The Way You Move

No Music Was Needed For A Powerful ‘So You Think You Can Dance’ Routine Set To Maya Angelou’s Timeless Poem

"To hear those words of Maya Angelou was something that I feel our country needs right now."

In what was one of the best episodes of this season — and maybe of the entire series — So You Think You Can Dance ended last night with a hushed-yet-powerful performance. Set to the words of Maya Angelou, the piece spoke out against hatred and celebrated people's differences.


Choreographed by Sean Cheesman, whose stance is that "it's our diversity that makes us stronger," the routine was set to Angelou's poem "Still I Rise" as read by Alexis Henry. It featured a diverse set of season 14 dancers — Koine Iwasaki, Chris "Kiki" Nyemchek, Taylor Sieve, and Mark Villaver — so the message was even more evident.

"Still I Rise" is one of Angelou's best-known works, and comes from the poet, memoirist, and civil rights activist's third volume of poetry titled And Still I Rise that was released in 1978. The title poem of that collection — which also shares the name of a play Angelou wrote in 1976 — talks about the strong spirit of the Black community in the face of racial injustice with a sense of hope that hate would someday be extinguished.

Each move these four dancers made during the performance seemed even more meaningful given the quietness of the poem being read aloud. Tying the rhythm of their movements to Angelou's immortal words instead of music, it elevates the piece to a whole new level and packs a punch — so much so you'll block the audience cheering throughout it.

"That was beautiful to watch but also impactful," judge Vanessa Hudgens said. "To hear those words of Maya Angelou was something that I feel our country needs right now." Fellow judges Mary Murphy and Nigel Lythgoe echoed that sentiment, with the former saying they did Angelou justice and the latter congratulating both Cheesman and the dancers.

Watch the full performance here:

Cover image via Adam Rose / Fox

The Way You Move celebrates dancing and choreography videos that showcase fancy footwork in genres as diverse as ballet, hip-hop, tap, ballroom, and more. Learn a new routine the first Thursday of each month, and throughout the calendar when you get the urge to move.


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