Update: Susan at Ocean Tsunami Photography is also a fan of "So You Think You Can Dance" and kindly gave me permission to reprint the photo below that she took during the Los Angeles concert (Thanks Susan!). Click here to see the other amazing photos she got that night.
Benji and Heidi show off West Coast Swing. © Ocean Tsunami Photography (9/16/06)
One of our favorite TV shows last summer was So You Think You Can Dance. In fact, unless American Idol cranks it up next season, it's probably taking over as my favorite show. Sure, the results shows are unnecessarily long, what with the c-list musical guests, but other than that, what's not to love? It's got great moves, great music, quirky judges and great contestants that make you want to root for them.
Unlike the Idols show, the So You Think You Can Dance live show rocked! (9/16/06)
So naturally, when they announced they were doing a live tour, we HAD to go. It was non-negotiable. And what a fantastic experience it was! The top 10 contestants re-lived some of my favorite dance scenes. Ever.
The show was at the Gibson Amphitheater at Universal Studios, Hollywood. We hadn't been to since we saw Donna Summer in 1999. In fact, back then it was still called the Universal Amphitheater.
Martha, Travis, Natalie, Allison, Benji, Ivan, Heidi, Ryan, Donyelle & Dimitri were all there. (09/16/06)
As soon as the lights went out, the audience went nuts. After an opening routine, the dancers began rotating the numbers they did during the show, including (in no particular order): Benji & Donyelle's hip hop number to "Too Much Booty," Ivan & Allison's Tango from the 3rd week, Martha & Travis' Broadway-style routine to "Steam Heat," Dimitry & Natalie's latin number to Sergio Mendes' "Magalenha," Travis & Heidi's paso doble, Donyelle & Travis' contemporary "Georgia on my Mind" number and many others.
I was thrilled thrilled! when Ivan & Allison re-created their smooth hip hop "Sexy Love" number, and when Heidi & Benji danced their spectacular "Black Mambo" number that Nigel said he would pay money to see again. I was also very excited to see Benji & Heidi re-do the West Coast Swing number that they did from the Las Vegas semi-finals that saved him from elimination.
During intermission, we ran into judge Mia Michaels who's posing with a bunch of kids we don't know. (09/16/06)
Other memormable moments include Ivan & Allison's amazing contemporary piece to Annie Lennox's "Why," Benji & Donyelle's Viennese waltz (that she kept calling "Vietnamese waltz"), Heidi & Travis' park bench/Celine Dion routine, and Ryan & Heidi's Cuban rumba (the one where Nigel famously gushed about the way he "beat her bongos").
Of course the show wouldn't have been complete without Travis & Benji's hip hop nerd number and Benji & Donyelle's infectious Broadway number to Hairspray's "You Can't Stop the Beat." Both of those were fantastic!
James & musical theater triple-threat Tyce Diorio. (09/16/06)
There were plenty of other surprises, including a new contemporary piece that Travis choreographed to "Flying Without Wings." I really enjoyed the group numbers, like the the Final Four number to Justin Timberlake's "SexyBack," the Interview with a Vampire-inspired "Ramalama Bang Bang" number, Chicago's "Cell Block Tango," Broadway's "Bye Bye Blackbird," Bel Biv Devoe's "Poison" and a Disco routine to "Born to Be Alive."
In addition, every performer did a solo that thankfully was much longer than the 30 seconds they get on the show. There were also plenty of video clips, including a nice tribute to the rest of the Top 20. At the end, we learned it was Travis' birthday. And to lead the audience in singing Happy Birthday was none other than host Cat Deeley.
Ivan and Allison do their hip hop routine to Sexy Love. (09/16/06)
Incidentally, I also got to meet renowned choreographer and dance teacher Tyce Diorio, who choreographed many of the routines (namely the Broadway ones). And I know we were the only one's who watched this, but Tyce was the Ringer on the Joey Fatone/Debbie Allen hosted reality version of "Fame." That show, if you remember, was NBC's short-lived version of American Idol. Poor Tyce. For being a triple-threat (acting, dancing, singing), he got voted out very shortly after being brought in.
Even though it took us an hour and 45 minutes to drive up there in really horrible traffic, the 2-hour, 15-minute show was worth every minute. If only the American Idol tour were this good.