So You Think You Can Dance Tour Report - Oakland


Let me begin by saying two things key to this recap: 1) I am pretty much obsessed with SYTYCD, and I've given up trying to play it cool; I finally admitted to everyone (including some clients...yes, clients), that I lluuuurrrrvve the show and that my Tivo is having an intimate relationship with several dancers and a British man named Nigel. And 2) As a thirtysomething woman hooked on the show, I had no contemporaries who were fellow fans, so I invited a dear friend of mine -- let's call her Ann -- to the tour. And even though she hadn't seen even one episode and knew nothing about the show whatsoever, she graciously agreed to accompany me to the September 15 show in Oakland. I knew this was risky, but my options were limited. Plus, she loved the Paramount, and now having been there, I can see why. I'd be willing bet Oakland's Paramount Theater is the most stunning venue to house the tour. It is an art deco palace with gorgeous fine detail on walls, ceilings and proscenium that, quite literally, took my breath away.

The great thing about taking Ann with me to the show was the perspective she provided. I love to watch and rewatch the performances, but I realize I can no longer look at any of the dancers or dance routines with fresh eyes. Shortly after "2 Much Booty" began toward the beginning of the show, it dawned on me that much of what I love about that routine is now nostalgic. The reason that number made such a HUGE impression on viewers when it was first performed was because no one, NO ONE, was expecting to see the geeky white Mormon boy shake his booty that way. Just the thought of Benji's crazy gyrations after sliding under and through Donyelle's legs makes me blush. I didn't experience all of that juicy newness at the concert, but it was a lovely, fun way to pay tribute in person to how much fun and joy the dancers brought into our living rooms for nearly three months.

What numbers did they perform? It might be quicker if I listed the few they did not perform. Because that show was chock full of dancing. Each of the top 10 had a solo, which I have to say wasn't really necessary. Short of Benji's routine -- an ode to Fred Astaire involving the song "Dream a Little Dream" and a rag mop that soon shifted to "Land of a Thousand Dances" by Wilson Picket -- none of the rest of the solos were especially memorable. Everyone did well, but it's much more interesting and fun to see the partnering and connections within duets and group numbers...for which there was no shortage whatsoever. If you had a favorite number, odds are it was performed.

The show started with intros followed by the Brian Friedman-choreographed "Technologic," a number that kick-started the crowd. The show moved along at a nice clip, with the dancers doing a pretty good job at emceeing. Some were a little more stiff than others (COUGH* Ryan, Martha, Allison *COUGH). Some were quite comfortable (Hi, Travis and Ivan!). And one was so good it was as if he was born with a mic in his hand (zoom in on Benji). An early number and a new addition was the award-winning West Coast Swing routine performed by U.S. Champions and cousins Benji and Heidi, which....Wow. Travis had a whole lot going on in the first half, performing the Paso Doble with Heidi, the contemporary "Georgia on My Mind" routine with Donyelle, a gorgeous new contemporary routine with Natalie that he choreographed himself, and "Steam Heat" with Martha. That last number was part of a Bob Fosse medley, which featured Allison and Ryan's "Bye, Bye Blackbird" -- nicely filled out with the rest of the female dancers -- and "Cell Block Tango"

It was around this time that I had my run-in with the usher. Before the show began, an announcement was made that no flash photography was allowed -- and lucky for me, my camera was taking great shots with no flash and in low light. So I had been snapping away, capturing some amazing moments, and all of a sudden, Grumpy Old Man Usher rushes toward me and tells me that no photography is allowed. Whuhhh? He didn't take my explanation about there not being a flash, and he was insistent about the general ban on picture-taking, so I resigned myself to sitting with my camera in my lap. But bummed.

A Hip Hop medley transitioned from Martha and Ivan's krumping to the Shane Sparks' "Poison" group routine, and into "Gyrate" with the dorktastic duo, Tranji, which was unsurprisingly a huge hit. Allison and Ivan brought screams of delight with their first Argentine Tango, and Dmitry and Natalie steamed up the stage (seriously -- check the photos) with the Samba they originally performed during the TV show's finale. The first half of the show closed with a very cool expanded version of "Sexy Back" that incorporated all of the dancers, yet still highlighted the final four. Benji sent the audience off to intermission in giggles with his best Zoolander impression. And that was just half of the show. Didn't I say it was jam-packed?!

Bringing the screams to a fever pitch was the opening for the second half -- "Ramalama Bang Bang." While still a great number, a little of the drama was lost in translation from the show to the stage -- the dramatic descent on the
staircases was sorely missed. And I didn't notice until I got home and looked at my photos that Jessica was dancing in place of Allison. The good news? I found my courage and brought the camera out of retirement -- taking stealthy, no-flash pictures when the ushers were looking away.

Next up was Travis and Heidi's contemporary routine with the bench -- a huge hit with the crowd, as was Travis' solo. I think it's safe to say that Dan's BF Travis? Has a huge fan base (and many wannabe BFs and GFs) in the Bay Area.

Benji and Donyelle's Viennese Waltz was accompanied by a humongous killer disco ball (which...okay). Ryan played Heidi's bongos in the Cuban Rumba (I was surprised it was included, actually). Benji and Heidi killed the Mambo (Heidi in a hot new orange costume), and the audience rewarded them with a well-deserved standing ovation (my friend Ann said this was the only number that looked truly professional and bowled her over...maybe she's secretly been talking to Dan Karaty?). Ivan and Allison's umbrella number to "Sexy Love" was incredibly well received (a lot of Ivan fans in the house). And probably the most authentic, surprising and memorable moment of the night happened when Dmitry was on stage, dressed in sweats and a SYTYCD T-shirt introducing a video segment on the Top 20. The room was really quiet, with everyone listening carefully (I think trying to maneuver his lovely accent), and during a pause, a woman yelled out at full voice, "TAKE IT OFF!" And the crowd went ballistic. Clapping, hooting, hollering and whistling went on for a good three minutes. For a while there, I thought he'd remove the shirt just to quiet us down, but he didn't. Instead, he stood there, with his head hanging, laughing and shaking his head. And, I like to imagine, blushing. (BTW: Dmitry = Sex on Legs. Yum.)

A disco medley began with Natalie and Dmitry dancing what appeared to be the routine she originally performed with Musa to "Disco Inferno," followed by the group dancing to "Born to be Alive" -- with Travis taking over Benji's pimp role by dancing simultaneously with Allison and Heidi. Later, Allison and Ivan's contemporary routine to "Why" brought the house to its feet, which...I just don't get (and friend Ann really couldn't fathom), but good for them. At this point, Travis came out and talked to the audience wearing a T-shirt bearing a huge image of his face, and he sweetly
thanked the girl in the audience who gave it to him before the show (very cool). He then gave a nice intro to Benji and Donyelle's Broadway number to "You Can't Stop the Beat." They were great, and it's hard to describe, but the energy in the room became more charged as they performed. Then the dancers came out one by one and took their bows (to the soothing sounds of Cat Deeley's recorded voice), took a group bow and left the stage. Then, they walked back out onto stage again as the applause continued and asked the crowd if we wanted more. And of course we did. "You Can't Stop the Beat" started up again, and they all danced the hell out of it, including a tumbling run by Dan's BF Travis. And if the room was charged before? By now, it was electric. I get a funny feeling in my throat when I think about it. Everyone was on their feet, and the dancers were on fire, and it was a perfect way to close the show. So. Damn. Fun. I get emotional thinking about it.

I was looking forward to getting some photos or video of crazed fangirls for this recap, but those that were there were apparently laying low (and probably seated in the balcony). The Oakland show's crowd skewed older than I e
xpected, with lots of 20-something girls, but plenty of families, as well. In front of me was a husband and wife with their young son; behind me was a married couple in their 70s. Certainly speaks to the diverse appeal of the show.

I didn't wait around to try and meet the dancers after the show, though I heard that some people had great success. But even without meeting the dancers, the show was still a lovely evening, and a great way to cap off wh
at turned out to be a memorable, dance-filled summer. If you're scheduled to catch the show, you won't be sorry. Especially since they are only going to get better and more comfortable with the staging, the dialogue and the banter as the weeks go by. It was neat to be one of the first in the U.S. to catch the show, but I bet the audiences toward the end of the tour (Hello, Providence!) are going to be especially fortunate.

*more photos over at her blog:

click photos to enlarge


Other Reports/Photos:
- Los Angeles
- Phoenix
- Seattle


  • Great review! I felt like Ducky wrote this so it was a great read.

    By Anonymous Schwingers Anonymous, at 9/19/2006 01:44:00 PM  

  • Considering how much I love Dan's writing, I'll take that as a compliment -- thanks!

    TD (recap author, that's me, right here....)

    By Blogger Trish, at 9/19/2006 02:31:00 PM  

  • Comrade! I feel like I'm just as obsessed with the show. Loved your reviews and pix! You obviously had a better seat in Oakland than I did down here in L.A., since your pix came out much better. You can read my review at

    By Blogger James & Tim, at 9/20/2006 12:46:00 AM  

  • I heard the LA show was fun, James. I'm a little jealous you had the local show folk there in attendance.

    As for my photos, truth be told, I was sitting about 20 rows back and off to the side. But my camera? Is AMAZING. I had no idea. When I saw the photo I captured of Benji grinning at Heidi while doing the WCS, I was on cloud nine. It looks as if I took it while standing on the stage a few feet away. Astounding.... flash, far away, and fast-moving subjects. The camera works miracles. :)


    P.S. It's a Fuji FinePix S5200. And as I've told many friends, I am considering petitioning the Supreme Court so that I may marry my camera. I love it that much.

    By Blogger Trish, at 9/20/2006 01:38:00 AM  

  • Everyone check out James and Tim's review! As for Trish, if your camera was a gay woman I'd say come to Boston and get married but a Fuji Camera probably won't pass here.

    By Blogger duckyxdale, at 9/20/2006 08:31:00 AM  

  • I tried putting it in a dress and a wig, but it just looks like Patrick Swayze.

    But thanks for the suggestion, Dan.


    By Blogger Trish, at 9/21/2006 02:24:00 AM  

  • God, how great was Patrick Swazye in the Red Dawn/Dirty Dancing years? Lurved him!

    By Blogger duckyxdale, at 9/21/2006 09:55:00 AM  

  • RED DAWN?!!!! I think my sister and I must have seen that movie in the theater three times. We absolutely LOVED it! I think it's so funny that you remember one I know even saw it.

    WOLVERINES, Dan! Wolverines.



    By Blogger Trish, at 9/22/2006 01:45:00 AM  

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