‘So You Think You Can Dance’ Choreographer Chase Bowden on How His ‘Head 2 Head’ Routine Came Together

·3-min read

After last week’s episode of “So You Think You Can Dance,” in which no contestants were sent home, the remaining six hopefuls returned to the dance floor to battle it out in the “Head 2 Head” challenge.

As the semi-finals approach, dancers Ralyn, Alexis, Essence, Beau, Keaton and Carter were determined to out dance one another. The group performance round saw the dancers split off into two trios and perform two different routines. Choreographer Chase Haley Bowden was given Carter, Beau and Ralyn.

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Bowden, who recently signed with MSA Agency, spoke with Variety about how the impressive routine came together.

You chose to tell the story of a love triangle for Carter, Beau and Ralyn. Why was that the ideal way to highlight their skills?

The song [“Please Turn Green”] by Teddy Swims is unique. It’s about somebody who was in a relationship for a long time, and then they go their separate ways. Down the line, the first time he sees [them with] somebody else is that traffic light, and it’s this feeling of emotions that can overcome a person… There’s no closure. So, the first half of the number is about Carter doing this dance where he is overcome with absolute emotion and lost in that moment.

It starts with him in conversation with Ralyn and he bows his head. It’s all about his head movement. When they get to the floor, the lights go red and there’s the reality that this is happening and she has moved on. Ralyn, we see, is embarrassed by the fact that he is outraged by everything. Also, that kiss was not planned. When I saw that, I thought, “You guys are feeling it tonight.”

It’s the first time you’ve had transitions like the twists mid-air, the throws and lifts, right?

I knew coming into the show, I wasn’t going to get three contemporary dancers. I’m going to get dancers with different talent levels and styles. One might be better in contemporary, the others not. But in working with them, I was so impressed.

How much time did you have to train the dancers?

There’s no time. You have 90 minutes the first day and then a few hours the next. So, it’s very limited and that’s the challenge.

On the first day, you go all-in and spit everything out. The next day, you can come in and they rehearse together, but then they come back and the next day it’s a new dance, so they’re learning two or three routines over a short time.

Beau talks about being injured, how do you accommodate that when you also have to deliver this dance routine?

Dancer safety is number one. I take great pride in making sure they feel good and healthy. At this point in the competition, they’ve been going non-stop for a long time. So, you really have to ensure they all feel good doing everything. I’m always vocal with them and check in on how their body is feeling and if it’s doable. At the end of the day, they’re the ones performing it and I want them to feel the best possible, but also comfortable and healthy.

How proud were you seeing them pull off the dance in front of the judges?

I was so proud. You don’t know what to expect. We don’t find out, as choreographers, [who we’re going to get] until 12 hours before our first rehearsal. I studied them and said, “OK, we’re going to make this work and make it possible.”

I also wanted to push them a little bit out of their comfort zone because that means they have more room to grow, and in that week, they did. Watching them go from rehearsal to performance was the most rewarding part.

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