Atlanta’s hip-hop dance expert Cyrus “Glitch” Spencer entered tonight as one of the final two guys on Fox’s “So You Think You Can Dance,” competing with ballet dancer Chehon Wespi-Tschopp.
Over the show’s first seven seasons, Atlanta couldn’t land a single finalist on the show, but now it’s an embarrassment of riches. Over the past two seasons, five locals have made the top 20. And Marietta’s Melanie Moore last year took home the crown. This year, Spencer is in position to follow her.
Better yet for the competitors, Nigel Lythgoe decided to reward two winners: a man and a woman. In past years, there was just one winner.
Unfortunately, the show has suffered its lowest ratings to date, finishing last week with just 4.2 million viewers. Fox didn’t help matters by cutting it to once a week instead of two. And Fox aired repeats during the Olympics on rival NBC, slowing momentum the past month.
But don’t blame the show’s lack of buzz on Spencer. He’s been a fan favorite from his audition at the Fox Theatre, a gleeful “pop and locker” who knew nothing about choreography walking in. He has been an incredibly quick study and has humbly learned various dances, amazing the other dancers. As a result, he didn’t land in the bottom two or three a single time this season.
Tonight, the final four each had to learn five routines.
“I’ve been scared,” Spencer admitted in a phone interview Monday. Going into the live shows, “I didn’t even know if I could keep up with the other guys. Even now, I really feel these guys are in a whole other field, a whole other level. I get discouraged because I’m not as trained. I want to move a certain way but it doesn’t happen overnight.”
“You deserve to be here, young man,” said Lythgoe tonight after Spencer performed a pase doble. Later, after he and his male rival did dance together, Lythgoe noted: “You Cyrus have improved so much as a dancer on this show. You’ve almost been starved of dance. Here you are with a banquet in front of you and you are gobbling everything up. It’s fantastic to see… You are a remarkable person. I wish I had the same outlook on life as you did. You are an inspiration to me. You are my favorite person on this show.”
Spencer tries not to think of this as a competition to keep his nerves at bay: “We’re all so close. All we can think about is getting through the routines.”
“I feel like I’ve grown so much,” Spencer said. “I’ve never taken choreography. I used to dance to whatever the music made me feel. Now I have to stick by the rules. I have to make sure my partner is safe and secure and comfortable.”
Dancing with the previous contestants (dubbed as all stars) was helpful because they gave him tips to take care of himself and stay positive. So far, he loves contemporary dance and Broadway.
After the show and the tour (which comes to Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre Dec. 1), Spencer plans to pursue movies and of course, doing shows galore. “I just want to be able to grow more,” he said, “and continue to learn new styles and increase my dance knowledge.”
He had to cut the interview short. More rehearsals. And a smorgasbord more to learn.
The season finale is next Tuesday, Sept. 18 at 8 p.m. when the two winners will be named.
By Rodney Ho, Radio & TV Talk