Mary Murphy on 'SYTYCD': Going gaga for Gaga

mary-murphy

Image Credit: Sergio M. Fernandez

In the eight seasons of So You Think You Can Dance, tonight’s show was the most exciting I’ve ever had. If Lady Gaga wasn’t enough, throw in film director Rob Marshall onto the judging panel! It was so surreal to sit next to celebrities that I admire that have so adored our show from the beginning. You know they are true fans when, during commercial breaks, they are chatting about contestants from season 1. How cool is that? And if the judging panel didn’t do it for you, Ellen DeGeneres, Portia de Rossi, and Katie Holmes were in the audience. I thought for a second that I must be having this crazy dance dream, because as I walked down the hallway after the show, I was greeted by Stevie Nicks. Amazing!

Now, on to the top eight contestants.

It was so great to see all the new all-stars. I haven’t seen Ivan in such a long time; it’s so great to see how his craft grows. I felt Ivan DID outdance Caitlynn in the hip-hop number by Marty Kudelka, but she did do well to keep up. It was also wonderful to see last year’s champion Lauren Froderman back in a Mandy Moore jazz routine starring Tadd. He definitely had the swagger, with moves like Michael Jackson and that Elvis Presley crooner look.

SYTYCD_320.jpg

Image Credit: Adam Rose/FOX

Marko’s number with all-star Alison Holier was remarkable, bringing me and Lady Gaga to tears with his tribute to his mother. He has certainly been a shining star throughout this entire season and I will fall off my chair if he does not make it into the finale.

I had a difference of opinion with Lady Gaga over Tabitha and Napoleon’s hip-hop number, starring Marko and Ricky. Lady Gaga felt that this hip-hop style was outdated. I would say the complete opposite. We have had hard-hitting hip-hop for many years, but what Tabitha and Napoleon did was bridge lyrical dancing with hip-hop. That is not outdated, but innovative.

Sonya Tayeh hit it big again with her jazz number, called “Game On,” starring Melanie and Sasha. Talk about game-on, these two girls brought it like no two girls we have ever seen on our show. They are both true professionals. I’m sure if they keep this up, these two girls will reach the finale.

Even though the show showcased the best dancing of the season, we still have to send somebody home. The judges weren’t unanimous when we started our discussion backstage, but we all agreed in both decisions when we came to the judging table. It always throws us for a loop when both contestants don’t deliver a good solo. This was the case with Caitlynn and Jordan. We know they are capable of so much more, but when it gets to this point in the season, it’s easy to get nervous and exhaustion starts to play a factor. We then had to consider their full journey, and we came to the conclusion that Caitlynn barely edged Jordan out of the next round.

I was happily surprised that Ricky did not fall into the bottom. I believe he has been underrated and still has a chance to make it into the finale. With Jess and Tadd, we felt their solos were both amazing, but Tadd gave us something we had never seen before. We like to see the dancers grow, and even though we enjoyed Jess’s solo and think he is an extremely talented dancer, we have seen this type of solo several times before and wanted more. I know it’s hard to say goodbye to contestants — it is for me too — but I do take joy knowing they will be back in a week to rehearse in the top-20 routine during the finale. And that you willl soon see them on the tour.

My favorite moment of the show… When Lady Gaga took her shoe off and threw it at the contestants and then threw her other shoe to choreographer Sonya Tayeh, who in turn gave it to Melanie. Lady Gaga signed both the shoes for Sasha and Melanie. For those girls, it will be a memory they will never forget for the rest of their lives.

Stepping off to D.C. to get everyone dancing on National Dance Day this Saturday!
Mary

Read more:
‘SYTYCD’: Who went home…
Melanie LaPatin: Jordan can’t get any better (Can she?)
‘SYTYCD’ recap: The Edge of Glory

Comments (135 total) Add your comment
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  • sarahp

    I’m loving your blog Mary! Hoping you keep coming by SYTYCD Canada too.
    If it was up to me, I would have sent Caitlynn home over Jordan. Caitlynn never stands out for me – I can’t even recognize her half the time because her hair completely covers her face. But I’m very glad that you kept Tadd. He’s really a great dancer, and I think that was one of the best solos I’ve ever seen on the show. I think he was certain he was going to be sent home, so he just gave it all he had. I watched it three times!

    • Psac

      I agree about Tadd, he gave it his all, and really deserved to go on to next week. What he did with the scaffolding was incredible, I’ve never seen anything close to that on the show.
      I’m happy they kept Caitlynn, though. I really like her, moreso than Jordan.

      • R I P Gaga

        There was NOTHING amazing about GaGa performance or appearance. It was boring as hell.

        The only interesting thing was the lighting, she looked bored, stoned and agitated. All this performanced proved was that she had no business judging the show… and they danced better than her.

      • Squishmar

        Yeah, the dancers danced better than Gaga. Do you think they could sing better than she can? Play the piano better? Write better songs? Come up with her stage performances? Her persona? I’m not a “little monster” by any means (I don’t own a single song of hers) but I give credit where credit is due and that woman is genius. And incredibly talented. This backlash is just astounding (although something tells me you were never a fan).

    • The Truth

      Lady GaGa was so irritating on the show. Flake much!

      • Judarse

        I am too getting tired of Lady Gaga who has no whatsoever substance!

      • D

        She is an artist-you want her to conform to something in particular?

    • Squishmar

      I really like Jordan as well, but it seems a lot of people don’t and at this point in the show, the judges just can’t ignore the fact that she was in the bottom so many consecutive times. To use Nigel-speak, she obviously wasn’t connecting to the audience. I know she had a vibe some people didn’t like but personally, I thought she was always fantastic.

  • dancerindc

    Thanks for the insight, Mary! I really think your choices were right on this week – it was time for Jordan and Jess to go. They both were upbeat about it and will be fine in their careers.

    And I appreciate the difference of opinion on that NapTab number – it’s GOOD that the judges don’t always agree, because dance is ultimately a subjective medium.

    The finale this year is going to be EPIC.

  • Mr. Holloway

    “Even though the show showcased the best dancing of the season, we still have to send somebody home. The judges weren’t unanimous when we started our discussion backstage, but we all agreed in both decisions when we came to the judging table.”

    And when, exactly, was the decision made to take the voting power away from the American public once we hit the top 10?!

    I mean, are the judges going to make the elimination decisions all the way up to the finals? I mean at that point, might as well just have the judges pick who they want as “America’s favorite dancer.”

    • dancekrazy

      I disagree!! I prefer a Project Runway elimination where experienced judges decide who goes home. I suppose one reason for audience voting is to boost ratings and I can appreciate that – but I think Ricky had the sympathy vote last night.

      • Mr. Holloway

        You make a valid point in that a lot of people at home don’t know a developpe from a hole in the wall and that the judges provide more guidance here than they do on other, dopier shows.

        However, the winner CANNOT have the title of “America’s Favorite Dancer” if it’s really going to be “Nigel and Co’s Favorite Dancer.”

      • kahuna

        It’s America’s “Favorite” dancer, not the most technical dancer.

      • porfitron

        They never cut America’s favorite dancer… the judges always cut from the bottom, so not sure how anyone can call it “Nigel’s favorite”.

      • Mr. Holloway

        Someone could call it “Nigel’s favorite” if, for example, one of the judges’ pets lands in the bottom 3/4 and they wind up being saved in favor of someone MUCH more deserving. (For example, saving Ryan on double elimination night instead of Iveta, who is apparently one of the world’s best ballroom dancers, but we never got to see what she could REALLY do because she got saddled with Bollywood the week she went home…a genre that has eliminated every dancer who’s performed it this season, except for Robert, who was an All-Star.)

        I’m not saying Iveta would’ve won the show, but you never know.

        Bottom line: just because they “cut from the bottom” doesn’t mean that they’re not potentially cutting someone who could become America’s favorite dancer (bye Nick!)

        But that’s a separate discussion: I really just want to know why it’s being done this way THIS season.

      • Squishmar

        We at least deserve an explanation. The week before Top 10, Mary herself said in this blog that it was now up to us and then…. Not? With not a word of explaining done. I was like WTF? That said, I do like the judges still making the final decision out of the bottom because sometimes (let’s face it) America just gets it wrong. People think someone is a shoo-in and completely safe and they think they don’t need to vote for them and a favorite will go home early (which, oddly enough, hasn’t really happened this season).

    • D

      Agree with Mr. Holloway.

      • Fair Judge

        Attn: Nigel..this is not a beauty contest CAITLYN should’ve been ELIMINATED SINCE DAY 1!! THERE ARE MANY DANCERS WAY BETTER THAN HER!!

    • sun

      Yes, Mary please respond to Mr. Holloway’s comment. The voting rules are not transparent.

      • Lee

        Agreed! I think it should totally be up to the audience from Top 10 on! Its pretty annoying when you guys get rid of people and don’t really explain why-just let the viewers decide!!!!!!!!!

      • NayNay

        And why do we have to get rid of one guy and one girl every week? Why can’t it just be the bottom two regardless of sex. I mean, we do have the allstars to partner them.

      • RyRyNYC

        No Nay Nay… they did that last year and all the girls went home first… in fact after week 4 or 5 Lauren was the only girl left (although technically that had to do with there being on 5 girls to 6 girls and Ashley got injured.)

    • Deej

      I agree. With the exception of the season there was only a top 10 it has been the practice of the show that as of the top ten the dancers with the least votes get the boot.

      Now all of a sudden, with no warning at all it’s only been up to the judges. Usually when changes are made they at least made mention of it the week before. It came as a complete shock to a lot of viewers that on the night of the Top Ten they said the judges were going off to decide.

      I can accept the loss of Jess if it truly was just based on votes but once again, the rules get screwed with and the viewers feel robbed.

      For me I really don’t care who wins especially being in Canada I can’t vote anyway. All I ever care about is I get to see the dancers I like on my TV for as long as possible.

    • Lady Reb

      I was pleasantly surprised at Lady Gaga’s judging and her pending performance on Thursday that I was not looking forward to and ready to fforward through. She showed emotion, intelligence, with only a couple of sarcastic moments with Nigel, but all in all her on the Edge performance was very appropriate and actually seemed to follow the Warrior Princess number from night before with Sasha and Melanie. I respectfully take back the remarks before show came on about her being a horrible pick for a judge. Good Job!

  • LMFAO

    Goo-goo for gaga should be the right term.

  • Mo

    I was so happy that Tadd was kept after what I considered to be THE Dance For Your Life solo of the season. I thought we’d seen almost the exact solo from Jess before, too.
    I personally was surprised Jordan went home before Caitlynn, for I found Jordan’s dance routines moving this week.
    Looking forward to the finale!

  • Mr. J

    Mary…Mr.Holloway asks a valid question. Why have the judges taken over the top-ten elimination, and did Nigel even announce this change at any point in the season? Will the judges ultimately decide the winner?

    • Mindy

      This was done last season, as well. Of course, it was only a top 11 to start with there. I was hoping once it went back to top 20 this would stop. Although, I am glad Jordan was sent home and Tadd was kept.

  • w

    Actually, I felt Jesse’s solo was one of the best – he actually choreographed a real number to the music with a beginning and end. I felt he has taken the comments and grown and improved. I like Tadd but to me it was just a bunch of tricks – and I haven’t seen much growth. But, I guess that’s why Mary is the expert. FYI: Why IS the panel still deciding, Mary? And why wasn’t the change announced? I thought it was America’s FAVORITE dancer.

    • ms

      You haven’t seen much growth in Tadd? He’s a b-boy who has danced contemporary, jazz, viennese waltz, waltz, hip-hop and fox trot, beautifully. If that is not growth, then I don’t know what growth is.

    • Lena

      I thought Jess’ solo was much better, too. I don’t understand how Tadd’s was so unique. I like Tadd a lot, but Gev or Hok could wipe the floor with him.

  • zizzie

    SYTYCD is by far the best “reality” show on the air. Thrilled that you, Ms. Murphy, are back. Can’t believe that finale is only 2 weeks away.

  • Laurie

    Jess had a solo that was energetic and he was dancing for his life. Tadd’s solos are handstands and mugging. I would say Tadd is better at partnering. I feel the audience does not need to know who are the judge’s favorites. You don’t help the dancers you share this with. Provide a critique that is an actual critique and if you loved it great. Can we please have Wade Robson, Brian Friedman, or Benji Schwimmer do some choreography. I miss their dances very much.

    • Confused

      I agree with this so much. I am so sick of the blatant unwarranted favoritism.

      • Mimi

        A.GREE!!!

      • Lena

        This! So, so much.

    • Lily

      Laurie, I think that Brian Friedman left the show in a huff and won’t be back, if I recall correctly. Would love to see Wade Robson again.

      • Likes it edgy!

        Yes… bring Wade Robson back! His choreography kills!!!

  • Mike

    Mary, you’re awesome. SYTYCD is a fantastic show and your enthusiasm and genuine investment in the dancers is one of the main reasons why! Loving this season. Melanie and Sasha are two of the best dancers you’ve ever had on the show.

  • TGIF

    Have the dancers been assigned random, “picked out of a hat”, routines? It feels as though Melanie has been dancing an awful lot of contemporary and jazz.

    • Marcy Runkle

      The producers can say everything’s random all they want, but it’s absurd to believe it.

      • Mimi

        I absolutely agree. It is NOT decided on America’s vote. THEY decide who they want to push along to the finale. It’s SO transparent. It’s sickening. We all know Melanie should win. HowEVER… Marko might b/c he’s being shoved along by the judges. AND … if neither one of these 2 win, it will be Sasha b/c a black female has never won before. They can’t be prejudiced! :-/

      • Tara

        Actually Mimi that is not true sabra won the show.

    • Lily

      Dancers from previous seasons have said that it’s not random at all and that there is only one piece of paper in the hat. There’s a reason poor Jess always got awful dance choices and Melanie always got dances in her style (even her ballroom routine had more comtemporary moves than ballroom). It’s so obvious who the judges favor.

      • Aunt Sassy

        Sorry, but after seeing how incredible her technique is do you REALLY believe that Melanie wouldn’t be able to perform a hip-hop or ballroom number? Give me a break – she has mastered everything they’ve thrown her way (including two ballroom numbers) and I think it’s idiotic to think she’s being coddled or given easier routines.

      • Darla P

        she did dance a hip hop – with Marko towards the beginning of the season – a nappy/tab number and they absolutely rocked it!!

      • D

        Well, Aunt Sassy, then lets SEE it then. I want her to do a krump or a lindy hop, please! Something very uptempo.

      • Squishmar

        Melanie has done a waltz, a tango, and hip-hop (as of Top 8). And maybe more. I think it’s just that she is so versatile (kind of like Lauren Froderman was) that you forget the dances she danced out of her style because they were danced effortlessly.

  • Here & There

    I couldn’t feel all the love for Sasha’s quick step. For me, it was OK, but not the caliber expected of a top 10 SYTYCD performer, or top 8 or top 6 now. Sasha is weak or just OK when dancing out of her comfort zone or in a different style. Melanie & Marko are #’s 1 & 2. Everyone else is not on their level. Love the show though, and lots of love for the best host(ess) on TV, Cat Deely.

    • Here & There

      Need to add: I’m also disappoint that Sasha’s paso doble was choreographed just to accommodate Sasha, because Sasha can’t be “soft” as needed for role of the cape. So, the choreographers had to change the style to have 2 matadors to adjust to Sasha’s inability to dance a true paso doble.

      • quin

        fair enough opinions about Sasha, but I don’t know how you can make that judgement in comparison to Mel who has never really danced out of her comfort zone except for the tango, and she stunk at that.

      • Mellissa

        Sasha stunk at the quickstep, and I thought Melanie danced quite a nice tango. And a nice smooth watlz. And a good lyrical hip hop. You know…out of her style. At least the coreographers of Melanie’s dances don’t have to change the style of dance for her, like they did for Sasha’s Paso.

  • maggie may

    My favorite show!!! Can’t choose between Sasha, Melanie and Tadd. I have to say Tadd just stuns me with his range. Blows me away… Also feel Jordan should have stayed before Caitlynn. This show keeps upping its game every week, every season… LOVE IT

    • Marta

      The three contestants you mentioned are also my favorites (hope they make it to the finale!)

      I would say, though, that, out of the three, I like Melanie the best. There has not been a dance yet where she has disappointed, and I have rooted for her since the very beginning. :)

  • Riz

    Guest judges this season have been phenomenal! Jesse rocked it, NPH – LEGEND (wait for it), ARY, GAGA – I want to throw my shoe at her! Spectacular. And the contesants – cramazing. Thanks for a show that makes me cry happy tears. Seeing dreams come true and hard work paying off – priceless.

    • Riz

      Oops forgot the cute as a button Kristen Chenoweth. Delilghtful.

  • Confused

    I knew Jess was going home the minute Tadd landed in the bottom with him. The judges have CLEARLY telegraphed their favorites since the beginning of the season, and Jess was clearly not one of them. I liked all of the dancers who remained, but I am through with this show until the judges back off on the over-the-top praise for the chosen ones. I can’t enjoy watching these talented, hardworking kids get used and manipulated like this week after week.

    • TV Junkie

      I think it’s true that the judges have been really pushing their favorites, but I also think that that’s only natural. I don’t agree with all of their favorites so it pisses me off, but I’m sure if I agreed I’d be all for them pushing the dancers I love.

    • D

      THIS! Marko is so overrated, and Melanie is completely under-challenged.

    • Marta

      Personally, I think it was Jess’s time to go. It absolutely drives me crazy when contestants get to the top on the show with major prior experience. They honestly do not NEED the show as their platform, as they have already MADE it. Jess, as noted by Rob Marshall, has been on Broadway; he honestly could be well-off without the show.

      That, and he couldn’t get out of that “Broadway” style. His facial expressions in what were supposed to be the more “serious” routines proved it: he looked completely out of his element. He was not at all believable. Jess’s “growth” as compared to that of Tadd, a b-boy I might add, is marginal, if that. Thus, Tadd deserved to stay.

      • Lena

        Sorry, but you are absolutely wrong. Nearly every dancer that makes this show has plenty of prior experience and work. Also, the dance world is tough, jobs are difficult to get, and ALL of them need the exposure this show brings them.

      • Wildducks9

        No, Lena, Marta is not absolutely wrong. Not every dancer on this show has lots of prior experience and work; obviously they have to have a little in order to be good enough to make the show, but Jess had more than most with his past work on Broadway. I absolutely think it was Jess’s time to go over Tadd because Tadd has shown more growth than Jess has. They are both phenomenal dancers in their respective genres, but for what this show is all about, Tadd deserved to stay. Jess will be fine without the show.

    • Squishmar

      If it had been a week prior, Tadd would have been sent home. But Tadd did incredibly well last week and I think Jess had gone as far as he could. He was a weak partner and while phenomenal when dancing in his style, wasn’t all that great in other styles. Besides, they’re given a choice of two… I’m sure there are just as many people who believe Jess should have gone just like you think Tadd should have gone. And Tadd also has that extra “spark” . Jess will be fine. I think Rob Marshall would hire him right now.

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