(Before we begin—have you heard that we're giving away tickets to the "So You Think You Can Dance" season finale?! GO. ENTER. NOW.)
Wow. "SYTYCD" Season 11 is going to be pretty darn spectacular. This week, we watched 157 dancers travel to L.A. to duke it out for a spot in the Top 20. Guest judges this week included tWitch, Tara Lipinski, Adam Shankman and ballerina Irina Dvorovenko. It was pretty hard to know who would advance and who would be sent packing—the level of talent was just that high. There were also A LOT of cuts: Dancers had to make it through seven rounds, and there were even a couple dance-for-your-life performances. I'm not sure how the show's editors managed to get the entire week of callbacks into one jam-packed, action-filled episode—but they did. Here are my top five moments from last night:
1. Cameron. OK, OK, he’s not a competitor, he’s a newborn. But he was definitely part of one of my favorite “SYTYCD” stories of all time: Steven, a phenomenal hip-hop dancer from New Orleans, got news that his girlfriend had gone into labor right as callbacks began. Obviously, Steven was a little distracted. I mean, THERE WAS A BABY ON THE WAY. Somehow he managed to pull it together for the first few rounds…and then, Cameron arrived! Steven didn't make the cut after Sonya Tayeh’s choreography, but I think he’s already won, regardless.
2. Jaja, the red-headed wildcard. So, OK, she didn’t make Top 20. But to see this girl go from crazy krumper to slinky ballroom dancer just made me smile.
Let's hope Jaja auditions again next year. I know I'd love to see more of her transformations.
3. All the awkwardness. First, there was contestant Amanda’s, um, hiccup, when she said she felt lucky to have Marcquet as a hip-hop partner because, duh, he’s there for hip hop. Well, sorry Charlie, he’s a ballroom expert, and you’ve just learned what happens when you assume things—on national TV. Oops! (Disclaimer: In Amanda's defense, Marcquet can do it all—amazingly. My prediction? Top 4, easily.)
Next, we said goodbye to poor contestant Christopher’s front tooth. During the ballroom routine rehearsals, Chris got smacked in the face by his partner’s elbow. She lost quite a bit of skin and blood, and he lost half a tooth. OUCH.
Thankfully, the judges were kind to this (partially) toothless wonder of a dancer. He made it through the ballroom round.
And finally, did anyone else feel just a little guilty for laughing at the judge’s nasty comments during the group choreography round? Over the first four episodes this season, we’ve applauded the judges for not berating the auditionees who gave sub-par performances. Apparently, though, their snide remarks have been brewing, and after One Love’s group debacle, there was a firestorm of snark. My favorite zinger came courtesy of Adam Shankman: “I see you got your routine from those children on ‘Dance Moms.' " BOOM, roasted.
4. The surprise endings. A lot of our favorites from the audition rounds didn’t make it. This week, we unfortunately—and unexpectedly—bid adieu to Trevor Bryce, Marie Poppins, Megan Marcano, Erik “Silky” Williams, and DS cover beauty Kamille Upshaw.
5. The TOP 20, REVEALED! Without further ado, may we present—in the order they were introduced during the show’s credits—the 20 candidates vying to be America’s Favorite Dancer: Malene, Zack, Emily, Serge, Carly, Emilio, Tanisha, Stanley, Valerie, Nick, Bridget, Marcquet, Jacque, Rudy, Brooklyn, Teddy, Jessica, Casey, Jourdan and Ricky. Congrats, dancers! We can't wait to see what you bring this season!
What did you guys think? Are you happy with this season's Top 20? Was anyone sent home unfairly? Let us know in the comments—and check back here next week for our recap of the first live episode!
Let's face it: Ellen's got swag.
The friendship between tWitch and Ellen is kind of adorable. We've been in love with the pair ever since Ellen made her surprise "SYTYCD" appearance, filling in for the injured Alex Wong to perform that infamous Nappytabs routine.
They need a cute friend name like tWitchison. tWitchellen? Eh...we'll go with it.
On this season of "The Ellen DeGeneres Show," we've gotten to see lots of tWitchellen, because tWitch was a recurring guest DJ on the show. On Wednesday, Ellen took a moment to thank him for bringing joy and dance to the show week-after-week, and to tell him how much she loves him (awwww!!). And tWitch had a little thank you for Ellen, as well. Naturally, it came in the form of dance:
Recognize some of your favorite "SYT" alums? It was the perfect gift for Ellen, given her love for "So You Think You Can Dance." Plus, it came on the morning of the show's Season 11 premiere! Well timed, tWitch, well timed.
We've talked and talked and talked about sports guys getting their dance on. But what about the dancers who stand out in the world of sports? Last year we told you about Michael Morris Jr., who earned a $2,500 college scholarship after killing it in a football toss competition. And this weekend, "So You Think You Can Dance" champion Ricky Ubeda proved that he's not only America's Favorite Dancer, but also America's National Pastime's Favorite Amateur Pitcher.
For those of us plié-inclined humans not super-familiar with the intricacies of baseball, games often start with a ceremonial first pitch. In our language: Right before showtime (the first inning), teams invite a local celebrity to lob a ball from center stage (the pitcher's mound) roughly 60 feet downstage (at home plate). It's not an easy feat. Yet look at the panache Ubeda brought to the task during Sunday's Miami Marlins game:
(Vine from Bethany @RickyUbedafann)
Don't you just love him? Plus, the Marlins won that day. Clearly his signature tilt-a-pitch inspired the rest of the team.
The Season 11 finale of “So You Think You Can Dance” had it all: Amazing performances, musical guests, guest dancers and guest judges, and plenty of cute Cat Deeley hijinks to last until #SYTYCDSeason12. Oh, and we got the RESULTS! But before we get to the big reveal (hint: Chace Crawford's twin!), let’s talk about the rest of the show. Here are the Top 5 moments of last night’s spectacular episode:
The Top 20 in Warren Carlyle's "Doctor Jazz"
(photo by Adam Rose/FOX)
5. The opening group number. The evening started on a high note with Warren Carlyle’s choreography to “Doctor Jazz" from Jelly’s Last Jam. It was so great to see all the Top 20 dancers again (I’m still #TeamMarcquet)! And despite the vast amount of unison, the piece smartly showcased the Top 4 dancers without relegating the other 16 to the back of the corps, waving roses back and forth (I’m also still #TeamJodySawyer).
Sonya Tayeh and Christopher Scott's "Sweet Disposition"
(photo by Adam Rose/FOX)
4. Everything by Sonya Tayeh. The judges and the Top 4 dancers were asked to request encores of their favorite routines from the season, and three of them were from #TeamTayeh: Guest judge Jessica Dewan-Tatum chose Tayeh's “You Need” with Tanisha and Rudy; Zack selected to perform "Europe, After the Rain," the powerful duet with Amy Yakima; and Ricky brought back "Vow," his duet with Jessica. And as if that weren't enough, the group number, “Sweet Disposition,” co-choreographed by Tayeh and Christopher Scott, really brought down the house. Set in a bustling train station, the piece combined Scott’s ingenious use of storytelling with Sonya’s impeccable eye for composition. Plus, we got to see the Top 10 dancers—and a few favorite All-Stars.
Les Twins being Les Twins
(photo by Adam Rose/FOX)
3. Les Twins’ guest performance. These two. What can we say? We've been in love with Les Twins for a long time, and we’re so happy they could take a quick break from killing it onstage with Beyoncé to appear on the show. Their duet was humorous, joyous and probably a little overheated—they were wearing so many layers!
Valerie and Zack in Anthony Morigerato's tap routine "Sing"
(photo by Adam Rose/FOX)
2. #Teamtap’s epic transformations. Zack and Valerie may not have been crowned America’s favorites, but they earned a special place in our hearts for so daringly stepping out of their comfort zones and championing other disciplines. All the Top 4 dancers matured over the course of the season. (Jessica really developed and finessed her lines, as shown in tonight’s soulful rendition of Travis Wall’s “Like Real People Do” from earlier this season.) But Valerie and Zack didn’t come into the competition with super-strong contemporary or hip-hop technique. So I’d like to take a moment to applaud their tenacity and their accomplishments on the “SYTYCD” stage.
OK, here it is! Drum roll, please...
(photo by Adam Rose/FOX)
1. Ricky Ubeda’s moment of glory. From Dance Spirit Future Star winner to America’s Favorite Dancer, 18-year-old Ricky Ubeda has grown into one heck of an amazing artist. We’re so thrilled to celebrate his work and his spirit on the cover of our December issue, and we can’t wait to see what awesome things he’ll do next—that is, after dancing on Broadway in On the Town! Yay, Ricky!
Of course, we’re sad to see Season 11 come to a close. Yet taking a cue from Nigel Lythgoe’s on-screen and cross-network plug for #DWTS, we’re happy dance won’t be gone from TV too long—the ballroom competition starts September 15 on ABC! In the meantime, let us know what you thought of tonight’s episode. And stay tuned for Dance Spirit’s December issue. With Ricky on the cover, it’s going to be an issue you don't want to miss.
Today's the day! It's finally here! Tonight we'll find out who will be named America's Favorite Dancer—and grace the cover of our December issue!
In honor of the impending "So You Think You Can Dance" Season 11 finale, I've decided to do another round of "SYTYCD" lookalikes. Which celebrities are your Top 4 dancers' doppelgängers? Let's find out.
(All "SYT" headshots Brooklin Rosenstock/FOX)
Jessica, with her lovely blonde locks and beautiful smile, reminds me of "Glee" starlet Dianna Agron:
Ricky has the same piercing eyes, intense eyebrows and artful scruff as "Gossip Girl" alum Chace Crawford (coincidentally, one of Agron's "Glee" boyfriends!):
I had a harder time with #teamtap. For cute-as-a-button Valerie, I'm feeling two parts "Once Upon a Time"'s Ginnifer Goodwin (smile, nose)...
...to one part "One Tree Hill"'s Sophia Bush (eyes):
And the dashing Zack? There's a little Spiderman (Andrew Garfield) in there:
But I think his real pseudo-twin is Rider Strong, aka Shawn Hunter from "Boy Meets World," aka a major, major crush from my junior high days:
Zack, I think the ladies would appreciate it if you'd reenact this photo, rose and all:
What do you all think? Do you have any better lookalikes? And which of these brilliant dancers do you think will win it all tonight? Let us know in the comments—then check back tomorrow for our recap of the big reveal!
This is it guys--the final four. It's crazy to think that by this time next week, we'll know the big winner. But let's not get ahead of ourselves, because last night's episode...OMG LAST NIGHT'S EPISODE...was something we'll be talking about for a looong time.
Ricky, Valerie, Zack and Jessica, you've made my job extremely difficult this week. How could I possibly just pick five moments to highlight?! Every piece was SPOT ON. But, alas, if America must choose just one of these incredible dancers for the title "America's Favorite Dancer," I can find a way to pick my Top 5 moments. Here it is!
Can you guys dance together all the time please? (photo by Mike Yarish/FOX)
1. Travis Wall. OK, so it's not really a moment—Travis Wall choreographed two pieces for last night's show. But they were both more than worthy of a Top 5 spot, so I cheated. Travis's opening group piece made my heart sing. The dancers were radiant all dressed in white, and they seemed to be just oozing with love for one another. Travis's exploration of same-gender partnering was so refreshing, and when the Final Four walked hand-in-hand towards the front of the stage at the close of the piece, I had a smile from ear to ear.
He ain't worth it, Jessica! (JK, love you Robert.) (Photo by Mike Yarish/FOX)
Travis's closing piece, featuring Jessica and All-Star Robert, demonstrated this young choreographer's boundless versatility. The piece epitomized a cold, quiet sexiness that really showcased Jessica's strengths. The chemistry was palpable, and somewhat painful, as Travis took us on a journey of bad romance.
This is acting. (Mike Yarish/FOX)
2. Two tappers tackle contemporary, and so win. I would venture to say that Tyce Diorio's contemporary duet for Valerie and Zack was the most challenging piece of the night. Sure, it required impeccable technique—but these tappers have demonstrated their versatility week after week. What was truly challenging about this piece was the acting component, as Valerie played the role of a blind woman. I want to take a moment to thank Tyce for two things: 1. As the judges noted, he managed to present a potentially heavy topic in an uplifting, almost joyful manner, and 2. He didn't put Valerie in a blind fold. Tyce trusted Valerie to convey her character without a prop (minus the brief appearance of the cane at the beginning), and man, did she deliver.
Zack and Aaron's happy feet. (photo by Mike Yarish/FOX)
3. Aaron Turner + Anthony Morigerato = "SYTYCD" magic. I may or may not be cheating again, but both of Anthony's tap pieces were off-the-wall awesome. And the fact that we got to see Aaron not once but TWICE was just the icing on the cake. I loved the way Anthony created a counter rhythm with Sammy Davis Jr.'s scatting in his duet for Valerie and Aaron. It really demonstrated his complex understanding of rhythm. But his duet for Zack and Aaron was what really blew me away. Anthony is a master at quiet tapping—which is a whole lot more difficult than pounding your feet into the floor—and this piece really captured that quality. Throughout the piece, Aaron and Zack were engaged in a tap conversation of sorts. By the end, it was almost like they'd reached an agreement, as the two tappers created a flawless unison sound.
There it is, folks: the wind and worm. Can we talk about these facial expressions? (Photo by Mike Yarish/FOX)
4. Two boys with the least amount of swag got down. OK, so when you look at Ricky and Zack, you don't exactly think gritty hip hop. But put these two with master choreographers Pharcyde and Phoenix, and you don't even recognize them. The boys went in, executing even the most intricate movements with explosive energy. A real highlight was what I like to call the "wind and worm," when Ricky did the worm while Zack stood over him just a-rollin' his body. Where did that come from?! Oh, and how about when they did a sort of intertwined tut, and when Ricky jumped over Zack and caught his head between his legs in the process? Yeah, clearly I didn't enjoy this piece at all...
Simply breathtaking. (Photo by Mike Yarish/FOX)
5. Kathryn McCormick met her match. Have you ever noticed that any time Kathryn appears as an All-Star, she tends to outshine her partner? It's not her fault—she's just that good. But when she danced alongside Ricky, it felt right. Kathryn and Ricky are both beyond technique. They dance without thought or judgment and seem to get lost in just about any piece they perform. Kathryn may have played the angel in this Stacey Tookey piece, but they were both nothing short of angelic.
The best part of last night's episode? No eliminations to announce! It has been a truly fantastic season, and I feel like, at this point, it could be anybody's game. What do you think? Now's the time to make your predictions, and then we'll meet you back here next week to discuss.
(photo by Yu Tsai)
You probably remember Stacey Tookey's contemporary piece "Jar of Hearts" on "So You Think You Can Dance" Season 7—partly because of the ultra-gorgeous choreography, and partly because the song's been in your head ever since. (Click here in case you need a refresher.)
At the time, Christina Perri's song "Jar of Hearts"—and Perri herself—were virtually unknown. Cue the best Cinderella story ever: After it played on the show, "Jar of Hearts" was downloaded so much that it made iTunes' Top 20 song chart—that night. Two weeks later, "SYTYCD" invited Perri to play "Jar of Hearts" live (accompanied by Allison Holker and Neil Haskell), and the song took off—hitting number 25 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and number 1 on Amazon's digital singles list.
Fast-forward four years, and Perri's career has been on a roll. Her newest album, Head or Heart, is available now; she's currently touring with One Republic; and this fall, she'll hit the road with Demi Lovato. Tonight, Perri will perform her latest single "Burning Gold" on "SYTYCD," and Tookey has choreographed a special performance for their four-year reunion.
Dance Spirit spoke with Perri about her second big night on "SYTYCD."
How did Stacey Tookey first find your work?
Keltie Colleen is the fairy godmother in this story. She and I have been friends for a long time—she dated my brother, and when they broke up, we kept hanging out. Up until "SYTYCD," she was one of very few people who had heard my music. She was always supportive and encouraging, and she was actually the one who helped me get a manager by posting a video of us on YouTube back in 2010. Three months after that, I emailed Keltie a song called "Jar of Hearts." I'd just recorded it, I and wanted to show her what I was working on. I asked her to keep it between us, but she immediately emailed Stacey Tookey—they grew up together and were friends—and suggested it for the show. Stacey replied, "How about this week?" I had five days to do a photo shoot and put the song on the internet. It was crazy. The night it debuted on the show, Keltie and I were in the audience. I quit my job as a waitress the next day, flew to NYC and my adventure began!
Billy Bell and Kathryn McCormick in "Jar of Hearts" on "SYTYCD"
(photo Kelsey McNeal/FOX)
What's your relationship with Stacey like?
She realized how much of an impact her work and the show had on my life. When I needed a choreographer for the "Jar of Hearts" video, I asked Stacey to work on it with Keltie and the cast of "SYTYCD" dancers. Since then, Stacey has used more of my songs on the show and we stay pretty close. I always send her champagne and flowers on June 30 (the date I was on the show). I can't wait to come back and perform "Burning Gold" with her choreographing.
What's the best part about choreographers using your music?
It's a magical combination. Dance elevates the emotional level of the song. It makes it into something brand new. I'll hear a song over and over, but when I see someone dance to it, it comes to life. I'm honored when someone dances to my music.
Do you have any advice for DS readers?
Say "yes" to the things that scare you. I was shy and lacked confidence, and there were always so many reasons to say "no"—excuses. But the moment I started saying "yes"—for instance, letting Keltie post that video online, or agreeing to play on TV—all of my dreams started to come true. "Yes" can change your life.
Be sure to watch Christina Perri tonight on "So You Think You Can Dance," and come back tomorrow to read our recap of the Top 10 episode!
I've gotta say, " So You Think You Can Dance," last night's show was a little underwhelming. On a scale of 1 to 10, the Top 16's talent level is about a 13. But the choreography—on average—scored close to a 6 in my book. Obviously, there were the exceptions, like Mandy Moore's routine to "Foolish Games" by Jewel (#throwback!), and Nakul Dev Mahajan's spirited Bollywood number, "Dilliwaali Girlfriend." But a lot of the show was just, eh. So, let's just skip to the good, shall we? Here are my top five highlights from last night's show:
Bridget, Carly, Jacque, Jessica, Marcquet, Ricky, Rudy and Teddy in Travis Wall's routine to "Love Runs Out" (photo Adam Rose/FOX)
1. The group routines. Beginning with Mandy Moore's jazzy and sultry "Take Me to the River," the large and mini group pieces were the clear highlights of the evening. Travis Wall's band of outlaws dancing to One Republic's "Love Runs Out" was particularly captivating: The grittiness and raw intensity read really well on screen. After the performance, Nigel mentioned the Emmy Awards—could this be Travis' year (again)?
Work it, Tanisha! (photo Adam Rose/FOX)
2. Tanisha Belnap. This girl. Like guest judge Misty Copeland noted, it was clearly Tanisha's night. Not only did her performance in Dave Scott's "Good Kisser" completely kill it, her featured role in Sonya Tayeh's group number to Bjork's "So Broken (Live)" showed a completely different side of this young artist. She may have been in the bottom six this week, but this firecracker clearly isn't going home anytime soon.
3. Cat Deeley's one liners. It seems like Cat always knows just what to say, even when a duet totally tanks. But when things go well, Cat's humor is on point, and her jokes last night did not disappoint. From the line after Travis Wall's "The Leaving Song"—"Talk about getting up on the wrong side of the bed!"—to her Waynes World-esque scene change and her note about Ricky Ubeda's "guy-liner," the British babe had me laughing through it all.
Mary Murphy, Nigel Lythgoe and Misty Copeland (photo Adam Rose/FOX)
4. Misty Copland as a guest judge. Last night, the American Ballet Theatre soloist continued her reign as best guest judge. Her criticism was spot on, and her corrections were specific enough for each dancer to apply next week. Also: Can I please have your arms, Misty?
5. Baby pictures! The episode included footage of each dancer as a tiny mover and shaker. Needless to say, everyone was adorable. But I'd like to make two special shout-outs: Jacque's pink fur get-up and Emily's march to her own drum. Awwww!
Bridget and Emilio—and the bed. But why was it even there?
(photo Adam Rose/FOX)
We'll miss you Marcquet and Brooklyn!
(photo Adam Rose/FOX)
Of course, there were also a few awkward moments last night. And I'm not just talking about Brooklyn and Marcquet's untimely leave from the show. (I know, I know, almost everyone has to leave at some point. But Marcquet had the chops to go all the way, and Brooklyn's hip-hop performance in Willdabeast's choreography showed her jaw-dropping versatility. #Unfair.) But the real awkwardness? The useless bed post in Travis Wall's "The Leaving Song," as well as the chair in Dmitry Chaplin's "I Put A Spell On You." We've asked what competition judges hate to see the most in dancers' routines, and uncorrelated and unused props almost always rank near the top. So what gives?
Next week, four(!) dancers will have to leave at the end of the show. Bummer, right? In the meantime, what did you think of last night's episode? What was your favorite moment? Let us know in the comments, and come back next week for our recap of the Top 14 episode.