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With Forever Tango back on Broadway, in previews and already extended, I was kind of pleased to see some success beyond the ballroom for Maksim Chmerkovskiy and Karina Smirnoff, two of my favorites on Dancing with the Stars. True, this is not their debut - that came a few seasons ago in Burn the Floor, a ballroom dancing extravaganza. Before that show was over, fellow pros Derek Hough and Kym Johnson also appeared in the show.
TV's other dance competition show, So You Think You Can Dance, which I have grown to love, sent one of its judges - Mary Murphy - to also burn the floor. What I love about that program is that to even be on it, you have to already be near professional level, meaning most weeks who gets eliminated is a real nail biter! It also features Broadway as a style of dance for the contestants to try. Thank God the choreographers generally stay away from the stereotypical cheesy smiles and jazz hands. On the downside, most of the time the Broadway routines look more like Hollywood movie musicals than anything we see on today's stages. Still, it is nice to see Broadway featured as a viable, challenging form of dance each week. Many times, the choreographer of the routine is Broadway veteran Spencer Liff, who has been featured in such shows as Big: The Musical, The Wedding Singer, Cry-Baby and Equus. (Mercifully, so far this season, we've been spared the campy style of Tyce Diorio, who the show refers to as a "Broadway choreographer." Technically, maybe, as his lone credit is as Associate Choreographer for Good Vibrations. I think he's better known for his amazing ego as shown in the documentary film, Every Little Step, which I reviewed HERE. Of course, he did inexplicably win an Emmy for one of his routines...)
Mary Murphy and Spencer Liff (as seen in Equus)
Neil Patrick Harris and Jesse Tyler Ferguson
The Panel with Christina Applegate
Travis Wall and Tyce Diorio
And it is great to see Broadway represented on the judging panel - Neil Patrick Harris (Cabaret, Assassins), Christina Applegate (who really knows her dance stuff - Sweet Charity), Wayne Brady (Chicago) and Jesse Tyler Ferguson (Spelling Bee) are regulars.
But I think the best part of SYTYCD is that so many contestants actually go on to dance careers, including choreographer of Bare, Travis Wall, and FOUR original cast members of Disney's Newsies: Jess LeProtto, Alex Wong, Thayne Jasperson and Evan Kasprzak. And I am sure they won't be the last. What I find particularly nice is that these people are accomplished at their craft, not just stunt singers with marginal acting skills like so many of the American Idol people who have been brought in to beef up various box offices over the years. (Fantasia and Clay Aiken notwithstanding.)
|Newsies' Jess LeProtto|
(Clockwise from Top Left) Evan Kasprzak, Jess LeProtto,
Alex Wong and Thayne Jasperson
I love to watch talented dancers onstage and on TV, so between shows on the Great White Way, it is great to have the Dancing pros and the vitality of SYTYCD contestants. What do you think?