National Dance Day and So You Think You Can Dance Jr

This past weekend was National Dance Day here in the US, a holiday that was basically brought into the public consciousness by So You Think You Can Dance, and then hyped by Michelle Obama as part of her “Let’s Move” campaign. The reminder of the show I once loved so much steered me back to their YouTube channel to see just how far the series had fallen in their junioring of the program.

As I feared most of what I found there were children whose dancing was less about passion, dedication, or athletic talent and more about stage parents with trained human animal children. Moreover, I was sad to see that, especially in the ballroom group, girls far too young to be doing so were biting their lips and shaking their hips in come hither ways that were slightly disturbing.

But then, as I rolled though the performances with the All-Stars, I came across this one. And suddenly I was a little sorry I had given up on the show.

This is from last week’s Top Nine, and it shows, i think, what Nigel was imagining this season would look like. It helps of course, that Robert Rolan from Season 7 is the kid’s partner. But even more so, it is choreographer Travis Wall who not only pulls the performance out of the little kid, but has the imagination to tell a story that is age appropriate for his dancers. Travis still stands as one of SYTYCD’s greatest finds from their early years. Even if the show completely collapses after this season’s concept wiped what audience was left out from underneath them (and the ratings are apparently dismal), his continued career will stand as a tribute to the production’s grand idea of bringing the art of dance to the masses and slipping it onto network TV when FOX wasn’t looking.

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