When SYTYCD (thankfully) Falls Short
I have watched So You Think You Can Dance since its second season. I’ve cheered on Benji and Donyelle, Chelsie and Mark, Jeanine and Brandon, Ellenore and Ryan, Robert and Lauren, and Marko and Melanie. I happen to also love Cat Deeley and am delighted to hear she finally got an Emmy nod! I’m not much of a dancer and can’t critique as well as some could. (In fact, I think this is why I enjoy it more than, say, American Idol, where I can critique with a limited bit of expertise from a nearly a decade of voice lessons.) I simply adore watching dance and watching skilled dancers succeed.
In each wonderful season, there always seems to be one dancer that grates my nerves. (Do you guys remember Nathan? Oh dear.) This season it’s Jess. His entitled jackassery makes me want to punch puppies. Also, could he please just shut his ever-gaping mouth? And when Jess and Clarice were paired up last night to do a Christopher Scott lyrical hip-hop routine about a young woman’s insecurities (video here), I had to pause the DVR to express my contempt.
Firstly, I was immediately disappointed by the fact a male choreographer would attempt to conceptualize through dance the nuances of a woman’s struggle with self-acceptance and body image. Secondly, I was increasingly turned off by the storyline that revolved around a man leading a woman to self-acceptance. Thirdly, I was incredibly irritated by the fact that that man was Jess. How many times does this story play out in pop culture: Stunning woman is insecure, meets arrogant dude who convinces her she’s pretty and worthy (of his affection), they live happily ever after. How boring.
Thankfully, this routine didn’t scratch the surface of the issues women face in relation to their bodies. (Which lends credence to the fact that a female choreographer would have been more apt to breathe life into this concept.) And, much to my chagrin, Jess didn’t fail horribly in his attempt at hip-hop. So, surprisingly, I didn’t hate it, though the Bruno Mars cover was questionable. In fact, what was most surprising was how much I didn’t hate it.
But it left me wanting more. Specifically, I want to see this concept choreographed by Mia Michaels and performed by Melanie and Marko. Mia is brilliant when it comes to reaching to something profound (so is Travis Wall, but I don’t think he could do the concept the justice it deserves) and I believe her own public acknowledgment of body image issues makes her the ultimate candidate to produce something emotionally convincing, moving, and insightful. (Which begs the question, where the hell has she been this season????)
The issues of self-acceptance and body image run rampant in the dance community. What better place to begin a conversation?