Well, I must say, I’m glad the “SYTYCD” producers read my blog yesterday and added lots of dancing to last night’s show. I take full credit, thankyouverymuch.
Here’s how it went: A handful of dancers learned their fates and then those who made the cut performed live. It was all (relatively) quick and drama-free. Then, after the Top 20 were revealed, the guys performed, the girls performed and everyone danced together.
Because Vegas Week was compressed into one episode, you may barely recognize some of the Top 20. So here they are, along with some personal tidbits:
Ricky Jamie: First showed off his dance moves at his mom’s wedding. Awwww, adorbs. Miranda Maleski: She’s super cute and has long curly hair. Chris Koehl: He danced for his life in Vegas (show us the footage!). Melanie Moore: She’s the one from Atlanta with the cute pixie haircut. Wadi Jones: He’s a free-runner and hip-hop dancer. Sasha Mallory: One half of the pair of sisters who made it through Vegas. Tadd Gadduang: One of this season’s four hip-hop dancers. Iveta Lukosiute: She’s a world champion in all 10 ballroom styles! Robert Taylor Jr.: At 30, he’s the oldest contestant. And he’s awesome (completely objective assessment—I promise). Jordan Casanova: She likes to make the audience uncomfortable by seducing them. Honest, she said so. Alexander Fost: Apparently he flubbed most of Vegas Week. Ashley Rich: She’s a contemporary dancer. Jess Leprotto: A Broadway dancer, and Nigel thinks he’s a bit arrogant. Caitlynn Lawson: Nigel loves her. Loves her. Mitchell Kelly: He's a beautiful dancer. Missy Morelli: Worried she wouldn’t make the cut because, like Jordan, she’s also a temptress. Nick Young: He’s a tap dancer—yes! And he’s from my home state—double yes! Ryan Ramirez: If you don’t know her, you haven’t been watching, 'cause she’s gotten more screen time than anyone else. Marko Germar: He survived an armed robbery and still has a bullet lodged in his shoulder! Clarice Ordaz: Has been a judges’ favorite so far.
Alright, now on to the performances.
Group 1: Ricky, Miranda, Melanie and Sasha Choreographer: Stacey Tookey Cue the fog—lots and lots of fog. This was a sweet, dreamy number filled with extensions and penchées.
Group 2: Chris, Wadi, Tadd and Robert Choreographer: Dave Scott I’m loving this year’s hip-hop dancers, especially Robert, who was basically dressed as Urkel for this number. Check it out: Here’s Urkel and here’s a video of the performance. Dave Scott's routine shows off the dancers' personalities, strength and precision.
Group 3: Iveta and special-guest-partner Pasha! Choreographer: Jason Gilkison Basically, Iveta rocks. She’s got a killer body, is clearly an amazing ballroom dancer (even novice viewers can see that) and has an intense stage presence.
Group 4: Clarice, Marko, Jordan and Missy Choreographer: Sonya Tayeh Sonya’s choreography has a new, mechanical influence. It’s sort of hip-hop-esque and I’m digging it. Also, these four seem totally at home with the aggressive moves.
Random note: Everyone’s uber-blond this season! Cat’s hair, luxurious as always, is slightly more sun-kissed, Mary Murphy’s is much lighter, and Sonya's mohawk is bleached!
Group 5: Nick and Jess Choreographer: Chris Scott I’m so excited there’s a tap dancer again this season! I love the addition of Chris Scott (who creates the moves for the LXD) to the choreography roster. He does a wonderful job with this number, a sort of dance-off between Nick, who plays a rough-around-the-edges hoofer, and Jess, who’s cast as a polished show tapper.
Group 6: Caitlynn, Ashley, Mitchell, Alexander and Ryan Choreographer: Travis Wall The stage is covered in colorful leaves and the dancers pick them up by the handful and throw them around while they leap and jump and have a grand old time. It’s buoyant and joyful and reminds me just a little bit of a happy car commercial.
Let me take a brief moment, before recapping the final three group dances to say, Robin Antin, please eat a sandwich.
The Guys Choreographer: Chris Scott The piece is a mash-up of styles with elements of hip-hop (tutting, to be specific) and contemporary. The guys are all dressed in business suits and do a lot of rigid, serious walking through the red doors placed on the stage. It’s very Matrix.
The Girls Choreographer: Sonya Tayeh In the rehearsal footage, Sonya says this routine is her attempt to make geisha girls “creepy and twisted and exciting.” Mission (mostly) accomplished, although I’d say the dancers were less creepy and more fierce. The girls tackle the tough choreography without a problem, which makes me think they’re going to give the guys a run for their money this season.
Everyone! Choreographer: Tyce (aka Keith) Diorio The routine, to Annie Lennox’s “Little Bird,” is 1980s-meets-Black Swan. Tyce knows how to manage a large group of dancers and balances visually captivating moments when everyone swoops into the center (or reaches out to the edges of the stage) with sequences of fabulous chaos.
Make sure to follow us on Twitter @Dance_SpiritMag because we'll be live-Tweeting each performance show. And let us know what you think of the Top 20. Have a great weekend!
(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.
We also want you to
get social! We'll be factoring social media likes and shares into our final tallies. Be sure to show your favorite finalist some love on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, sharing their profile pages and using the hashtag #DanceSpiritCMS.
Liz Imperio teaching at Hollywood Vibe, Courtesy of Hollywood Vibe
It's an increasingly common scenario: A talented dancer wins big at a competition, is offered an assistantship with a famous faculty member, and ends up leaving her hometown studio to travel with a convention. Convention-hopping has obvious benefits. Every event generates new content for dancers to post on social media, gives them a better shot at ending up on their favorite choreographers' accounts, lets them learn from the best of the best, and helps them make valuable connections. "Traveling is a great way for dancers to gain admirers around the country," says Jen Jarnot, owner of Artistic Fusion Dance Academy in Thornton, CO. "That's something every dancer craves." So it's no surprise that weekend FOMO has been blazing through studios like wildfire.
But is this jet-setter lifestyle really the most effective road to take? Can weekends of dancing with top talent truly replace the bread and butter of daily work at your home studio? The answer, according to most industry experts, is no. We asked five pros to explain why.