Mary Murphy's Best of "So You Think You Can Dance"
Auditions for the fifth season of “SYTYCD” kicked off in November in NYC—and we were there! We chatted with judge Mary Murphy to find out what her show highlights have been. —Alison
DS: What are you looking for at auditions this season?
Mary Murphy: Someone special and unique. We think we’ve seen it all, but there’s bound to be someone original who makes us go ‘Oh no you didn’t!’ We want to see someone who can jump higher and turn faster than the dancers the year before. We want people who create extraordinary moments through their dancing.
DS: Who have been the show’s most influential dancers?
MM: Last season, Joshua, Twitch, Kherington and Will were standouts for me. They were such incredibly talented dancers with great personalities.
Ivan from Season 2 was somebody who I fought not to be in the Top 20. I didn’t think that kid was capable of anything except his style of hip hop, and I felt very strongly that he shouldn’t be there. I’ve actually never felt as strongly about a contestant as I did about Ivan.
Blake McGrath from the first season would stand strong in the competition today. He would still be in the Top 20. A lot of people didn’t care for his attitude, but he has the talent to back up that attitude.
DS: What has been your favorite “SYTYCD” moment?
MM: My favorite moment was when Ivan changed all of my beliefs with his contemporary routine with Allison (choreographed by Tyce Diorio to “Why” by Annie Lennox). I didn’t think he could do a contemporary piece, and it was the first time I cried on the show. I bawled my eyes out! Every week after that he got stronger, and now I absolutely adore that kid.
DS: What is your advice to dancers trying out for the show?
MM: Show off your best moves right away. You only get 30 seconds to dance, so don’t hold back. Make eye contact with the judges. We’re the people you have to get through, so connect with us, not the camera. And of course, eat right and get plenty of sleep the night before.
(From left) Darriel Johnakin, Diego Pasillas, and Emma Sutherland (all photos by Erin Baiano)
Dance Spirit's 2019 Cover Model Search finalists: Darriel Johnakin, Diego Pasillas, and Emma Sutherland! One of them will win a spot on Dance Spirit's Fall 2019 cover. Learn more about the dancers on their profile pages, and then vote for your favorite below. You can vote once a day now through July 15.
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Imagine attending American Ballet Theatre's prestigious NYC summer intensive, training among classical ballet legends. Imagine taking the stage at New York City Dance Alliance Nationals, competing against some of the country's best contemporary dancers. Now, imagine doing both—at the same time.
Welcome to Madison Brown's world. This summer, she's in her third year as a National Training Scholar with ABT, while also competing for NYCDA's Teen Outstanding Dancer title. (She's already won Outstanding Dancer in the Mini and Junior categories.) The logistics are complicated—ABT's five-week intensive overlaps with the weeklong NYCDA Nationals, which translates to a lot of cabs back and forth across Manhattan—but Maddie is committed to making the most of each opportunity. "I love contemporary and ballet equally," she says. "While I'm able to do both, I want to do as much as I can."
Maddie has an expressive face, endless extensions, and a quiet command of the stage. She dances with remarkable maturity—a trait noted by none other than Jennifer Lopez, one of the judges on NBC's "World of Dance," on which Maddie competed in Season 2. Although Maddie didn't take home the show's top prize, she was proud to be the youngest remaining soloist when she was eliminated, and saw the whole experience as an opportunity to grow. After all, she's just getting started. Oh, that's right—did we mention Maddie's only 14?
Corbin Bleu in rehearsal for "Kiss Me, Kate" (Jenny Anderson, courtesy Roundabout Theatre Company)
If you're a hardcore Broadway baby, today is the worst Sunday of the year. Why, you ask? The Tony Awards were last Sunday, so basically there's nothing to look forward to in life anymore—no James Corden being James Corden, no teary acceptance speeches from newly minted stars, no thrilling excerpts from the hottest new shows. Oh yeah, and there are 50 more Sundays to go before our humdrum lives are once again blessed with the next annual iteration of Broadway's biggest night.