Top 10 Favourite SYTYCD Routines

So You Think You Can Dance is one of my favourite reality shows. Getting to watch different styles of dance on my TV screen every week during the summer is quite honestly the best. The show as a whole doesn’t get nearly the respect and recognition it deserves, but over the years, it has provided us with numerous memorable routines, which has been justly rewarded with countless Outstanding Choreography nominations/wins. As such, for my April blogging challenge, I wanted to include a list of my 10 most favourite SYTYCD routines. It’s a simultaneously easy yet difficult task, because lists are simple but narrowing it down is the hard part.

1.) Season 2, Top 10 – “Ramalama (Bang Bang)”

Still one of, if not THE best group routines in the history of the show. It was one of the first times the show really showcased a dance that was very much out of the box, and it really brought out an artistic side to the show that we hadn’t seen before. Also, Wade Robson just kinda rocks.

2.) Season 2, Allison & Ivan – “Why”

This was a turning point for me, in terms of when I really started LOVING the show. Ivan, a hip-hop dancer, held his own, dancing with the incredible Allison in her style, which was Contemporary. Add to that, Annie Lennox’s gorgeous song “Why” and it was just perfection.

3.) Season 7, Alex & Twitch – “Outta My Mind”

Everyone loves Twitch; he’s a beast of a dancer. Everyone already loved Alex at this point, but to see him, who’s trained in ballet, KILL it in this routine next to Twitch, just threw him up to another level.

4.) Season 4, Katee & Joshua – “No Air”/ Chelsie & Mark – “Bleeding Love”

Tabitha & Napoleon had been dancing/choreographing long before SYTYCD, but when they were brought in for season 4, everything changed. They made an immediate impression with the “No Air” routine, then a couple weeks later, they solidified themselves in the SYTYCD world with “Bleeding Love.” We had some smooth hip-hop in the past, but for the most part, everyone thought of hard-hitting hip-hop on the show, so when NappyTabs came on and delivered these contemporary hip-hop numbers, it was just never the same.

5.) Season 8, Melanie & Marko – “Triptico”

Melanie & Marko are among my favourite SYTYCD pairings (next to Allison/Ivan, Katee/Joshua). Every single routine they did was wonderful, starting from their Contemporary “Turn to Stone” and even to their Disco “I Feel Love.” So why is “Triptico” my favourite? Well, I’m a sucker for the Tango, and even though it wasn’t perfect, they sold the performance. And that drop/flip/turn/lift (I have no idea what to call it) at the end? Gets me every time I watch it.

6.) Season 5, Top 12 – “Calle Ocho”

Season 5 was top-notch, in regards to the group routines. I mean, the competition numbers were really good too, but the group routines were everything. This number though was my absolute favourite for the entire season: NappyTabs choreographed with Dmitry Chaplin to make a totally awesome Latin Hip-hop fusion. What more could you want?! It was everything and more!

7.) Season 8, Top 12 – “El Fuego”

I just love this group number. I can’t even explain why. Maybe it’s because it’s a Flamenco-style routine that we just don’t see a lot on SYTYCD, plus everyone was on point, performing the hell out of it.

8.) Season 9, Top 10 & All-Stars – “Circle of Life/Nants Ingonyama”

Season 9 was very light on NappyTabs. At the end of the season though, they made up for it with this awesome Afro Jazz Hip-Hop set to music from The Lion King! The competing dancers alone were terrific, but add in the All-Stars and it just explodes.

9.) Season 7, Top 11 & All-Stars – “Ra”

Speaking of exploding, season 7 was the first season that introduced the All-Stars, and it has certainly helped in bringing out the best in the competing dancers. This was, once again, a finale number, but it definitely proved just how amazing the talent was. A competitive season as it was, with the best 11 dancers (was supposed to be 10, but they couldn’t help themselves and added in one more) instead of 20 competing, you knew they meant business. Like NappyTabs before, Chris Scott immediately made an impression with this genre-fusing hip-hop, and has been a regular choreographer on the show ever since. Bonus points for finding a way to include an injured Alex Wong into the number.

10.) Season 4, Katee & Twitch – “Mercy”

The Door. This routine showed that not all Contemporary routines had to be sad and overwrought with emotion. This was all kinds of fun and emotional in a different sense. Absolutely love it!

HONOURABLE MENTIONS*

*AKA my way of cheating and adding 5 more routines I REALLY REALLY like. My blog, my rules*

1.) Season 8, Top 10 Guys – “Velocity”

Season 8 was just SO GOOD, right from the very start. Chris Scott choreographed this Adjustment Bureau-themed contemporary hip-hop for the Top 10 Guys for the first show, and it was just so indicative of what the rest of the season was going to feel like.

2.) Season 8, Melanie & Tadd – “(Where Do I Begin) Love Story”

There was a reason Melanie won season 8; she’s an amazing technical dancer, who really knows how to sell the performance. Spencer Liff didn’t give us the typical Broadway routine that we typically see on the show, instead he choreographed a routine that was sexy and required Melanie & Tadd to really act.

3.) Season 9, Top 8 – “Run Boy Run”

Sure we have a steady rotation of choreographers creating wonderful pieces, but the show does not just rely on those geniuses. There are so many talented choreographers that it would be a shame to not showcase their work. So it was a welcome surprise to see the show bring the immensely talented Peter Chu to choreograph this group number.

4. ) Season 3, Neil & Danny – “Are You the One?”

Mia Michaels. Genius. A contemporary routine that required so much power from Neil and Danny. Just fantastic.

5.) Season 10, Jasmine & Comfort – “Run the World”

For years, I was constantly complaining that the boys always got the “fun” routines for the finals; they often got either a completely different style (see: Russian Trepak of S4, Malevos of S7, Steppin of S8) or a cool jazz or hip-hop routine. The girls always got Broadway/Contemporary/Jazz. So you have no idea how ecstatic I was to see this routine happen. Mind you, it wasn’t the final 2 girls (Jasmine and Amy) dancing together, but rather Jasmine dancing with All-Star Comfort. However, it doesn’t change the fact that we got a girls hip-hop routine! FINALLY! HALLELUJAH! More of this please!

There you have it – my favourite SYTYCD routines! The show returns for its 12th season – Stage vs. Street – on June 1st!

 

 

 

 

 

 

5 Fandom Friday: 5 Times I Totally Fangirled

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I was actually already planning a post about celeb encounters when Megan (The Nerdy Girlie) and Kristin (Super Space Chick) released the Fandom 5 topics for this month. Perfect! Now, I’ve always prided myself in not COMPLETELY fangirling when I’ve met people whom I admire. Part of that has to do with the fact that I’m kinda sorta socially awkward, so I have trouble talking to my own friends sometimes, let alone celebs. Also, I try my best not to embarrass myself too much; it’s hard, but I try. Regardless of that, there have been multiple instances where that truly fangirl side of me comes out, meaning my awkwardness comes out and it gets hard for me to form proper sentences. My version of “totally fangirling” is getting so nervous I act like a total dork.

1.) SDCC 2013 – Final Nikita Panel

I’ve documented this in a previous post, but essentially I got up the nerve to go ask my favourite people in the world a question at their final panel. Just my luck, someone in front of me asked pretty much the question I was going to ask, and I had to think of another question on the spot. So much pressure! If you watch the video, you can probably hear exactly how nervous I was.

2.) SDCC 2014 – Meeting Shane West

Meeting Shane West after the Behind the Music panel?! AHHHH!!!! Comic-Con trip made!

Again, I already posted about this. To recap, I went to the panel Shane West was moderating and was determined to meet him afterwards. Tried my damned hardest to keep my fangirliness in check.

3.) SYTYCD Tours

SYTYCD Tour M&G

I love SYTYCD and for seasons 3-8, I actually went to the tour. For all the shows except one, I stayed after the show and waited to meet the dancers (because I found out early on that they did this, and I went with people who were willing to wait with me). Season 3 I met Lauren Gottlieb, was pretty calm. Season 4 I met Chelsie, Comfort, Courtney, Kherington, Joshua and Katee; it was when I met Katee that I nerded out a bit mentioning that I was a fan of hers from Paris By Night (and I think I embarrassed her a little bit by bringing it up). I skipped season 5 (it was too cold to wait). The season 6+7 tour I met Kathryn, Robert, Kent, Lauren, Ade, and Allison. Allison is one of my favourite dancers and I was so bummed that I missed the season 2 tour, so I was SO EXCITED to meet her. To be honest, I actually don’t remember much of the interaction because of how excited/nervous I was, except for asking her about tWitch (who was there at the show, but not performing), and then later on finding out that they had actually started dating (and now married)! Then the season 8 tour I met Marko, Melanie, Tadd, Caitlynn, and Nick. I definitely fangirled meeting Marko because he’s totally my dancer crush, and again I had to mention PBN, which I think caught him completely off-guard.

4.) FanExpo 2013

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I know I’m repeating myself again, but gosh, all these Cons are what dreams are made of. Saw Stephen Amell twice and acted like it was no big deal both times. 15 minutes after meeting Stephen (the first time), I met Gina Torres and could barely form a complete sentence. I met Piper Perabo and Peter Gallagher at the Covert Affairs signing. With Piper, I was my usual awkward self, not really sure what to say. With Peter, I managed to get in the fact that I loved Center Stage and The O.C., and have a proper interaction with him. It’s times like this that I don’t know how my brain processes being a fangirl.

5.) General Reaction to Awesome Events/News

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Sometimes, I’m at my most fangirliest when I hear good news. That means if my favourite TV shows get renewed, particularly if they’re on the bubble (which let’s be honest, applies to 75% of the shows I watch), I’m screaming and doing a happy dance. Favourite music artists going on tour and stopping into Toronto? Ditto. My favourite music artists teaming up to do a tour (like in 2013, when Maroon 5 and Kelly Clarkson toured together)? FUCK YES!

SYTYCD Season 8 Performance Finale

I’m not sure there’s much more to add to what’s already out there, but here’s my thoughts on last night’s finale anyways.

Yes, the show fell a little flat and ended up being kind of disappointing. I mean with such a strong Final 4, you couldn’t help but wish they had gotten more to work with. Obviously yes, we can chalk it up to fatigue, because with 4 dances a piece plus a solo, they were definitely going to be tired. However, that’s always been the case with the finales: all the contestants dance with each other and then in this year’s case, they dance a routine with an all-star (the 4th number was a group routine in previous years). But for some reason, it feels like this year’s group got it the hardest as far as all the things they have to do for these finale shows. Maybe that’s just me, but it seems that way.

At the same time though, the dancer’s fatigue is one part, but the other part is what they’re given to dance. I don’t just mean the choreography, but the dance style and choreographer as well. Yes, it applies for the whole season, the whole luck of the draw, but it’s particularly important for the finale. From the way I see it, having watched every season of SYTYCD, there are things that should not be in the finale.

  1. Don’t bring in a dance style that has not already been featured this season. Sure, we’ve seen disco and stepping before on the show, but not this season. I honestly thought we were gonna make it through this entire season without a disco routine, and I was perfectly fine with that because there haven’t been that many great disco routines in the run of the show. And only on the very rare occasion has a new style actually worked in the finale (to be precise, that’d be Season 4, Joshua & Twitch’s trepak, but if I remember correctly, they ended up incredibly dehydrated after that).
  2. Use choreographers who have a solid rep with the show. This is sort of an extension of the first point. But also no offense to the choreographers. I would think that it would make more sense for the dancers to be working with choreographers, who they’ve already worked with on the show; there’s a better connection there. I say this with love, but as surprised as I was to see Mark Ballas choreographing for SYTYCD last night, I was disappointed by what he brought. He was asked to choreograph a cha-cha, but I have to ask where all the fun was? If they didn’t say anything, I don’t think I would’ve known it was a cha cha. On the other hand though, Tessandra Chavez, who only choreographed her 2nd routine for the show last night (and first of the season) did an incredible job. So I guess it’s hit and miss as well, but still. And I also know a lot of the other choreographers (NappyTabs, Travis Wall, Melanie LePatin & Tony Meredith) are busy doing other projects which made them unavailable for the finale, so it’s not their fault either.
  3. This sounds really stupid but, boots are not acceptable dance footwear. Season 4, Courtney & Joshua’s Jive, she wore boots, it didn’t work. Season 5, Kayla & Evan’s Jive, she wore cowboy boots, which was good for the song that was used but still no. Yesterday, Tadd & Marko’s Gumboot Stepping routine, which called for gumboots, but still, it’s just wrong.

I think overall, we just needed a lot more excitement in the routines, and that also stems from the music being used.

Now, as far as choosing a winner, it’s a little hard. If we look at who got the most variety in styles, Marko should take it – he got Disco, Broadway, Contemporary, Stepping. Melanie, Sasha & Tadd all got at least 2 routines that were firmly in their wheelhouse (or in Tadd’s case, pretty damn close). But if a girl should win (and probably will) it has to be Melanie, bias aside.

Anyways, still looking forward to the finale tonight, despite a lackluster performance show.

SYTYCD Season 8: A Look Back at the Season + Judging the Final 4

Another season of So You Think You Can Dance is almost over. This week the final 4 dancers take the stage for the last time before one of them gets crowned “America’s Favourite Dancer.” Before that happens though, I thought it’d be nice to take a look back at the past season.

After the phenomenal season 7, we were left to wonder how SYTYCD would top itself this season. For starters, they (slightly) changed the stage again and went back to a Top 20 instead of a Top 11, with the All-Stars introduced at Top 10. Mary Murphy came back as a permanent judge and every week had at least one guest judge. Not all the guest judges did well, but the ones who did were either expected to or a very nice surprise. The key to being a good judge is giving the dancers/contestants criticisms, things that they can work on. I suppose being a former contestant himself, now being a choreographer on the show, and coming full circle to be a judge, Travis Wall showed to be one of the best guest judges of the season. But if we’re talking about people outside of the show, Neil Patrick Harris and Christina Applegate were terrific – both funny (of course) but also critical.

Now, one of the first of many surprises this season was that at the end of the first results show, a decision was made to not eliminate anyone and give all the contestants a second chance to make an impression on the audience. That’s not to say none of them sparked. As a matter of fact, it was a pretty great group of dancers so you can understand the reasoning behind the judges’ decision. That first week of competition gave us a great Travis Wall routine danced by Melanie & Marko, who from that point on I dubbed the best SYTYCD pairing since Katee & Joshua from S4 (but more on them later).

The second week of competition gave some memorable performances from Sasha & Alexander

…as well as Jordan & Tadd

As the weeks went on, we saw the show bring on new choreographers to bring something fresh to the table. We saw an unprecedented number of pairs being eliminated, up until Top 12 results.

Now, as previously mentioned, the All-Stars were brought in once we got into Top 10. But in a change from last year, each week we got a different group of SYTYCD alums, probably because a lot of them have other commitments. But I’m not complaining! I love seeing the older dancers back, especially those we hadn’t seen for a while (like Ivan from S2!) And as it always does, things got kicked up a notch going into Top 10, plus the presence of the All-Stars meant things had to be damn good. Take Sasha & Twitch’s Christopher Scott hip hop

…or Caitlynn & Pasha’s Argentine tango

…or Jess & Kathryn’s Stacey Tookey contemporary piece

Everything was just great!

Results for the Top 10 come in and surprise! Turns out the judges still get a say as to who’s going home, as opposed to previous years where once we got into Top 10, it was completely based on viewer votes. At first, I was just as confused as everybody and maybe a little mad when it continued for the Top 8 results. But then I realized it was kind of a good thing.  From the way I saw it, the judges getting a little bit more of a say at that particular point, prevented the possibility of a shocking elimination like when Allison Holker and Janette Manrara got eliminated at Top 8 week in their respective seasons (that’d be S2 & S5).

Now onto the Final 4 dancers – Melanie Moore, Sasha Mallory, Marko Germar, and Tadd Gadduang. By no means was it a couple shocker that these 4 ended up as the final 4, but each and everyone of them more than deserved to make it to this point. I said previously that Melanie & Marko were the best pairing since Katee & Joshua, but to add to that, this has got to be one of the best finale group since season 4 (I almost wrote ‘best final 4 since S4’ but to be fair S6 had a top 6 and S7 was a top 3).

Melanie’s one of those dancers who embody everything about the dance. She has the technical skill, but she gives performances as well. The judges noted it in her Broadway routine with Tadd last week, and it’s completely true. There’s been talk about how Melanie may not have been challenged as much as the others, but you look at what she’s done outside of her genre, and she is nothing short of amazing. Without a doubt, Melanie is up there with Allison Holker as one of the best female dancers ever on the show. And you know I say that as a huge Allison fan.

Not to be outdone, Sasha is a powerhouse herself. I will admit that sometimes I don’t see what the judges see when they rave about Sasha’s dancing. But in certain routines, you do see the power and passion she puts in her movements, and it’s a great thing to see.

Tadd is unbelievable. The judges always make mention of it, but you can’t ignore it. Here’s Tadd, who is a b-boy, and you see him do these ballroom and contemporary/jazz numbers with such incredible ease, you can’t believe it. And it’s not like this started happening somewhere in the middle of the season. That second week of competition, when he got that Viennese Waltz, you watch him and see he’s got the frame and the lines; it’s ridiculous.

Last but not least, there’s Marko. I have to say this first: I have always been biased with Marko because like Katee, Paula van Oppen, and Alexie Agdeppa before him (not to mention his fellow competitor this season Alexander), he was (and hopefully continues to be after this) a Paris By Night dancer. I can’t help it. As I’ve said so many times in my blog, I’m Vietnamese, I watch PBN religiously, and I have always loved the dancers that come on, whether they were only in 1 show or have been with the show for years. So when any of them venture out to do stuff like this (or tours and other stuff), I give my full support to them. Anyways, Marko, like Melanie, has pretty much done no wrong this season. There may have been a couple things here and there with the ballroom stuff, but overall, he has been a fantastic dancer.

I want to say that come Thursday, I don’t really care who wins (which I kind of don’t because they’re all great) but honestly, for me it’s between Melanie and Marko. They’ve been my favourites from the beginning, they’ve never been in the bottom, one of them has to win.

Now for a little mini-rant (because it wouldn’t be right if I didn’t rant about something): for whoever it was at Entertainment Weekly who wrote this “The final four vie for the title, which will be awarded tomorrow. But is winning the show’s worst season to date really a victory?”, as well as anyone who agrees with that sentiment – what are you talking about?! The dancers themselves have been great this season, sure there haven’t been as many memorable routines as season 4 or last season, but worst season to date? Really? Did you seriously forget that mess of season 6, which aired in the fall of 2009? You want the worst season? That’d be it.

End of story: MELANIE or MARKO FTW!!!

And just because I feel like it, my favourite group routine of the season, which I really hope they do on tour