Danny Tidwell, the extraordinary artist who danced with American Ballet Theatre and inspired thousands as a contestant on "So You Think You Can Dance," died on Friday. He was 35. The cause, according to Tidwell's adoptive brother Travis Wall, was a car accident.
It's hard to overstate Tidwell's impact on the dance community. He had a difficult childhood, but found a home in the dance studio, studying under Denise Wall, who became his legal guardian. A technical wonder with an easy command of the stage, he earned accolades at both jazz and ballet competitions. After training at the Kirov Academy of Ballet, he joined American Ballet Theatre in 2003. He went on to dance with Complexions and co-found movmnt magazine. But it was his run on "SYTYCD" Season 3, in 2007, that made him a dance-world celebrity. Viewers were mesmerized by his impeccable lines and unbelievable versatility; he brought authority and gravitas to every routine, no matter how unfamiliar the style. The New York Times, which doesn't do a whole lot of "SYTYCD" coverage, ran a special feature on Tidwell titled "So He Knows He Can Dance." He was a role model for young male dancers, for dancers of color, for gifted kids with limited resources.
Travis Wall broke the news of Tidwell's death on Instagram Saturday, in a heart-wrenching post.
Soon after, Wall shared a video of the first duet he and Tidwell danced together as students.
Quickly, our feeds were filled with tributes to Tidwell. Icon Debbie Allen, who choreographed and judged on Tidwell's season of "SYTYCD," called him a "beautiful dancing genius."
Misty Copeland, who danced with Tidwell at ABT, shared a heartfelt tribute.
Comfort Fedoke, who appeared on Season 4 of the show, posted a video of one of Tidwell's most brilliant "SYT" solos.
Tidwell's husband, journalist David Benaym, posted an especially moving message.
Our condolences to all of Tidwell's family and friends. We'll miss you so much, Danny.