"SYTYCD" Season 9: The Top 6 Perform
Before I get into last night's episode of "So You Think You Can Dance," can I just say that I am so excited to see Chehon, Cyrus, Eliana and Tiffany rock it out in the finale next week? Seriously—I haven't been this psyched about a "SYTYCD" finale since Danny Tidwell melted my cold little heart in Season 3.
I'll admit that, going into yesterday's episode, I had my favorites (*cough ELIANA cough cough*). But all of the Top 6 dancers were so talented that really, this showdown could have gone in any direction. And what a showdown it was! Without further ado, here are my top five Top 6 moments:
1) Girls Partnered Boys a Lot, and It Was Awesome. Tiffany and Benji's cartwheels? Melanie lifting Cole, over and over again? This trend is great, people, and way underused. Keep it up.
2) Christina Applegate Is My Favorite Judge. Ever. Eliana and tWitch's hip hop routine was, frankly, not that great (for the record, I don’t think the “SYTYCD” format is Chris Scott’s forte). Christina's response? “Eliana, would Jay-Z hire you to be next to him in the video? Maybe not. But who cares? 'Cause you could—what do they say on '[American] Idol'? You could sing the phone book? What would be the dancing equivalent of singing the phone book? You could do 'YMCA' in front of me for hours and I’d be happy.” Yup. And then, after watching Witney’s lyrical jazz piece with Marko: “Witney, we know you’re not just a ballroom dancer. No ballroom dancer does a double attitude turn like that. You’re a dancer dancer.” YUP. Finally, on Cyrus and Comfort's "dubstep" routine: “That was carved out for you [Cyrus] like the David was...carved out for David. And I want to play a game where I throw pens through your ears.” Me too, Christina. Me too.
3) Chehon and Kathryn's Tyce Diorio Routine Was Surprisingly Poignant. I'm not usually the biggest fan of Tyce's choreo, which tends to veer quickly and inevitably into cheesy territory. But then Chehon had a personal connection to the piece's idea of living out of a suitcase...and suddenly everyone, myself included, was crying. The work actually reminded me of Oltremare, a theatrically powerful piece about American immigrants that Mauro Bigonzetti made for New York City Ballet.
4) Everyone On "SYTYCD" Has a Beautiful Family. For real, though: Tiffany has a gorgeous sister who's basically her twin? Allison Holker brought her adorable daughter Weslie to the taping? Cole's mom is kind of a hottie? I love everything and everyone involved in this show.
5) Eliana and Cole's Mia Michaels Routine Was Amazing. In my mind, at least, the odds were against this piece. "I was inspired by rams and how they fight," explained Mia, which doesn't bode well for anything, ever. Plus, it was set to Samuel Barber's Adagio for Strings, which, generally speaking, we should probably just leave not-so-danceable masterpieces alone. But somehow Mia worked her magic, as she always does. And I cried. Again.
The So You Think You Can What? Moment of the Night: Christina Applegate and Benji Schwimmer take dance classes together? On a regular basis?! [HEAD EXPLODES]
(Runner-up SYTYCW moment: Can we re-do the intro, please? I love everyone from Season 5, but it's time to get some newer "SYTYCD" faces in there.)
Aaanyway. In the end, though I was genuinely sad to say goodbye to Cole and (especially) Witney, I think America made the right choice. Tune in next week, same time, same place, for our recap of the big finale episode! Who do you think will win it all—and end up on the December cover of Dance Spirit?
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.
Daphne Lee is a queen, and not just in the "OMG Girl Boss Alert" sense of the word. She's an actual queen—a beauty queen. Crowned Miss Black USA in August, she's been doing double duty as she continues to dance with the Memphis based dance company, Collage Dance Collective. Lee's new title has given her the means to encourage other black girls and boys to pursue their dreams, while also pursuing dreams of her own. The scholarship money awarded with the pageant title will assist her as she earns a Masters of Fine Arts degree at Hollins University.
When a choreographer finds a composer whose music truly inspires her, it can feel like a match made in dance heaven. Some choreographers work with the same composers so frequently that they become known for their partnerships. New York City Ballet soloist and resident choreographer Justin Peck, for example, has tapped composer Sufjan Stevens numerous times (last spring, the two premiered The Decalogue at NYCB, to rave reviews); L.A. Dance Project's Benjamin Millepied's working relationship with composer Nico Muhly has spanned a decade and two continents; and when tap dancer Michelle Dorrance premiered the first-ever Works & Process Rotunda Project, a site-specific work for New York City's Guggenheim Museum, last year, percussionist Nicholas Van Young was by her side as an equal partner. Successful collaborations require compatibility between artists, direct and honest communication, and flexible, open minds. But when the stars align, working with a composer can be extremely rewarding.
For ballerinas, it's the dream role to end all dream roles: Odette/Odile in Swan Lake, the type of part dancers spend years preparing for and whole careers perfecting. And it's a role that New York City Ballet principal Tiler Peck never thought she'd dance. Though Peck is one of the world's preeminent ballerinas, her short stature made Odette/Odile, typically performed by longer, leggier dancers, seem (almost literally) out of reach.
Then—surprise!—her name popped up on the cast list for NYCB's fall season run of Swan Lake.
Lani Dickinson's power, grace, and raw presence make her a standout with AXIS Dance Company, whose mission is to change the face of dance and disability by featuring a mix of disabled and non-disabled performers. Born in China, Dickinson was adopted by an American couple and started dancing at 8 in Towson, MD. She attended the Boston Ballet School for two summers, studied at the Idyllwild Arts Academy for the last two years of high school, and graduated with a dance degree from Alonzo King LINES Ballet's BFA program with Dominican University of California. In 2015, she joined AXIS and won a Princess Grace Award. Catch her this month during AXIS Dance Company's 30th-anniversary season—and read on for The Dirt!