"SYTYCD" Season 9: The Top 14 Perform (aka Mia Michaels Madness)
Ah, "So You Think You Can Dance"! How we've missed you! We've had two long, lonely weeks with only a smattering of Olympic rhythmic gymnasts to satisfy our dance-y television competition needs. Doesn't it seem like ages and ages ago that we crowned the Top 14?
But hey, way to come back with a BANG, guys: After being MIA, the show went all-Mia (nyuk nyuk!) last night, with an episode paying tribute to the glory that is Mia Michaels. (I made sure to have my box of tissues handy.)
In theory, tribute shows like this are kind of a great idea. Not only are we guaranteed an awesome two hours of dance—no dud pieces to worry about here!—but they also level the playing field for the contestants. If every dancer is doing choreography that we already know is great (and sometimes Emmy-winning!), that means no unlucky dancer is handicapped by weird/unflattering choreo. And since these are some of the best pieces by one of the show's best choreographers, we can hope they're bringing out the best in the dancers, too.
That said, the dancers last night were also dealing with the specters of the ones who came before. As Nigel said, it's hard to disassociate these routines from their original casts, especially since Mia tends to choreograph for specific people—she tailors her dances to her dancers. And that's a lot of pressure. In the end, the tribute show was a bit of a double-edged sword for our Top 14.
It's almost unfair to pick out five highlights from a show that was, essentially, already a selection of highlights. But I'll do my darndest:
1. Cyrus and Eliana doing "The Door Routine." (Sidenote: Cyrus is roommates with Bryan Gaynor?? My mind was just blown. Moving on.) While the awkward lip close-ups from their rehearsal footage didn't bode well for this pair, once onstage, they had some serious chemistry. And Cyrus' little popping additions to that body roll backwards? Awesome.
2. George and Tiffany doing "Hometown Glory." I. Love. These. Two. After their performance last night, they're my hands-down favorites to make it to the very end this season. Katee and Josh who??
3. Janelle and Dareian doing "The Bed Routine." Here's the thing about the new "SYTYCD" format: Before the show even begins, the judges know who might be going home. And that drives me CRAZY. Because while I'm sure they're trying to be objective, I think their prior knowledge of the bottom six colors their judging. This routine was a prime example: While I thought it was pretty fantastic, frankly—talk about intensity!—the judges focused narrowly on Dareian's feet (really? was this a foot-centric piece?) and Janelle's "distracting" hairography (which was part of the choreography!). And hey, guess what? Both Janelle and Dareian were in the bottom six. Ugh.
4. Witney and Chehon doing "The Bench Routine." Oh man, do I ever love this piece, and I'm guessing everyone who was weaned on "SYTYCD" (so, all of you?) agrees with me. Witney and Chehon totally kicked butt, more than stacking up to the memory of Travis and Heidi. And The Ballet Boyz loooooove Chehon! All is right with the world.
5. Lindsay and Cole doing "The Addiction Piece." (Sidenote #2: OF COURSE Cole is friends with Mark Kanemura! Everything makes so much more sense now.) Cole definitely put his own spin on this role: While Kupono was a seducer, Cole was more abstract, a strangely magnetic robot. I didn't feel the dance as keenly as I did the first time around, but I think that's just because I knew what to expect this time.
The "So You Think you Can Whaaat?!" Moment of the Night: I'm sorry, time out: Guest judges The Ballet Boyz have never seen these iconic Mia pieces before? They're "unfamiliar" with Mia's work? I...but...really? Is there no YouTube in London? Yes, OK, it was interesting to have two judges on the panel who were totally new to these works (and yes, OK, their Nigel-produced show, "A Chance to Dance," premieres tomorrow), but come on, guys!
In the end, despite all that awesomeness, four—four!—somebodies had to go, and those somebodies were Amelia, Janelle, Dareian and Matthew (*sob!*). We'll miss you guys, but hey, if you've gotta go, at least go out on a Mia high. Snaps to everyone.
Congrats to the Top 10! Who do you think will be paired with which All Star? Let us know in the comments—and be sure to tune in next week, same time, same place, for our recap!
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 email@example.com 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?
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.
You rehearse your group routine to perfection, but when the big performance rolls around, everyone turns into speed demons. It's the runaway-train effect—and it only takes one loud tapper, or zippy turner, to throw the whole group off the music.
While nerves and excitement are partly to blame, the ability to keep to tempo begins in the studio. A well-developed sense of musicality is your best defense against the dreaded speed trap. "When you understand how the steps fit with the music, going too fast won't just feel like rushing," says Jeremy Arnold, lecturer of tap at the University of Texas at Austin. "It'll feel wrong." How can dancers develop that musicality? It all starts with learning to listen.
Bunheads, this one's for you. They say you can tell a Nutcracker by its "Snow" scene—and we fully believe it. There are so many versions with extra goodies—olive branches! Fake snow! Sleds! Choirs! Snow queens!—and each brings a special something to the holiday favorite. But do you know which ballet has what?
You're probably already following your favorite dancers on Instagram, but did you know that you can follow many of their dogs, too? We rounded up some of our favorite dog-centered accounts and hashtags to keep you pawsitively entertained (sorry, we can't help ourselves).
Let's face it—spare time is pretty tough to come by when you're a dancer. You're either rushing to get ready for rehearsal, rushing to rehearsal, a combo of the two, or in rehearsal (or performing, or in class, or at an audition...you get the picture). Well here at DS, we understand the struggle is REAL, which is why we've rounded up our favorite foolproof makeup hacks, approved by resident #LazyGirl when it comes to makeup (spoiler alert: it's me). On to the hacks!
Kalea (pronounced kah-LAY-uh) Hidalgo knows how to move. Her decisive, dynamic dancing commands the stage: She gobbles up space so confidently it's hard to believe you're watching a mere tween. Unsurprisingly, that presence and power have started turning heads in a serious way. Not only did Talia Favia choreograph one of her solos in 2017, but Kalea also recently signed with Bloc Talent Agency in L.A. and, last summer, placed first overall in the junior contemporary solo category at Radix Nationals.
"When you're out on the dance floor, don't ask for permission—ask for forgiveness."—Kalea Hidalgo