A Chance to Dance: The Final Twelve are Selected
By Stephanie Wolf.
Boot camp continues during episode 5 of Ovation TV’s A Chance to Dance. Nineteen dancers remain after the first round of cuts, but only twelve will perform in the gala and go on tour with So You Think You Can Dance. Michael and Billy must leave Jacob’s Pillow to focus on the music, costumes, lighting, and other production needs. In their absence, they call in world-renowned modern dance choreographer David Dorfman as well as SYTYCD finalist Allison Holker to take the dancers through more movement. Michael and Billy entrust David and Allison with the “authority” to cut dancers.
David Dorfman makes this episode special. He’s a well-known name in the dance world, but what makes him such a great addition to the show is his persona; he uplifts the dancers and brings an incredibly fresh and real perspective of dance to the series. He calls himself an “everyday choreographer,” and says, ”sometimes dancers don’t know what to make of me.” But these dancers enjoy every moment they have with him, letting their guards down and opening up to more possibilities within their movement. At one point in the warm up, David busts out an accordion. It seems like a comical move at first, but David uses it as a beautiful analogy for dancing. He says, “The accordion breaths and you need to breath when you are dancing.” His presence is the season highlight thus far.
After a warm up and improvisation session with David, the nineteen dancers are broken up into two groups; half of the dancers stay with David while the other half go to work with Allison. Both groups work on duets. Allison’s group focuses on a fluid duet, which incorporates precise choreography and moments of unison, while David’s group uses their improvised solos from earlier in the day to create new, interesting partnerships.
Allison wants to see if people are paying attention to detail, while David looks for adaptability, grounded-ness, creativity, and full use of the body. David sites that Kelly, Laura and Chase O are struggling to find freedom and dynamics in their movement. Allison expresses concern over Sydney, Kaitlin and Patrick. Before delivering the bad news, David offers some inspirational words, which should hit home for any professional dancer. He tells the anxious dancers, “In my own life, I’ve been rejected so many more times than I’ve been accepted…the getting back up is so much more important than the getting knocked down.”
In the end, Allison chooses to eliminate Kaitlin and David says good-bye to Chase O. Kaitlin is understandably heartbroken. “It’s hard when you are a dancer in general because people are always telling you what’s wrong. That’s a dancer’s life,” she says. Chase is equally disappointed, but both dancers are humble in their exits.
The BalletBoyz are “not all together surprised” by the eliminations. They take the remaining dancers to the Ted Shawn Theater and tell them they will perform there tomorrow night. From this performance, the final twelve dancers will be decided. Their goal is to see how the dancers perform, but it’s an insane task. They have one day to prepare for the performance. The dancers must maintain their cool and show Michael and Billy they can handle this pressure. Shepard stresses over the performance, “I feel so out of my element and I feel like every time I try to venture into their element it’s just not what they want.”
Will the dancers “freeze or flourish” in their final Jacob’s Pillow test? That’s exactly what Michael and Billy look for as we are treated to their ‘play by play’ commentary during the performance. They critique, debate, and discuss. It’s down to this moment; they will decide on the company based on what they see during the performance.
Overall, Michael and Billy are thrilled with the dancers’ performance. But the congratulations and well wishes are cut short by the reality of eliminations. They gather the dancers to announce the final verdict. There are seven dancers they claim they have to have: Patrick, Jen, Joni, Daniel, Michelle, Tanisha and Megan. Then come the eliminations. Nineteen-year-old Bayli is the first to hear the bad news. She is gracious and poised in her departure, as is Kelly, Chelsea—which was a surprise—and Sydney. Now, only one more elimination remains. To keep the suspense high, Michael and Billy call Laura and Shepard forward. They tell the two very different dancers that they both have a “beautiful thing” and are “specialists”, but there’s only room for one of them in the company. That space goes to Laura.
Now, the hard work really begins. Getting the job isn’t the hardest part of the dance profession. The work that comes with the job is the biggest challenge. Next on ACTD, the dancers head back to New York to rehearse for the gala. Everyone is excited, but there’s still a lot to sort out, including the unpredictability of the human body. One of the dancers gets injured. Who is it? Will he or she be able to dance?
Photo: Paul Morigi / Getty Images, courtesy of Rogers&Cowan