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.
Continue reading National Dance Day and So You Think You Can Dance Jr
There are reality shows that take to the new “junioring” fad really well. Take Chopped, for instance, or Project Runway. Chopped: Junior features teen chefs who are both prodigy children as well as completely unaware of the irony when they say how, at age 11, it is hilarious to adults to listen to them parrot the “I’ve wanted this my whole life” competition trope that adults spout all the time. Project Runway: Junior gives the show a way to have a “nice” version of the show, in a time when “nice” reality shows are on the rise, without having to retool their original format.
The there are the shows where the “junior” variation is a disaster. American Juniors, which was the name of American Idol: Junior ran one season for a reason. One would think that Nigel Lithgoe, who lived through that ten years ago, would have remembered it when the time came to discuss the concept of So You Think You Can Dance: The Next Generation.
Beyond the fact that SYTYCD:Jr did not take the easy title but made an already unwieldy title more cumbersome is only the start of our woes. SYTYCD works because it is adults who failed to get a dancing career off the ground on their own, competing to live that dream. Like Idol, the age of the contestants is part of why the show works–Adam Lambert was 26, and aging out of his chance at pop stardom when he launched a career from the Idol stage. Taylor Hicks was 30. A child of 12 singing for the first time hasn’t struggled for the career, and doesn’t understand the dreary world of retail they might find themselves in if they fail. And so it is on SYTYCD.
Continue reading So You Think You Can Dance: The Next Generation
And thus our first season of So You Think You Can Dance: Teams Stage vs Street comes to a close. It’s been an interesting format change, one that certainly helped get some dancers into the live shows who might not have otherwise ever been considered. But it also was a format that had advantages to it that the show ignored. Specifically, with the removal of the gender demarcations, the show had a chance to finally get with the ever expanding world of gender fluidity that exists in our 21st century. Instead it did not just shy back from it, but insisted on reinforcing those gender stereotypes at every turn.
But enough of where the show wasn’t brave enough to go, let’s get to our finale! Most of these numbers are reprises from over the season, with a few new numbers here and there. Let us bullet point our way through the filler, as our forefathers once did, until we find out who won.
Continue reading So You Think You Can Dance 12: Finale
And so tonight begin our finale of So You Think You Can Dance‘s 12th season. I’ve thought of this year as a surprise bonus season, after expecting the program to be cancelled last year. But SYTYCD has proved stronger than American Idol, whose success allowed in existence to begin with. Perhaps–is it too much to hope? That next summer will see the child outlast the parent.
With that in mind, let us sit back and enjoy this week’s performances. Nigel has proved savvier than Idol in his one episode a week format. No eliminations tonight. Instead this week the Final Four dance for you. Next week, the finale will air with results cumulatively calculated from the last two weeks.
No group number this week, with only four dancers. Instead we go straight into the contestants paired with contestants rounds, followed by the solos and the All Star routines.
Continue reading So You Think You Can Dance 12: Final 4
We’re down to our final six–three dancers from Team Street and three dancers from Team Stage. For once the voting totals of which team is ahead are interesting, as the loss of Neptune last week apparently really hurt Team Street. Team Stage is now ahead for the first time in a while.
With only six dancers, but two hours to fill, this is our dancer’s first week of two partner pieces and a solo. First they dance with the All Stars, and then they double up with each other. The lack of gender parity means that those last three dances will be at least one double female pairing. Not that I mind–I almost wish the show would surprise me and do two female-female duets and one male-male duet. But heteronomativity says probably not.
No Bottom Six or Bottom Four revealed tonight, since it would all give away the game, so no learning who is safe and who isn’t until the end of the show. Let’s see how our semi finals shake out.
Continue reading So You Think You Can Dance 12: Top 6 into 4
With only a couple more episodes until the finale, Team Street continues to lead in the votes. But the margins are thin enough that it feels more like Nigel is citing these numbers to egg on the dancers than it does that the audience is more partial to one over the other. I have to admit, at this point for me its more about each performance than it is rooting for teams. But perhaps I’m in the minority with this one.
Yes, at this point the show is one big creepy, kooky SYTYCD family! Thank you Tyce for that well-timed metaphor I could just hop aboard and ride.
Let’s see what else the dancers have cooked up for us today. Once again, we’re getting both duets with the All-Stars and solos performances. Please be advised, we don’t review the solos, since they are self choreographed and in the dancer’s own style. They’re just there for us to love them. Oh and because we’re down to eight, which means not enough duets to fill the two hours, we’ll also get group performances at the end, even though there’s no Twitter Save voting to cover.
Continue reading So You Think You Can Dance 12: Top 8 to 6
This week, we begin the All Star Rounds, and with that brings plenty of changes. First off, the obvious: The Top Ten dance with All Star partners from here on out. No more group numbers, no more trios. Now is the time for the Street dancers to show they can partner-work.
Next up: we get solos for the first time this season, interspersed between the duets. Even better–FOX’s YouTube channel is providing them. Very exciting! We still won’t be reviewing them though, mostly because everyone’s solos are always their own choreography, in their own style, so they’re more a slice of personality than a piece to critique. (And Fox clearly thinks they’re a great way to promote another hit series, since they’re all performed to hits from the Empire soundtrack. Perhaps that’s why they provided the clips this week.) By adding in the solos, that means there are no more “Team” numbers at the end of the show. But that’s because there’s no more “Twitter save” time to fill. Yes, the “Twitter save,” love it or hate it, is gone with the move to this round as well.
This makes our opening number the only group dance, like it used to be. Nice of Stacey Tookey to make sure everyone was showcased. Did you only nine? That’s because JJ is injured this week. She cannot dance a solo, or with her All Star, and will automatically be in the bottom next week for it. Now! On with the show.
Continue reading So You Think You Can Dance 12: Top 10 into 8