Last night's episode of "World of Dance" proved they weren't lying when they said they had gathered some of the best dancers in the world. You guys, the talent popping up on this show is 🔥🔥🔥. And lots of these contestants also happen to be some of our very favorite dancers (see last week's swoon-worthy performances by Keone and Mari Madrid and Les Twins).
Stacey Tookey transforms the girls. (Adam Rose/FOX)
This episode didn’t start off well: For the second week in a row, it was bad news bears for the boys. Tucker (no!) has an infection in his knee and can’t compete this week. Then, who’s in danger? Almost all of my favorites! Amy, Malece, Jenna, Tucker, Nico, Alan. Sigh… As soon as the dancing started, though, the episode got much better. This group is the Top 12 for a reason, and number after number just looked amazing! It was hard to choose, but here are my top 5 moments from this week’s show:
1. The battle-for-your-life solos. Not that I ever want to see amazing dancers in the bottom, but one perk is that we got to watch them dance! Tucker, it seems, had made a miraculous recovery and danced flawlessly. Amy showed off her firecrackery self. Malece was beautiful, and Alan was just too cute. Can’t we keep them all?! (P.S. Can we discuss how the judges saved Jenna AGAIN? Not that I don’t love me some Jenna, but this is getting a little predictable.)
2. Hayley found her inner Gypsy. It’s no secret that Hayley is one of the most technically perfect dancers on the show, and when combined with Nico’s charm and Sean Cheesman’s choreography, it’s magical. Then there was that leg grab/lift/throw/flippy thing. Whoa!!! I’m going to go ahead and dub that the best leg grab/lift/throw/flippy thing on “SYTYCD” ever. But seriously, it was amazing. Standing ovation!
3. Pirates of the Paso Doble. Jenna and Tucker (who apparently coats himself in Axe body spray before rehearsals. All bad.) were paired up for this striking Jean-Marc Genereax number. Due to Tucker’s injury, Alex Wong (yay!) fills in. Jean-Marc is certainly at his best when he’s choreographing a paso. And I missed you Tucker, but these two made a great pair. Fierce pirate fun, I say. And, as if it couldn’t get any better, Nigel told the Best. Joke. Ever. “Why are pirates called pirates? Because they argghhhhh.” I’ll be giggling at that one all day.
4. Fik-Shun and Amy waltzed it up. Confession: When a couple pulls the Viennese Waltz, it’s often my cue to take a break and get a snack. But these two kept me captivated. As Amy said, it was the perfect way to rap up their partnership. So lovely—and so different from their kooky personalities! Mary said there were technical issues, but I certainly didn’t notice them. And we knew after this piece (because Nigel and Kenny Ortega essentially told us so) that Amy would be saved, and we’d say goodbye to Malece. Way to ruin the surprise, guys!
5. Stacey Tookey turned the girls into women. My goodness, I love Stacey Tookey. You know who else I love? These girls! The final six formed such a cohesive, technically strong group, and as Mary said, there was no weak link. This fountain of youth-inspired dance will go down as one of my favorite group routines. I couldn’t take my eyes off the TV. Another well-deserved standing ovation!
When it came down to elimination time, Nigel gave Malece and Alan the boot, but told them he still wanted them to go on tour. So here you have it, boys and girls, your TOP TEN DANCERS! Amy, Aaron, Jasmine, Hayley, Fik-Shun, Makenzie, Jenna, Nico, Paul and Tucker will kick off the tour on October 1! We’ll be there. Will you?
We can't wait for the All-Stars to join the show next week. But in the meantime, enter our “SYTYCD” finale sweepstakes contest—you could win a trip to the Season 10 finale! And don’t forget to let us know what you thought of this week’s episode in the comments!
(Photo by Joe Toreno)
Precision. Musicality. Charm. Swag. Kida Burns’ talents were on full display during the finale of “So You Think You Can Dance: The Next Generation” in September. He was his All-Star partner Fik-Shun’s equal in the two routines the pair revisited for the finale: Misha Gabriel’s bee-themed piece and Kida’s own feel-good robot number. He returned to his animation roots with a solo that was pure joy. He even stole the spotlight in Luther Brown’s group hip-hop routine, which featured all of the season’s finalists and All-Stars in that genre.
But the Kida who won “SYTYCD” is not the Kida who auditioned. As executive producer and judge Nigel Lythgoe points out, Kida had less classical training than the rest of the Top 10 contestants. “He epitomized that this show is a journey,” Lythgoe says. It wasn’t just about building technique, though the show certainly pushed Kida outside his hip-hop comfort zone. “Once he developed his performance—his smile, his warmth, the cheekiness—Kida became really terrific,” Lythgoe says.
Now that he has the title of “America’s Favorite Dancer,” what’s next for this 14-year-old phenom? Dance Spirit talked to Kida right after his win to get the inside scoop.
Born to Dance
Kida’s first teacher was his oldest brother, Shaheem Sanchez, who started mentoring him when he was 4. Another early influence? The dance movies Kida watched with his dad, including the 1984 classic Breakin’ and the Step Up series, which launched in 2006. “Those movies inspired me and helped me branch out with my movement,” Kida says.
His mom put him in formal dance classes when he was 5, at Studio T Urban Dance Academy in his hometown of Sacramento, CA. At 7, Kida moved to Step 1 Dance and Fitness, also in Sacramento, and at 11, he began studying at Chapkis Dance Studio in Suisun City, CA, where he still trains and competes. (Among other titles, Chapkis Dance won gold at Hip Hop International in 2015.)
(Photo by Joe Toreno)
Outside of the studio setting, Kida has been a member of a dance crew, The ART of Teknique, since he was 8. Kida, Gavin Pecson and Kris Ragonjan met at a dance battle, and, only a couple months after joining forces, scored their first viral video. “People like Tyrese and Ludacris were posting it, saying ‘These kids are dope’!” Kida remembers. The clip landed the crew on “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” in 2010. “That appearance is when I started to think, if I work hard I could really do something with dance,” Kida says. The ART of Teknique went on to briefly compete on Season 6 of “America’s Got Talent,” and continues to post videos and battle today.
Kida has also seen viral success on his own. When he was 12, one of his battle videos got more than 100 million views, resulting in appearances on “The Queen Latifah Show” and “The Rachael Ray Show.” The latter is when Kida—then known as Lil Kida—first met soon-to-be-mentor Fik-Shun. Everything was starting to fall into place.
The decision to audition for “SYTYCD” wasn’t just about this year’s younger age range. “I feel like my generation has the chance to show America not to limit us,” Kida says. He also had a personal reason for wanting to compete: His father, who was one of his biggest champions, had passed away from flu complications in 2014. Kida dedicated his time on “SYTYCD” to his dad.
He impressed the judges at the L.A. auditions, but it wasn’t an easy road to the live shows. After Fik-Shun chose Kida to be on his team during The Academy, the pressure was on. “Fik-Shun told me that I was not his top pick,” Kida says. “Before the contemporary round, he said, ‘If you can’t do this next style, I’ll have to let you go.’ I thought about that 24/7!”
The hard work and focus paid off. “Kida’s solo showed me his raw talent, but the determining factor for me was watching him do contemporary,” Fik-Shun says. “He connected it to something real. Everyone watching him felt something. After that, I knew he needed to be on the show so America could feel that too.”
A Wild Ride
From his favorite routines (“Winning,” choreographed by Christopher Scott, as well as the number he choreographed himself) to the one that challenged him the most (his paso doble with fellow contestant Tate McRae), Kida kept rising to the occasion technically on “SYTYCD.” But the judges were initially concerned about his performance energy.
“I think early on, Kida was really worried about learning the steps and dancing perfectly in time with Fik-Shun,” says judge Maddie Ziegler. “We told him, ‘Once you get the steps, forget about them. Perform.’ ” Maddie has one word for Kida’s stage personality by the end of the show: “Wow.”
“I always believed Kida had more showmanship in him,” Fik-Shun says. “I told him, ‘You have the skills. Now you need to share the joy you feel when you dance.’ ”Fik-Shun’s mentoring also included rehearsal tactics. “Kida’s a music learner,” Fik-Shun says. “He gets the counts, and then he goes home and listens to the music—and when he comes back, you can tell. We share that learning style. But I worked with him on making sure choreography was in his body before moving on. If he said ‘I got it,’ I’d make him do it three times full-out. I noticed that later, he started doing that on his own.”
Kida’s All-Star couldn’t have been happier with the final results. When host Cat Deeley said Kida’s name, “I picked him up and spun him around,” Fik-Shun says. “I’d told him every week, it doesn’t matter if you win. As long as you take something from this process, you’ve won. For him to actually win was the icing on the cake.”
The Next Steps
So where does Kida—a.k.a. Kida the Great, a nickname given to him by his sister Tajanique Cheatham—go from here? “I want to travel the world,” he says. “My dancing got so much bigger, just from this show. How much more can I expand?” He definitely sees choreography in his future. “I’d also love to open a studio one day,” he says.
Fik-Shun (left) and Kida. (Photo by Joe Toreno)
But for now, he’s enjoying the satisfaction of a job well done. “What I got from this journey is that I can do any style you throw at me—just give me a couple days,” he says. “I can’t doubt myself. If I work hard, I can accomplish whatever I put my mind to.”
Full name: Leon Akida Burns
Birthday: April 8, 2002
Favorite color: Red
Favorite artist to freestyle to: Drake
Favorite TV show: “I’ll go old-school: I love the show ‘Martin.’ ”
Favorite movies: Breakin’ and The Warriors
Favorite school subject: Science
If he weren’t a dancer, he’d be: “A football player. I’m a big Pittsburgh Steelers fan.”
Advice for DS readers: “Don’t ever doubt yourself, and don’t ever give up. Your time to shine could be any time! You have to be patient, and you have to put in the work to make it happen.”
The Judges on Kida:
Nigel Lythgoe: “I’m thrilled Kida won. He’s mastered hip hop, so now I want to see him take classes in everything. The world’s his oyster!”
Paula Abdul: “Kida showed incredible tenacity. He had a hunger to prove himself. He also has the intuition to know how to make choreography look good on him. There aren’t a lot of dancers who can stand beside Fik-Shun, but once Kida’s showmanship improved, you couldn’t imagine either of them with anyone else.”
Maddie Ziegler: “Seeing Kida grow has been incredible. He’s now such a strong, mature dancer. It’s like he morphed into a mini version of Fik-Shun! And he’s humble and professional—he’s going to go far.”
Forget Choreographer's Carnival—let's give it up for Shoe Carnival!
The shoe mega-retailer is the latest brand to jump head-first into the very smart and hugely entertaining "let's feature dancers in our commercials" venture. (See also Microsoft, Target, Under Armour, Microsoft again and Virgin America.)
The national television commercial, choreographed by Jamal Sims and directed by Tim Milgram, features just a few of our favorite hip-hoppers, including former DS cover girl Simrin Player, "So You Think You Can Dance" champion and All-Star Fik-Shun, Kaelynn Harris, Taylor Edgin, Josh Killacky, Richard "Lil Swagg" Curtis, Austin Spacy, BJ Das, Kaity Martinez and Marvin Ryan.
Fancy feet grooving in fresh footwear? Going back to school never looked so fun! Check it out.
(Photo © Joe Toreno for Dance Spirit)
Remember this guy?
JOKES. Who could possibly forget the amazingly talented—and downright adorable—Du-Shaunt "Fik-Shun" Stegall?
He won our hearts last year on the "So You Think You Can Dance" stage—conquering one style after another alongside his beautiful partner in crime (and fellow Season 10 winner) Amy Yakima. And even though the two have passed their crown (crowns?) on to Season 11 champ Ricky Ubeda, we certainly haven't fallen out of love with this so-good-it's-unreal dancer. (After all, you never really stop being America's favorite dancer. We just keep collecting more and more favorites!)
At World of Dance CityWalk 2014, Fik-Shun's live performance demonstrated that he doesn't just still got it—he's got it and so much more. It's wonderful to see "SYT" alums continue to develop as artists after the show, and Fik-Shun is no exception. This performance demonstrated a whole new level of musicality and originality. Plus, it's still got that humorous showmanship that we all fell in love with back in 2013. Check it out!
It's that time of year again: As our beloved drama series wrap up their seasons, the summer TV lineup is just getting started. And that means the return of two of our favorite competition shows—"So You Think You Can Dance" and "America's Got Talent." Eeeee!
It all begins with the Season 9 premiere of "AGT," tomorrow night at 8pm/7c on NBC. Sure, it isn't technically a dance show. But lately, they've been featuring a lot of really great dancers (like our January cover girl, Sophia Lucia!). And last year, a dancer—Kenichi Ebina—won the whole darn thing. Sure, he was the first dancer in eight seasons to win, but we're hoping that now other great dancers will be inspired to give it a go—fingers crossed!
Here's the "AGT" trailer:
Next, of course, is the long awaited premiere of "So You Think You Can Dance" Season 11, which will air Wednesday at 8/7c on FOX. We are SO very excited. Gosh, we're still getting over how much we loved shooting season 10 winners Amy and Fik-Shun for our December 2013 cover! (We'll never get over them<3)
We just can't wait to see the talent on this year's show (maybe some of you guys!). And we'll be following the show, episode by episode, so be on the look out for our recaps.
Here's the "SYTYCD" trailer:
Now mark your calendars, set your DVRs, and get ready for a fantastic week (and an awesome summer). Happy Memorial Day!