On Wednesday we took the train up to Baltimore to see So You Think You Can Dance Live. All in all, it was worth the trip and the price of the ticket.

The details of the show have been pretty well covered by now (Ted linked to a blow-by-blow LJ account of the show if you want to know what all the routines were), but for all the anxious fans I do want to let you know that there are two routines that had been taken out and are now back in. Due to various injuries, I’d read that the breaking piece with Sara, Dominic and Hok, as well as the Neil/Danny Two Princes routine had been taken out for a couple of the tour stops. Not so for Baltimore. They were back in the show, and definitely two of the most memorable pieces at that!

I’ll start with the low points before I get to my “in-depth analysis.” I really could have done without all the rehashing of the show on the video screens. They showed the “loser” reel with our friends Sex and the guy that had to get first aid assistance, as well as all the people that fell on their heads. Each dancer was introduced with the same reel that was shown when they were eliminated from the show. There was some new video material, but not much. Would it have killed them to come up with some new footage or at least a different way of presenting it? There was also some badly scripted banter that the dancers had to say between acts. They are dancers, and not (with a few exceptions, namely Dominic and Neil) adept at speaking to large crowds. I do understand the function that played in presenting the dancers as real people to the fans, but some of it was pretty lame.

My final disappointment was that they didn’t perform one of my absolute favorites from the season, Apologize with Anya and Danny. I understand why they didn’t do it because Anya was not in the top 10 and so her role in the show was limited, but still I was very disappointed. A moment of silence please, while I sniffle and watch it [again, and again] on youtube…

Alrighty then… moving on…

The most interesting thing about seeing the routines from a TV show translated to the stage (pretty literally, it seemed) was seeing what worked better on stage than on TV, and also what was really better suited to TV. The individual solos were better on TV. Routines whose strength lay in a great deal of facial expression, such as the Midnight Cabaret were better on TV.

Hands down, the group performances were all better live. There was so much cutting between shots and angles on the show that I was never able to get a good idea for each piece as a coherent work. The Shane Sparks Matrix routine was fantastic live. The choreography is really designed for the piece to be seen as a whole. I liked it on TV but appreciated it even more in the round.

Speaking of Shane Sparks, the Lauren/Pasha Transformers piece was so cool. The stage had a lowering platform (which was used to great effect throughout the show, including a very nice entrance at the beginning) which added to the fun, as if the transformer was coming out of some cavernous depths. That was a piece that I had not gotten as much on TV, but live I really appreciated Sparks’ choreography in all its humor and smarts. Perhaps Lauren and Pasha also gave a better performance of the piece on Wednesday.

Other pieces that worked particularly well in the flesh: Sara/Dominic/Hok’s breaking routine (lots of fun– a choreography with a sense of humor); Sabra/Dominic’s Make It Work (*wistful sigh*…oh, and another Sparks routine at that!); and, Oh. My. God….Hok/Jaimie’s Hummingbird & Flower piece killed me. It’s just so incredible that Hok can move in such quick, sharp movements. I swear that part of me had thought they’d sped up the tape on the TV show, but no, he really does move like that. I felt so sad when it was over.

And now, here’s a shocker for my regular readers about what worked better live. It’s a well documented fact that I Did Not Like Lacey At All during the show and had No Clue why she got so far in the competition. Well… I am here today to admit to you that Lacey works so much better live for me. Dare I say it, she really is a wonderful dancer.

Dear Lacey, I have an apology to make to you. My hostility should have been targeted at the dirty old cameramen, producers, and wardrobe people who kept doing everything possible to keep the emphasis on your butt and your campy facial expressions. Viewed from afar, as a faceless dancer, you are beautiful. All the pieces you danced in were a revelation to me, as I had never appreciated them since well, you, were in them on the show. I have to admit, the Viennese Waltz with Danny (Keep Holding On) gave me chills, you were beautifully expressive and graceful in the Mia Michaels piece about her father that you danced with Neil, and your samba with Danny? Wow!

[moving back into the 1st person now…]

I still love Sabra though. The Mandy Moore “power lunch” routine brought the house down (another one that made me sad when it ended– I have two exclamation marks and a heart next to that one in my notes), the pinstripe quickstep with Pasha and the paso doble with Neil were both incredible and fresh, and as I said before, Make it work with Dominic made me sigh wistfully.

I did not stay with my crazy friends by the stage door until 1:30 am to meet the dancers. They did and got a lot of great pictures with them, but I was content to escape the hard pouring rain and get into bed with the experience of seeing the dancers from my favorite show of the moment live.