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!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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SYTYCD Pays Tribute to Mia Michaels + The Season Thus Far

It’s not all that often that I do recaps/reviews of specific TV show episodes, mainly because I feel recaps/reviews serve a purpose of providing additional insight into what was seen and not just be a summary. However, with the return of So You Think You Can Dance this week after a two week break, I sort of wanted to express my thoughts on the episode, as well as my thoughts on the season as a whole thus far.

On Wednesday night, SYTYCD took a departure from the norm and gave us an episode dedicated to Mia Michaels’ choreography. The Top 14 were tasked with recreating seven of Mia’s most memorable couples routines from the past 9 seasons (though technically Mia only did couples routines for seasons 1-5.) When I first heard that it was Mia Michaels week, I got excited thinking that “Oh wow! Mia’s choreographing everything for the week!” Then when I realized that they were actually recreating the classics, excitement turned into fear and a sudden sense of “WHHHYYYY????!!!!” It’s comparable to hearing that a contestant on [insert singing competition of choice here] is going to be tackling a power ballad or one of your favourite songs. You immediately start wondering what in the world compelled that person to think that that was a good idea. The same applies here.

Entertainment Weekly had posted earlier in the day on Wednesday, which routines were going to be performed. So going into watching the show, it was just a matter of guessing which couple was performing which routine; a task that turned out to be quite easy as it was pretty obvious.

“Mercy” aka “The Door” [Originally performed by Katee & tWitch in S4]: Eliana & Cyrus predictably got tasked with recreating this routine. Though they did an admirable job, in what became a recurring theme/pattern, it didn’t quite match the original (giving people a reminder of the original didn’t help matters in disassociation). Cyrus brought elements of his own animation style to some of the movements. Eliana, possibly an effect of her technical skills as a ballet dancer, didn’t go all out like Katee had previously done. The judges praised Eliana for being fierce, but her movements were way too controlled for a character that was pretty much crazy.

“Hometown Glory” [Katee & Joshua, S4]: Tiffany & George actually did a very good job, technically, recreating this routine. What lacked a little bit was the emotion and the character. I couldn’t feel the anguish from Tiffany and George, like I did watching Katee and Joshua. Another thing, which actually doesn’t have to do with the dancers, is that the lighting and the camera angles this time didn’t bring out the best of the dance (if that makes any sense). For instance, the assisted run, a great moment in the routine, felt like it faltered in this recreation because the angles weren’t there to fully capture it.

“Koop Island Blues” aka “The Butt Dance” [Randi & Evan, S5]: Amelia & Will were definitely the obvious choice for this routine, if only because they have sort of been deemed as the “quirky” pairing. To be honest, this was never one of my favourite routines. I think the only reason it worked in the first place was because it was so tailored to Randi & Evan, and they brought so much character to the piece. There really isn’t much else to say besides that.

“Dreaming With A Broken Heart” aka “The Bed” [Kherington & tWitch, S4]: Janelle & Dareian seem to always get the short end of the straw, to be honest. I liked this piece when Kherington and tWitch had originally performed it, partially because of the song (not gonna lie about that one!) But looking back, you kind of realize that Kherington actually didn’t do much in the routine. So having Janelle, who has been a bit underwhelming since the live shows started, doing this particular routine really did not do her any favours.

“Time” [Lacey & Neil, S3]: This routine I feel was a bit of a big undertaking, in terms of recreating it. We know the story behind it, it was such a personal piece for Mia, and it was a routine that really required a lot of emotion, even above the technicalities of the choreography. Audrey & Matthew, who were great in their Travis Wall piece the first week of competition, haven’t really done much else to impress. This was a great opportunity for them to really go outside themselves and truly connect, but unfortunately they didn’t bring it like they should have.

“Calling You” aka “The Bench” [Heidi & Travis, S2]: Everybody loves this routine, so Witney & Chehon had some pretty high expectations going into this. For the most part, I must say they did a pretty good job with the routine. My only gripe is, similar to Eliana in the Door routine, Chehon showed almost too much control and didn’t fully let go as Travis had done.

“Gravity” aka “Addiction” [Kayla & Kupono, S5]: Of all the pairings, Lindsay & Cole did the best job in recreating the piece. “Gravity” is such a powerful piece and Kayla & Kupono gave it their all when they originally did it. Lindsay & Cole gave it their all as well and brought themselves into the routine, so when you watched it, it was almost like you were watching the routine for the first time again.

I certainly commend SYTYCD for doing a little something different and having the dancers recreate memorable routines because as Nigel had noted, a lot of them will be expected to interpret other choreographers’ work that has already been done. But when you have really dedicated fans who remember all these routines, it becomes rather difficult to successfully pull off a show like this – it simply didn’t benefit the dancers of this season at all because they were expected to do justice to the original dance and dancers.

Thoughts On The Season So Far

Straight to the point, this season has been rather underwhelming and it is kind of giving me Season 6 vibes. Now, it would be unfair to blame it on the dancers because there is no doubt that they are talented at what they do. To me, it has a lot to do with the production of the show. I made my gripes at the beginning of the year about how it made no sense for FOX to cancel the results show. The show has dealt with this rather admirably, combining the elements of the results shows into the performance shows. In the fact that they are so cramped for time, we lose a lot of time showing rehearsal footage. Some people might not think that’s a big deal, but I feel as though rehearsal footage shows us more of the dancers’ personalities than those “getting to know you” bits.

Another thing that hasn’t really helped matters is the breaks. I understood the 4th of July break. It worked out well with them having announced the Top 20 before the break and we got right back into it afterwards. The 2-week break for the Olympics was a little rough though. Though I understand why they did it (people were too entranced with the Olympics, I was one of them), I didn’t particularly like the idea. These breaks in the schedule created an effect on the elimination process. We still would’ve reached a Top 10 this week, had they aired during the Olympics, but because the 2-week hiatus happened, we had two big cuts. As a result of that, everything has just felt rushed and we haven’t really been able to connect with the dancers. I mean I feel like I barely even know who these dancers are, and with the tour announcement, I’m questioning whether or not I even want to go for the first time since they started doing tours.

I’m really hoping that with the All-Stars coming in next week, things will really kick into gear and get me excited about the show again. Until then, let’s just watch videos of happier times.