So You Think You Can Dance
Credit: Mathieu Young/FOX
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After a two week hiatus, tonight’s Top 14 episode of Fox’s So You Think You Can Dance returns and tributes a very special lady: the show’s most prolific choreographer, Mia Michaels. The three-time Emmy winner will be feted for the entire two hours, as the seven pairs of dancers remaining will each perform one of her classic dances from previous seasons — everything from her famous “Bench” dance to “The Butt Piece.”

“They contacted me, and they were like, ‘We have an idea. We want this to happen,'” Michaels tells EW about how the episode came together. “It was quite an honor, and I was like, ‘Let’s do this.’ It’s definitely turning out to be one of my most favorite seasons, especially now because I’ve had a personal attachment to the dancers now that are doing this work. It’s really cool.”

In addition to Michaels’ seven most memorable dances being performed — all of which are previewed below by Michaels, with embedded videos of the original performances — the choreographer has also constructed the night’s group number, which will feature all the dancers. “It has the potential to be one of my favorites. Hopefully it will be,” Michaels says of tonight’s group piece. “For me, the piece is about the long-distance relationship I’m in right now. I have been for the past two years, with someone who is the most amazing man. The problem is the long distance, and it’s very difficult in this space. So the stage is filled with so much love, almost like, it’s Prince Charming everywhere. But there’s ropes involved, and the rope represents the only connection we have, which is the telephone. The girls are tied up by one arm, so they can’t fully love with both arms because they’re stuck because of the distance.”

While you can enjoy that new rope-heavy group number tonight, you’ll also be able to look forward to new interpretations of these seven classic Mia Michaels dances — “The Door,” “The Bed,” “Time,” “Gravity,” and three more — which she reveals and delves into here with EW:


Lacey & Neil

Season 3

“It was for my Dad. For me, it takes me back, and it brings me into the place where I miss my Mom and Dad. They’re gone. I always think of what it would be like if heaven does exist and another world does exist after we leave. It’s like if we actually could see our loved ones again, what would be that like in that moment? I feel like a bit of an orphan in the world right now, so it’s an important piece for me to always hang on to the fact that maybe one day I’ll see them again. It’s terrible to watch! You know what, the first time I saw it in rehearsal this week, I was bawling like a baby. It still has the same impact as when I created it. They say that time heals all wounds all, but it just opens it up again. I don’t think it ever goes away. I think it’s always there. And now it brings a lot of tears this week, on that one. You know what, though, it is beautiful and it is a moment that you hope for — seeing your loved ones again.”

“Hometown Glory

Katee & Joshua

Season 4

“That one is funny because it’s about a cross between a friendship and a very healthy competition. It feels like when you’re on your journey and you have your vision and you have your goal in mind. It’s like having that goal in front of you — and let’s just say it’s a friend or sibling or anybody — it’s obtaining your goals among friends, so it’s very metaphoric to the competition because they all become friends but they’re trying to get ahead of each other. At the same time, they catch each other when they fall, they help each other forward. If they get too forward, they push them back a little bit. It’s very that juxtaposition of being a friend, but wanting to obtain your goals, actually. So it’s a little bit of selfishness in there — it’s intense — but you want to get to that goal. It’s about a competition, really. It’s like that even in the choreographers’ world on the show. When choreographers see another choreographer do something brilliant, it all raises the bar for everyone else. I remember when Wade Robson was on the show, he would do stuff, and I would be like, ‘Oh my God!’ It would make me work that much harder to do better. It’s healthy.”

“Mercy,” aka The Door

Katee & Twitch

Season 4

“‘The Door’ and ‘The Bed’ came out of the same relationship, but a different prop. So let’s start with ‘The Door’ first: ‘The Door’ happened because it was pretty much the end of a relationship, and the last time we ever spoke was through a doorway, and inspired me to create this piece. Of course, I take things and I exaggerate. I took this out of a conversation that started with: Why are you leaving? That kind of conversation to this parody of these crazy people having this relationship through a doorway. I took it to an extreme, and I made almost a comedy out of it, which she frames with the door. It’s just a joke because I’ve never kicked a door open! But for me, it was just taking it and making a joke about it. It was a breakup between the door. He was in the hallway and I was in the apartment, and that was the whole inspiration of it. I took it to a whole new place.”

“Dreaming With a Broken Heart,” known simply as “The Bed

Kherington & Twitch

Season 4

“Cut to, then, ‘The Bed.’ So of course, there was a little bit of anger and resentment about the break-up featured in ‘The Door,’ the fact that he decided to end the relationship. I guess when you want revenge in some sort of way, you kind of hope that they miss you? You hope that they come around and say, I made a mistake. That’s human. Right? That’s human, to feel that way, to hope that the person who broke your heart is really wishing that they maybe made a mistake. So ‘The Bed’ piece was really about the man f—ing up and he can’t sleep, so that he’s so restless that he’s thinking about how he wants her back and he messed up. He can’t even live with himself because he was just so wrong. In his dreams, she visits him and, if you notice, in the partnering, they never touch each other, ever. She’s in his dreams — he’s wanting her back — but they keep missing each other because it’s all in his mind. So he’s just kind of going through it because he can’t really sleep because he’s uncomfortable with himself with what he did. I don’t think that really happened, but I was wishing and hoping because I was the best thing that ever happened to him.”

“Calling You,” known simply as “The Bench

Travis & Heidi

Season 2

“That piece came from when I was living in New York. It came from a friendship, basically, between me and a gay man. We were very close friends, and we got so close that it made him uncomfortable and he was sick, and I went to give him a flower before I left for Los Angeles, and I think he was so uncomfortable — he was so in his head about our friendship — that he was resistant. He was hesitant to take the flower. So this is about the hesitance about taking the flower and that feeling of, Eww, you’re my friend, why aren’t you taking this flower? I think he felt that if he took the flower it would mean that he wanted more than friendship, so he didn’t take the flower. It felt like me as a friend being rejected because he had so many things going on in his mind about our friendship. I never spoke to him again.”


Kayla & Kupono

Season 5

“It’s ‘The Addiction Piece.’ That piece was created after I was walking down Hollywood Boulevard, when I got the phone call that Michael Jackson had died. In that moment, I stopped and it was really intense. I was like, Wait a minute, oh my God! It was weird. I think all of America stopped — everyone kind of gasped. At the same time that I gasped, I looked to my right and there was a group of kids that were completely methed out. They were just drugged out, and they were acting like they were having such a great time. I’m looking at them, and I’m like, Oh my God, there just completely out of their minds on drugs. The darkness of addiction, I felt it. I was surrounded by drug addiction, and it freaked me out. It made it really heavy and dark for me. I love the song ‘Gravity.’ Instead of taking it into a love relationship, I took it into a very dark addiction, and that’s how that came out of it. It was like two days after Michael died.”

“Koop Island Blues,” known simply as “The Butt Piece”

Randi & Evan

Season 5

“‘The Butt Piece’ was inspired by the fact that my butt was getting bigger, and instead of freaking out about it, I did this. I’ve battled my weight my entire life, and in the last couple years, I’ve been really dealing with it. I’m getting older, so my metabolism is changing, my body’s changing, my butt’s getting bigger, and so I was just like: I’m going to make a joke about it. So I turned it an exaggerated thing, it’s the French Rivera with Louboutins on and a big a–. It just turned it into just fun. It’s just fun.”

Tanner on Twitter: @EWTanStransky

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