Thursday, November 30, 2023

“So You Think You Can Dance!” Closes Tour in Hollywood

More than one dancer shed tears last night at the tour-closing performance of “So You Think You Can Dance Live” at Hard Rock Live in Hollywood. For two of the shedders, Eliana Girard and Tiffany Maher, it wasn’t just the bittersweet tears of concluding a great season. It was that they were ending the tour back home – with a capacity crowd, many of whom grew up with them, cheering them on every step of the way. West Palm Beach’s Girard and Plantation’s Maher were the two female finalists in this summer’s competition, and while Girard edged her out for the win, Maher was just as beloved last night.

The emotionality expressed in the introductory gush-fest to the two-act program spread into the myriad performances that followed, feeding off the excitement and love from the audience. The show was inventively structured like a flowing river of dance, with no breaks between dance clusters of similarly themed material. Before one routine ended, the dancers from the next number would already be onstage, performing the outgoing couple’s style before snatching the spotlight for their own material.

The set list included just about every favorite you would expect from Season Nine: Eliana’s haunting “Bang Bang,” with George subbing in for Alex Wong, who performed the piece during the season; Lindsay and Cole’s “Wild Horses” and paso doble; Amelia and Will’s “Lovecats;” Whitney’s hip-hop classic, “My Homies Still;” and Chehon’s famous suitcase routine, with Eliana replacing Kathryn McCormick, who performed it on television.

There were also a good number of new routines, mostly of the group variety, written for the tour. These included a slow-building, cathartic number in which the dancers found themselves inside a massive storm, and a memorable Asian-infused number with expanding Chinese fans.

I was especially blown away by the talent of Matthew Kazmierczak, a dancer eliminated after just three shows who, if he had engaged audiences slightly better in one or two performances, could have been a finalist. He reminded everyone why he should have gone farther last night in his elegant solo as well as his performance, with Audrey, of Travis Wall’s “Titanic”-inspired contemporary number with a Victorian sofa prop. It was arguably the best performance of the night. But the dancer who received the most applause and wild, high-pitched screams was Cyrus Spencer, the one-of-a-kind “animator” from Atlanta whose solos still look less like dancing than illusionism … how does his body do that?

The amount of effort put forth by everybody, through so many numbers and costume changes, was incredible. If only we could run our cars on human energy, everybody could have driven home on the dancers’ efforts last night.

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