"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.)
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 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?