It has been quite the feat chronicling all of the happenings on the Grand Prairie leg of the 2012 So You Think You Can Dance Live Tour. As usual, the tour was all that and everything. So much happened that like the Lin-Manuel experience I’m going to have to break the trip into two posts for the show review and the travelogue.
MAJOR HUMUNGOUS SPOILER ALERT: I will be revealing the swing dancers and describing the show in minute detail from beginning to end. So if you’re going and DON’T want to be surprised, read on. If you want to experience the show fresh, bookmark me and come back later. I’ll give you some time….
Everybody here that still wants to be? Are we sure?
Goodie! Let’s get to dishing! Pack a lunch, ’cause this read is gonna take a while…..
I have to say they jammed as much as humanly possible and then some into this show. They took last year’s seamless run of mashups and applied it to the entire show, and though I do miss the comic relief from the cast introductions (Season 5’s Russian dance bit, anyone?), it does help to guarantee a little of everyone’s audience favorites gets to the stage. The only verbal introductions outside of Nigel’s pre-taped talking heads were from Chehon and Eliana after the opening number and cast intro. I’ll try to take you through the show as best I can with very few pictures so you can get the full experience even if you didn’t watch the show this season. (translation: I need a better digital camera or better seats. Or maybe a better photographer.)
You might as well start awesome WITH awesome, and as I surmised from the tour pic in the Yahoo! review article pic, the show opened with a 12 man version of Christopher Scott’s Mad Men inspired office piece. After this we move to the Top 10 intros and pose, then Chehon and Eliana’s short greetings. These are the last spots of the show when there are any visible breaks, so at this point it’s take a breath and hold onto your seats ‘cause we’re going full throttle to intermission. The first contemporary block of the evening begins with Amelia and Will’s duet from Week 2 that Stacey Tookie choreographed, which morphs from them to Eliana and Cole’s solitary opposing figures about to do battle with Mia Michaels’s ram/anger piece—not something I’d have risked putting on tour given the potential dangers but it fit with the somewhat dark theme. The mood stayed serious but gained a little lightness by moving to the Travis Wall number done for the Top 10 girls in the Meet the Top 20 show—you know, the one with the door and the light on the other side that represented their journey. I’ve got to say I wasn’t overly crazy about it on the show, but with fewer girls it was a lot easier to see the artistry. Following that, in a move that convinces me these dancers have stageside dressing assistants, we go into the Top 20 number from the finale that was the brain lovechild of Christopher Scott and Sonya Tayeh. I’m telling you—the two minutes it took for the boys to move the door offstage, move the fans in and do a few moves and turns would NOT have been enough time for me to have gotten out of those gauzy creations from the Sennen piece and into those clingy, full-body heavy Lycra dresses required for this dance…but somehow every single one of those girls got fully attired and back on that stage.
The first block ends and we come to the first solo of the evening—the “breathing points,” if you will—and Audrey’s up. I’m not exactly sure how long her solo was but they have blessedly taken that “So You Think You Can Dance” end tag off of the music so the dancers can properly finish and be applauded. We then move to the “theatrical” section, leading off with Tyce Diorio’s Chaplin contemporary. I am way too excited to fully absorb this number—the platform at the back of the stage has a pole attached. So I’m sitting and waiting for this number to end so the one I had fervently hoped to see come to the stage. However, the show producers are being teases, as the Chaplin piece segues into Witney’s jazz number that I affectionately called the “Zombie Jazz Age.” Performed on the show with All-Star Nick Lazzarini, George steps into the male lead and is brilliant, as expected. (Yes I am still fully biased, but he really was good.) After this, George leaves the stage and I hear the tell-tale whine of a trumpet that is unmistakably the intro for “All That Jazz.” Seeing Eliana and Tiffany saunter out along with the rest of the ladies confirms that we get a short original piece to lead us into “When You’re Good To Mama,” which has me literally bouncing up and down in my seat. The dynamic duet from the finale was mesmerizing, so imagine that multiplied by three. Whew! I do remember taking off my jacket for the first time in any theater, and I will certainly attribute the raised temperature of the room to this number. So…however do we move the show forward from here? Simple–turn the pole into a lamppost and have Chehon come out in full “Singing In The Rain” regalia. If you thought I was happy before, getting to see the Gene Kelly tribute live was beyond delightful—AND Cole got to dance his part this time! Now, I’m pretty sure all of the Top 10 got to participate in this number, so unless it was well hidden under that sailor suit, I can’t imagine how Witney changed into her solo outfit so quickly. I think I may have gotten one semi-clear photo of her, and that one was with her sitting down. You need a really good action function to get Ms. Carson in motion.
The third dance medley segment is another contemporary set, beginning with Lindsay and Cole’s “Wild Horses” routine from Stacey Tookie. They are joined onstage during the last few bars by Tiffany and Will, who perform Mandy Moore’s “Power Of Love” piece that Tiffany did with Ade on the show. I’m glad I got one good picture of this number, and that THAT pic was of that spectacular lift in the middle, because not only does it clearly show me Will’s face but his phenomenal performance on that lift. This contemporary section closes out with another Stacey Tookie showstopper—Witney and Chehon’s “I Will Always Love You.” Solo twofers are next from Lindsay and George, who naturally give stellar offerings in their given styles. I’m truly entranced by the way George moves; somebody’s company needs to pick him up quickly.
We ramp us the fun for the next section with the Spencer Liff Broadway piece “Treat Me Rough,” performed by Cyrus and Tiffany during Top 6 week…cue the blatant shameless plug for tour co-sponsor Just Dance 4. Come on now—y’all know good and well there was barely television back in the 1950s…video games? Special. But the same bit of cute as on the show. After that our loveable alley cats sneak into the house to cause their own mayhem—no Dumpster for Amelia and Will tonight. More’s the pity—I thought it visually reinforced their “on the prowl” mood. Just for the tour I might have made a slight adjustment to Will’s costume to make him look a little more ‘50s, since the next two numbers of this section were Tiffany’s jive—partnered by Cole and expanded to a sextet including Lindsay, Matthew, Witney and Chehon—and Eliana’s “Postman” hip-hop with Cyrus making the special delivery. Will’s barely got any time to catch his breath to do his solo before we come to the final section of Act 1 (yes, dearies, ALL of that was Act 1. Imagine how much more I have to describe to you). Keeping the octane going, our ballroom blondes are joined by Matthew to perform the J. Lo/Pitbull cha-cha trio before everyone comes out to do Doriana’s death-defying disco. Everyone was quite admirable in this number—I still can’t tell who partnered Tiffany but watching them do that upside-down split to overhead lift just reinforces how tough this number really is. I have to give a special shout-out to Cyrus, though—for all the critics and naysayers who whined and complained about his non-trained form continuing on the show week after week, he tore that disco a new one. I mean, his form was really greatly improved and his unison with everyone else was impressive. Remember that level of hard he needed to get to? He’s doing it in spades on this tour.
We open Act 2 with a Mia Michaels tribute section, with 10 of the dancers reprising the “Eyes” contemporary from the Meet the Top 20 show. The all black costumes and stark lighting make the perfect entrance for Tiffany and George, who begin the three-dance run of my Mia Night favorites with “Hometown Glory.” I still get thrown off with the assisted jétes but I love the power and vulnerability they put into this piece. Next was Lindsay and Cole’s “Gravity” redux which I tried to make a conscious effort to sit and enjoy but missed a lot of that experience getting that perfect shot of them in motion. The extended dance transition from “Gravity” into Witney and Chehon’s “Calling You” was slightly awkward—it’s really hard to go into a prop-dependent dance from one that has no props, particularly when the themes and colors of the dances don’t mesh. But the interpretations were amazing, just as they were during the competition.
Cole does a quick turnaround to perform his ninja magic, which I did give more focus to despite my futile attempts to get great stills. I guess that’s proof that you can’t nail down a ninja. 😉 The next section can best be called “Extreme Passion” as we have a seamless run through “Bang Bang” with Eliana and “I told y’all that boy was good” George; a sextet of Will, Matthew, Cole, Amelia, Audrey and Tiffany for the Peter Chu group contemporary; Chehon’s Argentine tango with our firecracker Witney; and Cole and Lindsay’s tour de force paso doble.
This section was followed by the most thunderous applaud of the night, as it was Cyrus’s turn at a solo. Clearly none of this audience cared one whit about the critics because they LOOOOOOOVE them some Cyrus. And he gave them everything. Katt Williams level everything. (EV-ER-Y-THANG? EV-ER-Y-THANG!!!!!!)
Now in the category of Biggest Illogical Hodgepodge, this next section opens with Audrey and Matthew jumping on and off the furniture and each other in their Travis Wall Titanic-inspired piece to “Unchained Melody.” Danced with just as much skill, passion and abandon, they were delightful to watch…and then, Will and Amelia enter. I suppose the chaise lounge could represent a Parisian apartment, so I’ll try to buy the producers’ rationale to put “Koop City Blues” (aka the Butt Dance) right here. But in a complete emotional 180, these two are followed on stage by Chehon and Eliana who bring with them a sheet to cover the chaise and…a suitcase. Perhaps had we not been told the full story behind Tyce’s motivation and vision for the dance that transition would have been fine, but it just seemed jarring to me to move from unbridled young passion to unabashed ogling to….devastating emotional tragedy. None of this took anything away from the excellence of the performances, though—Amelia actually found some wellspring of sex appeal this time and the Chehon/Eliana pairing for “Eli, Eli” is so poignantly beautiful you can almost get past the uneasy flow.
Fortunately, we are entering the last full segment of the evening—following Tiffany’s solo turn, we go into the “Beautiful People” group routine Nappytabs graced us with in the second Top 20 competitive show. It looks like they used the costumes from the Top 6 Kelis number which is a good thing, as the netted skirts allow us to get “Toxic,” with Team Cyriana performing the only number that was actually an original duet of theirs on the show. A not-quite-as-awkward-but-still-weird transition later finds us watching Cole and who I want to say was Audrey (sadly my seats were at an angle, on the opposite side from most of the dance action AND I still can’t tell Audrey and Tiffany apart from a distance) performing the Sonya Tayeh contemporary “Possibly Maybe.” Allison Holker is a difficult spectre to live up to, but it was well done.
Gearing up for the finale brings us to our champion solos—Eliana goes back to the beginning and performs her audition piece (flawlessly was implied—I said ELIANA was dancing), and Chehon brings out the badass Terminator/Tekken routine complete with this bitchin’ pair of multi-LED lighted gloves. Like we needed an incentive to pay attention to him…but they were a lovely bonus. The music gears up—it’s “My Homies Still,” so Witney will be allowed to get ratchet on the tour. She comes out with GEORGE—who the judges ragged on during his and Tiffany’s Nappytabs babysitting adventure—who proceeds to SHUT IT DOWN. I have to admit, even I underestimated the level of swag my boy brought to this. However, halfway into the number, Cyrus is not satisfied to let George have all the fun, so our crunk duo becomes a trio. Not to be outdone, as the threesome begins “waiting for the bus,” EVERYBODY runs out into a straight line to join them on that step.
They move from here into the finale number, which of everything performed that evening was the only original full number in the show (a few dance segue segments aside). Lots of fun and high energy, our cast takes their well-deserved bows and gear up for an encore—Gangnam style. No, seriously—the entire lot of them pranced around the stage to that song, with those steps. I suspect this was probably their favorite number of the evening, as I saw so much smiling and laughing and energy going on amongst a group of people who had just spent the last two hours busting several moves and should have been somewhere backstage passing out and looking for oxygen.
GREAT show–the performances get better every year and the staging is awesome. There’s so much going on visually with the dancers and the video accompaniments and the lighting it gets increasingly difficult to try to absorb it all in one sitting…not to mention being practical. It is taking everything in me (and the finite amount in my bank account) not to sneak off and see another show. But, oh how it would be worth it!
For more information on the remainder of this season’s Live Tour, go to dance.aeglive.com.