I’ve discussed my love of movies and my growing love for live music, but I’ve never discussed my love of dance. Last night, I went to the Lakefront Arena to see the national tour of the So You Think You Can Dance season 8 Top 10 dancers. For those who’ve never seen the TV show, So You Think You Can Dance (SYTYCD) is a voter participation dance show from the same producers who brought us American Idol.Premiering in 2005, contestants from all disciplines of dance, including highly trained and self-taught street dancers, all compete in different genres ranging from Salsa, Broadway and Ballroom to Krumping, Jive and Bollywood. Nominated for 23 Emmys and winner of 9, the show is produced in 21 different countries – so I’m not alone in my love.
The show is filmed in Los Angeles. I’d only been to 3 show tapings in my life and found them all very long and sorta boring. The show, Wings, may only be 1/2 hour long, but the taping took all day. But when my friend Janell told me she had VIP tickets for us to watch SYTYCD, I flipped. We got to talk with producer and judge, Nigel Lythgoe, who was beyond thrilled to have reignited a global passion for dance. And we hung out with judge, Mary Murphy, in the green room while munching on snacks and meeting contestants families. It was season 3 and one of the greatest dancers the show had ever had, Allison, was eliminated that night. To say she is a breathtaking dancer is a serious underselling.
The following year, when Janell got us tickets again, I couldn’t believe my good fortune. When I moved to New Orleans, I assumed that my days of attending live performances of SYTYCD were behind me. Until the birthday fairy brought me tickets to this year’s tour of the top 10 contestants of season 8. Maybe watching dancing doesn’t make you cry or laugh or cheer or even give you goosebumps, but if it does, you would have to love this show. Seeing it live for nearly 3 super-fast hours was… sublime.
Dance, for me, is like music as a painting. I’ve been privileged to watch truly amazing dancers throughout my life but there was something special about this year’s winner, Melanie Moore. She was the first to audition this season and from the second I saw her, she took my breath away, raised goosebumps on my skin and drove me to weep with joy over the beauty of it all. For a taste, here’s a video of her first audition (which she performed again in the tour show) and a number of her solos. I’m particularly fond of the one at the 1:50 mark. And, here’s one favorite of her many, many favorite couples dances. If you’re the tender type, I warn you this dance makes me weep every time.
Though Nigel and Mary weren’t there, they made appearances throughout the night on the jumbo screens that created elaborate lighted backdrops throughout the night. Each dancer was introduced separately and given a chance to show us a solo. The many couples and group dances were woven together as fast-paced montages pausing dramatically for moments like Jordan and Tad’s angry birds dance choreographed by former contestant and 2011 Emmy nominee, Travis Wall.
The security guards for the Arena seemed a bit lost as the show started. I’m not sure they knew until that moment that, in addition to girls from 5 to teen, dance attracts a very large crowd of young, hot women dressed cute as heck. As the show kicked in, I noticed them scanning the crowds for trouble less and just staring at the wonder of people flying end-over-end through the air, spinning top-like on toes, leaping into splits and telling stories from heart-wrenching to hilarious with their bodies.
Enjoy this group dance from the Top 10 guys. Though there were only half as many male dancers in the tour version, the impact was still Matrix-like. The dancing starts at the 1:50 mark. Enjoy.