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So You Think You Can Dance, Oct. 26 – A Night of Firsts

It’s a bonus night of So You Think You Can Dance. This is something we haven’t done before, which seems to be a sign of things to come for the night. We have an extra night between the announcement of the top 20 and the first performance night. We’ll have a night with the 20 twenty performing in their own genre, with absolutely no judging. It’s a chance to show them shining before they’re judged.

Cat introduces us to the new set tonight, and I have to say it’s looking very American Idol-esque. It also looks like the set from the Kodak Theater and the final four show last summer. Our judges tonight will be Adam Shankman, Mary Murphy, and Nigel Lythgoe. There’s an empty chair, though, next to Nigel. Cat asks what’s up with the chair, and Nigel explains he asked someone special to appear as a guest judge whenever she gets the chance, so a chair is being saved there for her whenever she can make it. He turns it around, and it says, “Paula Abdul.” At least someone at Fox still loves her.

We’ll start out with a group routine choreographed by Wade Robeson. He explains to Cat it’s supposed to be a like a bar/cafe 1930s type thing that is smoky and sexy. The story goes that four gangs have shown up, and that’s where the dance starts. So here they are, our top 20, dancing to Comanche by The Revels. It’s as billed by Wade, smoky and sexy, and I like it. I have to say so far I’m really impressed by this group of dancers. The colors in this dance just make it that much more with the brilliant hues of red, black, white, and green.

The hop hop dancers will be the first to perform. We have a krumper, Russell Ferguson, 19, from Boston. He explains krumping is a high energetic dance and there are no limits. Kevin Hunte, 23, of Brooklyn, is another hip hopper who specializes in popping and locking. He explains hip hop is an expression of how you feel from the inner being. It’s hardcore, soft or medium. He’s a crowd pleaser. Jonathan “Legacy” Perez, 27, of Los Angeles, says B Boys always do powerful footwork, tricks, top rock, flavor transitions, and foundation. But you have to remember to always dance on beat. I think you have to do that no matter what sty.e you’re dancing in.

The three guys get together with Tabitha and Napoleon D’umo, and she notes she doesn’t think they’ve ever had this amount of talent in a room on this show. It’s unclear whether she means the top twenty or these three hip hoppers. Napoleon explains it’s three people that do what he and Tabitha do, and they don’t even need to teach them, as they just do it. However, once they were trying to each them choreography, the reality hit, as they all have to adjust to each other’s styles to come together into a cohesive unit. Legacy thinks they’ll get it together.

Here’s the three hip hoppers doing their thing to Beggin’ (District 78 Remix) by Madcon, and they have hats on, making it hard to tell who’s who at first. Oh, there they are. All I can say is this is going to be one exciting year, umm, I mean season. These three are amazingly good, and that’s just the three hip hop guys. I’m not sure if the others will have this much excitement, but they’re guaranteed to have this level of talent.

Nigel notes that if this is an example of how exciting this season is going to be, bring it on. He doesn’t care if he loses the hearing in his left ear with Mary’s screaming. And of course, she lets loose. He tells Tabitha and Napoleon they definitely showcased the three guys’ talent. It’ll be a great season for the choreographers, and they’ll be able to work with a top 20 that can just about do anything. It’s the first time they’ve had a krumper. He asks Russell what else he can possibly bring to the table, and tells Legacy he watched him grow in Vegas, and he can’t wait to see where he goes from here. Kevin has tried to get here for a few years, and he knows he’ll bring it every single week.

This is the first of two contemporary numbers, and this one features Channing Cooke, 18, Haverhill, Massachusetts; Jakob Karr, 18, Orlando; Ariana Debose, 18, Raleigh; and Nathan Trasoras, 18, Downey, California. Tyce Diorio choreographs the four, noting, he has four really good contemporary dancers, and he has so much to pull from, with the dancers’ technical ability, power, jumps, turns, and legs. Jakob thinks Tyce is a genius and does amazing work, and Ariana thinks he’s more like a director than a choreographer. Tyce himself admits the best dancers are the best actors. Channing has always struggled to pull out that emotion, and Nathan agrees that’s hard to do without overdoing it.

The four take on the contemporary dance to K.D. Lang’s Crying. They’re all dressed in flowing white costume, and the emotion that Tyce brings them to in the powerful moments of the music are great. I’m wanting to ask right now if we’re sure this isn’t a twenty person finale.

Mary admits to being a little dizzy (I love Mary, but … no comment), and addresses the dancers and Tyce, calling it unbelievable. It was so beautiful, and the whole thing was so touching. They’re always telling the choreographers to play to the dancers’ strengths, but she doesn’t see any weaknesses anywhere. Each of them was so dynamic, so powerful. They have been asking Channing to be more elegant and in touch with her feminine side, and already she’s knocking it out of the ballpark with Tyce’s help. She thought Ariana would have trouble, but she blew her away with her body lines. If Nathan’s pirouettes are the sign of what’s yet to come, “Oh my goodness.” With Jakob’s leaps and lines, he just flies through the air, like the new Dance Superman.

A tap dancer has never made it to the top twenty before, but this year we have three. Peter Sabasino, 21, Philadelphia, believes that tap is one of the most exciting dance forms, because you have to be on visually and “audio-ally.” (No, Peter, it’s not a word.) Bianca Revels, 20, Detroit, thinks America will really be able to connect to tap and seeing something different. Phillip Attmore, 25, Los Angeles, hopes the little bit of flavor they add will remind everyone tap is just as important as the other styles.

Tap requires a brand new choreographer to come into the show, and that’s Derick K. Grant, who explains tap dancers have always been on the outside waiting to be invited to the dance. He couldn’t be happier with this situation. A good tap dance is like a good kung fu movie. It’s that action-packed. Peter knows it doesn’t seem like they’re working hard, but what they do is underestimated. Bianca notes it’s fast, and you have to have a lot of stamina. Derick couldn’t ask for a better combination of people and is glad it’s these three representing this style.


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