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They are all really good. And it's always going to be someone's favorite who's going home. But, as Nigel said, it really doesn't matter all that much. All these guys should be able to have a long and succesful career in the world of dance.

They are all going to be offered many opportunities. At least, if you don't win, you can make your own choices. I'm sure being a part of a Celine Dion show is a big deal, but maybe some of those guys are like me, and just can't stand her! !!

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The way the votes seem to be going, it looks like a showdown between Donyelle and Heidi and Benji and Ivan. Personally, I have a vested interest in Benji and Heidi but since only one dancer can win, I'd hate this scenario. This would mean pitting cousin against cousin and dance partner against dance partner since they're not only related but together, they are the United States Swing Champions.

I'm all over Travis and Ivan and I have a real soft spot in my heart for Donyelle. The chemistry she and Benji have as partners was amazing. While many of the other pairings seemed to struggle with that portion of the competition, Donyelle and Benji seemed to have that unexplained spark from the very beginning.

So, where does my vote go? I guess it would still have to be with Benji because I knew him better than I did Heidi. And, I know how much this would mean to his family especially his dad, Buddy. You will search high and low to find a father with more pride in his children than Buddy Schwimmer. Benji comes from a great family so he'll do fine no matter what the outcome.

However, I'm finding it very hard to see Benji or Heidi in Las Vegas with Celine Dion. Perhaps with their contemporary and hip hop styles, Ivan or Travis would be better suited. I'd love to see Benji or Heidi on Broadway or in a road tour of "Hairspray," "Jersey Boys" or "The Wedding Singer."

I also think Benji would make a marvelous Mark in "Rent" if his voice was halfway decent. I never heard him sing. I just got a total visual. Benji as Mark. Heidi as Maureen. Donyelle as Joanne. They could almost cast an entire "So You Think You Can Dance" version of "Rent." Musa as Benny. Ryan as Tom Collins.

Allison doesn't have the ethnicity but does have the right hair and dance moves to play Mimi. Actually, almost any of the women could portray a mean Maureen if they had acting ambition. I'd love to see a half naked Dmitry portray Roger but not sure a Russian Roger was playwright Jonathan Larson's vision. Ahhh, a girl can dream.

No matter what happens, I agree with Nigel 100% that whatever brings dance back to television is inherently a great thing! Bring DanceSport and Ballroom Dancing back to PBS!

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Ivy posted:

A bit off-topic---Anyone seen 'Mad Hot Ballroom", and is it any good? Is it a movie, or more of a documentary?

Ivy . . . it's more of a documentary but a VERY enjoyable one. I highly recommend you put it on your rental list. It won all sort of awards and was highly regarded as both entertaining and educational. Enjoy!

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ElleNaturelle posted:

I don't think Benji would go for portraying anyone in Rent. I'm LDS also and happen to love it, but I know a lot of members in the church who won't even listen to the soundtrack, pretty sad because they're really missing out.

ElleNaturelle . . . I agree since I'm a Renthead from years gone by and I'm a Southern Baptist deacon's daughter! The good news is Benji and his family are extremely open-minded and generous of heart. Can you tell how much I love his family? His dad, Buddy, is a little nutsy to the point of being sort of a cornball but once you meet him and his amazing family, you can't help but fall in love with them all!

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Mad Hot Ballroom is one of my favorite movies. . . and I'm a movie fanatic. Although it is a documentary, it is far from boring and you cannot help but fall in love with the kids in this movie. I've added it to my DVD collection and I watch it whenever there's nothing on television. It has become my go-to movie.

Proceed to your nearest video store and rent it immediately!

Now onto Allison. I was floored that she got sent home. Natalie would have been my choice to leave last week. Donyelle is the only girl left in the competition who I think should win. Heidi never thrilled me. I cannot stand her facial expressions and her dance movements are way too jerky.

I love Benji. How can anyone not love Benji? But my fingers are crossed for Travis to win. I truly believe he is the best dancer. But for some reason he keeps getting nitpicked by the judges when others get a pass. I am a realist, if nothing more, so I am preparing myself for a Benji win. I wouldn't mind that either.

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Since this show, from the beginning has been 'guys', and 'girls', it just seems like it should end up that way too. We started with the top ten girls, and guys, and one guy and one girl has been voted off each week, so I would love to see a guy and a girl winner.

This isn't meant to be a complaint -- I love the show. I don't really care how they do it, just that they DO IT!!

I catch myself though, always thinking in terms of 2 winners, and then 'oops! No, there's only 1. Hmmm, who will it be???"

I'll be searching for a Mad Hot Ballroom tomorrow!

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Courtesy of: TV GUIDE, INSIDER

Dance's Allison and Ryan Explain America's Decision

by Sabrina Rojas Weiss


Allison Holker and Ryan Rankine, So You Think You Can Dance

As the season finale of So You Think You Can Dance tiptoes toward us, it's safe to say that few fans will be happy to say goodbye to the remaining dancers. The most recent elimination dealt a shocking blow: Longtime favorite Allison Holker, the 18-year-old contemporary specialist from Utah, was voted off the stage. The other ousted performer, 20-year-old New Yorker Ryan Rankine, was less surprised about leaving, since for weeks the judges had been harping on him for holding back and lacking self-confidence. TVGuide.com caught up with the two last Friday to see if judge Nigel Lythgoe should hand in his amateur-shrink license, and if America was watching a completely different show than we were.

First, Allison....

TVGuide.com: You were robbed! Were you as shocked as we were that you left so early?

Allison Holker: You cannot predict these things. We four girls really did not know who was going home. We all knew it could have been any of us.

TVGuide.com: During the week, do you guys discuss how the people are voting, or are you just focused on the dancing?

Allison: Of course I'm wondering how America is judging us. It's always on your mind. You're always wondering, "Am I doing the right thing? Are they enjoying me? Do they really like me?" That's what makes the show so hard. If it was just about dancing, none of us would be stressed out at all, we'd just be having the time of our lives.

TVGuide.com: So why do you think you were voted off?

Allison: I don't ever want to sound cocky or anything, but people have been telling me that I came into the competition being really versatile. I am only a contemporary jazz dancer, but they kind of consider me doing everything because I adapt really well. So it seemed not so impressive that I could do [different dance styles] well. I never really got a lot of praise.

TVGuide.com: As opposed to the way everyone was fawning over your partner, Ivan Koumaev.

Allison: Exactly. I freakin' love Ivan, that's my boy. And he went from being the lowest point to being the underdog that's sweeping everyone off their feet. All the more power to him, because that boy's working his butt off, and he deserves everything he's got. America loves to see the improvement, the person who's come out of nowhere.

TVGuide.com: Which was your favorite performance?

Allison: My contemporary piece with Ivan was by far my favorite. I love that piece. Tyce Diorio is amazing, the choreography was so good. But also the two tangos that we did. I'm in love with the tango

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I must be bored because I started to write down my critique this week so here's my take on tonight's episode before the TV Guide comes out with their review. It'll be interesting to me to see how closely the TV Guide critic and I come to our assessments. Again, NOT claiming to be a professional dancer or television critic! This is just my thoughts as I was watching tonight and waiting to vote.



It was good but nothing that made me go wow unfortunately.


It was okay but it seemed like much of the same.


OMG! Either I

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So You Think You Can Dance

by Sabrina Rojas Weiss

August 2, 2006: So They Think You Can't Dance

It's getting tough tonight, folks. And that stage looks mighty empty with only six people on it. Good thing Cat's hair is taking up some extra space. (I kid because I love. But seriously, either the makeup artists got a discount on bronzer this week, or there was a class field trip to Malibu. Is it an homage to last season's Dancing with the Stars? Yes, I'm here all week.)

Thanks for letting me get that out of my system. The judges had something to get off their chests, too. No holding back this week.

Ivan and Natalie: The fact that they are obviously the judges' least favorites makes me suspect this the partnering is rigged. While the jive was no Heidi-Benji number, I thought it was fun to watch. The contemporary piece was jerky, but it would have been praised to death a few weeks ago. No slack from the judges, though; they're pointing out the difference between being good at something you just learned and being good at everything. That said, I want to give Ivan as much props as they gave Heidi for growing as a dancer. I hope he keeps it up and trains in all these styles after the show. It was his best solo of the competition, too: pure movement without any gimmicks. Natalie's we've seen too many times before. I agree with Mia's comment that her facial expressions are contrived.

Travis and "Heidi-ho": OK, Trav, enough with the Mr. Hanky voice. I hardly noticed that their smooth waltz was actually a waltz, and that's a good thing. It had an emotional resonance you rarely see in ballroom, and I'm so glad that Heidi was able to stop grinning and let go while doing some gorgeous kicks and extensions. As for the pop, it's no fair that we've only seen two Wade Robson pieces this whole show. Genius. Heidi's skinny body doesn't seem quite right with any sort of African dance, but her hair extensions sure helped. I was mostly watching Travis, anyway. He's a boy in need of a good choreographer, 'cause that solo? Yawn. Maybe it's the polo-shirt-and-cargo-shorts uniform that's boring me. And Heidi should have a partner at all times.

The Benjelle: Hey, even they've started calling themselves that! Despite their chemistry, Donyelle was looking tired next to Benji's Broadway-on-crack stylings. Someone get her some caffeine. The hip-hop wasn't one of Shane Sparks' most memorable routines, but they were pretty good at acting their parts. Thank goodness Donyelle chose contemporary over hip-hop for her solo. She showcased her emotional maturity with that heartfelt piece. Benji was great as usual and still totally poking fun at himself as a Dmitry-esque sex symbol. I'm thinking they should just hand him the contract already.

Posted by Sabrina Rojas Weiss 08/3/2006 12:28 AM

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My Ranking This Week:

1. Travis

2. Benji

3. Heidi

4. Ivan

5. Donyelle

6. Natalie

I'm pretty proud of my predictions for this week's outcome! (see above) If I had switched Ivan with Donyelle, I'd have been pretty spot on with my predictions. It pained me to put Benji second but even as biased as I am in Benji's favor . . . there was no denying Travis' amazing performances. He just took the night along with his partner, Heidi.

Even still, based on my assessment, the vote didn't surprise me at all. Can I go on the record and say how much I dislike Mia Michaels and her ever increasing attacks on the ability of ballroom dancers! If she ever paid attention to her Contemporary dancers and their lack of ability to pick up ballroom dancing, she might shut up and give ALL dancers their due!

Okay, enough about the "Rosemary Baby's" lookalike and on to the dancers! Next week, it's going to get even more difficult. I'm going to go out on a limb and give a prediction even before they dance next week. I'll be very surprised if either women win the contest so although I ADORE both Heidi and Donyelle, I predict they won't be the final two.

I think it's going to come down to a showdown of fans phoning in for Travis and Benji. I think either one of them is deserving (although it's apparent, I'm ALL about the Benji). I would love to see some smart television executive bring back a weekly variety dance show format much in the genre of "American Bandstand" featuring many of the top finishers of both seasons.

And, what would be so wrong in an occasional dance number on late night television? They reserve the end of the show for regular music acts and comedians so why not dancers? Perhaps, devote one segment per week to a production number such as theatre companies or dancers like we see here . . . even expand it to include top talent in the world of tap or ballet. Just my wish list . . . a girl has to have a dream!

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So You Think You Can Dance

by Sabrina Rojas Weiss

August 3, 2006: The Mia Michaels Show

My cable was fighting for its life through the heat and low power to bring me an episode that was suffering from a brownout of its own. It was all up to Miss Larger Than Life Mia to wake me up out of my stupor. With the exception of her funky opening piece (and tomorrow I will ask what was written on their costumes), and her biting commentary, I felt like this was a rerun. There was Natalie, doing her no-handed cartwheels and knee-killing bendy thing. This time, her dramatic tears were directed to Allison in the audience. (We miss you, Alli!) Mia seemed sorry for calling her fake last night, and instead told her "You have it and know what you bring." They're like riddles, her comments.

Next there was Heidi, returning to her Texas pageant-mom hair and the weird dance move that involved rubbing her tummy. Nigel gave her such an underhanded compliment that she'd win if she had five more weeks. Then Mia added that she'd tailored her choreography to deal with Heidi's limitations. That was kinda mean to say after the fact, but I couldn't agree more.

Donyelle's solo with all that arm flapping reminded me of Martha's ill-fated last dance. But what's irking me most is something Rochell pointed out to me back in the beginning of the season: Nigel always goes back to discussing the girls' looks rather than their talent. And while Donyelle is undoubtedly gorgeous, I'm pretty sure those are colored contacts. I don't even remember how the Mary-Mia fake fight started during this part, but I'd like to see that put to music.

Travis, in his same preppy outfit, did his same solo. I'm sure I liked it the first 20 times, and it makes me mad that this show has killed it for me. Mia said it would be a privilege to work with him for the rest of her life. She's got some mood swings!

Ivan's popping routine continues to improve each time I see it, possibly because he's got more musicality now after all this training. Mia's good mood reached its climax as she declared to Ivan, "I love you."

Benji is the only one who knows how to change it up from week to week. Sure, sliding under the stairs was gimmicky, but he was fully aware that we needed to be woken up. Mia's mood switched one more time in order to point out that the golden boy does in fact have limitations. And as many of you have pointed out, he's yet to pull contemporary out of the hat, so we've never had a chance to see those limitations. Will we have to take Mia's word for it?

After some fake suspense (oooh, the Danger Zone!), my cable almost dying and Omarion performing with his dull male-cheerleader dancers, Natalie and Ivan were finally done, to no one's real surprise. They did manage to amuse Cat with their reactions: Natalie with her "Opa!" and Ivan by smacking Benji's butt. Now that's going out in style. Just somebody, please get that "Suddenly I See" song out of my head! And then feed me some good Q's for those two wiseasses.

Posted by Sabrina Rojas Weiss 08/4/2006 12:04 AM



So You Think You Can Dance Results

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Bottom 2 girls: Natalie and Donyelle

Bottom 2 boys: Ivan and Benji (yes, Benji)

Gone tonight are: Natalie and Ivan

They just did that for Drama, after she said Travis was safe he started jumping around and she made a point of saying that does not mean you had the most votes, just that you are safe. But eitherway we knew Benji was safe, so it kind of made it obvious that Ivan was going home.

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We've talked so much about the dancers on this show but I'd like to put my 2 cents in about some of the judges.

Nigel: Most of the time he seems to be telling it like it is. I usually agree with his critiques. My only criticism is that I feel he was too blinded by Natalie's beauty to be truly objective.

Mary Murphy: My least favorite judge. Her voice goes right through me. She seems to overcompensate for her lack of knowledge of hip hop by praising every single hip hop routine no matter how awful it is. Over uses the phrase "that was hot"

Shane Sparks: The anti-Mary Murphy. Hip hop is his expertise so he views every non-hip hop routine as great.

Dan Karaty: More honest in his critiques than most of the other judges. He doesn't seem to show favorites or be swayed by fabulous abs or a pretty face.

Mia Michels: The most honest of all the judges . . . even though it makes her seem to be the harshest. She doesn't sugar coat any of her remarks. She is not afraid to be the lone voice of dissension on the panel. I loved her comment to Natalie about her performances being contrived. I'd love to see more of her next season and much, much, much less of Mary.

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Courtesy of: TV GUIDE, INSIDER

Natalie and Ivan Dance Off into the Sunset

by Sabrina Rojas Weiss


Natalie Fotopoulos and Ivan Koumaev, So You Think You Can Dance

The latest castoffs from Fox's So You Think You Can Dance (tonight at 9 pm, the winner is announced Aug. 16 at 8 pm/ET) acted positively cheery when they were sent home last week: Natalie Fotopoulos let out a big fat Greek "Oopah!" while Ivan Koumaev playfully pinched Benji Schwimmer on the butt. The day after their dismissal, TVGuide.com caught up with the "Nativan" (as the 22-year-old jazz dancer and 18-year-old hip-hopper have taken to calling themselves) to find out how making it to the final six has affected them personally and professionally, and where we might see them next.

First, Natalie....

TVGuide.com: Had you planned that "Oopah!" before you got kicked off?

Natalie Fotopoulos: As I was standing there, [host] Cat Deeley was opening the card, and I knew it was me. I don't know what came over me. Oopah means "the highest of highs, celebrate" in Greek. For me it was a relief, and I was celebrating.

TVGuide.com: You and Ivan seem to have such a positive attitude about leaving. How did you keep that up?

Natalie: You form special bonds with people on the show, but since Day 1 Ivan and I have been close. Last night after everything went down, Ivan said to me, "There's nobody else I'd rather be kicked off with than you." I said, "Hell, yeah!" When you're dancing seven days a week with barely any sleep, you don't have time to stop and go to the bathroom, you're stressed and there's pressure on you, it's really hard to maintain a positive attitude. If I didn't have Ivan there, I think I probably would have cracked and would be in psychiatric care right now.

TVGuide.com: What happened to your knee?

Natalie: [it's] bruised cartilage that needs to just heal, but when you're dancing and slamming yourself around, it can't heal. It needs rest.

TVGuide.com: Are you going to have downtime before the tour?

Natalie: After the finale, I think we have two weeks to rest before we get back and start doing rehearsals. Everybody can't wait to get in there and get back together. It's so hard to see your friends leave. With reality shows, everyone wants to think, "Oooh, they don't like each other and there's drama." There's no drama on this show

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So You Think You Can Dance

by Sabrina Rojas Weiss

August 9, 2006: Attack of the Benheidyellvis!

I'm not sure I've got the dance-criticism vocabulary to properly break down what we saw last night, so forgive me if I start sounding like Cicely and Olisa, parroting everything Nigel says. I can, however, talk style: Someone attacked Cat with a curling iron, and I like it. It's cool that she got daring again with the metallic dress; I was hoping she'd jump into a routine somewhere. Brian Friedman's got to run to a disco funeral right after the show, which explains the satin suit and the chin-strap facial hair (oh, wait, it doesn't explain that at all). Mary and her talking hand didn't even bother to wear a different dress to the Step Up premiere. (And, movie-review spoiler alert, Angel Cohn says that movie doesn't have enough dancing in it to make up for the stinky acting.)

My guess is there were no random hat-drawings for dance styles or partners tonight, so we didn't get our wish to see Benji do a contemporary routine.

Travis and Heidi's disco was short and sweet. Amazing job on the lifts. Heidi was in her energetic element. I'm surprised no one mentioned that there were moments when Travis barely moved.

Benji and Donyelle coulda fooled me with that Viennese waltz until Nigel (and the editors) pointed out the flaws: Donyelle's arms were curled funny and neither dancer was completely smooth. Their first waltz a few weeks back was more impressive.

Travis and Benji, aka Tranji, got to mix quite a bit of acting into their Shane Sparks hip-hop. Their nerds-turned-krumpers thing was adorable, but I can't help but miss the Jamile-Nick performance of last year's finale.

Heidi, dressed like she was ready to be a Vegas showgirl, did her same old solo.

Donyelle was back in full force for her solo, flailing and jumping and grooving on the floor. She can portray a full range of emotions with her body, and that's what sets her apart from Cousin Heidi.

Travis brought a little more range for his solo, too. He traded the polo shirt for a button-down and did only one pirouette (it's a start), tucked into a more dramatic performance.

As hot as Heidi and Donyelle looked during their "Big Spender" Broadway piece, I thought those white, fake eyelashes were glasses! Nigel, Mary and Brian all but lit into Tyce for being too simplistic with the choreography.

Benji's solos never cease to amaze. Upon close scrutiny, he is doing the same moves as always, but he uses some magical illusion to make it feel new and exciting each time. Loved the backward fall into the audience. Now that's trusting your fans!

Travis and Donyelle gave their all to Mia's gorgeous blues-contemporary piece. That, my friends, is why I love modern dance. It's pure, powerful theater without words.

I wish Heidi and Benji's salsa had shown more footwork, but man was that split-lift-turn thing cool, as was the way Heidi held herself up in that back bend. Brian was cute laughing at his own comment before he could say it: "Will you guys do this at my next birthday party?"

The group Wade Robson routine to "SexyBack" killed. One of my favorites of the season, and it somehow let everyone showcase their personalities, even while they were doing their best Zoolander impressions. Nigel spoke my thoughts: They each showed why they're in the top four. I couldn't even begin to vote for a favorite among them. Let's just call it my journalistic objectivity. (For anyone who missed it, here's my interview with Ivan and Natalie.)

Posted by Sabrina Rojas Weiss 08/10/2006 12:25 AM



So You Think You Can Dance Finale Performances Draw Praise From The Judges

The judges were full of praise for the final four dancers on the So You Think You Can Dance finale performance show. The remaining four dancers each performed with every other dancer remaining on the show as well as performing solo routines. For the first couples performance, Travis Wall danced with Heidi Groskreutz and Benji Schwimmer danced with Donyelle Jones.

Based on the first performance, Travis & Heidi gained the early advantage. Nigel Lythgoe told Heidi that she was

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Okay, anyone who has been following my journey through this season of "So You Think You Can Dance" knows I'm ALL about the Benji! I really DO want him to win and think he is deserving of the title. However, I have a new bumper sticker . . . Finale Happens! I'm not sure how the couple's dances were chosen or why they were given some of their weakest endeavors but I'm not a producer.

Up until the finale, I would tell you Benji had it in the dance shoe bag! Not sure I would say that now. Alas, when Broadway was such a success for Donyelle and Benji, why would they dance the Viennese Waltz? I also disagreed with the judges in the fact that Benjelle really conveyed a raw and sensual emotion through their interpretation including a little sumpin' sumpin' at the end in the shadows on the dance floor.

When Travis and Donyelle took on their natural strength and training in Contemporary, it was magic! Of course, one would expect if you dance your strength, it's not only smart but entertaining as well. This leads me to cousins Heidi and Benji. As I've stated before, these two hold multiple titles in Swing Dancing especially West Coast Swing which was one of the possible dances. Yet, they danced Club Salsa?!?

First, let me say, it's a thin line between dancing charisma and being related to your partner. Club Salsa is all about heat, passion and sex! These two are cousins!!!!!! They are the current U.S. Swing Dance Champs and partner each other breathlessly in their speciality. They do a death drop move that brings gasps from the crowds and awe from the fellow competitors but they danced Club Salsa?!?

Can you tell I'm perplexed? Why wouldn't they dance the one thing they know they can win because they are number one in the country among their age group!!!! I adore Benji and would love to see this dream come true for him but as much as I believe he is a true talent (take that Mia Michaels!), the night belonged to Travis.

Even in my blinded biased adoration of Benji, I have to try to be fair and access the outcome based on what we saw in the finale. Although it pains me, Travis would get my vote. Okay, so it didn't when I picked up the phone but in all honesty, Travis truly danced away victorious. I would place Benji a close second with Heidi coming in third and Donyelle in fourth.

The contest between Heidi and Donyelle was even tougher for me because I liked them both so much. I have to admit I love my size 10 Donyelle giving the size 00 female dancers a run for their booty-shaking lives. I'm basing my decision on what I saw and not how much more I think Donyelle could have achieved if she hadn't had to nurse a broken toe and several injuries throughout the competition.

So with a heavy heart, these are my final rankings for the dancers:

1. Travis

2. Benji

3. Heidi

4. Donyelle

Sigh! I'm still crossing my fingers for Benji to pull out the popular vote but Travis deserves to dance away with this season's title.

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So You Think You Can Dance Tour Dates Announced

So You Think You Can Dance on the road is a celebration of dance featuring routines from the television show and video of the auditions and choreography. It features contestants excelling in their chosen fields of dance as well as the ones they have mastered. Planned audience interaction and live on stage dance class featuring exciting visuals and audio...also featuring local talent.

The So You Think You Can Dance Tour dates are listed below.



Seattle, WA

Paramount Theatre



Portland, OR

Arlene Schnitzner Hall



Oakland, CA

Paramount Theatre



Universal City, CA

Gibson Amphitheatre



Phoenix, AZ

Dodge Theater



Denver, CO

Lecture Hall



St. Louis, MO

Fabulous Fox Theatre



Chicago, IL

Rosemont Theatre



Milwaukee, WI

Milwaukee Theater



Minneapolis, MN

Historic Orpheum Theatre



Detroit, MI

Masonic Temple Theatre



Cincinnati, OH

Procter & Gamble Hall at the Aronoff Center



Cleveland, OH

State Theater



Buffalo, NY

Shea's Performing Arts Center



Mashantucket, CT

Foxwoods Resort Casino



Newark, NJ

New Jersey Performing Arts Center



New York, NY

The Theater at MSG



Philadelphia, PA

Academy of Music



Boston, MA

Wang Center for the Perf Arts



Albany, NY

Palace Theatre



Washington, DC

DAR Constitution Hall



Charlotte, NC

Ovens Auditorium



Duluth, GA

Arena at Gwinnett Center



Miami, FL

Jackie Gleason Theatre



Tampa, FL

Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center

Posted by Joe Reality on August 15, 2006 at 12:01 AM

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Benji Boogies To Top Title

by Ronnie Gill, Newsday Staff Writer


Benji Schwimmer is America's Favorite Dancer

In the end, performance trumped technique, as West Coast swing dancer Benji Schwimmer, 22, shimmied his way to the second season championship of Fox's "So You Think You Can Dance" reality series. But like a fine thoroughbred, his win might be attributed to his breeding, as the Redlands, California, resident comes from a family of dancers.

Schwimmer's father, Buddy, is an award-winning West Coast Swing dancer. Buddy has also been known as "The King of Swing" and "The Man with a Thousand Moves." The senior Schwimmer was a performer on the 1977 television variety show, "Dance Fever" with Lynn Vogen, as well as the 1992 show "Big Band Ballroom Bash."

Before his current title, Benji, sometimes called the "Prince of Swing" after his father, was the reigning United States Champion of West Coast Swing. As winner, Schwimmer dances away with a $100,000, a new car and a one-year contract with Celine Dion's Las Vegas show, "A New Day." He and the show's other nine top finalists begin a national tour on September 12.


Benji Schwimmer

Executive producer and series judge Nigel Lythgoe, who also is an executive producer of "American Idol," had previously declared audience favorite Schwimmer the best performer of the group, while saying that contemporary dancer and second place finisher Travis Wall, 18, of Virginia Beach, Virginia, had the best technique.

The other two finalists were Schwimmer's cousin, Heidi Groskreutz, 24, of Cliffside, New Jersey in fourth place. Donyelle Jones, 26, of Studio City, California who was partnered with Schwimmer during the first few episodes of the popular reality series came in third place.

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