Okay, I admit it – I am a So You Think You Can Dance junkie. I’ve watched the show since the first season and every year I look forward to it. Although I must say that in recent years, particularly this year I’m loving it less. The concept of the show seems to keep changing and while change is really the only constant in life I suppose that makes sense but…the concept on which the show is based shouldn’t change.
The changes I love:
Expanded types and style of dance. Each year they add new styles like Bolliwood, Whacking, Lyrical hip-hop, Crumping in addition to the perennial favorites, Lyrical, Contemporary, Ballroom, Ballet (although I haven’t seen a ballet piece in a long time). This is great because it exposes people who know nothing about dance to all types of styles and interpretations. Wonderful.
Adding the all-stars. At first I was leery of this but it’s kind of cool to see the current contestants partner with dancers who have gone through what they are going through, have learned some tricks and matured. Plus it is great to see some favorites again strutting their stuff.
More diverse choreographers. I just think it’s an extension of the addition of the different styles of dance they have introduced. Again, gives exposure to new and exciting styles and enables the dancers to really stretch their abilities.
The changes I don’t love.
Elimination methods. Every year it seems they come up with new ways to do the elimination and how many dancers, etc. Last year it was just the top ten and in elimination it was the bottom three, regardless of gender. Admittedly it made the final weeks a bit problematic – plus we never saw the dancers dance with each other until the end. This year they are doing bottom two girls and guys. But before they stopped doing that at the top ten and just did bottom three. I’m afraid if they continue this trend then better dancers might get edged out simply because of gender. I’m hoping against hope that this week’s elimination is simply the bottom three, regardless of the boy-girl factor. If we have to do the boy-girl thing then we risk having Ricky in the finale just based on the odds, not talent, skill or ability.
Guest judges. Although it is entertaining to have celebrities on the show and they seem to invite people who know something about dance – I don’t think it’s appropriate. Mostly you hear what they feel emotionally – how they loved it, that the person is their favorite dancer (for this five minutes) praise for elements that have nothing to with dance. I think that judges for a dancing competition should be someone who knows about dance – whether a choreographer or someone very knowledgeable. I hate that they are going more for the laugh or the status value of a judge than someone who could actually give a good critique and notes to the dancer if he or she needs it. And much as Mia sometimes drives me nuts, her critiques were spot on for the most part.
More theater, less dancing. The other thing that I really hate this year is that the choreographers seem so involved in the ‘story’ of the dance. I mean, it’s nice to get the concept but some of these story lines are more complex than a Samuel Becket play. Just dance already – because that is why we are watching.
Blaming the dancer and praising the choreographer. The other thing that is driving me crazy especially this year is that when the routine is terrible the dancer gets the heat and rarely if ever is anything said to or about the choreographer. Yet when the dance is good the choreographer always gets endless props. I think if a dancer has to take the heat so should the choreographer.
About the dancers
Now since I’m just venting on everything let’s talk about this year’s dancers. First of all, I am sick to death of hearing about this is the best set of dancers they’ve ever had on the show. That is simply hogwash. It’s not true. I’m not criticizing the dancers here but the judges. Every year there have been incredible dancers and this year in particular I think the judges erred in some of their original selections and passed up better dancers for the top 20 because they wanted to select from a diversity aspect or some other standard I don’t know about. For example, Alexander, Mitchell, and Ashley chosen over dancers I thought were considerably better. Disagree? Then why were they knocked out so early? Anyway, onto those remaining:
Melanie. Like many, she was my favorite from the start. And to be honest she turned out to be a better dancer than I originally thought. She does have a spark and I’m sure that is part of her appeal. She is technically formidable and whatever she dances she gives it everything she has. Her dancing in my opinion is as good as the choreography she is given. I have seen comments in the forums where she is criticized because she has only danced her style so of course she is good. First of all, not true – she has danced as many different styles as any of the other dancers. Second of all, the dances are drawn from a hat, she has no control over the style she is told to dance. Third of all, this year in particular the choreographers are playing to the dancers’ strengths in their routines, again something the dancer can’t control. And Melanie is fearless and does not back off from anything that I can see. But the thing that I love most about this girl is that she is happy, joyful and clearly well adjusted. She is not dancing to rid herself of demons and angst – she is dancing because it is what she loves and who she is – and that I think is the biggest appeal Melanie has.
Marko. Clearly the strongest male dancer in the competition and it was serendipity that he and Melanie were partnered because they are of the same ilk. Dancing is in his bones – it is who he is. He is also fearless and will try anything. Although I don’t think he is technically as strong as Melanie, he is the strongest and most versatile male dancer in the competition – especially since Jess was sent home and Nick never got a chance to show what he could do.
Ricky. I just don’t get how this kid has made it this far. Clearly he is a sweet person, has a lovely smile and sure can do those leaps and stuff – but he is not technically brilliant, nor does he have any special ‘it’ factor that would extend his life on this show. He is out of his league in my opinion. Nothing personal but he just isn’t of the same quality as most of the others.
Tadd. Okay here is another gripe – this whole b-boy obsession the judges have. Just because Tadd was/is a b-boy he gets extra credit for pulling off a dance (remember Jose?). Now Tadd is good and has been impressive in some of his routines but he shouldn’t get extra points because he’s a b-boy. I mean, you don’t hear the judges going on and on about how Sasha is a contemporary dancer and yet look how amazing she was in the hip-hop routine. Again, I have to admit I was surprised that he made it this far – especially since Jess is a better dancer, had far more training and experience and certainly had grown as much if not more than Tad throughout his stay in the competition. That being said, I think he was amazing in that routine with Melanie last night.
Caitlyn. The most picked on dancer of the season (except for Ricky, perhaps). I am not sure why the judges must criticize her for something in every single routine she has done. She is a much better dancer than Tad – technically she is amazing. Is it just because she is beautiful, sweet and young? I mean for cripes sakes last week they had to dis her about her ‘competition hands’ whatever the heck that is. This girl has been picked on and picked on about the stupidest stuff I have ever seen. Both her routines were incredible last night – yet they had to give her notes about mugging – I didn’t see any mugging. And she kept up with Pasha the king of the ballroom – yet still they had to take her down a notch. Clearly they don’t want her to be in the finale, but I just can’t figure out why.
Sasha. Okay, I have to admit this is my least favorite dancer. Personally I wanted to see her sister get to the top 20. I admit she has some mad skills as a dancer. She is very strong and in many ways fearless. However, the judges have pimped this girl from day one. I can’t think of any real criticism the judges have given her. Even when they do criticize a little they fall all over themselves to apologize for criticizing her. It reminds of the year that Sabra won – in my opinion the most lackluster dancer of that year but the judges felt she could do no wrong. For me, Sasha is a one note dancer – it’s all angst and sadness and how beautiful a victim she is in her dance. She is praised for her acting skills – ‘just your hand against that wall’. The other thing that bothers me about her is that she ‘out-dances’ every partner she has ever had – at least according to the judges. Is this a good thing? Isn’t part of being a great dancer your partnering skills? I get the idea that her goal is to out-dance her partner – to out shine them. And maybe that is why she leaves me cold, I just get the sense that it’s all about her – that she wants everyone to pay attention to her. Also the crying in the package for her dance with Kent – sorry so phony. Because in the package before her solo, her mother went on about what a joyful and fun person Sasha is – so where did all that pain and angst come from? Don’t hate on me, but I hope she does not make the finale – I really do. I think she has been pushed and coddled throughout the competition and been given an edge by the judges which she doesn’t deserve. To me, the irony is that what posters on the forums have said about Melanie seems to be true of Sasha – exactly what routine has this girl ever been given that hasn’t highlighted her own style – where has she been pushed out of her comfort zone or challenged? Maybe it happened but I must have missed it.
How about you – what do you think? Who do you think will end up in the finale? Who do you want to win?