Interview With Mary Murphy @HOTtamaleTrain
Mary Murphy: So You Think You Can Dance
By: Daedrian McNaughton
Back for an eighth season this summer, SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE returns with dancing judge and choreographer, Mary Murphy. Mary’s absence from last season’s show was due to her sudden battle with cancer. Now cancer free, she returns to judge contestants on the hit dance competition series that inspires, and amaze viewers with skilled dancers in styles ranging from hip-hop to ballroom who compete to be named America’s Favorite Dancer.
Premier Guide Media recently had an opportunity to chit chat with Mary on her return, thoughts on Kirstie Alley’s dancing skills and her long lost cousin, President Barack Obama, well maybe.
So You Think You Can Dance premieres this Thursday, May 26 at 8 p.m., 7:00 central on FOX and airs over the summer on Wednesdays and Thursdays. Once the auditions conclude, weekly two-hour performance shows will air Wednesdays (8:00-10:00 PM ET/PT), and weekly results shows will air Thursdays (8:00-9:00 PM ET live/PT tape-delayed).
So since you’re a ballroom dance champion and a judge, how would you judge the dancing efforts of Kirstie Alley on Dancing With the Stars and would she have made it on So You Think You Can Dance?
Mary Murphy: Well, honestly, they’re two completely different things. What Kirstie Alley has done, she’s done a really good job but she could never, unfortunately, make it on So You Think You Can Dance. So You Think You Can Dance is about people that, I want to say, they’re real professional dancers and they’re extraordinary throughout the world in what they do. So, unfortunately, as good as some of the dancers get on Dancing With the Stars, the celebrities would never make it on So You Think You Can Dance. It’s just not the same thing at all.
A little bit about your background. The president just reconnected with his Irish roots. Do you think you maybe distant cousins?
Mary Murphy: You never know. You know the Irish. We’re always related to somebody. I haven’t been back over there yet. I hope to. I still have relatives there actually. My mom was from Dublin and I had one brother that was born in England. Unfortunately, I didn’t get my mother’s English accent. I’ve got my father’s West Virginia one. Darn it.
So are you nervous about returning to the judges’ table at all?
Mary Murphy: No, not at all. It’s just like walking in. It’s only been from August and then I did my first audition in September. It was just like going back home again. Me and Nigel are like an old married couple now.
How are you health wise?
Mary Murphy: I will say that I was told I was cancer free. I had my final PET scan right before Atlanta and I was on top of the world by the time we started airing and taping. I’m at the top of my energy. As you can hear in my voice, it doesn’t take much right now. My vocal chords still seem to be quite irritated. If I talk all day I still kind of lose my voice. But I’m just so grateful I have one. I recently was at a baseball game where a couple came out that I thought were kind of medium level and I thought, wow that was good. But I did notice that when I was in Atlanta and L.A. auditions that when I tried to talk one time and got louder that it didn’t come out and it really was kind of quite upsetting to me. But I’m sure it made Nigel happy.
What was your first day back with the group like?
Mary Murphy: It was like a party. Me and Nigel were looking at each other because this typically does not happen to us. Normally, we get that kind of reaction in New York and we didn’t have that this year. And then at Atlanta there were so many amazing dancers. I mean, we couldn’t even believe it, it was like two days of not even working at all because, usually, honestly during auditions we go for several hours and then we get an extraordinary dancer. And then we go for several hours and then that dancer really peps us up for the next few hours to come. But in Atlanta, it was like just overwhelming, over kill of excitement, because we were just like left and right, handing tickets out to Las Vegas and looking at each other almost giddy-like by the end of the day. It was like, wow, that was so exciting. It didn’t even seem like 15 hours just went by.
What was the reason for your absence last year?
Mary Murphy: I was actually planning on choreographing; as you know, I was in several shows. By the time summertime came along and with the schedule that I already had I started to get more tired, I started to lose my voice, I started to have a hard time swallowing. And I knew something was up and then I went to the doctor finally. So, Herb and my friends convinced me to get back in there. Thank God they did.
Why do you think So You Think You Can Dance is such a hit?
Mary Murphy: Well, I think we’ve just got a fantastic format and I think, too, people are worried I would think to copy something completely identical. America’s Favorite Dance Crew is completely a different show and I think that’s why it works. And you know we do seem to have built a great reputation so that the real fabulous dancers do audition for the show because it is about the dancers and they can tell that we do honestly care about what’s happening and we care about raising dance level around the world. And that’s what we’re participating in and the fact that you get to see these dancers have their magical moments, it definitely makes the show different because they have to grow another style. There’s nothing like it out there and it is extremely difficult. I never really thought it would work myself years ago when they told me the format of the show. I was thinking, oh my God, a hip hop dancer doing quick stop are you crazy? It’s never going to happen. But the fact is we did find extraordinary people that can cross over into another style. It’s incredibly, incredibly difficult. I’ve tried it before myself and I haven’t been outside my style in years. It’s so tough. I felt like a two-year-old doing something.
What did you miss the most while you were away?
Mary Murphy: It was incredibly difficult I must say. What I missed is I missed out on people having the magical moment. I think that’s the most fun thing for me. That’s like the icing on the cake. I was still extremely busy. I did watch a couple of shows and when I had severe disagreements at home with certain things that were being said, I just couldn’t watch it after that. So I missed a lot of that last season. But I did get the opportunity to tell a lot of the dancers exactly how I felt when I was at the finale. So I made sure I made it over to them and gave them a couple and let them know what I thought of a certain dance that they did.
What are you looking forward to the most this season?
Mary Murphy: Well the best part is watching people grow right in front of you and transform. And we have invested a lot this season with hip hop dancers, with street dancers that have never been trained. So it’s in the hopes that they’re going to grow as they move along the season. Now, maybe me and Nigel maybe wrong and we may have a lot of train wrecks. But we have a lot of confidence and these kids have so much heart and soul. You know last season we had seven out of the ten were contemporary dancers, so very well technical trained dancers. So this season, we’re going to have a much wider variety of dancers. And I think it’s going to give the show a lot more flavor, actually, to tell you the truth.
So we know that Adam Shankman’s chair will be a revolving seat now that he is busy directing Rock of Ages. So can you tell us what guest judge might be filling that seat?
Mary Murphy: Well, I don’t know. There’s going to be a lot of our regulars as far as Tyce Diorio will certainly be coming in, Little C, probably Debbie Allen is back. She was at the Las Vegas week. Here, Nigel is very interested in having Will.i.am from the Black Eyed Peas. So I’m very excited about that. He’s a very interesting guy, knows a lot about music, knows a lot about dance. So, yes, I hope we have some exciting guest judges. It makes it interesting for me and keeps you on your toes when you don’t know. You kind of get used to the person beside you and it throws you off. It’s a good throwing you off, if you know what I mean. So it’s building excitement for myself to see what they’re going to say.
And if you could bring back any contestant as an all-star who would you choose?
Mary Murphy: Oh, my goodness. I mean for sure I think Alex Wong would be one at the top of my list, Danny Tidwell. We haven’t seen Artem from season one, the ballroom dancer. He would be fantastic. Kayla, I just adored Kayal. Brandon, I would love to see Brandon as an all-star.
Will you be back on So You Think You Can Dance stage as either a performer or a choreographer this season?
Mary Murphy: You know you don’t know. I would like to. I am still navigating through some health things right now and trying to get my hormones straight and everything. So, if I could feel like I could get myself back in shape I would certainly perform maybe one last time.
And what advice do you have for season eight contestants.
Mary Murphy: These kids know what it takes. The main thing is I hope is that they do take it seriously because you know they get so fired up. They’re away from home, most of them for the very first time in their life, and they might get carried away in Los Angeles. But really, what their bodies are going to go through, they need their sleep. I know they’ve got a lot of press to do everyday and a lot of things, in costumes and this and that and make-up. But they need their sleep.
And after what happened to Alex Wong is there going to be more emphasis on injury prevention?
Mary Murphy: Of course they’re always is. That’s kind of a rarity in his warm up. That can happen to any dancer at any time and does. It’s unfortunate because I think he was so well loved.
It’s been the eighth seasons now, do you think of the future for the show?
Mary Murphy: It really could go on for ages because what makes it exciting is the cast that gets loaded in every season, that’s really the majority of the show. And that’s really me and Nigel’s job and the guest judge to pick correctly and I think we did a really good job this season.