Tag Archives: “So You Think You Can Dance”

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.

Mia Michaels-Sting Collaboration Possible for Her Broadway Show

Mia Michaels

Look out, Broadway.  “So You Think You Can Dance” judge and choreographer extraordinaire Mia Michaels has started taking her first few steps toward formation of the show she’ll be bringing to New York next year, including, she reveals, talking to Sting about doing the music.  She also has had discussions with a couple of noteworthy actors, and we might see some of our favorite faces from “SYTYCD” in her stage production.

“Absolutely I would use them,” she says.

Up ‘til now, Michaels’ has had the current season of the hit Fox show at the forefront of her mind.  With tonight’s (8/12) final episode of summer 2010 – and either Kent Boyd, Lauren Froderman or Robert Roldan being named the winner – she’s psyched up to “make it all about celebrating the kids and their journey, how far they’ve come from day one.  It should be fun-filled.  There’s going to be recaps.  There’s going to be surprises.  I’m so looking forward to it.”


Viewers already got a preview of sorts of Michaels’ upcoming stage extravaganza.  “The last group number I did was kind of like a little bit of a seed of exploration of what my Broadway show is going to be,” she reveals.  Mounting of the yet-untitled theatrical production, which she’ll direct as well as choreograph, is being followed for a Bravo series about the ultra-hot dance talent.

“Yes it is a doc series – a ‘making of’ – but it’s going to have my Mia twist in there, so it’s not going to be typical.  It’s going to have some other elements,” she says.

Everything will pop in 2011, if all goes according to plan.  Potentially, she’ll be doing both new projects and “SYTYCD” simultaneously.

Michaels is definite that she wants to continue as a judge on the competition show, and says the criticism she and fellow judges Adam Shankman and Nigel Lithgoe have taken this season has not dampened her enthusiasm.

“I love being back on ‘So You Think.’  I love being a part of it.  I feel like my title has become so Mama Mia, and I love that.  I think that next season, if they ask me back, people will start getting used to me and knowing where my heart is and where my words come from,” she adds, referring to knocks she’s been getting for her harshness toward certain dancers.  “I think now people are a little like little taken aback, but I think in time they’ll see I’m coming from a good place.”