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August 4, 2011 / mandalaymai

So You Think You Can Dance! Dance…dance…dance…

Twitch and Cat Deeley

I think I waited so long to write about the awesome ‘So You Think You Can Dance’ for two reasons. One, like the blog of Parks and Rec from last week, this show is THAT AWESOME and THAT IMPORTANT to me that I was worried about not being able to convey it properly. Two, I wanted to wait for the Top 6. Because invariably my favorite guy dancer gets eliminated around this time. Pasha Kovalev, Mark Kanamura I am lookin’ at you guys. But each week as I watch, I am more and more convinced that this is the best reality competition show on the air and like all shows on the Watch With Mai blog, you should so totally be watching this.

REASON ONE: No gimmick can replace skillz. These folks aren’t like ‘stars’ (even the D-listers) that come up on other shows. There is no element of knowing these people and just wanting to see them do something different. These contestants are first and foremost, DANCERS. They have DANCE skills and real choreographers who expect them to perform. As a result, the performances set the bar so high. The athleticism that these kids have and the paces through which they are put are astounding. And when you put good choreography with good dancers, you can end up with something GREAT. Even if you don’t think you are “into dance” I suggest giving it a shot. The sheer athleticism will impress you, as will the wide range of what dance is. If you are human, with … you know … human emotions, you will see something that moves you.

You can’t fake your way through this like you can with stuff like American Idol. American Idol seems to thrive of feeding contestants a steady diet of criticism about “picking the right song” and “making it their own” and the contradictory “Don’t mess with a classic.” It’s confusing and stupid. And what happens is that you get sub Top 40 Vanilla crap. If you step out of the mold you won’t make it. But, on SYTYCD you get such wonderful weirdness like Sonya Tayeh choreography.(see below) Dance seems to bypass you conscious mind and just allows dance to speak straight through to the visceral part of you. You may like or not like it, but by God, you will FEEL it.

REASON TWO: Fewer cheesy reality show cliches. Yeah there is the odd pandering intro clip about how this dance represents children in war-torn Africa, but for the most part, the clips are about what the dance is trying to express and the difficulty in mastering the steps. I can’t remember ever hearing in ANY of the intro clips anything resembling the following, “I was in the bottom last week, so this week I really want to BRING IT and show the judges that I am IN IT TO WIN IT and that I am here for the RIGHT REASONS.” Plus, fewer cringe-worthy audition rounds. That’s a big plus to me. You came to watch dancing. So, for the most part, they’re gonna show GOOD dancing.

REASON THREE: The Family. Yeah, all reality judges are cheesy. Some are even lecherous or incomprehensible. But these judges or “jidges” are actually giving critiques that more often than not are meant to be constructive and actually turn out to be helpful. The guest judges are not JUST celebs. They are ones that are actually fans of the show. You can tell that they watch, not that they just reviewed a tape their agent sent over before the show. They care about dance. (Jesse Tyler Ferguson needs to come BACK) The alums of THIS show more than any other (and btw, the alums of this show are also ON the other dance shows) are excited to be there. Maybe other stuff pays the bills, but when they get to be there and perform the really good routines with excellent partners and choreographers, well, that feeds their HEART. And they love it! They are so glad to be back and it comes across. Plus, the Family has produced some amazing choreographers. Travis Wall, Pasha, Dmitri Chaplin and others repeatedly get asked back and produce some amazing memorable routines. Travis even very deservedly got an Emmy nomination. I don’t know which dance it was for, but my guess would be Alison and Robert’s dance to “Fix You.” (see below)

REASON FOUR: Emmy Nominated Cat Deeley. She is made of awesome. She keeps things moving, has fun, is appreciative of the dancers, respectful, yet playful with the “jidges” (that’s how she says judges – she’s British. It’s adorable) and endears herself to everybody. She can chide charmingly and praise sincerely and all the while look amazing and still likeable. It’s not easy and I am so glad she is finally being recognized. I remember a few seasons ago, after the awesome Twitch did a solo wearing a snap on gold grill, she very gamely says, “Oh, go on then!” and pops it in her mouth, smiling gold for the camera. Such a cool chick. But, I hope she rinsed with Listerine after. It’s just good hygeine.

Anyway, now is the time. Watch the show tomorrow to see the recaps and the Final Four and DO NOT MISS next week’s finals. The routines are always superb – really the best of the best. My guess is that we will see Melanie, Sasha, Marko and Tadd. If I am right, get set for nothing to be off the table because with these dancers EVERYTHING is possible. You won’t be disappointed.



Leave a Comment
  1. mandalaymai / Aug 4 2011 2:30 am

    Sonya Tayeh’s “In the Garden”

    Travis Wall’s “Fix You”

  2. mandalaymai / Aug 5 2011 12:49 am

    I was wrong. Travis Wall was nominated for the following:

    and it is awesome!

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