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Tiffany Geigel: Season 5′s First ‘SYTYCD’ Success Story

Lyndsey Parker
Reality Rocks

Last night Fox aired the season 5 premiere of So You Think You Can Dance, filling the Idol-shaped hole in the hearts and DVRs of many AI fans going through withdrawals after Wednesday night's American Idol finale. And already, it is shaping up to the feelgood TV hit of the summer.

The standout SYTYCD auditioner on the premiere episode was in fact a dancer who didn't even make it to the purgatory-style choreography round, but showed more grace than any other contestant.

New York's Tiffany Geigel was born with a severe spine disorder called spinal thoracic dysplasia (she only has three vertebrae), and she was not expected to live past infancy. However, now she is 23 years old and full of life, dancing more beautifully than most "normal" people who have seven vertebrae.

Watching Tiffany's ballet routine last night was very inspiring. Equally inspiring was the fact she didn't play the sympathy card and demand that the panel judge her any differently from how they would any another auditioner. So I commend judge Nigel Lythgoe for straightforwardly but kindly critiquing the flaws in Tiffany's technique while also praising her strengths and saluting her for her overall bravery.

It is true that Tiffany's dancing was not at a level high enough to compete on SYTYCD, particularly alongside non-disabled dancers who'd have an easier time handling some of the show's very complex choreography. So it was wise of the judges to not give Tiffany special treatment (like, say, I believe the Idol judges did with vision-impaired Scott MacIntyre this year) and put her through.

But as Tiffany's attitude indicated, not once in her life has she ever wanted special treatment. She just came to SYTYCD prove a point, and she defintely did. In my opinion, Tiffany Geigel is already a So You Think You Can Dance winner:

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