As Texas sets off on the long road to recovery post-Hurricane Harvey, the dance community is rallying around them. Gil Stroming, who owns Break the Floor Productions (responsible for conventions like JUMP and DancerPalooza), set up a GoFundMe page directly benefitting any studio owners affected by the hurricane.
Dance Spirit's January cover girl, Sophia Lucia, on the red carpet before the Dance Awards in NYC (photo via @sophialucia5678)
Chock full of utterly amazing dance talent, silly jokes and wild choreography, the 2014 Dance Awards closed out its NYC event last night at the Hammerstein Ballroom. The three-and-a-half-hour celebration really had it all—from spectacular Mini performances to archival footage of a young, tap dancing Gil Stroming to awards for seemingly every category known to dancerkind. The Dance Spirit editors certainly had a blast. Here are my top five highlights of the evening:
1. The Mini and Junior Male Best Dancers. Mini Brady Farrar from Stars Dance Studio stole my heart with his solo "You." And later in the evening, Junior winner Findlay McConnell from Elite Danceworx (the big winner of the night!) brought the house down with his performance of "Dance with Me." Seriously, you need to watch these guys, stat.
And here's Findlay (the picture is a little blurry, but just know his facial expressions are perfect):
2. DanceMakers of Atlanta's "Take Me Out." This routine was fierce at New York City Dance Alliance Nationals a week ago, and it was even fiercer onstage last night. These teens aren't only amazing performers, but each dancer also brings something of herself to the choreography—all while maintaining perfect synchronicity with her peers. Moreover, these girls are versatile, going from style to style with ease. Case in point? Senior Brianne Sellars won the title of Best Dancer for her contemporary solo "Movement"—a total departure from the hard-hitting moves in "Take Me Out." Here's Brianne in "Movement," which also earned a 1st runner up title for Senior Female Outstanding dancer at NYCDA Nationals:
3. Dance Town's "Ballroom Girls." These Minis can sure move those hips! I can hear Mary Murphy screaming in the distance as she hands out Hot Tamale Train tickets. Watch these little firecrackers go:
4. Sophia Lucia's "All This to Say." Dance Spirit's January cover girl—who was crowned Junior Female Best Dancer—did not disappoint last night. With extensions, emotions and moves like these (choreographed by none other than Stacey Tookey), it's pretty easy to see why she's insta-famous. One thing we can all take away from this rising star's stellar performance? Wearing two shoes—or none at all!—can help mask a serious case of one-sidedness, unlike the one-shoe approach in this clip:
5. The Kenny Wormald as
Kevin Bacon Ren McCormick–inspired opening number. Gosh darn it, I just love a good Footloose throwback. And what's better than one Footloose number? Two! Mandy Moore and Nick Lazzarini's crowd-pumping choreography for both the opening and closing routines left the night on such a high note. Take a look at the Footloose footage from the 2014 Dance Awards in Las Vegas. It will surely motivate you to tackle the rest of your day.
"You look so pretty tonight. Did you get that in jail?" —Nick Lazzarini, Voice of Reason, "All the Right Moves"
Last week on "All the Right Moves," Shaping Sound had a successful premiere show at the Saban Theater. There was a standing ovation and an after party with booze and, thankfully, no inappropriate kissing. Success! (Although Alana, Robert Ulrich's assistant is there, and from the first .2 seconds of her interaction with Kyle, it seems like something's gonna happen there, am I right? Am I also right that she looks strikingly like Noelle? You have a type, Kyle. Sorry that I'm blonde. Dang it.)
And now, it's time to wrap up the season, but not before Travis books roughly 1,200 jobs and everyone's dreams come true. Here's what we learned in the process...
1. Hey, it's Gil! Gil, the owner/director of JUMP and NUVO, is famous now. "He's the Daddy Warbucks of the dance community," Nick says. Gil was at the Shaping Sound show, and he adored it and hey look it's Ray Leeper, too! This may not seem like a big deal right now, but trust me...it will become a very big deal. For the guys, at least. Not so much for the rest of us.
2. Injuries are the worst. The absolute worst. Especially when you are a dancer and your body is your instrument. But Jaimie Goodwin, lovely lovely lovely Jaimie Goodwin, handled her knee injury with so much poise, composure and maturity. It must be impossibly difficult watching your best friends form a company and gain so much exposure while you're sidelined. But guess what? She's baaaaack! "I can't keep away from this," Jaimie says. "I have to be in it." And Travis is ready to take her back. Yaysies! "You're the best friend I've ever had," Jaimie tells Travis and what is happening to me right now? Am I tearing up? No, I was chopping onions while watching the show, I swear.
Then, when Shaping Sound books "Dancing with the Stars" and Travis tells Jaimie—on her birthday!—that she's going to be the star of the piece, I was all "awwwwww" because what else is there to say?
Oh, and the "DWTS" piece? Loved it. I really did.
3. Teddy is always missing. It's the day after the show and the rest of the crew is chilling on the couch at The Manor, while Teddy is out hustling and running his "Misery Loves Company" rehearsal. The boys worry he's going to get hurt or he's going to burn out or something and I'm totally concerned, too—wait! Hold up!
Now I'm distracted because I love her so much. Plus, I'm sure Teddy will be fine. And while the concerns the other dudes have are valid, I admire Teddy. I like that he's ready to jump into another project, and I get it. Life's more fun on the go, right? Way to keep it exciting, Ted. Just, um, try to be on time for stuff. Your crew hates it when you're late. Also, Allison Holker. Girl can do no wrong.
4. Kyle is good at a lot of things, like being hot. He is not, however, good at hiding his emotions. It's clear from the start of the "Misery" rehearsals that Kyle's not fully invested. Unsurprisingly, after they run the routine, Kyle tells Teddy he's "exhausted." He's not up for it. "I've been giving so much of myself and my time to my friends' projects," he tells Teddy. Naturally Teddy is bummed, but Kyle is being smart. It's time for him to further his own career, which is essentially what all the other guys are doing now anyway. I applaud Kyle for going right to Teddy and talking it out with him rather than just idling and sucking it up and not doing what's right for his own professional career. Also, not being in "Misery Loves Company" will free up Kyle so he can spend time helping me plan our wedding.
5. Write this one down: Having a mentor is so important. Travis has found someone who has successfully pursued the exact career he wants for himself. Adam Shankman is a dancer turned choreographer turned director turned producer. Travis is so smart for solidifying a strong relationship with Mr. I Wear Vests And Many Layers All The Time And Everything On "So You Think You Can Dance" Makes Me Cry Shankman.
Travis tells Adam Shankman he wants to branch out into a solo career, and Adam is happy to offer advice, which is "talk to the guys ASAP." This scene was great. Good working relationships are so so so important in this business! "You have to make your own opportunities to get paychecks," Travis says later, when he's talking to the guys about his offer to choreograph a video for Ingrid Michaelson (who, BTW, is one of my favorite singers, in line right after Celine Dion). Travis, you are inching closer to becoming the new Voice of Reason on this show. As long as you don't eat any more bananas, you're a shoe-in. Give me your sequined backpack and we'll call it a deal.
6. The guys are great together—but is it possible that they really flourish and prosper best on their own? In this episode, after weeks of trying to get Shaping Sound off the ground (I rhymed! See what I did there?), suddenly the focus isn't on the company. Travis is booking individual projects left and right, including a video for Ingrid Michaelson and getting the company on "Dancing with the Stars." Teddy is busy with "Misery Loves Company" and Nick is off auditioning to be a host for the web series "DanceOn." "People have been wondering where I've been for the past, oh, 80 years," Nick tells us. Meanwhile, Kyle is just trying to figure out his purpose in life.
Instead of planning his dream proposal (to me), Kyle decides to have a talk with his boy Teddy, who invited him to L.A. to be a part of this company and Kyle thought that meant being co-director but TWIST, he's just another member of the company. Let's listen in on their conversation, shall we?
"You hooked up with Noelle...and I didn't even know what to make of that," Kyle tells Teddy. "My friend, who asked me out here to be part of this process, is now kissing the girl that I was seeing..." Your response, Teddy? "When you put it like that...that's terrible, actually." Later, Kyle goes on a date with Alana (called it!) and quips, "I will not be introducing her to Teddy anytime soon." Ohhhh, burn!
7. Travis gets it. Watching him run rehearsal for the Ingrid submission is really cool. I love getting into his head a bit. He says he wants to direct and eventually produce, and that seems like an absolutely attainable goal for him. Beyond choreography, he understands costumes, camera angles and what will and will not look good to an audience. His submission for the video was impressive (I mean, duh, it starred Kyle and Jaimie, and my fave girl Chantel Aguirre was in it, too) and Jaimie's knee held up just fine. Hooray!
Then, as if he's not busy enough, in this episode we also see Travis get his offer to choreograph the Off-Broadway show Bare. (He's living in NYC and working on the show now, kids—stalk accordingly.)
P.S. Kyle you're a dashing groom. Just saying. My old, new, borrowed and blue are ready to go. xoxo.
8. If you lie, you will get caught. "Did we invite Taja today? Or was she too busy getting pulled over by the cops again?" Nick asks after the group teaches a class at Crunch Gym. Scandal! Taja didn't really get pulled over that time she said she did. Jaimie confesses that the whole thing was a little lie, according to Taja's big sis, Deja. Evidently Taja didn't want to perform in the Madonna submission video, and she wanted to have a day to herself, so she lied. Big time. Yikes. "No bueno. She's out," Nick says. Travis says he no longer trusts Taja, and as much as I've always liked her, I've gotta say I'm with the guys on this one. If you are a liar, people will find out.
9. You've heard this before: It's not what you know, it's who you know. And it this case, man does it pay to know (and impress) Gil Stroming. He's going to produce the Shaping Sound live tour! "This is something bigger than a few guys just getting together and dancing," Gil tells the boys. And Nick says, "You hate everything...except Frank Sinatra." Funny jabs aside, Gil is their biggest fan and he's ready to prove it by sending the Shaping Sound crew out on a 2-year national (and maybe international) tour. NBD.
Hey Gil, I would like a mini pony and a home in Turks & Caicos and also a sequined backpack. Let's discuss. Preferably at a rooftop party. We can unveil the mini pony there. BYOBackpack.
10. There's always a "but": "It's everything I've ever wanted, but..." All of Travis' dreams are coming true—at once. "I don't know what to do," he says to Nick during an adorably honest heart-to-heart by some hotel elevators. He's worried about disappointing people and he's worried about hurting himself. He wants to do it all, and everyone wants everything from him. Everyone wants a piece of Travis Wall! It's an awesomely difficult situation to be in. Enjoy it, Trav! No more bananas.
Remember, kids, say it often and with meaning—and sometimes sarcastically if needed: "I cherish our friendship!"
So that's it: Season 1 of "All the Right Moves" is a wrap. Thoughts? What'd you love? What'd you hate? Which performance was your favorite? Sound off and let's chat.