BWW Recap: SYTYCD Takes Trip to Broadway with ON THE TOWN, HEDWIG's Spencer Liff (Updated with Pictures & Special Announcement)
This week's So You Think You Can Dance had a very Broadway feel to it with Josh Bergasse, the choreographer of the upcoming ON THE TOWN revival, staging a Top-20 routine to the show's anthem "New York, New York" (the one by Bernstein, Comden, and Green, not Kander and Ebb). As we learned last week, this season's winner will earn a spot in the musical's ensemble. While some people, including @Actor_Friend, don't like this idea, remember, the last network show to give away roles on Broadway brought us Laura Osnes, so let's reserve judgment, just in case a reality show brings us more Broadway royalty this time.
This week also marked the first eliminations of the season, but for the guy and girl going home this week, remember, Broadway's Ariana DeBose (BRING IT ON, MOTOWN, PIPPIN) was also eliminated from the show after the first week. So, have hope, winning the show isn't the only way to make it to Broadway.
Joining Nigel Lythgoe and Mary Murphy on the judging panel this week was gorgeous American Ballet Theatre soloist Misty Copeland, who might have been a little too critical, but I loved the specificity in her feedback.
As a way to suck up to Fox, who is airing the Major League All-Star Game next week, the judge's panel opened the show decked out in baseball uniforms, and showed a clip of host Cat Deeley embarrassingly throwing out a first pitch at Dodger Stadium.
However, nothing was as embarrassing as Nigel quoting Winston Churchill as part of a pep-talk to the contestants. Look Nigel, you're British, we get it.
We also saw the first Dance Crew performance from SYTYCD's Bieber-led Twitter Contest, when Chloe Arnold's Syncopated Ladies took to the "live" stage. And, I think we might have had an Ashlee Simpson moment during their performance as well.
There is also a very special announcement at the end of this review, so make sure you read alllllll the way until the end!
Now onto the performances:
Choreographer: Josh Bergasse
Song: "New York, New York" by the 2014 Broadway Cast
Three-Word Review: MORE, MORE, MORE
Girls in Danger (in order of announcement)
Guys in Danger (in order of announcement)
Tanisha Belnap and Rudy Abreu
Choreographer: Sonya Tayeh
Song: "You Need" by Bengsongs
Three-Word Review: Sexy S&M Matrix
Nigel said that Sonya "has a way of bringing out the best in her dancers," but she also has a way of bringing out the freak in them as well. Rudy, the goofy boy-next-door, and Tanisha, the elegant ballroom dancer, looked like they inhabited a seedy, futuristic S&M dungeon decorated with recycled thrift store office furniture. The pair did well playing both the passionate and powerful aspects of their back-and-forth battle. The highlight came when Tanisha leapt off one the aforementioned chairs straight into Rudy's waiting arms. Strong showing for this partnership's first routine.
Cool Season 11 Addition #1:
This season has had a bunch of format changes (going back to only one winner, Bieber's Dance Crew contest, etc.), but one small one that I really like was having Sonya Tayeh quickly explain a short "jazz phrase" before a commercial break. It was a simple to continue to engage the audience with the program, and dance in general. I wonder how many little kids rewound their DVRs over and over to get the eight-count just right.
Valerie Rockey and Ricky Ubeda
Choreographer: Travis Wall
Song: "Oh Darling" by Gossling
Three-Word Review: To the Top!
This is the type of routine that turns contestants into front-runners. Ricky came out of the first Top-20 week as a favorite, while (despite being one of my early faves), Valerie seemed to be towards the bottom third of the girls. However, after tonight, they both deserve to be at the top of any dancer rankings. The first half of the routine relied heavily on Ricky's insane tricks and athleticism, but as the number progressed, Valerie seemed more and more comfortable with the fluid nature of Travis' choreography. And the highlight was the ending move where Valerie, while standing on Ricky's knees did a slow, emotional backbend all the way to the floor. A worried, "Oh my God!" might have come out of my mouth as it was happening. I didn't have as good of a view of Valerie's facials as the judge's did, but I was getting all kinds of emotion from her movements, even if they didn't see it in her face.
Bridget Whitman and Emilio Dosal
Choreographer: Luther Brown
Song: "Work" by Iggy Azalea
Three-Word Review: Sexy, but Soft
Luther said that Bridget wasn't all that comfortable with the style, and he was partially right. She definitely had the sexy swagger the piece required, but she didn't quite pull off the hard hitting that could have made this routine even better. Emilio though definitely shown in his genre. As bad as it sounds, I think his having to give up his spot in last year's Top-20 due to injury might have been the best thing that could have happened to him. He already is a hip-hop stud and it gave him an Extra year to work on his skills; and it is showing. Also it gave us one of my favorite SYTYCDers ever, Aaron Turner.
Before I get to the routine, I can't believe they showed Jessica's shoulder popping out of place during their rehearsal. That was gross! Ok, after you get that visual out of your head, I felt that the pair was a bit timid coming in and out of their transitions and somewhat strained on the lifts. However, they showed great connection and seemed to thrive when the choreography wasn't so West Coast Swing-specific. As Mary and Nigel pointed out, it is a difficult style, even for a ballroom dancer like Nick, but I don't know that those caveats will save them from danger next week.