Sunday, June 26, 2011

So You Think You Can Dance

A confession: Lucia and I are both So You Think You Can Dance addicts, although probably less so than in past seasons. Instead of being riveted to it when it airs, we DVR it and watch it when we're in the mood. We did that last year as well, but that was because we were in Italy when the first few episodes aired, so we taped it and had a So You Think You Can Dance marathon when we returned. This year, it feels more like we're interested in the show, but not enough to watch it immediately, not enough to sit through commercials. This week, we ended up watching Wednesday's and Thurdsay's episodes on Friday and last night.

There are several things I love about the show. For one, the judging seems honest. The judges neither fawn over the contestants nor tear them down. That's true of the regular judges anyway; the "celebrity" judges' sweetness could leave you needing insulin injections. Compared to some other reality shows -- ahem, American Idol, which we gave up on long ago -- that honesty is really refreshing.

The most important thing, though, is that, despite the cheesy reality show conventions, everyone involved in the show really does seem committed to celebrating its art form in all of its diversity. Sure, there are dances where the choreography is something you've seen a thousand times (especially if you're at all interested in dance beyond this show), and times when the choreography is pretty good, but the dancers can't rise to the occasion, neither technically nor emotionally; but on the whole, the choreography is excellent, sometimes just fun, sometimes visually stunning, and sometimes genuinely challenging and moving. While American Idol never exposes its audience to much beyond imitations of what it already knows from current radio (with an occasional throwback to what was on the radio decades ago), So You Think You Can Dance -- perhaps because dance is a less popular art form and people bring fewer preconceptions about what they like to it -- exposes viewers to a great variety of what can be done with dance. The show demonstrates that dance, like any art, can just entertain you, and make you giddily happy for a few moments, can break your heart and shake your soul, and can sometimes even alter the way you view the world.

The costumes can also be pretty amazing, especially this year, but Lucia could probably explain that better than I could.

It also uses a wider variety of music than most "music" shows, which I really appreciate.

Thursday's elimination show provides an example. Yes, you had to sit through the cheesy drama of the eliminations (which, I admit, I get sucked into: You saved Ryan? Ryan????? Really? Why?) But as a reward, you got a terrific Dave Scott-choreographed routine, which the dancers pulled off beautifully:

It wasn't one of the more visually or intellectually challenging pieces they've done on the show. But it was a visual feast. That final slow-motion bit was especially great.

The choice of music was also fabulous. I'm very much in favor of more people being exposed to Nina Simone, even in a re-mixed version. Re-mixes can be horrible, but this one does nothing to dim the power and soul of Nina Simone's voice and piano. Maybe nothing can.

1 comment:

Lucia said...

They should have saved Iveta. :(