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'So You Think You Can Dance': 15 of Nigel Lythgoe's (and your?) favorite dances

September 2, 2009 |  9:16 pm
Top4_U1H3681(3) Whether you miss "So You Think You Can Dance" or needed a little reminder before the new season to help you remember what makes the show great, the "15 Best Performances" episode was a nice little refresher. Executive producer Nigel Lythgoe, who enjoyed the peace and quiet without screamer Mary Murphy, hosted it and picked his favorites  from each of the five seasons.

I looked forward to seeing what I had missed in the first two seasons, because I didn't tune in until the third. It was nice to see new-to-me faces such as Jamile McGee and Destini Rogers (who performed a hip-hop routine called "Shake") and Melody Lacayanga and Nick Lazzarini (who danced a Tyce Diorio version of "All That Jazz"), but I couldn't help but consider how far the show has come in quality since the first season. This makes sense, because the series has only gained popularity over the years, attracting more and better talent. Even the costumes have gotten better -- Melody's sparkly red bra in the first season looked almost quaint compared to what some of the girls were put in this time around. It was also a kick to see Nigel with short hair, Mary with dark hair and Mia Michaels with longer, flat-ironed hair. 

During Season 3 I'd heard about Benji Schwimmer from Season 2 (thanks to his sister, Lacey, and his choreography work), so I enjoyed seeing him in action dancing "Black Mambo" with Heidi Groskreutz. Though it's hard to get a lot of Latin sexiness from his boyish face, his footwork was unbelievable.  Also from Season 2 were Ivan Koumaev and Allison Holker dancing "Why" and Mia Michaels' Emmy-winning bench contemporary dance from Travis Wall and Heidi Groskreutz, another performance I'd heard about but hadn't seen. In true Michaels style, it was impressive and depressing.

Of course I'm biased, because this is when I started watching, but I feel like the show really started gaining speed during Season 3. I had completely forgotten how weird and wonderful Jaimie Goodwin and Hok Konishi's hummingbird-flower dance was, and this episode was a great way to revisit it. I had predicted that Sabra Johnson and Neil Haskell's Mandy Moore boardroom routine would make it in, and I enjoyed seeing it so much on my TV I watched it twice. And I felt sad that I don't think I appreciated Lacey and Danny Tidwell as much as I should have while I watched the season, but I can say now without a doubt that their "Hip Hip Chin Chin" samba was one of the show's sexiest, spunkiest dances ever. Also in the wrap-up was Pasha Kovalev and Lauren Gottlieb's Shane Sparks "Fuego" hip-hop routine.

Nigel picked another dance from Season 4 that I had enjoyed but forgotten about -- Mark Kanemura and Courtney Galliano's creepy and alluring "The Garden" from Sonya Tayeh, which in my memory was what solidified Courtney as a real contender that season. "Bleeding Love" from Mark Kanemura and Chelsie Hightower was revisited, as well as Katee Shean and Joshua Allen's "Hometown Glory," another Mia Michaels heartbreaker. I wonder if anyone from this upcoming season can approach Josh and Katee, who I consider the show's best couple ever. 

Then of course we reached the most recent "SYTYCD" season, including some numbers that were just reprised on the finale, like Kayla Radomski and Küpono Aweau's addiction dance, Jeanine Mason and Jason Glover's Travis Wall's routine and Melissa Sandvig and Ade Obayomi's dance about breast cancer. However one that we hadn't seen in a bit was Janette Manrara and Brandon Bryant's disco dance, which I also watched twice, feeling sad once again that Janette didn't make it further in the season.  

Season 6 will be upon us quicker than we know -- next Wednesday! -- and soon we'll have even more classics for the vault.

-- Claire Zulkey

Photo: Danny Tidwell, left, Lacey Schwimmer, Neil Haskell and Sabra Johnson from Season 3. Credit: Fox
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