So You Think You Can Dance’s Mary Murphy on Season 10’s “Awkward” Format Change — Exclusive
Fans of FOX'sSo You Think You Can Dance cringed when Season 10 sent its first two hopefuls home. But they weren't upset over who went home as much as they were outraged over how the dancers were eliminated.
Not only were Carlos Garland and Brittany Cherry eliminated from the competition at the top of the hour, but they were then asked to go backstage, compose themselves and return later to perform routines with their respective partners. Ouch! But rest assured, SYTYCD fans, judge Mary Murphy wasn't a fan of the new format either. Luckily, it only took 48 hours for FOX and the SYTYCD Powers That Be to change up the format. Heading into tonight's show, the Bottom 6 will be announced at the top of the hour and the judges will immediately send two of them to safety. Then, the remaining four will dance for their lives, then perform with their partners before two of them are eliminated at the end of the show.
Wetpaint Entertainment chatted with Mary about the "awkward" format change, why she thinks Amy and Fik-Shun are the ones to beat, and why Malece and Jade need to shape up.
Wetpaint Entertainment:So let’s talk about the new format. It seems kind of cruel to eliminate the contestants at the top of the hour, only to bring them back to dance again.
Mary Murphy: Even though we say, ‘Oh, dancers can pick themselves up and brush themselves off and go on with the show,’ at the same time, they need that time to grieve. If I had a really bad misstep during a performance, I go down for the count for a day or two and then I pick myself back up again. But these kids have no time to grieve over the fact that they just got kicked off the show!
Exactly! I’m sure you’ve heard some of the criticism over the new format. What are your thoughts?
I’m in a tough position because it felt awkward to me, but it can go either way. I understand where the show is coming from. They want to end the show on a positive note, with someone dancing and celebrating dance, as opposed to letting two dancers go. For me, I like the old format more. I like the fact that I got to see the dancer last week dance, America votes, then I get to see them dance again -- possibly outside their style -- and then, if I really need to, I can have them dance for their lives, but most of the time, I don’t need to by then because I got to see two dance styles.
I have to give Brittany and Carlos major props for performing as well as they did after just being eliminated!
I don’t know if they would have danced any better, but at the same time, the fact that they were able to make it that far and have this type of platform to present themselves and make themselves marketable, we can’t forget about that. I think all of us didn’t know if we like this format or not. But I will say that it looks like people on Twitter didn’t like it! If they write FOX enough, I’m sure they might consider changing the format. Sometimes you try things, and they don’t work out.
Now, I know Brittany was one of your favorites in the competition. Are you sad to see her go?
I know! I was just devastated. I couldn’t believe that she fell down, and I just couldn’t win this one, as far as who the other judges and choreographers wanted to stay on the show. It boggled my mind because I kept trying to remind everybody that she was so amazing every single day in Las Vegas. But my voice was not going to be heard on that one, unfortunately. I did get to chat with her afterward. It was heartbreaking; she was crying, and I had tears in my eyes, too! It’s such a shame. I think we were all shocked with who was in the bottom three for the girls because Mariah and Makenzie are both incredible. And I think if we look at just the solos, Carlos had the best solo of the night! Why did he even fall down into the bottom? It really comes down to the votes.
How do you think BluPrint is going to adjust without Brittany? He’s now going to be partnered with Mariah, which could be interesting...
I think you have two Hip-Hop dancers -- but Mariah did have formal dance training for many years before turning to Hip-Hop -- who are going to struggle a bit. I wasn’t impressed with Mariah’s solo. The one thing that Brittany had is that she could help BluPrint in every style. Now, if they were to draw ballroom next, I don’t think Mariah will be able to help out with that. There’s so many different types of ballroom dances, too, and Brittany was someone who could have done all of them. We’ll keep our fingers crossed that those two don’t pull a Quickstep.
Speaking of ballroom, Nigel was particularly hard on Jenna and Tucker’s Cha-Cha last week, saying there wasn’t enough Cha-Cha. As a ballroom dancer, do you think his criticism was warranted?
I’ve been on the other side of it and choreographed. Like all of the choreographers on this show, they’re going to do what it takes to try and make somebody look the best they can in five hours. It’s a really tough thing to do! I don’t think it happens just in ballroom. I know that it can be a little more obvious in ballroom, but when you look back over the last week, you’ll see that the animators are putting in little animations in the Jazz number or that Contemporary number, but nobody came down hard on them for not making it strictly all about that Contemporary piece. It just becomes more obvious when it’s ballroom when someone goes from a line to a line and a line. He guided Jenna all over the place. I think all of us would have liked to see more Latin action in that Cha-Cha. But he didn’t look bad! He looked suave, like 007.
What were some of your favorite dances from Week 2?
Definitely Amy and Fik-Shun. They came out so cute. I think Tabitha and Napoleon were brilliant for coming up with a concept that happened to fit so perfectly with Amy and Fik-Shun. If I had to pick a style of Hip-Hop and a concept, it couldn’t have been cuter than what those two did. It was a great deal of fun. They have a great partnership. And Fik-Shun isn’t even a choreographed Hip-Hop dancer! It was brilliant. Amy looked every bit as strong as Fik-Shun out there.
Another great number was Jasmine and Alan’s Argentine Tango. It was extremely difficult, and I have to give props to them. Alan’s never done an Argentine Tango before! He’s never done lifts at all. To pull off those lifts, and he had to do it multiple times that day, they had to work on that timing. I was amazed by the level of technique in that performance.
Jasmine and Aaron put on another great number by Tabitha and Napoleon. Nigel said it best, a lot of the numbers were starting to cross that PG rating, especially that Lyrical Hip-Hop routine! There’s so much natural chemistry between the two of them. I think partners that are totally in harmony this season are Amy and Fik-Shun and Jasmine and Aaron. They just look like natural dance partners.
Let’s talk about Malece and Jade’s Bollywood number. It’s interesting when SYTYCD does Bollywood numbers because on one hand, they’re incredibly fun, but on the other, it’s weird to see it on an American dance program.
It’s been a huge hit on the show. Viewers really love the style because it’s so joyous to watch. But I don’t think that was the best number last night, and I don’t mean Nicole’s choreography. I think Jade needed to take it down a notch or two because we’ve seen it be more intricate in previous seasons. You think, ‘Oh, maybe the Hip-Hop kid can’t do it,’ but then you think back to Joshua and Twitch, who were Hip-Hop kids who could do everything. I didn’t have that amazement with Malece and Jade. I thought it was good, but it still seemed sloppy to me. The lines and hand work were off. Jade was a little bit better, but it’s about the dance as a whole, and for me, it was my least favorite of the night.
Yeah, it seems to me that Malece and Jade haven’t found that perfect harmony.
I think they’re struggling as a partnership. But that’s my own gut instinct. Some of the others may be struggling, too, but they never let you feel it!
What was your favorite routine on So You Think You Can Dance? Do you agree with Mary that the new format is awkward? Who do you think is in danger of being eliminated? Sound off in the comments!
And don’t forget to check back next week for Mary’s thoughts on Week 3!
Catch So You Think You Can Dance on Tuesdays at 8 p.m. ET on FOX.