This week I wanted to go back and look at one of the choreographers that was around from the start. When you think about classic So You Think You Can Dance routines, it’s hard not to think about Mia Michaels. For awhile it seemed she was SYTYCD.

After the jump, check out some of her best routines….

Season one was, for the most part, not the best season of SYTYCD. It had it’s ups and downs, but even Mia’s routines seem…. less in comparison to later stuff. I will go ahead and attribute this to the power of Cat Deeley. All things were better once she started hosting.  Season 2’s best number (according to the Emmys as well as me ) was the bench routine with Heidi and Travis. But I already posted that in my Travis article. There was another Mia routine that I really loved that season, however – The Top 6 performing to Imogen Heep’s Hide and Seek.

 

The song is often used in moments of sadness on shows, but I’ve always felt there is a strength behind it, and Mia really captures that in this performance. She finds a way to make the subtlest movement seem powerful and made use of all 6 dancers perfectly. It was one of many great group routines.

One of the first performances in Season 3 was from Lacey Schwimmer and Kameron Bink. Lacey had a lot to live up to with her brother winning the season before and Kameron was a bit of an unknown. Their first routine from Mia, “Dancing” showed what was to come for the next few weeks – Lacey’s powerhouse performances and Kameron’s ability to, well, keep up. This was about her, and Mia obviously could tell. When Lacey runs and jumps on Kameron I still remember thinking, “Oh, watch out for this girl…”

 

Later that season, Lacey once again was given the chance to dance for Mia, this time while partnered with Neil Haskell. Mia is always known for being a bit quirky – she doens’t count out the dance but instead makes noises. Her critiques are always filled with things that make you think she hates something when she loves it. But deep down she is a sentimental soul, and this one showed that. There was a story behind it – loss of a parent – but it doesn’t matter. The dance tells a moving story without hearing what Mia was thinking.

Then, sometimes, Mia clearly just wants to have a little fun, as she did with Neil and Danny Tidwell in the season 3 finale performance, “Two Princes.” Like she says – it was fun just to have guys up there going at it without holding back. Mia understands how to create a very strong male performance.

 

Season 4 was standout for Mia. She was given some great dancers to work with. And who could  have guessed that one of her great muses of the season was going to be Hip Hop dancer, Stephen “Twitch” Boss? But in one of the first weeks he did a routine with his partner, Kherington Payne that was astounding. Most people probably remember it as the ‘bed routine’ – I remember it as the moment we all realized that Twitch was going to be the one to watch that season.

But later in the season Twitch was in my favorite dance of season 4, and one of my favorites ever one the show, with Katee Shean. Mercy. It’s just pure lust, hate, power, strength and weakness all wrapped up into one intense package.

In season 5, Mia had a routine that showed the strength of women during the finale with Kayla Radomski and eventual winner, Jeanine Mason. It was deceivingly simple – the girls just made their way diagonally across the stage, removing bits of skirt as they went along. But think about it – they only moved about 30 feet across the stage. That’s it. How do you make something powerful and so very meaningful out of that? I don’t know, but Mia did.

Going back a few weeks into season 5 was a performance that became one of the defining moments of So You Think You Can Dance. Because of this routine from Mia, danced by Kayla and Kupono Aweau, I can’t hear the song “Gravity” without getting the chills and starting to cry. This routine – a take on the horrors and power of addiction – was part of a trio of dances that won Mia another Emmy that year and also went down as one of the most powerful dances ever on the SYTYCD stage. Kayla’s complete abandon and Kupono’s frightening strength will never leave my mind.

Mia left for season 6, returned for a few in season 5, and once again took time off in season 8. She also spent some time working on So You Think You Can Dance Canada. I hope to see her choreographing again in Season 9. She brings something to the contemporary pieces that is just unique and brilliant. She can be funny, haunting, touching and everything in between.

 

Written by Melissa Miller. Find her on Twitter @serrae 

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