So You Think You Can Dance: 150th Episode Special
Poptimal got up close and personal at last week’s live taping of the 150th episode of So You Think You Can Dance. An injury sidelined yet another dancer with Billy opting to sit out after a knee injury, but the rest of the contestants brought their A-game. Not only were we able to witness Adechicke and Comfort’s brilliant NappyTabs choreographed hip-hop routine, but we saw Kent destroy a Chuck Maldonado step number alongside All-Star Twitch. Robert delivered solid routines once again and last girl standing Lauren and Twitch went down South with a truly entertaining cowboy inspired hip-hop. After the show, we got some one-on-one time with the contestants and several of your favorite All-Stars.
But first, we caught up with special guest judge and all around cool guy, the incredibly talented Kenny Ortega (director of hits like This Is It and High School Musical). Kenny was thrilled to finally have time in his schedule to appear on the show.
“I’ve been waiting for five years to come on this show. Nigel and the producers have invited me. I love the show. I watch every season and I’m an avid follower,” says Ortega. “Every season it changes the state of the art of choreography and dance, and to finally be on hiatus and be able to say yes and it be on the 150th show was a privilege.”
He says he thinks television, especially shows like So You Think You Can Dance have helped take dance to a new level.
“TV has helped enormously. It’s great programming and format, bringing together world class choreographers and really putting together a competition that brings it down to high level technicians,” says Ortega. “I think the music and the styles of dance are waking up the world and we’re finding we have a greater appreciation for it now than perhaps ever and it’s because of shows like SYTYCD.”
He was also blown away by all the performances.
“I thought the performance of the night was Adechicke and Comfort. I still think Kent is the one to beat. Lauren could power a city. Robert, every single show, is getting better and stronger and stronger. I think Jose is a magic man. He has a light.”
Kenny’s next big project is directing the stage to screen adaptation of the Tony award winning musical In the Heights. He says the script is still underway, but promises that the writer/star Lin Manuel Miranda will definitely be playing the lead role. He hopes to begin shooting next spring.
The man of the night, Adechike was thrilled with his performances. Both his solo and partner dance drew standing ovations from past and previous contestants sitting in the audience. With a huge smile and a warm demeanor, Adechicke’s out to disprove the judges about a lack of personality. Adechicke said he was surprised about how emotional his hip-hop routine was because it hadn’t had that effect at all during rehearsal. He said something clicked. He also said he was dancing for his mom during his solo and her heartfelt encouragement in the pre-recorded package clearly resonated in his dancing.
Lauren, the only girl left at this stage of the competition, has only one thing on her mind.
“I would love to be in the finale. That is my goal. I started out just wanting to be the final two girls. I gotta make it to the finale. I have to represent the girls,” she says.
While her super sexy cowgirl hip-hop drew raves from the judges, it was her Samba that had Lauren on edge.
“I almost broke down in tears when I was learning this piece. It was so difficult for me to learn. But thank goodness I was paired with Robert,” Lauren explains. “I probably wouldn’t have been able to do it because I was freaking out.”
Robert has in fact had a great two weeks, after spending the previous three in the bottom and having to dance for his life. He said it felt amazing last week after his highly praised contemporary dance with Allison.
“I watched that performance. It’s just a blessing to me. I’m shocked. I don’t know how to feel because it’s so amazing. It’s just this feeling I get in my stomach when I think about it and how I got to connect with Allison and the audience,” he said. “It was just unbelievable. I was so thankful that America really got to see who I was and I hope they keep on seeing who I was.”
Breaker Jose says the best part about the show for him is the hard work.
“The 14 hour days, the 9 hour days. Pushing your body past its limits, seeing how far you can go, mentally and physically.”
He says he thinks his lack of technique hasn’t been a factor at all. He’s got something better.
“You have to love it. It’s not about technique, but I’ve made it this far because I love to dance. And when you love it, to the point when you just love doing and being in it, it doesn’t matter about technique,” Jose explains. “It doesn’t even read the technique when they see you love to dance.”
He doesn’t think about the finals or what happens next.
“It’s been week to week. I see what’s in front of me and just try to tackle it. I really don’t try to look into the future. I try to enjoy the moment. “
While Kent’s been deemed the one to beat by judges Mia Michaels and Kenny Ortega, he’s much too modest to start celebrating just yet.
“I don’t think about it at all and I just want to keep working day by day.”
Despite the screaming girls proclaiming their love to Kent, he seems embarrassed by the heartthrob status, something he’s never experienced back in his small Ohio town.
“I don’t know if I’m a heartthrob. That’s just crazy,” he says. “In school, I was just regular Kent. It’s a really small school and everyone just looks at each other as family.”
His step routine alongside All-Star Twitch was a big hit. But Kent wasn’t quite confident going in that he was going to get to make it happen, especially after Billy’s injury.
“I was with the Billy the whole day. They had to reteach it to Twitch which was nice because I didn’t even know it so I had to relearn it. They didn’t tell me if it was going to be Twitch or Billy so it was very stressful and with the mic and a cappella and people would hear me if I messed up.”
He needn’t have worried, especially with Twitch by his side who’s thrilled with the show’s new format.
“Coming back to be an All-Star is absolutely incredible because I’m coming back to do what I love with people that I love and that also love what I do so you can’t beat that.”
He says that even though All-Stars aren’t being judged, it doesn’t mean they can take it easy.
“The thing about pressure is it’s not that pressure is relieved, it’s just shifted. It’s a different kind of pressure because as we’re here for performance and we have to be here 100 percent for our partner. We’re there as a compliment. You don’t want to try to go too hard yourself. You want to find a happy medium between yourself and the contestant and when that happens, it’s just a beautiful thing. And I think there were various examples of this tonight. And that’s what makes me love what I do.”
Twitch says that the challenge of having to step in last minute for Billy was something the show has prepared him for.
“It was tough [the step] but after going through the show you kind of look at things and go, oh it’s not too tough. I was also reminded that it’s a day to day process. Like I said, you can’t allow yourself to freak out. You’ve got to trust your body.”
That may be easier said than done. The constant injuries on their friends and fellow contestants hasn’t made it easy for this year’s dancers.
“This show is super demanding on your body and we rehearse a minimum of 7 hours each day, six days a week at least. I refuse to get injured and I don’t want anyone else to get injured and I’m sick of my family being taken away by injury,” Lauren said.
Robert said he’s doing whatever he can to prevent any injury.
“I’m just trying to keep a lot of layers, drink lots of water, eat the right things.”
Season 6 All-Star Kathryn McCormick said that it’s hard to take care of themselves with the hours they work, but they try.
“We take yoga. This show keeps you pretty busy. We work Saturday-Thursday and we have Friday off. So we’re usually sleeping or… Doing yoga or something where we can take care of our bodies, warm them up and stretch them out.”
Regardless of injuries, this year’s competitors are determined to win. With only three weeks left, Kenny Ortega summed up the competition perfectly,
“Anybody could take it right now.”
For more on So You Think You Can Dance, click here.