It’s Vegas Week!!!!!! This episode was jam-packed (all of Vegas in one episode!?), so we didn’t get as many featured performances as I’d like. And many early standouts (like Jennie Begley, the Boston ballerina) weren’t even shown at all. Here are five must-see happenings from the collage of dance moments that was last night’s show:
1. Malece Miller’s big fall. Got to hand it to “SYTYCD,” they’ve mastered the art of catching injuries in action and playing them over and over in slow motion. And watching Armen drop Malece on her head (on cement!) was definitely cringe-worthy. This is why you shouldn’t practice lifts when you’re tired, people! I’m surprised Malece was the only casualty of Sonya’s choreography. After a night in the hospital, Malece returned as sassy as ever. Then, as if we didn’t already love her enough, she didn't even throw Armen under the bus (even though it was clearly his fault!) when explaining what happened to the judges. She’s got the look, she’s got technique—and now she certainly has the story. I smell Top 20. Armen, however, is eventually sent home. I’m not upset about it.
2. ShanShan Qiao-Rothlisberger (best name ever!) doing hip-hop. This Mongolian bowl dancer was good at her own thing, but I was surprised that the judges sent her to Vegas. Why would they think she could do anything else? But then, she totally pulled off Nappytabs’ hip-hop choreo! OK, she didn't exactly get the choreography, but she was beyond in character with her dope hip-hop outfit. So much swag. I have to be honest; I never thought that girl had it in her! Of course, she was sent home later, but color me impressed.
3. Watching the groups struggle to make up choreography is usually my favorite part of Vegas Week. This year, it kind of got skipped over. But that first group, including early favorite Jenna Johnson, was just lovely (and so not cheesy!) in their tribute to the heroism after the Boston bombings. I couldn’t tell if everyone was crying because of exhaustion or genuine emotion, but it certainly made this piece stand out. Check it out:
4. Animator Jade Zuberi got a whole lot of air time after his partner, Sydney, threw him under the bus and asked Sonya if she could switch to someone else. Ouch. Sonya doesn’t like that, and, though Sydney's a beautiful dancer, it probably ruined her Top 20 chances. After practicing by himself all night long (aww!) Jade doesn’t do so badly, and is the only dancer asked to dance for his life. As dancers generally do while dancing for their life, he wowed the judges—and then later, he was asked to dance for his life again, this time in an awesome battle with Cyrus’s buddy Bluprint. Have to admit, I was on Team Bluprint during this battle, but the judges let both of them stay. Prediction: these animators will be the final two on the “green mile” next week.
Watch them battle it out:
5. Amy Yakima. Even though she wasn’t dropped on her head or part of any intense drama, this little firecracker stood out the entire episode, especially in Sonya’s choreography. She’s the quintessential Sonya dancer for sure. Adam calls her Top 20 material. And I’d be surprised if we didn’t see her there.
Only 33 remain, and next week we’ll get down to 20! Who do you think will make the final cut?
(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?
There's a story Kate Walker, director of dance at Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts in Dallas, TX, loves to tell about Emma Sutherland, who just graduated from the program. "We were watching the students run a really long, challenging piece," Walker recalls. "Several kids couldn't quite make it through. But Emma did make it all the way to the end, which is when she walked up to us faculty and very politely asked, 'May I please go throw up?' "