So I’ve always wondered what I’d be like to attend a live So You Think You Can Dance show. I had questions, like how big is the stage? And are the performances more stunning in person? Where do the choreographers sit in comparison to the judges? And is Cat Deeley’s nose really that offensive in real life? So upon first moving to Los Angeles, way back when Season 9 just started and the judges were working through auditions, I went online to see if I could score tickets to a live show.
To my dismay, I discovered the SYTYCD audience participation was based on a lottery system. According to the website I needed to enter all my information (which I was sure to be exploited to every business possible) and then wait, hoping my name would eventually be picked. Then the way it worked was if my name was called the On Camera scouting company would send me an email to claim my tickets within a reasonable amount of time. If the tickets weren’t claimed quickly enough, my name would then get tossed back in the lotto with the thousands of other fans. Feeling lucky, I filled out the small form. And then waited. Months later, after I had forgotten all about the entry, an email appeared in my inbox.
“Thank you for your patience in waiting for notification from us regarding the show! You are now receiving your official notification that there are a limited amount of line vouchers now available to next week’s tapings of So You Think You Can Dance. The line vouchers are to be taken to the show and can be exchanged for a ticket on a first-come, first-served basis.”
Upon seeing the message on my iPhone, I immediately called my fiancé and told him to go to my computer and claim our vouchers! I had been out shopping at The Grove when the golden ticket arrived.Upon seeing the ticket printouts on my desk, I noticed there was a protocol and some rules to follow in order to attend the show. Like for example, admittance to the show was not guaranteed (which could mean waiting in long lines without promising results). Also, there were two different tapings during each filming day, one at 7:30am and the other in the afternoon around 3ish. In order to see one show you must see the other (or in other words, this would be an all day affair). There were no bags, no purses and no backpacks allowed in the studio (which I thought would make it difficult to sneak my phone in to take pictures). There also was a dress code. No jeans, tanks or sloppy attire, as well as no open-toed shoes or high heels or flip-flops due to “insurance purposes” (aka. they show must have been sued before due to random toe injuries). The tiny print of audience member demands continued on to a second page and considering the length of the list, anyone could have easily thought they might be meeting President Barack Obama, not just breathing the same air as Nigel Lythgoe and the gaggle of dancers that worship him. Still, to me, the effort seemed worth it. I also had something working in my favor—a wheelchair.
They come few and far between, but there are moments when having a disability can morph into having an advantage. Thankfully, this was one of them. Because I needed special arrangements for my wheelchair, I was able to bypass all the lines and secure seats just to the 5pm live taping of the show easy breezy. On the day of the show, I also was encouraged to skip the long line and go to the front immediately to pick up my tickets. So with little fuss and a tinge of guilt (it was a really long, sweaty line), my fiancé Cory and I found our selves waiting outside the SYTYCD studio with a hundred other high school girls (poor guy). Then after an hour’s wait there, eventually we were cattled to our seats inside the studio, which happened to be Section A, Row A and right in front of the judging panel. I was so thrilled with excitement I could have died. We were sitting so close to where the dancers were scheduled to perform, I could have hawked a loogie onto the stage if I wanted to (of course, I didn’t. It was the least I could not do considering how well we were being taken care of by the staff). But, seriously, our seats were incredible and just one step lower than the judges panel, literally.
Finally situated, it was time for the live show to start. I tried my best to take in every detail around me to share with other SYTYCD fans (and I hope I do it justice). So below are two lists, the first explains what I learned from attending the show and the second captures my favorite moments from the night. Enjoy!
Things I Now Know About The Show (After Experiencing It Live)
- The show’s host Cat Deeley is much prettier in real life (and her face/ nose appear much straighter than on TV). She also seems to genuinely enjoy and have fun on the job.
- There is a guy that aimlessly follows Cat around and attends to her every need, even feeding her lines. He also feeds the host Twizzlers during commercial breaks (although she prefers to chew on Red Vines). Other job duties of his include, holding Cat’s Diet Coke and straw for her while she allows her stylists to primp her and also telling my fiancé to stop looking all over the place (because apparently he looked weird on camera).
- The dancers are more amazing in person than I imagined. They literally use their ripped, rock-hard solid bodies to throw themselves all over the dance floor, making the dances so explosive to watch live and accumulating sleeves of bruises on their arms and legs in the process.
- A two-team camera crew runs all over the stage with dancers while they are performing. One guy is responsible for the camera and the shots, while the other guy is responsible for the camera guy and making sure he doesn’t fall off the stage.
- The entire stage/set appears much larger on TV. My guess is that the audience was made of 200 guests, filled mostly with teenage girls and Nigel Lythgoe’s ego. The choreographers sit in a section away from the judges and in between two audience sections. FUN FACT: Celebrity Minnie Driver was sitting in the choreographer’s section too, although I don’t think they ever introduced her.
- You might wonder how the dancers change costumes and make-up so quickly during commercials. The answer is sometimes they don’t. If you look closely, you might notice the African (Lion King sounding) dance that aired on TV was taped previously due to the amount of staging the scene needed. The dancers did perform a live version of the dance for the audience (to get the proper applause sound track) but there was no fire or body make-up on the dancers during our performance.
- Carly Rae Jepsen could have been lip-synching but it was too hard to tell (so at least she’s good at it, I guess). Her band, on the other hand, was awful at fake-playing instruments. Besides never seeing the drums move, they looked bored to tears. Not to mention none of the instruments were plugged in or needed any jacks to power sources.
- tWitch is the real star of SYTYCD (not new news, really). But last night he made it official when he performed on stage more times than finalist Cyrus.
My Favorite Finale Moments
- There was more dancing and no critiquing since it was more of a performance show. Therefore, we were spared from a screaming Mary Murphy boarding the Hot Tamale Train.
- Adam Shankman bluntly announced during a commercial break that he and Nigel were suppose to Tango on stage until Fox Network sold the time to some advertising. Immediately after the statement, the set became as quite as it ever would during the entire show.
- The moment my fiance realized he’d have to stand and clap among a gaggle of high school girls for the Carly Rae Jepsen performance on national TV. Wide-eyed, he turned to me in horror and said, “I hope you realize how much I love you.” What a trooper.
- All the dancers happened to gather by us during the revealing of the results. They were chatty, happy and emotional, saying things like, “Oh my God. I’m gonna cry for her/him,” while they watched their peers be crowned queen and king of dance. I like to think the show has definitely turned that group of dancers into a caring, loving family and it appeared to be true.
- All the dances were fun to watch, but Christopher Scott’s hip-hop routine starring the choreographer really stood out to me. Maybe because I was watching to see if the choreographer could really the dance? Or maybe the popping of hip-hop looks fresher in real life? Either way, the energy from that particular dance felt amazing from the first row.
- Eliana winning, duh.
- And finally the confetti canyons! Never have I experienced a time with so much fun paper in the air and I have to admit it was quite fun to have the celebration rain down upon us.
Though the SYTYCD Season 9 finale was so much fun to attend, although I still long for the dances from super star choreographers Wade Robson, Shane Sparks and Mia Michaels. The innocence of the first few seasons made for the best on-stage perfomances. What were your finale favorites?