Emmy-nominated choreographer Mia Michaels thought she was going to have a wonderful day. She woke up this morning to find hundreds of messages posted on her website. "And I thought, wow, I must've been a really good judge last night," says Michaels.
But then she opened the messages and was shocked by their tone and content. "It was hate mail," she says simply. "Saying things like, 'You should be ashamed of yourself.' It was really intense. It was awful."
The writers were responding to a jacket worn by Michaels on Wednesday's show. She had no idea that anyone would be offended by it, she says. She simply thought she was being fashionable by wearing a navy blue military jacket that happened to have a Marine emblem, upside down, on the sleeves. After hearing the feedback, Michaels tried to make amends on the air. "I understand why people were upset and I respect that," she says. "That symbol is sacred to the Marines, it's what they earned. The problem needed to be addressed and I'm glad we addressed it. That's why I made a public apology."
But the problem didn't stop with her. Adding to the perfect storm of controversy on Wednesday night's show was Dance's other Emmy-nominated choreographer, Wade Robson. He had fashioned the 10 identical solo dances around an antiwar theme. Set to the music of John Mayer's "Waiting on the World to Change," the dancers wore peace symbols and printed slogans. That put executive producer Nigel Lythgoe in the crosshairs of more angry feedback from those who believe that an antiwar dance means the show and its dancers are unpatriotic and do not support the troops. "Who would've dreamt — with the dancers using words like 'humility,' 'love' and 'passion' — that I would be defending a television show that uses words like that?" asks Lythgoe, who also apologized on air.
But at the same time, Lythgoe stood his ground. "Art should be allowed to make statements," he said. "I'm so proud to be part of a show that allows freedom of expression," says Michaels. "Nigel has allowed us to be who we are. He never edits us and he lets us express ourselves as artists. I think that is rare and extraordinary."
When the focus shifted back to the contest, it was interesting to note how nervous the dancers were about getting cut. We're talking about the top 10, after all, all of whom are assured a place on the upcoming national tour. But as they stood on the stage waiting to hear if they were in the bottom two guys and girls, Jaimie's fists opened and closed. Dominic literally had to shake off his nerves. And during one commercial break, Lauren jumped on Dominic and rode him piggyback around the stage. The floor director had to restore order. "Dominic and Lauren, go sit down and take your medication," she said.
"Oh, you could see they were all a bucket of nerves," says judge Mary Murphy after the show. Murphy was surprised that Lauren survived and Jaimie and Kameron got the ax. "I got a little teary about Jaimie tonight," says Murphy. "Lauren's had a couple of bad solos. But I don't think Jaimie's ever had a bad turn. I'll have to look back over the shows and see if any judge ever said one bad thing about her."
Reminded that Nigel said that Jaimie was too frenetic one night when she danced for her life, Murphy nods. "Yes, she was a little desperate but she was dancing against girls who weren't of her class or quality. And one night, Lauren pretty much had a blackout. She said she couldn't remember her routine. That was the night everybody was reprimanding her. But luckily for her, it was a night when four girls had four bad solos (the night Jessi was sent home), so she got a pass."
Still, Lauren's Wednesday-night hip-hop routine with Pasha was the one dance still fresh in Murphy's memory. "That was my favorite number of the whole night. I didn't really love any of the others. And I'm glad I made a big noise about that one because we really did see the best first."
Let our new Online Video Guide pair you up with some Dance clips.
Send your comments on this Q&A to email@example.com.