timing was perfect. Each girl was 100 percent full-out and dancing for her life. It. Was. Awesome.
3. Sonya Tayeh's Top 10 boys routine. We can't say we were as impressed with the boys as a whole as we were with the girls, but holy cow, Sonya—you rocked our world last night! The male-male partnering and strong masculine choreography were stunning. It was a bit underrehearsed and those maternity pants (as Nigel called them) were heinous, but that didn't stop us from loving the choreography.
2. Mia Michaels' Top 20 routine. Oh Mia, we've missed you! She more than made up for her absence last season with this brilliant routine. We can't wait for more.
1. Tiffany and Audrey's Sonya Tayeh contemporary routine. These two tiny powerhouses stole the show! We were nervous when we learned Janelle was sick and would be sitting out, but after watching Tiffany and Audrey perform, we never would have guessed it was choreographed as a trio. They were technical and captivating and gave the best performance of the night. We want to see more from these two.
The "So You Think You Can Whaaaat??" moment of the night: Zooey Deschanel. The "New Girl" star joined Nigel and Mary on the judges' panel and it was just painful. Poor Cat kept trying to feed her lines and help her out, but it never got any better. We're all for guest judges—we just ask they have a teeny tiny bit of dance experience?
Now it's your turn. What did you think of the show? Do you have any early favorites? Tell us in the comment section below!
Be sure to tune in next time on Wednesday, July 11!
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.
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.).
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.
Consistent turns are a must for aspiring professional dancers, but pretty much everyone struggles with pirouettes at some point. Luckily, since we're all beholden to the same rules of physics, there are concrete steps every dancer can take to reach his or her top turning potential. “Three is the new two when it comes to pirouettes, but the secret to turning is technique, not magic," says Bojan Spassoff, president and director of The Rock School for Dance Education in Philadelphia.
Falling out of your doubles? Aspiring to go revolution for revolution with your class's star turner? No matter where you lie on the turning spectrum, our 360-degree guide to pirouettes will help you improve.
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.
You've seen it a million times: A glamorous, toned dancer posts a perfectly styled shot of her colorful smoothie bowl. The caption gushes about how great you'll feel if you eat "clean"—but what does that actually mean? DS asked registered dietitian/nutritionist Rachel Fine and holistic health coach (and founder of The Whole Dancer) Jess Spinner for all of the dirt.
In our "Dear Katie" series, former NYCB soloist Kathryn Morgan answers your pressing dance questions. Have something you want to ask Katie? Email firstname.lastname@example.org a chance to be featured!
I'm being bullied by one of the girls at my studio, and it's awful. I've talked to my dance teacher and confronted the bully directly, but it hasn't made a difference. What should I do?