Guests piled into each one of the 2,420 sold out seats at the Wharton Center on October 1. The lights cut low and the music faded in as dancers surprised the audience by prancing their way from the back of the theater to center stage to Herb Alpert’s “Puttin’ on the Ritz.” At that moment, it was official. So You Think You Can Dance had kicked off its Season 10 Tour right here at MSU.

SYTYCD dancers
Photo credit: John Kochiss

Earlier that day, the dancers giggled their way through interview questions at press hour. Yet, for the rest of the night, Aaron Turner, Hayley Erbert, Jasmine Harper, Jenna Johnson, Makenzie Dustman, Nico Greetham, Paul Karmiryan, Tucker Knox, DuShaunt “Fik-shun” Stegall and Amy Yakima transformed from young adults to eloquent physical artists. Season 10’s Top 10 wowed the crowd with riveting contemporary, hip-hop and jazz routines both new and old.

So, how does a Primetime Emmy nominated television show end up in East Lansing? According to the Wharton’s Marketing Manager, Tara Peplowski, everything just seemed to fall in place. The marketing team at Wharton began investigating the show in January while it was planning its tour route. She revealed how the effort was mutual on both ends to bring SYTYCD to MSU.

“We looked at this show back in January when they were looking at routings and we told them we were interested,” she said.

“It’s the opening night of the tour that sold out in a matter of hours. Clearly, it’s a win-win for the both of us. Especially, having one of the winners being from Michigan and an hour away—it was perfect. Obviously, we knew someone from Michigan was in the Top 10, but we didn’t know she was going to be a winner. I think it’s just icing on the cake.”

Photo credit: John Kochiss

Fik-Shun and Amy Yakima won this year, and each claimed the prize of $125,000.

Yakima, from Northville, Mich., had no lack of moral support at her first tour performance. In fact, there couldn’t be a better place for SYTYCD to start their 42-city tour.

“I believe there were about 200 people that just came just for her,” said Peplowski.

And reasonably so—viewers can see her enthusiasm when she dances.

“It’s the only way I can truly communicate how I feel. I’m so passionate about how to explore different movements and how to be different characters,” Amy said. “It’s an artistic way of acting. I feel that passion I have.”

There’s no doubt that those 200 plus the other 2,220 patrons came to the show witnessed Amy’s fervor shine through her dancing. She’s fantastic alone, and astonishing alongside other dancers who have the same fire within them.

It’s been a long road from street performing to national tour for winner Fik-shun.

“I think I had more injuries on the show than I think I’ve ever had in my life,” he said, “but it’s just something that you have to push through. Every time I thought I couldn’t do something or had doubts I just have to remember to give it my all. Even if I feel that [my performance] is not at the level it should be perform to the best of your abilities because people can see that. People can always see when you’re trying you’re hardest so, go all out all the time.”

SYTYCD Dancing
Photo credit: John Kochiss

And, that’s exactly what each and every dancer did. At show’s end, nothing but satisfactory chatter could be heard around the Wharton Center. The words, “amazing,” “great,” and “exciting” filled the air.

Karla Unger, an MSU alum, was more than pleased with the night’s performances.

“These young people had so much energy and enthusiasm paired with accuracy and boldness in dancing. I was thoroughly engaged and entertained the entire time,” Unger said. “It was so exciting to be around fellow fans who knew just as much about the show as I did. My reasonably priced ticket was easily worth $100.”

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