"SYTYCD" Season 9: Vegas Week Recap
Vegas! Vegas! VEGAS! After what seemed like endless weeks of ho-hum auditions episodes, I, for one, was ready for some real dancing, and some real drama, on "So You Think You Can Dance." As usual, Vegas week more than delivered on both counts. During their time in Sin City, this season's contestants showed off a lot of talent—and shed a lot of tears.
This being Vegas week, there weren't so much top moments as there were top...journeys. Epic journeys, complete with dramatic music and slow-mo reaction shots and, naturally, plenty of crying. Here are the top 5:
1. The Danielle Saga, aka Nice Girls Finish Last. Poor, poor Danielle. During Sonya Tayeh's jazz routine, Danielle was paired with Debbie Downer Shafeek, who completely gave up on her. Never mind; she made it through, and trooper that she is, came back onstage later to partner a contemporary dancer in need—who, of course, kicked her in the head. She was taken out on a stretcher. When she returned later, after spending eight hours in the hospital, she was sort of blamed for messing up the routine of the group she belatedly joined (which, really? She had a head injury). And then, of course, she was sent home. Someone give this girl a hug.
2. The Cyrus Saga, aka We'll Cut the Adorable Hip Hop Guy Some Slack. Cyrus is the only one of the talented Dragon House Crew trio who made it past Vegas' first round. He had a LOT of close calls as the rounds rolled by—frankly, I wasn't sure he was going to make it after that disastrous cha cha. But his dance-for-your-life solo reminded everyone just how amazing he is in his own style (shades of Madd Chadd, am I right?), and he seemed so genuinely happy to be there. I'm not sure he's going to nab a Top 20 spot, but if he doesn't—is that a Dragon House Crew guest performance I smell later in the season? Why yes, yes it is.
3. The Amelia Saga, aka Don't Count Your Top 20 Spot Before it Hatches. Remember silent-movie lover Amelia (who is, come to think of it, a bit of a Krysten Ritter lookalike)? Amelia cruised through the first few rounds, getting just a tad overconfident. She looked completely shocked when she was asked to dance for her life after Sonya's jazz routine. Luckily her solo was a great showcase for her particular brand of quirky appeal (not to mention her legit technique). "I am so ready to make you love me!" she cried tearfully afterward. And the judges did love her, or at least like her enough to shepherd her safely through Vegas week. Her whole flapper shtick grates on my nerves a little, but let's be honest: We all want to see this one stick around to do some really weird Sonya choreography, right?
4. The Alexa Saga, aka Alexaga, aka Don't Count Your Top 20 Spot Before it Hatches Part 2 (But Really, You're Going to Get a Top 20 Spot). Alexa probably looks familiar—and not just because she made it to the bitter end of last season's Vegas shenanigans: She was our 2010 Cover Model Search winner!* All of us at DS know from experience that Alexa is crazy talented—but man, a lot of the judges' criticisms of Alexa's "lights are on and nobody's home" performances (as Tyce "Keith" DiOrio put it) were justified. She seemed vacant and terrified through much of the episode. Luckily she pulled it together in time for the cha cha round—in which she looked SMOKIN'—and survived Vegas. Debbie Allen's verdict? "This child could win." Go Alexa! (Just ease up a tad on the bronzer, OK?)
5. The Sore Losers Saga, aka Here Are a Few Examples of How Not to Behave on National Television. Jeez louise, there were a lot of unhappy campers on last night's show. From Teddy "Why come back and waste my time? I just looove to be reprimanded in public" Tedholm to Shafeek "I will smoke Lil' C. Matter of fact Lil' C's cool, I will smoke Nigel" Westbrook, a surprising number of booted contestants chose not to exit gracefully. Yes, getting cut is very, very painful, but a word of advice: You will always end up regretting acting like a total brat on camera. Next time, maybe save the venting for the hotel room, OK?
The "So You Think You Can What?!" Moment of the Night:...was actually not part of the episode. There were several ads for "The Choice" during the commercial breaks—you know, that rip-off of "The Voice" where people like Mike "The Situation" Sorrentino try to pick dates based on the sound of the girls' voices? Oh, you haven't heard of it? Congratulations—you're a respectable member of society. So why is the lovely, amazing, wayyyy-too-talented-for-this Cat Deeley hosting this abomination? Cat! It's not worth it! And if "The Choice" is the reason you've barely shown your pretty face on "SYTYCD" so far this season...no, I'm not even going to make a "wrong Choice" pun here. DON'T LEAVE US, CAT!
What did you think of last night's episode? Too much drama? (Is there such a thing?) And don't forget to check back next week for our recap of the episode we've all been waiting for: The Top 20 reveal!
*(For the record: Last year's CMS winner, the awesome Kaitlynn Edgar, was also all over this episode. She and Alexa were actually in the same "Wolf Pack" group number. Not ringing a bell? They wore matching stonewashed denim vests. There you go.)
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.
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!
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.