A Cocktail Convo With Mary Murphy

Even the most successful dancing careers don’t usually last 16 years, but So You Think You Can Dance is still waltzing across our TV screens. It’s lasted longer (on FOX) than American Idol and has done it by pretty much by finding a successful formula and sticking with it. And a big part of that formula is the very fun and easily excitable Mary Murphy.

Now that the live shows have started (9pm Mondays on FOX) and viewers are voting, she hung out with The Cocktail and gave us a look a what to expect.

Happy Feat

It’s not hard to get Mary laughing, and I managed to do that right off the bat, by congratulating her on the show’s 47th season. “I’d be in a wheelchair then, but I’d still be willing to do it.” I totally believe her.

But this is actually the 16th run for the show, and in the world of reality TV, it’s easy for a show to go stale (I’m looking at you, The Bachelor and The Bachelorette). But Mary says the live shows are gonna be whirlwind and even she doesn’t know what’s going down. “It’s all fresh and new for us. Plus they’re without an all-star, they’re with another contestant, and have only each other to rely on. So it always makes it fun, see what the costumes are gonna be.” And most importantly, she’s having fun. “It’s all a blast for me.”

But with contestants teaming up with contestants, I would think there’d be some sabotage going on, or at least holding back your best stuff so you don’t make the competition look good. Miss Murphy’s not buying my conspiracy theories. “I think with this group of kids, I think they’re well matched and I think they’re gonna work well together. I think what we saw at Academy week was a lot of kids working together. And we usually try to pick kids that get on with others. I’m expecting great things from this group.”

That’s not to say there won’t be some frustration. “I’m sure sometimes you know, let’s say you’re a contemporary dancer and you draw a contemporary but you’re dancing with a hip-hop dancer or a ballroom dancer that doesn’t do contemporary, you might just go arrrrgh!”

From Baby Shoes to Dancing Shoes

The thing about being on this long and the fact that dance is youth-centric, Mary knows there are wannabes and contestants that don’t remember a world without So You Think You Can Dance. “They’ve been watching the show since season one. It makes me feel, first of all, just so proud to hear a kid say that. But it also makes me feel a little bit old too!” And she’s glad to be a part of helping them ride the Hot Tamale Train! “The fact that they said ‘I knew when I was three’ that they wanted to be on So You Think You Can Dance and I have proceed to do everything in my power since then to be on (that) stage, that’s just amazing to me. It’s incredible. So I’m going to keep my fingers crossed, they’re very dynamic dancers.”

Of course, dance changes, grows, and evolves over time. Mary believes that this show has helped make fans of different styles. “I think one thing now for the young dancers, that they are celebrated in these times. And wherever they go and they tell anybody they’re a dancer, people are enthusiastic. Oh my gosh I love the show! I know they name of the dance. I love the Pasa Doble, I love the Tango. The fact that people around the world now know the name of the different styles has changed the way dance is viewed.”

Plus, young dancers are able to find studios that will train them in more than one style. “It has changed the vocabulary and appreciation of the other styles. It was completely seperate before So You Think You Can Dance. Very few studios would have all the different styles. We have more and more studios that are training all the different styles and because you do learn from one another. And it makes dancers more marketable if you have something else to bring to the table instead of being so down one lane.”

Not that being in one lane is bad. Mary says broad knowledge and skills are good, but a specialty is still mandatory! “I do really feel you need to be an expert at one and then try to be a star at one but have a working knowledge of all the other styles and you are offering a lot to every audition that you go to. You have to also just train and learing choreography all the time, because that’s another area of the brain.”

No Experience Necessary

Now, if you or someone you know has talented toes but not much experience, Mary says that’s not a barrier to the show.  “We still see stars that we pick up that haven’t had trained dance lessons. It’s their destiny. They are able to get on the show and pick up the choreography and it always blows my mind. I don’t come from that. I don’t understand how anybody could do that. I had to have a million lessons in my career so it’s hard for me to understand how anyone can really get through it.”

The Critic’s Cocktail Recommendation

Moon Dance Cocktail. This whiskey-based concoction will go down smooth. Whether or not you’re still smooth on your feet? Well, let’s just say I wasn’t, but after a couple of these.. I didn’t care!


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