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.