Mary Murphy dishes on SYTYCD’s finale!

Mary Murphy

TelevisionBytes with NineDaves

As any So You Think You Can Dance fan’ll tell ya, there’s only one judge who can tell you exactly how she felt about a performance in a single scream. We’re talking about Mary Murphy – the queen of the high pitched holla. Ever since its first season, we’ve had a thing for Murphy. Before tonight’s two-hour finale (8pm EST on FOX), we sat down with Mary Murphy, and a slew of other bloggers, to discuss tonight’s finale, the finale four, why the win’s not necessarily a lock for Melanie, and of course, the Hot Tamale Train. (Also don’t forget to check out our handy SYTYCD cheat sheet!)

On Melanie …
“The very first second that we saw her in the audition, she just took our breath away. It was a visceral and cellular experience. Every week she brought it. She’s so fascinating to watch. She has such tremendous power and she has amazing technique so that she can make things look effortless and just seamless. She can also take on the characters as well. Usually we find technicians and they can’t do the other or they’re a great actor and they don’t have the danceability or the technique to fulfill what the choreographers want to do. I don’t see anything wrong with her. I adore her.”

On why Melanie isn’t a sure thing for the win tonight …
“She is somebody that’s had it all and was probably a front runner from the beginning, but we had other front runners before that we were shocked at the end did not take it because there is not this level of growth over the show. Sometimes when that happens it really pulls on America’s heartstrings to go that route.”

On Sasha …
“Sasha is definitely that fighter. She is the underdog in the show. I can honestly say when we put her into the top 20 through Las Vegas she got our attention. Did we think that she’d possibly go this far?  I’m not so sure. What we did start to see emerge was this magnificent dancer and her growth during the season, like you said, was so tremendous. Her stage presence, the fearlessness that she had, even though she doesn’t have the technique that Melanie has, she overcame that on the journey. Her technique did improve tremendously and she has memorable pieces. You can’t underestimate her.”

On Tadd …
“Tadd came out of the gate and shocked us the first week with an American jazz. When you get a b-boy that can transform that quickly, it gets our attention. We all sat up and our chairs and went, ‘Whoa.’ Then week after week surprise after surprise, I finally said, ‘I’m not surprised anymore because you keep bringing it and you keep giving fantastic performances and your technique is getting better and your toes are pointed,’ and we’re just like, ‘This is unbelievable.’

Tadd’s had the bigger road, of course, every single week. That kid is outside his style. He never gets to be inside his style. Could you imagine the other contestants if they ever pulled it out of the hat that they had to be doing b-boy tricks?  I mean they’d all have a heart attack. That’s what Tadd has to deal with every single week. He is always outside his style. But when you consider what Tadd has had to do out of all the contestants, actually, he’s been tremendous, but he’s been down in that bottom several times. I never really did understand it, but he’s a fighter. He kept on coming. He kept on coming at us.

On Marko …
There is this spiritual quality that just kind of radiates from him, this love of dance. I mean you feel it. When you’re sitting their live in the studio audience, you feel that and it’s very special because you don’t always get that. Tadd and Marko definitely possess that. I think they’re both very genuine and sincere young men and just love so much what they’re doing and love this show. You have realize being on 8 seasons that they’ve been working toward this for 8 years from the time they were 10 years old to be here, so they’re very grateful, very humble, which makes them adorable.

On the celebrity judges …
It was so surreal to me to be sitting next to people that you so admire, icons, and even with Debbie Reynolds, it was so surreal. I’ve seen so many of her movies as a kid and everything like that and all of a sudden I’m sitting next to her. I’m like what in the world is happening here? People like Jesse and Kristin Chenoweth who are just so genuinely funny, it just kind of lifts the spirits. It’s great, too, that I felt that every single guest this time were such huge fans of the show, would sit in between the commercial breaks and chat with me about their favorites over the eight seasons, never missed a show. You know, it’s so endearing to me. I loved it and I hope we keep that up, and I think the kids really loved it too.

The one I definitely had the most fun with, I must say, was Jesse. He was cracking me up. I couldn’t wait to hear what he said.  As far as the absolute most dear person was Rob Marshall. Oh, my gosh, I had such huge respect for him and the fact that he was sitting there and also talking about contestants. He is the most supportive guy, and he was just a tremendous guest judge. Yes, I hope we have him back again because the kids really respected him and I just can’t say enough about that guy. He was just great and so supportive of the dancers and so caring.”

On the Hot Tamale Train …
“I have used it this season for sure, but I don’t want to overuse it.  I want to keep it really super special.  I will tell you probably one of the things I will regret when I look back over the years of So You Think You Can Dance, and I’ve told her this, is that when Sasha and tWitch did their table number, that number was so hot I think she deserved to be on the hot tamale train. I’m so sorry. I said, ‘You absolutely deserve to be on it,’ and I said, ‘I absolutely regret that.’

Sometimes I get carried away and I go down another track and I even had that in my notes that I was going to put her on the hot tamale train, but I felt at that time I just wanted her to know so badly that I felt that she was just as good as our All Star, which is amazing, because I think tWitch is one of most all-time All Stars, one of my favorite dancers over all seasons. She was just as good as him or better in that number.”

On why there’s not many Ballroom dancers on SYTYCD
“I must say, I thought that we were tough on [ballroom dancers]… Sometimes we don’t give them the pass where we push along, so to speak, maybe a breaker boy because they haven’t really danced. I’ll certainly be pushing harder next year when we see some really amazing ballroom dancers. I feel like we need more on the show for sure.

A lot of ballroom dancers out there are so into their competitive world and working toward being U.S. champion and world champion they will not take a beat off of their tour or their goal to do this show.  I try to convince people all the time, but it’s certainly not too hard for the ballroom dancers for sure. I know I wouldn’t come off.  Probably at their age and I was wanting to be the United States champion more than anything, I wouldn’t come out of my position and risk a year or it may cause me a year or two setback in my goal.”

On Waacking …
“A good part of the show is taking people outside of their comfort zone because we know that the entire top 20 are extraordinary at what they do. Waacking isn’t a mainstream type of dance or major dance style. It’s very miniscule. I hate to say it, but it is. To me, I just didn’t think it was the right time to introduce something when you have other people over here doing maybe quadruple pirouettes and all this really seriously strong dancing and you introduce Waacking. I didn’t feel like it was strong enough.

That has happened before on the show. We’ve ended up with really unbelievably strong numbers in the finale and then they’ll be a number that was more cotton candy. It’s not the time for cotton candy. This is the time to show somebody at their strength. Ricky, I didn’t feel like he was even used enough in that, as well. He could have been doing triple pirouettes in the Waacking, as well, and Waacked at the same time. I just didn’t think the piece was strong.”

On the impact of So You Think You Can Dance
“It’s just so much fun to live in a time where dance is being celebrated because eight short seasons ago I can honestly say that this wasn’t the case. And the fact that people know the names of the different dances now all over the world and can pick out their favorite.  ‘Oh, I love the Paso Doble.’  It’s just exciting times for a dancer, I must say.”

On the difference between choreographing for stage vs. TV …
“As you can see, the ones that have been on the show from the beginning absolutely get it now. We have blocking days. A lot of new choreographers never dealt with television. They don’t normally even say anything to the director. When I was choreographing, I would sit with that director and I would want every single second picked out of how I wanted it to be seen, and that’s great that you get directors.

The director this year on the show is also very willing to do what the choreographers want because it is their piece. They need to have it seen like they see it, to bring it to life because, like you said, it isn’t just one big open stage. You have at least seven cameras that are floating around and working that is also like working another perfect choreography. The lighting can mean everything. The music can mean everything. We know that we have asked 20 really fantastic dancers to join this show. There are other things that play into the whole effect of it.”

On judging the rehearsals …
“I definitely try to view [the performances] as a first time because, honestly, we don’t get to see all of the rehearsals. We just see one dress rehearsal about an hour before they get ready to go on stage, so we don’t get to spend a lot of time really studying the piece. Almost every single time from the time I’ve been doing this for eight seasons none of the dancers dance like they do in the dress rehearsal as they do on the live show. I could make notes, but the notes all go out the window for the most part because usually I’m getting ready to clobber somebody for this and that and the other.

I think this year we just had to bring it up because Marko and Melanie did a tango that was so bad, probably the worst I’ve seen in eight seasons, during dress rehearsal and I don’t know what the choreographer did with them between dress rehearsal in that one hour before they came back out, but I can honestly tell you it was like night and day.  We normally don’t mention the rehearsal, but there have been a few things this year that we were just like, all of us, that was like the worst dancing we’ve ever seen and then all of a sudden they seem to be able pull it out for the live show.  It’s nice to refresh yourself with the dress rehearsal, but the fact is that they all bring it to some place that we haven’t seen it for sure.”

On advice for dancers auditioning for next season …
“I think for sure they have to develop one style.  If they’re going to come and try out for the show, really make sure that they are working on their one style and being extraordinary in that.  But if they can get a variety of different dances, especially the major ones that we use on the show, which are contemporary and ballroom and hip hop, if they can go down those three roads, it will help them get through Las Vegas Week.  But if you don’t work on one style and become extraordinary in it, it’s not going to help you because we’re not going to notice you to put you into Las Vegas Week, and that’s where you’ve got to get to.”

Mary Murphy

About DAVE Q 90 Articles
NineDaves is a part-time blogger, full-time tweeter, and all-around television-addict who spends way too much time thinking about what his Real Housewives’ opening quote will be. He’s so obsessed with TV, he’s basically like that kid from Willy Wonka. Only gayer.