So You Think You Can Dance: 10th Anniversary Special

 E: Yay, dancing!  Yay, All Stars!  Boo, Knock Knock whatever you are, taking up so much of our precious time with a commercial.

Yay, Cat Deeley’s extra special aqua dress with its beautiful ruching, bejeweled shoulder strap and flowing back.  The diamond cuffs are pretty great, too.  Cat’s clothes are always fun because she takes such risks, but this is a particularly stunning outfit.  She tells us that ten years ago this week, So You Think You Can Dance began airing, and since that time there have been more than 200 episodes, 1000 routines and 227 contestants. (227?  Huh?  How does that number make sense?) Sounds like a good excuse for a party to her, and to me too.  This, she says, is So You Think You Can Dance — and she throws her arms open with gleeful abandon, laughing.

We transition immediately to a starry stage rimmed with All Stars, dancing to M83’s haunting “My Tears Are Becoming A Sea.”  First Travis comes to life, then Allison, then Jamie, Brandon, Kathryn, Alex, Robert, Jasmine, Marco and a light haired girl I can’t identify, gently lifting and touching each other.  I may have gotten the order wrong in parts, but I think the point is, ten All Stars, one for each year the show has been on the air.  It’s very pretty and gentle and smooth, with a tidal ebb and flow to the movement that I like a lot.

Bringing up a few more stats, Cat tells us some of what the former contestants have been up to. Movies:  tWitch has costarred in Magic Mike XXL and the Step Up franchise, and Kent in Teen Beach Movie.  Television: Joshua, American Horror Story, Courtney, Hit the Floor, Dmitry, Bones.  Broadway: Melanie, Finding Neverland; Alex, Newsies.  Back Up Dancers: Jasmine, Beyonce; Comfort, Missy Elliot; Mark, Lady Gaga.

This list is by no means exhaustive.  Let me add a few more she didn’t mention:  the Step Up franchise includes tons of SYT alum like Kathryn and (a different) Brandon.  If we’re going to stick with made for tv movies, you also have Mollee Gray in the Teen Beach movies (in addition to choreographers Christopher Scott and Jessica Lee Keller) as well as the High School Musical trilogy. Benji Schwimmer had a villainous role in a Lifetime Christmas movie (Holiday Spin). Kherington – tWitch’s partner on the show, remember her? — was the lead in the ill-fated Fame reboot.  For television shows, you shouldn’t forget winner Jeanine Mason in Bunheads, or Alex on Smash. Lots of SYT dancers have made appearances on Glee, Dmitry Chaplin wasn’t alone on that episode of Bones (Eliana and Chehon were with him), and I noticed Will (Amelia’s partner) on Nashville.  And somehow, they managed not to talk about Dancing with the Stars, which has to consider SYT its feeder show: former contestants Jenna, Lindsay, Alan, Brittany all made up this year’s troupe, with past pros including Dmitry and Lindsay, not to mention Lacey Schwimmer, Chelsie Hightower and Witney Carson, the latter of whom won the fall 2014 season.  Clearly this wasn’t an accident, though I’m just not sure why.  And many SYT dancers have appeared in production numbers on awards shows like the Oscars, the Emmys and the Tonys (and who knows, maybe the Grammys); Alex, for example,  is at least half way to a performance EGOT.

So.  Okay.  From here,  Cat mentions all the musicians who made their television debuts on the show, back in the days when they had results shows with musical guests, beginning with Lady Gaga (an unforgettable piece of performance art), Katy Perry, One Republic and Florence & the Machine in their American debut.  And then we see a clip of Cat introducing the one star actually made by the show, Christina Perri, who was working as a waitress when Stacey Tookey found her song “Jar of Hearts” on youtube, set a routine for Billy and Kathryn to it, and the platform launched Perri into a solid and impressive musical career.

This brings us to the actual performances in the show.  The three judges each get to ask for a routine to be danced, all of them choosing Emmy-winning routines.  Nigel picks Mia Michaels’ The Bench from season 2, one of the show’s most iconic routines as well as a huge marker in Travis Wall’s career.  Oddly, he’s joined this time not by his former partner, swing dancer Heidi Groskreutz, but by All Star Kathryn McCormick. I wonder why? She’s the only dancer who doesn’t appear.  It certainly still works.  Jason picks one of the First Lady’s favorites, “Run the World (Girls)” with Jasmine and Comfort from season 11; Paula harkens back to season 3 (another deep cut!) for the Wade Robson piece known as The Hummingbird and the Flower.  All three routines are worthy and wonderful, though I’m slightly surprised no one went with Addiction,  which is arguably the most famous routine the show has ever produced.

Cat decides to take a turn for herself, too, and gives us Mark Kanemura’s k-bop routine, “I Am The Best” with Jenna.  Not one of my personal favorites, but there’s no denying how fun it is.  My kids go nuts when the dancers unroll a pillow from the lip couch, which lays on the floor like a tongue.  Afterwards, she hops out to the audience to show us Cody Colson.  After playing the audition clip where Nigel encourages the young man to think about trying out for the dance team at the Special Olympics; since the show aired, the Special Olympics organizing committee/American team/powers that be have contacted Cody and invited him to compete.  Aw!

Throughout the show, we’ve seen montages from all twelve seasons.  Contestants waiting in line.  Contestants with bad auditions.  Contestants with brilliant auditions.  Contestants who didn’t make the show.  Contestants with tough life stories, like this year’s homeless teen Eliazer Chapman, tWitch saying that if he doesn’t make the show for season 4, he’s going to join the navy, Caleb Brauner and his dad, and one that finally puts a name to a favorite dancer from last year whose identity I puzzled over repeatedly during this year’s Vegas episodes, eating disorder survivor Dani Platz. I’m sorry I didn’t place you before, Dani!  It was driving me nuts trying to figure out who you were (she’s the one I thought Nigel called Tandy).  And I really, really hope you make the show next time.  Contestants with obscure styles the show has highlighted, from turfing, cranking, animation, jit, and juke to things that are almost audition specific like the wobble and the creep.  We even get little interview bits with Princess Lockeroo when they do a section on waacking!  So even if the show didn’t get far with its first waacker (poor Lily), we get some honor for the style.  Plus there’s Shan Shan Rothlisberger with her horse’s milk.  We see magic moments from the show – Witney and Chehon’s spectacular lift, Anna Kendrick telling Hayley that if she had the dancer’s body she could achieve world peace, Cat wearing tWitch’s grill, Alex and Allison’s “Halleluiah,” The Garden, Courtney and Tucker, Jenna Elfman crying over Tucker, Mia Michaels crying about her dad, Dee’s high flying ladder dance for Hayley and Curtis, Mary Murphy screaming, Lady Gaga throwing her shoe, the Breast Cancer dance, the original Bench.

Finally, we get to see the top stage and street routines as voted online.  Augh, I wish I knew what the options were!  I love Travis’ “Fix You,” starring Robert and Allison, though I wouldn’t have selected it as the best stage routine ever.  On the other hand, the street winner is quite obvious – “Outta Your Mind” for tWitch and ballet dancer Alex.  All in all, it was a fun little trip down memory lane, interspersed with excellent solos by the 18 remaining contestants.  I will take all the So You Think You Can Dance I can get.  Here’s looking forward to more dancing next week!

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12 comments on “So You Think You Can Dance: 10th Anniversary Special

  1. MMGF says:

    So, this was a little too much of an extended commercial for that silly Ryan Seacrest show for me. (Seriously, what do they do when someone – like ME – doesn’t answer the door?) And I was hoping for appearances from former contestants, and certainly folks like Mary Murphy and Mia Michaels. But, that said, considering the show’s been getting renewed later and later each year, I’m happy to take all the SYTYCD I can get! (Even if the “favorite dances” were the same old ones we always see.)

    • E says:

      Oh, yeah, you know I agree with all of that. I was definitely hoping for a little Mary Murphy. Heck, I was hoping for more than just Adam Shankman and Tara Lipinski sitting in the audience – I wanted a big old style panel of judges, I wanted to see Wade Robson and Mia Michaels and Christina Applegate and Jesse Tyler Ferguson and Neal Patrick Harris and all of the previous winners — I swear, somewhere they promised us this — but. But. I will take what I can get. That’s so my mantra for this year…

    • E says:

      Oh, and ugh. I just fast forwarded through every second of the Ryan Seacrest show.

        • E says:

          Gah, Lacey and Danny just make Asaf’s routine look that much worse, huh?

        • E says:

          You know, they totally could have done Ramalama with the All Stars. (Which, heck, would have included Allison and Travis anyway.) Do you know why there were only 9 dancers? Was someone injured? I didn’t watch that season, not consistently, anyway.

        • E says:

          BTW, love that disco and “Sweet Dreams” and “Sing!” too. Of course, I’d have been okay with Brandon and Janette’s tango, too. Or their Wade Robson jazz. You know, watching these old clips makes me miss the stair cases; that lack would probably make it harder to do Ramalama (or “Ruby Blue”) than anything else.

          Some of my faves: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hZ0QrJaPFcQ

          Good grief. I could go on all night.

          You know, I wonder why they’ve never had certain people back as All Stars. Like, you’d think that Katee would have been a shoe-in.

          • MMGF says:

            Oh, I know. I had a hard time narrowing it down, too. And I almost listed a few you did, too, like the super cute boogie shoes one, and Bleeding Love (which, somehow I always related that to Katee – and no joke, for ages, every time I heard that song on the radio, I envisioned that dance in my head, that’s how strongly I felt about that number.) And Hip Hip Chin Chin was a song that stuck in my head for about a year. I love love love the Ramalama one. I didn’t remember it was only 9 people until I watched it last night. I sort of thought maybe back then they were only eliminating one person every week back then, but that’s not true. I can’t remember why one girl was missing. I see (and remember) Heidi (why, by the way, wasn’t she at the 100th show for the bench dance??) and Donyelle, but don’t really remember the rest of the contestants back then to recognize who’s missing.

            • E says:

              Well, the make up doesn’t help either! Bleeding Love is one of my all time favorites – it would definitely make a top five list if I could ever narrow the others down. It’s funny, don’t you think, that with them doing such iconic/expected routines that Addiction didn’t show up? I knew you’d love seeing Boogie Shoes. That was such an under-appreciated gem.

              I wonder why Heidi wasn’t there too. I suppose there could be tons of reasons – maybe they didn’t have the money to hire her (except they brought in Hok, who wasn’t an All Star), maybe it was a timing thing, maybe she’s not dancing anymore, maybe she’s pregnant… Could be anything.

            • E says:

              Also kept thinking of Joshua and Katee’s Bollywood and Joshua and tWitch doing the Russian folk. So much good stuff.

              • MMGF says:

                Speaking of Boogie Shoes being underrated, that’s exactly how I feel about Mandy Moore. She can give us something fun and peppy like that, then give us something strong and powerful like the table dance, and then give us something as moving as this:

                Plus, she’s all about using the great songs from the ’80’s! 🙂

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