Tag Archives: “So You Think You Can Dance”

Close Call With Wildfire Brings New Resolve for ‘SYTYCD’ Judge Mary Murphy

Mary+Murphy+Bracelets+Beaded+Bracelet+en8tS-2dPgxl Mary Murphy says she’s finally getting over the respiratory irritation she was left with after a brush fire near her home in Carlsbad, California — a fire that took out eight houses in her neighborhood.

“My voice is a little bit hoarse still, but I ran up the stairs yesterday, so that’s a good sign,” says the energetic “So You Think You Can Dance” mainstay. She’s also firmed her resolve to be better prepared in case of another emergency. This one definitely did not find her ready.

“Oh my gosh, I’ve never experienced anything like that before in my life!” she exclaims. “I thought, ‘My house smells like fire,’ and I walked out and saw blue sky…Then I turned around and I could not believe what I saw — billowing black smoke coming right over the house. It wasn’t even on TV yet. We weren’t even being evacuated. It came so fast! It was 101 degrees that day, and I was just running around my house – I know it was ridiculous. The first thing I grabbed was at least 10 dresses that I had bought for the show, and I started getting my shoes, one pair of every color. Then I started searching for my mother’s rings that meant the world to me. My pictures were not in one location…And of course I couldn’t even get my car out of the garage. The electricity just went out. I went into full panic.”

Mary found her hillside street full of neighbors making their way down. Some of them helped her get her garage door open. Now, she says, she and her neighbors are making a point of communicating with one another, and of being better prepared. She’s keeping a tank of drinking water outside her house and getting other supplies.

She recalls going back to her house after the blaze was extinguished to see if it was okay and also to protect it in case of looters. But she admits, “I have no idea what that means. How could I have stopped anyone from stealing from me anyway?! I had one camping lantern and some candles!” She laughs. “I realized one camping lantern wasn’t enough. The smoke was so thick I couldn’t stay. Then the next day we were evacuated again. I never unpacked my car, just re-packed it a little better.”

Considering other events in the life of the unsinkable dancer/choreographer — her successful 2011 battle with thyroid cancer, her drive to get back into shape following that, her legal fight with a former manager — her close call with a wildfire wasn’t so bad.

“So You Think You Can Dance” continues to be an uplifting experience for her in Season 11. “I don’t care what’s happening in your life, you see those kids dance and it’s all-engulfing. You just breathe it in, and you watch them soar and you know how very, very difficult it really is – what we’re asking of them. I’m just so in awe every season. And it does seem to be better and better, and the bar gets raised,” she notes.

She finds that many of the young hopefuls are coming in well-prepared in recent seasons. “A lot of them are ready, but there are still a lot of kids like Cyrus (“Glitch” Spencer) a couple of seasons ago. They’d love to come ready, but they don’t have the financial means. So it’s really cool to see those kids excel, too.”

As for this year’s crop, Mary says there are more contenders out of the ballroom world — her background — than there have been in five or six years. But as far as who will be named to the top 20, this time, “Even we don’t know,” she says. “Because of the way they’re doing it this year, they were able to keep that a secret from us.”

Mary Murphy Denies ‘SYTYCD’ Departure Reports, Says Ex-Manager Probably to Blame

The internet has been abuzz with reports that Mary Murphy is en route out of “So You Think You Can Dance,” and Mia Michaels is returning to replace her.  Don’t believe

them, according to Murphy.  “Whatever you hear this entire summer, it’s probably going to come from my ex-manager,” she tells us.  “And you’re probably going to keep hearing things too, because we’re in a legal matter and it’s all about money.  It has nothing to do with Fox, nothing to do with Mia Michaels.”

The ebullient dance icon with the 20 megaton laugh isn’t laughing when she adds that “managers taking money from people is the oldest story in the book in this business, but I never thought it would happen to me.”

She’s determined not to be “one of those people who pay someone to go away.  That’s not me.  I’m Irish.  I’m in it for the long haul.”  She talks about taking her case to court, where, she declares, she is confident she would win.

But in the meantime, Murphy says she won’t be surprised if there’s some sort of new flap every week just before she goes on the air on “SYTYCD” — which is now into this season’s live performance episodes.

As far as any friction between her and Michaels, “There’s never been anything between me and Mia Michaels, my goodness!  I certainly admire her unbelieveably, and I tell her that every chance I get.  Her work is inspirational, and the bench piece she did is one of my favorites.  You can see it on line, where Fox did our Top 10,” adds Murphy, referring to a Michaels-choreographed number with a couple dancing over, around and atop a park bench.

Murphy does laugh her huge laugh when the topic of her relationship with exec producer and fellow judge Nigel Lithgoe comes up.  Sometimes the two toss zingers at each other like an old married couple.  “Yeah!  I’m glad you noticed that because we truly do have fun and love what we do.  We love being dancers.  We’ve been dancers our whole life and we just have a ball up there.  We love what we’re seeing!

“I can’t be more excited because this season truly is the best season, I think we’ve ever had.  We always say, ‘How can we beat that?’  But it’s true, these dancers keep getting better and better, just like athletes keep getting better and better.”  And that’s not just hype:  we’ve seen some of the most breathtakingly creative, amazingly executed dances ever in Season 9.

Mary Murphy Struggling with Body After Thyroid Surgery

Mary Murphy

Mary Murphy

Mary Murphy, enjoying her return to the “So You Think You Can Dance” judges’ table after a year away, would like to perform again herself.  However, since surgery to remove a thyroid tumor in December, she candidly tells us, “My body has changed dramatically…I’m still navigating the whole hormonal change thing. I would still like to exit dancing, but I just don’t think it’s going to happen this season until we situate my hormones, you know?”

The champion dancer and choreographer, who successfully battled thyroid cancer while away from the show, points out that the thyroid regulates one’s metabolism, among other things. Thus, she reveals, “I cannot get my body.  I’ve been working so hard.  I’m fighting for it every day with a few hours of exercise — exercising like a crazy person, and nothing is happening with this body. I would love to come out at the finale and dance one more time to top it off, but I don’t think that will happen.”

Murphy is glad she was able to dance on Broadway last Fall in Burn the Floor, “and in my home town of San Diego. So, if I never get to dance again, you know, I ended it in a place where I felt really great, in my own home town.

“But I am going to really fight to dance at least one more time.”

Mary Murphy: What Gets You Through Tough Times

Mary Murphy Fox photo

The unsinkable Mary Murphy is basking in the love that’s been coming her way since the announcement of her return to “So You Think You Can Dance” — including a seven-point ratings jump on her return show and a collection of critic and blogger comments that “SYTYCD” is better with her at the judge’s table.  Murphy’s year away from the show, as fans know, included her successful battle against thyroid cancer.

She notes, “I feel very lucky and extremely grateful to be in this position.”  The buoyant dance champ-choreographer with the outsized laugh also realizes that she’s become a role model.   “I don’t think anybody plans to be that — you know, to have to deal with so much.”

When asked her prescription for getting through such times, Murphy is quick to answer, “Laughter.  I will say that laughter is really key in a person’s lifetime.  Certainly I’ve had my share of tragedy.  Last year I lost three friends of mine that passed.  It was a roller coaster year for me.  Everyone has those roller coaster times.  But I keep laughing.”

Another key, she says, is “to keep moving forward.  You know, I’ve been down for the count, like most people when tragedy hits, and I might cry for three or four days, but eventually I pop back up and think, ‘What am I going to do about this?’

“And I keep exercising,” she adds.  “I also think that’s key.  I knew in September that I would have surgery in December, so I gave myself the best chance — trying to change my diet, trying to work on my lung capacity.  To get ready for the surgery I did hot yoga.  I have to say, I came feeling out of that surgery feeling pretty good.”

As far as her health now, “I’m staying on top of it…I am definitely not  being, well, an idiot, I have to say is what I was being before.  I was so in denial.  I knew I had a tumor on my throat and I was supposed to keep a close eye on it.  And I just got so busy.  After my first six months, I was supposed to keep an eye on it.  The first checkup, I was right there, ready, on time.  But after that, I just — I don’t know, I guess I thought, oh, it would never happen that it would turn to cancer.  The tumor started to grow.  I was getting increasingly tired.  I was supposed to choreograph and I was having a hard time doing that, and I was having a hard time swallowing.  I lost my voice all the time.

“All my friends were just on me, you know, they were like, ‘You’ve got to stop this, you know.  We think we can see the tumor.’  They were right.”

She’s hoping others benefit from her hard lesson.

MEANWHILE:  Murphy points out that at this stage in the “SYTYCD” game, it’s too early to tell which talents will break out.  “You can’t tell until a couple of weeks into the season, when you see how well they do outside their own styles.  Everyone is great working in their style.  Some people start getting better every week that have been underdogs.  After last week’s love fest, this week is a whole different animal, isn’t it?” asks Murphy.

This week, with the show going live, “It’s finding a partner and not knowing if you’re necessarily going to get along with that person, or if you’ll have instant chemistry.  It’s not knowing which choreographer you’ve gotten, what your music is. There are so many variables now.”

She’s thrilled with the talent level this year — exemplified by truly thrilling performances in this week’s show.

Derek Hough Movie Another Sign of Explosion of Dance Popularity

Derek Hough, Julie McDonald

Yes, there are a lot of “Dancing With the Stars” fans missing popular pro Derek Hough this season.  However, “He’s off to Canada to film a movie, ‘Cobu 3D.’  He’s starring.  He’s dancing and acting,” notes Julie McDonald of the dance romance in which Hough’s leading lady is Asian star BoA.  “He wants to do other things, and this is a wonderful opportunity for him.”

Hough is among the elite group of dance talents represented by McDonald’s MSA agency — so she knows.   The former dancer (whose own career was cut short by injury) has more than 20 years’ experience in working with dancers, stage director and choreographers, including “So You Think You Can Dance” choreography faves Napoleon and Tabitha Dumo.  Tabitha and Napoleon happen to be choreographing “Cobu,” in addition to assignments like Fox’s “Mobbed” and “The Kids Choice Awards,” plus the new Alvin and the Chipmunks movie, “Chipwrecked.”

“People’s careers are extending longer and longer in dance,” McDonald observes, “but those who want to have even longer careers have to expand.  Some go into choreography, some into acting.  Then you see a lot of choreographers going into producing and directing, like Kenny Ortega, Adam Shankman and Rob Marshall.”

McDonald adds that today, with mass exposure including social networking making dance stars into household names, there are even more opportunities for branching out.  “Dancers are often trendsetters.  A lot of them are into fashion and design.  Tabitha has a store,” she notes.

The explosion of dance and musical show popularity in recent years has made things both easier and more difficult for McDonald, a pioneer in exclusively representing terpsichorean types.  The business, she notes, has become much more complicated — and crowded.  “There are a lot more people out there calling themselves choreographers.”

Still, there’s obviously demand for the cream of the corps.  In a sampling of McDonald’s clients, Swany (Mark Swanhart) is the choreographer for Celine Dion’s new Vegas show and Gilles Papain is their video designer.  Sonya Tayeh is directing and choreographing Miley Cyrus’s new tour.  Marguerite Derricks is choreographing Broadway’s Wonderland, and Jamie King is directing the forthcoming Michael Jackson Cirque du Soliel show with Travis Payne choreographing.  That show is so huge, in fact, McDonald says that multiple choreographers are contributing their talents.

There’s also Steven Spielberg’s new pilot, “Smash,” starring Debra Messing and Katharine McPhee as part of a troupe getting ready to mount a Broadway musical about Marilyn Monroe, with MSA client Josh Bergasse serving as choreographer.