Category: So You Think You Can Dance

'So You Think You Can Dance' recap: 'Obnoxiously incredible'

SYTYCD_Auditions-Day1_010 I watch "American Idol" closely, and in previous seasons felt exhausted heading right from the finale into a new season of "So You Think You Can Dance." On Thursday night, however, I was ready. After a season of "Idol" in which the contestants were rarely asked to go outside their comfort zones, that's all that happens on "SYTYCD." And not to dis our new idol, but when you've seen one Scotty McCreery performance, you've seen most of them. On "SYTYCD" you need to watch closely, though, because if you look away, you might miss the best part. I also find myself rooting for the dancers hot on the heels of "Idol."  The dancers perform anonymously behind the guest singers on "Idol," so I'm happy to see them get their own chance in the spotlight. Plus, it's nearly summer, and I find all those muscular bodies motivating. 

To kick off Season 8, Nigel Lythgoe, Mary Murphy (she's baaaack) and Lil C judged auditions in Atlanta, and then Nigel, Tyce Diorio and Toni Redpath oversaw tryouts in San Francisco. We saw a lot of promising dancers. I'm always a sucker for a quirky female dancer, and I'm in love with several of them already.  Melanie Moore, who resembles Ginnifer Goodwin, was at once vulnerable and sexy with her audition (I loved the details in her feet and her ripped-off bloody Band-Aid). Her proud mother in the audience might have also put a lump in my throat. I agreed with Nigel, who asked her to make sure to learn how to dance other genres by the time she gets to Las Vegas so as not to let him down. 

I also enjoyed Kimalee Piedad, whose dancing reminded me of what a circus would look like if Mia Michaels choreographed it. And then there was Amber Williams, who seems like the dancing version of comedian Maria Bamford: a sweet blonde face disguising a sensual, dangerous sense of humor. Plus, when she's happy, she dances like a monkey.

Meanwhile, we saw some serious hip-hop from the guys. Kyre Batiste benefited from bringing his sassy grandma to the audition, who actually whipped Lil C with her belt for critiquing her grandson. Timothy Joseph brought death-defying stuntman moves to his breaking. Alas, neither of these guys made it and neither did floaty turf dancer Levi Allen. Jeffery "Machine" McCann did earn a ticket to Vegas though: something about his onstage personality reminded me of all-star Twitch, so I'm looking forward to seeing him again. 

My only critique of the episode was whether too many dancers made it to Vegas.  Is that possible? ... Nah. That just means there will be a bigger pool of talent from which to choose in the next round. Plus, I'd rather watch good dancers than the bizarre performance art of sobbing D'on-que Addison (although Tyce's barely-concealed disgust at his audition was enjoyable). And although I appreciated the booty-shaking of former (?) stripper Leshia Moss, something about her made me sad, despite her sunny personality. 

But never mind all that! Season 8 is here! And I'm excited!

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-- Claire Zulkey

twitter.com/Zulkey

Photo: "So You Think You Can Dance" contestants.

Credit: Adam Rose / Fox

Nigel Lythgoe makes an 'American Idol' prediction

Nigel Nigel Lythgoe was supposed to talk about this week's season premiere of "So You Think You Can Dance," but instead "American Idol" came up early and often.

The executive producer of both Fox reality competition shows didn't have to wait long Tuesday morning during a media conference call to be asked which of the two teens from down South -– Scotty McCreery of North Carolina or Lauren Alaina of Georgia -- would win "Idol."

He said emphatically it would be "the one with the most votes."

Lythgoe, who returned to "Idol" this season after leaving for a couple of years, was less diplomatic about some of the changes made to America’s most popular television series during his absence. The show became more about the judges than the contestants, said Lythgoe, who kept Randy Jackson and brought in Jennifer Lopez and Steven Tyler to this season's panel. (Sorry, Season 9 judges Kara DioGuardi and Ellen DeGeneres.)

"I thought 'These are mistakes being made in front of my very eyes,'" he said.

As for "SYTYCD," Lythgoe said there won't be any drastic changes this season, which begins Thursday. Mary Murphy, who is recovering from thyroid cancer, is returning this season, and, according to Lythgoe, she may be a bit more subdued: "Only as loud as a small hair dryer."

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-- Lena Skalaban

Photo Nigel Lythgoe: Credit: Annie Wells / Los Angeles Times

'Bones' gets dancing lessons with 'SYTYCD's' tWitch [video]

Bones2 Stephen "tWitch" Boss, the Season 4 runner-up on “So You Think You Can Dance,” is getting his groove on as a couple of guys beat sticks against upside-down barrels. He’s in a crowded park with a slew of street performers -- a guy on stilts roams nearby, a juggler tosses bowling pins in the air and a ribbon twirler gracefully, uh, twirls.

"I’ve been here since 5 a.m.,” he says.

Don't worry. Times aren't that tough. It’s his final day of filming on the set of Fox’s other hit show “Bones.” The crowded park? It’s all part of the act.

The episode, which was shot in September and airs Thursday, will take Booth and Brennan into the world of street performers, one of them being the 'SYTYCD' MVP who also is a burgeoning actor (“Step Up 3D,” “Stomp the Yard 2”). He’ll play a suspect in the murder of one of his peers, a ballet dancer.

While tWitch said learning his lines was as easy as learning choreography, actually performing them was a different matter.

“As long as these nerves don’t arrive, I’m good,” he said. “But when they do, my voice starts shaking and I don’t know what to do with my hands.”

But the duo that helm the show were impressed.

“He’ll ask after each take, ‘Was that OK? Was that OK?” said Emily Deschanel, who plays forensic anthropologist Temperance "Bones" Brennan, during a break from filming. “But he’s doing a fabulous job … and he’s just so fascinating to watch as a dancer. It just blows my mind that somebody could do that with their body. Who knew your body could move that way?”

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And the winners of the Creative Arts Emmys are...

Getprev-2 Our colleagues at the Gold Derby attended the Creative Arts Emmys ceremony in Los Angeles on Saturday and blogged the results.

A few things we noted:

"Modern Family" picked up an Emmy for best casting in a comedy series. Does that mean an Emmy for outstanding comedy is on its way? Most TV critics are predicting the ABC single-camera comedy as the winner next Sunday. This could be a sign the academy agrees.

"Mad Men" nabbed the nod for best casting in a drama series. We do love the cast, but hope this doesn't mean the AMC series will pick up its third Emmy in a row in that category. With "Lost's" final season in the mix and spectacular seasons for "Dexter" and "Breaking Bad," there's got to be a new winner, no?

Choreographer Mia Michaels may have turned off a lot of viewers when she replaced Mary Murphy at the judge's table of "So You Think You Can Dance" this season. But arguing against her immense talents as a choreographer is futile. She deserves the Emmy she won Saturday night.

"Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution" won the Emmy for best reality program, and that's not a bad pick. The charming naked chef took on children's obesity in this weight-loss show and struck a chord with viewers.

Of course, Jeff Probst won his third Emmy for best reality show host for his work on "Survivor." As long as he's in the running, it's not likely anyone will ever beat him. No one can elicit information from contestants and direct a reality competition the way he can. (Boo to the academy for not including this award in the regular telecast Aug. 29).

John Lithgow did amazing work on "Dexter" last season as the Trinity Killer and won an Emmy on Saturday for it. Apparently, he thanked HBO instead of Showtime for the opportunity. Hope Dexter didn't hear that.

Ann-Margret picked up a guest actress Emmy in a drama for her work on "Law & Order: SVU." She apparently knew what network that show is on.

Neil Patrick Harris hasn't won an Emmy for his role on "How I Met Your Mother" but he won Saturday for his guest spot on Fox's "Glee."

Betty White is still on fire. She won an Emmy for guest actress on "Saturday Night Live." But she got bested in the best commercial category by the Old Spice dude. Apparently, you can't have it all Betty.

-- Maria Elena Fernandez

twitter.com/writerchica

Photo: John Lithgow at the Creative Arts Emmys on Saturday.

Credit: Chris Pizzello / Associated Press

Ellen DeGeneres steps up to the 'So You Think You Can Dance' challenge


"So You Think You Can Dance" nation: We know many of you are happy that the lone girl in the competition, Lauren Froderman, was crowned America's Favorite Dancer on Thursday night. But chances are the performer you're still talking about is someone else entirely.

Known for her playful dance moves, Ellen DeGeneres appeared in the show's two-hour finale to accompany tWitch in a reprisal of one of the 7th season's most memorable hip-hop numbers. DeGeneres was filling in for injured ballet dancer Alex Wong, who stunned "So You Think You Can Dance" viewers early in the competition with his hip-hop skills. Wong was injured the following week and had to leave the competition to have surgery.

DeGeneres said during the telecast that Wong's injury broke her heart "and as a joke I said this would be fun to do and it became a reality thanks to [husband-and-wife choreographing team] Tabitha and Napoleon."  As ShowTracker tracker Claire Zulkey points out in her recap, it's obvious DeGeneres took the job seriously and was a joy to watch.

After the show, DeGeneres tweeted: "I had 2 goals tonight. Not to trip while I was dancing with Twitch (sic) & to make Alex smile. I think I accomplished both."

You can judge for yourself in the video above.

To see Alex and tWitch's original routine go here.

-- Maria Elena Fernandez

twitter.com/writerchica

Video: YouTube

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"So You Think You Can Dance": Raise a glass of Gatorade -- we have a new winner!

_PG29648-1 Well, I was satisfied with the outcome of Thursday’s “SYTYCD” finale: were you?  Of course, there was a lot of stuff enjoy (or fast-forward through) before we actually got to the results.

The show opened with a Christopher Scott group number featuring the Top 11 and All-Stars, which showcased Melinda and even still-infirm Alex hand-dancing.

Before the judges got to their seasonal review of their favorite dances, we saw some silly but cute montages of the judges, including one of Nigel’s various hairstyles, one of Mia’s made-up words and one of Adam’s various sexy-n’-serious facial expressions.

The encores began, as Kenny Ortega selected Kent and Neil’s “Shoeless Joe” routine, which was not one of my favorites. But I was happy to then see, as picked out by Nigel, Billy and Ade’s “Mad World.”

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'So You Think You Can Dance': Grab your pillows 'cause we're almost home

PG18374 I love “So You Think You Can Dance” but I confess I won’t mind having a break from these two-hour Wednesday night shows after this week.  I’m sure the dancers feel the same way: Tonight they each performed four choreographed numbers in addition to their solos. No matter how you feel about this season’s dancers, you can’t argue that they were put through the wringer: Lauren, Kent and Robert are lucky just to have reached this point in good physical health.  

I disagreed with the judges right off the bat tonight regarding Kent’s Bollywood routine with all-star Lauren. Adam called it “literally perfect” but I felt otherwise. Although Bollywood dances can be over the top and dramatic, I thought Kent was clowny and cheesy and actually a little sloppy in his performance. Actually, only Adam really praised Kent to the heavens: I agreed with Nigel that the dance had great choreography, great costumes and great dancing (in that order) and with Mia that it was “very Kentish.” I’d say it was my least favorite Bollywood performance to date.

By comparison, I thought Lauren did a great job embodying the character in her hip-hop dance with Twitch by Tabitha and Napoleon, who once again did a great job. I wasn’t sure at first that the concept of their dance about a political debate could work, but they did a very clever job (the vague resemblance to Barack and Hillary didn’t hurt either). I especially liked the move of Twitch trying to muzzle Lauren and her escaping his grasp. The judges all praised Lauren for her consistency and her balance of masculinity and femininity.

Next, Robert performed a Tyce Diorio jazz routine with Mark, a fun routine to “Whip It,” where the duo looked like a pair of New Wave twins.  I liked it when Mia Michaels said the two reminded her of Adam Ant (and even more when Cat danced and sang “Stand and Deliver.”)  I used to compare Robert unfavorably to Mark, but I think he matched right up to the all-star this time, and the judges agreed.

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'So You Think You Can Dance': Three dancers left walking on the tightrope

_PG17595 I apologize, readers: For some reason Wednesday night I was under the impression that we’d have only two dancers in next week’s finale, but happily for the "SYTYCD" contestants, only one person was sent home last night. Of course, that’s not so happy for the person who was sent home.

The results show was pretty typical as results shows go, with a little additional fluff thrown in for your pleasure (or annoyance).  I enjoyed the Dee Caspary opening group number, featuring the dancers in Victorian garb: It was quirkily dynamic, a little dark but not twisted. And even though I didn’t participate in National Dance Day, the footage from the event made it look like a lot of fun (and who doesn’t enjoy seeing Nigel -- and Mia! -- dance?)

I loved Janelle Monae’s performance. I think she’s a unique and talented lady, and I loved the classy, elegant look of her and her backup dancers as she performed “Tightrope.” I put out a call on Twitter to learn if there’s a name for the smooth footwork they did in their two-tone shoes, and although I couldn’t find a specific style name, someone pointed me to this interesting post on dance history and gender (plus the song’s video).  

Although the dancers didn’t really have any reason to perform solos, I thought they all did a great job Thursday night (and the solos really aren’t my favorite part of the show). It seemed like they all tried a little extra hard to show us why they deserve to be on the show.

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'So You Think You Can Dance': Tears of a creepy clown

_PG12435 I am reluctant to say who my new favorite guy is after Wednesday night’s show, because I did that last week and he got voted off. So I won’t name names, but I will say that one male dancer gave two very strong performances, and I hope he makes it to the finale (Thursday night the judges are powerless to save any dancers: it’s solely up to the voters).

Cat was dressed like a member of Jem and the Holograms as she danced out onto the stage. She’s been doing a lot of dancing lately, despite repeating her standby joke that if she danced on the show she’d “make people’s eyes bleed.” She introduced a cute group Broadway number from “Guys and Dolls” as choreographed by Tyce Diorio. Lauren, perhaps inevitably as the only girl, stood out in the group. Tyce was a strong guest judge and had honest comments for all the contestants. At the top of the show he proclaimed Kent a standout and implored Adechike to display a little more fight.

Lauren and Pasha kicked off the competition part of the show with a tango choreographed by Miriam Larici and Leonardo Barrionuevo. I really liked how the dance was an exercise in control and deliberation, when the choreographers could go really big and overdramatic at this stage in the competition. While it was still pretty clear to me exactly who was the All-Star here, Lauren paired well with Pasha, and her legs especially looked great in the dance's many slow lifts and twirls. The judges adored Lauren and the dance. I like her, and I liked the dance, but I don’t know if I was as over-the-moon about it as they were. Adam took this opportunity to celebrate the overturn of Proposition 8 by proposing to Nigel, who demurely asked for some time to think it over.

I wonder if Adechike is sick of hearing the same input again and again from the judges. Open up, loosen up, lose yourself in the dance, Just Forget It’s a Competition®!  I’m sorry to say though, I agreed with them. Adechike looked like he was having fun in Sean Cheesman’s African jazz routine, but for a dance that was all about joy and light, I don’t think Adechike brought the sense of transcendence that might come with getting this far in the competition. I wondered what Ade, for instance, would have done with the dance. It’s telling that Tyce Diorio’s first comment was telling All-Star Lauren how much he loved her in the dance (she was great).  Mia out-and-out told Adechike that she didn’t care for the dance, but it’s pretty clear by now that he’s just not her favorite. In short, I think Adechike danced it well, but he didn’t dance like a winner in the Promised Land.

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Nigel Lythgoe returns to 'American Idol' as executive producer

  1pg231310

After a two-year break from running "American Idol," Nigel Lythgoe is officially returning to the talent show that he helped make a hit. Lythgoe, who also is a judge and executive producer on "So You Think You Can Dance" will run the show with executive producer Ken Warwick, according to two sources close to the show.

Lythgoe, who was not available for comment Wednesday, left "American Idol" in 2008, in part to dedicate himself to running his dance show. But sources at the time said that friction with Simon Cowell behind the scenes was the primary reason for his departure.

Lythgoe, who criticized Fox's decision to let Paula Abdul leave the show, has said publicly that he would revamp the aging show by changing the judging panel. To that end, Ellen DeGeneres has announced she will not return and Kara DioGuardi has reportedly been fired.

Sources have told The Times that Jennifer Lopez and Steven Tyler have deals "in principle" to become judges on the show. Fox has declined comment on those additions to the show.


-- Maria Elena Fernandez and Joe Flint

twitter.com/writerchica

twitter.com/jbflint

Photo: Nigel Lythgoe at the National Dance Day celebration in Washington, D.C., on July 31. Credit: Jeff Snyder / Picture Group/Fox


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'So You Think You Can Dance': The least exciting results show ever [Updated]

_MG_8193
 
(Claire Zulkey is out this evening, which means you get to put up with me this week. -- Todd VanDerWerff
)

It was one of the few non-injury-plagued results shows on "So You Think You Can Dance" this season, but it also was chock full of filler. There were two very special musical guests, plus a performance by the cast of "Step Up 3D." I understand that all of these things appeal to the "So You Think You Can Dance" audience, but I, personally, was reaching for the remote before I remembered I was watching live and couldn't fast forward the madness. There also was plenty in the way of Nigel lecturing America, as well as one of the least suspenseful eliminations ever.

Continue reading »

'So You Think You Can Dance': Ring that Bell

_2PM5109 Last Thursday I complained that Billy Bell should have been sent home, but this Wednesday he made the judges look smart for keeping him in the competition.  While the judges heaped praise and predicted that Lauren and Kent would make up the top two, I’m now a Billy believer: I hope he makes it to the finale.

The night got off to a sexy start: Is it me, or is there a surplus of kissing this season? That was the theme of Kent’s cha-cha with Anya. It was funny seeing Kent portray a “bad boy” who’s hot for teacher (who wouldn’t be, if your teacher looked like Anya) but as he got into the dance it sort of worked.  However, when Kent was actually supposed to cha-cha and not just play a character, his moves looked a little stiff to me.  Mia and guest judge Toni Redpath felt similarly, saying they wished Kent had a little bit more flow and manliness onstage.  Mia also chided Kent for getting too Kent-y with his face.  While I’ve found Kent’s idiosyncrasies annoying before, I don’t think it was issue with this performance, and Kent actually stood up to Mia this time for making comments about his facial expressions.

Next, Robert danced a contemporary routine with Kathryn choreographed by Stacey Tookey about a soldier going off to war. It was funny because as I watched the dance I admired Kathryn’s extension and the character she poured into her performance but thought, “I’m not really getting ‘Soldier heading off to battle’ from Robert here,’” and then, boo-ya, Stacey got me. Robert wasn’t the soldier in the piece; Kathryn was.  I loved that, and it further solidified my admiration for Kathryn’s work in the piece. The dance had a lot of wonderful little details, like an especially desperate hand-grasp, but I think Kathryn hands-down was the star of the performance. The judges praised Robert’s partnering skills but I think that’s a little bit of faint praise.

Adechike then danced a Tyce Diorio jazz routine with Courtney that looked and felt very old-school jazz, a happy, dynamic routine to Dizzy Gillespie’s “Manteca.” Adam called it “just balls-out dancing” and then giggled about his live TV faux pas but that pretty much summed up the routine. While Adechike looked happy and comfortable onstage, the judges wished they could have gotten just a little more style and spring from him, saying, as they’ve said to everyone now it seems, to forget it’s a competition and JUST DANCE!

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