Disclaimer: Based on the audience response to the show I’m about to review, I realize my opinion is definitely in the minority.
In my teens and early 20’s, I was a dancer. I could do everything I saw in a music video or on “Fame.” All the jumps, leaps, spins, etc. When I was in the Army, I danced in a hip-hop group. We combined all aspects of dance into the routines we performed regularly at a local dance club in Darmstadt Germany where we were stationed. I’ve always been obsessed with dance, which is why I’ve been such a fan of the show “So You Think You Can Dance.” It’s no secret that dancers are really the most overlooked people in the entertainment industry, even though people like Janet Jackson, Madonna and Britney wouldn’t have a career without them. The aforementioned women certainly could never tour without a gang of dancers. MTV wouldn’t have survived the 80’s without dancers. Everyone from Michael Jackson to Pat Benatar made videos populated with a multitude of dancers. Yet still, they remained the unsung, unaccredited heroes of the music industry.
I like the show “So You Think You Can Dance.” I like that it puts dancers in the spotlight and allows them to shine. I think it’s the only talent based competition on television where the contestants actually have talent and training. Though I love this year’s winner, Sabra, I think she only beat out Danny because the two previous winners were men. Like “American Idol”, “So You Think You Can Dance”, takes it’s top 10 finalists on tour. I thought it would be a treat to see the dancers perform live, but I wasn’t confident enough that I’d enjoy the production to actually spend money on the tickets. I did, however, end up winning tickets from a local radio station.
Last night, I picked up my friend K8 Nosto (real name Kate Straight) and we headed across the bridge to the Cumberland County Civic Center to see the “So You Think You Can Dance Tour” stopover here in Portland Maine. Once we got inside, it was kind of funny that the audience was all gay men and middle-aged women, sprinkled with a few teenaged girls. Prompting me to say to K8, “They should call this, ‘So You Think You’re A Fag.’” Hey, I’m gay, I can get away with a remark like that.
I knew we were in trouble when the show began with a video of Nigel Lithgoe, who is the producer of the tv show, as well as a judge. It was like being addressed by Big Brother as he reminded us why we were there and then made us watch his top 5 bad auditions from the show. Do these bad dancers get paid for this or did they sign away all rights to use of their image? Anyway, after about 10 minutes or so of boring video, the lights dim on the modest stage set up and the music starts and the dancers take the stage. The opening number was one of the group numbers from the show. I found it to be amateurish at best.
One thing that always bothered me on the show was how short the solo numbers were. How can a dancer show you their best in less than a minute? It doesn’t allow them to dance, it only gives them time to show off. So I thought that during the live show, they would allow the dancers extra time to actually perform for us, as opposed to showing off. No such luck. The dancers did the same short, awkward solos they did on the show. As a matter of fact, the entire performance was just a rehash of the tv show, minus the slick production, fancy stage and editing. You have no idea how much the editing helps this show.
Note to the producers of So You Think You Can Dance: You have 10 of the most talented and beautiful dancers at your disposal. You have the money and the ability to produce an amazing dance show! Why waste our time rehashing what we've already seen? Why waste our time with videos from the season? Why cater to the lowest common denominator of the short attention span generation? What you should have done is gotten your featured choreographers together and had them put together a 90 minute coherent dance piece that featured all different kinds of dance and music that flowed from one song to the next. Instead we got the SYTYCD Greatest Hits show. What made it worse was some of the music choices were horrendous. Really, who needs two Avril Lavigne songs in a dance show? The best song you could find for the Viennese Waltz was "Girlfriend" by Avril???