Twenty-seven-year-old Spencer Liff has been dancing since he was 9 and choreographing for "So You Think You Can Dance" since Season 6. Now in its eighth year, the show has garnered several Emmy nominations and wins. This time Liff received a nod for his work on Season 7. In an exclusive interview, the choreographer discussed his most recent dance for the show and which contestants he hopes to work with.
Spencer Liff is thrilled by the quality of the dancers
In his third season on "SYTYCD," Liff is still amazed at the talent. He stated, "The dancers are, as always, incredible, and they get better every year. And there are several of them that I hope I get in what's left of the season."
Who are those dancers he looks forward to choreographing? He replied, "Eliana [Girard] is gorgeous and has all those lines, and I'd really like to be able to pull a very interactive performance out of her."
He also revealed, "I think Cole's got a lot to offer. He loves to get into the character, and that's most important to me… he has some great lines, and he would really commit to what I give him."
Spencer Liff on working with Lindsay Arnold
In week five Lindsay Arnold teamed with all-star Jakob Karr to perform Liff's first dance of the season. The choreography was something Liff had created almost a year ago when last season came to an end. Three days after the finale, he was standing outside a beach house in Long Island when the sun cast his shadow on the pool deck. As he began moving, a dance was born.
He thought, "I want to do a shadow dance. There's got to be a way to incorporate the shadows. I can do them on the stage. I can do them on the wall… So I put it in my back pocket, and I held on to it for an entire year."
When it came time for this season, Arnold and Karr brought the piece to life. But when the final performance rolled around, Liff admitted that he had no idea how it would translate to the stage. He could not rehearse with the real scrim, which was too large, so he improvised with a sheet and a halogen lamp from Home Depot.
He recalled, "I was holding my breath through that performance. I knew it had the potential to be a knock out, and I knew Lindsay would be great in it. I brought back Jacob from Season 6… When I sat there and watched it in the final moment, it all came together, and I was so happy with it. And when the judges like it, as well, and they put Lindsay on the Hot Tamale Train, which you don't expect from a Broadway number."
Spencer Liff choreographs the camera moves
But Liff does not just create numbers for two dancers, there is a third member of the act -- the camera. He divulged, "When I create a number, I know exactly where I want shot from what angle and from where and how. And I often use the cameras as a character in my piece."
During rehearsals, Liff also blocks out his camera moves and delivers them on flip cam to the show's director so she has a sense of what he's looking for. He added, "I know a number is going to be good if I get a really strong beginning and end, and I get really strong imagery of what angles I want to shoot from. If it's a little muddier then I know I need to do more work to get a more defined idea of what I want it to look like."
And although he's now a season, Emmy-nominated veteran, Liff still gets a thrill seeing his work come to life. "[When] you see something that started as a teeny little spark of an idea in your head comes to be completely played out with amazing costumes and lights and all that, it's such an insane playground that's being offered to you to create."
Watch Spencer Liff's creations on "So You Think You Can Dance" on Wednesday nights at 8PM on Fox.
More from this contributor:Travis Wall discusses starting a dance troupe on 'All the Right Moves'
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