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'So You Think You Can Dance': Love it live!

October 7, 2009 | 10:00 am
Top20IMG_3107 The "So You Think You Can Dance" live show will continue rolling through the country through mid-November, and last night I caught it at Chicago's United Center.  If you are interested in going and still haven't bought tickets, a word to the wise: splurge on the good seats.  Because I'm a cheapskate, I went for the second-tier seats, which would be just fine at a basketball or hockey game, but when you're watching one tiny dancer all alone on a stage from far away, it's kind of like watching it on TV. 

Of course, if you have already bought the cheap seats, don't despair: There's a lot of enjoyment to be had from the show. At the United Center, at least, a full and energetic crowd was present, with plenty of audience members hollering for their favorites (Phillip Chbeeb especially getting a lot of appreciation).  It's great, too, to see the dances in full without camera cuts like on the televised version. 

It is, however, a long show, clocking in at just about three hours with a brief intermission. The dancers themselves serve as the emcees (with some pre-recorded Cat Deeley filling in the gaps), and the patter can get pretty corny, although Brandon Bryant especially had a way of hamming up his lines to make them a little more entertaining. The patter and the video clips, which we see so much of on the TV version, can get tough to sit through, although I often told myself it was simply necessary for costume and set changes. There was a bit of plugging involved too: I actually found myself saying, "I would totally try that," as I was being sold the "So You Think You Can Dance" workout DVD and sort of pined for a "SYTYCD" tank top as modeled by the dancers (but at $35 each they weren't that appealing on a chilly windy night in Chicago), but I could live without the same full-length sell on the Dizzy Feet Foundation that we saw on TV last season. 

The one performance part I thought wasn't necessary were the solos. The dancers each performed a solo pretty much exactly like what you saw on TV, which was odd because for each 30-second dance you saw a 60-second video package, so it doesn't flow into the show that well and probably adds on a half an hour that could have been excised from the program. Except, of course, for Phillip Chbeeb's solo, which was longer and just frankly more awesome than anything, ever. 

But if it's dancing you want, it's dancing you get: The two dances I really wanted to see from last season were represented: Kayla Radomski and Jason Glover's Shane Sparks zombie dance and Janette Manrara's and Brandon's jewelry heist dance from Wade and Amanda Robson. You also had, among others, Randi Evans and Evan Kasprzak's Mia Michaels' "butt dance," Caitlin Kinney and Jason's Bollywood dance, Jeanine Mason and Jason's Travis Wall dance and more, much more (including a little folky surprise that I won't spoil for you).  A handful of group numbers were also included, and I especially enjoyed Mia Michael's "One." 

If you're a fan of "So You Think You Can Dance," and dance in general, you're in for a fun night, as long as you can immerse yourself in the experience and bring a good atttitude and a bit of patience for all the parts that don't involve dancing — but when you do get to the dance, it's hard not to get goosebumps from the combination of talent onstage and love from the crowd.

— Claire Zulkey
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