tWitch, Alison and Allison Holker

When DS editor in chief Alison Feller and I traveled to L.A. for the “So You Think You Can Dance” Season 9 finale in September, we were beyond excited. Amazing dancing, the return of some of our favorite routines and the crowning of America’s Favorite Dancers? Best day ever! But the show we saw was slightly different from the one viewers watched at home. Here are 10 of the best-kept “SYTYCD” secrets.

1. No cell phones allowed!

Planning to tweet a pic of Cat Deeley’s latest sparkly outfit? Think again. The “SYTYCD” set makes airport security look like a breeze: Audience members’ phones are confiscated on the way in.

2. The “SYTYCD” stage has awesome neighbors.

CBS Television City also houses “The Price Is Right” and “Dancing with the Stars.” Cat’s dressing room is right across from “DWTS” host Tom Bergeron’s!

3. “SYTYCD” tapings are crawling with celebs.

Anyone who’s anyone in the dance world is there. Is that Stacey Tookey rocking that little black dress? Allison Holker and tWitch taking a romantic pre-show walk? Will Wingfield and new parents Tabitha and Napoleon D’umo? Even dance fan Minnie Driver snagged a front-row seat.

Me and Melanie Moore

4. During commercial breaks, there are no commercials.

The judges schmooze with audience members while an emcee entertains the crowd, mostly by asking them to cheer for the fabulous dancers.

5. Some of the best choreography is done by the cameramen.

Every so often, a man dressed in black toting a huge camera hops on stage with the dancers, weaving in and out of the choreography. The most impressive camera moment of the finale was during Tiffany Maher and Brandon Bryant’s disco. The cameraman twirled around the dancers so quickly it made me dizzy. On TV, it looked like the stage itself was spinning.

6. Cat thinks she can dance—and she totally can!

She may have stayed poised and proper during her monologues, but we spotted America’s Favorite TV Host getting down on the sidelines during Witney Carson and tWitch’s Luther Brown hip-hop routine. Cat, will we see you auditioning for Season 10?

7. The dancers hold their routines’ opening poses for a loooong time.

While the intro tape of rehearsals is playing, they’re holding that pose, and while the judges are joking with Cat, the dancers are still holding that pose.

8. The dancers aren’t the only ones who get a workout—the audience does, too. 

The front section of the audience stands for the whole show (comfy shoes are a must!), and even those with seats stand up for every routine. Then, when huge set pieces come through—like rocks for the final Lion King-style number—the audience shuffles to make room. It makes the fans feel like part of the action.

9. After the show, there’s a pizza party!

The “SYTYCD” cast and crew went straight from the stage to a table loaded with steaming boxes of pizza. We even spotted Tyce Diorio chowing down (while reading Dance Spirit, of course).

10. The contestants and All-Stars are actually friends.

Backstage after the show, we chatted with the All-Stars, who were eager to share how excited they were for the winners. “Working with Chehon made me fall in love with him as a dancer and a person,” Kathryn McCormick (DS’s November cover girl) told us. “And I’m so proud of Eliana.” For All-Star and Season 8 winner Melanie Moore, the finale brought back memories: “I was sobbing when I hugged Chehon after the show. It was like feeling last year’s emotions all over again.”

Dance News

Happy Birthday, Dance Spirit! This month, our magazine turns 15 years old, and we couldn’t be prouder. While celebrating, the DS editors had some fun reminiscing about what we were like at 15. We searched far and wide (and called our mothers) to collect these photos of our awkward, awesome and dance-y teen years.  Please don’t make fun of us too much.

Editor in chief Alison Feller (center) was one singular sensation in a high-kicking tap routine at Concord Dance Academy.


Managing editor Rachel Zar waltzed with the flowers (check out those leaves!) in Ballet Chicago’s Nutcracker.

Olé! Associate editor Margaret Fuhrer showed of her Spanish side in Commonwealth Ballet Company’s Nutcracker.



And for the grand finale: Assistant editor Michael Anne Bailey blew the competition away—and definitely deserved a Best Facial Expression award—at New York City Dance Alliance.

Dance News

There's never a dull day at the Dance Spirit office — we're always running around like dancers during a backstage quick-change

With 2011 behind us, the new year is off to an exceptionally busy start. We're moving, shaking, shimmying and working on some great projects to share with you throughout 2012.

Here's a rundown of the latest happenings at Dance Spirit:

  • The February issue is on newsstands! We're kind of in love with this issue, featuring the ultra-cool dancers of NYC-based modern troupe KEIGWIN + COMPANY. Click here to read associate editor Margaret Fuhrer's cover story on the company. Plus, the issue is packed with need-to-know audition information and advice on everything from how to create the ideal dance resumé (Clear Talent Group agent Shayna Brouillard makes it easy for you!) to what to wear to your ballet, commercial, dance team or convention scholarship auditions. And if you dig the issue, be sure to let us know! Write us a letter — you just may see your name printed in an upcoming issue of DS.

  • We're sending the April issue — the dance team issue! — to the printer next week. This one is a good one, dance teamers. We normally keep our cover stars a secret until the issue comes out, but we're too excited not to share this: The April cover girls are the gorgeous, talented, smart and oh-so-enthusiastic members of the Knicks City Dancers! Ally, Sierra and Sarahbeth (at right) were sheer perfection at the shoot. Not only were they classy and poised, they also delivered picture-perfects shots all throughout the day. We've loving clawing through all the photos shot by Erin Baiano and are psyched about the stories we have in store for April.

  • We spent some time at "So You Think You Can Dance." It's hard to believe that our favorite dance show is now entering its 9th season! We've been fans since Season 1 and the days of Nick Lazzarini (heartthrob alert!). Rachel Zar (meet her below) and Michael, the DS fashion editor, staked out the "SYTYCD" auditions in NYC this week to size up the talent. Their verdict? See for yourself. Click here to watch Nigel and Mary chat about their Season 9 expectations — plus Nigel gets his hand on the November issue of DS featuring Season 8 winner Melanie Moore! (Spoiler alert: He loved it!)

  • We have a new managing editor! Meet Rachel Zar, who will be keeping us all in line and making sure each issue gets out the door on time. Rachel spent the past few years as an editor at Dance Teacher, our sister publication, and we're psyched to have her on board. (She also edits another sister site, DanceU101, which is your go-to spot for college dance information.) A bit about Rachel: She danced with the Ballet Chicago Studio Company growing up and, at 16, shifted her focus from pointe shoes to jazz squares. She was offered a spot in the Joel Hall Dance Center's teen company — a jazz company — and performed with the group until heading off to college at Tufts University, where she majored in English and was president of the student-run Sarabande Dance Ensemble. Rachel is a brilliant editor, a talented writer and a really cute dresser. She's also got a flair for sarcasm, which is always appreciated around here. Rachel edits the Up Front, Talk To Us, School Buzz and Jazz Spotlights for each issue, so be sure to check out her work.


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