Well, well, well. Nastia Liukin has been eliminated from "Dancing with the Stars," (really, America? REALLY?) leaving Noah Galloway, Riker Lynch and Rumer Willis as the three contenders going into the final week. I'll try not to be too upset about never seeing Liukin's perfectly hyper-extended legs again, but it's going to be tough.

In the face of such madness, all we can do is focus on the good stuff. Fortunately the Top Four who competed on Monday night were all able to deliver something highly entertaining, be it raging bulls, 50 Shades of Gray or a sweet tribute to Len himself.

Noah and Sharna Burgess' Paso Doble was frightfully intense, with Noah as a sort of minotaur ringleader. Fortunately he showed those bulls who's boss.

Nastia and Derek Hough danced a Viennese Waltz, inspired by Len saying how disappointed he was that he can't dance like he used to. In the sweetest moment of reality dance TV history, Len stepped onstage to partner Nastia in the last moments of the waltz. Dawwww!

But here's the thing: Nastia is an Olympic gymnast. Of course she's made it this far! Girl can kick, flip and learn choreo quickly and she has a gumby back. As much as I love watching amazing dancers/athletes doing amazing things, the special appeal of "DWTS" is that most of the contestants start off distinctly not amazing. And watching people grow thanks to dance is just wonderful.

Case in point: Riker and Rumer. Um, Riker. Your contemporary dance with Allison Holker looked like actual dancing. Like, actual, technically challenging, contemporary dancing! Way to go! I hadn't really been a Riker fan up until the moment I saw him tossing Allison around like someone who knows what he's doing. And snaps for Allison, too. It's not easy to come up with technical choreography that looks good on a pro and her less-experienced partner.

As for Rumer...well, she's still my favorite. And while 50 Shades is pretty tired by now, I loved her Viennese Waltz with Val Chmerkovskiy. Who knew a waltz could be so fierce?

The trials and tribulations of elimination night were made somewhat less devastating by the very cute cast of Teen Beach 2, led by none other than Riker's brother Ross Lynch and featuring some of our favorite dancers (Hi Kent Boyd! Hi Jessica Lee Keller!).

So what's going to happen next week? You tell us, in the comments below!

Move over "So You Think You Can Dance" (but not too far, because we still love you). The UK has a new dance reality show and it sounds awesome.

The BBC's Young Dancer 2015 premiered this fall, and there are a few things that set this competition apart. Entrance was open to anyone who could submit a video of themselves dancing, and contestants compete in four separate categories—hip hop, contemporary, ballet or South Asian—to showcase their mastery, rather than their versatility. The show also acknowledges the difference between codified styles like ballet—where contestants will perform well-known variations—and hip hop—where contestants have the opportunity to create their own dances.

English National Ballet artistic director and ballerina Tamara Rojo will be a judge on Young Dancer 2015. (Photo by Getty Images)

In another cool twist, the competition's only open to dancers who've never danced professionally before, which will give a ton of undiscovered talent a chance to shine! Dancers will work one-on-one with emerging choreographers to create solos in their own styles. And with a finale in May of 2015 judged by stars like Tamara Rojo, Matthew Bourne and Wayne McGregor, count us in as very intrigued!

 

 

 

"I can't. I have rehearsal." Every dancer has been there. And the latest installment of online reality show "city.ballet." is all about those sacrifices that we make every day. At New York City Ballet, the dancers seem pretty convinced it was all worth it. What do you think?

QUOTE OF THE WEEK:

"We work at night. We work the most on the weekends. The holidays are our busiest times. Non-dancers, whenever they have time off, that's when we're working the hardest."  –NYCB principal Teresa Reichlen

FUN FACT:

When principal dancer Jenifer Ringer was pregnant with her first child, she didn't know the impact it would have on her body—and accepted that it may be the last time she danced. Spoiler alert: It wasn't.

Watch every episode now or join in on my one-episode-per-week challenge at dancemagazine.com (Click “Related” in the upper right hand corner of the video to navigate between episodes.)

Now that we've met each rank of the company, this week's installment of "city.ballet." delves into the good stuff: relationships. Apparently, dating at work is pretty common at New York City Ballet. And this episode gives us all the juicy details.

FUN FACT: Principal dancers Robert Fairchild and Tiler Peck started dating when they were only 14! They met in a jazz class, dated on and off for years and are now the cutest engaged couple ever.

QUOTE OF THE WEEK: "I tell people I just got married because I couldn't deal with how awkward it would be if we broke up. I was gonna have to see her everyday!" —Andy Veyette on marrying fellow NYCB principal Megan Fairchild

Watch every episode now or join in on my one-episode-per-week challenge at dancemagazine.com (Click “Related” in the upper right hand corner of the video to navigate between episodes.)

While it may be tempting to watch the entire season of "city.ballet" in one sitting (OK, it's near impossible not to), I've decided to space it out, watching one episode each week. This week is "Apprentices," where we get to meet the newbies of New York City Ballet. They're young, they're super talented and they're gunning for a spot in the corps de ballet. It's hard not to be ridiculously excited for them!

Quote of the Week:

"When you've been in the company for a few years and you see the apprentices come in, and their technique is, like, superb, you're just kind of like, 'Crap, I let a few things slide.' " —Gretchen Smith, corps de ballet

Fun Fact:

In this episode, we get to know apprentice Claire Von Enck, who comes from a dancing family: Her older sister Nicole dances at Texas Ballet Theater and her younger sister (and roomie) is a student at the School of American Ballet.

Watch "city.ballet." on dancemagazine.com. (Click "Related" in the upper right hand corner of the video to navigate between episodes.)

Most professional dancers are so passionate about dance they can’t imagine doing anything else. But the dance world isn’t always an easy place to navigate, even for the most dedicated, talented artists. DS asked eight pros to share the hardest lessons they’ve learned—and how those lessons have helped them grow.

For casting directors, likeability often trumps talent.

Lillian Barbeito, Co-artistic director, BODYTRAFFIC

(by Christopher Duggan)

Now that I’m on the other side of the dance spectrum where I’m holding auditions, I’ve learned that getting a spot in a company isn’t all about having the right look and the right skills. Choosing dancers is a lot like choosing your friends—you just have chemistry with people.

One of the biggest challenges I faced when I was auditioning was overcoming self-doubt so I could be myself and connect with the people who were assessing me. I love it when people make eye contact. When you go into an audition, or into the studio to train, walk in with a smile. Dancing is a form of human expression. Everyone wants to be around happy, inspired people. It’s important to take your training seriously, but you can’t take yourself too seriously.

 

You’ll probably never feel like the best dancer in the room.

Karina González, Principal dancer, Houston Ballet

(by Amitava Sarkar)

Because we’re always searching for perfection, we spend a lot of time judging ourselves. I think every dancer has that little voice in her head that says, Oh, I’m not good enough, or I’m not getting better, or The dancer next to me is better than me. Even now I’m still fighting those thoughts.

I just did George Balanchine’s Ballet Imperial, and it was a big challenge because I haven’t done many Balanchine works. In the beginning, it was hard to believe in myself. But I had an amazing ballet mistress, Louise Lester, who worked with me and helped me bring my confidence back. And it was one of the best moments I’ve had onstage.

I’m still learning to trust myself and count my blessings. I’m learning to take those negative thoughts and use them to say, “OK, I’m going to push more, harder.” I know now to tell myself, “I have this opportunity because they trust me.”

 

When you win a TV dance competition, the hard work has just begun.

Joey “SlimFly” Arevalo, Member of the Elektrolytes, winners of “America’s Best Dance Crew” Season 7

(by Kareem Black/ MTV/ Warner Horizon)

A lot of people think that once you’re on a TV show, everything is easy from there. But it isn’t.

It’s been more than a year since we won “ABDC,” and we’ve done gigs and had a lot of requests to teach and choreograph as a group. But now, everyone in the crew also has personal goals they want to achieve. I’m trying to get myself out there more as an individual. I’m doing a lot of dance battles and I’m looking into getting an agent, because you really need one to have an “in” on auditions. Some doors have opened since the show—but you have to push to see how far they’ll open.

 

 

You won’t be fully prepared for every performance.

(by Beau Pearson)

Allison DeBona, Soloist, Ballet West

Last year, when the “Breaking Pointe” crew was here and we were dancing Paquita, I felt insecure onstage for the first time in my professional career. I’d learned three Paquita variations, but then I was thrown on for a variation I hadn’t learned. I thought, There’s no way I’m going to look good in this variation. I’m 5' 9" and this is for a short girl.

As a professional, there are going to be times when you don’t feel sure of yourself. But you have to find the courage to keep going, because it’s no longer just about you. You’re representing your company and your boss. If he gives you a role on opening night, that’s the ultimate compliment—and he’s relying on you to do well.

In the end, that experience actually rejuvenated me. It was totally freeing. Since then, pretty much every time I’ve been onstage, I’ve had a ball.

 

You’ll hear “no” at auditions more than you’ll hear “yes.”

(by Gorman Cook)

Maeghan McHale, Company member, Giordano Dance Chicago

It’s become a running joke that I auditioned four times before I got into the scholarship program at Giordano Dance Chicago. At the first two auditions, I wasn’t sure who I was as a dancer or a person. Once I found that, I was able to show what I was capable of, and the company directors were able to see it. They were like, “Oh, there she is.” They knew I could do more—I just didn’t realize it yet.

In the end, whether or not you’re given the opportunity right away doesn’t define you. If you’re told “no” once, don’t give up. Dancers are stronger than most people realize. If you know you want something, fight through the disappointment.

 

You might have to make your own work.

(by Vince Trupsin)

Sarah Reich, Tap dancer

One of the most difficult things about the dance industry is paying your dues. If you’re new to the scene, you have to take class every day and go to every workshop and festival. And you might have to do some free shows.

The phone isn’t always going to ring. You have to be a go-getter. I’m over 21, so I go to jazz clubs where dancers jam with bands. I went to a gorgeous place once to perform with some friends, and the owner and I started talking. Eventually I said, “Why don’t we have a tap night here?” She said, “That sounds awesome. Get it all together.” You have to be really proactive.

 

 

Even after you’ve made it, you might still need to wait tables occasionally.

(courtesy Charity Lynne Baroni)

Charity Lynne Baroni, Commercial dancer, currently on tour with Selena Gomez

After my first tour with Taylor Swift, I came back and expected to start booking more dance jobs immediately. But it turned out I was basically back to square one. In the dance industry, it’s not like if you book one big job you’re set forever. I was waiting tables again and taking classes every day and going to every single audition. Then, six months later, I booked another tour, and six months after that one I booked my next one. But all that teaches you to stay humble. You keep working for it because you love it.

 

 

Your non-dance friends will have a hard time “getting” what you do.

Ashley Murphy, Company member, Dance Theatre of Harlem

(by Rachel Neville)

By the time you become a professional dancer, you’ve spent most of your life striving toward one goal. Once you finally make it, you expect people to acknowledge the work you’ve done. But dance doesn’t get as much appreciation as some of the other art forms. Artists like Beyoncé and Rihanna—people have a better understanding of their craft, and that’s why they pay hundreds of dollars to see them. But dancers often perform for half-full audiences. And they definitely don’t get paid as much as people like athletes.

You can’t let that get to you. And there are ways to help audiences better understand your art. Whenever I talk about dance to non-dancers, I explain to them that it’s a real job. They’re doctors or lawyers; this is my career. I tell them, “You started training to be a doctor when you were in your twenties. I’ve been training to be a dancer since I was 3 years old.” Then they’re like, “That’s amazing!”

Work it, Kenzie!

Finale time! The whole crew—and I mean the whole crew—was in New Orleans for In10sity Nationals. Much of this episode was hard to watch (aka the parts featuring the moms), but, in the end, there was a ton of great dancing. Here are my top AWESOME and AWKWARD moments from last night.

AWKWARD: Abby made the girls go head to head to decide who would perform a solo at Nationals. Mackenzie vs. Asia. Brooke vs. Payton. Chloe vs. Kendall. Nia vs. Paige vs. Maddie. Each group would learn one solo, and only one kid from each match up would get to perform. Of course, this stirred up plenty of drama among the moms. The kids, however, out-matured their parents as usual and seemed fine with a little healthy competition. It was a nail biter, alright, but then the whole plan was turned on its head because of the moms and their mayhem (see below).

AWKWARD: The moms get drunk. Long story short: Mom Christi and Mom Leslie end up in an actual physical fight and Leslie then tried to beat up a producer. Obviously, they were asked to leave the show. The worst part? Their kiddos had to leave with them. Bye, Chloe and Payton. And Mom Kristie, apparently appalled by the moms, took Asia out of the equation, too. I would say I think this will teach the moms a lesson…but that would be a lie.

AWESOME: Mackenzie as “Dance Doctor.” Things didn’t look good for Mackenzie at the start of this episode: Abby pitted Little Mac up against Big-Personality Asia in an improv-off—and Asia crushed it. But after Asia had to leave the competition, it was up to Mackenzie to snag the title. She. Was. Awesome. I know Abby is always saying how good Asia was for Mackenzie—forcing her to step up her game—and I think she may be right. It looked like some of that Asia sass had worn off on her, and all her old tricks were still top notch. Abby might call second place the first loser, but Mackenzie was the champ of this episode in my book.

AWESOME: Where did you come from, Kendall? While it’s sad that Chloe had to leave, it was nice to see Kendall have her moment in the spotlight. And I was blown away by how strong she looked in her solo! As Abby says, she’s “nipping at Maddie’s heels.”

AWESOME: Maddie’s solo. There’s a reason she’s unbeatable, people. This girl knows how to perform. The moms had a point when they said this choreography was designed for Maddie, and she performed it flawlessly. While it was a little expected since Chloe had left the competition, it was nice to see how genuinely thrilled Maddie was (she even looked surprised!) to be named first place. Congrats, Maddie!

AWKWARD: The Cathy came back. Sigh, but we were having so much fun without her! And, to continue avoiding doing any work herself, she’s brought Blake McGrath in as a choreographer—who’s sporting a strange (read: awful) neck tattoo. The kids do a good job picking up his tricky choreography…just not good enough. The Candy Apples group dance gets second to the ALDC, who killed it with an emotional tribute to Hurricane Katrina. Don’t cry, Cathy!

And…the ALDC kids are the National champs!

Now, the Quote of the Week:

“Nia needs to compete for a solo with Maddie and Paige. It doesn’t take a doctor to find out how that’s gonna end up.” —Mom Dr. Holly

That’s all for this season, folks. We're left wondering: Will there be a Season 4? And with no Asia, perhaps no Chloe or Payton, and maybe even no Abby, should there be? Weigh in below!

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