Which Routines Were Nominated for Emmys This Year? That's Harder to Find Out Than You'd Think
Every year, as soon as the Emmy Award nominations are announced, the first thing I do is scroll down (way, way, way down) to find the nominees for Best Choreography. Last week's announcement was no different, and it was a delightful surprise to see tap queen Chloe Arnold become a first-time nominee for her work on "The Late Late Show With James Corden." Alongside Arnold, Mandy Moore, Travis Wall, Al Blackstone and Christopher Scott received nominations for their dances on awards heavy-hitter "So You Think You Can Dance." (Shout-out to Blackstone for his first Emmy nod!)
I do, however, have a bone to pick with the Emmys. Namely, that the routines for which these choreographers were nominated do not appear on the nominations section of the site. Worse, not even the episodes in which the Emmy-nominated dances appear are listed.
Is the information available? Yes, if you're willing to dig for it, the breakdown of the specific routines is included in a densely packed PDF listing the nominations in all categories. But again: We had to dig for it.
The work of dancemakers in film and television gets very little recognition from mainstream awards ceremonies. There have been movements to get the Academy Awards to add a Best Choreography category on and off or decades; we've been griping for years about how the Emmy for Best Choreography is not televised during the glitzy ceremony, technically because it falls under the category of "Creative Arts Emmys." (Even the Tony Awards, where musical theater is celebrated and choreography is more central to the work, presents its award for Outstanding Choreography during a commercial break.)
And we get it—televised awards ceremonies are notoriously long, ratings are constantly an issue, something has to happen during the commercial breaks, etc. But not making the full nomination information easily accessible feels like a further twisting of the knife for dance lovers who are invested in this already slim recognition for the community. And by failing to include specifics on the actual dancing on the main nominations webpage, it becomes just that much harder for the casually interested viewer to learn what kind of dance merits an Emmy nomination.
It may seem like a small detail, but the rise of dance on television has been key to positively shifting perceptions about dance in American culture. "SYTYCD" alone has done loads. Frankly, these are fantastic choreographers who have done the seemingly impossible: They create digestible slices of dance that are palatable to the casual viewer but (more or less) hold up against scrutiny by serious dance artists and lovers. These dancemakers deserve to have their achievements celebrated as much as possible, even if it just amounts to extra views of their choreography on YouTube—which, in turn, leads to a broadening of the casual dance audience through social media shares.
This Year's Emmy-Nominated Routines
Chloe Arnold, "The Late Late Show With James Corden": "The Greatest Showman, Crosswalk the Musical On Broadway"
Mandy Moore, "So You Think You Can Dance": "Brand New," "To Make You Feel My Love"
Al Blackstone, "So You Think You Can Dance": "The Man That Got Away," "L-O-V-E"
Christopher Scott, "So You Think You Can Dance": "Prism," "Say You Won't Let Go"
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Chiara Valle is just one of many dancers heading back to the studio this fall as companies ramp up for the season. But her journey back has been far more difficult than most.
Valle has been a trainee at The Washington Ballet since 2016, starting at the same time as artistic director Julie Kent. But only a few months into her first season there, she started experiencing excruciating pain high up in her femur. "It felt like someone was stabbing me 24/7," she says. Sometimes at night, the pain got so bad that her roommates would bring her dinner to the bathtub.
Just four years ago, the University of Southern California's Glorya Kaufman School of Dance welcomed its first class of BFA students. The program—which boasts world-class faculty and a revolutionary approach to training focused on collaboration and hybridity—immediately established itself as one of the country's most prestigious and most innovative.
Now, the first graduating class is entering the dance field. Here, six of the 33 graduates share what they're doing post-grad, what made their experience at USC Kaufman so meaningful and how it prepared them for their next steps:
Michele Byrd-McPhee's uncle was a DJ for the local black radio station in Philadelphia, where she was born. As a kid she was always dancing to the latest music, including a new form of powerful poetry laid over pulsing beats that was the beginning of what we now call hip hop.
Byrd-McPhee became enamored of the form and went on to a career as a hip-hop dancer and choreographer, eventually founding the Ladies of Hip-Hop Festival and directing the New York City chapter of Everybody Dance Now!. Over the decades, she has experienced hip hop's growth from its roots in the black community into a global phenomenon—a trajectory she views with both pride and caution.
On one hand, the popularity of hip hop has "made a global impact," says Byrd-McPhee. "It's provided a voice for so many people around the world." The downside is "it's used globally in ways that the people who made the culture don't benefit from it."